‘shruti’ support for ‘eka jIva vAda’

boxing  ‘eka jIva vAda,’ the Doctrine that says “I Alone Am” is a perpetually  fascinating as well as a perplexing topic in Advaita. It has been debated at many Non-dual discussion fora in the past, both online and offline. Enthusiastic seekers no doubt will continue to do so in the future, if for nothing else, at least as a part of their manana (reflection on the shruti vAkya learnt by them about jIvabrahmaikatva (Identity of the individual and brahman). We are no exception here at this site, thanks to the indulgence from Dennis.

Even though neither Dennis desired nor I anticipated, willy-nilly another round of discussion on ‘eka jIva vAda‘ got opened up triggered by a few observations Dennis made at his latest Post on “Q.394 – Becoming One.” First he raised a few questions, then two, and then one more. The last question was the inevitable left hook: What are the “scriptural references for EJV?”

That’s off my kilter. I jumped out of the rink. Had to look for succour. Fortunately there is help available from redoubtable experts, highly knowledgeable Advaitins. Instead of presenting them in the ‘Comments’ section of the thread, I felt that their answers to the query deserve to be posted as a separate Blog.

I am very grateful to Shriman LalitAlAlitaH, Shri Venkataraghavan and Shri Praveen Bhat for their kind and prompt response and for their ready consent to letting me post their views here.

Shriman LalitAlAlitaH: 

Any shruti which has ekavachanAnta-jIva-pada can be treated as reference for eka-jIva-vAda.

It is true that we have mantras supporting both eka jIva vAda and aneka jIva vAda in the scriptures. shruti mantras that can be cited in support of eka jIva vAda are:

अनादिमायया सुप्तो यदा जीवः प्रबुद्ध्यते  —  GK I – 16 (When the individual sleeping (i.e. not knowing the reality) under the influence of beginningless mAyA …. )

एको देवः सर्व्वभूतेषु गूढः svetaswatara VI – 11 (God, who is one only, is hidden in all beings. He is all-pervading, and is the inner self of all creatures ….)

and other similar mantras.

One should also look at advaitasiddhiH where strength of such shruti-s  is propounded countering jIva-nAnAtva-shrutiH.

Since, others can’t show any flaw in eka-jIva-vAda, and since the knowledge of multitude of jIva  by other means makes shruti reluctant to prove that;

so one has to accept eka-jIva-vAda. And hence shruti-s propounding jIva-nAnAtva need to be explained according to eka-jIva-vAda – is the theme.

I don’t have vedAntasiddhAntamuktAvalI with me, so you may yourself check that too.

[Further, Shri LalitAlAlitaH corrected me regarding the point I made about eka jIva vAda being a vastu tantra. He explained as follows:

There is no need to bring kartR-tantratva or vastu-trantratva here.

If you have to propound any thing, you need proof. prakriyA-s although mithyA need some support from veda-s. This is true for eka-jIva-vAda too. Otherwise, it will be just an imagination of idle mind.] 

 Shri S. Venkataraghavan:

Prakashananda in vedanta siddhAnta muktAvali explains that the following Vedic mantra is support for avidyA being only one: 

अजामेकां लोहितशुक्लकृष्णां
बह्वीः प्रजाः सृजमानां सरूपाः ।
अजो ह्येको जुषमाणोऽनुशेते
जहात्येनां भुक्तभोगामजोऽन्यः ॥ 
— svetasvatara, IV – 5

(Meaning: There is one unborn (avidyA) − red, white and black − which (appears to) gives birth to many creatures like itself. An unborn (jIvA) becomes attached to it and enjoys it. The unborn (jIva) transcends it (avidyA) which in reality is different from him, after his enjoyment is completed.).

 avidyA being only one, jIvA is also one.

[This conclusion is arrived through a detailed vivisection of the above mantra, analyzing the significance of the words used, meeting various objections raised by the opponent and so on. Shri Venkataraghavan Ji sent via a later communication the full commentary of Prakashananda. I hope to make a separate Post on it as it is quite an involved explanation.]

Madhusudana Sarasvati in siddhAnta bindu says that drishti srishTi vAda, also known as eka jIva vAda is the ultimate siddhAnta as far as Advaita is concerned.

[Shri Venkataraghavan also pointed out that all jnAna is vastu tantra, not kartr tantra.]

 Shri Praveen  R. Bhat:

I haven’t read the linked thread.

I see that Venkatraghavan ji has already quoted the mantra in support of EJV. There will likely be a question on this as to how that proves shruti support for EJV. My answer is: the same way that everyone thinks that there is shruti support for anekajIvavAda/ nAnAjIvavAda (AJV/ NJV). That is, sampradAya. If there were no sampradAya teachers explaining AJV, there would be no AJV either. So to understand that quotation in support of EJV, one has to study Vedanta Siddhanta Muktavali, which uses a lot of tarka.

shruti has ekavAkyatA and therefore, avAntaravAkya-s in the Vedas are only to lead to mahAvAkya; this is agreed by all Advaitins. IMHO, all mahAvAkya-s point only to ekajIvavAda, since there is no proof of any of them including any other jIva.

