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[Vidyasankar S.: regarding 'sarira-sariri bhava']

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Tue Aug 23 1994 - 12:27:45 PDT

Hello group,

No activity here for a while! 

A while back, Sudarshan posted a couple of interesting and 
detailed notes regarding the Advaitic concept of the self
vis a vis Visistadvaita. He focused primarily on 'tat tvam asi'
and the 'sarira-sariri bhava' (the fundamental Visistadvaita
idea that the Paramatma ensouls and controls the entire universe
and all creatures from within).

I forwarded those notes to Vidyasankar Sundaresan, my friend
who is a devoted follower of Sankara. Here is his first response,
which deals with the 'anirvacanIya' (inexplicability) of the
sarira-sariri bhava that he accused Visistadvaita of.

His next one, regarding 'tat tvam asi', comes in the next

Comments and questions, no matter how fundamental, from any and all 
are appreciated.


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From: (Vidyasankar Sundaresan)
Subject: Re:  another regarding 'sarira-sariri bhava'
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 23:27:43 -0700

Very interesting articles. I based my rather peremptory dismissal of 
the anirvachaniya charge as frivolous on the account in P. T. Raju's
"The Philosophical Traditions of India". On pg. 192, he recounts the 
argument that Sankara's followers ask "If the body is an essential part
of the Brahman, how can one part change without affecting the other part?"

Ramanuja's answer is "In ourselves we find that the body undergoes many 
changes, but the atman remains the same." 

When faced with the difficulty with this analogy - namely, if the Atman is
the knower, doer and the enjoyer, then it must be affected by the affections
of the body. This seems to imply that in a similar fashion, the Brahman is 
also the active knower, doer and enjoyer, thus implying some change. 

Raju says the only answer is that Brahman has a mysterious power so that
it remains unchanged by the changes in its body. It was that that I used to
say that Visishtadvaita also has to resort to some mystery at the end. 

I see a more serious charge against the idea of sarira-saririn as parts
from the point of view of Advaita. Brahman is without parts in the 
Upanishad. How then can Visishtadvaita maintain this concept of parts
till the very end? The analogy of sarira-saririn will be acceptable to 
Advaitins at the level of Saguna Brahman, but not with Nirguna Brahman. 

As I understand Advaita from the point of view of the five kosas, each kosa
derives from the more subtle inner kosa till you come to the innermost 
reality. Sankara elaborates on this in his pancikarana. That is why I 
maintain that the words maya and avidya are highly misunderstood, and 
should be taken in a technical sense, not in the popular sense. Throughout
the Panchikarana, Sankara follows the scheme from the Taittiriya Upanishad.
As Sankara himself is said to have belonged to the Taittiriya sakha, this
is understandable. All this, is here treated as if it were real, and not
unreal at all. Still, the words maya and avidya are used, but in a positive

The main reason why Sankara goes through all these complicated explanations,
I think, is to maintain that what was Unmanifest did not change in its
essential nature due to manifestation. Which is why he maintains vivarta,
and not parinama as the relationship between Brahman and this world. 

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