Knowledge, Action and Liberation – AV


title figure 1When Ed Witten, the legendary genius Physicist of Princeton, proposed his theory integrating the four or five disparate string theories during the mid-nineties, he called it the M-theory. He did not specify what exactly M stood for.  So Science Communicators went wild with their own interpretations. Some said M is for Mother to say it is the mother of all theories. Others said M is for Meta. Still others said M is for Membrane or Matrix. Some even suggested M is for Mystery or  Magic.

I leave it to the imagination of the reader what AV stands for in the title of this Post.

It can mean Another View, Advaita Vedanta, Alternate Version, Astonishing Vision, Absolute Veridicality or one can even split the two words and pair them to suit to their taste — like Absolute Vedanta or Another Version etc.


First Kudos to Dennis for a smooth and clear explication of a topic usually considered abstruse and difficult in his recent post titled “Knowledge, Action and Liberation.”  He takes off with an elan and panache that only he can. But en route he hits a patch of misdirecting metaphor. The promised destination, alas is missed!

When one tries to eff the ineffable, convey something about the inconceivable, one takes recourse to a metaphor. In the good old days, a desk top used to be a good metaphor for the architecture of a computer. But if the metaphor is inappropriate or is contrived or concocted to shoehorn one’s own pet mis-conception, the effort will be a sham.

Vigilant readers would not be unaware of the red flags we were often fated to raise in these columns pointing to the mistaken interpretations of a gentleman who is sourced for the misleading metaphor under reference.

As Dennis rightly said:

“Nothing needs to be ‘done’ to gain mokSha because we are already free; mokSha is an already accomplished fact. We are not a body-mind but the sachChidAnanda brahman. All that needs to happen is for the fact to be revealed by shravaNa, doubts to be removed by manana, and the mistaken idea that Atman is something to be found elsewhere to be dropped. That we are already brahman then stands revealed.”

Truly memorable words to be etched in gold.

How does one convey the implied meaning of that remarkable understadning? Our shAstra-s themselves come to our rescue.  They provided the most apt similes.

Perhaps, all the readers are already quite familiar with these. So I shall save space (and boredom) by only listing four of them here:

  1. The story of the Ox that thinks that it is tethered and therefore, does not move until the farmer pretend-plays to untie it from the peg.
  2. The Prince who imagines himself to be a pauper.
  3. The story of the missing necklace of the busy house-wife who is totally immersed in the service to her family.
  4. The famous Tenth Man Story.

Please spend a minute to see what is the “work” done in the above metaphors to get back to the pristine ‘Original’ position.

Is any wiring of the power lines, installing switches, fixing bulbs involved? Is there a darkness to be driven away anywhere? Has there been darkness at all anytime in the past?

What is the light being advised for? Is not the word “light” just symbolical or figurative here? Does one have to perceive anything sensorially out there? What “light” does one need to install to know that “I am” there even when one is sitting in the darkest of the dungeons?

Advaita Vedanta, in fact, draws one’s attention to that inward look, netrasya netraM, away from the outward gaze, to that self-illumination that enables one to know one’s own ‘beingness.’ And for that none needs to have to go about groping for switches or tumbling over objects! ‘Stay where you are and notice that Awareness with which you are aware,’ that is all the mantra.

Does it not sound funny or silly to talk of two layers of curtains obscuring the light? Why two? Why not suggest three or five or 1 and 1/3 or 1 and 1/15 curtains? Is it to conform to the proposed theory?

Further, one has to remember that, when our scriptures talk of shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana, they do not suggest that they are different school grades that one has to compulsorily cross one after the other. They are not stages mandated. They do not come with definite curricula and prescribed “to do” lab hours necessarily to be attained. They are indicative phases. All of them may and can occur simultaneously, or one or two may even miss happening. Knowledgeable teachers and scriptures themselves say so.

It is also strange that one brings in an artificial distinction between a jnAni (Knower of Self-Knowledge) and a jIvanmukta. If it is more than a mere convenience to fit one’s pet theory, can we get any authentic upanishadic citation for this differentiation (preferably from shruti or ShankarabhashyA-s?

