[Advaita-l] The safe way

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Thu Sep 14 02:40:42 EDT 2017

praNAms Sri Aditya Kumar prabhuji
Hare Krishna

>   I am not really able to understand this master key ‘prakriyA bheda’ stuff and slogan that  finally each and every different prakriya –s lead to same goal !!

A : It is due to mediocrity I reckon. Sweeping generalisations, arm-chair Vedantins. There are so many of such views.

Ø   Yes, though this sweeping generalization is done with all good intentions to bring all these prakriya-s under the single banner Advaita, the naked truth of disagreements and personal animosity among vyAkhyAnakAra-s  stares at us differently.

I remember this from long ago that Dvaita was for inferiors, Vishishtadvaita was for mediocre and Advaita was for the pristine sadhakas! Yet another one - Dvaita was like eating a sweet and Advaita was like becoming a sweet or something like that which didn't even make any sense.

Ø   I think this example was used by paramahaMsa.  If you want to taste the sweetness of sugar candy (brahman)  be like a bhakta dont become a sugarcandy lest you will not get the chance to taste the sweetness of sugar candy ☺ A good one though not palatable to some thinkers ☺

Some run-of-the-mill scholar/swami says something and that spreads like fire in all households. Just because Appaya Dikshit said so, what makes it a valid view? what distinction does Appaya Dikshit enjoy which makes his view unquestionable? Has he himself attempted to defend his declaration? Clearly not. A one-line closure of all arguments without caring to defend such a radical view should only be considered as his own personal bias/opinion. Nothing more.

Ø     I have not read SLS and other works of Sri Appayya Deekshitar.  But as far as my understanding  goes about his works, he has not made any attempt to settle the discripancies instead he just listed (siddhAnta saMgraha) out the various stands of various vyAkhyAna-s existing in Advaita saMpradAya, it seems he has not taken any side to prove the validity of one particular prakriya over another.  His intention was just to show all prakriya-s can be accommodated under the single banner Advaita.  I may be wrong here.

if that is the case at the time of shankara there were no dvaitins  ( like dvaitins / tattvavAdins of  today or vishishtAdvaita vAdins) and who were there at that time were all advaitins!!  And  there was an unanimous acceptance among vedAntins with regard to the identity of individual and the supreme self.  bhagavadpAda himself categorically say this in bruhad bhAshya I reckon.  So, why he choose to write bhAshya despite the fact that his contemporaries were advaitins??  In geeta introduction he says there are various different interpretations and there is a need to interpret it correctly hence he is taking that task.  Why shankara not allowed various interpretations  to flourish by  citing the prakriya bheda and SAME final goal  statement !!??  Instead he opted to write whole lot about advaita vedAnta itself despite the fact that advaita was the sole philosophy existing at that time among Upanishad followers.  He could have easily reconciled various interpretations and concluded, don’t worry about different  interpretations, follow any Advaita interpretation you will land on the same platform ultimately.

A : You are absolutely right. Philosophical differences existed from times immemorial. At some places we often notice that even the gods do not fully comprehend everything in it's entirety. So it is pretentious to assume that 'traditional views' could never go wrong from time to time. Afterall the tradition is as good as those who follow it. I was surprised to note that there was absolutely no difference between what the 'traditional pundits' said from what the German indologists said. However, there are rare exceptions to this but they are hard to find.

Ø     Traditionally we have the belief that (and no doubt in that ) all the vyAkhyAnakAra-s are scholars, venerable and teachers of sAmpradAyik way of teaching,  But when these vyAkhyAnakAra-s themselves who are the upholders of flag of tradition, do not accept one another’s interpretations or opinions and engaging themselves in a street- fight like refutation making all sorts of derogatory  below belt comments in the name of shankara vedAnta, before we follow any one of these vyAkhyAna, it is quite rationale to seek the consent and confirmation of mUlabhAshyakAra.  And again, we cannot rely completely on Advaita works (which solely and exclusively dedicated for refutation of rival school with the help of mere logical devices) to deduce the siddhAnta as propagated by shankara.  Some of the famous works which attracts the attention of some of rigid Advaita scholars are of the nature of this.  Instead of relying too much on polemical  works, it is better to try to understand the opinion or interpretation of the commentators belonging to the bonafide Advaita saMpradAya.  And no need to say, better than all others’ opinions, the opinion expressed by mUlabhAshyakAra in his authentic works is of the utmost value.  If someone says this openly then he / she has to face the wrath of socalled traditionalists.

Na…it is not like that he gave utmost importance to saMpradAya and sAmpradAyik way of interpretations.  And asked us to ignore the asampradAyavAdi as an idiot.  So, now the question is what is the correct interpretation of Advaita siddhAnta which shankara himself acknowledge as saMpradAyic way of correct  interpretation??  For panchapAdika vivaraNa followers, vAchaspati  of bhAmati is maNdana prushta sevi, and for the bhAmati followers vivaraNa vyAkhyAna is kevala ‘gArdabha gAna’…No amicable reconciliation between these two schools in the name of ‘prakriya bheda and Same goal’.  Why this fight when various road maps  lead to same place!!??  The answer is god only knows.

A : Sir, the answer is that it is not merely a prakriya bedha. Prakriya if I understand correctly means a model.

Ø   Prakriya bheda is there to accommodate the different level of students within the Advaita saMpradAya.  As an example, SDV, nAnAjeeva vAda, brahma jagatkAraNavAda etc. are for the maNdamati-s like me and DSV, EJV, avidyAkalpita srushti and ajAtavAda etc. are meant for uttama adhikAri-s in jnana mArga.  But ultimately these various methodologies of teaching conveying the single homogenous truth i.e. Atmaikatva vAda.  So says those who want to bridge the gap between two different vyAkhyAna-s or different theories.  But IMO, this type of catholic approach has not been adopted by vyAkhyAnakAra-s themselves and this is an desperate attempt of patch-up work  by the modern day broad minded advaitins, of course without any justification from the post shankara vyAkhyAnakaras’ works ☺   To the extent, it is good as it would help us to tone down the quarrels within the tradition.

But the difference between Bhamati and Vivarana is in fundamental tenets. For eg: The locus of avidya. As per Bhamati, Jiva is the ashraya of avidya and brahman is the vishaya. As per Vivarana, brahman is both the ashraya and vishaya of avidya. How can these two views be fit into the same model? If we insist on doing so, we should either say the ashraya of avidya is both Brahman and Jiva at the same time or we should say it doesn't really matter in which case both sub-commentaries become pointless. Even the charlatans insist that they belong to a great tradition and may as well trace it back to Brahma! But as you rightly put, what is sampradayik interpretation? who can speak on behalf of tradition? I feel this is where the 'Brahmanishta' part comes in to save the sampradaya for after all, the proof is in the pudding. Because Sampradaya is mostly anushtana. Not all are interested in the interpretation of the vedas. So even if anushtana may survive, the interpretations may be lost. The other way around is also possible.

Ø   Yes, some of the differences existing in the vyAkhyAna-s with the label  of ‘same goal’ is practically irreconcilable.

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

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