[Advaita-l] Shankara on non-Advaitic mokSha/Brahman

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Mar 4 01:47:07 CST 2013

On Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 12:46 PM, Rajaram Venkataramani <
rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

> >
> >
> > All that was said with a view to show that the Turiya is prapancha
> > vilakShaNa.  And the most important reason why the seventh mantra is not
> > referring to Ishwara is that it teaches 'such a Turiya' to be the Atman
> and
> > the 'one to be realized'.  Surely the Advaitic realization as 'That am I'
> > cannot be with Ishwara as 'That'.
> >
> > RV: there are are many places where atma is used to refer to Ishwara. In
> certain forms of Upasana also, there are uses of identity - Gopalaham,
> Sivoham etc.

Such 'identity' is not the Advaitic identity as taught in 'tat tvam asi'

> The devotee meditates on himself as the instrument or shakti
> of the lord and hence considers himself non-different. So, reference to
> atma need not mean it is not ishwara.

And such meditations do not make the jiva infinite.

Oneness is not necessarily through negation of attributes.

In no other way can absolute oneness be achieved. For, the jiva cannot gain
the attributes of Ishwara nor can Ishwara be expected to lose His own
attributes and regard Himself one with the finite jiva.

> Also, it is circular logic to say that brahman is referred to in this
> mantra not Ishwara because our system says so. We have
> to base the siddhanta on sastra not sastra on the siddhanta.

It is not as you think it to be.  It must be remembered that an email
discussion is not a substitute for a committed study of the Advaita shAstra
by taking up texts in a methodical way.  Sri Vidyasankar had hinted at this
long ago.  You must remember that you cannot force your preconceived
notions on Advaita/Upanishads and extract the meaning you desire out of
them.  The Mandukya upanishad starts with the declaration 'All this is
Brahman' and goes on to present the three states as the 'this' and finally
negates them wholesale to show how all 'this' is Brahman, the turiya.  Thus
the previous mantras and the seventh mantra are placed in an
adhyAropa-apavAda relationship.  If this explanation of the bhAshyakAra is
not convincing to you, you can form your own system and have a separate
bhAShyam. People who carefully follow the shAnkara bhAShya discern a
pattern in the entire literature - both bhAShya and the Upanishadic.  So,
their conclusions are ever based on this pattern that is discernible to
them.  In this exercise no attempt is made to snub one's curiosity or
spirit of enquiry.  That is the reason I asked you to get to hearing the
talk-series in a methodical manner.

> NAntaprajnam can be an attribute of ishwara also.

na prajnam is the Upanishadic way of denying the 'consciousness of
everything at the same time' which is an attribute of Ishwara
(sarvajnatvam).  This attribute was specifically mentioned for Ishwara in
the sixth mantra. While it cannot be separated from Ishwara, this is one of
the items that mark Ishwara different from Brahman. So, to think that a
difference between Ishwara and Brahman is artificial is against the very
text of this very Upanishad.

> You have not answered my specific objection to use of this mantra to
> establish difference between Brahman and Ishwara. Brahman, by  definition
> is devoid of attributes and unconnected with maya in any way. But the
> mantra has terms that talk of a Brahman in connection with qualities
> (peaceful, auspicious) and even the world (dissolves in to it). That is my
> argument to say that Brahman and
> Ishwara are not so different in Advaita.

We have Brahman's svarUpa lakShaNa for instance stated in the Taittiriya:
satyam, jnAnam, anantam.  For these apparently positive attributes,
Shankara also explains: satyam is negating the possibility of Brahman being
time-limited/anRtam.  jnAnam denies the jaDatva possibility and anantam
removes the three types of finitudes. So, going by that, shaantam is for
denying disturbed nature in Brahman, auspicious, for denying its opposite.
Advaitam in Advaita is: na vidyate dvaitam asmin:  duality does not exist
IN It.  And prapanchopashamam is not 'the world dissolves into it' for this
attribute has already been stated in the preceding mantra by the words:
sarvasya prabhavApyayau hi bhUtAnAm: Ishwara is the source and the ground
of dissolution of the entire creation.  This attribute too, cannot be
separated from Ishwara; it is His very nature. So, the seventh mantra is
not repeating it.  Prapanchopashamam means: the absence of all the
attributes of the entire triad of states: waking, dream and sleep (in both
their individual and cosmic aspects).  All those disturbances/duality of
the three states are not in Brahman.  This Turiya cannot be Ishwara since
Ishwara is taught to be the abode of this disturbance-duality ridden
creation.  Such a sambandha with the creation is not admitted by the
Upanishad in Brahman, turiya.  Such an Ishwara, being related to the world,
even if not by Himself finite/disturbed/inauspicious, cannot be the
absolute since by the very definition He will be relative to the
world-jiva-s.  While an identity with such an Ishwara is impossible for the
aspirant, with turiya it is a fact that has only to be realized/recognized.
Attributes like antaryAmin will presuppose a person or entity to be
controlled. That is why even the sAkshi of Advaita is not regarded as the
absolute: the advaitamakaranda says: sAkShitApi na tAttvikI ('even
witnesshood is not absolute'). Any form of duality is unacceptable for the
Upanishadic Turiya.

We have discussed the 'Ishwara - Brahman' distinction before too and pl.
search in the archives for the posts.

If Swami Paramarthananda has addressed it, happy to learn and correct
> myself.

Instead of taking topics piecemeal in a hotchpotch manner, a systematic
listening to his talks would be most beneficial.

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