‘adhyAropa’ to ‘adhiSThAna’ – 4/4

Part – 3

What happens by the ascertainment of the implied meaning of the words in the sentence “You are That”?

Just as the idea of a snake is negated from a rope (in the snake-rope analogy), everything of the nature of non-Self is negated from the eternally existing Self implied by the word “I.” In other words, ‘ignorance’ vanishes (immediately on the attainment of right Knowledge) – 18.4-5, US.

In addition, the (false) conception of the pain with regard to the Self vanishes forever when the right Knowledge of the Self arises like all kinds of pain which is experienced in a dream comes to an end as soon as one wakes up.

What action should I take to augment my “understanding” and attain brahman?

Shankara tells us,

चतुर्विधमेव हि सर्वं कर्म कार्यम् — उत्पाद्यमाप्यं विकार्यं संस्कार्यं वा ।  – 1.2.12, muNDaka B.

Meaning: All the effects of actions are of four kinds: Production; Acquisition; Modification; and, Purification. Continue reading

‘adhyAropa’ to ‘adhiSThAna’ – 3/4

Part – 2

It is said that brahman Itself gets deluded by Its own magic. Does it not then imply that there is really creation and a (created) world out there?

Shankara is never tired of pointing out that there is actually no creation at all and the purpose of all the scriptures, when they talk of creation, is NOT to establish creation as a fact. For example:

1. न चेयं परमार्थविषया सृष्टिश्रुतिः ; अविद्याकल्पितनामरूपव्यवहारगोचरत्वात् , ब्रह्मात्मभावप्रतिपादनपरत्वाच्च — इत्येतदपि नैव विस्मर्तव्यम् — 2.1.33, BSB.

Meaning: “The Vedic statement of creation does not relate to any reality, for it must not be forgotten that such a text is valid within the range of activities concerned with name and form called up by ignorance, and it is meant for propounding the fact that everything has brahman as its Self.” Continue reading

‘adhyAropa’ to ‘adhiSThAna’ – 2/4

[Part – 1]

When and how does the process of ‘imagination’ (creation/projection) happen?

Shankara contends in his ‘adhyAsa bhAShya’ (Intro to his ‘Commentary on the brahma sUtra-s) that the formless, featureless and functionless, unbounded, immutable Beingness does not ‘cognize’ or ‘act’ unless Its Infinitude is somehow compromised. He writes, “The unrelated Self cannot become a ‘cognizer’ unless there are all these mutual superimpositions of the Self and the body and their attributes on each other, because perception and other activities (of a man) are not possible without accepting the senses etc. (as his own); the senses cannot function without (the body as) a basis; since nobody engages in any activity with a body that has not the idea of the Self superimposed on it.” [Slightly re-arranged the clauses for easy comprehension.] Continue reading

‘adhyAropa’ to ‘adhiSThAna’ – 1/4

    राजविद्या राजगुह्यं पवित्रमिदमुत्तमम् 
प्रत्यक्षावगमं धर्म्यं सुसुखं कर्तुमव्ययम्   — 9.2, BG.

[This is the Sovereign Knowledge, the Sovereign Profundity, the best sanctifier; directly realizable, righteous, very easy to practice and imperishable.]

What is this world that is available for our experience?

“The world is a ‘superimposition’ (adhyAropa). In other words, it merely appears to be present but does not really exist. It is like ‘casting forward’ of a from onto the Eternal, Immutable and Real ‘Substratum’ (adhisThAna) or the Supreme Self,” avers the Advaita Vedanta. Because of our inherent inability to know what “exactly” out there, our intellect ‘confabulates’ what could be present out there and ‘externalizes’ the imagined ‘from.’

Shankara in his introduction to the Vedanta aphorisms (sUtra-s) explains to us that this ‘superimposition’ is natural (naisargika) to us – i.e., it exists from our birth itself. Left to itself uninvestigated, adhyAsa seems to have no locatable or known beginning-point (hence, anAdi); nor an end-point (hence, ananta). No meaningful answer can be given to a question like “What is north of North Pole?” Similarly, a point of ‘beginning’ cannot be indicated for something which is outside of our familiar time-space dimensionality. “anAdi” also implies that it lies beyond our time-space framework. As a result, we find ourselves inexorably caught up in its snares and suffer the consequences as helpless victims trapped within the jaws of a mighty ‘diaphanous power.’

A superimposition or a projection is, however, an ‘action.’ There cannot be an ‘action’ without an ‘agent’ who does the act.

