[Advaita-l] Multiple levels of reality

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Feb 18 10:09:45 CST 2012

On Sun, 12 Feb 2012, Kalyan K wrote:

> The Self cannot be known through shravaNa on the karma kanda. Note 
> Sankara's commentary on bruhadAraNyaka upnishad 2.4.2 where yajnavalkya 
> tells to maitreyi that possession of wealth does not lead to 
> immortality. Sankara interprets this as meaning the performance of rites 
> like agnihotra, which can be done through wealth. We can conclusively 
> say that karma kanda does not give knowledge of Self.

We're talking about multiple levels of reality aren't we?  I agree that 
karmakanda doesn't speak of _the_ Self but it does speak of _a_ self.  The 
way of the world (lokAyata) is to think of the self as merely the body 
apprehended through the senses and ceasing to exist at death.  From the 
karmakanda we learn that there is an immortal and imperishable atman that 
continues through many births.  It is in this sense that Vedanta treats 
karmakanda as a means of purification to prepare for higher truths.

> It is in the same section in the upanishad that yagnavalkya talks of
> shravaNa etc. Please refer to 2.4.5 of the BU where he says that the Self
> (not the karma kanda) should be heard of etc. Here is the relevant portion
> in Sanskrit – AtmA vA are draSTavyaH Srotavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyo
> maitreyI Atmano vA are darSanena Sravaṇena matyA vijNAnenedaM sarvaM
> viditam.

I don't doubt it but it doesn't contradict what I'm saying about multiple 
levels of reality.

> I never said that ignorance need not be destroyed for Self-knowledge. I
> said that a sAdhaka does not need the knowledge of mAyA or multiple
> realities for liberation.

How then does he know that he is ignorant?

> By multiple levels of reality, we (or at least I) generally mean
> vyavahArika satya and paramArthika satya. Can you clarify on what you mean
> by alternate level of reality?

saMsAra, the cycle of birth and rebirth is the vyavaharika satya.  The 
creation, maintainence and destruction of the universe is the result of 

>   multiple realities was “originally” used by the buddhists (though it is
>   "implicit" in Sruti)
>   Now, I know that you will not concede on point 2. But an individual's
>   concession is his or her personal opinion. From my side, I say that one is
>   free to verify point 2 by reading buddhist works like mUla mAdhyamaka
>   kArIkA of nAgArjuna.

We simply don't have enough information to make such categorical 
statements.  First of all, if we are even in a position to read mula 
madhyamaka karikas, it is because similiar works survived in Tibetan and 
Chinese translations.  "Hindu" works of that era did not survive whether 
due to invasions, neglect, eclipse by later works etc.  Second, Mahayana 
is not only different to Hinduism, it is a substantial departure from the 
earlier Hinayana forms of Buddhism.  I already mentioned that there was a 
turn to Sanskrit.  We also have evidence from archaeology that the 
Buddhists were becoming a demographic minority during this time period in 
India (outside was a different matter.)  So it is atleast plausible that 
doctrinal changes in Buddhism stemmed from an external source.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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