[Advaita-l] Meet on Advaita Vedanta

subhanu saxena subhanu at hotmail.com
Tue May 28 12:48:51 CDT 2013

Namaste to all

I had received an invite to the Bangalore event but my new
work schedule prevented me from attending.  I was a little surprised to see not only the
points that were brought up but also how they were debated and also what was
left out of the discussion.

Rather than go over points that have been extensively
covered in the list many times, I thought I would quickly summarise where there
is no disagreement between differing views and then  share what Suresvara has said regarding key
tenets of the Vivaraṇam school as presented over
the years on this list:

Areas of no disagreement with regard Shankara’s sampradāya

Brahman is the only reality

The only impediment to realising the truth is
that we have not known this fact

Our ignorance is therefore purely notional, not
real, established by our experience

Only knowledge gained through Sruti texts such
as tat tvam asi reveal this knowledge

Knowledge via the sole source of Sruti can only
accrue to that seeker that has created the right  conditions within through  the sādhanā given in the shāstra

Sruti removes ignorance in a qualified aspirant
based on the method of adhyāropa-apavāda: The notions of
creation and cause and effect are purely for the purpose of teaching the
ultimate unity of Brahman.

Even if the concept of our fundamental ignorance
is termed mūlāvidyā  it is solely for the purpose of teaching and
is itself therefore an imagined superimposed notion (Vivaraṇam says this explicitly)

Yoga can be an aid to preparing the seeker for
knowledge but does not confer ultimate knowledge, as this can only come from

Whilst later texts can certainly aid one’s
reflection, a deep direct understanding of Shankara’s bhashya works, and
Upadesha Sāhasrī should be the commitment
of every sincere sādhaka.
Ideally the sādhaka
should also master Gauḍapāda’s Kārikās and Suresvara’s Vārtikā works plus Naishkarmya
Siddhi. It goes without saying that deep study of the prasthāna trayī original works with a
competent teacher is a given once the right mindset has been achieved

The sincere seeker will dedicate their life to
that sadhana which will allow knowledge to accrue

Areas of contention:

Given that mūlāvidyā  is an imagined superimposed notion, then is
the prior assumption of  a non-cognition
of Brahman a logical precondition  for
the purpose of the teaching or an actual state in space and time?

If mūlāvidyā  is an imagined superimposed notion can it
really be the cause of superimposition and can it transcend superimposition
itself and be viewed outside of it as something both subjective and objective?

Is the breakdown of mūlāvidyā  as mithyā+ajñānam
both necessary and justified in Shankara’s tradition and is ignorance’s  provisional causality upādāna or nimitta in nature?

Are the epithets mithyā as anirvachanīyā , mūlāvidyā  as sadasadvilakshaṇa-bhāvarūpam necessary and justified in Shankara’s  tradition to explain the world as we perceive
it and to differentiate mūlāvidyā from things that have no
existence such as a hare’s horn? Can it’s nature be determined to be
sadasad-vilakshaṇam or bhāvarūpam through the correct pramanas?

What is the value of stating that such a root
ignorance, a superimposed notion, must be present in deep sleep, another
superimposed notion, in aiding a seeker’s understanding and is it sanctioned in
Shankara’s system?

There are a number of corollaries that follow from the above
such as whether knowledge once it has risen needs to be steadied via various
practices. However I will focus just on the above 5.

The obvious final question is “Does it really matter”? Here,
once seekers understand the imagined nature of ignorance I believe they will be
able to put any dialectic differences in context. The realisation that the very
question “what causes my confusion” is pointless will start the real journey of

My subsequent posts will take each of these 5 points and
provide the arguments for and against with reference to Suresvara’s works.





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