No Vedantin disagrees that shruti uses the adhyAropa-apavAda method. If that is so, every process used by shruti is adhyAropita, till it is refuted by apavAda. The follower of nAnAjIvavAda is trapped if you ask as to what happens to other jIvas on one jIva‘s mukti? Will they exist as baddhA-s? If yes, then are they different from the mukta jIva who is brahman? Obviously not, else it is reduced to dvaita; then what is the use of other jIva-s to one and only jIva seeking mukti? Through Occam’s razor, ekajIvavAda is the simplest approach, apavAda is done of all other jIva-s. I am not rejecting AJV, but it seems counterproductive to say that other jIva-s exist while rejecting the world, one’s own panchakoSha, etc.

Further, I prefer Swami Prakashananda’s approach of putting the onus on the opponent to prove that the other jIva-s exist. This is an impossible task using tarka as taking the support of mANDUkya kArika, I can say it is all svapnavat. It is an impossible task using shruti too, since all shruti vAkya-s of other jIva-s existing is in the realm of adhyAropa. An ekajIvavAdin can also be said to be stuck at the final step if asked: isn’t the eka jIva who thinks of himself as a sAdhaka also adhyAropita? That is indeed true, to the contrary establishing EJV, since the seeker is svatassiddhaH, who is the only aparokSha proof of mukti for himself.

Finally, to conclude, EJV’s purpose is [shortcut to] mokShavalidity is any mahavAkya/ advaita sampradAya [not ending with Bhashyakara] and efficacy is the same as AJV [if not the most].

[Regarding the observation by Dennis that “Gaudapada uses the dream analogy to guide seekers to a final understanding,” Shri Praveen Ji explains: “Dream analogy is  that wherein one jIva becomes the abhinna-nimittopAdAna-kAraNa of the entire svapna-prapancha including all svapna-jIva-s, other than oneself!” Therefore, he points out, Gaudapada’s analogy itself is EJV. ]

Shri Praveen Ji has been kind to provide in a subsequent communication additional information as follows:

Though it may not be directly evident, EJV can be inferred from taittirIya praveShashruti. It says tad-eva-anuprAvishat, where tat is saMsAram.  sampradAya adds jIvarUpeNa to the sentence. Bhashyakara glosses over it so while giving one of the many reasons as to why brahman exists: (तत्प्रवेशाच्च;)

तत्सृष्ट्वा तदेवानुप्राविशत्’ (tattirIya II-vi-1) इति च तस्यैव जीवरूपेण शरीरप्रवेशं दर्शयति ।

To me, this statement of Bhashyakara may be seen as EJV, since even when the Shruti said बहुस्याम् earlier, Bhashyakara uses singular जीवरूपेण instead of जीवरूपैः। 



33 thoughts on “‘shruti’ support for ‘eka jIva vAda’

  1. Dear Ramesam,

    Apologies for delayed response. I had been checking the previous post, looking for a response from yourself, but not checking for new posts altogether!

    Please pass on my thanks for your correspondents’ comments – but I am not convinced. As I pointed out before, I see no purpose in what seems to me to be an interim (unhelpful and unnecessary) position. To my mind, all of the teaching takes one from the stance of believing in a separate world (with separate jIva-s) to the stance of appreciating that there is only brahman (and NO jIva-s). How can it help to postulate that there is one jIva in between these two positions?

    The quoted shruti statements do not convey the sense of EJV for me. And, as already mentioned, I do not find the use of this concept by later advaitins to be helpful.

    I agree that all teaching is adhyAropa-apavAda. But it is usually the case that the adhyAropa explanations correspond with how we perceive the world. At no point (in my vyAvahArika experience) do I perceive or conceive that I am the only jIva. There is no virtue in postulating this, and then taking it away, becuase it does not help. In fact, I suggest that for most people it would prove a hindrance because of its radical implausibility.

    Best wishes,

  2. Dear Dennis,

    Thanks for your observations.
    [ I provided now in the Comment section of the previous post an alert that links to the new post. Sorry, I didn’t do that earlier.]

    I am in full agreement with your Comment, ” … all of the teaching takes one from the stance of believing in a separate world (with separate jIva-s) to the stance of appreciating that there is only brahman (and NO jIva-s).”

    As Sureswara Acharya pointed out in Naishkarmyasiddhi, ‘no one size, as the saying goes, fits all’ towards that end. He writes,

    यया यया भवेत्पुंसां व्युत्पत्तिः प्रत्यगात्मनि ।
    सा सैव प्रक्रिया साध्वी ज्ञेया सा चानवस्थिता ॥

    (Meaning: That path alone, by following which a man becomes grounded in the Knowledge of the “I-principle,” is the right path for him. There is no single path that suits all).

    Shriman LalitAlAlitaH says that “all prakriyA-s (logic-systems) are a means to attain Knowledge.” (Please see here: http://www.advaita-vision.org/ekajivavada-jnani-jnana-nishtha-jivanmukta/ ).

    And, IMHO, eka jIva vAda (EJV) is just one of the several prakriyA-s that are available for a seeker. Admittedly, EJV is not for all. What is important is, as was observed (by Swami LalitAlAlitaH, vide that above link), “[EJV] is for those intellectuals, who find it appealing and can support. They must have the ability to support it, not only in front of others, but in front of his [own] doubting self too.”

