[Advaita-l] 'Ishwaro'ham' and 'IshwarabhAvaH'

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Sun Sep 8 11:29:50 CDT 2013

On Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 4:53 PM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <
svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

> > >
> > RV: We have to differentiate between the vigrahas that we make and
> install
> > deities in from the form realised during bhagavad sAkshatkArA. If ISKCON
> > devotees think that Prabhupada's form is eternal like Krishna's, they are
> > equally at fault like advaitins who put their guru's form at the same
> level
> > as that of the Vedic deities. I asked my gaudiya vaishnava teacher if
> First, prove your contention that advaitins put their guru's form at the
> same
> level as that of (or above) the Vedic deities. In the course of proving
> it, establish
> what you mean by form and prove that advaitins mean the same thing as well.
RV: A form is a mental modification where the mind is limited by boundaries
and the bounded part of the mind is associated with qualities such
as colours, textures and emotions. When the mind takes the form of a pot,
we infer that there might be an object called pot. This inference is not
anumana but sambhavana because it is not that we are aware of a direct
relationship between the object called pot and our perception thereof. As
in the world of our perception, we see cause for every effect for all
phenomena, we believe that the perception of the pot might also have its
basis in an object of the same form. However, we dont always think so
especially when we see other causes. . When we consciously imagine a pot,
we dont think that there is an underlying object. When we recollect the
image of a pot when we hear the name pot we dont think that our perception
of a pot has an underlying object as the cause. When we dream and are
conscious of the fact that we are in dream state, we dont think that there
is an underlying object. When we are awake, we believe that there is an
underlying object because when we turn our eyes in the direction of the
pot, we see it and not otherwise. This makes us believe that there is an
object in the line of sight which causes the perception of a pot. We
postulate that mind goes out and takes the shape of the object or that
light from the object impinges on the eyes causing the brain to produce the
perception of a pot. As we perceive different, we presume different cause
(or modifications of one cause, which is the same as different causes). In
the case of percepton of the form of Krishna (and other deities in the
Vedas), the cause of perception is description in the shruti (e.g. Gopala
Tapani Upanishad or Chandogya) of devaki putra or yamuna krishna. As the
vedas are eternal, we should rightly infer that the description of the form
of Krishna etc. is eternal. We can worship brahman in any form but there is
a difference between the forms that brahman takes specifically for worship.
These forms are specially capable of revealing without any distortion the
bliss of brahman. Of all the forms that brahman takes for us to worship,
who will deny that the form of Krishna, an embodiment of all mellows,
worshipped by Sankara as well in Kaladi, is all blissful? It is not to say
that the other forms of brahman are not all blissful for the devotees of
that form of the lord. If you tell me that contempoary advaitins
differentiate between material or temporary and spiritual or eternal forms,
I will accept it. To me it seems that they are too keen to deny the reality
of all forms without realising and turning the mind towards the formless
Brahman. This is an acceptable position for those who are attached to the
formless brahman but not a bhakta who is attracted to the blissful forms of
brahman. Both can have a particular blissful modification of the mind as
they desire but it will not change the underlying reality from which comes
all bliss. Termination of transmigration one jiva bhasa by dissolution
forever of a particular sthula and sukshuma sarira does not impact the
underlying reality. As other jIva bhAsas continue to transmigrate, Ishwara
remains and the mukta jIva bhAsA also remains as Ishwara ('s jnanam).

> Prabhupada's form is spiritual and eternal like Krishna's. He laughed and
> said, "No. He had diabates" It is considered spiritualised like iron rod
> fire, like items used in worship. It is non-eternal.

This is classic adhyAsa of deha and deha-dharma on the AtmA, and if you see
it as a valid argument, then you are really talking at cross purposes with
the rest of us here. With all due respect to your gauDiya vaishNava
teacher, when he said, "no, he had diabetes," he falsely attributed the
ill-health of the body of Prabhupada to the "form" that you were enquiring
about. If you accepted that the fault of the material body of Prabhupada
somehow translated to the spiritual/eternal form of the jIva that is
Prabhupada, then you also falsely did the same attribution and conflation
of deha on the not-deha. An uncritical acceptance of this adhyAsa as a
matter of course plagues all bhedAbheda thinking, no matter how acintya it
may be.

RV: The attribution of the ill-health is not to the eternal svarupa of
Prabhupada which is different from a temporary form that is created and
destroyed. There is nothing achintya here.

Even dvaitins would find fault with the tone and conclusions of the
conversation you report. If you were to ask a true dvaitin, he would say
that the individual jIva that had the name Prabhupada in one birth is a
spiritual, eternal form, distinct from the material that was the body of
Prabhupada, distinct from all other jIvas, who are each their own
spiritual, eternal forms,  and also distinct from vishNu's eternal,
spiritual form. The dvaita position at least has the advantage of being
rigorously self-consistent, even though as advaitins, we deny its ultimate
truth value in the vedAnta SAstra.

