[Advaita-l] The Universe is mayic in appearance.

srikanta srikanta at nie.ac.in
Sun Nov 21 23:56:02 CST 2010

I am aware of this and dozens of other verses of this kind in the
Bhagavatam.  The Uddhavagita chapters of this work have a number of verses
that are espescially 'mAyAvAdic' in nature.

//8.34. One should look upon this universe as a hallucination, being a
phantasm of the mind, now seen and the next moment destroyed – like dream,
and extremely shifting like *a circle of fire*.  It is the One Consciousness
that appears as multiple in form.  The threefold distinction due to the
transformation of guNas is mAyA.//

This verse has the word ‘alAtachakram’ which means a circular motion created
by a fire-brand.  This analogy is used in the fourth chapter of mandUkya
kArikA by Sri GauDapAda.  The chapter itself is called  'alAtashAnti

With such a great content of mAyAvAda the Bhagavatam is definitely the best
candidate for the appellation of being an 'asat-shAstram' and 'pracchannam
bauddham'.  I think some critics of Advaita have pointed out that Gaudapada
'borrowed' this analogy from the Buddhists!!  Or the best and easiest
alternative would be to declare that all these verses of the Bhagavatam and
especailly the whole of the Uddhavagita are interpolations by Advaitins.


the above posting,V.Subramaian concludes that Adwaita is
"Asatsastram",because Gaudapada has borrowed the simile of
"Alata"(firebrand),in his karikas on Mandukya Upanishad.This shows to what
extent some scholars jump to hasty and erroneous conclusions,just because
some terms are found in Buddhist texts.

The Gaudapada Karikas on Mandukyopanishad is divided into Four prakaranas.
1)Agama prakarana
2)Vaithathya prakarana
3)Adwaita prakarana, and
4)Alata shanti prakarana.

The Mandukyopanishad contains verses which describe the
"Avasthathraya",the Jagrt,svapna and the shushupti,the waking,dream and
the deep sleep states,respectively.The fourth state is the "Turiya".
Acharya Gaudapada,in the Agama prakarana,with the strength of the Agama
shastra,explains the vedanta.He says that,on the basis of the Adwaita
vedanta,there is no birth nor death,
He declares,
"Na nirodho na ca utpattih,na baddho na ca sadhakah!
na mumukshur na vai muktah ityesha paramarthatha!!.

In the absolute sense,there is no control of the mind,there is no
birth,none in bondage,no seeker,none aspiring for liberation,none
liberated,--these are the highest truths.
He says,"prapancam yadi vidyeta nivarteta na samsayah!
         Upadeshat ayam vadah jnatva dwaitam na vidyate"!!
If the Universe is ever existing,it will no doubt withdraw(disappear for
Brahman to appear).This argument is for "upadesha".Knowing thus,the
duality will not exist.

He also"svapna maye yatha drsta gandharvanagaram yatha!
        tatha vishwamidam drstam vedanteshu vicakshanaih!!"

As the celestial city under the spell of magic is seen in the sky,so the
whole Universe is seen as perceived  with the divine eyes of vedanta.

In the second prakarana,"Vaithathya prakarana,Gaudapada,examines and
analyses the svapna sthana,the dream state and declares on comparison with
the jagrt state,the waking state that the things seen in the dream
contradicts the things seen in the waking state.But,the sakshi or the
experiencer remains stable in both the states.This is called the
"Thyjasa',the one who experiences the sukshma,or the subtle objects.In the
waking state,the Atma which is called,"Vaishwanara"which creates the
"Vishva",the universe experiences the "sthula"or the gross objects.
The Bhagawadgita declares:"Iyam vaisvanaro bhutva praninam dehamasritah!
                           Pranaapana samayuktah pacamyanna caturvidham"
This "Vaivanara"occupies the body of the beings,endowed with the
"Pranavayu"and "apana vayu"cooks the foods which are fourfold.
The third state is the "prajna"or the "Sarveshwara",which we call the
Ishwara or the creator is in the "Shusupti sthana",or the deepsleep
state.It is from here the "Bija nidra"or the seed sleep,the whole world
appears to the seeker,the source of all duality.
The fourth state is the "Turiya",which is the "Aumkara".without sound,but
contains all the earlier three states.
In the third prakarana,"The Adwaita prakarana",Acharya Gaudapada,explains
the view point of Adwaita,that there is creation nor destruction.
This is stated on the bais of "Shrauta tarka"(vedic logic).
A doubt arises,whether Adwaita can be established on the strenth of Agama
sastras only,i.e,on the basis of Upanishads only?Acharya Gaudapada answers
that the Adwaita can be established on the basis of Tarka also(tarkena
api). For this,he examines the different schools of
logic,Vaisheshika,nyaya,Sankhya,Yoga,Jain,various branches of the Buddhist
schools,and finally states the position of Adwaita.It is necessary in any
prakarana gantha(Karika-Gloss),that the "Purvapaksha"positions of the
various schools have to be examined before presenting the Sddhanta.All
darshanas contain this type of Purvapaksha-siddhanta presentation.One has
to carefully study them and distinguish the Purvapaksha and siddhanta
Just because,the simile of the "Alata"(fireband)is found in the Gaudapada
karikas,one shouldnot jump to hasty and erroneous conclusions that
Gaudapada borrowed this simile from the Buddhists,that he is a "praccanna
Bauddha"(a cryptoBuddhist)or one who was converted to Buddhism.

Iam writing a theses to prove that Acharya Gaudapada has not borrowed from
the Buddhists,and that he is the first Acharya known to us as one who
presented the Adwaita in the form of a "Grantha".I am ready to clarify any
misconception on this point.
Regards,                                         N.Srikanta.

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