[Advaita-l] Anantaa vai vedaah

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Aug 29 12:39:06 CDT 2011

I had composed this reply long ago in the day and am posting it only now.

On Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 1:31 PM, Shrinivas Gadkari
<sgadkari2001 at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Namaste Shri Vidyasankar,
> I would like to suggest that we take statements like "when brahma vidyA is
> known, everything else is known", on face value - to encompass all knowledge
> including all vyavahArika sciences and arts.


While Sri Vidyasankar would give his response, here is mine:

The fundamental teaching of Vedanta is that the 'sarvam', 'many',
'manifold', multiplicity, vikAra, is insubstantial, having no existence of
its own, having no more reality than mere speech, words, vAchArambhaNam
nAmadheyam. The Upanishad stresses that the real substance there, the
mUlakAraNam, alone is satyam.  By the direct knowledge of this satyam,
kAraNam, what is declared to be known is the essence of everything.  The
teaching, in the Chandogya 6th ch., begins with the declaration: येन अश्रुतं
श्रुतं भवति, अमतं मतं, अविज्ञातं विज्ञातम् . By knowing which everything
that has not been heard or thought of or known, becomes known.  For this the
three examples of clay, gold, and iron are given. The term ' विज्ञातम्' is
important.  It means 'knowing something 'essentially', or knowing the
essence of something.'  So, when clay is known to be the material cause of
the lump, मृत्पिण्ड (a word used in that mantra), everything that is made of
clay everywhere in the universe is known in its essential nature, clay. That
is the idea. When Sat is known as the material Cause of the entire cosmos
everything in the cosmos is known as essentially Sat.  Now, Sat is admitted
to be without any parts or internal distinctions: sajAteeya, vijAteeya and
svagata bheda shUnyam.  Thus, when Sat is known correctly, the whole kAryam
of Sat that is the cosmos is deemed to be known as this Sat and nothing
else.  In other words, it will be known that there is nothing in this cosmos
which is other than/apart from the Sat just like the superimposed serpent
has no existence as apart from the substratum rope.  This knowledge is said
to be the liberating knowledge.

Since the Upanishad itself has said that the kAryam, vikAra, is mere speech
and insubstantial, there is no expectation on the part of the Shruti that
the knower of the Sat will have to know the insubstantial which is only
mithyaa.  Sarvajnatva of a knower, Jnani, is not about the mithyA; it is
only with respect to the Satyam.  Nor can it be said on the basis of any
pramANa, that the knowledge of Sat will automatically make that knower a
visheShajna of the mithyA.

Some other exalted beings designated by Ishwara for certain cosmic
management purposes like Veda Vyasa are deemed to be having the vishesha
jnana of the mithyA cosmos only owing to their special tapas. Even there it
is not regarding each and every object/discipline; it is trikAlagnAna of
events that have passed, present and would occur in the future. Swami
Vidyaranya has clarified in the Panchadashi that special powers are a result
of tapas and not jnana. It is also admitted in the tradition that not all
Rshi-s said to be mantra-draShTa-s are  Atmajnanis.

In the contemporary scene, certain personages admitted to be Jnani-s have
openly declared their ignorance of one or the other discipline, thing, etc.
For example, the 35th Jagadguru of Sringeri Peetham, Sri Abhinava
Vidyatirtha SwaminaH has stated in public speeches (in
Telugu/Kannada/Tamil/Hindi) that He does not know English.  In His Tamil
speeches on occasions He has looked around for prompts for certain words
that denote certain objects in that language. Another venerable Jnani who
authored the famous SridakShinAmurti Stotram in English in two parts, who
was himself a scientist having worked under the Nobel laureate  Sir
C.V.Raman, and taught quantum physics throughout his career, towards the end
of his mortal life in the late 1980's asked some of us to show him how a
computer works, what all it can do, etc. Since he was confined to his house
and was very orthodox, he could not be taken to an institution for a
demonstration.  Those were days when even laptops  were not so common.

I stated these instances only to show that a Brahmajnani does not by default
know everything in the cosmos.  In fact the earlier mentioned Acharya
Himself was a very curious learner of things.  He would seek out to any
person who seemed to have any specialized knowledge in a certain field and
ask questions galore and get to know things.

The tradition of Advaita Vedanta does not subscribe to the thinking that the
Upanishadic sarvajnatva entails knowledge of everything in the cosmos in its
specific details.

Just last week I had occasion to hear another Jnani who is a Yogi, too, par
excellence, say exactly what I have said above.  He said, 'when gold is
known to be the material of all ornaments/objects of gold in the universe,
there is no automatic knowledge of the shape and design and weight of every
golden object everywhere.'