RV: There is nothing wrong with the tone as he worships the form daily. The
worshippable vigraha, even of a deity leave alone a guru, is made of
materials that disintegrate but not the eternal forms of Krishna etc. .The
pointing out of the actual nature of the body is essentially call to go by
pramana - pratyaksha in this case.

If you were to ask an advaitin, he would say that a jIva with the name
Prabhupada in one birth, considered as a separate spiritual entity is not
eternal, because the jIva-tva itself is a temporary, albeit long-lived,
phenomenon. Yet, Prabhupada was,
is and will always be the AtmA, the same as brahman, spiritual, eternal,
formless. The same answer would hold true for you, me, your gauDiya
vaishNava teacher, my advaita teacher, Krishna, Rama, Kamsa and Ravana as
well. If this answer is very
complicated and does not resonate with you, so be it, but that does not
take away from its truth. You should at least be able to see that your
views about advaitins exalting the "form of their guru" over the vedic
deities are without foundation.

RV: Even if one jIva bhAsA attains moksha, the transmigration will continue
for others. Our own existence is proof of that and hence Ishwara, Vedas and
forms described there in will continue forever until all jIvas are
liberated. However, our forms produced by karma will not. This is the

So long as you are preoccupied with form and its eternality, you are never
going to understand/appreciate formlessness. So, all your elaborate
discussions about the eternality of the form of Krishna end up being the
same conversation over and over
again, without going anywhere.

RV: We know that brahman is formless from sastras and to some extent yukti.
It does not mean that in the world of names and forms that we live we
should not differentiate between different names and forms - eternal and
non-eternal. It may be of insight to us on how Sringeri Periyava reacted to
the form of Saradambal after realising nirguna brahman.

> > RV: I dont claim jnana marga is for me but how can you say advaitam is
> not   for me? Madhusudana says that a devotee of Raghava will attain
> advaita > siddhi even without a guru, without need for sravana, manana,
> nidhidhyasana
> > etc. If I am devotee, then advaita siddhi will be accessible to me as
> much > as it is to a jnana yoga, more easily so.
> More power to you, if you truly have that depth of devotion. But please do
> not be  under any illusion that it is easier. The kind of devotion that
> Madhusudana is talking about is as demanding a path as the jnAnamArga.
> Although, I don't know where he says even SravaNa and manana are
> unnecessary for such a devotee. If he does say so,
> I'd like to see what else ether he says about the role of the guru,
> SravaNa etc in the previous births of such a person.It is easy to cite
> "ananyAS cintayanto mAM ye janAH" and claim that bhaktimArga is an easy
> path as compared to jnAnamArga. The important question truly is, how many
> self-professed bhakta-s really have that deep level of single-pointedness,
> that kind of ananya-tva that is described in the gItA verse. It is easy to
> talk about, but very hard to
> accomplish in practice. It is at least as difficult as the path of jnAna
> and saMnyAsa.
RV: In BhG Krishna Himself differentiates between the easy path of devotion
and the difficult path of jnana. You are directly contradicting Him if
you say that the bhakti is difficult, which He says is done with joy
(susukum kartum). It involves hearing and speaking the glories of the Lord
through the vedic literatures. As much as you would hope that bhaktas
depend on vedanta sravana etc. for realisation, Madhusudana does not think
so. In fact, Krishna or Sankara dont say that Bhaktas should go through
that for gaining advaita realisation. We saw in another thread how a bhakta
rejects even mukti but attains Ishwara bhAvA according to SBh. Even a jnAni
has to depend on IshwarAnugraha for self-realisation.

As for advaita and advaita-siddhi, if you keep clinging to the bheda
between bhakta and bhagavAn, then by definition, it will never be
advaita-siddhi. Also, trying to prove  that this way of thinking is true
advaita vedAnta, as per Madhusudana Saraswati and Sridhara Swamin, is quite
pointless. That is just my opinion, but I think you will find that this
opinion is close enough to the truth.

RV: When SBh says Hari alone is Krishna, Hari alone Arjuna, Hari alone is
Gopis, Hari alone is Narada, there is no reason to believe that bhakta and
bhagavan have to be different entities. When the highest type of devotion
is one where the bhakta realises I am He, it is very condescending to place
bhaktas in dualist category. When Madhusudana asserts that only a
non-dualitst who relishes in the glories of Hari is a a true Vaishnava not
a dualist, it is sad to see that such intelligent scholars as you push
bhakti in to realm of dwaita. When jnAni is only one of the four types of
bhakta who glorifies the lord (caturvidhe bhajante mam), it is incorrect to
place bhakti at a lower level.


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