10 thoughts on “Knowledge, Action and Liberation – AV

  1. Hi Ramesam,

    Thanks for your kind remarks! But I confess that I’m a bit confused here. You say:

    “As Dennis rightly said:

    “Nothing needs to be ‘done’ to gain mokSha because we are already free; mokSha is an already accomplished fact. We are not a body-mind but the sachChidAnanda brahman. All that needs to happen is for the fact to be revealed by shravaNa, doubts to be removed by manana, and the mistaken idea that Atman is something to be found elsewhere to be dropped. That we are already brahman then stands revealed.”

    Truly memorable words to be etched in gold.”

    I read this as you saying that you agree with what I have said. And yet you then go on to say that you don’t agree with the metaphor “Does it not sound funny or silly to talk of two layers of curtains obscuring the light? Why two? Why not suggest three or five or 1 and 1/3 or 1 and 1/15 curtains? Is it to conform to the proposed theory?”

    Is it not clear that “doubts to be removed by manana” is represented by one black cloth and “mistaken idea that Atman is something to be found elsewhere to be dropped” is represented by the second black cloth?

    Of course the metaphor ‘conforms with the theory’. This is how metaphors are devised and operate. Their purpose is to reinforce the theory by a ‘pictorial’ example which corresponds in some one-to-one manner with the elements of the idea that is being conveyed.

    I was assuming that AV stood for ‘Argument Vindicated’…

    Best wishes,

  2. Dear Dennis,

    Thank you for the observations.

    Let me reiterate that my own understanding is in full conformity with the way you articulated the gist of Advaita teaching. There is no scope for any doubt in what is expressed by you so lucidly and unambiguously.

    I thought the infirmities in the proposed metaphor, and its dissonance with respect to the Advaita teaching that we agree to, are self-evident and glaringly conspicuous when one compares it without bias with the classic metaphors that are available in our scriptures. For starters,
    .. Where exactly is the seeker situated w.r.t. the light and the two curtains?
    .. Does gaining the Self-Knowledge mean simply noticing the light that I had switched on?
    .. Doesn’t such contraption with all the unnecessary stipulations mislead a seeker in his investigation of the Self with doubts like the above cropping up?

    In contrast, how simple, effortless and straight to the point are any of the four (or innumerable other) classic metaphors! What is the need for such concoctions? Are we playing to be smarter than Shankara by coming up with such devices with switches and curtains and all that rigmarole?

    After all, the entire inquiry that a seeker takes up is about obtaining the Self-knowledge. If as suggested in the last para of your Post that switching on the light is equivalent to having Self-Knowledge, to me that would have been the end of the matter! If further actions are required, it obviously means that something is deficient. Therefore, the analogy of switching on the light as having Self-Knowledge is inaccurate.

    Strictly speaking, we do not need to lay out and switch on any external lights in order to enable us to direct our attention to that ever glowing, self-effulgent, luminous illumination that is already there within (in a figurative sense) – the necklace was never lost! Self-Knowledge is to realize that “I” am That Light of all lights. By bringing in the extraneous electric bulbs for creating illumination, and obstructing that light with curtains gives scope for the seeker to be led astray.

    Moreover, obtaining the Self-Knowledge itself is the same as “dropping” the ‘mistaken idea that Atman is something to be found elsewhere.’ They are not two different actions!

    I hope you agree that we do not have to once again take up the issue of jnAna phalam, as if one who already understood that s/he himself is the Supreme Self (a jnAni), is still looking for reaping “benefits” in the ‘fictitious’ (after realization) world. Self-Realization is like dissolving the walls of the pots (shown in the figure at the start of my Post), the walls of the pots being an imagination and not really existing, so that thereby symbolically the pot-space and the Vast space (mahAkAsa) unite into One.

    Therefore, I am sorry, I fail to concur when you say that the Argument for the proposition you support is Vindicated. It is actually an Argumentum Vincere!
    [do not fault me if the Latin is wrong in grammar 🙂 ]


  3. Dear Ramesam,

    I accept that all is as you say from your point of view. It is the nature of metaphors that some find them useful while others do not. Personally, I found this metaphor helps one to understand the situation as I see it and I will probably refer to it in future when explaining to others. None of the others I have encountered emphasizes the three-stage process and shows that the contentious issue of j~nAna phalam makes perfect sense (to me).

    Let us say that it is an Agreed Variance.

