[Advaita-l] [advaitin] Understanding Srimad Bhagavad Gita from the perspectives of Visishtadvaita and Advaita - an exposition

Sudhanshu Shekhar sudhanshu.iitk at gmail.com
Wed Jan 24 11:11:18 EST 2024

Namaste Vikram ji.

I have replied to only advaita related points.

Brahman - one alone and non-dual - is the absolute reality or absolutely
real and is the truth or technically “Satya”

*//In line with advaita.//*

Satya is that which exists and is never changing; Brahman is Satya


All of our day-to-day experiences, including all plurality and distinctions,
are observed to be changing

*//Experience means vritti-pratibimbita-chaitanya. Here, vritti keeps on
changing but neither the chaitanya changes nor the sAkshI changes. So, the
sAkshI component of experiences, which is aparoksha, never changes.//*

Our day-to-day experiences are taken for granted as real and this is called
relative reality or relatively real or technically “Mithya”

*//No. The term reality used for day-to-day experiences is just to
distinguish it from asat, horns of hare. It is accepted as non-existent and
appearing. Yes. Technically mithyA but not relatively real.//*

Mithya is that which exists but is observed to be changing

*//No. MithyA is that which is non-existent but is observed. Basically,
mithyA means pratiyogI of atyanta-abhAva in the locus of its appearance.
Ontologically, mithyA does not exist.//*

Change includes the 6 broad aspects - birth, continuance, growth,
modification, decay, death (as described in the Nirukta)


The entire gamut of all our experiences is not absolutely real but only
appears as real within the context of the day-to-day experiences; hence all
experiences are technically categorized as Mithya

*//The objects of experiences are mithyA as they are non-existent in the
locus of their appearance i.e. Brahman. The usage of word sattA i.e.
prAtibhAsika sattA or vyAvahArika satta is to distinguish them from asat.
Ontologically, they are at par with asat. Perceptually, they are different
from asat.//*

An experience involves the triad (triputi) of experiencer (subject),
experienced (object) and the means of experience (means); which are
distinct from each other

*//Triad is different in their VisheshaNa part but not in the visheshya
part which is chaitanya.//*

Or with respect to knowledge, the triad (triputi) of knower (subject), known
(object) and means of knowledge (means); which again are distinct from each

*//Experience comes within knowledge.//*

With the triputi coming in association, there arises the new experience or
knowledge in the subject, implying a change in the subject

*//Subject is either sAkshI or pramAtA depending on whether the object is
sAkshi-bhAsya or pramANa-gamya. In either case, there is no change in the
visheshya, chaitanya portion of subject but there is change in VisheshaNa
portion of subject. In case of sAkshI, there is no VisheshaNa but upAdhi.//*

The individual subject Jiva (experiencer or knower) is said to comprise of
two aspects - the sentient Self or Atman and the individual insentient
non-Self BMI (body mind intellect complex)

*//Yes. Visheshya and VisheshaNa in case of jIva.//*

The individualized insentient material non-Self BMI is said to comprise of
the manifested physical body with its 10 sensory organs, the 5 vital airs
(prana), the antahkarana (“inner instrument” consisting of mind, intellect,
memories and ahamkara) and the underlying unmanifested vasanas or Karma

*//There are varying descriptions. It is one of that. As per siddhAnta,
jIva is sAbhAsa-ahamkAra.//*

Originating from the vasanas / Karma and up to the physical body, all these
are grosser manifestation of material principle - vasanas / Karma


Per scriptures the Self is said to be eternal, immutable, pure
consciousness, all pervading and ever unassociated


The non-Self is impermanent, subject to changes, insentient and associated
in the form of cause-effect relationship


As the non-Self undergoes change, the immutable Self observed in context of
the non- Self appears to be changing as well

*//Basically, the reflection of self in antah-karaNa appears to change.//*

Examples given to illustrate this includes: just as a mirror is twisted,
the reflected face appears to be twisted as well; just as the various pots
of water having ripples appears to distort the reflected image of the Sun;
presence of multiple pots in a room appears to delimit space into distinct

In all these cases, namely the original face, the actual Sun, and the one
homogenous space actually remain unchanging; their reflections or
delimitations alone appear as if changing


The changes to the mirror, water, pots are misunderstood to be
affecting the pervasive
face, Sun, space pervading the mirror, water, pots respectively