    If a seeker does not find it convincing or useful, there is no harm. But such a conviction on the part of a seeker by itself, perhaps, may not go far enough to invalidate the significance of this powerful process of simulating the entire awake world to one’s own private dream and thereby realizing the virtual nature of the world and knowing the really Real “I-principle.”


  3. I agree entirely that ‘no one size fits all’ and am perfectly happy that there are various interim explanations to lead different seekers to the same final understanding. And I also accept that EJV may be a theory which some will find helpful. It is simply that I personally do not understand how this could be! Also, I still remain to be persuaded that this is actually a theory which is propounded in shrutI (i.e. quoted Upanishad references which can be clearly seen to be saying this, as opposed to obscure, convoluted, academic argument attempting to derive this interpretation). E.g. none of the three versions of shetAshvatara I have interpret 4.5 in the manner outlined above.

  4. Dear Dennis,

    ” I still remain to be persuaded that this is actually a theory which is propounded in shrutI … ”

    When one raises a question like “What is the scriptural reference?,” it implicitly means that the Questioner accepts the ‘pramANatva’ of the shruti and his/her ‘faith’ in Her as the final authority. The validity of shruti vAkya as a pramANa goes undeniably with the meaning ascribed to the sentence by the ‘sampradAya.’ sampradAyaviruddha interpretation is shruti hAni. You know much better than me that Shankara himself in his bhAShya-s resorts to quote the word of ‘sampradAyavit’ at several places as the ultimate in demolishing the Opponent’s postulations.

    If I swear my allegiance to the traffic rules and claim to be a ‘faithful follower’ of the said rules, I cannot posit that my jumping the red light is okay when there is no traffic from any of the four directions, and assert that it is ridiculous waste of time waiting for the light to change. The allegiance to the traffic rules comes as a package. One cannot claim allegiance and flout rules selectively. (There are reasons for it – and that is a different story).

    So also, shruti and sampradAya is a package. One cannot break them. ‘Astikatva’ in shruti inevitably demands ‘Astikatva’ in sampradAya. They follow one other like day and night. One cannot be devoid of the other. Even if there are a dozen contrary interpretations like those of Neo-Vedantins or by those promoters who may cut corners or hive off their own outfits, they will not constitute “sampradAya.” Vox populi, as we know, cannot replace sampradAya.

    Shri Praveen Ji also made a reference to sampradAya. Shri LalitAlAlitaH has explained the sampradAya meaning of some other sentences like svetaswatara VI – 11; GK I – 16 etc. According to them, EJV is the unequivocal message of the shruti.

    The logical analysis of sveta IV – 5 by Prakashananda referred to by Shri Venkatarafhavan may sound a bit convoluted on the face of it. But that is held to be valid in sampradAya. If I ditch sampradAya and yet ask for shruti support, my question will not be legit.

    One can logically derive the ‘one jIva only’ conclusion purely based on common sense without taking recourse to shruti adopting a top-down approach starting from One brahman. In fact, I would prefer that.

    This brings me to a dilemma – whether there is a need for me to post the Prakashananda’s intricate deduction from sveta IV – 5. (I said that I would in the body of the above post).


  5. From an outsider’s view, I hear the words describing the fruit, but I never see them eating it and enjoying it. This is how the conceptual world works, constantly describing, analyzing, and solving the non existent problems, and then doing it again and again and again.

    Will there be a winner? Or, will he who has the greater pride dominate? Is this the sadhana of Advaita, to arrange the words just right and in the proper order, and then give a name and date of origin?

    • Thanks Anon.
      Don’t you think that all types of teachings including your favorite Dogzchen in the learning phase sound as if those words describe a distant fruit which you hope to eat and enjoy?

      As the real understanding dawns, one will know what-IS, “Whatever It Is” — without ascribing names, forms, emotions etc. — is already the fruit and It is to be simply lived.


      • Ramesam,

        All paths lead to a conceptual image of something. Is there anything that you can perceive which is not of this? If you think there is something in this universe which is called ‘real understanding’, you miss the point. The fruit is your moment to moment living, not conceptualizations or insights. You cannot enjoy the fruit while conceptualizing about it. This is just more mental activity which you seem immersed in most of the time, explaining the content of various conceptualizations. Why not enjoy the pause that refreshes?

        • Just saw this at FB from a Friend:

          “Words exist because of the meaning; once you’ve got the meaning, you can forget the words.

          Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can have a word with him?”

          From the 26th book of Chuang Tzu translation by Burton Watson.


  6. Dear Ramesam,

    I do not know what the purpose of your seeming harangue might have been. I accept shruti statements (providing they do not contravene reason, as Shankara advised). I also accept the conclusions of those sampradAya-s which can a) give clear translations of shruti statements and b) reasoned interpretations. As you know, I have found those of Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda consistently to satisfy both these requirements. I am not so familiar with others.

    If I encounter a translation/commentary of a shruti statement which does not seem to adhere to the Sanskrit and which contradicts other translation/commentaries, which do seem to be reasonable, then I am bound to question them.

