[Advaita-l] Pramana for adhyaropa apavada

Venkata sriram P venkatasriramp at yahoo.in
Fri May 10 05:07:33 CDT 2013

I'm only talking about descriptive statements. The statements that describe 
brahman as having form, performing action etc. are negated by statements that describe brahman as not having form, not performing action. Does it not make the former 
untrue though required for upasana? 
Here are the excerpts from "guru-kripA-vilAsaM" which is a dialogue between 
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Swamigal and a devotee.
When a bhakta came to have darshan of SrImad AchAryAL (Sri Chandrasekhara BharatI MahAsvAmigaL), he did prastAvanA (begin to talk) about SrI RAmAnujAchArya.

bhakta: When SrI RAmAnujAchArya is explaining the meaning of some upanishad vAkyas (sayings), for the saying 'brahmaM nirguNaM' he gives the meaning, 'heya-guNa-rahita (wanting in bad characteristics) and therefore 'ananta-kalyANaguNa-vishiShTa', (distinguished by all good characteristics); would that be appropriate?

AchAryAr: Good, bad are all for us only; they are not in the Brahmam. The siddhAntaM (demonstrated conclusion) is only that he is of no guNa. If it is meant that "no bad guNas are there", it is enough to say 'nirdoSha' (with no deficiencies); there is no necessity at all to say 'nirguNa'.

bhakta: Like suvAsanA, durvAsanA (good and bad intentions), since there is prayogaM (usage) of suguNa, durguNa (good and bad characteristic), isn't the guNa-shabda (the word 'guNa') one that can 'do anvaya' (associate) with both?

AchAryAr: vAstavaM (True). When that is the case, if it is nirguNa, it would only mean that there is neither any good nor any bad characteristic?

bhakta: I don't say it that way. Since durguNa is contained in the guNa-shabda, what is the mistake in explaining the meaning of nirguNa as 'one without any bad characteristic'?

AchAryAr: There is no mistake. What is the pramANa (evidence, proof) to take that the general guNa-shabda only indicates durguNa?

bhakta: Don't we use the (Tamil) word nAtRam (smell) to mean only durnAtRam (bad smell) in general?

AchAryAr: vAstavaM. In the same way, is there any context where the shabda guNa is used to mean only 'bad characteristic'? When NAradA asked VAlmIki in Srimad RAmAyaNam guNavAn kashcha vIryavAn ("who is the one who is a 'guNavAn'--one with all good characterstics and a 'vIryavAn'--one capable of heroic deeds), did he mean "one with all bad characteristics?" In prayogam (usage) guNa would only mean 'good characteristic' in sAmAnya (commonly).

bhakta: Even if it is not there in prayogaM, since the guNa-shabda is common, it would also indicate 'bad characteristic', is it not so?

AchAryAr: It would also indicate 'good characteristic'. 'Doing alakShyaM' (ignoring) of prayogaM won't be nyAyaM (logical, justified) in any way. Suppose an elderly man comes when we are here. After he arrives, if I tell you "this man is an avidvAn", you would be startled, not knowing the meaning. If at that time I tell you, "My referring to this man as avidvAn was in the meaning 'heya-vidyA-rahita' (one who has no bad learning); the tAtparyaM (purport) of what I told was only that "this man is an ananta-kalyANa-vidvAn (one who has learnt all good disciplines of knowledge)", would that be of samAdhAnam (reconcilable) to you, you decide it for yourself.

bhakta: They say that NArAyaNamUrti who remains either in paLLi (bed) in the kShIrAbdhi (milky ocean) or sitting in the ratna siMhAsanaM (throne of precious stones) at VaikuNThaM is the paratattvaM (ultimate Brahman), do the Advaitins agree with it?

AchAryAr: What is the AkShepaM (objection) in agreeing with it? How can we, who say that the vyApti (pervasion) of ParaBrahmaM is in all the padArthAs (material objects) of the Jagad (world), say that those Divya MUrtis are not Paratattvam?

bhakta: If that be so, what is the difference between them and us?

AchAryAr: They say that only the Divya MUrtis in the VaikuNThaM are Paratattvam. We say that those MUrtis are the uttama vibhUtis (highest manifestations) of the Paratattvam.

bhakta: What is the pAdakaM (obstacle, loss) for us if we agree that those MUrtis are themselves Paratattvam? Can't we have it as: just as the Sun who is only present in the sky pervades the whole world with his shine and warmth, in the same way BhagavAn too remains in VaikuNThaM and pervades the whole world with his prabhA (shine) and shakti (power)?

