VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem by D. Venugopal
Part 23 begins the chapter on ‘Analysis of the subject in its three states of experience’. This first part looks at the three aspects of the body-mind-sense complex – the causal, subtle and gross bodies.
There is a complete Contents List, to which links are added as each new part appears.
Q: Do vAsanA-s belong to the causal body or the subtle body?
In the subtle body camp I got a response from one of Swami Dayananda’s senior students saying that the causal body is pure ignorance with no attributes and that vAsanA-s “definitely belong to the subtle body”. In addition, from my own quick review of some of Shankara’s basic works I can find no passage that says the causal body is anything but “avidyA” and find no mention of the term “ vAsanA-s ” anywhere.
In the causal body camp I have James Schwartz and multiple pieces of Chinmayananda literature. In fact I have seen them equate vAsanA-s to avidyA by pointing out that avidyA and vAsanA-s are both caused by the guNa-s.
Can you help with this one? What is going on here? Btw, as an interesting side note, in Swami Dayananda’s extensive Gita course-books the word “ vAsanA-s ” does not appear once.
‘A New Approach to Understanding Advaita as Taught by ´Sa ˙ nkara Bhagavadp¯ada’ – by Ramakrishnan Balasubrahmanian – 2
We saw in the 1st part of this Review the primary or prior, not to say exclusive, importance that the author, RB, gives to the superimposition of a subject, individual mind or jiva, on the self: “the superimposition of an observer is avidy¯a and is prior to the reverse superimposition” – not mentioning that Shankara does not talk of a ‘reverse process’, as if it was something happening through time, but of mutual superimposition of self and non-self. Period.
As we noted in the first part of this Review, RB ‘half’ concedes the point: “It is not completely incorrect to say that avidy¯a is the mutual superimposition of the real and unreal. ´ San˙ kar¯ac¯arya and Sure´svar¯ac¯arya do mention this … the superimposition of an observer on the inner-self naturally leads to the reverse process of superimposing the inner-self on the inner organ”. His objective in maintaining this priority of the subject in this ‘act’ seems to be to show that SSS is guilty of circularity (petitio principi, in logic). Even so, and rather surprisingly, he claims that avidya is not something subjective (neither is it ontic nor epistemic – see below). Continue reading →
A (Ted): 1) Atman (i.e. pure limitless awareness) is never really deluded by mAyA (i.e. ignorance), but rather only apparently so. Given the non-dual nature of reality and, thus, the fact that Brahman-Atma is the only thing — though, of course, pure awareness cannot be said to be a “thing” at all due to its attributeless and unobjectifiable nature — that exists, mAyA is nothing other than Brahman-Atma itself. That is, it is a power inherent in the very nature of Brahman-Atma. Ironically, if Brahman-Atma, whose nature is limitless, were limited by the inability to apparently delude itself, it would not be limitless and, therefore, would not be Brahman-Atma :-). Continue reading →
A tarka (reasoning, argumentation) is required for the analysis of anubhava, as both SSS and RB agree – consistent with Shankara’s position. That is, language and thought, needless to say, have a role to play, chiefly for exposition and analysis.
However, after two long, dense paragraphs RB contends: “If the tarka required to examine anubhava is itself completely dependent on ´sruti, then by no means is anubhava the ‘kingpin’ of pram¯an.as.”
Prior to this, SSS was quoted as maintaining that “for this unique tarka all universal anubhavas or experiences (intuitive experiences) themselves are the support.” The author states that this affirmation involves circular argumentation, and that to say that Shankara interprets the Vedas as being consistent with anubhava is wrong, the truth being the opposite: anubhava is consistent with the Vedas: “it should be clear that according to Sure´svar¯ac¯arya, the direct realization is directly from just ´sruti itself, thus satisfying the criteria for it to be a pram¯an.a…. The direct realization of the self is from ´sruti alone.” Continue reading →
Ramakrishnan Balasubrahmanian (RB): “Now the error in calling avidy¯a as something epistemic should be obvious. The following extract, from [SSS], is clearly putting the philosophical cart before the horse:
‘Avidy¯a is subjective and has been explained by ´ Sa ˙ nkara as the natural tendency of the mind to superimpose the self and the not-self oneach other.’
When the conception of j¯ıva itself is due to avidy¯a, how can avidy¯a be the ‘natural tendency of the mind to superimpose the self and not-self’?” (*)
Our reply: To repeat, it is not just avidya as a general concept, that is, ignorance, but avidya-adhyasa, which is a technical (double) concept whose consequences are far-reaching in empirical life, being responsible for all divisions and superimpositions. No reason why this should be considered a circular argument. Continue reading →