    As an example, you again quote GK 1.16. As I pointed out, while writing A-U-M, I researched every available work on the Mandukya and Gaudapada – the bibliography of my book contains 81 references. In none of these did I find anything to indicate that Gaudapada was proposing EJV as a plausible theory.

    I am not acquainted with any of your three contributors. What they have written certainly suggests that they are knowledgeable but I have no reason thereby to accept what they say as irrefutable authority.


  7. Dear Dennis,

    My attempt in being unambiguous in what I wanted to say appears to have invited the epithet of a “seeming harangue.” Sorry about that.

    My point is actually pretty simple. The Doctrine of ‘I Alone Am’ can be arrived at even without depending on scriptural statements.

    If one at all looks for a supporting shruti mantra, holding that shruti only is the acceptable ‘pramANa,’ I fully agree with you that one has to find those mantras “that do not contravene reason.” But the scriptures belong to a bygone era and their words are very often highly cryptic. They tend to hide the real message. Therefore, when one talks about “reasoned interpretations,” there is scope for an element of one’s judgement to creep in. In such situations the accepted norm is to give supremacy to what is called as ‘sAmpradAya’ interpretation, even though, at the present level of mental attitudes that interpretation may appear to be strange.

    I have not studied the works of Swami Chinmayananda or Swami Dayananda, By your reference to them, are you suggesting that both of them consider EJV to be incompatible with shruti?


  8. Dear Ramesam,

    OK. Let’s not bother with sampradAya at all. Let us go to the origin of those sampradAya – Adi Shankara himself. I would claim – and I am sure most Advaitins world agree – that Shankara was pre-eminent amongst philosophers. After all, was he not supposed to have engaged most of them in the day in debates and defeated all comers?

    Vyasa, with his brahmasutra, is supposed to have summarised the essence of the shruti and Shankara, with his bhAShya, is supposed to have explicated this and stated the essential points of Advaita and refuted all contrary notions. Shankara references shruti throughout as support for his arguments. Why, in all of this, is there no mention of EKV?


  9. Dear Dennis,

    “Shankara was pre-eminent amongst philosophers.”

    Absolutely for the (kevala) Advaitin worldview.

    “… the origin of those sampradAya – Adi Shankara himself.”

    Absolutely unacceptable.
    Shankara did NOT originate Advaita. He explicated it, expounded it, promoted it and established it as the pre-eminent philosophy, he himself being all the while beholden to “sampradAya.” As I mentioned in a previous comment, Shankara refers to a pre-exisitng “sampradAya” in many of his debates.

    Thus, ‘sampradAya’ predates Shankara.

    “Why, in all of this, is there no mention of EKV?”

    We covered this aspect in the earlier thread on Q: 394.

    You yourself said in that thread that “Gaudapada uses the dream analogy to guide seekers to a final understanding … …”
    You also agreed there with Venkat that Shankara expressed in his upadesha sAhashrI 7.5, “effectively the same as the argument used by Gaudapada. ”

    I submitted that that analogy, in its expanded formulation, is christened as EJV, which is a new word in the Advaita lexicon.

    You have also accepted that “New words may be introduced (akhaNDAkAra vRRitti may be one such term) but the concepts are always expounded in the shruti.”

    In this thread, we are searching whether “the concept” of EJV was already available in its “seed form” in pre-Shankaran sampradAya.

    We are NOT looking for the name EJV.
    sampradAyavit-s tell us that the conceptual seed of EJV in its embryonic form is present in shruti, as an anaology in Gaudapada kArikA, with the name ‘eka jIva’ in Vimuktatman’s iShThasiddhi, and clearly explicated in Prakashananda’s vedanta siddhAnta muktAvali.

    I seem to miss your point in raising once again the question “Why, in all of this, is there no mention of EKV?”. Haven’t we covered all that terrain already?



  10. Dear Ramesam,

    I accept your point about the concept of sampradAya pre-existing Shankara but would still maintain that Shankara is considered to be the principal teacher, and originator of the teacher-student train by virtue of establishing the four centres. If we consider existing prior material from earlier, one might suggest that Gaudapada was the prime teacher. But, ask virtually any Advaitin, and I seriously doubt that you find any earlier names quoted.

    I also accept that the term EJV not existing does not mean that the concept itself does not exist. However, as I saind in my last post, I have not found the concept to be proposed anywhere in the shruti according to any commentary that I have encountered.

    Having done some further searching, I did find that someone suggested that Shankara himself had effectively proposed EJV in his commentary on Br. U. 2.1.20. But I read through this yesterday and found nothing to indicate that to me.

    Gaudapada’s use of the dream analogy (and similar in US) never suggested EJV when I read it and wrote about it. Maybe someone is able to translate and interpret these passages in such a way that they do, but that certainly does not mean that this was the original intention. When the vast majority of commentators see nothing of EJV, why should one pay attention to the ideas of the few, especially when this interpretation goes against reason?


  11. Dear Dennis,

    I am glad that you agree on most of the main points.
    Thank you.

    However, a few glitches still seem to persist. I want to submit some clarifications, as per my understanding, on your Comments:

    “I … …. and originator of the teacher-student train …”

    Sorry, it is incorrect.

