[Advaita-l] The attitude towards the world in the Three Schools of Vedanta

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue May 30 21:18:36 EDT 2017

Thanks Sriram. I am aware of the gitasupersite. At the time of my writing
that post the site was inaccessible, maybe due to a server issue at their


On 31 May 2017 03:17, "Sriram Sankaranarayanan" <ssriram1992 at icloud.com>

> Thank you for this Shri Subrahmanian mahodayah.
> Rather than using different websites for a comparative study of Bhagavad
> Gita Bhashya/Tika by our Acharyas and others, I thought this link might be
> helpful to have it all in one page.
> https://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in/srimad?language=dv&
> field_chapter_value=2&field_nsutra_value=10&scsh=1&scram=
> 1&scmad=1&scms=1&scvv=1&etssa=1&choose=1
> This gives shloka by shloka bhashya as well as English translation to some
> of the commentaries, for people not fully comfortable with with Sanskrit.
> Apart from Bhagavad gita, this site has English translation of some of our
> Acharya's bhashya to Upanishads too.
> Thanks to IIT Kanpur for this effort.
> Namaskarams to all,
> Sriram
> Hamsah Soham
> On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 6:29 AM, V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>> The attitude towards the world in the Three Schools of Vedanta
>> It is well known that while Advaita holds the world to be mithyā, the
>> other
>> two schools hold it to be satyam. It might follow from this that while the
>> attitude of advaitins towards the world is something like 'do not care
>> about the world, shun it, anyway it is mithya, do not engage with it', the
>> view of the followers of the other schools would be 'the world is real and
>> we should engage with it to the hilt in multiple ways.' That such a
>> thinking is not borne out by the facts is what is presented here by citing
>> a sample from the books of the three schools:
>> The Bhagavadgita 15.3 is taken up to illustrate the point:
>> न रूपमस्येह तथोपलभ्यते नान्तो न चादिर्न च सम्प्रतिष्ठा । अश्वत्थमेनं
>> सुविरूढमूलमसङ्गशस्त्रेण दृढेन छित्त्वा ॥ ३ ॥
>> <http://advaitasharada.sringeri.net/display/bhashya/Gita#
>> bhashya-BG_C15_V03>
>> The translation of the verses 15.3 and 4 would put the topic in right
>> perspective:
>> 15.3 The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one
>> can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is.
>> But with determination one must cut down this strongly rooted tree with
>> the
>> weapon of detachment. 15.4: Thereafter, one must seek that place from
>> which, having gone, one never returns, and for this, surrender to that
>> Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything began and from whom
>> everything has extended since time immemorial.
>> Shankara says in the BGB 15.3:
>> 15.3 But, asya, its-of this Tree of the World which has been described;
>> rupam, form, as it has been presented; na, is not at all; upalabhyate,
>> perceived; iha, here; tatha, in that way. For, being like a dream, water
>> in
>> a mirage, jugglery, an imaginary city seen in the sky, it is by nature
>> destroyed no sooner than it is seen. Therefore, na, there exists neither;
>> its antah, end, limit, termination; so also, neither; its beginning. It is
>> not comprehended by anyone that it comes into existence beginning from any
>> definite point. Its sampratistha, continuance, the middle state, too, is
>> not perceived by anyone. Chittva, after felling, uprooting, together with
>> its seeds; enam, this, above described; asvattham, Peepul, the Tree of the
>> World; suvirudha-mulam, whose roots (mula) are well (su) developed
>> (virudham); drdhena, with the strong-hardened by a resolute mind directed
>> towards the supreme Self, and sharpened on the stone of repeated practice
>> of discrimination; asanga-sastrena, sword of detachment-detachment means
>> turning away from the desire for progeny, wealth and the worlds; with that
>> sword of detachment.
>> Ramanuja on the same verse (translation:
>> http://www.srimatham.com/uploads/5/5/4/9/5549439/ramanuja_
>> gita_bhashya.pdf):
>> Humankind is at the pinnacle, our actions form the branches extending
>> above
>> and below as also its secondary roots — this form of the tree is not
>> understood by those immersed in Samsāra. Similarly, it is not understood
>> that the end [of Samsāra] can be brought about by non-attachment to
>> pleasures which are founded upon the Gunas. It is also not perceived that
>> attachment to the Gunas alone is the foundation of this tree. Nor is it
>> realised that this tree is nourished by ignorance (ajñanam) which is the
>> misconception that the body is the Self. Ignorance alone is the basis of
>> this tree, since in it alone the tree is established. This Aśvattha Tree
>> is
>> firmly-rooted — its roots are firm and manifold, and it is to be cut down
>> with the strong axe of non-attachment, — namely the axe, forged by right
>> knowledge of non-attachment to the enjoyable sense objects composed of the
>> three Gunas.
>> Madhva on the same verse: translation from:
>> http://www.bhagavad-gita.us/bhagavad-gita-15-3-4/
>> This ancient asvattha or banyan tree represents material existence but it
>> is not perceivable yet it is seen to have been established. The word adi
>> means beginning and anta means the end which refer to the Supreme Lord.
>> The
>> Bhagavad Purana states: The Supreme Lord is the beginning, the end and the
>> middle as well. The Moksa Dharma states: The Supreme Lord has neither
>> beginning nor ending, more the demigods and seers cannot penetrate. The
>> compound word asanga-sastrena means the wisdom of non-attachment arising
>> from association with Vaisnava devotees of the Supreme Lord. With the
>> sword
>> of detachment sharpened by meditation on the wisdom of renunciation. By
>> this method the world does not become a place of bondage. By knowledge of
>> the Vedic scriptures and practice the knowledge of the brahman or
>> spiritual
>> substratum pervading all existence will be revealed to one. It is
>> confirmed
>> in the Vedic scriptures that: Meditation verily is the way and the means
>> for discrnment and detachment. Such a one will not be bound although
>> others
>> will. The purport is that with the weapon of detachment one should sever
>> ties with everything except the Supreme Lord Krishna and His authorised
