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Part 5-Experiencing Bhagavat Ramanuja Yatiraja's Divine Works

From: M.S.HARI (Madabhushi Sarangarajan Hari) (
Date: Mon Jul 17 2000 - 17:51:01 PDT

Part 5 - Experiencing Bhagavat Ramanuja Yatiraja's Divine Works
In the context of the verse "Tat Tvam Asi" in the Sat Vidyaa of Chaandokya
Upanishad, the discussion continues in Vedaartha Sangraha.

The Advaita calls the Brahman as "Nirvisesham" meaning devoid of all
characteristics/attributes. On the contrary, the Veda identifies the reality
of Brahman as "Satyam Jgnyaanam Anantam" meaning the Brahman is having its
identifying "Swaroopa Niroopaka Dharmas" characteristics, namely unchanging,
sentient and infinite natures. The Advaita in order to overcome this
contradiction argues that "Satyam Jgnyaanam Anantam" does not explain the
Brahman as told above as "Savisesham" (with characteristics/attributes) but
declares Brahman by negating that Brahman is changing, insentient and finite.
According to Advaita, "Satyam" says, "Brahman is not a changing entity",
"Jgnyaanam" says that "Brahman is not insentient entity", and "Anantam" says,
"Brahman is not finite entity". Therefore according to Advaita, even "Satyam
Jgnyaanam Anantam" declares the Brahman as "Nirvisesham". They quote the Veda
"Nishkalam Nishkriyam Nirgunam Niranjanam" and argue that it declares Brahman
as "devoid of body, actions, characteristics" and "aloof not impure". In the
same ground as "Satyam Jgnyaanam Anantam", they explain "Vignyaanam Anantam"
of the Veda.

At this level of debate, we need to understand that the Upanishad statements
are broadly classifiable into two types namely:
1. kAraNa Vaakya
2. Chodaka Vaakya
The kAraNa Vaakyas are those declarative statements of the Vedanta which state
that the Brahman is the cause of the universe
The Chodaka Vaakyas are those declarative statements of the Vedanta which
state the nature of Brahman who is characterised by qualities/attributes thus
identifying the Brahman as Purushotthaman.

"Sat Eva Somya Edamagre Aasit", "Eko ha vai NaaraayaNa Aasit" are examples for
kAraNa Vaakyaas.

"Satyam Jgnyaanam Anantam", "Aanandam Brahma" are examples for Chodaka

If we accept the argument of Advaita that all the Chodaka Vaakyaas intends
only to negate the qualities/attributes, then a doubt arises which is as
follows. According to Advaita, all the Chodaka Vaakaas intends to tell
"Brahman is not so" - therefore all the Chodaka Vaakyaas simply mean "Brahman"
(as opposite to being possessing the qualities) then, only one such Vaakya is
sufficient and all other Chodaka Vaakyaas are meaningless. Why there are so
many Chodaka Vaakayaas? Why should the Veda repeat the same thing? The
Advaita, to overcome this argues that "Even though all Chodaka Vaakyaas convey
the same meaning, each one of them is meaningful as each one quotes different
characteristics and then negates that the Brahman is not of that nature".
Further according to Advaita, an entity cannot have different attributes.

Bhagavat Ramanuja in his Vedaartha Sangraha refutes the above manner in which
Advaita interprets the Chodaka Vaakyaas as follows in a detailed manner,
shaking the basic concepts postulated in Advaita itself.

"Naithadevam; Ekavignyaanena sarva vignyaana prathignyaanam, sarvasya
mithhyaatve sarvasya Jgnyaathavyasyaabhaavaath na sethsyati,
satya-mithyaathvayoho ekathaa prasakthirvaa, api tu, eka vignyaanena sarva
vignyaana pratignyaa sarvasya thadaathmakathvenaiva satyathve sidhyathi"

The Sat Vidhya of Chaandokya Upanishad has an avowal which is "by knowing the
reality of one entity (cause which is the upAdAna kAraNam), everything
(effects-kAryam) becomes to be known". This is what "Eka Vignyaanena Sarva
Vignyaanam" conveys. The Upanishad has declared that "Sat" is that cause and
the universe composed of manifold chit and achit entities are the effects. The
Upanishad intends to only convey that by knowing the Brahman (Sat) everything
is known. 

"Utha tamaadesam apraakshya: yenaasrutam srutham bhavathi amatham matham
avignyaatham vignyaatham" - "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?"

Bhagavat Ramanuja argues that "if Eka Vignyaanena Sarva Vignyaanam is taken to
mean that only Brahman is reality and nothing other than Brahman is reality,
then that meaning can only be prejudice of Advaita and cannot be the purport
of the Upanishad. The Advaita's own interpretation is possible if and only if
it was "Eka Vignyaanena Sarva-ABHAVAAVA Vignyaanam" - meaning, "knowing the
reality of one entity leads to the knowledge of unreality (falsehood) of
everything". But it is only "Eka Vignyaanena Sarva Vignyaanam"! The word
"Sarva" means "Everything". Is it possible in anyway to interpret this word
"Sarva" as "Sarva-abhaava" meaning "Everything is unreal"? If it is possible
for Advaita, then it is only illogical and against the Upanishad. 