    “But, ask virtually any Advaitin, and I seriously doubt that you find any earlier names quoted.”

    I don’t know if this is the way the two teachers you made a mention of earlier propagate. Every child in a sampradAya school begins his class every morning with an invocation to the guru parampara . He or she is certain to recite the अद्वैत गुरु परंपरा स्तोत्रम् (the prayer to the guru-sishya lineage) thus:

    नारायणं पद्मभुवं वशिष्ठं शक्तिं च तत्पुत्रं पराशरं च व्यासं शुकं गौडपादं महान्तं गोविन्दयोगीन्द्रं अथास्य शिष्यम् ।
    श्री शंकराचार्यं अथास्य पद्मपादं च हस्तामलकं च शिष्यम् तं तोटकं वार्त्तिककारमन्यान् अस्मद् गुरून् सन्ततमानतोऽस्मि
    (Salutations to Nārāyaṇa/Sadashiva, Padmabhuva (Brahmā), Vaśiṣṭha,
    Śakti, Parāśara, Vyāsa, Śuka, Gauḍapāda, Govinda bhagavatpāda,
    Śankara bhagavatpāda, Padmapāda, Hastāmalaka, Toṭaka, Vārtikakāra (Sureśvara) and others (i.e., the disciples of these four).

    सदाशिवसमारम्भां शङ्कराचार्यमध्यमाम् ।
    अस्मदाचार्यपर्यन्तां वन्दे गुरुपरम्पराम् ॥
    (Starting from the Great Lord Shiva, through Sankaracharya and my Acharya, the guru parampara eternally flows….).

    “Having done some further searching, I did find that someone suggested that Shankara himself had effectively proposed EJV in his commentary on Br. U. 2.1.20.”

    There are many other places if you widen the search to where Shankara equates the awake world to a dream (Our Simulation Hypothesis) to drive home the essence of Advaitic Truth. For example, one may also see:
    (i) BSB III – ii – 4
    (ii) Brih Upa bhAshya II – i – 18
    (iii) katha upa bhAshya II- iv – 4
    (of course, not to mention GK).
    Sage Vasishta also refers to dRiShTi-sRiShTi vAda in Yogavasishta.

    “When the vast majority of commentators see nothing of EJV, why should one pay attention to the ideas of the few …”

    I am afraid choosing a such method of statistical sampling is unscientific and bound to fail right at start.

    I say it is unscientific (for our purpose here) because it reminded me what Prof. Feynman writes in his hilarious book, “Are you Joking Mr. Feynman.” He tells the story of a research worker who wanted to assess the length of the nose of an 8th cent Emperor in the Ming dynasty. So the researcher went about asking people at a market place about what they “think” the length of the nose of the Emperor would be!

    I say such a sampling is bound to fail because, if I enlarge the question to ask people which is the best spiritual path, over a third of the people will tell me Christianity. Advaita may not even be able to open a score as it is unknown to the vast majority of people claiming to be spiritual. IMHO, many Advaitins are mostly dualists tending to be Non-dualists or lip-sympathizers. (I had almost ready for some time a draft version of my Post on this subject, but hesitate to post it).

    “… especially when this interpretation goes against reason?”

    I beg to differ. It is not against reason. Please be reasonable. LOL


  12. Dear Ramesam,

    Nothing that you say changes my view, I’m afraid. Regarding the guru paramparA, I would certainly discount the gods and, for all practical purposes, also the ancient rishis. Effectively, this begins with the author of the brahmasutras. I am not aware of any text attributed to Shuka (or Govinda for that matter) so we are back to Gaudapada and Shankara as I indicated earlier. Reciting traditional invocations does not alter this. (I am, in any case, more familiar with
    sadA shiva samArambhAm sha~NkarAchArya madhyamAm
    asmadAchArya paryantAm vande guru paramparAm.)

    “I say such a sampling is bound to fail because, if I enlarge the question to ask people which is the best spiritual path, over a third of the people will tell me Christianity.” This is an invalid argument. I referred to ‘the vast majority of commentators’. Commentators on advaitic texts are not everyday people. They are not even everyday seekers. They are usually academics or teachers who have studied advaita for many years and usually are fluent in Sanskrit. They are the ones to whom we look for explanations of shruti and we are duty bound to listen. Of course (before you say) we are also bound to listen to those equally qualified ones who promote EJV. But then we make our decision about whose views to accept.

    Finally, you keep referring to the sciptural use of the dream metaphor and suggesting that this equates to EJV. It does not. The purpose of this metaphor is to make one question the absolute reality of the world, certainly. But, from the vyAvahArika standpoint, the creator of the world is not the jIva but Ishvara. This is the adhyAropa explanation propagated by shruti (and by the paramparA mentioned above).


  13. Dear Dennis & Ramesam

    Firstly, thanks for the interesting conversation.

    Dennis, when Shankara says in US:
    “The object only manifests in the mind and only when the mind itself is manifest (as in waking or dream). When as in dreamless sleep, the mind is not manifest, the object has no existence. Therefore because the Seer is constant (throughout waking, dream and deep sleep) duality does not exist.”

