[Advaita-l] The collapse of duality in the geeta

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Apr 7 00:32:22 CDT 2011

On Wed, 6 Apr 2011, Venkata sriram P wrote:

> //
> This is one difference between the Vedantic vision and the nastikas.
> Buddha saw the end of duality as empty void -- the end of being
> altogether.  This is why he calls the supreme goal nIrvANa ("extinction".)
> But our Rshis saw it as the fullness (pUrNata) of being.  There is nothing
> that is not pervaded by Brahman.
> //
> Request clarification on the above point. 
> I believe that the term "nirvANa" also finds its reference in Bhagavat 
> Gita & elsewhere if i remember Gau.Karikas.

For that matter there is even a prakarana ascribed to Shankaracharya 
called Nirvana Shatakam.
> In what way, the nirvANa of nAstika mata of bauddha & nirvANa of  astika mata of ours
> are different?

Take Gaudapadacharya for instance.  That he uses a lot of typically 
Buddhist terminology has been noted by many scholars.  Some have even gone 
as far as to say Advaita Vedanta is just warmed over Buddhism.  But look 
at how he uses the word nirvANa in 3.47:

svasthaM shAntaM sanirvANamakathyaM sukhamuttamam |
ajamajena GYeyena sarvaGYaM parichakShate || 47 ||

"[speaking about Brahman...] it is in ones own body, peaceful, together 
with nirvANa, indescribable, and the highest bliss.  Because it is 
eternal and known, it is called the Omniescent."

Clearly it is being used as a property of another thing (namely Brahman) 
rather than a state in itself.  Also Brahman is something that can be 
known; in fact it is eternal knowledge.

The Buddhist agnosticism is described in 4.83 which is literally cribbed 
from the chatuShkoTi of nAgArjuna.

asti nAstyasti nAstIti nAsti nAstIti vA punaH |
chalasthirobhayAbhAvairAvR^iNotyeva bAlishaH || 83 ||

"By constantly saying 'it exists', 'it does not exist', 'it simultaneously 
exists and doesn't exist', and 'it never existed', the indiscriminate fool 
covers it up with notions of change, eternity, both [change and eternity], 
and non-existence."

But look at the next karika.

koTyashchatasra etAstu grahairyAsAM sadA.AvR^itaH |
bhagavAnAbhiraspR^iShTo yena daShTaH sa sarvadr^ik || 84 ||

"These are the four theories by whose adoption Bhagavan remains ever 
hidden.  The one who sees that He is untouched by these is the all-seer."

Rejecting conceptualization is not the final stage.  It is important but 
only because it frees the seeker to _know_.  And to know what?  Not an 
abstraction but Bhagavan -- the personal God of faith.

> //
> Arjuna finds this vision too difficult to bear as even with divine help,
> he is simply not prepared.  Glimpses of non-duality can be had even by
> those with no knowledge of Vedanta whatsover.  But this is fleeting
> and unstable.  jnana is what makes one "established in Brahman"
> //
> Kindly elaborate on the above statement. 

Meditation can lead to samadhi where there is cessation of ahamkara.  Even 
in deep sleep one experiences this.  But without jnana such states are 
only temporary.

> Probably the above statement of yours is inline with shruti vAkya :
> "atmavArE draShTavyO shrotavyo.....nidhidhyAsitavyaH".
> But some of the mahAns had the taste of nonduality without even studying the
> ABC of vedanta like Bhagavan Ramana, Nisargadatta Maharaj etc.
> So, how do you make the samanvaya for the above.

Bhaskara gave one explanation.  In the case of Ramana was it really the 
case that he did not know shastras?  Because various anecdotes about his 
life that I have read suggest he knew more than he was willing to let on. 
There have been many saints who chose to express their understanding in an 
idiosyncratic way.  But that doesn't necessarily mean they were ignorant.

When it comes to Nisargadatta or the various godmen of modern times I 
question whether they should be considered as Advaitins at all.  Merely 
being "mystical" does not make it so.  Not even being non-dualistic. 
Kashmiri Shaivism for instance is advaitic but not vedantic.  And there 
are plenty of darshanas which are vedantic but not advaitic.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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