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

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 10 13:50:34 CDT 2013

> > By eternal, I presume you mean without birth and without death. If yes,
> > then you have
> > just made a case for an infinite number of eternal entities - the jAti of
> > pots, the jAti(s)
> > of cloths, the jAti of computer, the jAti of this and the jAti of that.
> > Pray, what is it that
> > actually differentiates one eternal jAti from another? The attributes of
> > the particular
> > instances of each jAti?
> RV: Yes.

Then there are infinite jAtis, all of which are "eternal," as long as vyavahAra lasts?
Then to say that Krishna's form is eternal in the same sense is a no-brainer. Still, I
think  you have singularly overlooked the fact that when advaitins talk of eternality,
they mean something beyond time itself and the entire discussion has been at cross
purposes. It is because of eternality meaning timelessness, that we privilege nirguNatva,
formlessness, and downplay tweaked concepts such as "eternal till vyavahAra lasts." 
In the advaita context, for whom does vyavahAra truly last? 

In any case, I fail to see how establishing the eternality of Krishna's form through a
theory of an infinite number of eternal universals/jAti-s is particularly going to increase
bhakti towards Krishna's form.
> RV: In any language, there are only finite set of fundamental sounds. There
> are well or ill defined rules by which these sounds are combined to create
> words. Without words, you cannot indicate objects. A new word is produced
> from the same fundamental sounds whether it is derived from existing words
> or not. In that sense, it is eternal because it is from the same sound that
> existed before.

You have now jumped from physical objects to words indicating those objects and
the sounds that make up those words. But, there are words that denote no existing
objects and there are certainly objects for which any given language has no words,
which means that your jump to sound, words and sentences in a discussion of eternal
jAti(s) is unwarranted.

By your logic, any combination of sounds is eternal, whether it denotes a thing or not.
And the word does not even have to indicate an existing object, e.g. SaSaSrnga (rabbit
horns). It is definitely a word in Sanskrit (a combination of at least two words in most
other languages), made out of sounds that pre-exist, yet it indicates no existing object,
whether as a particular instance or as a jAti.
Lest one starts off on genetic engineering potentially producing horns on a rabbit, let
me suggest other such examples, e.g. "innocent criminal," "truthful lie," or "non-
violent murderer." In your sense, each of these is a jAti and it is eternal, because it comes
from things that already exist and the corresponding words come from sounds that already
exist. Yet, the things supposedly denoted by those words cannot exist, by definition. So,
your idea of eternality is not even a guarantor of basic existence, let alone anything of
value for a theory of bhakti.
> > Is such a modification real or only apparent? If the former, what happens
> > to the
> > eternality of the jAti once it gets modified to another one? If the
> > latter, apparent to whom?
> >
> RV: From the words, lap, top and computer you say laptop computer, is there
> a real or apparent modification of lap etc.? If you create a new sound kit
> kat from existing ki, t and ka, is it a real or apparent modification of ki
> etc.? The fundamental sounds are immutable but their combination is. (As an
> aside, a word or a sentence indicating an eternal truth will be immutable).
Back to apaurusheyatva and Sabda-nityatva in pUrva mImAMsA in a different garb
now, isn't it?
And did you mean to say that the combination of fundamental sounds is mutable
or immutable? I presume the former, because you see a need to impart special
immutability to words/sentences indicating an eternal truth (never mind how
one determines eternality or truth value). But then, just one paragraph ago, you
stated, "In that sense, it is eternal because it is from the same sound that
existed before," which, logically speaking, implies that you should hold any and
every combination of sounds to be eternal, "in that sense." In which case, every
word and every sentence will have to immutable, whether or not it indicates any
truth, eternal or temporal.
I'm sorry I'm being merciless in picking apart the propositions you put forth, but I 
only mean to ensure that there is clarity and meaning in discussions on this list.
That is the least we can ensure, to do justice to as sharp a thinker as Madhusudana
Best regards,

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