>> avatars or divine incarnations and expansions. The Moksa Dharma states:
>> When on surrenders unto the Supreme Lord one does not suffer or grieve.
>> Neither is one born, nor does one die. Such a one is verily situated in
>> the
>> brahman. Only one who has been graced by the blessing of the Supreme Lord
>> can be elligible to become qualified to attain this. The describibng of
>> the
>> means of severing attachment have been given for the sake of an aspirant
>> receiving the Supreme Lord grace. No other shelter or refuge exists in all
>> creation other than the Supeme Lord Krishna and this fundamental
>> understanding must be realised. Since this material existence is like a
>> horse with an unstable gait it is known as unsteady. That it is immutable
>> is because samsara or the perpetual cycle of birth and death is like a
>> stream and endless until one achieves moksa or liberation from material
>> existence. This liberation is determined by detachment. The firm
>> conviction
>> that the Supreme Lord is transcendental to everything in the physical
>> existence is the knowledge gained from the destruction of this ancient
>> banyan tree.
>> One can see that all the three schools emphasize on the need to turn away
>> from the world, that is worldly attachments, and keep the goal of reaching
>> one's true abode, mokṣa, unswerving. An ideal vedantin would therefore
>> realize at the earliest opportunity in life that one aught not to be
>> overly
>> indulging in the world but on the contrary reduce his engagement with it
>> as
>> far as possible and keep it to the minimum of sustaining his body and
>> sadhana. His attitude therefore is, to put in Purandara Dasa's words:
>> allide nammane, illiruvudu summane: My true abode is That, There, moksha;
>> while what is here, this world, is insubstantial.  It would be beneficial
>> to see what Prahlada has to say on this:
>> *śrī-prahrāda uvāca*
>> *kaumāra ācaret prājño  dharmān bhāgavatān ihadurlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma**
>> tad
>> apy adhruvam arthadam*
>> (Srimad bhagavatam 7.6.1) *śrī
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=sri>-prahrādaḥ
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=prahradah> uvāca
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=uvaca>* — Prahlāda
>> Mahārāja
>> said; *kaumāraḥ <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=kaumarah>*
>>>> in the tender age of childhood; *ācaret
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=acaret>* — should
>> practice; *prājñaḥ
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=prajnah>* — one who is
>> intelligent; *dharmān
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=dharman>* — occupational
>> duties; *bhāgavatān
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=bhagavatan>* — which are
>> devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; *iha
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=iha>* — in this life;
>> *durlabham
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=durlabham>* — very rarely
>> obtained; *mānuṣam <http://vedabase.com/en/synony
>> ms-index?original=manusam>* —
>> human; *janma <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=janma>* —
>> birth; *tat <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=tat>* —
>> that; *api
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=api>* — even; *adhruvam
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=adhruvam>* — impermanent,
>> temporary; *artha
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=artha>-dam
>> <http://vedabase.com/en/synonyms-index?original=dam>* — full of meaning.
>> *yathā hi puruṣasyeha viṣṇoḥ pādopasarpaṇamyad eṣa sarva-bhūtānāṁ priya
>> ātmeśvaraḥ suhṛt*
>> *The human form of life affords one a chance to return home, back to
>> Godhead. Therefore every living entity, especially in the human form of
>> life, must engage in devotional service to the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu.
>> This devotional service is natural because Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme
>> Personality of Godhead, is the most beloved, the master of the soul, and
>> the well-wisher of all other living beings.*
>> From this sample we can see that the scripture too, apart from strong
>> Vedic
>> utterances like 'na karmaṇā, na prajayā danena, tyāgenaike
>> amṛtatvamānaśuḥ'
>> (neither by action nor by progeny or wealth, only by renouncing these,
>> some
>> have attained immortality), 'yatheha karmachito lokaḥ kṣīyate,
>> evamevāmutra
>> puṇyachito lokaḥ kṣīyate' (just as anything achieved in this world through
>> action wastes away, so too that which is gained by merit, in the other
>> world too diminishes.' there is the clarion call to give up one's
>> engagement with the world at the earliest and strive for realizing one's
>> true abode of liberation.
>> If anyone is intent upon probing the world to discover its secrets, it is
>> only driven by his personal curiosity and not dictated by his vedantic
>> affiliation to this or that school. Thus, someone practicing Advaita
>> sadhana can very well engage in such research activity just as someone who
>> follows non-advaitic schools: the common motivating factor is one's quest
>> to know the hidden secrets of the universe. Or at best inventing those
>> facilities that would help mankind lead a more comfortable life, give him
>> relief from disease, etc. All this might fall in the category of 'Ishvara
>> seva through mānava seva' and help in chittashuddhi. All three know very
>> well that the goal of their life is detachment from the world resulting in
>> liberation.
>> An excerpt from a dialogue from 'Exalting Elucidations', chapter: Śāstra
>> and Science' p.287 (Sri Vidyatirtha Foundation, Chennai):
>> Sringeri Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Swamiji:  //Of course there
>> are
>> many advantages that we get from science.There is no doubt at all about
>> it.
>> But it is not necessary to accept what some scientists conclude through
>> imagination and faulty logic. At any rate, there is absolutely no rule
>> that
>> just because one is a scientist, one should be an atheist. Many great
>> scientists were theists and even now there are many scientists who believe
>> in God. Thus, dedication to science does not necessitate the denial of
>> consciousness other than matter.//
>> Om Tat Sat
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