[Advaita-l] A 5th Century AD view of Vedanta (Text)

Shrinivas Gadkari sgadkari2001 at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 2 06:38:35 EST 2019

Namaste Jaldhar,

New Year Greetings.

Many thanks for posting this simple summary of Vedanta.
This puruSa-vAda resonates very well with gItA and bhAgavatam.

It is unfortunate that people have chosen to eclipse this simple approach
to Vedanta with hair splitting arguments that can be better termed
"shaba bhrama" (confusion with words) rather than "shabda brahma".



This is the pUrvapakSha of the vedAntatattvanishchaya chapter of 
madhyamaka hR^idaya kArika by Bhavya.  The translation is that of Prof. 
Olle Qvarnstrom in "Hindu Philosophy in Buddhist Perspective" (Lund, 1989) 
with a few minor emendations by myself.

The translator has put words not directly in the Sanskrit text but needed 
for a coherent English translation in [] square brackets and where he had 
used an English term or phrase to translate a Sanskrit one, the original 
word in () parentheses.

1. The adherents of Vedanta state (prAhur): Outside [our own school] it is 
extremely difficult (durlabha) to find one who [really] knows the Self 
(Atman). How could those who dismiss [the notion of] a Self, maintaining 
that all conditioned entities (saMskAra) are empty (shunya), [bereft of 
intrinsic nature (svabhAvarahita) and momentary (kShanavinaShTa) possibly 
obtain] liberation (mokSha)?

2. An intelligent man (matimat) conquers death (mR^ityu) when he [through 
his divine eye (divyachakShus)] perceives the transcendent "Person" 
(puruSha) which is on the other side of darkness (tamaH parastAt), radiant 
like the sun (sUryavarchasa), [and which is] the Self (Atman) [and] the 
great Lord (maheshvara).

3. When he perceives the gold-coloured one (rukmavarNa) [through the eye 
of meditation (dhyAnachakshus)] , he will see that the Lord (Ishvara) is 
the agent (kartR^i). Then, having abandoned demerit (pApa) and merit 
(puNya), he will attain the [non-active, non-conceptual (nirvikalpa)] 
supreme unity (samya) [with that gold-coloured puruSha). Question: If He 
is beyond the three realms of the universe (traidhatuka), how could He be 
the agent (kartR^i)? And if He is so distant, whose Lord is He? Answer: In 
spite of his distant abode, He is all-pervading: ]

4. Whatever is past (bhUta), present (bhavat) and future (bhavishyat) is 
all regarded as the puruSha. He is within (antar) and without (bahis), 
distant (dUra) and nearby (antika), and He is the agent (karmakR^it). 
[Question: If the puruSha is one (ekatva), why is He able to undertake a 
variety of activities and yet remain unimpaired? This is shown by the 
following example:]

5. All entities (bhava) are born [out of the puruSha]' like threads 
(aMshu) coming out of a spider (UrNanAbha) [which at the same time remains 
unimpaired]. Wise men (vidvAMs), absorbed (pralIna) in Him [through the 
practice of meditation (dhyAna), perceiving Him with the eye of 
intelligence (praGYAnetra)], do not come to [be reborn into] another 
existence (punarbhava). [Why does the Yogin not attain immortality 
(amrtatva) if he has not perceived the Purusha?]

6. [The whole world (sarvaloka) which is] mortal (martya) [by nature] 
cannot be immortal (amR^itatva), just as fire (vahni) [cannot] be cold 
(shaitya). Therefore it is inconsistent that immortality [could be 
obtained] if one has not awakened [to become absorbed] into the immortal 
puruSha). [The following serves the purpose of eulogising His great 
prowess (mahAnubhAva):]

7. Since nothing more excellent (jyAyas) exists than [Him] or superior 
(param) [to Him] or even subtler (aNlyas) than [Him], [He] alone upholds 
this entire [empirical reality. The character of the one who is in union 
with Him is:]

8. He is endowed with the power to attenuate himself (aNiman), the power 
to extend himself (mahiman), the power to levitate himself (laghiman), 
supremacy (IshitA) [over the elements, etc.], the power to control 
(vashitA), the power to reach (prApti) , the irresistability of will 
(prAkAmya) and the power to proceed at will (yatrakAmAvasAyitA). [Although 
He is one (ekatva), He has the nature (AtmatA) which epitomizes the 
manifoldness of the three- realm universe. Therefore:]

