[Advaita-l] About the term in 'Ishwara' in Advaita - a brief note
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 05:53:27 CDT 2012
Since the Brahma sutra bhashya 1.3.13 was mentioned here, I wish to state a
few things pertaining to this bhashya:
For every adhikaraNam, Swami Vidyaranya has provided two verses that bring
out the gist of the discussion undertaken therein consisting of the
purvapaksha and the siddhanta. This is very useful for one to know either
a priori or after the study of the adhikaraNam, by means of a summary, as
to what is contained therein. For this particular adhikaraNam, the verse
ईक्षतिकर्मव्यपदेशात् सः ॥ १.३.१३ ॥
त्रिमात्रप्रणवे ध्येयमपरं ब्रह्म वा परम् । ब्रह्मलोकफलोक्त्यादेरपरं ब्रह्म
गम्यते ॥ १
ईक्षितव्यो जीवघनात्परः तत्प्रत्यभिज्ञा । भवेद्ध्येयं परं ब्रह्म क्रममुक्तिः
फलमिति ॥ २
Doubt: In the meditation using the praNava with the three 'mAtra-s', the
the brahman that is meditated is the param or the aparam?
The pUrvapakshin's conclusion: Since in this meditation the fruit is stated
to be going to Brahmaloka, the meditation is on the aparam brahman.
SiddhAnta: The meditated Brahman is param brahman alone for It is
differentiated from the Hiranyagarbha. The going to brahmaloka as fruit of
this meditation is with a view to show that this meditation leads to krama
Now, let us see some salient features of this adhikaraNam:
- In the concerned shruti passage, there are words such as 'paraH' and
'purushaH'. These two are common to denote both the Hiranyagarbha and the
- Yet, the ParamAtman is said to be 'parAtparaH puruShaH'. Here there
are two words to indicate 'paraH' - one in the panchamI and another in
prathamA (dviteeyaa in the shruti). The first one indicates the
Hiranyagarbha who is 'great' in relation to those beings that are lower in
hierarchy than him. The second ’paraH’ indicates that Brahman that is
greater even than this Hiranyagarbha.
- Even though Shankara uses the term 'paramAtmaa', 'paraH puruShaH' to
refer to para Brahman (as distinct from the Hiranyagarbha) still this para
Brahman is NOT the Ishwara (saguna/savishesha/mAyopAdhika Brahman that is
described in the sixth mantra of the Mandukyopanishat and subsequently
negated in the seventh mantra).
- Shankara gives the reasoning, quoting another shruti: पुरुषान्न परं
किञ्चित् सा काष्ठा सा परा गतिः of the Kathopanishat where the
ParamapuruSha, paramAtmA, Para, nirguNa, nirvishesha Brahman is taught as
the Ultimate beyond whom there is nothing to be counted as higher. And
which is the Ultimate Goal.
- Shankara holds that this 'meditation' is on the above said para
Brahman (not Ishwara) that should lead to self-realization, सम्यग्दर्शनम्
- But since the Prashna shruti that is the subject matter of this
discussion says that this meditator will reach Brahmaloka, Shankara holds
that it is a meditation on Brahman with the Alambana, support, of the
praNava and hence the meditator is assured or krama mukti (and not
realization here in this life itself).
- If the aspirant had 'known'/realized the NirguNa nirvishesha Brahman,
he would have been released here itself. But he has chosen to meditate
using the praNava as prateeka, a symbol (as distinct from a pratimA, an
idol of Vishnu). [In the BGB 8.23 introduction Shankara uses the word
'प्रणवावेशितब्रह्मबुद्धीनां कालान्तरमुक्तिभाजाम्’ which means: these
meditators have infused 'Brahmabuddhi' in the praNava (just as one
'infuses' Vishnubuddhi in the pratimA/sAligraama) and owing to this
meditation they will get released from samsara at a different/later time
and not in this life itself.] Since this is a meditation (till the end of
the life), the phalam is brahmaloka prApti, for krama mukti. He will
realize Brahman in that loka and get finally released.
- Thus, even though the subject of meditation is the para Brahman beyond
even Ishwara, the fruit is brahmaloka, because it is a meditation.
- The Ratnaprabha on the BSB clarifies: it is the dhyeya brahma with
praNava. [In Advaita there is the mention of 'jneya brahman' which is to be
realized as such. But the 'meditatable brahman' is not to be realized as
such; owing to the samskara the mind/aspirant gets due to the meditation,
the samyagjnAnam will arise at a different time/loka.]
- The Ratnaprabha, at the beginning of the gloss for this BSB, while
putting the Prashna shruti in perspective explains: 'param = nirguNam,
aparam = saguNam braha etadeva yo'yam OmkAraH'. sa hi pratimEva
viShNostasya pratIkaH.' And goes on to explain the shruti vAkyam: he who
meditates on this praNava will attain to, depending upon which type of
meditation he engages in, the para or apara brahman.
- The Bhamati writes: This meditation is on the Brahman with upAdhi.
- The nyAyanirNaya of Anandagiri elucidates: This is a meditation on the
Brahman with the OmkArOpAdhi.
- Thus, even though the meditation is not on the sarvajnatvOpAdhi
vishiShTa Brahman (Ishwara) who has the avyaktopAdhi too to carry out the
function of creation, from whom the beings emerge at the time of creation
and in whom the beings merge in pralaya (BG 8.19), there is the upAdhi of
OmkAra here which makes this Brahman a dhyeya brahman and not the
nirupAdhika jneya brahman. However, the fruit of knowing brahman is
available for this aspirant in the Brahmaloka.
- The use of the word 'paramAtmA' is to refer to the para Brahman, not
Ishwara, though different from Hiranyagarbha.
- There is no use of the term 'parameshwara' in this BSB. Even if it
were there, as for example, in the BGB 8.13 (मामीश्वरमनुस्मरन्ननुचिन्तयन्),
it does not refer to the savishesha brahman, the
creator-sustainer-destroyer, but the one above/beyond this. For these
aspirants utter, ucchAraNam, the OmkAra with the idea that it means/has for
its subject matter the Ishwara/Brahman. (BGB 8.13)
- Hence this sutra bhashyam 1.3.13 is not concerned with the Ishwara who
is sOpAdhika/savishesha, though distinct from Hiranyagarbha.
- Thus a careful study of the BSB 1.3.13 along with the BGB 8th chapter
verses does not prove to one that the sOpAdhika/savishesha Ishwara is the
same as the Para Brahman which is beyond even this.
- It is also pertinent to note that in the Mandukyopanishad bhashya for
the mantra 12 what Shankara says: //The Knower of Brahman who has realized
the highest Truth hs entered into the Self b burning awa the third state of
latency and hence he is not born again, since Turiya has no latency of
creation. For when a snake superimposed on a rope has merged in the rope
on the discrimination of the rope and the snake, it does not appear again
to those discriminating people, just as before. ...To those men of
renunciation, however, who are possessed of dull or average intellect, who
still consider themselves aspirants, who tread the virtuous path, and who
know the common features of the letter and the quarters (of Om and the
Self) as presented before, (to them) the syllable Om when meditted on in
the proper way, becomes helpful for the realization of Brahman....// In
this bhashya too, the Brahman they meditate upon is not the Ishwara but the
Turiya alone, with the various mAtra-s of Om for support. Shankara, just
as in the BGB/BSB uses the word 'Alambanam' here too.
- The BSB and the BGB considered above are in the context of the
aspirants mentioned above who have not the capacity to discriminate in the
manner of rope-snake. They gain the capacity by meditation, in a later
loka, and eventually get released.
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