[Advaita-l] Moral Goodness of Brahman?

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Tue Oct 20 17:06:47 CDT 2015

I was recently reading this passage from Shankara BhAshyam of the Gita
verse 4.25, which can be considered in the context of Prof Lance Nelson's

In explaining the symbolic oblation of jIvAtma into the para brahma agni
(jnAna yagya), which occurs in the second line of the verse, AcharyAl
describes Brahman as follows:

ब्रह्माग्नौ "सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्म", "विज्ञानमानन्दं ब्रह्म",
"यत्साक्षादपरोक्षाद् ब्रह्म य आत्मा सर्वांतरः" इत्यादि वचनोक्तम् अशनायादि
सर्वसंसारधर्मवर्जितम्, नेति नेति इति निरस्ताशेषविशेषं ब्रह्मशब्देन उच्यते ।

Here, AchArya's use of निरस्ताशेषविशेषं is pertinent , because he is
describing para brahman as being beyond *any* visheshaNAs, or attributes,
and arrived at by the "not this, not this" means of enquiry. It
consequently follows that such a nirguNa para brahman would be beyond good
and evil too, which are after all, only attributes.

I am deliberately not using his सर्वसंसारधर्मवर्जितं adjective in the same
quote here, because by qualifying it by अशनायादि, I believe AchArya is in
fact referring to a Kahola BrAhmaNam quote (Br Up 3.5.1) which lists the
six conditions of samsAra (ashanA, pipAsa, jarA, mrtyu, shoka, moha) - but
the attributes in that context can't be said to include good / evil, but
निरस्ताशेषविशेषं is a more generic term and can therefore be extended to
address Prof. Nelson's specific query.

On 20 Oct 2015 11:36, "saha niranjan via Advaita-l" <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Dear List,
> Namaskar and navaratri greetings!
> Could you please share your thoughts about the points below Professor
> Lance Nelson is wondering about?
> Sincerely yours,Niranjan Saha
> Hello Friends—I’m looking, with mixed success, for textual evidence
> regarding the moral goodness, or otherwise, of para Brahman in Advaita.I’m
> aware that many scholars have argued for the essential amorality, or
> transmorality, of the para/nirguna Brahman in Advaita.  It seems that most
> such declarations are based on general impressions of the literature, and
> not on actual citations from Sankara, the Upanisads, or other sources.  Are
> there any citations that point explicitly to the para Brahman being “beyond
> good and evil”?  I’d very much appreciate some references on this.I’m also
> aware that Sankara gives a fairly extensive theodicy, based on idea of
> karma, lila, the anaditva of creation, etc., in his comments on Brahmasutra
> 2.1.34-36 and related sutras.  This of course seems to assume, and attempt
> to defend, the idea of the moral goodness of Brahman as Isvara, in relation
> to creation.  But this does not, it seems to me, say much about the para
> Brahman.I’d appreciate any suggestions my learned colleagues could kindly
> provide.
> I was asking about evidence in the literature of Advaita (particularly
> Upanisads and Sankara, but perhaps elsewhere) for or against the idea that
> para/nirguna Brahman is, as it is commonly said, trans-moral, “beyond good
> and evil.”  I’m thinking about the moral goodness of Brahman.
> Thanks!  Lance
> _______________________________________________
> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
> To unsubscribe or change your options:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
> For assistance, contact:
> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list