[Advaita-l] About the term in 'Ishwara' in Advaita - a brief note

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 4 08:36:05 CDT 2012

> Its "prasada" as opposed to His? You can't ascribe mercy etc. to It.

Now, this is getting ridiculous. Why not Her? And for that matter, why
not Its? Why do you think the upanishad texts go out of their way to
use the word tat in neuter gender so often, when they could have
easily used saH in masculine gender.
In a last ditch attempt, I am going to take your desert-mirage analogy
and extend it. When you are talking of material entities, yes, the mirage
is not real and the desert is real. More specifically, the water that you 
thought you saw in the mirage is unreal, only the mirage appeared on
the surface of the desert. But if you investigate it to the next level, you
realize that the mirage is an effect of the sunlight. If not for light, no
mirage would appear. And you don't need a desert for the mirage, any
hot surface would do, e.g tar road. The temperature of the surface is
also an effect of nothing but the same sunlight heating it up. So you
could say that it is all a play of light, or of the sun. The sun, by its mere
presence, quite unlike a puppet master as posited by dualists, causes
all this. You will then, no doubt, want to focus on the sun as the ISvara
who rules over all things on earth. Even the veda can be quoted here 
in addition to physics - sUrya Atma jagataH. 
I would go one step beyond this and point out to you that the light of the
sun is a result of nuclear reactions on the sun and that all the material
nuclei in the sun are in themselves nothing more than manifestations of
energy. So also, the material entities in the desert or the tar road are
nothing more than other manifestations of energy. Ultimately, the mirage
is thereby known as nothing more than a result of interactions between
different forms of energy. The sunlight, one form of energy, came from
solar material, which is in turn a manifestation of nothing but energy.
The earth, which is material, is also only another material manifestation
of energy, the hotness of its surface is another form of energy. Ultimately,
only the energy remains, as the reality behind all the forms in which it
appears, and which interact with one another.
So, the same logic that allowed you say the mirage is "unreal" will also
now lead to a conclusion that the desert is "unreal", the sun is "unreal",
the earth is  "unreal" and that only the energy is "real". Note that I put
quotation marks signs there, because the statement of reality or unreality
of a thing is only made on a relative basis, never as an absolute statement
in and of itself. If you want to object that I have thereby denigrated sUrya
and that I have therefore not given due weight to the text sUrya AtmA
jagataH, you are welcome to your misunderstanding. I would point to the
other Sruti text that says, na tatra sUryo bhAti na candratArakam.

And I can continue acknowledging the indebtedness of my body and its
life, as of all things on earth, to the light of the sun.  At the same time,
I will also acknowledge that the sun is one of more than billions of stars
in the universe and that all of it is ultimately pure energy. This does not
conflict with sUrya AtmA jagataH in any way.
If you think this is nevertheless equivalent to my wanting to kill sUrya, you
could  not be more mistaken! I fully realize that no amount of prayatna
will literally "kill" sUrya and you don't need to point that out to me at all.
However, the realization that there is pure energy as the underlying
reality of sUrya is true. The same realization also tells me that this
pure energy is the reality of myself too and such knowledge liberates
me. This realization happens in my intellect, my dhI, and I, the sAkshI
of its operation, fully acknowledge that my dhI too gains sustenance
only from that very same sun that provides energy for everything on
earth. Where is the problem? I am more than happy to take sUrya as
the ruler over earth, by its mere presence, and at the same time to 
talk of a reality that goes beyond sUrya.
What advaitins do in talking about ISvara and nirguNa brahman is very
similar to the above. If you can see the logic of one, you should be able
to see the logic of the other. 
Anyway, as I said, this is a last ditch attempt. If you are not prepared
to understand the above right, then perhaps advaita is not the mArga
for you personally and you should seriously explore something that is
more suited to your needs.

In a side comment to Sri Bhaskar, who seems to wonder why I spend
time on this :-), I can only say that I have taken what I've described as
confusion on one person's part as an opporunity to clarify a widespread
misunderstanding of advaita. If there is chidish enthusiasm in it, I hope
it is along the lines of pANDityan nirvidya bAlyena tishThAset. :-)

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