AchAryAr: We can have. But then (in that case), that which pervades the world would only be shakti, not BhagavAn. Would it be nyAyam when the Vedas have mentioned BhagavAn himself as sarva-vyApaka (all-pervading), and that only Brahman is the greatest, to make that BhagavAn just a small parichChinna mUrti (divided, detached, confined image) residing in the VaikuNThaM and KailAsaM, giving the nature of his pervasion to only his shakti?

bhakta: Is it the tAtparyaM that to do kalpana (create, imagine) of a form for BhagavAn would be a mistake?

AchAryAr: Not so. MUrti is necessarily required for the upAsaka (worshipper) to do dhyAna upAsanAdis (meditation and worship). Moreover, his UpAsanA-MUrti should be there and do anugraham to him for his lokAntaraM (worldly attachments) to go away, by his upAsanA bhAvam, and for him to experience sukham (bliss) thereafter. Therefore, in whatever way, a mUrti would only be a necessity.

bhakta: The UpAsaka who goes up to VaikuNThaM or KailAsaM would have already conquered all his sakala-vidha rAga-dveShAdi (all kinds of likes and dislikes). He would be desireless. So if he goes to those Uttama LokAs, he is not going to indulge in the vaiShiyika sukha (pleasures for the senses) there. He would not do apekShA (need or desire) of anything except remaining shAshvata (eternal, immortal), having darshan of the Divya MUrti there. What is the mistake to have that state as the state of MokShaM? What is the reason that the Advaitins say that there is a kaivalyaM (absolute unity) above this state?

AchAryAr: What you say is completely nyAyam (logical). But then only having darshan of the VaikuNThAdi MUrtis and experiencing its bliss is not sAdhyaM (feasible), and not uchitaM (proper) too. Since upAsana is only a mAnasIka karma (mental act) the vaikuNThAdi vAsaM (residence in VaikuNTham) that is attained by it would also be over with the puNya-kShaya (consumption of good karma). He would only need to return here.

bhakta: How is it not uchitaM?

AchAryAr: If the upAsakA remains in happiness having darshan of the VaikuNThAdi MUrtis, it would amount to the upAsakA becoming the bhoktA (one who experiences) and that MUrti becoming the bhogyaM (that which is experienced). The bhoktA is always AtmA, cetana (animate, intelligent, conscious); bhogyaM is always anAtmA, achetana (not the AtmA, inanimate/without consciousness). Therefore, if this man is having darshan of that Divya MUrti and experiencing happiness, it can only be that he makes that MUrti bhogyam and thereby anAtmA and jaDaM (inanimate). This is a great apachAraM (spiritual offence).

Advaitins would not give room to such apachAraM. They would only accept the kaivalya padavi (path to Unity) as MokShaM, where the bhedaM (difference, distinction) of bhoktA-bhogyaM ceases into a state of unity of both.

Apart from this, if it is a mUrti it could only be within limits. It would not be uchitaM to say that only it is the Paratattvam. As an udAharaNam (example), let us take MahAVishNu. It is seen in his mUrti as holding up a chakraM (disc) in the right hand and a shangkham (conch) in the left hand. But there would be space between his bhujaM (arm) and the hand that holds the disc, right? Would there be BhagavAn in that space? If he is not there, the sarva-vyapakatvaM for the Bhagavan would be gone. If he is there, the concept that the very MUrti with those limbs is BhagavAn would be gone? Does BhagavAn pervade only that space? He pervades the space of his stance, the VaikuNThaM he resides in, and all the fourteen worlds? Without creating the space in him where he is not there, how can a MUrti be created? Therefore, to think that what is with MUrti is only BhagavAn, since it 'does hAni to' (ruins) his sarva-vyApakatvaM, would only be apachAraM.

Therefore, for the Divya MUrtis in VaikuNThAdi, except that we can ascribe the vyavahArika satyam (practical, conditional reality) as done for all the padArthas (material objects) in the world, we cannot ascribe paramArthika satyam (absolute reality). Based on the tAratamyas (gradations, proportions) in the vyavahArika satyam we say that those LokAs are nityam (eternal) and satyam (real). So long as there is bheda-buddhi for us (tendency to distinguish) for us, all these worlds are only real.

In the stage we are in today, we need to only indulge in karma and upAsana as prescribed in the ShAstras, and since we are anarha (unworthy, unsuitable) to inquire into what the Paratattvam would be like in the stage of uttama jnAnaM (highest knowledge), it would only be a waste to debate about that--there is no doubt about it. When that state is reached, the Tattvam would be intelligible of its own. And there would be no time for arguments then.


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