[Advaita-l] Please answer to this

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 20 05:11:55 CDT 2015

Shree Venkatji - PraNAms

Thanks for your kind words. It is same as what is commonly referred to as  bhaaga thyaaga lakshaNa or jahat ajahat lakshana which I am sure you are familiar. Here is an article based on Swami Paramarthanandaji talk explaining the Brahmaarpanam sloka. I had posted this long back - But I am doing it again.
Hari Om!

One of my nieces asked me recently in the Facebook the meaning of the sloka – brahmArpaNam brahma haviH… ,a sloka from Geeta that is routinely chanted before taking meals. Here is some explanation based on Swami Paramarthanandaji talks.

First, this is 24th sloka in the 4th chapter of Geeta. In this sloka, Krishna uses an example that a gRihastha or householder was familiar at that time. It is related to the daily homam or nithyagnihotra that a householder performs or supposed to perform. Hence the sloka is immediately relevant to a gRihastha mumukshu – householder who is seeking for liberation. In this sloka the essence of whole Vedanta is packed. In essence, it says everything is Brahman and there is nothing other than Brahman. It is also a condensation of the Vedic statements – neha naanaasti kinchana, there is no plurality whatsoever here, and sarvam khalu idam brahma, all this (that exists) is indeed nothing but Brahman only. The complete sloka is:

brahmArpaNam brahma haviH,
bramhAgnou brahmaNAhutam|
brahaiva tena gantavyam
brahmakarma samAdhinA||

Using the homam example, Krishna indicates that everything is nothing but Brahman. Brahma arpaNam, meaning the arpaNam or the ladle that is used to pour ghee into the fire is Brahman. Brahma haviH, all the items used for homam (haviH) are Brahman. Brahmna agniH, the holy fire of homam is Brahman. BrahmaNaahutam – the one who is doing the homan (karthA) is Brahman. Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahman karma samAdhinA – the karmaphlam or the fruit or the result of this homam is also Brahman. Thus, the kartaa, the doer, the karma, the action, kriya, the performance, the kaaraka, the instruments involved in the action and the ingredients that go into action, the field in which the action is being performed and the karmaphalam the results of the action – everything is Brahman only. Thus Krishna declares, in essence, there is nothing other than Brahman. From the point of jignaasu or the seeker of knowledge, this sloka becomes an instructional statement that
need to be contemplated upon and assimilated as a fact. From the point of jnaani, the sloka is the statement of his understanding or statement of a fact that is recognized or understood.

In the vishusahasranaamaavali, it says karaNam, kaaraNam, kartaa.. the instruments of action, karanam, the cause for action, kaaraNam (material as well as motivating causes for action) and the actor, kartaa, are all nothing but Lord Vishnu only. Everything that can be known or need to be known in the past, present and future is nothing but Lord Vishnu only. In the purusha suukta it says - purushayE vedagam sarvam, yat bhUtam yascha bhayvam - whatever that is in the past or will be in the future that was known or can be known are all nothing but Purusha only. In essence, there is nothing other than Lord Vishnu or there is nothing other than Brahman as the Krishna says in the above sloka. There is no plurality whatsoever as reality, since essence of everything is nothing but Brahman echoing the scriptural statement – aitat atmyam idagam sarvam, tat satyam, sa atmaa – where the essence of everything that is experienced or perceived or known is nothing
but pure existence that you are. That sat, pure existence which is of the nature of consciousness and is limitless, itself appears as many, says Chandogya Up.

Now let us understand this sloka more. In understanding or interpreting the sloka the principle of samanaadhikaraNam – that is principle of equal weight-age for the words– was applied both by Bhagavan Ramanuja and Shankara. This principle is also used in the interpretation of the Ch. Up. tat tvam asi statement by both. However,  Bhagavan Ramanuja and Bhagavatpaada Shankara apply the principle of the samanAdhikaraNam differently.

There are four ways that the samanadhikaraNa can be applied as discussed by Shankara. When two words are used with the same case and relating each other, then we apply the principle of samanAdhikaraNa. In this sloka, let us take the first statement, arpaNam = Brahman. It says, the ladle is equal to Brahman. Brahman means limitless or infinite. Scripture says Pure consciousness is Brahman – prajnanam brahma. Hence existence-consciousness-limitless – sat-chit-anada is the nature of Brahman as declared by Tai. Up. In this sloka Krishans says – the arpanam – this small inert ladle is Brahman, which is infinite-existence-consciousness. At the outset, the statement makes no sense since attributes of the ladles do not match anywhere the nature of Brahman. Hence direct meaning or vAchyArtha does not make any sense. Since this is a scriptural statement, one has to look for an implied meaning to make some sense out of this equation, arpaNam=Brahman. Hence
the application of the principle of samanAdhikaraNa to unravel this equation. The four types of samAnAdhikaraNa are:

