Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part III

Pat – II

Our esteemed colleagues Suka and Martin  made certain important observations on the earlier Posts of mine on this subject. So I felt it may be better to respond to the points raised by them without any further delay before resuming my presentation  with regard to Eka jIva vAda.

A:  About the similarity between Wakeful and Dream Worlds:

Suka pointed out to the three distinct orders of reality distinguishable from the way we experience them and opined that dream and awake world cannot be treated at par.  He said that a dream world was a ‘bhrama‘  whereas the awake world was ‘mithya.’

The taittirIya also speaks about the three realities. But what we have to bear in mind is the fact that  the distinction being made in such statements is from a wakeful world perspective.  A dream or the silver in nacre are regarded as ‘bhrama‘ by  a person  in an awake state. But for the actual dreamer, during his/her dreaming, the dream is his experience and if a character tells him about the awake state, he will consider the awake state to be bhrama.  So also during the time a person sees silver in the nacre, the silver is actually “experienced” by him. Thus as long as a person stays in a particular state as an ‘experiencer’, there is no difference in the actual process of ‘experiencing.’ A qualitative difference in the experience arises only at a relative level when the experience of one state is compared with the experience of another state by the experiencer.

As the scriptures teach us, there is no ‘experiencer’ in the “Absolute Reality.” One stays as ‘experiencing’ only without the triputi. 

EkajIva vAda is a help in first blurring the difference in the awake and dream states and then eventually to lead the spiritual aspirant to Aloneness (kaivalya). I hope to be able to present this approach during this series of Posts as a prakriya useful particularly to a modern analytically minded seeker.

We may also note that the similarity of the wakeful and dream worlds is strongly argued by several of our Sages and Rishis. I give here a few references:

1.  antah sthAnAttu bhedAnAm tasmAt jAgariti smRtam

yathA tatra  tathA svapne samvRtatvena bhidhyate  — Gaudapada kArika, II – 4

(Different objects cognized in a dream (are illusory) on account of their being perceived to exist. For the same reason, the objects perceived in waking state are illusory. The nature of the objects is the same in the waking state and the dream. The only difference is the  limitation of the space (associated with dream objects).

2.  saprayojanatA teshhAM svapne vipratipadhyate 

tasmAdAdhyantavattvena mithyaiva khalu te smRtAH — Gaudapada kArika,  II.7

[Serving a purpose of them (the objects of the waking experience) is contradicted in a dream. Therefore, they are undoubtedly admitted to be illusory on account of their (both waking and dream)  having a beginning and an end (they are rightly held to be equally unreal). ]

The opponent says that the dream objects do not serve any purpose whereas the wakeful world objects are useful. Sankara, in his commentary on this verse, disproves the contention of the opponent that the dream objects are different from wakeful ones if properly judged on the basis of ‘utility’.

3.  The creatures visible to a waking man are non-different from his consciousness, because they are perceived through his consciousness, just like the creatures perceived by the consciousness of a dreamer. And that consciousness, as engaged in the perception of creatures, is non-different from the experiencer, since it is perceived by the experiencer, like the consciousness in the dream state. — Gaudapada kArika, IV – 65-66.

4.  swapne ‘ rthasUnye sRjati swasaktyA bhoktrAdi viswam manah eva sarvam tathaiva jAgratyapi no visheshah tat sarvametanmanaso vijRmbhaNam — VivekacUDAmaNi, 170

(In dreams, when there is no actual contact with the external world, the mind alone creates the whole universe consisting of the enjoyer etc. And similarly in the waking state also,—there is no difference. Therefore all this ( phenomenal universe ) is the projection of the mind. (Translation Swami Madhavananda, 1921).

5.  And in the next verse (171):

sushuptikAle mansi pralIne naivAsti kincit sakala prasiddheh

atah manah kalpita eva pumsah samsAra etasya na vastuto ‘ sti

(In dreamless sleep, when the mind is reduced to its causal state, there exists nothing  (for the person asleep), as is evident from universal experience. Hence man’s relative existence is simply the creation of the mind, and has no objective reality. (Translation Swami Madhavananda, 1921)).

6.  jnAna jneya pramedena yatha swapnam pratIyate

vijnAnamAtramevaitam tatha jAgrata chcharAcharam  — VedAnta siddhAnta muktAvali, 19

(Just as the dream world which is really nothing but cognition, appears in Consciousness, differentiated as the cognition and the cognized, so too, the world of waking consciousness, of things animate and inanimate (is nothing apart from cognition)).