If I am just a ‘victim’ and not the doer of this projection, who is the ‘agent’ that does the ‘superimposition’? Continue reading

Ignorance Goes, but mAyA remains – Revisited

Ask any teacher of Non-duality the question “Why we see a multiplicity of objects instead of Oneness in the world?,” pat comes back the reply that “It is all due to mAyA, an inexplicable and indefinable power of the Creator God, Ishwara. mAyA is so much reified and deified in some texts that they present it almost as a given “fact.” They romanticize mAyA; sing paeans in lilting poetry as a Divine Goddess vested with special powers – that of concealment of the Truth and projection of an unreal world filled with variegated objects (e.g. 110-111, vivekacUDAmani).

But Gaudapada in his kArikA-s on mANDUkya and Shankara in his commentary on them regard mAyA to be no more than an explanatory artifact. Gaudapada mentions ‘mAyA‘ in the sense of a magic-show in the last chapter of his kArikA-s. For example: Continue reading

The World and the One ‘brahman’

mANDUkya Upanishad’ mantra 7 tells us that anything that is sensed, perceived, experienced or even thought about or conceptualized is not brahman. Consequently, Sages admit that “Advaita philosophy is incommunicable” (7, mANDUkya); “We do not know how to teach Advaita,” (1.3, kena). But at the same time, the Upanishadkars exhort us that “You should know It.”

Shankara too urges us in the Gita bhAShya (Ch 6, 9, 15.3, BGB;) and also at kaTha bhAShya that we should make every effort to attain the Knowledge of the Self in this life itself because “here alone it is possible to have a vision of the Self as clearly as (seeing) the face in a mirror, whereas this is not possible in other worlds apart from that of brahmA, which, however, is difficult to attain” (2.6.4, kaTha UB).

Hence, the teaching of Advaita philosophy is done adopting an apophatic approach, via negativa. It is the famous “na ( = not) (stated) iti ( = thus); not (stated) thus; na ( = not) (stated) iti ( = thus),” or netineti (2.3.6, BU); thus denying anything said about the Self is NOT It! Continue reading

Shankara Answers Beginner’s Questions

Shankara bhagavat pAda, a committed and earnest Commentator (bhAShyakAra) that he was, rarely, if at all, deviates from the immediate text on which he was making his explanatory observations. Fortunately for us, he relaxes, with compassion, his own self-imposed constraints of being a strict commentator and provides a detailed exposition on the subject matter occasionally. One of such instances is his 27-page long commentary at 2.1.20, brihadAraNyaka Upanishad (BUB). It comes before taking up the dense and meaty philosophical discussions on “the Highest Wisdom of Vedanta” beginning at the Fourth section, called Maitreyi brahmaNa. He provides answers to many typical questions that some one new to Advaita philosophy is likely to ask. I trust Shanakara’s replies help satiate the curiosity of the novice. We shall recapitulate below some of the questions and Shankara’s answers thereon. Continue reading

Equivalences in Advaita:

There are many equivalences that shruti and Shankara bhAShya there on teach us in order to make it easy for us to understand and appreciate the nuances of the Advaita doctrine. Crowning them all is, of course, the well-known equation Atman = brahman. The other equations being not so popular, we tend to forget them and draw some invalid inferences to claim that a sthitaprajna is gauNa compared to a jnAni; one can have dualist perception, though one is brahman and so on. Therefore, I present a few of the important equivalences we find in Advaita shruti and bhAShya and request the readers to add on to the list here.

i) Atman = brahman

[shruti and bhAShya support (SBS): Continue reading

“sadyomukti” (Instant Liberation) – 1/3:

What Shri Shanakara bhagavat pAda exhorts us in his commentary at the kaTha Upanishad, IMHO, is that we should try to “realize” the Self right in this life and not defer it to a later time because it involves a much more arduous effort to attain liberation with a stopover in some other loka (which involves continuing in the subtle body (or an AtivAhika sharIra)) after the gross body is dead. For example, Shankara writes:

तस्माच्छरीरविस्रंसनात्प्रागात्मावबोधाय यत्न आस्थेयः यस्मादिहैवात्मनो दर्शनमादर्शस्थस्येव मुखस्य स्पष्टमुपपद्यते, न लोकान्तरेषु ब्रह्मलोकादन्यत्र । स च दुष्प्रापः ॥ — 2.6.4, kaTha bhAShya Continue reading

Free Will and Choice in the Dualistic World

S&T is a creature of S and T!
In the absence of S and T, S&T gets asphyxiated; S&T doesn’t survive.

Perhaps, you have already guessed S&T stands for Science and Technology; S and T are Space and Time.

Science and Scientists work where Space, Time and Substance (material) exist out there facilitating an observation. Their entire edifice is based on causal relatonships – a prior cause, p1, giving raise to an effect, p2, over a time interval. The mAdhyamika Buddhist philosophy also is based on this principle. A given effect in the present is said to result from summation of all the antecedent causes. The cause-effect relationship invokes “Mind space,” when there is no tangible physical space present,

But what happens if Space and Time are merely “unreal or imaginary”? Can causal relationships exist without a mind? Continue reading