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Part 4-Experiencing Bhagavat Ramanuja Yatiraja's Divine Works

From: M.S.HARI (Madabhushi Sarangarajan Hari) (mshari_at_usa.net)
Date: Tue Jul 11 2000 - 08:06:17 PDT

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Part 4 - Experiencing Bhagavat Ramanuja Yatiraja's Divine Works
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In Vedaartha Sangraha, Bhagavat Ramanuja first refutes Adi Sankara's Advaita
philosophy. Let us see first how Bhagavat Ramanuja explains that Advaita is
contradicting the Veda by understanding some passages from "Braham-Agnyaana
Pakshe Sruthi Virodha Darsanam" portion of Vedaartha Sangraha. 

The Chandokya Upanishad's Sat-Vidhya is the subject of discussion now. It has
the famous verse "Tat Tvam Asi". Advaita has its own interpretation for this
on the other hand Visistadvaita ascertains its purport. First of all let us
get to know the Sat Vidhya which is elaborated as follows:

The Chandokya Upanishad says - Aruna's son is Uddalaka. Uddalaka's son is
Swethaketu. Uddalaka addressed his son "Swetaketo! Do the prescribed study of
Veda under the guidance of qualified preceptor!" Swetaketu obeyed his father's
order and completed the prescribed study of Veda and returned back to his
house after years. Swethaketu thought that he has mastered everything. On
seeing his son, Uddalaka understood that his son is yet to know the Brahman.
Uddalaka therefore wanted him to get knowledge about the Brahman. In order to
invoke his interest regarding the Brahman, Uddalaka questioned Swetaketu as
follows: "Utha tamaadesam apraakshya: yenaasrutam srutham bhavathi amatham
matham avignyaatham vignyaatham - O son! Do you know that "Adesa", by knowing
which all things which were not heard becomes heard (known), all that which
were not contemplated becomes contemplated and all unknown becomes known?"
Swethaketu should have got shocked on being questioned like this and doubted
the question's logic itself. He did not know the answer any way. He asked his
father "Katham Tu Bhagava: Sa: - How is that revered Sir?" His father first
made it clear to his son that the question is logical and then answered it in
detail. He quoted examples - "Yatha Somya ekena mruth pindena sarvam mrunmayam
vignyaatham isyaath" - By knowing the material cause "Clay", things (like pot
which are effects) made of clay becomes to be known". He actually pointed out
the oneness of cause (material cause - Upaadaana Kaaranam) and the effect
(Kaaryam). To make him understand that Pot and Clay are same (but only
different forms), he said "Vaacha-Arambhanam Vikaaro Namadheyam mruthikethyeva
satyam". Though we think the pot is different from clay, is in fact the clay
itself in a changed mode which has got a shape which is called as pot. His
father quoted few more examples in this regard. Swethakethu requested his
father to kindly teach him that "Adesa", knowing which everything becomes
known!

The upadesam (teaching) was started by his father - "Sat Eva Somya edmagre
aaseeth ekameya adveteeyam". "O Somya (who is fit to drink the Soma juice
(prepared in Soma yagnya)) the universe which you see now with manifold forms
and names was not like this before its creation but was present subtle
(difficult to distinguish) form of "Sat". Nothing is its support other than
Sat.

The "Sat" wished "Tat Ikshatha Bahusyaam Prayaayethi". That is, the "Sat"
wished that "I become the  multitudinous (expanded-StUla) chit and achit
tatvas ie., the universe". The "Sat" became many, as it wished. This is
"Sat's" first Sankalpam (Wish).

The "Sat" wished again - "SOyam Devataykshatha Hanthaaham Imaa: Tisra:
Devataa: Anena JevEna Aatmanaa Anupravisya Nama Roope iVyaakaravaaNi" that is
the Sat wished "by having the representative divinities of Tejas (light), Ap
(Water) and Annam (Prutvi-matter) as Sareeram (body/mode), I enter into them
as soul and give manifold names and forms to them". It became as it wished.

The Brahman (Sat) is therefore declared as the "Cause" (Kaaranam) of the
universe. By the first sankalpam, the Brahman did the "Samashti Srushti" and
by the second sankalpam he did the "Vyashti Srushti". "Samashti Srushti" means
creating the universe in its amass form and  "Vyashti Srushti" means creating
the universe in its clearly diversified form. Further the Sat Vidyaa continues
as follows "Sath Moolaa: Somya Imaa: Prajaa:" meaning the Brahman is the cause
for all these chit tatvas (not only achit tatvas) also.  

