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Re: Could Somebody Clarify This?

From: K. Sadananda (
Date: Fri Sep 14 2001 - 05:18:16 PDT

>  >
>>I may be missing something here - but if Iishwara is sarvajnana and Jeeva is
>>alpajnaana, there exists at least one factor that distinguishes these two - a
>>clear indication of duality. How then is it that advaita claims non-duality?
>  >Ramakrishnan

With Shreeman Mani's approval I am posting this to the list just to 
clarify the position of advaita as I understand.  Shree Ramakrishna's 
question raises the basic issue of advaita and there is lot of 
misunderstanding particularly for those who are not familiar with the 
correct import of advaita - particularly the identity of jiiva with 
Brahman - the scriptural declarations of 'aham brahma asmi and tat 
tvam asi, ayam aatma brahma, praj~naanam brahma are given the primary 
importance in advaita.   Before he takes up suutra bhaashya, 
Bhagavaan Shankara presents 'adhyaasa bhaashya' explaining the 
fundamental error involved.  Bhagavaan Ramanuja makes considerable 
effort in his Shree Bhaasya, in discussing the adviatic position as 
puurva paksha. I have just began to learn this under the guidance of 
Shreeman S.M.S. Chari.  From my perspective, I want to know exactly 
what are Bhagavaan Ramanuja's objections and how far these objections 
valid.  I do however feel that one should study Shankara's 
interpretation before one studies laghu and mahaa puurvapaksha-s of 
Ramanuja and his  siddhaanta-s.  I have been  writing extensive notes 
on Shankara Bhaashya in the advaitin list and these are stored in a 
separate folder called 'Brahmasuutras'. Those who are interested can 
down-load these for their individual study.  We are currently 
discussing Sutra 5.  The study of first four suutra-s are important 
both in Shankara Bhaasya and Sreebhaashya.
  These notes  can be accessed at
for personal study. One may have to become a member of the list at 
least till one can down loads these notes!   You are always welcome 
to become a member of the list and learn from the discussions.

Here is my understanding in response to the question raised by Shree 
I do not wish to get into debate on the issues but only present 
advaitic perspective as I understand.

Advaita means non-duality - it is not mono-ism - it is the negation 
of the duality.  Since one experiences duality, in our day to day 
experiences, it inquires into the truth of this duality that one 
experiences and comes to the conclusion that the duality that one 
experiences is only  'apparent' and not real. Hence reality is 
different from that what appears as plurality - the concept of 
'maaya' is brought in to explain why plurality that appears is 
mistaken as reality.  

It is like Gold - appearing as many ornaments - The ornaments in 
terms of names and forms and utilities are different - but truth of 
the apparent plurality is non-dual - gold - is it not?   Hence what 
is real - is defined as that which remains the same in all periods of 
time - trikaala abhaaditam satyam - Ring, bangle, chain etc are 
different - names and forms and their utilities, the date of birth 
and date of death - are different - yet from the gold point - gold it 
was, gold it is even when one calls it as ring etc.,  and gold it 
shall be.  Gold has remained as gold yet it appears as many - ring, 
chain etc.  This example is based on the interpretation of  Chandogya 
Upanishad mantra-s - yathaa soumya - ekena loha maninaa sarvam 
lohamayam vij~naaata, vaachaarambhaNam vikaaro naamadheyam syaat loha 
mityeva satyam. The upanishat gives two more examples like this. - 
Just as gold that manifests as golden ornaments is known by inquiring 
into the nature of an ornament, that it is the essence or substratum 
of all gold ornaments - Gold alone is the 'sat' padaartham here. 
Creation is the only ' vaachaarambhanam' - it begins with the 
'thought' process and it is only an (apparent) modification - into 
names and forms.  Thus  the creation of one into many is explained in 
Ch. Up.  - It starts - with 'sadeva soumya  idam agra aseet - My dear 
boy, what was there before the creation was only ' existence' - it is 
one without a second - ekam eva advitiiyam' - it is not inert 
existence or jadam but a conscious existence - it decided to become 
many - it is one becoming many - tad aikshata - bashu syaam - prajaa 
ye yeti.. Etc.

Iswara is defined as the creator -from T. UP. - yatova imaani 
bhuutani jaayante, yena jaatani jiivanti, yat prayam tyabhisam 
vishhaanti - tat vij~naanasaswa -tat brahma iti. That which the whole 
universe is originated, sustained and goes back into - this is what 
is called 'tatasha lakshana' by which Iswara is recognized.  - That 
is the incidental qualification.  The swaruupa lakshana of Brahman is 
- satyam j~naanam anatam brahma. -( a detailed discussion of taTasta 
lakshaNa and swaruupa lakshaNa, etc are discussed in the referenced 

Brahman in advaita is absolute undifferentiated one without a second 
- essentially sat - chit and ananda aspect.  existence - 
consciousness and infiniteness - These are not considered as 
attributes and but intrinsic nature.  ( one has to go into in depth 
analysis of what is an attribute and what is a locus of these 
attributes - the epistemological issues involved to understand the 
ontological aspects of these correctly).

