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Re: (unknown)

From: K. Sadananda (
Date: Wed Sep 19 2001 - 06:26:00 PDT

damodara svarup <> wrote:

Shree damodara
I will try to explain to the best I can without going overboard.  I 
would not mind Shree Mani stepping in to close the discussion 
whenever he feels that the discussion is beyond the scope of this 
list. I would strongly recommend those who are interested the 
reference I gave in Brahmasutra notes particularly the adhyaasa 
Bhaasya where these aspects are extensively discussed in the IIIrd 
chapter.  One should also read the second chapter that discusses the 
difference between loukika anumaana and shaastriiya anumaana.

I have some doubts which arise from the Sadanada's

-Perception of this world, as well as one who
perceives and that which is perceived is only due to
Unfortunately illusion is the incorrect translation of vyavyahaarika 
satya and the concept of maaya in advaita.  I do not have any better 
word either.  Is bangle or ring - at the various names and forms of 
golden ornaments - are the real or illusion?  From the transactional 
purposes, they are indeed real - bangle is different from ring and 
ring from chain. What one does with a ring is different from what one 
does with bangle.  Name is to a form and form is an attribute - 
utility is for those names and forms.  They are real in their 
relative sphere of reference - this is vyavahaara or transactional 
purpose.  But in through the form the essence is  nothing but gold. 
Hence what is relatively real is different from absolutely real -The 
definition that is given in advaita - trikaala abhaaditam satyam - 
that which remains non-negatable in three periods of time is the 
absolute real.  

In your above statement, world is perceived by perceiver. But 
perceiver is not illusion. He is the conscious entity that remains 
eternal as the essential conscious entity- this is true even in 
VishishhTa advaita.  The conscious entity cannot be negated 
(abhaadhitam) at any time since 'he' has to be to there even to do 
the negation process. Hence Krishna's declaration - na enam chindanti 
shastraaNi .. etc-

Even in VishishhTaadvaita - in fact I should say in all Vedic 
religions adhyaasa or error is accepted to some degree - the 
fundamental error is I am the body or mind or intellect - the 
equipments that I possess.  The whole teaching of Giita starts 
because Arjuna has this fundamental problem identifying one self 
which is a chaitanya vastu with the jada vastu - matter, the body, 
mind  and intellect  as I am this - this being an object and I being 
a conscious entity.  Once one identifies I am this body and the other 
body belongs to my teacher or pitaamaha etc all the attachments and 
associated sufferings result - that was Arjuana's problem and our 
problem too. The cause for this error in both philosophies is again 
attributed to 'aj~naana' or ignorance.  The ignorance is anaadi or 
beginningless, as it has to be. The liberation therefore is removal 
of this ignorance.  Up to this is common in both.

The nature of the ignorance is perceived differently in each system. 
Bhagavaan Ramanuja emphasizes the 'bhakti ruupaka j~naana' while 
Shankara emphasizes 'swa swaruupa j~naana' or aatma swaruupa j~naana 
as all in all, which according Ramanuja that is only one part while 
the other part involves the 'paramaatma swaruupa j~naana' - 
understanding of shesha-sheshii - or organic relation between jiiva 
and paramaatma.  In the paramaatma j~naana, aatma swaruupa j~naana is 
inclusive since He is all pervading as antaryaami - that is the 
organic relation or a-dvaita aspect in the vishishhTa a-dvaita. 
-Individuality of the jiva, as well as of  Iswara is
also only perceived due to the covering  of illusion

One has to be very careful here. Illusion is does not give true 
import of the word maaya used in advaita- let us use instead the word 
maaya - it does not really cover anything.  - it is 'as though 
covering' - it is an explanation to explain the currently perceived 
'vyavahaara satya'.  From the absolute level even this explanation 
falls flat since there is no need to explain anything where there is 
only Brahman. 

