[Advaita-l] Ishwara Turiya?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Mar 8 19:49:20 CST 2012

On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 6:53 AM, Kathirasan K <brahmasatyam at gmail.com> wrote:

> Namaste
> Michael Comans (vasudevacarya) takes the same view in his book 'The Method
> of Early Advaita Vedanta'. He holds the view that Shankara uses the term
> ishvara to mean both nirguna and saguna in his prasthana traya bhashya. He
> provides references too.

It is clear that when someone wants to know whether Ishwara is Turiya or
not, it is presumed that the questioner has in mind the Ishwara who is the
Creator, etc.(saguNa).  For he cannot, obviously, think beyond this.  It is
with this in mind the reply:  'Ishwara is within the realm of relativity
and therefore not Turiya' is given.  That Shankara has used in the
bhashya-s  the term 'Ishwara' for example in the context of
'kShtrajneshwara abheda' it is only meant that 'Ishwara' here is nirguNa
Brahman.  These are considered only exceptions and not the rule.
Traditional Advaitins will hold this 'general rule' / 'exception' scheme as
the method to explain these things.  That is why it is insisted that
Advaita is studied under a traditional Acharya who has the entire bhashya
and other texts in his mind's eye while teaching a student.  He will see
that the student gets the correct import of the word 'Ishwara' wherever it
is used.  Otherwise, a categorical statement 'Ishwara is Turiya' is bound
to send the wrong message about the Advaitic Ishwara.  Thus it is safest to
have this rule: 'Ishwara is within mAyA and therefore not Turiya' and
'Brahman, NIrguNa, is beyond Maya and therefore Turiya'.  It is always safe
to have riders to avoid misunderstandings.

This statement of Shankara in the BSB 2.1.14 isthe  key to understanding
the status of 'Ishwar' in Advaita:

*तदेवमविद्यात्मकोपाधिपरिच्छेदापेक्षमेवेश्वरस्येश्वरत्वं सर्वज्ञत्वं
सर्वशक्तित्वं च न परमार्थतो विद्यायापास्तसर्वोपाधिस्वरूप
आत्मनीशित्रीशितव्यसर्वज्ञत्वादिव्यवहार उपपद्यते   ।*

//Thus, only in the realm of the ignorance-created upAdhis are Ishwara's
Lordship, Omniscience and Omnipotence, and not in the pAramArthika realm
which implies that the ignorance-created upAdhis have been
negated/dispelled by True knowledge.  In this post-negation scenario the
ignorance-realm of Ishwara-Ishitavya (ruler-ruled) duality and omniscience,
etc. do not have a place.//

This is perhaps the best and most unambiguous statement that one can keep
etched in one's intellect with regard to the status of Ishwara in Advaita.

These following sentences, again from the above BSB, are added notes on the
topic, the translation of which can be obtained from Swami Gambhirananda's


तथाचोक्तम्ऽयत्र नान्यत्पश्यति नान्यच्छृणोति नान्यद्विजानाति स भूमाऽ (छा.
७.२४.१) इतिऽयत्र त्वस्य सर्वमात्मैवाभूत्तत्केन पश्येत्ऽ (बृ. ४.५.१५)
इत्यादिना च   ।

एवं परमार्थावस्थायां सर्वव्यवहाराभावं वदन्ति वेदान्ताः सर्वे   ।

तथेश्वरगीतास्वपिऽन कर्तृत्वं न कर्माणि लोकस्य सृजति प्रभुः   ।

न कर्मफलसंयोगं स्वभावस्तु प्रवर्तते  । ।

नादत्ते कस्यचित्पापं न चैव सुकृतं विभुः   ।

अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं तेन मुह्यन्ति जन्तवःऽ (गी. ५.१४.१५) इति
परमार्थावस्थायामीशित्रीशितव्यादिव्यवहाराभावः प्रदर्श्यते   ।

व्यवहारावस्थायां तूक्तः श्रुतावपीश्वरादिव्यवहारःऽएष सर्वेश्वर एष
भूताधिपतिरेष भूतपाल एष सेतुर्विधारण एषां लोकानामसंभेदायऽ (बृ. ४.४.२२) इति

तथाचेश्वरगीतास्वपिऽईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेर्ऽजुन तिष्ठति   ।

भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि माययाऽ (गी. १८.६१) इति   ।

सूत्रकारोऽपि परमार्थाभिप्रायेण तदन्यत्वमित्याह   ।

व्यवहाराभिप्रायेण तु स्याल्लोकवदिति महासमुद्रस्थानीयतां ब्रह्मणः कथयति   ।

अप्रत्याख्यायैव कार्यप्रपञ्चं परिणामप्रक्रियां चाश्रयति
सगुणोपासनेषूपयोक्ष्यत इति    । । १४  । ।

I would go to the extent of saying: If someone who is capable of convincing
his tradition-trained Acharya to teach only the above BSB (2.1.14),
completely, there is bound to arise a correct understanding of Advaita.
For this BSB deals with a number of key aspects of Advaita and is
considered a reference point.



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