[Advaita-l] j~nAna, aj~nAna and sarvaj~natvam

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Tue Aug 9 10:07:45 CDT 2011

Sorry, I meant to post this in a separate thread

Rajaram Venkataramani wrote the following in his response to Vidyasankar
earlier in the thread entitled "Modern Science and Vedanta".


<< "have heard other traditional scholars accept that the the Lord and
realized teachers are infallible because they are one. How can one who knows
everything make a mistake? It does not stand to reason. If one claims to be
an aparoksha jnani but is ignorant of even basic grammar, he is but a cheat.
Here is Sankara and Madhusudana (I believe they are right and you may hope
they are) saying that you become a sarvajna. In his commentary to BG 7.2,
Sankara says, "Thus, 'he who knows Me in reality becomes omniscient.' This
is sthe idea". Madhsudana exposits, "Everything is known when One is known
(Mu1.1.3 & Br. 2.4.5)". In case you come up with what sarvajna means, here
is a pre-emptive refutal. In his commentary to BG 6.15, Madhusudana says,"To
one who has only the realization of the difference between the intellect and
the Person comes rulership over all things and knowledge of everything. From
the renunciatio of even that comes Liberation following the destruction of
the seeds of evil (P.Y.Su <http://p.y.su/>. 3.51)". If you say that an
advaita teacher is not all knowing, then you are saying that he has not even
realized the difference between the intellect and the self. You accept
sruti, smrti and apta valkyas as true and logic is applied in special
conditions to reconcile differences (Yajnavalkya Smrti explains that).">>

I am posting this as a separate thread as the intent is only to address the
issue of sarvaj~natvam. It is rather surprising that someone who talks about
sAkShI being the pre-requisite for visheSha aj~nAna also holds the above
incongruous views.

sarvaj~natva does not mean knowledge of all specific things in vyavahAra. An
Atmaj~nAnI is said to be sarvaj~na in the sense that he identifies himself
with the j~nAnasvarUpa AtmA and not with the limited and changing pramAtA.
However, the AtmA is akarta and does not write grantha-s. When we talk about
AchArya-s writing grantha-s we are not talking at the level of the AtmA but
at the level of the jIva.

Please note that the pramAtA does not "become" the AtmA/sAkShI. Atmaj~nAna
only implies an identification with the AtmA/brahman and concomitant
mithyAtva nishchaya regarding vyavahAra including, most importantly, **
mithyAtva of even the pramAtA **. It does not imply removal of any visheSha
aj~nAna at the level of the pramAtA (i.e. within vyavahAra). In fact, such
visheSha aj~nAna-s need not be removed precisely because vyavahAra itself
has been ascertained to be mithyA, and therefore all visheSha-s as well as
pramAtRtvam have also been ascertained to be mithyA.

What we can expect from an Atmaj~nAnI is abidance in Atmaj~nAna and not
knowledge of all things in vyavahAra. Moreover, an Atmaj~nAnI who is a
shrotriya will also be able to express himself in terms of speech or writing
in accordance with the saMpradAya. However the clarity of exposition,
accuracy in specific matters, style of expression, etc are dependent on the
nature of the individual body-mind complex, and therefore will naturally
vary from AchArya to AchArya, even if they are all Atmaj~nAnI-s.

The muNDaka says "tadvij~nAnArthaM sa gurumevAbhigachChet samitpANiH
shrotriyaM brahmaniShTham". The emphasis is on the guru being both shrotriya
and brahmaniShTha. If the mukta ( = brahmaniShTha) had knowledge of all
things in vyavahAra, he would be a shrotriya by default and the emphasis on
the guru being shrotriya would be redundant.

When vedAnta talks about jIva-Ishvara aikyam, it is in the sense that both
are, in essence, the AtmA alone, just as the wave and the ocean are both, in
essence, water alone. It does not mean that the wave and the ocean are the
same in a literal sense, or that the wave becomes the ocean, which are

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