As the Advaita argues that "Only the Brahman is reality and all other things
other than that Brahman which appears to be "reality" are actually illusions;
all of them just appears to be the same Brahman which alone has existence" is
the meaning of "Eka Vignyaanena...", Bhagavat Ramanuja criticises that
argument and refutes it as follows: "If this counter-argument of Advaita is to
be admitted, then as per Advaita, both Brahman and Universe are of same
nature, the Advaita itself has to accept either "Brahman is reality and also
universe is reality" OR "universe is unreal and Brahman is also unreal".
Therefore, such a counter-argument of Advaita proves troublesome for Advaita

Advaita argues in another way now: Just in the case where a particular student
is pointed out as "the intelligent", all the other students in that class
automatically becomes to be known as "without intelligence". Similarly where
the Vedanta declares the Brahman as "the existent", all other entities becomes
to be known automatically as "non-existent". If this is another
counter-argument of Advaita in interpreting and establishing their own idea
regarding "Eka Vignyaanena...", then Bhagavat Ramanuja refutes and rejects
this argument again as illogical and against the Veda. This argument of
Advaita directly contradicts the "Sarva Vignyaanam" meaning "knowledge about
everything". To admit the argument of Advaita, we have to do an intrusion by
adding a word "Mithya" (meaning illusion/falsehood) which is not at all
present in the Veda. Only if such a "intrusion" is done, the Advaita's
viewpoint that "Everything else other than the Brahman is illusion" can be
admitted. This cannot be done at all and it is totally inadmissible to add the
word "Mithya" which is not in anyway related to the Upanishad Vaakyaas. The
Upanishad has stated two knowledge - one knowledge is about the reality of
Brahman and the other is about the reality of universe and also clearly stated
that both the knowledge are same in the aspect of Brahman being the upAdAna
kAraNam of the Universe (all chit and achit entities). That is the Brahman who
has the subtle (Sukshama) Chit and Achit entities as his Body (before
creation) has expanded (stUla) Chit and Achit entites as his Body (created
universe). But as per Advaita, if we admit their argument, then according to
them one of the knowledge is about "reality" and the other is about the
"unreality". The "Eka Vignyaanena..." therefore gets clearly contradicted as
"reality" and "unreality" cannot be equated. The Upanishad on the other hand
has proved Visistadvaita Shree Vaishnava philosophy by "Yatha Somya" and
without leaving room to any doubt has established Visistasya Advaitam and
Visistayoho Advaitam. The explanation follows: The Upanishad has to be very
carefully studied. It says that before the creation of this universe, only
"Sat" was existing. It says that nothing else was there. The "Sat" wished to
become many that is "Sat" wished to create the universe (innumerable chit and
achit entities) from itself. Then it wished again to create "Tejas" etc., and
enter into them as "Antaryaami-Antaraatma" (soul) and give name, form etc., to
them. The "Sat" did as it wished. From this it is very clear that the Brahman
is the one entity and the universe has that Brahman as its "Aatma" (soul) -
because the Brahman is inside the universe, supporting, controlling and owning
the universe for its purpose. The universe is the inseparable attribute
(aprutak-sidha viseshanam), mode (prakAram), body (sareeram/roopam) of
Brahman. Therefore the knowledge of Brahman automatically leads to the
knowledge of the universe (all chit and achit entities) which has the same
Brahman as its "Aatma" (soul). The "Eka Vignyaanena Sarva Vignyaanam" thus
clearly establishes only the Visistadvaita Shree Vaishnava philosophy. The
Upanishad has shattered the concept of "Nirvisesham" to pieces.

Bhagavat Ramanuja extraordinarily presents the meaning of the "Aadesa" sabda
(word) used in the Sat Vidya of Chaandokya Upanishad. The purport of
Uddaalaka's question is thus explained after which follows the explanation of
the entire Sat Vidya verses which concludes with "Tat Tvam Asi" explanation.
The reader has to read the original words of Bhagavat Ramanuja in this portion
of Vedaartha Sangraha - only then, he/she can understand the unparalleled and
unsurpassed divinity and immeasurable wisdom of our Bhagavat Ramanuja who is
greater than my life to me. In fact, even this is just a sample for his
greatness, which is infinite. Every single letter in the works of our greatest
Aacharya stands as proof for this.

