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

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Apr 4 21:12:09 CDT 2012

On Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 1:59 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> wrote:

> > >
> > > Likewise, all this is Brahman on final analysis but this Brahman is
> able  to appear within vyavahara as Ishwara without losing His nature as
> pure  consciousness or the Self.
> >
> > Perfectly okay, but what is primary to the nature of ISvara? Is it pure
> > consciousness or the appearing within vyavahAra? If you agree that it
> > is the former, then your argument is about a distinction without a
> > difference.
> I think the only nature of Ishwara is pure consciousness.

The Panchadashi (Swami Vidyaranya) says:

मायाधीन: चिदाभास: श्रुतौ मायी महेश्वर: ।

अन्तर्यामी च सर्वज्नो जगद्योनि: स एव हि ॥ (vi.157)

The verse means:  Shruti says that this (pure universal) consciousness
reflected in Maya is Ishvara which controls Maya as well. The great Ishvara
is the inner ruler, omniscient and cause of the universe.

In Advaita both jiva and Ishwara are only reflections of Pure Consciousness
in the reflecting medium called avidyA and mAyA.  Just as an image
reflected in a medium mirror is not held to be real, these two, jiva and
Ishwara, are not held to be real.  The image reflected in a mirror does
have some uses, undoubtedly.  But what is absolutely real is not the
reflection but the original which gets reflected.  Here we have the
reflection, Ishwara, and the medium, mAyA.  Both these are unreal being
dependent on the Original Consciousness for their very existence.  That
which depends on something else's existence for their very existence is not
absolutely real; they are unreal.  The superimposed snake on a rope is said
to 'exist' as long as the rope-knowledge has not arisen.  What is the basis
of the 'existence' of this snake?  It is undoubtedly the underlying rope
without which the very superimposition would not have been possible.  The
rope-existence is wrongly transferred to the snake and the vyavahara goes
on 'there 'is' a snake there'.  Similarly the shastra-superimposed Ishwara
has no existence apart from the Pure Consciousness, Brahman.  Being a
reflection in the medium mAyA, which too has no existence independent of
Brahman, Ishwara is held to be unreal in Advaita. Till there is
Brahman-realization the vyavahara is sustained by this reflected
consciousness Ishwara.  Thus in Advaita there is no original consciousness
to Ishwara; it is only a reflection dependent on the medium, mAyA.  And
that which is based on/dependent on Maya is not absolutely real.  That is
why Ishwara too is called 'chidAbhAsa', a reflection of Chit.

> From vyavahara, we think He appears and disappears. This is caused by His
> para maya, essentially non-different from Him. He does not become non-Self
> during His appearance. He does not become unreal. He does not become
> non-bliss. It is not like dualists assigning Him a reality equal to jagat
> or slightly higher. She remains absolutely real because pure existence is
> Her nature.

All the bliss, reality and consciousness attributed to Ishwara derives from
Pure Consciousness, sat-chit-ananda.  Since Ishwara is an entity that has
no existence independent of Brahman and Maya, no independent, natural,
existence, bliss and consciousness can be claimed for Ishwara.  Those who
hold views different from this are talking as non-advaitins, outside the
purview of Advaita.  Advaita does not have place for such views.  For the
simple reason that there will then be no Advaita as taught by the Acharyas
of the Shankara sampradaya.  By imposing such alien views on Advaita one is
only trying to make a fusion, an impossible marriage, between some other
dualist school and Advaita; a hotchpotch concoction.

> I am happy to be corrected as long as we don't (figuratively) kill Sankara
> and Rama - bhashyam and god.

We are actually killing Shankara (bhashyam) by admitting views that are
alien to Shankara advaita.  The idea of God is dependent on the idea of
world.  If there is no world ultimately, there is no God too ultimately.
That is the core of Advaita darshana.  Those Acharyas who opposed Shankara
could not come to terms with this core Advaita and that is why they put up
a God that has no risk of existence whatsoever.  Someone bringing in this
idea into Advaita is undoubtedly opposing Shankara.

I recall a dialogue from Swami Paramarthananda's lectures:

Tell me is God too unreal in Advaita?

konjam kaShTamaathaan irukku (it is indeed an uncomfortable question to
answer).  But Advaita, without batting an eyelid, says: Ultimately God too
is unreal.  There is no way you can say the world is unreal and retain God
as real.  The two exist together and disappear together in Advaita.


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