Imaginary ‘mokSha’ for Imagined ‘bandha’ – Shri P. Neti – 3/3

[Continued from Part – 2]

Question 3: The body that (notionally) housed previously a seeker….

Please Sir, body does not really house Consciousness. Not even the so-called limited consciousness. But it is Consciousness in which body appears just like any other object – and this is easily graspable even to the so-called limited consciousness, with a bit of subtle and impartial observation.

Question 3 (Contd.): … who is now liberated, (the body) is just a part of the ‘world’ which only exists as an “appearance” in the perception of the ‘ignoramuses.’ That body is now ‘without’ anyone as a claimant of ‘ownership’ to it. …

Let it be so. What is the problem if there is no claimant of ownership to a body?, I ask the ignoramuses. Continue reading

Only ‘mukti,’ No ‘mukta’ — Shri P. Neti – 2/3

[Continued from Part – 1]

Does this all amount to showing disrespect or too quick an intellectual claim that “I am brahman and after all this guru is also my dream character?”

The answer is that it will never be the case for a proper adhikAri.

It is always like how Sri Bhagavatpāda Shankara expresses in a concluding salutation for mANDUkya kArikA:

यत्प्रज्ञालोकभासा प्रतिहतिमगमत्स्वान्तमोहान्धकारो

मज्जोन्मज्जच्च घोरे ह्यसकृदुपजनोदन्वति त्रासने मे

यत्पादावाश्रितानां श्रुतिशमविनयप्राप्तिरग्न्या ह्यमोघा

तत्पादौ पावनीयौ भवभयविनुदौ सर्वभावैर्नमस्ये ॥  —  verse 3, Shankara at the end of mANDUkya kArikA. Continue reading

On ‘jIvanmukti’ – Shri P. Neti – 1/3

[‘jIvanmukti’ as per Advaita Vedanta shAstra has been explained by Shri Prasanth Neti Ji in a profound and refreshing way (not usually available) at a Social Networking site. I have taken the liberty to post a slightly edited version, as it may interest many Readers here.]

What Vedanta (or Acharya) refers to as adhyAsa or avidyA is only a label used for the sake of instruction while imparting the Non-dual (Advaita) message. Shankaracharya never meant that an entity called avidyA/adhyAsa ever really exists.

And this labelling is made taking into account the already *observable and existing* human behavior. That is why we do not explain avidyA/adhyAsa as anything other than (or beyond) the very natural human behavior based on the fundamental notions —  ‘I am this’ and ‘this is mine.’ This is a very very important point to be always kept in mind, in my opinion. Continue reading

Mechanism of Superimposition

In Shankara’s explication of the Advaita Vedanta, as we all know, the concept of “adhyAsa” or “superimposition” plays a significant role. This technique of ‘superimposing’ a non-existing imaginary thing (adhyAropita mithyA vastu) on a really existing substratum (adhisThAna) and later rescinding or negating (apavAda) the superimposed object has been an age-old method of imparting the Knowledge of the Self (Atman / brahman) to an eligible student. Shankara himself reveals this fact in his commentary at 13.13, BGB.

Unfortunately in the present day, the ‘eligibility criteria’ for the student are so much discounted that one doesn’t often know whether a student truly obtained the intended ‘meaning’ of the teaching or goes away with his/her own ‘idea’ of what is taught because of the unprepared nature of and/or other prior notions cluttering up his/her mind. Continue reading

‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 4/5

Part – 3

Words play a significant role in any communication. In imparting the Truth of the Truth, which is the aim of Advaita Vedanta, words, however, lose their rigidity and attain certain fluidity in pointing to something beyond or prior to what their immediate referent stands for. Therefore, it is often suggested that a seeker on the Advaitic path has to approach a teacher who is well-versed with scriptures so that a correct meaning for the words as per the context in the shruti are obtained by a seeker.