Let us pose a question to ourselves - Why and how does a conscious 
entity- I or you damodara, anyone mistake ourselves as I am this body 
- I am so and so born on such a data etc. We know that the body is 
matter or jadam and we are not the body and we are chaitanya vastu- 
How does this identification of chaitanya vastu with achaitanya vastu 
takes place? - avidya is accepted by both philosophies - avidya in 
advaita involves not knowing our true nature -When I do not know who 
I am, I take myself as what I am not - That this happens is our 
experience  and our fundamental problem - how this aj~naana leads to 
vikshepa - or projection or taking myself what I am not is considered 
as part of the 'adhyaasa' or error.  - Shankara defines adhyaasa as - 
satya asatya mithuniikaraNam - mixing up of real and unreal - 'I am 
this" - this being body (sthuula or suukshma etc)- 'I am' part is 
real and 'this' part is unreal and mixing up these two as one entity 
is the fundamental error for all of us.  - concepts of 'aarvaraNa' 
and 'vikshepa' associated with avidya are based on - shaastriiya 
anumaana - logical deductions based on shaastra  statement as ' aham 
brahma asmi' to 'aham jiiva asmi' notion. 

If Brahman is One without a second, what is the
shelter and origin of illusion?

Please understand even this maaya itself in the realm of 'maaya' - it 
is a concept brought in to account the apparent disparity between 
what is the absolute truth to what is our day to day experience. 
Please note that avidya or ignorance is anaadi in both philosophies. 
If something real one can talk about 'shelter' and origin etc.  - 
trikaaala abhaaditam satyam is how advaita defines as absolutely real 
- if the illusion  gets dissolved in moksha then it is bhaaditam.

One can either accept this as it is as product of anaadi avidya or 
resort to another explanation as paramaatma liila - either way - the 
buck stops there.  If you are comfortable with the later explanation 
that is fine, but the fact remains that these are only trying to 
account what is in the state of ignorance to that which is beyond the 

How illusion which is nonintelligeble concept in
eternity can have any influence on Brahman which is
the ultimate Reality?

You are absolutely right here - In fact you are essentially 
presenting Bhagavaan Ramanuja's puurvapaksha - particularly the seven 
untenables of avidya as discussed in advaita.  This requires an 
exhaustive analysis which I am planning to present when I am done 
studying Shree Bhaashya. I must say - Shree Madhusuudana saraswati 
addresses many of these as well as objections raised by post-Shankara 
philosophers in his 'advaita siddhi'

But to answer in brief - there is none. Brahman is absolute reality - 
one without a second.  All the explanations are not at paaramaarthika 
level but only valid at vyavahaarika level.  The fact remains that I, 
a chaitanya vastu, taking myself as achaitanya vastu and you can pose 
yourself a question how is this non-intelligible jadam having 
influence on the ultimately real - me the chaitanya vastu. The 
influence is only as long as I take myself or identify myself with 
the jada padaartham - If I stop identifying it what influence it will 
have in my real nature.  In eternity there is only one - and there is 
nothing else to raise the issue of any influence. 

Most of the questions and ambiguity arises when one tries to have one 
leg in vyavahaara and the other  leg in the paaramaarthika level and 
get mixed up in these two references where one is in the realm of 
ignorance and the  other is knowledge. 
Even if illusion has any influence on Brahman, still
in order to appear as this universe, Brahman needs
either to divide, becomes variegated or transform
which is not possible?

True - Hence Brahman does not divide or transform or become 
variegated.  Brahman remains as Brahman even pure and untransformed. 
- That is advaita.

Now you are asking creation - how does that occur. Since I and you 
are seeing this creation we are asking how did this come into 
existence.  Hence creation is there for those are who are perceiving 
- the perception involves - perceiver, perceived and perceiving - 
before we start questioning the validity of the perceived, which is 
the universe and the cause for it - one needs to enquire the validity 
of perceiver and perceiving. - That is why all Vedantic achaarya-s 
address first  the epistemological issues before they discuss the 
ontological issues.