    It seems clear that he is saying no external object has existence without the mind (jiva), and an object only arises concomitantly with the mind. Surely that is exactly EJV – since all other jivas can only manifest with the arising of this jiva’s mind? How else can it be interpreted?

    Similarly Gaudapada;

    2.16: First of all is imagined the jiva, and THEN are imagined the various entities, objective and subjective that are perceived. As is knowledge, so is memory of it.

    Sankara’s commentary: Such jiva is at first imagined in the Atman . . . then for the knowledge of the jiva are imagined various existent entities, both subjective and objective . . . what is the cause of this imagination? It the jiva, who is the product of imagination, and COMPETENT TO EFFECT further imagination has its memory determined by its own inherent knowledge.

    3.29 As in dream the mind acts through Maya presenting the appearance of duality, so also in the waking state THE MIND ACTS through maya presenting the appearance of duality.
    3.31 All these dual objects comprising everything that is movable and immovable perceived by the mind are mind alone. For duality is never experienced when the mind ceases to act.
    3.46 When the mind does not merge in the inactivity of oblivion, or become distracted by desires, that is to say, when the mind becomes quiescent and does not give rise to appearances, it verily becomes Brahman.

    Taking these verses of Gaudapada together and summarising, he seems to be saying that first is imagined the jiva, who then creates a waking state world, in the same way, and of the same order of reality, as the jiva’s dream world. Surely that is just EJV? One could argue AJV in Ishvara’s mind, but that just creates another level, that of Ishwara to create multiple imagined jivas inhabiting a single coherent imagined world. But then ajata vada says no jivas were ever born.

    So surely Occams Razor has to get you back to EJV as the most simple and direct teaching method – why postulate multiple imagined jivas, when equating waking to dream state of a single jiva is far more straight-forward, and consistent with Gaudapada and Shankara.


  14. Dear Dennis,

    1. Regarding the guru paramparA:

    I do admit that it is not possible to establish the lineage of the guru parampara, if one goes by the extant documentary evidence. One may dispense more easily with Gods (IMHO, could be no more than exemplary teachers highly revered and got deified in course of time); but it is difficult to deny when it comes to Rishis.

    For example, I personally visited a hutment facing a huge mountain in the Himalayas beyond Uttarakashi. Tradition and local people speak of it to be the Ashram of Parasara, father of Vyasa. Parasara must be the son of someone who must have existed. His name is identified as Shakti and on and on it goes thus. The impressive thing in that location was that the huts were surrounded by two narrow streams — on one side a hot water spring flow and on the other side a cold water spring flow. Pretty enchanting with cold, crisp and clean atmos. in those serene calm mountain heights.

    Therefore, we may not totally jettison the pre-Shankaran parampara.

    2. Regarding Paucity of Commentators on EJV:

    Admittedly again, there is a paucity of Commentators that speak of Swami Prakashananda and EJV going by the extant publications. It is possibly due to an unfortunate historical quirk. Or partly because of the demand side economics – what is wanted by a vast majority of seekers. In the recent times, we hear in hush hush terms why the highly logical crisp work of Swami Ishwarananda got never published.

    Coming to Prakashananda:

    I read somewhere (I cannot authenticate, of course) the story of Prakashananda getting defeated in his debates with the more popular and powerful Chaitanya Prabhu in Kashi. As the story claims, Prakashananda himself seemed to have shifted loyalty to dualism after that defeat. If this story were to be true, it explains why the doctrine of dRRishTi-sRRishTi could not become popular. Moreover, many advaitin-s were perhaps unable to see the merits of dRRishTi-sRRishTi-vAda because of the dominant winds of devotional approach prevailing in those times. (I wrote about this in my articles at AA).

    Shri Ananda Hudli writes that a Commentary on vedAntasiddhantamuktavalI called siddhAntapradIpikA was written by Nana Dikshita. It is supposed to be an important contribution to the dRShTi-sRShTi-vAda or eka-jIva-vAda. But it is not available. Shri Hudli also writes that the school of PrakAshAnanda, the author of vedAntasiddhAntamuktAvalI had, at one time, numerous followers pervading India.

    Nana DikShita is said to have paid PrakAshAnanda and his school a rich tribute in the following words:

    vande taM yatibhirvandyaM prakAshAnandam-Ishvaram||

    (I bow to Lord (Ishwara) Prakashananda, adored even by the Yati-s, whose disciples and students are spread all over India …).

    Thus, though you may consider my simile to be inappropriate and I may agree with you on that charge, you have got to grant that the popular Commentators-world may not provide all that representative a sample for our investigation.

    To buttress the above claim, I would like to quote a short excerpt from what Swami Abhinavavidyathirtha of Sringeri said – perhaps Venkat already posted it:

    Disciple (D): What is creation?

    His Holiness (HH): Perception alone is creation. There is no creation other than perception. Perception of a thing is its origination.

    D: What about Ishvara?

    H H: He too is a part of your dream. In reality, there is neither cause nor effect. One has bondage as long as one considers that one has bondage. He who feels that he is free is indeed free. That is why it has been said: “He who considers himself liberated is a liberated one. He who feels that he has bondage is bound” (Ashtavakra Gita 1.11.). Therefore, one should remove the wrong impression that one has bondage.

