[Advaita-l] Jnana and ajnana (Bhakti vs. Jnana)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jul 6 00:50:53 CDT 2011

Dear Ramesh,

I am in full agreement with you.  Actually the entire shAstra of Advaita
Vedanta as presented by Shankara is very simple, shorn of all the
complicated meanderings. He used simple tarka formats just necessary for
making things clear.  It is only when the non-advaitic schools embarked on
the terse nyAya methods to attack Advaita hoping to corner it, did the later
advaita acharyas, in defence-mode, adopted a similar language.  Madhusudana
rose up to the offensive of Vyasatirtha and did a splendid job that brought
accolades for him even from the dvaita school.  The foreword of the
न्यायामृत-अद्वैतसिद्धिः book published by the Dvaita Vedanta Research
foundation, Bangalore, has some nice words for Madhusudana.

Swami Paramarthananda made this humorous remark:

Even to put across a simple thing the man of Tarka loves to use a
complicated process:  There is an elephant in front of you, so obviously
making its presence known to you.  Yet the Tarkika would present this as:
अयं गजः। शुण्डादन्तत्वात् । व्यतिरेकेण घटवत् ।
This is an elephant.  Because it is qualified by the property/attribute of
having a trunk and tusk. Conversely like a pot.

The first statement is a claim/proposition: प्रतिज्ञा.
The second one is the reasoning: हेतु.
The third is the example part: दृष्टान्तः. Since there is no other animal
like the elephant to give as an analogy (अन्वयदृष्टान्तः), he chooses to
give a contrary example: व्यतिरेकदृष्टान्तः.

In Advaita, as with regard to any knowledge-process, the ignorance
pertaining to an object and the subsequent knowledge of it are both a mental
condition, revealed by the witness, sAkShI.  My awareness of my ignorance
and my subsequent knowledge is possible only because the two are revealed by
an entity that is different from them.  Just as I am aware of emotions
rising in my mind.

As you rightly put it, both these conditions, pertaining to Atma jnana and
the prior ajnana, belong to the mind alone and that is why bandha and mokSha
are at the jiva/mind level; Atman/Brahman being completely outside this
duality, totally unaffected by either of them.


On Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 9:40 AM, Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com>wrote:

> The way the question was posed, the response from Subbu-ji (and the rest of
> us) was natural. As a certain scholar told me, some of the medieval
> pUrvapakSha polemicists did succeed in tying themselves in knots by using
> complicated constructs to explain simple things, much like a person trying
> to touch his own nose by bringing his hand from around his head. Whether
> such an action is absurd or not, it is certainly not the simplest way of
> doing things.
> And ultimately, all these polemicists needed to know was something as
> simple
> as the sAkShI witnessing the pramAtA's ignorance or, to put it differently,
> the pramAtA's viSheSha jn~Ana/aj~nAna being predicated on the AtmA/sakShI's
> jn~Ana.

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