    Best wishes,

    • Dear Dennis,

      I admit that we have from Rg Veda, “एकं सद् विप्राबहुधावदन्ति “ (ekaM sad viprAH bahudhAvadanti) meaning The Truth is One, but the Knowers express It in many ways. It is something like saying that the same one melodious song sounds slightly differently when heard through different speakers – a Bose or a self-assembled one by a high school kid, and a whole range in-between.

      But does it mean that the reverse is equally valid? Can I pump any garrulous noise I make through a shabbily fabricated hand-made gadget of mine and hope to reach back the pristine and divine melody of the song?

      The answer should be obvious.

      The slippery separate ‘self’ has several subtle self-survival strategies down under its sleeve. It may persist in many hideous and innocuous forms (even after the mind has intellectually learnt about it’s fictitious nature). That is the reason that many of us, though having studied all the Vedanta texts for years and years, still end up feeling that the ‘tipping point’ has yet to come sometime in the future or some others keep looking with stretched necks for the bequeathal of ‘moksha‘ from a benevolent guru. The ‘future’ is only an imagination, the work of a ‘me thought’ (manovRRitti). The Freedom is right here and Now which comes from a clear “Understanding” of the Advaita message.

      Sometimes it may also so happen that the sense of a separate self could hide behind a niche “comfort zone” that it carves disingenuously covering itself under a thin veneer of Non-dual theory. Our scriptures and elders, therefore, lay particular emphasis on the extreme care and vigilance that are needed to be observed by a seeker on the nivRRitti marga regarding ahaMkAra.

      It has become a cliché these days to quote Yajnavalkya’s exhortation to his wife saying “आत्मा वा अरे द्रष्टव्यः श्रोतव्यो मन्तव्यो निदिध्यासितव्य: (The Self, my dear, should be realized — should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon,” bruhadAraNyaka, II-ii-5). I believe it is very important to see the context in which he uttered those words. What he spoke immediately preceding and following that mantra have great significance, but many seem to ignore those parts. Shankara begins his bhAshya on this mantra II-ii-5 alluding to the part that precedes the sentence quoted, saying that Yajnavalkya spoke with a view to teach ‘renunciation’ as a means to immortality.

      Giving many examples of various relationships one maintains with anyone or any object – including spouse, children, wealth and even gods, Yajnavalkya brought home the point that the love one showed towards any person, related or not, or towards objects and wealth is not really for the sake of those persons or objects. It is for one’s own sake they are loved. Thus he inspires his wife to renounce all attachments towards worldly relationships and investigate what that one’s ‘Self’ is. “Abjuration” is the keyword that he stresses on. This is an attitudinal issue, more than sAdhana chtuShTaya saMpatti which, though includes vairagya, is more a behavioral issue, IMO.

      The next mantra II-ii-6 declares unequivocally सर्वं वेदेदं ब्रह्मेदं क्षत्त्रमिमे लोका इमे देवा इमानि भूतानीदं सर्वं यदयमात्मा (sarvaM vededam brahmedam kshattramime lokA ime devA imAni bhUtAnIdaM sarvaM yadayamAtmA) meaning: This BrAhman, this Kshatriya, these worlds, these gods, these beings, and this all are the Self. Thus ‘what Is’ right here and now is all brahman.

      Shankara explains in his commentary: “Because everything springs from the Self, is dissolved in It, and remains imbued with It during continuance, for It cannot be perceived apart from the Self. Therefore, everything is the Self.”

      Thus relinquishment of any desire for earthly “benefits” is a prior requirement before even taking up Self-inquiry. Is it not then inadmissible that such a man who had abandoned all interests in the worldly advantages will ‘want’ benefits after obtaining the Self-Knowledge , i.e. after having understood that everything that IS, is brahman,?

      With all humility, in the light of whatever little understanding I have, I beg to submit that, hence, it looks to me that there is a fatal flaw in the formulation of the metaphor that has been suggested.

      Further, two points you have made specifically ring alarm bells for me:

      i) “None of the others I have encountered emphasizes the three-stage process …”

      Could it be so because ‘the two curtains and bulbs lit by the seeker’ is most inappropriate and hence none else conceived such a plan? I, as a seeker, have to switch no lights because I do not have to see anything outside myself.

      ii) “… the contentious issue of j~nAna phalam makes perfect sense (to me).”

      Could the ‘waiting for phalam’ be a deceptive “comfort zone”?