All the chit and achit tatvaas where in the subtle form (sUkshma - without
form, name and identifications) as body/mode of Brahman before creation as
"Sat" in such a way that it was hard to differentiate them with individual
name, form and species identification. All these things (all the chit and
achit entities) have no independent nature, existence and its continuance and
actions without the support, control and lordship of Brahman. The Brahman
controls all these chit and achit entities and their creation is purely
dependent on Brahman. They all have the Brahman as "soul" and they all form
the body of Brahman. Their continuance and destruction are also dependent on
Brahman. 

After these teachings, Uddaalaka concluded his sermon "Ithadaatmiyam Idam
Sarvam Tat Satyam Sa Aatmaa Tat Tvam Asi Swethaketho" meaning, "The universe
composed of innumerable chit and achit entities are pervaded by the "Sat"
(Brahman) and has the Brahman as its Aatmaa (soul). The Sat is the universe
therefore because of this inseparable body-soul relationship. (Similarly) You
(Swethaketu) are also the same Brahman (as you (a Jeevaatman) are also
pervaded by the same Brahman and you are having the Brahman as your Soul
(aatma) and you are the body/mode of the same Brahman). The verse "Tat Tvam
Asi" leads to a debate as the Advaitins tell their own personal idea as its
meaning, which is different from the "Sareera-Aatma" bhaavam as discussed
above.

Up to this, the Upanishad has stated the following: 
1. Knowing one entity, everything becomes known (is the Prathignya (oath)),
which is the Brahman who is the material cause (Upaadaana Kaaranam)
2. The instrumental (efficient) cause of the universe is also the Brahman as
he "Wished" to create the universe
3. The body-soul relationship (Sareera-Aatma-Bhaavam) between the universe and
the Brahman
4. As the Brahman is the soul of the entire universe, the Brahman himself is
denoted as the universe and in the very same meaning, denotes a Jeevaatman
(here Swetaketu) (Tvam) as Brahman (Tat) - "Tat Tvam Asi"

The above paragraphs are written, as their contents are required to be
understood for understanding the following paragraphs.

Now the verse "Tat Tvam Asi" is taken up for a lengthy debate. I request the
reader to kindly read the arguments and counter-arguments very carefully and
fully to comprehend them as they are going to be bit technical.

The Advaita's point of view is now considered in the context of the verse "Tat
Tvam Asi". The Advaita argues that the Brahman is "Nirvishesam" - meaning the
Brahman is devoid of all attributes. 

When the Advaita's point of view is considered it contradicts many verses of
the Veda. The verse "Tat Tvam Asi" has three words in it and they are "Tat",
"Tvam" and "Asi". The word "Tat" denotes the Brahman, which is having
attributes like "having under its full control, the creation, sustenance and
destruction of the universe", "being the soul of the universe and giving names
and forms of all chit and achit entities" etc. The Veda has declared infinite
divine qualities of the Brahman like omniscience, omnipotence, unparalleled
and unsurpassed supreme lordship, owning the transcendental world Shree
Vaikuntam and the material worlds, unopposed commanding nature, nature of
illuminating everything, infinite excellence with infinite divine qualities
and being untouched by all impurities of the universe. If the Advaita's point
of view is accepted, then all the Veda verses declaring the above aspects
becomes useless without any meaning. Advaita therefore contradicts Veda. Let
us see in detail the arguments-counter arguments of Advaita and its analysis
so that we can clearly understand how they are refuted and proved to be
against the Veda and are illogical in detail. Bhagavat Ramanuja proceeds to
explain in detail as follows in Vedaartha Sangraha. It is to be noted here
that only when all the views of all types of opponent philosophies are
considered, we can determine and establish/prove the rationality, strict
adherence to Veda and "beyond-doubt" nature of our Visistadvaita Shree
Vaishnava philosophy and practice. Therefore this is the reason for refuting
other philosophies. This is also the reason why the Brahma Sutras have
Adhikaranams explaining concepts in five components namely "Vishayam"
(Subject), "Samsayam" (Doubt), "Poorva-Paksham" (Opponent philosophy's point
of view), "Siddhantam" (Established Philosophical conclusion with proof) and
"Prayojanam" (Benefit of Siddhantam).
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To be continued.. .
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