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purpose of life

From: Krishna Kalale (krishna_at_nynexst.com)
Date: Wed Nov 08 1995 - 10:08:37 PST

K.P Sridharan enquires about the purpose of life from visistadvaitic view.

I would like to add my thoughts on this.  I think rather than answering
the purpose of life one needs to satisfactorily answer why was there 
creation to start with?  I looked into this question seriously and tried
to find a satisfactory answer.  let me state some of my findings here:

chaitanya point of view :  already posted by K.P Sreedharan (it sounds fairly
the way it has been put in their texts)

advaita point of view :  they believe in drishti-srishti vaada. what it means
is that if you are seeing this varied creation it is because of the ignorance
of the perceiver.  all this universe is nothing but an apparition or appearance.
once the jnaanam dawns on the seer neither the seer nor the objective universe
are really true.  the perceiver becomes brahman ie. brahman just exists in its
original form.  then did brahman create all this?  no there was no creation.
no dissolution. no bondage. no moksha. it is all in the view of the perceiver.
why does the perceiver exist?  - he/she is a product of the universal illusion.
what is it?  there is this sort of eternal?  maya. brahman's projection on this
maya creates three types of images : ishwara (lord), jeeva (souls) jada (matter). these three are all illusions.  for a jeeva to get moksha he has to do
upasana on ishwara and finally at the end of the upasana this cosmic dream
breaks up and neither the ishwara nor the jeevas and jadas exist. brahman in
its original form exists unperturbed.  from the viewer's point of view 
all these happened from brahmans's point of view (OH NO!! there was no point of
view) nothing happened.  what I mean is brahman is not a knower in advaita.
it is pure "jnanam" or pure awareness.


visistadvaita point of view:

there was no creation.  the moment one accepts a beginning that person 
gets shot with a hundred unanswerable questions!!   why? let us see what
these questions might be:  did the jeeva separate itself from original
brahman by its own accord or by God's orders?  if it said it is jeeva's own
accord then why did jeeva choose this garbage can (ie. our universe) for a
choice instead of choosing to stay with brahman?  ie. due to his ignorance.
why did he get ignorance? then.. the answers here become difficult.

if on the other hand it is said that God ordered him to get mixed up in this
matter and take births. then new problems arise.  why did that tyrannical
God put these poor souls in this hell of a universe?  this position will
weaken the greatness of God.  so this cant be the answer.

Visistadvaita states : creation and destruction are cycles. endless as far 
as we know.  at anypoint, jeeva is created (say takes a janma) due to 
avidya and past karmas.  did karma (action) cause ignorance(avidya) or 
avidya caused karmas? this is a chicken and the egg problem. this is cyclic
without an answer. so at any particular janma, a combination of karma and 
avidya causes present life.  there is no beginning. but there is supposed to
be an end when individual gets moksha. God only facilitates this process. he
has given jeevas freedom which can be used properly to attain him.  

as an addition to visistadvaitic theory let me add this:
jeeva is made of two aspects the dharmi jnana and dharma bhuta jnana. dharmi
jnana is the essential form of the jeeva ie. the very stuff jeeva is made of.
dharma bhuta jnana is that awareness which is constantly attached to jeeva to
let it know of external objects as well as external souls.  dharmi jnana is
also known as svarupa jnana.  jeeva's attributive intelligence is dharma bhuta
jnana through which he gets knowledge of this universe.  this dharma bhuta
jnana is not ver subtle in the bound state - so it cannot perceive subtle
quantities such as paramatma or jeeva's form. just like water seeping through
mud does not seep through into the sand particles, this jnana fails to perceive
the paramatma in this world.  thinking that this world is pleasurable, jeeva
interacts with matter and gets attached to it. when he diverts his attention
ot God (paramatma) his bondage gets broken by the grace of paramatma. then
he gets divested of his shackles and attains ultimate similarity with paramatma.

here the problem of why creation is transformed into problem of there was no
beginning to creation. universe is beginningless.

ESSENCE :  P. N. Srinivasachari  (a famous visistadvaita author) writes :
this problem of why creation? cannot be answered in the logical realm at all
****************************************************************************
this question is not answered by any school satisfactorily because this problem
is beyond the sensory realm. hence logic cannot provide the complete solution.
it may calm our curiosity but not quench it fully.  

Tam eva viditva ati mritumeti naanyaha panthaa vidyate ayanaaya :
knowing him alone, does one cross this bondage (mrityu) 
there is no other path for salvation.