1. EkatvE samAnAdhikaraNam, 2. vishEShaNavishEShyAbhyAm samAnAdhikaraNam.3. upAsanAbhyAm samAnAdhikaraNam. 4. bhAdAbhyam SamAnAdhikaraNam

1. Ekatve SamAnAdhikaraNam – that is two words are used with equal emphasis, both designating the same entity. For example when we chant the Vishnusahara nAmAvali – each word used there indicates the same entity, Lord Vishnu and each word has equal emphasis. Many words are used that provide the different attributive content of Lord Vishnu. For example the naamavali starts with a) viswam b) vishnuH, etc. The very first word, viswam means the entire universe of names and forms. The second word vishnuH means the one who pervades this entire universe of names and forms. Both are independently as well as together indicate the same entity, Lord Vishnu. Implication is also viswam = vishnuH, the world of names and forms is indeed VishnuH, which is also the essence of the Brahmarpanam sloka. To appreciate the viswaruupa Iswara we need to understand the Geeta Ch. 11. We cannot apply this aspect of samAnAdhikarana  in accounting the arpanam = brahman, since
arpanam is limited, inert entity while Brahman is infinite existence-consciousness.

2. Visheshana VisheShAbhyam samAnAdhikaraNam. In this case the two words are used, of which one is an attribute or visheShANa and the other is the locus for the attribute, visheShya. For example when we say blue lotus, the blueness and the lotus-ness are distinctly separate but used in conjunction to indicate only one object with one as attribute to the other.  The lotus is qualified by blueness while blue itself is not lotus and is distinct from lotus. Thus, even if the attributes are inseparable, they are distinctly different.

As a side note, some non-advaitins interpret the sat –chit – ananda as attributes of Brahman. Such an assertion can be easily rejected on the ground that attributes are different from the locus of those attributes. For example if sat or existence is an attribute then its locas must be distinct from the attributive existence. Only thing that is distinct from existence is non-existence. Hence the statement reduces to saying that existence is an attibute to non-existence, which is self-contradictory. Hence sat-chit-ananda is/are swarUpa lakshana of Brahman beacuse as Shankara says anantatvAt, or it is limitless or infinite. Infinite cannot have attributes and even the word infinite is only negation of all finites. Hence the scripture says Brahman is nirguNa or is attributeless.  Hence from this point also arpaNam = Brahman cannot be valid since any finite entity cannot be infinite. Here, we may note that Bhagavan Ramanuja uses this samAnAdhikaraNa to
explain the equation tvam = tat in the tat tvam asi statement. For this he considers Brahman is same as all pervading Vishnu with infinite auspecious attibutes and he is an object of our worship. The jiivas and the jagat form His internal constituents like organs of the body. All the five fundamental differences exist within while He pervades everything as Vishnu as total controller as well as weilder of His maayaa. Hence tvam in the equation has to be understood as one of the inseparable attribute or visheshana of the the all-pervading Bhagavan. Hence the philosophy is also called vishiShTa adviata, advaita from the point of totality but visheShaNas include all the jivas and the jagat along with infinite auspecious attributes that He posses.  This is the viswarUpa darshanam that Arjuna is shown in Ch. 11 of Geeta. Ramanuja interprets the nirguNa as absence of all dosha guNas or bad qualities. Shankara interprets the tat tvam asi statement using bhaaga
tyaaga lakshana that is discussed below.

3. UpAsnAbhyAm samAnAdhikaraNam: Here the two words are equated for the sake of upaasana. When we go to temple and pray to the lord in the form of idol there, we invoke Lord Vishnu into that idol for the sake of worship. Lord is all pervading with infinite auspecious attributes while the idol is made of, say granite stone which is inert and finite. However, when we say looking at the idol that this is Lord Vishnu, we are equating the finite, inert idol with infinite conscous Vishnu. The identity is only valid for upaasana. When Krishna says arpaNam used in the nityaagnihomam is Brahman, as per Ramanuja, the statement is to be interpreted using this samAnAdhikaraNam. Hence arpanam in the homan as to be invoked as Lord Vishnu for upasana or prayer. Hence the sloka implies all the factors that go into homan have to be looked upon reverentially as Bhagavat swaruupam only. In Hindu worship, as part of our upaasana, we request the Lord to come into this idol
– asmin bimbe AvAhayAmi – and even name the Lord whom we want to come – thus we say asmin bimbe shree mahA vishnum AvAhayAmi or Shree mahA ganapatim AvAhayAmi.  Of course, after the pujua over, we do the visarjanam as we request the busy Lord to leave that idol.  Interestingly,  Bhagavan Ramanuja is using two differnet aspects of samAnAdhikaraNam in interpreting tat tam asi statement and Brahmarpanam slokas.