This is very involved topic - not that I do not want to discuss this 
but I have written on these topics extensively on advaitin list.  I 
would recommend those interested to study these  from achieves - 
particularly my discussion with Shree Nanda Chandran posted a month 
ago.   If anyone has any problem in identifying or down loading it, 
feel free to write to me and I will  mail the relevant discussions.   
Is there any scriptural proof which says that
individuality of consciousness, either of the jiva
(infinitesimal) or Iswara (unlimited) is just due to
covering of illusion and not its eternal intrinsic
The four mahavaakya-s that advaita emphasizes are from scriptures only. 

Let me address this briefly - There are pure advaitic statements and 
dvaitic statements in upanishats.  Shankara takes the advaitic 
statements are primary and dvaitic statements secondary.  Madhva 
takes the other way around.  Bhagavaan Ramanuja unifies these two as 
self-consistent organic relation of unity in diversity. 

One should study all and choose what appeals to one heart.  If you do 
not like any one of the explanation - you can present your own. 
Remember we are not reinventing the wheel.   We are blessed by many 
great achaarya-s who have addressed these issues from various angles 
and many of these questions were asked and answered in the past. 
There is nothing wrong to ask again for ones understanding but it 
helps a lot to study what or how other achaarya-s have addresses 
these questions.

Also I am not able to understand the example given by
Sadananda about the gold and ornamets, which implies
substance and form to be reality and illusion.
Both substance and form are real concepts and I do not
understand this comparison were form is identified
with illusion.
Let us look at this way.

Gold is real
Bangle made of gold is also real.

Is there a difference between these two realities?  - Is bangle same 
as gold or different from gold? Bangle is only a  form for that gold 
for which I give a name 'bangle' - Bangle can be destroyed and can be 
made into a  ring - then bangle is gone and it is ring now.  But gold 
is not destroyed in this transformation - gold remained as gold - 
only form and name changed- as bangle it is gold and as a ring it is 
only gold - gold remained as gold in all these transformations. 
Hence we already have to degrees of realities.  One that changes and 
one that does not in these transformations.  Or more correctly one 
that remains the same untrasferable, eternally remaining the same - 
absolutely non-transferable - while the other appears and disappears 
as forms with names associated with forms.  Even though we may call 
both gold and bangle are real - one can appreciate the difference in 
the degrees of realities - one that does not undergo any 
transformation and the other that keeps changing.  Yet in all these 
transformation if there are two separate entities - bangle and gold - 
In that case you can have the bangle and I will take the gold anytime.

It is the glory of gold to be able to exist in many forms yet still 
remains as just one entity 'gold'.  By the by these example are from 
Ch. Up only - teaching of Uddalaka to his son Swetaketu. 

A word about illusion and delusion (moha)- illusion is seeing the 
plurality and delusion is  taking the perceived plurality as reality. 
The problem comes from the second.  Giita addresses the second aspect 
- Arjuna in the end declares - nashhTo mohaH - now because of your 
teaching I lost the delusion - taking the nama and ruupa  as 
absolutely real - there is my teacher and my pitaamaha and these are 
my kith and kin , how can I kill them etc.  These names and forms 
have only relative reality. That is what vyavahaara satya is all 
I can agree that advaita as a concept might be true,
but in my heart i cannot accept this to be
attributless onenness - but rather organic unity.
Damodar - I am very happy for you.  I consider these as working 
hypotheses and one has to proceed using these to discover oneself 
what is the real truth.  Shankara says so or Ramanuja says so etc 
does not mean much until I inquire what is the ultimately the truth - 
For that only nidhidhyaasana emphasized by both achaarya-s is 

God bless you and proceed by all means in the direction that appeals 
to your heart - there lies what is good for you.  If the truth is one 
- we all end up there. 

   yo yo yaam yaam tanur bhaktaH shraddha archtum icchati|
   tasya tasya achalaam shraddham tam eva vidadhaami aham||

Whoever and whoever and in whatever and whatever form one worships me 
with devotion in that and that form I provide him unvagaring faith. 
This includes the path that one takes up towards Him.

Hari OM!

>Yours sincerely,
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K. Sadananda
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Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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