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

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Tue Aug 9 12:04:26 CDT 2011

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:07 PM, Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com>wrote:

> sarvaj~natva does not mean knowledge of all specific things in vyavahAra.

RV: I am sorry but it only means that. If it is undifferentiated knowledge
or non-dual knowledge, it is called jnapti or advaya jnanam. With reference
to Isvara, when we say He is sarvajna, Sankara clearly says it is an
attribute due to maya (BSBh 2.1.14). Even before liberation, one gains
sarvajnatvam. Upon realization, one attains advaya jnanam. Madhusudana
clarifies this in his commentary to BG 6.15 with reference to smrti, which I
have quoted. "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)".
Someone has quoted sruti (Pippalada) also to substantiate this view, which I
was not aware of.

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.

RV: Yes. But if he is just expressing his opinion based on his knowledge of
subject, grammar and words, his ideas will have errors. And erroneous
knowledge is not beneficial and sometimes dangerous for blind followers.
Sastras are beneficial because they are the eternal truths. In the same way
an acharya's words are valuable becausethey are devoid of faults. We have
examples of faultless presentation in Sankara and Madhusudana, for example.

> 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.
RV: He does not make special efforts to remove Visesha - ajnana or gain some
Visesha - jnana so that he will be recognized for solving P vs. NP problem.
But even as tamas (covering) and rajas (distortion) go and sattva
(revealing) predominates, he attains these. As Madhusudana says, he
renounces even this and attains atma-jnana in which every thing contained in
undifferentiated form.

> 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.
RV: I wouldd check Sankara's commentary before forming an opinion because
there are multiple translations of shrotriya and brahma nishta. One is one
who is insightful and established in brahman. And the other is one who is
well verses in Vedas and devoted to Brahman.

> 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
> absurd.

RV: Yes. I am not saying that a jiva becomes a particular form of Isvara but
when he becomes Brahman, he does become Isvara, devoid of attributes. There
is nothing that is known or unknown to Him because He is the Self of all. We
cannot say that water is distinct from the ocean or the wave either.

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