*//Reflection does not pervade the reflecting medium. It is localized
therein. And the reflecting medium is biased to reflection and not to

Similarly, one of the very nature of the non-Self, particularly the aspect
called ahamkara, is its ability to misunderstand the qualities of the
non-Self as the qualities of the pervasive Self

*//It is the quality of not ahamkara per se, but of sAbhAsa-ahamkAra.//*

This process is called mutual superimposition or adhyasa; and is defined as the
“cognition of an entity as something else”


Adhyasa is mutual, in the sense that the qualities of non-Self are
superimposed on the Self and the qualities of the Self are superimposed on
the non-Self


The resulting entity appears to possess a combination of the qualities


A popular example for adhyasa includes the perception of a rope as a snake
in a dim-lit room; wherein the qualities of the rope (size, shape, color,
position etc.) are superimposed with the qualities of the mental image of a
snake (sentience, poisonous, dangerous) and the resulting entity - snake
with the appropriate size, shape, color, position etc. - appears to exist
on the ground

*//No. Out of ajnAna-of-chaitanya-delimited-by-rope, an unreal snake is
produced. The adhyAsa is between this unreal snake and
chaitanya-delimited-by-rope. The snake is Kalpita-vishesha, idam is AdhAra
whereas chaitanya-delimited-by-rope is adhishThAna.//*

 A person who perceives this entity (actually a rope) as a snake considers
it as a real snake until they realize that it is only a rope


The initial perception of the snake appears to be real until that is changed
by the later cognition of the rope


The perception of the snake is thus technically called as “Mithya” since it
initially appeared to exist but later on observed to be changed / sublated
by the cognition of the rope

*//Perception involves snake-AkArA-avidyA-vritti whose material cause is
ajnAna-of-chaitanya-delimited-by-rope. When the
ajnAna-of-chaitanya-delimited-by-rope is removed by
jnana-of-chaitanya-delimited-by-rope, snake-AkArA-avidyA-vritti is removed.
Since it revealed a mithyA vastu, the pratyaya is also called mithyA.//*

The knowledge of the rope-as-snake is thus called Mithya jnana or false
knowledge and the knowledge of the rope as-it-is is called jnana or true


The adhyasa here is the misunderstanding of the rope as the snake; the
true knowledge
is the clear discriminating understanding of the rope as the rope itself

*     //There are two adhyAsa involved here. Artha-adhyAsa and
jnana-adhyAsa. Misunderstanding is jnana-adhyAsa. Snake is Artha-adhyAsa.//*

Similarly, under the influence of ahamkara, perceiving the non-Self as the
Self is adhyasa or Mithya jnana or false knowledge; and the recognition of
the true nature of the Self as-it-is, without any superimposition of
non-Self, is true discriminating knowledge or Satya jnana

*//Here, it is to be noted that non-self is swarUpa adhyasta in self but
self has samsarga-adhyAsa in non-self. ahmakAra is also swarUpa-adhyAsa.
The cause of adhyAsa is avidyA and not ahamkara.//*

This adhyasa or false knowledge is also called as avidya or ignorance or
delusion; and since this adhyasa is the very nature of material principle,
vasanas / Karma are also technically called as avidya

*//No. adhyAsa is kArya and avidyA is material cause of adhyAsa.//*

This avidya is an inherent nature of the antahkarana (inner instrument -
mind, intellect, memories, ahamkara)

*//No. avidyA is material cause of entire world.//*

The resulting entity of the adhyasa of the Self and the individual
antahkarana is said to be the individual Jiva

*//More precisely, adhyAsa between ahamkara and

The individual Jiva is said to possess the combined qualities of the Self
and non-Self; the sentience principle or pure Consciousness or pure jnana
being the very nature (svarupa), whereas the sense of limited individuality
(‘I’) and changing agentship (knower, doer, enjoyer) as its attributes

*//There is no swarUpa adhyAsa of chaitanya in ahamkara. There is only

The Jiva is thus said to possess the sense of individuality as ahamkara and
the relation with other entities as mamakara

*//“I” is non-self and the first kArya-adhyAsa is between I and

The agentship, as an attribute of the Jiva, brings about the sense of being
the ‘knower’ or ‘experiencer’ (subject); the distinction of the antahkarana
with other objects brings about the distinction of ‘known’ or ‘experienced’
(object); and the individual BMI itself, through sense organs and mind,
acts as the ‘means of experience’ or ‘means of knowledge’ (means); the
result in the individualized distinct experience or knowledge of the
object, and is also called objective experience or objective knowledge