7.    We find Sage Vasishta equates the wakeful world appearance with that of a dream at several places in Yogavaasishta.  I quoted an instance from the 136th Sarga in the Second Part of the Sixth Chpater  at: https://www.advaita-vision.org/traditional-teaching-and-deep-sleep-ii-dreams/

8.  Here is another example:  “All these visible worlds of existence are like dream worlds.  Like castle in the air.  That is why each person has his/her own world; his/her own imagination and his/her own sorrows and happiness.”  —  Yogavaasishta, Chapter: IV, Sarga 17, Sloka 10

I believe the above references are adequate for the present.

B.  Role of  Love and Devotion in Advaita:

Martin raised the issue of a devotional approach while expressing that my treatment of sRshTi-dRsTi-vAda sounded a bit aseptic. Inter alia, he asks:

“A believer or religious person would like to see, no doubt, the fundamental aspect of love (that of the way of bhakti, which includes pious renunciation) brought in. Would you say that that doctrine is closer to the way of love than the doctrine of drishti-sishtri vada.”

Undoubtedly, what I state here has the potential to become quite controversial. Still I would like to stretch my neck out and say it as I understand.

An understanding of Advaita does not a priori require any theistic orientation. It is a different matter that right from the ancient times, the Advaita teachers had exhibited a belief in some super power.

If one understands Non-duality, the word “Love” is non-different from “Brahman.”

Love is true “Identity” (Oneness) – total melding of one into the other without a trace of division. As a matter of fact, True Identity exists where there is no “other.”

It means there is absolutely no distance separating  a  ‘me’ here  and an object or an individual or God out there. In turn it implies that the imaginary walls separating a ‘me’,  that give  me a distinct ID, are totally  and completely dissolved. (This, in fact, is the “death” of a ‘person (= personality)’ and the ‘ending of the ego’). This is the true “Surrender”, True renunciation – i.e. truly renouncing the “ego.” Only then does “Love” prevail.

In other words, Love is the absence of distance. Love, like open space, is deep acceptance without spurn or favor. Love is that tenderness that lets  everything arise/dissolve within It .

Ordinarily ‘love’ is described as a ‘relationship’  between more than one entities – mostly a relationship of emotion  and mainly hormone driven.  Testosterone driven lust, oxytocin +  vassopressin driven attachment,  oxytocin driven companionship, possessiveness etc. which are addressed to another person (mostly) or an object are called ‘love.’  Such a relationship of love grows and  evolves into a different mold of ‘surrender’ – one that is modeled on a Master-slave relationship.

The all-powerful Master is kept on a high pedestal and I become an obsequious servile creature. I live, ‘courtesy’  His grace, among His ‘vibhUtIes. This smells of duality, of one breed or other.

Of course, this duality in relationship gives me a great comfort, all my cares are taken care of, all my responsibilities are abdicated; and willy-nilly I still retain a semblance of my separate personality waiting for the ‘grace.’

One author tried to derive a  mathematical inverse square relationship a la Newtonian gravitational law  for such sort of love between two entities and think it is Advaita!

But Love in Advaita is completely ONENESS, not a “relation” that governs two or more individuals. No superiors and subordinates like in an office. There is no boss  who has a higher responsibility for what goes on and a lowly clerk who has to just carry out a small well-defined  task without any accountability for the overall outcome.

“I am Brahman” is the teaching of Advaita. It is my world – no – I am the world, the world is me. (If one draws a graph of multidimensional space, ‘me’ is the intersection of the offsets from all the axes – ‘me’ is not a ‘me’ anymore even if one axis is missed). “Whatever all is”, is my responsibility, my creation, my projection out of myself.    There is no ‘other’ who assumes a vicarious responsibility for the things and protect ‘me.’ Such a  stance does not arise out of arrogance; it is complete loss of the sense of a separate ‘me’ still looking for some reward – even that of liberation!

So true devotion has to be understood in this spirit.  Sankara gives the definition for ‘devotion’ in Vivekachudamani. It is nothing other than ‘an enquiry into what is one’s own true form or ‘Self.’

But what Martin said was correct.  sRshTi-dRsTi-vAda accommodates the usual sort of a higher power – loyal worshipper equation and dRsTi-sRshTi-vAda squarely shows that it is your perception that creates your bubble universe. Osama is as much (of) this world as Obama. No pick and choose as per the likes and dislikes of an individuating ‘me’ in Advaita.

[I happened to discuss here the Place of Bhakti in Advaita,]


(Enough of ammunition, I guess!)

(Contd … Part – IV)


9 thoughts on “Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part III

  1. Yes. If reality is ONENESS, how can there be any sense of lack, hence any desire? There is no ‘other’ to be related to. Reminds me of Socrates’ speech in the Symposium (one of Plato’s dialogues) after other speakers had rendered their tribute to Eros, the god of Love. In his turn Socrates said that the highest love is that of philosophy, which takes one on his wings to the highest attainment, the understanding of everything that has to be understood: the summum bonum.

