[Advaita-l] Ishwara Turiya?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Mar 11 04:31:58 CDT 2012

 The BhAmatI position that Shri Devanathan has stated is quite in order
since the term 'Ishwara' is taken to mean 'shuddha chaitanyam' free of mAyA
association.  Even Bhagavan in the seventh Chapter has made this two-fold
prakRti distinction as the 'higher' and 'lower'.  The word 'prakRti' itself
has different meanings, one being 'kAraNam' as used in the Brahmasutra/s.
So, the parA-prakRti that is Ishwara is none other than nirguNa Brahman.
Here by the word 'parA-prakRti' the higher (svarUpa) nature is meant.

But in common usage the term 'Ishwara' is understood as the jagat-kAraNam
which is taTastha lakShaNam of Brahman.  So, when a question 'Is Ishwara
Turiya'? is asked the general and most appropriate reply would be: no.  The
Brahmasutra bhashya from 2.1.14 that I had quoted settles the matter beyond
any question.  That is the ultimate verdict of the Advaita Acharya.

However, when the term 'Ishwara' is sought to be explained as not the jagat
kAraNam but shuddha chaitanyam then we have already admitted that 'Ishwara'
= 'nirguNa Brahman' and admitting the Turiya status to this Ishwara/Brahman
is not at all questioned.

And more than anything, going by the combination of the words 'Ishwara' and
'Turiya' in the question originally asked, one is quite reasonable in
confining to the Mandukya Upanishad context for it is only there the term
'turiya'/'chaturtham' (seventh mantra) is used along with 'Ishwara' (sixth
mantra).  If one were to go beyond the Mandukya context and seek to assert
Ishwara is Turiya with the reasons stated above, it is not objected.  But
it should be clear that Ishwara = Turiya comes with the rider: Ishwara is
nirguNa brahman and not saguNa brahman.

Also it is to be noted, for example, in the Vishnu sahasra nAma, we have
the name: 'brahmavit'.  Since a 'Brahmavit' is essentially Brahman alone,
VishNu (or Shiva) as Ishwara are indeed Brahman (Turiya) alone.  Just like
any other jiva-brahmavit, Ishwara-brahmavit is also Brahman/Turiya alone.
But in the case of the jiva the prArabdha karma ends at a certain time and
the Turiya-hood is available un-burdened.  But in the case of Ishwara, the
mAyaa-association is for ever, the very nature of Ishwara and therefore His
TuriyAhood is not just like any other jiva's turiyAhood.

As I stated before, even in the Gitabhashya 13th chapter Shankara uses the
term 'kShetrajneshvara abhedaH' which means 'the non-difference, identity
between the kshetrajna, the knower Self and Ishwara'.  Here all advaitins
know that there can be no identity between the Atman and Ishwara and there
can be only identity between Atman and Brahman.  So, it is quite in the
practice to use these terms in such a manner.  Here are two instances in
the Gaudapada kArikA (4.82 and 84) where the word 'BhagavAn' is used to
denote the Pure Consciousness.  Shankara Himself has given the purANic
popular definition of 'Bhagavan' which involves six attributes including
aishwarya in the BGB.  And in the patently clear clarification from
Shankara in the BSB 2.1.14 that Ishwaratvam obtains only the vyavaharic
realm we have no right to question His usage.

And more than anything what clinches the issue is, along with the word
'prapanchopashamam' of the seventh mantra of the Mandukya, there is another
crucial expression 'sa AtmA sa vijneyaH' in that mantra.  This means: This
(described Entity) is the Self and *this is to be known/realized (for
liberation).*  If we take Ishwara-Turiya as the one described in the
Mandukya seventh mantra, the teaching will have to be explained as taking
such a knower of such an Atman to Brahmaloka and not liberating him here
itself.  This crucial aspect has to be borne in mind when we talk of
Ishwara as Turiya.  For, saguNa-brahman knowledge is admitted as leading
one to Brahmaloka.

Thus, if someone holds that 'Ishwara is Turiya' and yet holds by the word
'Ishwara' the jagat-kAraNam then such a position is not endorsed even by
the BhAmati or the Lord in the seventh chapter.  For the seventh mantra
divests the sixth-mantra Ishwara of all kAraNatva status too and presents
the pure consciousness as the essence of the jiva and this knowledge as
instantly liberating.

It would be interesting to know which kArikA describes Turiya as Isa and in
which BSB Shankara equates the two.


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