    D: Is the removal of the wrong idea that one has bondage the means to attain moksha?

    H H: Yes. So far, I was speaking with the drshti-srshti-vada
    (perception-is-creation view) in mind. This, however, is not suitable for
    many people because their minds are not pure enough to imbibe it.


    3.. Aim of teaching creation in the shruti:

    Shankara himself says in BSB I – iv – 14 that the aim of Veda is not to establish creation. He cites the sampradayavit Gaudapada: ‘Creation taught in the Veda not to conclude that a creation really took place but only to drive home the Truth that Brahman alone is the tattva, to the aspirant.’ EJV provides a high fidelity shortcut model for this objective.


  15. Dear Venkat,

    The mind ‘projects’ duality by imposing name and form upon the non-dual brahman. When the mind is ‘folded’ in deep sleep, obviously this cannot happen. This is a vyAvahArika description of empirical reality, From the pAramArthika position, there are no objects, no jIva-s, no minds, no birth, no universe. If you try to describe the truth from a vyAvahArika perspective, you will have difficulties. And whatever you say will fall short. The entire teaching of advaita is mithyA.

    To clarify the distinction between waking and dream states, it is made clear in numerous places that dream is prathibhAsa, while waking world is vyavhAra. The dream is subjective only, while the world has objective reality. (Yes, I know that the waking world does not have objective reality from the perspective of the dream.) Both may be mithyA but the waking world has a higher order of reality. And this waking world includes multiple jIva-s. This is YOUR experience, no matter how much you might try to rationalise otherwise!

    And Occam’s Razor would say that there is only brahman, not that there is brahman AND a single jIva imagining the world. And that is the truth.

    Br. U. 2.1.20 talks about the Self, from which emanates all worlds all gods and all beings, as satyAsa satyam – the Truth of the truth. Shankara, in his commentary has one purvapAkSha saying that this term means the jIvatman and that there is no paramAtman. Another pAkSha claims that both jIvatman and paramAtman exist but they are different. siddhAntin states that both are one and the same. There appear to be many jIva-s in the world, but all are the manifestation of non-dual brahman. The appearances are due to adhyAsa in the minds of the jIva-s. World and jIva-s are all mithyA.

    Best wishes,

    • Dear Dennis,

      “And Occam’s Razor would say that there is only brahman, not that there is brahman AND a single jIva imagining the world. And that is the truth.”

      That is Excellent, Dennis.

      We can end all our debate on EJV right here with those words!

      Please note that I showed a close correspondence between the avastha and the the underlying logic of a prakriyA in my post at:

      It is one single brahman and He Himself as the single jIva witnesses the world and there are no two – brahman and jIva. Because of that, as I showed in the last row of the Table at the end in that Post, that jIva js already brahman. This has the further advantage that there is no need to bring in concepts of jIvanmukti, questions on the mind of a liberated individual, his functioning etc. etc. as would happen in the other two listed approaches!

      Ah, EJV is such a straight and direct way.

      I found that Shri Praveen wrote the following posts elsewhere and seem to be relevant to be quoted here:


      “The disciple understands [a mokshakAraka vAkya like ‘tat tvam asi]’ as aham tat (jagatkAraNaM)/ brahma asmi.

      Here, I think what is said is that import of the three padas can be put together directly in the tvam pada itself, when tvam/ aham is directly understood as mithyAjagatkAraNam.

      ” Thus, tvam is directly understood as sat-chit-Ananda, and everything else, including one’s body-mind-sense-complex as mithyA, svapnavat. … In that light, the tat tvam asi vAkyajnAna which is after the padajnAna of three words, is unnecessary for one who understands the tvam itself as the sacchidAnanda svarUpa, which is otherwise obtained by bhAgatyAga between tat and tvam.

      Hence a shortcut.

      Else, all other questions, not restricted to creation story alone, are needed for explanation of everything seen in vyavahAra and prAtibhAsika, before one lands on pAramArthika tattva. IMHO, shortcut lies in svapnavat as an answer for every such question.”


      • Dear Ramesam,

        “It is one single brahman and He Himself as the single jIva witnesses the world and there are no two -‘ brahman and jIva.”

        This is not what I was saying. As soon as you move away from parAmArthika non-dual brahman into vyAvahArika world, you move into multiple duality (albeit all is mithyA of course). There is no ‘single jIva and world’; there are innumerable jIva-s and world. (After all, according to shruti, the jIva-s migrate from lower life forms up to human form.) The relevant metaphor is fire and sparks. The essential nature of fire is light and heat. The essential nature of ALL OF the sparks is also light and heat.


        • No, Dennis. I didn’t say you were saying it. The last row in the Table of the Post I referred to implies that : “It is one single brahman and He Himself as the single jIva witnesses the world and there are no two – brahman and jIva.”

          And there is a fundamental gross mistake in the statement that you presume to be correct in your observation that “there are innumerable jIva-s and world. ”

          PrakAshAnanda explains. “The assumption of “perceiving other jIvas” (in waking or dream, since both are non-different) is itself
          questionable. In fact, he admonishes, ‘you are deluded into thinking the body and Atma are the same [for, you say you are seeing multiple jIva-s.] You do not perceive multiple instances of “(consciousness) being limited by ajnAna”, which is how we have defined a jIva.

