[Advaita-l] If I am not the body, how can I validate the world?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Jan 14 03:25:50 EST 2024

आत्मा शरीरं न, एवं तर्हि प्रपञ्चास्तित्वं कथं प्रतिपाद्यते?

If I am not the body, how can I validate the world?

Madhva admits that the 'I am the body' idea is illusory and birth and death
are also illusory:

श्रीमद्भागवततात्पर्यनिर्णयःसप्तविंशोऽध्यायःतृतीयः स्कन्धःश्लोक ४ - भाष्यम्
न जातो न म्रियेताऽत्मा स हि देहाद्युपाधिभिः ।
निमित्तैरात्ततद्धर्मा यथा स्वप्ने तदीक्षिता ॥ ४ ॥ Bhagavata 3.27.4

………न जायते न म्रियत इति हि प्रसिद्धम् । देहाद्युपाधिभिरात्तधर्मो जीवोऽपि
स्वप्नवद्भ्रान्त्या जायते म्रियते च । भ्रान्तित्वाद्देहात्मत्वस्य । किमु
सर्वज्ञत्वस्वतन्त्रत्वादिवैलक्षण्ययुक्त ईश्वरः 'परस्य जन्ममृत्याद्याः स्युः
स्वतन्त्रस्य किं पुनः । जीवस्यापि यतो भ्रान्त्या जन्ममृत्यादिसङ्गतिः''॥ इति
महाकौर्मे ॥ ४ ॥

Madhvacharya, while commenting on a Bhagavata verse in his Srimadbhagavata
Tatparya Nirnaya, states that 'It is well known that the Atman has no birth
or death. The idea that one is born and dies is like a dream, only when the
Atman is associated with the body-mind complex upadhi. Dehaatmabhava (the I
am the body idea) illusion is indeed an error, bhrama. He has also given
the evidence from a text 'Mahakaurma' in this regard.

The question arises:

If  knowing the body as self is delusion, error, what is the status of the
body? How did the body come about in the first place?

The purpose behind what is said by the Bhagavata is that one has to realize
that one is not the body and that birth and death do not really exist -

For those who have studied the 13th chapter of the Gita, it is common
knowledge that the body connects to the world only through the senses. If
there is no dehaatma bhava ( identity with the body), which the Veda and
other scriptures want every sentient being to realize, there is no way to
say that the world 'is'.  In other words there is no way the world can be

महाभूतान्यहङ्कारो बुद्धिरव्यक्तमेव च ।
इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचराः ॥ ५ ॥
इच्छा द्वेषः सुखं दुःखं सङ्घातश्चेतना धृतिः ।
एतत्क्षेत्रं समासेन सविकारमुदाहृतम् ॥ ६ ॥

The world of sound, sight, touch, etc., and the senses and the mind that
perceive it, all are inert Prakriti (Kshetram).  Krishna has included this
in the inert group 'Shariram'.

The 13th chapter of the Bh.Gita says:

पुरुषः प्रकृतिस्थो हि भुङ्क्ते प्रकृतिजान्गुणान् ।
कारणं गुणसङ्गोऽस्य सदसद्योनिजन्मसु ॥ २१ ॥ 13.21

The Atman (Purusha) dwells in Prakriti, the inert power, mistaking
Prakriti's attributes as his own, due to ignorance.  And thus remains in
samsara, birth and death repeatedly.

Thus, the cause of samsara is taught to be the taking of the body to be the
Self, Atman.

If one  does not have the illusion that one is the body, then the world
cannot be said to 'exist'.

Such an error-free scenario is openly accepted only in Advaita and it is
indispensable for all systems which accept dehaatma bhaava, identification
with the body is  bhranti, illusion. Only the Charvaka (materialist)
recognizes the body as the Atman.

When a person is not really born and the idea of being born, raised, dying,
etc., is illusory, as Madhva clearly states, how does a person experience
the world, including the body-mind complex?

Knowing that the body  identification is an illusion, bhrama, of the mind:
the state in which the soul is free from this illusion is the absolute,
true state. In that state, there is no possibility of perceiving the world.
There is no doubt about it. This is because there is no way the Atman
 contacts the world.

The Bhagavatam says:

श्रीमद्भागवत महापुराण/स्कंध ०७/अध्यायः ०२
वितथाभिनिवेशोऽयं यद् गुणेष्वर्थदृग्वचः ।
यथा मनोरथः स्वप्नः सर्वमैन्द्रियकं मृषा ॥ ४८ ॥

Just like a dream and daydreaming, all sensory experiences are unreal.

Is the experience of the world, and samsara, happiness, sorrow, etc. real?
BG 13th chapter 5 and 6 verses say that the world, body mind complex,
senses, reactions occurring in the mind, happiness, sorrow, desire, hatred,
etc. all belong to the inert nature called body, the kshetram (shareeram).

There is no need to say more about the whole strategic inevitable illusory
state of affairs. Although one may not like to admit it, this fact cannot
be denied.


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