9 For the one who experiences [the puruSha)], all elements [of the 
three-realm universe, as well as] the very Atman, exist in that 
[puruSha], and [besides, one who experiences the Self realizes that] there 
is equality (tulyatA) between the ignorant (bAla) and the learned 
(paNDita), the outcast (chaNDAla) and the brahmana (vipra), etc. [If 
someone were to raise the question: Regarding this puruSa who is said to 
be omnipresent (sarvavyApin) and from whom, although He is alone, the 
bodies of all kinds of living beings (gati) such as gods and men are said 
to be born, how is it that He does not become a nature which is 
non-eternal (anitya) and non- all-pervasive (asarvatraga), like all bodied 
beings? The following is said as a rejoinder:]

10. When a pot (ghaTa) is produced or destroyed, the space (AkAsha) [in 
it] does not have the same nature [of being produced or destroyed]. When 
bodies, etc. (dehAdi), are born or die, they cannot be considered [to have 
the same nature] as the Self.

11. If [the objection is raised that] the one (eka) [Atman] is many
(nAnAtva), like space in pots (ghaTAkASha), [we reply that space]
is one (ekatva), because it is not differentiated through the breaking
of pots [and] because it is considered the same (sAmya) for all [pots.
The Self therefore does not exist separately in all embodied beings. In
spite of the multiplicity of bodies, the Self is the same in all of
them] .28 [Now to prove the oneness of the Self by a different
approach (naya):]

12. Though the clay (mR^id) is the same, the pots, etc. (ghaTAdi) may be 
different. In the same way there is difference between bodies, [but] the 
Self is not differentiated.

13. [Objection: Since your Self is omnipresent, if one person is happy, 
everybody else should also be happy. Answer:] Just as when space in a pot, 
which is one, becomes covered by such [things] as dust and smoke 
(rajodhUmAdi), it is certainly not the case (na hi) [that this takes 
place] likewise for all [pots], so [when] the Self [of a person, being 
one], possesses pleasure, etc. (sukhAdi), it is not the case [that the 
Self of all other persons also comes to possess pleasure, etc.]. 
[Question: How does happiness and suffering arise at all in each of these 
individual continua (saMtana)? The answer is:]

14. It is because one is unawakened (aprabodha) [to absorption into the 
immortal puruSa] that one who does not know the Self collects karma and 
experiences its result which is good or bad (shubhAshubha ), just as one 
who dreams imagines himself to have [real] experiences. [Since the 
"Person" (purusa) is the agent (kartR^i) and the enjoyer (bhoktR^i), it 
may be objected that, inasmuch as He accumulates and enjoys evil deeds as 
well as merits, He is himself an . evil-doer, etc., but we say:]

15. Although He resides in the body, He is not defiled when He enjoys 
[objects], since He is not attached; just like a king (rAjA) who behaves 
according to his pleasure (kAma), that [puruSa] remains innocent of evil 
deeds. [Thus, to follow up the above line of argument:]

16. When a Yogin due to union (yoga) [by means of meditation 
(dhyAnayogena)] understands that [the supreme Self or Brahman] is one 
(eka) [due to its supremacy over the whole body], all-pervasive 
(sarvagata) [since it pervades the entire world], eternal (nitya) [since 
it is indestructable], and the immortal state (achyutam padam) [since it 
is without beginning or end and a place of resort], then [he is] not [born 
into] another existence. [The characteristic of that Self, which is 
removed from all enjoyment of wholesome and unwholesome actions, is 
extolled in the following:]

17. That [Self] is eternal [because it is capable of being objectified by 
the Yogin at all times]. It is non-conceptual (avikalpa) [because it is 
something different from senses and consciousness], and it is beyond the 
realm of speech (vAchAm agochara) [because it is not within the reach of 
the mind]. [Various words, like brahman, Atman, puruSa, Isvara, 
sarvatraga, nitya, etc.] are, [however], applied to it by those whose 
minds (buddhi) are led astray by difference (bheda). [The meaning of other 
such terms is to be understood just like the meaning of the term Atman.]

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