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Re: [Vidyasankar Sundaresan: double pruning and other mysteries]

From: Sudarshan Iyengar H3-378 (
Date: Wed Aug 24 1994 - 09:44:43 PDT

     Response to Vidya's mail : Re: doubling pruning and other mysteries

vidya>> From: (Vidyasankar Sundaresan)
vidya>> To:
vidya>> Subject: Re:  double pruning and other mysteries
vidya>> Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 23:46:35 -0700
vidya>> Sankara would take offence with the statement 
vidya>> No term applicable to the individual self is applicable only to it.
vidya>> It must be extended to the Indwelling Divine too. 
vidya>> By this reasoning, all the change and imperfections in the individual 
vidya>> jiva would also be thought of as being applicable to Brahman. However
vidya>> Brahman remains forever in its essential nature, so such change cannot
vidya>> be really applicable to Brahman at all. 

          No. Not if the fundamental reason for change and imperfections is
        understood. The reasons according to Visistadvaita are :

         1. The soul does not experience pain or pleasure only because it is
            associated with the body, but because of Karma. In fact it is due to
            karma only that such an association takes place. ie. Karma of the
            finite soul is responsible for the imperfections and the change to
            it's attributive consciousness (dharma-bhuta-jnana) in the bonded state.

         2. Brahman is associated with it's body (finite soul + matter) NOT because
            of Karma or Chance or any external agency. The universe does not
            "become" the body of Brahman due to Karma as Brahman is free from all
            imperfections and evil. The universe is "inherently" the body of 
            Brahman, eternally.

         3. The finite soul is not inseperably related to matter as it's soul.
            The body of the finite soul changes from birth to birth and in the 
            final stage it's relation with matter is once and for all severed.
            But the sentient and non-sentient entities are not related to
            Brahman like this. They are inseperably related to Brahman and they 
            cannot at any instant exist apart from it. Brahman is characterised 
            with these 2 entities in both the subtle (causal) and the gross 
            (consequent) stages. 
         4. Hence the reason for change & imperfections is Karma which the 
            finite soul is subject to but not Brahman. Due to this the 
            application of the term "thou" in "that thou art" does NOT imply
            that :
                    "all the change and imperfections in the individual
               jiva would also be thought of as being applicable to Brahman". 

vidya>> Again, the whole problem boils down to whether the world is regarded 
vidya>> as real as Brahman or not. For Sankara, the world is real but not 
vidya>> ultimately real. Thus svatah pramana, paratah apramana. By itself, we
vidya>> apprehend only the world, and so see only the world as real, but 
vidya>> once Brahman is realized, the world takes on a new meaning. It is not 
vidya>> ultimately real, as it cannot have an existence apart from Brahman,
vidya>> which is sat itself. His analogy is particularly interesting. He says
vidya>> "Has the power to burn an existence of its own apart from the existence
vidya>> of fire?" The existence of the power is the same as the existence of the 
vidya>> fire. We may think of them as separate, but in reality they are one. 

        Here  again are "gradations" of reality which are not warranted by the
        Upanisads, explicitly. A better way of saying this would be to say
        that the World "is" real but it is not "all" that is real. To say that
        "the world is real, but not ultimately real is misleading. It would also
        be better to say that the world is real but is NOT independent. The analogy
        presented about "the power to burn" and "fire" only proves this point.

        ie. The power to burn "is real", as real as the fire (no less real) and
        is adjectival or an attribute of the "fire" which is also real. The "power
        to burn" cannot exist independent of the fire. This concept of 
        "aprathak-siddhi" is at the heart of the Brahman-soul-world relationship
        in Visistadvaita. 

vidya>> It is thus that this world is Brahman. Viewed apart from Brahman, which is
vidya>> vyavaharika satya, man's understanding of the world is faulty. Because, apart
vidya>> from Brahman, the world can have no existence. Still, man is able to look
vidya>> at the world as existent, even without knowing Brahman. It is that which is 
vidya>> anirvachaniya. On knowing Brahman, the world is also realized to be nothing
vidya>> other than Brahman. This point is made very powerfully in the Vivekachudamani.
vidya>> I think even some later Advaitins must have taken the maya term in its 
vidya>> popular connotation. This is probably a hangover from the prakrti idea of
vidya>> Samkhya. This must have been responsible for the very rejection of the 
vidya>> idea by Ramanuja. 
vidya>> vidya

          IMHO, the last paragraph here seems a little unreasonable because :

        1). How can we assume that there was not even a Single Advaitin after
           Sri Sankara who "really" & "correctly" understood what he "really"
           meant to say. If there were some who did really understand and write
           what he said than those works would have been extant and available
           to Sri Ramanuja for further analysis.

        2). It seems that the Original works of Sri Sankara were available
           to Sri Ramanuja at that time for him to analyse and criticise 
           each and every detail so clearly and thoroughly. 

     I'll respond shortly to the other objections raised by Vidya in a 
     subsequent email. 
with regards,