    • Thanks Martin for excellent summarization.

      When you said: “If reality is ONENESS, how can there be any sense of lack, hence any desire?”, I am reminded of a conversation of Rama with Sage Vasishta from YogavaasishTa, Sarga 37, Book II, Chapter VI. It runs something like this:

      Rama: If everything is Brahman, even desire is Brahman. Why should then one abjure wanting things in the world?

      Sage Vasishta: It is true that desire too is Brahman. But the moment you have this awareness, no desires generate in you! After all, Brahman does not arise or set, (like desires seem to)! All the prohibitory injunctions are meant for those who are not Self-realized. There are no mandatory stipulations for a Self-realized person. Let us look at it from the other side.
      Please consider, who experiences the illusory world? Only a ‘person’ experiences the illusory world. But the ‘person’ himself is illusory as he is a part of the world. So only a non-existing ‘person’ is deluded by the world!
      Thus the uncanny and weird thing in the illusion of the world is that there is no real one who truly experiences the phantasm of the world. In other words, the miasma takes place without any one being really existing there. It is obvious from this that the world is non-existent in Truth.
      Everything is Brahman in one view. Upending the logic, we say nothing else exists. Thus even desire is Brahman in one sense.
      Even then, my view is that non-origination of desires is much better in order to attain the Bliss of Self.
      What is desire? Self-Consciousness flowing outwards through the sensory spheres is desire. But that is the mind. That is the world. Countering the outward flow is desirelessness. And that is nothing but liberation!

      A sure sign of Self-Realization is a noticeable reduction in desires. In the worldview of an individual having desires, there still exists an ignorant person.”


      Interesting, isn’t it?


  2. To which we can also add Krishna’s assertion that self-enquiry is the highest bhakti.

    • Thank you Peter for the observation.

      The moment we bring in Krishna, the devotion minded people immediately cite “ManmanAbhava madbhaktO…..priyOsi me” XVIII – 65 as a stipulation that one should bow down to the Lord in a sort of a person-to-person relationship. And that they think is “egolessness.” They tend to be lost in the symbology forgetting that the depiction of a form shown in the Gita is only allegorical.

      And I often see this happening with many who give endlessly lectures on Advaita!

      As you are well aware, etymologically speaking, ‘karshati iti kRishnah’ – the one that pulls you (towards Itself). When the fisherman casts his net, it is the world unfolding. It is the fisherman who pulls it back when the world implodes. And you are the Fisherman!


      • You are right Ramesamji, some people get stuck at a very superficial level of interpretation. The derivation of ‘Kṛṣṇa’ have been taught is ‘Sarvāṇi manāṃsi ākarṣate’ – ‘that which attracts all minds to itself’. What is that? Happiness. What is happiness? Certainly not a state of mind, but ananta/ānanda, the limitlessness that we are. In limitlessness, there is no sense of anything missing and thus no sorrow. This is ānanda, happiness without end, which is mokṣa. When Kṛṣṇa enjoins,’Mind intent on me… act’ he means ‘Pursue artha and kāma, in conformity with dharma, for the sake of mokṣa/pure happiness as your unwavering aim.’

  3. Thank you, Peter, for your brief and pointed observation. And thank you, Ramesam, for your further illumination of the subject – worth re-reading at leisure, if only for the intellectual enjoyment it affords. I should desire to be re-incarnated, so that ‘I’ can study those wonderful Purana’s and Epics. I often think that being engaged in such reading (not just studying), is a form of contemplation, whereby duality is transcended – due to the rise of supra-human ananda.

  4. Dear Ramesamji – I appreciate the effort in elaborating your point of view, though I don’t consider it much of an ammunition. Traditionalists do not consider neither māṇḍūkya bhāṣya nor vivekacūḍāmaṇi as authentic works of śaṅkara for this very reason. Their statement is based on the reading of śaṅkara’s bhāṣyas on taitirīya and other upaniṣads vis-a-vis these texts. Gauḍapāda had a huge buddhist influence (at his time they were his primary pūrvapakṣa). Also it is a well known fact that māṇdukya upaniṣad has only 12 verses, which gauḍapāda extended into hundreds of kārikas. I would appreciate if you can give any pramāṇa direct from the upaniṣads themselves than from prakaraṇa granthas whose authencity as its regards its authorship is debated.

    Also, it is my considered opinion that there can be no advaita without īśvara, because the equation tat tvam asi is between īśvara and jīva. Bhakti refers to the relationship of the jīva with īśvara.

