[Advaita-l] Seeking clarification on Bri. Up. Mantra 1-4-2

Jaldhar H. Vyas via Advaita-l advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Thu Apr 24 00:36:00 CDT 2014

Here is my take on this interesting question.

On Thu, 17 Apr 2014, kuntimaddi sadananda wrote:

> Bri. Up. Mantra 1-4-2. – it starts – sO2bibhEt, tasmat EkAkI bibhEti, sa 
> hAyamIkshAm chakrE, yat madanyannAsti, kasmAnnu bibhEmIti? tata EvAsya 
> bhayam vIyAya, ksamAt bibhEshyat? dvitIayAdvai bhayam bhavati|| - my 
> typing may be bad - one has to check the original.
> He was afraid. Therefore people (still) are afraid to be alone. He 
> thought – If there is nothing else but me, what am I afraid of? From 
> that (thinking) alone his fear was gone, for what was there to fear? It 
> is from a second entity that fear comes – from Swami Madhavanandaji.
> In the commentary based on Shankara bhAsya, that virAj – understood 
> after thinking that he is one without a second – because fear comes from 
> the second entity, and that the notion of second entity was removed by 
> the knowledge of unity. Thus after thinking viraJ knew that there is no 
> second entity in creation.
> But yet his knowledge is incomplete even though he has understood that 
> there is no second entity in the creation – since he is the born – in 
> fact the first born. If he was a jnaani before he should not have born.
> An objection is therefore rightly raised. How did viraj gained the 
> knowledge of unity or who instructed him about that knowledge. If he has 
> that knowledge from prior samskaara then he was a jnaani and therefore 
> should not have taken another birth as first born? If he is still born 
> with that knowledge, then the knowledge is of no use since one can be 
> born again. Hence objector says – knowledge of unity serves no purpose 
> since one takes birth again in spite of that knowledge.

Viraj was in his purvajanma the foremost of the upasakas -- those who 
meditate on Brahman as saguna.  Thus his jnana was also saguna and 
therefore he continued as an entity in the world of gunas.

> The response to this objection – is somewhat confusing to me. Obviously 
> to take this birth as virAj, he has neutralized most of his sins in his 
> previous life as Shankara says – he excels in knowledge, intelligence 
> and in memory and this is a prefect birth – Hence he might well have the 
> knowledge of unity without instruction.

Yes the problem is not that he doesn't have knowledge of unity but unity 
with what.  "Unity" can occur on many levels.  "Fear" also exists on many 
levels.  As you noted, the upanishad itself continues by describing the 
unity of man and wife  as an antidote to the existential fear of living 
alone in the world.

> Further objection – if that is so he should not have fear.

A child may fear there is a monster under his bed.  His parents may think 
it is silly but be consumed with fear concerning mortgage, job etc.  This 
in turn may not be scary to one who has renounced material things and so 
on.  The saguna jnani has conquered all fears in the world as he 
understands it but now his perspective has changed so a new fear arises 
which would previously not been considered.

> The response to this is somewhat lengthy and does not directly addresses 
> the objection, as I see. It boils down to either to say he does not have 
> full knowledge that he is Brahman and therefore has only partial 
> knowledge or that he is one without a second but not that he is 
> infiniteness or aham brahmaasmi, even though he knows that he is one 
> without a second. Hence he is still born, since he did upaasana (Bri. 
> Up. 1-3-28 on asatoma satgamaya,.etc) with a desire to become Hiranya 
> garbha in the next life.

The ultimate knowledge is of Brahman as nirguna only.  Does that mean 
there is a hierarchy of jnanas?  Is saguna jnana then worthless. 
Shankaracharya addresses this when he talks about sight being 
different amongst cats, yogis, in moonlight, in sunlight etc.  The 
knowledge of Brahman as saguna inevitably leads to the knowledge of 
Brahman as nirguna.  It is just a different path.  And the proof is that 
even though Viraj set out to become Hiranyagarbha, he naturally came of 
his own accord without the need of another guru to that same nirguna 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list