[Advaita-l] Is Brahman saguNa or nirguNa or aguNa?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon May 2 08:20:58 CDT 2011

On Mon, May 2, 2011 at 9:30 AM, Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste
> But the Upanishad has not said Sa Eva Vijneyaha. Only Nirguna Brahma has to
> be known? Saguna can be known also.  Nirguna may be Ultimate but Saguna
> Brahma can also give Moksha.


It is not a question of whether saguna or nirguna 'can' be known; both can
be realized.  The Mandukya upnaishad did not say 'the Ishwara described in
the 6th mantra is to be known', nor 'that such Ishwara is the Atman or it is
'prapanchopashamam'.  It says all this ONLY with reference to / in the 7th
mantra where the Ishwara vilakShaNa Turiya is taught.  So that makes the
conclusion easy: Only NIrguNa Brahma jnAnam leads to moksha.  As I have
already pointed out earlier, saguNa brahma jnAnam also will lead to moksha,
through the process called 'krama mukti' by leading the aspirant to brahma
loka.  It is to be noted again, as also stated earlier, that even the one
who goes to brahma loka has to invariably gain the nirguNa brahma jnAnam to
attain moksha.

> > substance).  These two verses put together confirm the Advaitic
> interpretation of the Mandukya mantra and the Chandogya mantra:
> ...मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् .
> No arguments. Nirguna may be Satyam but Saguna cannot be not dismissed
> easily. He can give Moksha.

Advaita never 'dismisses' saguNa brahman.  To reiterate a fact, it is ONLY
the saguNa Ishwara that confers moksha by bestowing the nirguNa jnAnam.  I
had quoted a verse before which I am presenting again:

Says the Sarva-vedanta-siddhAnta-sAra-sangraha:

जन्मानेकशतै:  सदादरयुजा भक्त्या समाराधितो

भक्तैर्वैदिकलक्षणेन विधिना सन्तुष्ट *ईश: स्वयम् *।

साक्षात् श्रीगुरुरूपमेत्य कृपया द्रूग्गोचरस्सन् प्रभु:

*तत्त्वं साधु विशोध्य तारयति तान् संसारदु:खार्णवात् *॥ (225)

[*The Lord*, being pleased with the constant and unflinching devotion and
worship in the prescribed manner, extending over many lives on the part of
the seeker, manifests Himself, in His infinite mercy in the human form of
the Guru, thereby becoming accessible to the shishya for shushrUshA
and *vichara
*which culminate in his crossing over the perilous ocean of samsara.]

Pl. note the underlined portions of the original verse.  It is the siddhAnta
of Vedanta that Ishwara alone gives the liberating nirguNa jnAnam.  A very
nice presentation of this is available in the concluding talks of Sri
Chandrashekharendra Saraswati SwaminaH of Kanchi Mutt in the 'Deivathin
Kural' series on 'Advaita saadhana' translated from Tamil to English and
uploaded by Prof.V.Krishnamurthy:


A relevant excerpt from the above file (page 185...):


// Mark it! There is a difference! The One who does the transformation here
is the Ishvara who is the saguNa-brahman. But the transformation he does to
the JIvAtmA is the formless nirguNa-brahman! And the Jiva does the dhyAna
only to become nirguNa and not for becoming the saguNa Ishvara! So this
transcends all analogy and stands very high!
>From the beginning Ishvara did not reveal Himself as the one who was
granting the progress step by step. Even now he only plays ‘blind and seek’.
Now and then he takes the sAdhaka to samAdhi and later permanently makes him
a JIvan-mukta or a videha-mukta. However there is a major difference. In
earlier stages, all the cleaning up or purification and other touches-up
that were happening in the mind, had Him as their Cause. But now He destroys
the very mind itself! Once the mind has vanished, how can this (sAdhaka) get
to know Him (the saguNa Brahman)? And that is why even now the work of
Ishvara is a black box to the JIva! But though it is not visible to the
eyes, it is million times proximate in the sense that there is a unification
between ‘this’ and ‘that’ NirguNa. The saguNa Ishvara who makes the JIva a
nothing, also makes Himself a nothing and shines only as a sat-cit-Ananda
tattva only. [The Mahaswamigal laughs here] I said ‘shines’; is it the light
of a bulb of one thousand watts? We are running out of language here! We are
only talking at our level like this in order to attempt to communicate!
Indescribable by words, unreachable by the mind – nothing more....//


> > the Nirguna brahman that can confer liberation and not any other.
> Many cannot agree to this. Bhagavan Saguna Brahman has said in the Charama
> Sloka of Geeta "Sarvadharman Parityajya Mamekam Saranam Vraja". He is asking
> us to give up everything and completely surrender. If we do this he has
> promised Mokshayishyami.  He will give Moksha to us.  There cannot be any
> other clearer statement to see
> Saguna Brahma can give Moksha. It is not by Nirguna Brahman only.
> Regards
> -Venkatesh

It should now be clear that the above verse of the Gita is not disproving
the Advaitic method of jnana-moksha.  The Lord liberates the jiva ONLY by
giving him the liberating nirguNa jnAnam.  SaguNa Brahman can and does give
moksha only by nirguNa jnanam.  Also to be noted is that *nirguNa
Brahman *CANNOT
give moksha; only *nirguNa Brahma JnAnam* can result in moksha.
In the bigger picture, even nirguNa brahma jnanam, Ishwara who gives it and
the moksha that results therefrom -  all belong to the vyAvahArika.  In the
pAramArthika there is no bondage and no liberation and none liberated and no
liberator and no means of liberation.

I think there is nothing more that requires clarification on this thread.


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