*//vyAvahArika Kartirtva belongs to antah-karaNa. The kartritva of ahamkara
is prAtibhAsika.//*

Therefore, the very experience or knowledge of the individual subject, and
the corresponding triputi, is only the result of adhyasa or avidya; but
actually, all activities (no exceptions whatsoever) are performed by the
BMI alone (under the influence ofKarma) and the Self is a mere constant
witness; the ahamkara aspect of antahkarana superimposes this agency and
makes it appear that the Jiva is the doer

*//Doership is of antah-karaNa. Atman has prAtibhAsika kartirtva owing to
tAdAtmya-adhyAsa between antah-karaNa and Atman. Due to samsarga adhyAsa of
Atman with ahamkara, ahamkara gets prAtibhAsika kartritva.//*

In other words, the Self conditioned by the limited individual antahkarana
is the Jiva; the Jiva is said to be influenced by the individual vasanas /
Karma / avidya

*//In technical language, sAbhAsa-ahamkAra is jIva. A difference is made
between antah-karaNa and ahamkara.//*

A similar discussion on the collective scale gives rise to Brahman
conditioned by collective antahkarana as the Isvara; Isvara is said to
possess or control the collective vasanas / Karma also called as prakruti
or maya

*//Yes. In SDV. Different description is for DSV.//*

While a Jiva is said to be under the influence of individualized avidya due
to limited knowledge, Isvara, on the other hand, is said to control the
collective maya because of unlimited omniscience

*//Maya and avidyA are same. The difference is of Shuddha sattva and malina

But in both - Jiva and Isvara - there is a conditioning and superimposition
of Self / Brahman with the material qualities constituting of gunas;
consequently Isvara and Jiva are both technically called ‘saguna’ or “with

*//Yes, when avidyA is VisheshaNa of Ishwara. Here also, there is no
delusion to Ishwara on account of reflecting medium being Shuddha sattva.
In case of avidyA being upAdhi, due to being kArya-ananvayI, Ishwara is

The true nature of the Self / Brahman, bereft of adhyasa, is said to
transcend all gunas & material qualities; consequently called ‘nirguna’ or
“bereft of gunas”


The knowledge of the Self as the Self itself, discriminating the Self from
the non-Self, is said to be true knowledge that can overcome this adhyasa
or avidya or ignorance; this knowledge is gained only by the grace of
Isvara and under the guidance of a guru

*//Knowledge of self as self is nothing but to know it as not non-self.//*

Bereft of adhyasa, with all sense of limitations transcended, per
scriptures, the true nature of the Self or Atman is realized to be
identical to Brahman


It is thus said that this realization of true nature of Brahman-Atman is the
realization of ‘nirguna’ Brahman; whereas the attainment of Brahman with the
sense of individuality (Jiva) retained is the attainment of ‘saguna’ Brahman


Both these are accepted as valid moksha / liberation; the realization of
‘nirguna’ Brahman happens here-&-now and is called immediate realization
(sadyo-mukti); the attainment of the ‘saguna’ Brahman by proceeding to the
‘saguna’ Brahman loka after death through various stages is called
liberation through stages (krama mukti)

*//In SDV, yes.//*

However, important to remember that this realization or knowledge is also
only at the antahkarana level; Brahman-Atman-Self is ever realized

*//In SDV, yes. At the level of jIva.//*

The individual BMI, even after gaining this true knowledge, can continue to
persist and function under the influence of Karma (prarabdha Karma)

*//In SDV, yes. In DSV, no.//*

Such an individual person is called a jivanmukta (liberated while living)
and is termed as the ‘jnani’, ‘tattva-darshi’, ‘sthitaprajna’,
‘Brahma-vit’, ‘tattva-vit’, ‘parama-bhakta’, ‘paramahamsa’ etc. in the

*//In SDV, yes. In DSV, it is arthavAda.//*

A jnani, through their personal direct knowledge (aparokshanubhuti), is thus
empowered as a guru to teach and guide other seekers on the spiritual path

*//In SDV, yes. In DSV, none has ever attained jnana.//*


*Sudhanshu Shekhar.*

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