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Alavandar's Siddhitrayam - part2

From: Venkatesh K. Elayavalli (
Date: Fri Jul 30 1999 - 09:24:03 PDT

Dear members,

We continue with the commentary on Atma Siddhi by Sri R. Ramanujachari


Atma Siddhi  - An Introduction
-by R. Ramanujachari

The mangala sloka (invocatory verse) with which Atma Siddhi commences is
a prayer for the
highest form of bhakti to the Supreme Purusha; and its states in a
nutshell the visistadvaitic
conception of the Deity. Yamuna explains why he underakes this work. All
systems of thought
agree that Atma-jnana is the means to trancedental felicity (nisreyas).
Numerous sruti passages
assert that knowledge of the jivatma and Paramatama is the means of
liberation. But conflicting
views have been held by thinkers on almost every aspect of the self, its
essential nature, attributes
the means by which it is known, its duration, number, the way to the
attainment of moksa and
so on. Likewise, divergent views are entertained about the infinite
self. In the maze of arguments
and counter arguments presented by inquirers seeking to justify their
respective views of man
and God, one is confused and is unable to come to the right conclusion.
Hence the need for
this inquiry.

At the very outset, Yamuna states in unmistakable words the pratijna -
the thesis which he proposes to establish, - in a superb stanza
remarkable for its brevity and clarity.

Dehendriyamanah prana dibhyo Snyo Snanyasadhanah:
ityo Svyapi pratikshetramatma bhinnah atma swatah sukhi ||

"The individual soul is a spiritual principle different from the body,
senses, mind (manas) vital
breah (prana) and conciousness (dhih); it does not depend on anything
else for its  manifestation
(i.e . it is self-luminous); it is eternal, subtle (anumatra,
atisukshma), distinct in each body and is
in its essential nature, blissful"

 Then Yamuna plunges into the subject, seeking serially to establish,
after a reasoned consideration,
every one of the items mentioned in the pratijna. First materialism in
its different forms identifying
the soul with either the body or senses or manas or vital breath is
examined and shown to be
unacceoptable. Incidentally the Nyaya-Vaiseshika theory that manas is
one the nine ultimate dravyas, which with their properties and relations
constitute the whole universe, is assailed.
Then follows a critical review of the theory that samvit (consciousness)
is the soul, for the reason
that it is ajada  (other than insentient). The Buddhists (prakatah) and
the disguised Buddhists (pracchanah) sponsor  the view that
self-luminous consciousness alone is the soul and that it is
the only reality; but that  on account of vasansa (impressionss of
previous experience) or on
account of beginningless  ignorance (avidya), it has for its object the
erroneously imagined and
unreal distinctions of  knower and known. The Bhuddhist doctrine,
whether it identifies the same
with momentary consciousnes (kshanika vijnana) or with a stream of
consciousness, has to face
insuperable  difficulties. Nor does the advaitic theory of pure
consciousness devoid of subject and
object ,  eternal and self-luminous, fare any better. Yamuna shows that
what is termed
consiousness  is well-known to possess the character of manifesting by
its very existence some
object  to its substrate, namely the soul; and that terms such as
samvit, anubhuti, jnana, prakasa
and avagati are synonyms and are relative terms, always pointing to an
agent and an object.
The atman is a knower (jnatr) and not mere knowledge (jnaya).
Perception, reasoning and
scriptural testimony support the visistadvaitic view of the soul ; and
on this view alone the
possibility of ignorance afflicting the soul could be explained. The
self which is knower
presents itself as "I" (aham).

To be continued ...............


Venkatesh K. Elayavalli             Cypress Semiconductor
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