[Advaita-l] Is Brahman saguNa or nirguNa or aguNa?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Apr 29 13:03:09 CDT 2011

On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 3:45 PM, Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste
> But the Prapatti Principle propagated by Visishtadvaitis is looking
> easy than Nirguna Brahma worship. In Markata Nyaya of Vadagalais the
> Bhakta is a like a baby monkey holding his mother the God. The mother
> will carry the baby monkey safely. In Marjara Nyaya of Tengalais the
> Bhakta's contribution is zero. He is like a baby kitten. God the
> mother cat will carry him in her mouth.  He is not  holding her or
> doing anything. He will get directly transported to Vaikuntha that is
> Moksha.  The baby monkey also gets transported like that to Moksha.


The Bh.Gita 7.3 says:

 मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद्यतति सिद्धये ।
यततामपि सिद्धानां कश्चिन्मां वेत्ति तत्वतः ॥
7.3 Among thousands of men a rare one *endeavours *for perfection. Even of
the perfected ones who are diligent, one perchance knows Me in truth.

Note the word 'endeavours'.  If what you have stated: 'He is not  holding
her or doing anything.' is to be literally taken, the Lord's words above
will be in vain.  To remain not doing anything is not an easy thing.  'na hi
kashchit kSHaNamapi jAtu tiShThatyakarmakRt' says the Gita.  None can stay
without doing anything even for a moment.  If someone achieves that
'remaining doing nothing' in the sense of 'summa iru' as Bhagavan Ramana
would often say, that is the highest and the most difficult sadhana that has
been accomplished.

> Kindly provide reference from Sruti where Nirguna Brahman only can confer
> liberation but not Saguna Brahman.

Sri Sadananda ji has already provided the KenopaniShat references: तदेव
ब्रह्न त्वम् विद्धि नेदं यदिदं उपासते .

We have the Mandukya Up. seventh mantra:

*नान्तःप्रज्ञं न बहिष्प्रज्ञं नोभयतःप्रज्ञं न प्रज्ञानघनं
न प्रज्ञं नाप्रज्ञम् । अदृष्टमव्यवहार्यमग्राह्यमलक्षणं
अचिन्त्यमव्यपदेश्यमेकात्मप्रत्ययसारं प्रपञ्चोपशमं
शान्तं शिवमद्वैतं चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते स आत्मा स विज्ञेयः ॥७ ॥

Here, after negating the entire seen and unseen (manifest and unmanifest)
world, both in their causal and effectual forms, the Upanishad is presenting
the Turiya as the one to be known: sa vijneyaH.  All gunas pertain to the
three earlier pAda-s where even the saguNa Brahman, Ishwara, is included in
the sixth mantra.  The Turiya, brahman, that is bereft of the saguNa is
presented as the one to be realized.  This is enough shruti pramANa for
holding that it is not the knowledge of saguNa brahman but the realization
of nirguNa brahman that confers liberation.

Of course you might say that the non-advaitic schools do not agree with the
above interpretation of the mantra.  But that is not our problem.  We are
not trying to convince them.

Bhagavan Veda Vyasa agrees with the interpretation of Advaita when He says:

गुणत्रयं कारणकार्यकर्तृ ।
समन्वयेन व्यतिरेकतश्च
येनैव तुर्येण तदेव सत्यम् ॥ 23.20  Bhaagavatam (UddhavagItaa)

That transcendent entity (Turiya), My friend, by which the mind with its
three states (waking, etc.), the three guNas, and the universe with its
threefold division of cause, effect and agent, are posited both directly and
indirectly, is alone real.

Note the words 'tadeva satyam'.  This means that everything else, other than
Turiya, which the mind projects, is unreal.  The very next verse says that
all the experienced world is व्यपदेशमात्रम् 'a mere name' (with no
substance).  These two verses put together confirm the Advaitic
interpretation of the Mandukya mantra and the Chandogya mantra:
...मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् .

There is a स्वारस्यं in the linking of the Kena mantra and the Mandukya
mantra (which I noticed only later):

In the Bhashya for the kena.Up. 1.4 Shankara says:

....संव्यवहाराः असंव्यवहार्ये निर्विशेषे परे साम्ये ब्रह्मणि प्रवर्तन्ते,
तान् व्युदस्य आत्मानमेव निर्विशेषं ब्रह्म विद्धीत्येवशब्दार्थः ।

I am not giving the translation.  The word highlighted above corresponds to
the word 'avyavahaaryam' in the Mandukya 7th mantra.  That means, the saguNa
brahman is within the  vyAvahArika being related to/ relatable with the
created world as the cause, controller, etc.  The Turiya is in no way
relatable with or related to the world - prapanchopashamam.  Shankara is
showing the importance of the 'eva' in the above mantra.

This is enough scriptural proof for holding that it is only the knowledge of
the Nirguna brahman that can confer liberation and not any other.

subrahmanian.v *

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