Below are some comments:

> Though I myself am only an entry level student of brahma vidyA, I still
> feel quite certain that above statement is not at all an exaggeration. (It
> is just a matter of time spanning
several lifetimes :-) that one will get to verify the correctness of this
> statement via direct personal experience.)

You need not really wait to have the personal experience; the words of a
traditional Acharya, Self-realized or not, can settle the matter beyond any

> Here is a high level summary of how this works - I am also quite sure that
> you must be more than familiar with this theory.
> - Whatever is in macrocosm is also in the microcosm.
> - Sometimes it is easier to deal with microcosm, at other times  vice
> versa.
> - Understanding this interrelationship and harnessing it is at the  heart
> of every vidyA.

All this is very nicely said.

> - One of the best tools in this context is dhAraNA-dhyAna-samAdhi
> described by maharSi pAtanjali.

Surely a yogi can become endowed with supernatural/superhuman
powers/knowledge.  But that is not a requirement for Brahmajnana leading to
moksha.  The Jnani-Yogi stated by me above has written His own experiences
in that very rare book 'Crest Jewel of Yogis' Part 2 (which most devotees of
the Sringeri Peetham would have had a chance to possess/read) recalling how
siddhis like clairvyoance and clairaudience started manifesting by
themselves (not as a result of yoga) and how he prayed to His Guru to
withdraw those powers.  He has described vividly a few instances of these
encounters.  One is about the very well known Ariyalur train accident that
left several dead.  Just the day before this accident, he had a vivid vision
of the accident and the devastation.  He was in for a shocking surprise to
read in the next day's newspaper about the accident with a photo of the

- Chapter 13 of gItA calls the microcosm kSetra. One would expect  macrocosm
> would be called kSetra - this might be a subtle hint in  gitA on equivalence
> of microcosm and macrocosm.

The verses 13.5 and 6 describe concisely the entire kShetra as consisting of
both the micro and macrocosm.  This is what the kShara and akShara of the 15
chapter is.

> - Chapter 13 of gItA then on to state that the whatever RSi-s could
> understand (via yoga or any other sAdhanA) of the components of  this kSetra
> they have encapsulated in the veda mantras (chanda-s).

Actually the verse 4, as per the bhashyam is about the 'essential' nature of
the kshetra and the kshetrajna.
Here also there is no hint at all that the Rshi-s have said what they
understood thru yoga, etc.

> - Since there is no end to components of kSetra and their interactions,
> there cannot be any end to veda mantras. Now, can we say that every
> statement about components of kSetra and their interactions is a  veda
> mantra? Probably not. Though, through sAdhana, it may be  possible to refine
> every such statement until it attains the status  of a veda mantra. Not
> everyone is capable of this feat - those who
>  are, are known as mantra draSTA-s.
>  (This should also shed some light on veda-s being ananta.)

According to tradition, there is no possibility of admitting into the fold
of 'veda rAshi' anything that someone in the world might claim as his
'darshana'.  There are texts like 'Sri RamakrishNopanishat', etc. which the
tradition would not treat as veda mantras.  Not even the revelations said to
be had by Sri KavyakanTha Ganapati Muni's disciple Daivarata will be
admitted into the fold of Veda.


// The Vedic seers were by no means removed from the affairs of the world.
In fact, these seers made themselves the vehicle through which the Divine
forces worked for the welfare of humanity. To become one such perfect
instrument in the hands of Maha Shakti was the goal towards which
*Ganapati*worked and dedicated his entire life of penance.

Though the *Muni* was a giant personality, he remained humble. Two incidents
in his Divine life will illustrate this: The *Muni* and his beloved disciple
Daivarata *did* tapas in Padaiveedu, near Vellore, in the year 1917. As a
result of these tapas certain *mantras* were revealed to his disciple
Daivarata. The Guru of the disciple, our *Ganapati* *Muni*, acted as the
scribe and noted down the *mantras* as they issued forth from his inspired
disciple. Later, the *Muni* even wrote a commentary on the *mantras*, just
as Adi Sankara *did* for the verses of his disciple Hastamalaka.//


> ----------------------------------
> In a general sense, the word veda, as a noun form related to the verb vid -
> "to know"
> - can be seen as encapsulating every single element of human knowledge. In
> a different
> day and age, perhaps this attitude would be unexceptionable. However,
> making assertions
> about the unfolding of any and every kind of human knowledge from veda
> mantras, and
> that too at a vyAvahArika level is fraught with problems, especially in
> contemporary times.
> It should be seen as nothing more than arthavAda - stuti of knowledge in
> general. Given
> the weakness of social and ideological support for the transmission
> tradition today,
> combined with the motivation from multiple quarters to generate new texts
> aspiring to
> be called veda, I would urge a huge note of caution about pressing this
> point.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
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