[Advaita-l] What is 'aprAkRta' ?

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Mon Aug 1 15:58:40 CDT 2011

On Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM, V Subrahmanian
<v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:
 RV: If there is a real material body, then why does Sankara say dehavan
Sri V Subrahmanian: There is the body but the ignorance-based identification
with it is absent in the case of Bhagavan and a  Jivanmukta.  Yet those who
see and interact with that 'person' Krishna during His life did that taking
for granted that 'this is a person, with a body.... just as we are'.
 Shankara puts the true state of affairs by that remark 'dehavAn iva'.

RV: Is this the traditional position or your interpretation?

Sri V Subrahmanian: This is the traditional position.
RV: I need direct textual evidence from early acharyas that the traditional
advaita position is that the Lord's body is made of material elements.
Sridharacharya, if I remember right, does not think that the Lord's body is
made of five elements. Madhusudana categorically rejects that notion that
His body is made of material elements - gross or subtle, limited or cosmic
or even an acceptance of fresh body. He clearly says Krishna's body is
nothing like ours or others. He also says that his view is the view of
Sankara and Anandagiri. Quoting Gambhirananda's translation of Madhusudana
(4.6), "If His body be made of gross elements, then, on the assumption that
it is a limited gross body, it wil be the waking state and it will be
similar to that of ours and others; and on the assumption that it is a
cosmic, He will become a jiva called Virat, on account of possessing his
(Virat's) upadhi (cosmic gross body). On the other hand, if His body is made
of subtle elements, then, on the assumption that it is a limited subtle
body, it will be the state of dream and be like that of ourselves and
others; and on the assumption that it is a cosmic subtle body, He be the
jiva called Hiranyagarbha, on account of having his (Hiranyagarbha's) upadhi
(cosmic subtle body). And thus the conslusion is  that, the supreme Lord
verily cannot come to have a body made of elements that is not (already)
occupied by a jiva. Not can it be said that, as one is possessed by a ghost,
in the same way God Himself enters in to that kind of a body which is indeed
occupied by a jiva! Because, if it is admitted that the experiences of that
(particular) jiva within the limitation of that body belong to that jiva,
then, since the entry of God in to all the bodies as the inner Controller is
already there, therefore it is useless to assume a special body for Him; and
it (it is held that) those experiences do not belong (to that jiva), then it
is illogical to say that this is a body of that jiva. Hence in the first
half (of the verse), 'Even though I am birthless, undecaying by nature, and
the Lord of beings,' He admits that God cannot have a body made of elements.
By saying 'ajah api san, eventhough I am birthless,' He dispels the notion
His acceptance of a fresh body; (the notion of) separation from a previous
body by saying 'avyayatma (ap san) eventhough undecaying by nature';(and the
notion of) His being subject to merit and demerit by saying 'isvarah api san
bhutanam, even though the Lord of beings' - of all beginning from Brahma to
a lump of grass, which are subject to birth. How then this embodiment? This
He answers in the second half (of the verse);Adhishtaya, by controlling;
svam, My; prakrtim, Prakrti; sambhavami, I am born. By ruling over, by
bringing under control, t hrough the light of Consciousness, prakrtim,
Prakrti, called Maya, which is possessed of numerous strange powers, which
is capable of rendering the impossible actual; which is svam, My own, an
upadhi of Mine, I am born; Associated verily with the particular
modification of that Maya, I become possessed of a body, as it were, and
born, as it were. The beginningless Maya itself, which is My upadhi, which
is eternal in the sense that it exists as long as Time exists, which makes
Me the source of the universe, and which functions merely under My will is
My body by virtue of being predominantly made up of the quality of pure
sattva. And as possessed of that, it is but logical for Me to be birthless,
undecaying, and the Ruler. Hence it is reasonable that I have this Yoga to
Vivasvan and to you through this body which is verily eternal. Accordingly,
there is the Sruti, 'Brahman which is embodied in akasa (Tai 1.6.2). Here
akasa, Space, means, the Undifferentiated, because it is seen to be so such
texts as 'That which is pervaded by the Unamnifested akasa alone (Br.
3.8.7), and because there is the aphorism, 'Space (akasa) is Brahman, for
Brahman's indicatory mark is in evidence (BS 1.1.22). Arjuna's doubt: In
that case, since there is no body made of elements, therefore how can there
be the apprehension of Your being a man etc., which are its characteristics?
As to that, He says: Atma mayaya, by means of My own Maya. It is verily
through My own Maya that the cognition of My being a man etc. occurs for the
benefit of humanity; but it is not so in reality. This is the idea. So has
it been said in the Mokshadharma 'O Narada, that you see Me is verily this
Maya conjured up by Me. Otherwise you could not have see Me who am possessed
of all qualities of the elements (MBh 12.339.44-5). That is to say, 'With
physical eyes you cannot see Me who am possessed of all qualities of the
elements and who am endowed with causal body as the upadhi.' It has been
said by the venerable Commentator "And He, the Lord ... creatures
(Introduction to BG). It has also been explained by the annotator
(Anandagiri) that the Lord took birth in a divine form created through Maya
and given shape to by His own will."

After that Madhusudana supports the view of others who say that the Lord is
non-different from the body. Then he closes with the view that those who
talk illogically saying that the Lord is the possessor of a body is not
worth being refuted.

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