|You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : 1994|
From: Sudarshan Iyengar H3-378 (siyengar_at_himalaya.sps.mot.com)
Date: Wed Aug 24 1994 - 12:28:21 PDT
Response to Vidya's comments on 'sarira-sariri-bhava' vidya>> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Vidyasankar Sundaresan) vidya>> To: email@example.com vidya>> Subject: Re: another regarding 'sarira-sariri bhava' vidya>> Date: Mon, 22 Aug 1994 23:27:43 -0700 vidya>> vidya>> Very interesting articles. I based my rather peremptory dismissal of vidya>> the anirvachaniya charge as frivolous on the account in P. T. Raju's vidya>> "The Philosophical Traditions of India". On pg. 192, he recounts the vidya>> argument that Sankara's followers ask "If the body is an essential part vidya>> of the Brahman, how can one part change without affecting the other part?" vidya>> vidya>> Ramanuja's answer is "In ourselves we find that the body undergoes many vidya>> changes, but the atman remains the same." vidya>> vidya>> When faced with the difficulty with this analogy - namely, if the Atman is vidya>> the knower, doer and the enjoyer, then it must be affected by the affections vidya>> of the body. This seems to imply that in a similar fashion, the Brahman is vidya>> also the active knower, doer and enjoyer, thus implying some change. Why does the Atman as Knower, doer, enjoyer get affected by the affections of the body? Because of it's undeniable karma. Sri Ramanuja's answer above is only a gist of the detailed analysis that he puts forth in the Sri Bhashya and the VedaarthaSangraha. What is implied here is that there is no change in the "substantive" nature (svarupa-bhuta-jnana) of the Atman. But there is a change in it's "attributive" consciousness (dharma-bhuta- jnana) which is due to karma. The concepts of these 2 types of natures or consciousness is unique to Visistadvaita and is a deeper analysis of the what constitutes Atman or the finite self. The conclusion reached by Vidya that Brahman is also afflicted by change appears only at the prima-facie level at which Sri PT Raju seems to have quoted Sri Ramanuja. A deeper analysis of the Epistemological concepts of Visistadvaita is necessary to appreciate the significance. Since Brahman is not afflicated by karma he is not afflicted by change. The Atman's attributive consciousness is what undergoes change when in bondage but it's essential substantive consciousness remains unchanged. At moksha it's attributive consciousness expands and it "perceives" the truth. The doership of the self is subordinate to the supreme in the general sense. The karma vAsanA of the self is the particular cause of different actions for which it's is solely responsible. No such vAsaNa exists for the Supreme by which it can be tainted. Brahman's doership is not tied to, or qualified by any vAsaNa but is it's own will as in the case of the manifestation of the Universe. vidya>> Raju says the only answer is that Brahman has a mysterious power so that vidya>> it remains unchanged by the changes in its body. It was that that I used to vidya>> say that Visishtadvaita also has to resort to some mystery at the end. This is not a correct view of Visistadvaita. vidya>> I see a more serious charge against the idea of sarira-saririn as parts vidya>> from the point of view of Advaita. Brahman is without parts in the vidya>> Upanishad. How then can Visishtadvaita maintain this concept of parts vidya>> till the very end? The analogy of sarira-saririn will be acceptable to vidya>> Advaitins at the level of Saguna Brahman, but not with Nirguna Brahman. If one says that Brahman is a aggregate of finites with no interlinking or inter-relationship then yes, that is wrong. When the Upanisads say that Brahman is without parts are they saying parts in the ordinary sense of the word ? The plurality of selves is a fact of experience based on distinctions in cognition, volition and experiences among individuals. It is impossible to conceive a non-phenomenal self which does not perform any function like knowing, willing or experiencing. The individual selves are real and many and continue to do so even after liberation. How then to interpret the statements of Unity in the Upanisads? In these contexts Unity of Attributes is intended. These statements indicate that the selves have, by nature, common charecteristics and so belong to the same category. While plurality is real there is no intrinsic inequality in the individual selves. This is the force of the Upanisadic statements that talk of Unity or similarity. Empirical inequalities are all due to the variations of embodiment brought out by karma. Individuation is not destroyed at the time of moksha as individuation is Not a product of bondage. The plurality of selves is eternal. The attributes of the Supreme reality which the selves are, are not dissolved but they attain "oneness" due to their attributive consciousness being fully expanded similar to that of Brahman. So this "part-of-whole" aspect is unlike the parts of wholes we normally experience here in this world, but is an organic relationship (NO organism is implied here) where the "inseperability" aspect renders the so called "parts" not parts at all! ie. No independent existence. vidya>> As I understand Advaita from the point of view of the five kosas, each kosa vidya>> derives from the more subtle inner kosa till you come to the innermost vidya>> reality. Sankara elaborates on this in his pancikarana. That is why I vidya>> maintain that the words maya and avidya are highly misunderstood, and vidya>> should be taken in a technical sense, not in the popular sense. Throughout vidya>> the Panchikarana, Sankara follows the scheme from the Taittiriya Upanishad. vidya>> As Sankara himself is said to have belonged to the Taittiriya sakha, this vidya>> is understandable. All this, is here treated as if it were real, and not vidya>> unreal at all. Still, the words maya and avidya are used, but in a positive vidya>> sense. The doctrine of Panchikarana (quintuplication of elements) is also upheld by Sri Ramanuja. The "technical" sense of Maya or Avidya is still not clear enough to eradicate the "so-called" "mis-understanding" of these terms. The concept of "sad-asad-vilakshana" is resorted to by Advaitic epistemology (see works like Ista-siddhi and Brahma-siddhi) in many arguments to establish that "mithyatva" of the Universe. ie. That the cosmic principle of Avidya is neither sat nor asat but something other than these two. This view is refuted by Visistadvaita. This vilakshana is what gives rise to the Anirvaachaniya concept in Advaita. "satve na bhrAntibAdhau stam, nAsattve khyAtibAdhane; sad-asadbhyAm anirvAcyA" ---- Istasiddhi (advaitic text by Vimuktatmaan) Also the terms "mithya", "mithyatva" etc quoted elsewhere in Advaitic texts can only be taken to mean "Illusion", "illusory" etc. vidya>> The main reason why Sankara goes through all these complicated explanations, vidya>> I think, is to maintain that what was Unmanifest did not change in its vidya>> essential nature due to manifestation. Which is why he maintains vivarta, vidya>> and not parinama as the relationship between Brahman and this world. vidya>> vidya>> vidya But if there is an alternative explanation which can bind the Abheda and Bheda srutis of the Upanisads to present a more coherent and non-contradictory thesis, than one must atleast examine it thoroughly. All this, without resorting to an "inexplicable" phenomena. The best way to study a vedantic school, be it Advaita or Visistadvaita, is to look at the purvapaksha or the opponent's view to gauge the level of depth and exegesis. I am also in the learning process and any clarifications to the views presented are welcome. with regards, -sudarshan.