4. bAdhAyAm SamanAdhikaraNam also called apavadE samanAdhikAraNam. In the equation of tat tvam asi, we negate the contradictory qualifications of tat and tvam and equate only the essence. The negated components must be insignificant or apparent and not really real or arising from ignornance. Hence in the equation I am and Brahman, we need to reject all the superficial attributes of the jiiva – such as BMI, and equate only the essence which is nothing but existence-consicousness-happiness. Hence all the assumed limitations of myself are rejected as not my limitations but those of the BMI. Similarly, all the attibutes of Iswara such as sarvjnatvam, sarva shaktitvam, sarva vyaapakatvam – omnisicient, ompotent and omnipresent – are rejected and only the essence sat-chit-ananda or satyam-jnanam-anantam aspects are equated. It is similar to the statement – soyam devadattaH – this is that devadatta. That Devadatta, who was cute looking fun-loving boy
that we knew long time ago when we were children, is this Devadatta who is now the sanyAsi giving Vedanta talks. There is only one Devadatta and in understading we are intellectually rejecting all the contradictory qualifications of this Devadatta and that Devadatta and equating only the essence. The knolwedge is immediate, if we understand the essence of that equation. Similarly tat tvam asi statement need to be  understood by rejecting intellectually the contradictory qualificaitions of jiiva and Iswara and equate only the essence. Hence Changogya clearly says – aitadAtmyam idagam sarva tat satyam – the essence of every object that you see – is nothing but pure existence which was there before creation and which itself now appears with various names and forms as objects. Hence all names and forms are like gold appearing as various ornaments, each with its own attributes. Gold became many – but that many is only name-sake (and utlity-sake)
many, but the essence is nothing but gold only. Scripure itself gives this example before it teaches the tat tvam asi statement. Hence equation has to involve bhaaga tyaagam or rejection of apparent contradicotry qualificaitons of both jiiva-jagat-Iswara and only equate the essence that which ultimately counts. What counts for rings, bangles, bracelets is not their names and other attributes that differ but their essence which is nothing but gold.

Applying the same samanAdhikaraNa, the brahmaarpan sloka also is interpreted when we say this arpaNam is Brahman. The contradictory qualifications here are one is finite and inert with some utility while the other is infinite, consious and useless (infinite cannot be used, only finite things are used. Infinte cannot be a transactional reality). If we reject all that what remains is only pure existence since arpanam exists or is, and Brahmna is also existence. Existant aspect is only expressed in the inert forms while both existence and consciousness aspects are expressed in the beings with subtle bodies while the happiness part is only expressed fully only in jaanis who understand the statement – ayam aatmaa brahma. Thus as per vedanta, the whole universe consisting of both subject-object divisions is nothing but Brahman only – from which they came, by which it is sustained and into which they dissolve, yatOvA imAni bhUtAni jAyante, yena jAtAni
jIvanti, yat prayam tyabhisham visanti – tat vijnaasaswa tat brahmeti. From which the whole universe came, by which it is sustained and into which they dissolve – is Brahman. From which all the gold arnaments came, by which they are sustained into which they go back is the material cause for all the gold ornaments. Brahmaarpanam brahma haviH .. etc as both karthaa, karma, kriya, kaaraNa and kriya phala all are nothing but Brahman. Brahman being infiniteness cannot exclude anything. This sloka says everything that is there in the transactonal world is nothing Brahmna only but with different names, forms and utilties,etc.

This sloka is chanted specially before meals to recognize that 1) taking food is also a yagna and therefore has to be done with reverential attitude and 2) Food is also being offerred as part of yagna to the Lord inside and finally 3) from the point of decriminative intellect, meditation/recognition that everything eater as well as what is being eaten is Brahman only. Hence a realized upanisadic sage screams out in ectasy – aham annam aham annam aham annam – aham annaadou aham annaadou aham annaadou – I am the food, I am the food I am the food – I am the eater of the food, I am the eater of the food, I am the eater of the food- brahmaarpaNam brahma haviH..

Hari Om!

On Tue, 10/20/15, Sundaram Venkatraman <svenkat52 at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Please answer to this
 To: "kuntimaddi sadananda" <kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com>, "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
 Cc: "Venkatraghavan S" <agnimile at gmail.com>
 Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 3:48 AM
 Shree Sadanandaji,
 As is only to be expected,
 another wonderful post from you. A request. Can you please
 explain, 'bhaadaayam samaanaadhikaranam' to me?
 Looking forward to listening
 to you at the conference in Pune in Nov. 
 With regards & praNAms,
 from my iPhone
 > On
 20-Oct-2015, at 9:06 AM, kuntimaddi sadananda via Advaita-l
 <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
 > bhaadaayam

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