    I see that there are basic differences in our understanding. To me kaivalya does not mean aloneness; aloneness leads to alienation. Humans are born connected and kaivalya to me is to discover this connection with everything that there is, through the understanding of the basic oneness of its substratum. Living connected, a jīvan mukta acts “lokasaṁgrahamevārthaṁ sampaśyan kartum arhasi”.

  5. Many thanks to Peter and Martin for their valuable inputs of the 14th April 2013.

    I am grateful to Suka for his thought provoking Comments of 16th Apr.

    Suka opened his observations with the words: ” I appreciate the effort in elaborating *your* point of view..”

    At the outset, let me be clear that there is nothing like “My view,” which I consider as if it’s a “possession” of mine.

    Nevertheless, it does look to me that, if I am allowed to say, it is an eminently disastrous route to adopt to arrive at Truth, if the discussion boils down to “My texts” vs. “Yours”, “My Guru” vs. “Your guru”, “My belief” vs. “Your belief” etc. etc., particularly so, if one cherry picks some references and drops those which are inconvenient. That is usually the method of legal luminaries in a court of law “to win a point” rather than investigate the Truth.

    It also looks to me that there are many fundamental conceptual issues raised by Suka that need to be addressed in detail and I am afraid that the format and structure of this column here is unsuitable for a proper response.

    Please do permit me to come back with another Post to answer Suka’s points and I hope to be able to do so as soon as I get time from the current work on hand.

    In the meanwhile:

    On the day I was a bit lost churning in my mind about how to reply, I found a mail in my Inbox from a friend informing me that their Sunday “Presence Group” listened to this 12 min Audio clip – “I am the creator of my world” — it was part of an impromptu extempore dialog in 2011.
    If one has time and inclination, here is the link:
    There are no textual quotes or references and invokes only logic.


  6. Dear Ramesamji
    I suppose it is the limitation of my expression when I said “your view”. It was never intended to mean “your personal view”. Having noted a dichotomy in our respective understandings, I used “your view” only to refer to the respective understandings. I hope I stand clarified.
    Śruti uses only three analogies, the pot and the clay, gold and ornament, and the axe and steel (nakha nikṛndana) to explain mithya.
    Mithya is defined as sadasadbhyām vilakṣaṇam – meaning it cannot be categorically classified as truth or false. Mithya is vyāvahārika, experientially efficient, substantially unreal. The argument tat pot is an illusion does not hold water, because pot does hold water 
    Dream is prātibhāsika, false, illusion, and cannot be equated to mithya.
    Logic has no scope when it comes to ātma jñāna; śruti is the only pramāṇa. Logic can give raise to only parokṣa jñāna and therefore out of scope as regards aparokṣa ātmā. Yet, I listened to the audio link, since I had the inclination, and therefore found the time. I found the following logical deficiencies, which I request be clarified.
    1. Firstly I do not agree that dream world is a creation, for we call something as created only when it is practically efficient to serve a given purpose. We admit a Car as a creation because it is put together to serve its purpose, which is transporting. If someone were to assemble the same parts, but in a haphazard manner, say the put engine is where the steering is and so on, we will not call it creation since it cannot do its function. On this basis, I do not agree to the view that dream world is a creation, since it is haphazard, and serves no purpose. The “creator” of the dream has not control over the dream world, and he cannot create the same world twice, at his will. In fact, there is no freewill involved in dream and hence it cannot be categorized as creation.
    2. In the extempore, it was said that “the only difference between waking and the dream world is that in addition, we have five additional subordinates in the form of sense organs, which gives input to the mind”. The question therefore is who created these additional five sense organs? It was definitely not the dreamer, nor the waker, not consciousness. This is where, in my understanding, īśvara comes in.
    3. There is an order in the waking world which does not exist in the dream world. The physical order, the physiological order, the psychological order, even an emotional order, the order of cause and effect, all these exist in the waking world whereas the dream world is chaotic.
    4. I also found the extrapolation of illusion to time and space, and eventually to 7 billion dreams of “my” consciousness logically wanting.
    There is pralaya of the dream world when one wakes up, whereas the waking world continues even after self-knowledge. If one where to equate dream world and waking world, one will be forced, logically, to take extreme positions such as maṇḍana miśra did in brahma siddhi (he does not agree to jīvan mukti at all, and says the one we call as a jīvan mukta is at best the highest sādhaka and he attaines mukti only on death), or as vimuktātman in iṣṭa siddhi (vimuktātman does not agree with maṇḍana in his theory of avidyā leśa, and proposes avidyā samskāra which is similar to a car continuing to run on its momemtum even after the engine has been switched off). These positions have no śruti support.
    I look forward to reading your posts on these issues with an open mind. I once again appreciate your time, effort and commitment and request you not to regard these questions as argumentative, but as genuine questions I have against suggestions that this world is an illusion.


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