          The draShTA, the perceiver, who is the only single jIva sees only multiple bodies. Therefore, we do not have any contradiction with our siddhAnta because we do accept multiple bodies can be perceived by the draShTA. [What you call as world is the sum total of those bodies + the space surrounding them.]”


  16. Dear Dennis

    Gaudapada never differentiated between dream state and waking state, giving one a higher degree of reality – in fact he demolished such arguments, vide MK2.4

    Of course there is only Brahman. But for whatever reason, there is superimposed upon this a mirage of a mind-body-world. All that I know with certainty is that ‘I’ exist and have consciousness. What that I is I cannot know, but I mistake for the body-mind thrust / perceptions that arise. I don’t know for certain that there are other jivas (or a world) out there that also exist and are conscious, or whether these are simply thoughts arising in consciousness, with no objective reality ‘out there’ that corresponds to this mental creation. That is just an assumption.

    Ramana Maharshi in Ulladu Narpadu writes, in almost equivalent terms to Gaudapada:
    26: When the one named ‘I’ – the ego – is born, all else (the world of manifold appearances) is born along with it. When the ego is not, all these go out of existence. Hence the ‘I’ by itself is the all. Therefore to enquire and know the truth of the ego is tantamount to giving up everything.

    And Guru Vachaka Kovai:
    534: Let highly mature and courageous aspirants who have a bright and sharp intellect firmly accept that jiva is only one, and thereby be established deep in the heart. It is only to suit immature minds that scriptures generally say that jivas are many.


  17. Dear Venkat,

    I know that Gaudapada did not differentiate – there is an entire chapter on this in ‘A-U-M’. The distinction is made in order that the dream state may be used as a teaching metaphor for realizing the truth. ALL states are equally mithyA – turIya is the truth which is the real ‘substance’ of all apparently distinct states. But this is not any immediate help to the new seeker. The pratibhAsa-vyavahAra-paramArtha classification is well-established in Advaita as valuable for raising the level of understanding. LIke all other such definitions it is subject to apavAda later.

    Ramesam and I were speaking earlier about sampradAya-s. When it comes to discussions such as these, where we are questioning the historic validity of teaching ‘aids’, teachers such as Ramana are of no use. I do not dispute that he included EJV in his ‘portfolio’ but that does not confer any authenticity.

    Best wishes,

  18. Hi Dennis

    I understand the point about sampradaya. But Ramana’s views on EJV (and indeed those of Sri Abihnava Vidyatheertha) are of relevance here because they are regarded as superlative vedantic teachers. Swami Chinmayananda called Ramana the cream of the upanishads, and Swami Paramarthananda said that Ramana is one of the long line of traditional Vedantic acharyas, and should be regarded as such.


  19. I agree that Ramana was a brilliant teacher. But I very much doubt that Swami P used the words ‘long line of traditional Vedantic’ in this context, as that would have admitted that R belonged to a formal, recognised sampradAya, which he clearly did not. Of course, I will happily retract this if you can provide a referenced quote.

    Best wishes,

  20. Hi Venkat,

    I take it back – my sincere apologies for doubting you!

    (Of course, I still do not accept EJV or the claim that it is a prakriyA presented in shruti…)


    Best wishes,

  21. Dear All – enjoyable points of view all around

    The Mundaka Upanishad mentions one of the benefits of ज्ञानं (gyanam .. knowledge) as ‘छिद्यन्ते सर्व संशायाः (Chidyante Sarva Samshayah .. All the doubts in the mind will be smashed)’. For this Shankara has written the commentary ‘लौकिकानां आमरणात्तु गंगास्त्रोतोवत् प्रवृत्ताः संशयाः विच्छेदमायान्ति .. LoukikAnAm AmaraNAttu gangAstrotovat pravruttAh samshayAh vicCedamAyAnti .. Once knowledge dawns, all doubts in the mind of a layman that continue right upto his very death much like the endless flow of the waters of the Ganga will be destroyed)

    To make sense of passages like these, it seems to me, that every student of Vedanta would benefit from a deep reflection on two fundamental ideas without which Vedanta cannot be understood. (1) What exactly is the श्रुति (Vedas) ? How and from where does the श्रुति get its status as a प्रमाणं (pramANam .. body of evidence) ? (2) Why does Sri Shankaracharya play such a dominant role in the study of the श्रुति (at least in Advaita) ?

    We chant at the beginning of every Vedanta class .. and Dennis quoted this .. सदाशिवसमारम्भां शंकराचार्यमध्यमां अस्मदाचार्यपर्यन्तां वन्दे गुरुपरम्पराम् .. SadAshiva-samAramBAm shankarAcArya-madhyamAm asmadAcAryaparyantAm vande guruparamparAm’. What is the significance of this ‘prayer’ ? What exactly is its meaning ? It is my conviction that without this preliminary प्रमाण विचार (pramANa vicAra .. reflection) Vedanta cannot be properly understood. How are you sure the face you see in the mirror is in fact your own face ? :-))


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