In our normal parlance, words refer to something that has one or other of a ‘distinguishing mark such as name, or form, or action, or heterogeneity, or species, or qualities.’ Continue reading

‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 3/5

Part – 2

We shall continue with the shruti and bhAShya citations on sarvAtmabhAva in this Part of the Series. Continuing from Part – 2 :

(iv)  विद्यायाश्च कार्यं सर्वात्मभावापत्तिरित्येतत् सङ्क्षेपतो दर्शितम् । सर्वा हि इयमुपनिषत् विद्याविद्याविभागप्रदर्शनेनैवोपक्षीणा यथा एषोऽर्थः कृत्स्नस्य शास्त्रस्य तथा प्रदर्शयिष्यामः   — 1.4.10, BUB.

While the effect of Knowledge (meditation) has been briefly shown to be identity with all, the whole of this Upanishad is exclusively devoted to showing the distinction between the spheres of Knowledge and ignorance. We shall show that this is the import of the whole book. Continue reading

‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 2/5

Part – 1

In this and the next two parts of the Series, we shall try to map the occurrence of the word सर्वात्मभाव (sarvAtambhAva) in the prasthAna trayI and/or the Shankara bhAShaya-s there on so that the meaning of the word stands out by itself in its usage and the context. Continue reading

‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 1/5

The single most important word in the entire Lexicon of Advaita Vedanta can be said to be, without any contest, ‘sarvAtmabhAva‘ (सर्वात्मभाव). It, at once, abstracts the totality of the ancient Non-dual teaching and also expresses it most elegantly and efficiently striking a close chord within us. The word is the ‘Touchstone’ to distinguish the brawn from the brain, the grain from the chaff, the True Knower of Truth from the also-rans. It is far less esoteric and ethereal to my mind compared to another popular summation of Advaita Vedanta as the teaching of jIvabrahmaikya (जीवब्रह्मैक्य) – the Oneness of Atman and brahman.

We shall, therefore, try in this and the next few articles to tease out in detail the meaning and the usage of the word, ‘sarvAtmabhAva‘ (सर्वात्मभाव), in the various  canonical texts and the commentaries on them by Shankara. Continue reading

Fire Is Cold:

The impossibility of ‘Fire being Cold’ is invoked by Shankara at least four times to my knowledge in his bhAShya-s on prasthana trayi. It is not seldom do I find that participants use those words of his in their discussions on Advaita fora on topics concerned with the pramANatva of shruti vAkya. However, either they misquote or partially quote Shankara to bolster their own arguments.

Hence, I propose to gather below the four instances where bhAShyakAra invokes the example of ‘Fire is cold’ and indicates the actual purpose, in his own words, when he cites it.

My general impression is that Shankara would never like to compromise on the ‘supremacy’ of the shruti being the highest pramANa even if its word sounds odd for us, the ajnAni-s. Its word is unquestionably supreme when it reveals something apUrva, not known before, that is something not experienced; maybe the exception being in purely loukika issues within empirical transactions (i.e. “matters lying within the range of pratyaksha” –  प्रत्यक्षादिविषये ).

In short, as he says at 3.3.1, BUB, “The authority of the Vedas being inviolable, a Vedic passage must be taken exactly in the sense that it is tested to bear, and NOT according to the ingenuity of the human mind.”
Continue reading

“Seeing” Objects per Advaita –

We all take it for granted that there is a world full of objects, plants, animals, people and so on out there external to us. All of us also believe that we are born into a world which pre-exists us.

The general public wonder how this enormous world came into being. The scientists study the various facets of its origin and evolution; philosophers conceptualize different ethereal theories for its creation; artists and poets sing peans in its praise.

Advaitins, on the other hand, are unique in their bold pronouncement that the appearance of a world is a mere mental projection, no more than a hallucination.

In order to explain their doctrine, they ask us to rewind our tape, go back to our own birth, the birth of all our ancestors, nay, not only the forefathers but humanity and life itself and beyond — including the very beginning of any living or non-living matter. In other words, clean out the slate completely. And begin at the very beginning. To help us in the process, Advaita tells us that the entire range of things we observe in the whole of the universe can be reduced to two categories: Continue reading