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Re: Dharmi jnanam

From: Venk Nagarajan (nagarajv_at_qed.econ.queensu.ca)
Date: Fri Sep 24 1999 - 17:58:18 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
Namo narayana.

In February of 1999 I had posted a note in which I used the statement "our
load of karma is such that we are almost one with inanimate matter."  I
interpreted the statement as saying that even the dharmi jnanam is
contracted.  It was brought to my attention, by Sri. Madhavakkannan (in a
kind manner), that maybe I had misunderstood the concept; I posted a note
acknowledging that I may be wrong, but was unsure.  However, recently,
while glancing through Sri. RamAnujAcArya's vedArtha-sangraha, I found
that my initial interpretation of the statement, referred to above, may
not be improper; I am now the posting this information.  I would be
grateful if some of the more learned bhagavatas can elaborate on this
issue.

VedArtha sangraha:

Verse 51.  The answer follows.  For us who hold this conception of brahman
and the Veda, the criticism has no force.  Consciousness, we maintain,
though an inherent attribute of the individual is subject to real
contraction and expansion by the force of karma.  Thus the difficulty
urged is eliminated.  For you, consciousness is the substantive nature of
the self and not its attribute.  You do not admit either contraction or
expansion.  In our account, concealing factors like karma, bring about the
non-origination of the spread of consciousness.  If the nature of
nescience is to veil, nescience, the agency that viels, must be, as urged
before, destructive of the essential nature of consciousness itself.
According to us karma, in the form of nescience, brings about the
contraction of the consciousness that is an eternal attribute of the
substantive nature of the Atman.  By virtue of this contraction arises the
wrong attitude to the self, taking it for gods, men, or any other
empirical creature. 

Please note in this verse Sri. RamAnujAcArya is answering an Advaitic
objection (criticism.)  There are two important points to be taken
from this short verse:(Please note this is a neophyte's (Sri. venkat) 
interpretation of a translated verse, so please excuse any errors.)

1.  The set of Sentences starting with "For us  no force" to the sentence
ending in "Thus the difficulty eliminated" are beautiful.   Sri.
RamAnujAcArya is saying that advaita and Vis'istAdvaita differ in some
fundamental premises, the criticisms offered by the advaitan are
inappropriate, given that vis'istAdvaita uses a different set of premises
to draw a valid argument.   

2. "According to us karma, in the form of nescience, brings about the
contraction of the consciousness that is an eternal attribute of the
substantive nature of the Atman.  By virtue of this contraction arises the
wrong attitude to the self, taking it for gods, men, or any other
empirical creature." 

Adiyen ramanuja dasan,
Venkat
KrishNarpaNam