"Ayamarhta: Swethakethum Pratyaaha - "SthabdhOsi; utha tham AADESAM
apraakshya: ithi; - Paripoornam iva lakshyase | taanaachaaryaan prathi
tamapyaadesam prushtavaanasi ? ithi | Aadisyathe AnEna Ithi Aadesa: | Aadesa:
Prasaasanam; "Ethasya Vaa Aksharasya prasaasane Gaargi Sooryachandramasow
vidhrutow tishtatha: ithyaadibhiraykaarthyaath | thathaa cha Maanavam vacha:
"Prasaasitaaram sarveshaam" ithiyaadi | Athraapi ekameva ithi
jagathupaadaanataam prthipaadya Adviteeya padena
adhishtaatrantharanivaaranaath asyaiva adhishtatrutvamapi prathipaadyane |
Atha: "Tam prasaasitaaram jagadupaadaanabhUthamapi prushtavaanasi? Yena
sruthena mathena vignyaanena asrutam amatham avignyaatham srutham matham
vignyaatham bhavathi" ithyuktham isyaath | "nikila jagadudaya vibhava layaadi
kaaraNa BhUtham Sarvagnyatva - Satyakaamathva - Satyasankalpathvaadyaparimitha
udaara GuNa Saagaram kim Brahma tvayaa srutham?" ithi Haardo Bhaava: | "

The Upanishad verses get explained as follows: - Udaalaka addressed his son on
seeing him and questioned him - "O! Swethaketho! You look as if you have
learnt everything! Have you learnt that "Aadesa" from your preceptors?" 

What is the meaning of the term "Aadesa"? Its meaning is given as per the
lexicons and linguistic/grammatical rules of Sanskrit as "Aadisyathe AnEna
Ithi Aadesa:". The Sanskrit term "Aadesa" originates from prefix "Aa" joining
with the root of verb "Disch". (Please note that the pronunciations and their
letter-representations in English are little varied; knowledge in Sanskrit
language easily helps in comprehending these concepts). This root of verb has
the meaning "to control" (Niyamanam). As the Brahman controls the entire
universe, the Brahman is denoted by the word "Aadesa:" - This is a very
important point to note here. Only if the meaning of "Aadesa" term is
ascertained here, the purport of the Bruhadaranyaka Upanishad's verses
"Ethasya Vaa Aksharasya prasaasane Gaargi Sooryachandramasow vidhrutow
tishtatha:" and the words of Manu (in Manu Smruthi) who explained the verses
as "Prasaasitaaram sarveshaam" can be comprehended accurately. "Ethasya Vaa
Aksharasya prasaasane Gaargi Sooryachandramasow vidhrutow tishtatha:" states
that "The heavenly bodies like sun, moon etc., are supported by the command of
Brahman" (Brahman is the controller of everything). The "Prasaasitaaram
sarveshaam" of Manu Smruthi explains the same purport of the Upanishad as
"Everything/Everyone is controlled by Brahman". The meaning of the term
"Prasaasane" (in Bruhadaaranyaka Upanishad verse) and that of the term
"Prasaasitha" (in Manu Smruthi verse) is the same for the term "Aadesa" in
Chaandokya Upanishad's Sat Vidya. In the terms "Prasaasane" and "Prasaasitha",
the prefix is "Pra" but the root with which it joins is the same as it is in
"Aadesa". The meaning here is therefore same. Therefore "Aadesa:" denotes
"Brahman" who controls the entire universe (all chit and achit entities). 

Further to ascertain this meaning of the term "Aadesa:", the Upanishad is
carefully studied. The Upanishad has clearly stated that "Ekameva Adveeteeyam"
This "Eva" in the terms "Ekameva" stresses that the Brahman is the only
material cause of the universe. Further the term "Adveeteeyam" states clearly
that no one other than Purushotthama: (Brahman) controls the entire universe.
Therefore the Upanishad declares that "controlling the entire universe" is the
unique characteristic of Brahman by using the term "Aadesa:" to denote Brahman
- Shreeman NarayaNa: who is Pundareekaaksha:. I used the term Pundareekaaksha:
(Brahman has divine lotus-like beautiful eyes which are celebrated not only by
this Upanishad but also by all smurthis, itihaasaas, puranas and aagamaas)
specifically just to make it very clear that the Vedanta's philosophy is
Visistadvaita Shree Vaishnavam and only Visistadvaita Shree Vaishnavam. (Refer
"Antas TathDharmOpadesath" Brahma Sutra here for an interesting and
establishing aspect).

The verses of the Upanishad "Yenaasrutam Srutam Bhavathi..." etc., and the
example of clay quoted by the Upanishad beyond doubt establishes that the
Brahman is the material cause (upAdAna kAraNam) of the universe. Here an
important aspect has to be noted. Just the mere existence of clay (cause) is
not enough for imparting the knowledge of things made of clay like pot
(effect). Therefore the term "Yena" here has to be understood as "By knowing
which". This enlightens us by imparting knowledge about the fact that Brahman
is absolutely with infinite auspicious/divine characteristics/attributes that
are peerless. "Uthatam Aadesam Apraakshaya:" is summarised as follows:
Udaalaka asked his son Swethakethu "Have you known the Brahman who is having
absolutely infinite auspicious/divine attributes like omniscience
(sarvagnyatvam), omnipotence (sarvasakthitvam) and omnipresence
(sarvavyaapakatvam) and is the only material cause of the universe?"

To be continued...
Thanks & Regards
M.S.HARI Ramanuja Daasan.

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