Iswara - is a conceptual notion of Brahman to explain the apparent 
plurality that we see - and ask the question,  "who is the creator of 
this intelligent orderly universe?'.  If I have to create a watch - I 
should have the 'know-how' of how to create a watch - If I have to 
create the whole universe, then I have to be sarvaj~naa since all the 
laws that are discovered and yet to be discovered are within the 
universe and I should be knower of all these to create all these - 
Hence Iswara is sarvaj~naa, sarva shaktimaan etc.  in the same sense 
as Bhagavaan Ramanuja describes the Lord as 'anata kalyaana guNa 

Any creation involves two aspects - nimitta kaaraNa, intelligent 
cause and upaadana kaaraNa, material cause.  If Iswara has to create 
this universe, the question arises as to 'where does he get the 
material for creation?' - It cannot be separate from Him, since if it 
is then one questions where did that material come from and who 
created that material.  Hence he has to be material cause as well - 
hence the above statement of the Upanishad - yatova imaani bhuutaani 
..... from Taittiriiya Upanishad that I quoted. (Both Shankara and 
Ramanuja subsribe that Brahman is upaadana kaaraNa  of jagat while 
details of their interpretations differ - Shree Madhva considers 
Brahman as only nimitta kaaraNa and not upaadana kaaraNa)

Jiiva - is conscious entity identifying with the local equipments - 
body, mind and intellect rather than than global equipments, the 
whole universe. Existence, consciousness and ananda (happiness) 
(ananda is also infiniteness or limitless since any limitation cause 
unhappiness -anantam eva ananandam).  According to advaita, 'sat chit 
and ananda' identifying only with local equipments - that include - 
sthuula, suukshma and kaaraNa shariira-s - is jiiva or microcosmic 
entity and the same sat chit ananda  identifying with totality - all 
universe consisting of names and forms - is Iswara.  In the statement 
'I am a jiiva or individual' - the first part - I and am- or aham 
involves both 'sat and chit aspect'  In the identification as 'I am 
an individual' - the individual or jiiva part is considered as 'error 
or adhyaasa' - since it involves identification with the local 
equipments - body, mind and intellect - 'aham brahma asmi' - or I am 
Brahman - identification that I am not only sat and chit but anaanda 
or happiness as well since happiness involves free from all 
limitations or anantam - hence satyam, j~naanam and anantam is my 
essential nature.

Thus from the essential aspect - the substratum that pervades - 
advaitic position is that I am the  'sat chit ananda' that is one 
without a second. The identity of  jiiva and iiswara is only from 
this essential aspect which is one without a second.  

I said creation involves 'thought' process - With total mind the 
creator is Iswara and with the individual mind it is jiiva - Gold can 
identity itself I am the one that pervades all the ornaments - I am 
one without a second,  but a golden ring without inquiring properly 
may think I am only ring (naama, ruupa) undergoing all the six 
modifications associated by being a ring - birth, death and all the 
suffering in between - It is like waves think I am separate from the 
ocean and I am a small wave, the other fellow is big wave and he is 
going to swallow me etc.  But waves are not different from ocean - As 
a ocean it can declare - all waves are in me but I am not in them in 
the sense that they arise in me, supported by me and go back into me 
yet their individual sufferings do not belong to me. Hence Krishna's 
declaration - mayaa tatam idam sarvam jagat avyakta muurtinaa, 
mastaani sarva bhuutani na cha aham teshhu avasthitaH| - I pervade 
this entire universe in an unmanifested form - all beings are in me 
but I am not in them. - Are the waves different from ocean or are 
they the same as the ocean with local perturbations seen as waves 
with names and forms?.  From the ocean point it is its glory to 
manifest as waves - pasyam me yogam aiswaram - See my glory says 

I have given more details perhaps than is needed - but at least 
clarifies the apparent vs real and in what respects the advaita is 
implied - one gold plus many ornaments - appears to be plural. But 
this apparent appears to be real until one inquires into the truth of 
the apparent - Then what appears need not be the truth and the truth 
is that it is just one non-dual gold all the time even when it exists 
as many ornaments. That is a-dvaita.

Hari OM!

K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

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