[Advaita-l] Notes on Vichara Sagaram-3
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 25 00:36:30 CST 2012
Further analyzing the slokas, the author himself provides three contradictions that can arise and then resolves them. We first state the contradictions and then explain how they are resolved. One can consider them as purva paksha and sidhhanta – objections and answers to the objections. The three contradictions are:
1. Words cannot describe Brahman – and yet words are used to describe Brahman.
2. Mind cannot know Brahman – Mind alone can know Brahman.
3. jnaanam involves knowing and knowing involves illumination – Brahman illumines everything but it cannot be illumined by anything –on the other hand, aham braahmasmi involving knowing I am that Brahman. How can Brahman be known without involving knowing process?
We take each one of the contradictions and resolve them.
1. Words cannot describe Brahman. Any description involves definition in terms of attributes. Only finites have attributes and describable. The more specific the attributes are the more precise is the definition of the object. The specificity is defined by Nyaaya as not having any of the three defects: ativyaapti, avyaapti and asmbhavam. Ativyaapti is over applicability, avyaapti is under applicability and asambhavam is inapplicability. Attributes are those that differentiate one object from the other. Brahman being infinite cannot have attributes – nirguNaH – and there is nothing other than Brahman to differentiate it from Brahman. Na vaak gacchati na manaH – the mind cannot go there nor the speech. Yato vacho nivartante.. speech returns back without describing it .. etc. Yet we have, starting with the managa slokas, pages and pages of description of Brahman that which cannot be described. There is obviously a contradiction.
Ans: This contradiction is resolved by adding an adverb; words directly cannot describe Brahman but words can indirectly describe Brahman. Words not by vaachyaartham (not by direct word meaning) but by lakshyaartham (indicatory meaning) – These are indicatory definitions of Brahman but not actual definitions. Take for example anantam – meaning infinite – even in English infinite is word indirectly describes infinite which cannot be described since only finites can be described –The word infinite is pointing to that (lakshyaartha) which is not finite – hence infinite involves negation of any finite entity – hence by process of negation only one can ascertain the meaning of infinite. Neha naanaasti kinchana – there is absolute no thing that exists say shruti– This statement can mislead that Brahman is suunyam or emptiness as some philosophies explain. On the other hand it is puurnam or full or complete and is in everything but cannot be
pointed as a thing by itself. Hence words have to be properly used by a competent teacher to indicate that which cannot be otherwise described. brahmaarpaNam brahma haviH .. is another sloka that starts with the statement that the ladle is infinite, Brahman .. etc. The direct word meaning or vaachyaartha will sound ridiculous. The teacher himself has to have a clear understanding of what he is trying to communicate – and in his hands the words can come alive for the student who is tuned to the teacher. Importance of a live teacher therefore need not be stressed. Hence emphasis on a sampradaaya teacher or the one who is shotriya and brahma nishTa – who himself has learned from his teacher not only the truth but how to communicate that truth. Thus the first contradiction is resolved by using adverbs – directly and indirectly. The words directly cannot describe Brahman, but only indirectly indicates Brahman.
II. The second contradiction involves mind. We have scriptural statements that show that mind is needed for realization. At the same time there are scriptural statements that mind cannot reach or grasp Brahman. Mind cannot know Brahman – na vaak gacchati na manaH, yan manasaa na manute .., yato vaacho nivartante apraapya manasaa saha, etc are shuruti statements. On the other hand there are also statements that say mind alone is required for self realization. manaeva manushyaanam kaaraNam bandha mokshayoH, mind is responsible for both bondage and liberation (amr. Up) manasiavedamaaptavyam …| the realization can be achieved indeed through the mind only (KaT. Up. Bri. Up. 4-4). ..hRidaa maniiShaa manasaa2bhiklupto.. that which is indweller of the mind is realized by the mind. (Kat. Up.), esho2Nuraatmaa chetasaa veditavyaH .. This subtle aatma has to be known only by the mind (Mun. Up.). Thus we have contradictory scriptural statements that say mind is
required for the knowledge as well as mind cannot know Brahman.
Ans. The contradiction is resolved by adding an adjective to the mind. It is qualified mind that can know and not the unqualified mind. Mala vikshepaadi dosha yuktaa manaH, the mind that is polluted with agitations etc – these agitations arise from raaga and dveshas – the mind that wanders and therefore cannot focus its attention – it becomes extroverot – that mind cannot know Brahman – in the language JK this can be considered as conditioned mind. On the other hand, the mind that is purified by karma yoga and upaasana yoga become less agitated, become introvert and has in the process developed the four-fold qualifications, viveka, vairagya, shamaadhi Shakta sampaati and mumushutvam that Shankara discusses in relation to the B. Sutra 1. Such a mind alone can know Brahman. In essence mind cannot know Brahman as an object or it cannot illumine Brahman – Hence the statement – those who understand it understand it not (Ken. Up.). However mind
has to turn inwards and observe that because of which the mind itself is illumined or known, that alone is Brahman. It is not objectification but inquiring into that because of which all objectifications are possible. That inquiry has to be done by the mind only, and can be done by the mind only, and should be done by the mind only – that mind which is free from all the defects pointed out above. A purified mind is also called uttamaadhikaari, or supremely qualified mind. This can be done by shravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana, say the scriptures – where the presence of mind is required for each.
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