      I do not mean to suggest that it is so in your case. I know you are far more knowledgeable. What I would like to highlight, however, are the likely pitfalls in this misleading metaphor.

      Finally, ‘Agreed Variance’, as you suggest, is an easy way out usually adopted in order to Appease Vastly distraught groups or to buy Acceptability from Vote banks. But such compromises have Abysmal Value when one’s concern is to relentlessly pursue an investigation for the Ultimate Truth which unfortunately is not amenable for Agreement through Vox populi or by the application of the first-past-the-post principle.


  4. Dear Ramesam,

    Since you seem not to want to accept Agreed Variance, I see I will have to provide Additional Vindication for the concepts of j~nAna phalam and jIvanmukti. I will try to avoid any Associated Vilification but my clear aim is now to Attack and Vanquish!

    Before I begin, I would just like to correct what appears to be an invalid assumption on your part. You ask “Is it not then inadmissible that such a man who had abandoned all interests in the worldly advantages will ‘want’ benefits after obtaining the Self-Knowledge?” I do not believe that, in anything I have written, I have implied that such a man would want any benefits. I have simply said that he would not necessarily get them. Not getting them would not, however, cause any concern to a j~nAnI because, being a j~nAnI, he knows that nothing in the world matters any more since all is mithyA. Nor am I myself looking for any such ‘comforts’.

    I will assume that your objection to the metaphor of Swami P is because you do not accept the notion of ‘obstacles to be removed’ rather than a simple antipathy to the man himself (although I am not 100% sure of this). The word that Swami D has used in connection with this is pratibandha (obstacle, hindrance, impediment). There is obviously a connection with the idea that, although the gaining of Self-knowledge immediately destroys saMchita and kriyamANa saMskAra, prArabdha continues to exist. It is used up in the remainder of the j~nAnI’s life and, once this happens, the body-mind dies and the j~nAnI gains videha mukti.

    As I understand it, you do not accept this and claim that prArabdha is also destroyed on the gaining of Self-knowledge. Here is what Shankara says on BS IV.i.15 (Swami Gambhirananda translation):

    “After the acquisition of knowledge, those virtues and vices that have not begun to yield their fruits and that were accumulated in earlier lives or even in this life before the dawn of knowledge are alone destroyed, but not so are those destroyed whose results have already been partially enjoyed and by which has been begun this present life in which the knowledge of Brahman arises.”

    He goes on to use the metaphor of the potter’s wheel continuing to spin after the potter ceases to operate it and the metaphor of continuing to see two moons after the removal of an eye-defect. He concludes:

    “Furthermore, no difference of opinion is possible here as to whether the body is retained (after knowledge) for some time or not by the knowers of Brahman. For when somebody feels in his heart that he has realized Brahman and yet holds his body, how can this be denied by someone else? Hence the conclusion is that only those virtues and vices are washed away by knowledge which have not begun to bear fruit.”

    I think that the problem may simply be that you are interpreting Advaita according to the bhAmatI tradition, whereas I am following vivaraNa. (See P. S. Roodurmun, ‘Bhamati and Vivarana Schools of Advaita Vedanta: A Critical Approach’) According to this source, the bhAmitI “holds the view that all of them (i.e. shravaNa, manana and nidihyAsana) are of a cognitive nature.” But according to the vivaraNa, “manana sweeps off from the mind the defect of asambhAvanA (doubts) as regards the identity between Brahman and jIva by setting aside all contrary proofs and reasonings about the same. nididhyAsana purges the mind of all viparIta-bhAvanA-s (errors) still standing in the way of the realization of reality. Despite the conviction of Absolute Oneness, firmly established by manana, there may be now and then a reassertion of old habits of thoughts, deep-rooted instincts and false notions of empirical glories and pragmatic values.”

    This interpretation is Additionally Verified by N. Veezhinathan in the chapter ‘Post-Shankara Advaita: The Vivarana Tradition’ in Volume II Part 2 (Advaita Vedanta) of ‘History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization’:

    “nididhyAsana removes the unconscious reassertion of old habits of thought such as ‘I’ and ‘mine’ with reference to the physical body and its characteristics, which are counter-productive (viparIta-bhAvana).” [viparIta-bhAvanA – error; the opposite stream of thought; It is said to be removed by contemplation. A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy, John Grimes.]

    Best wishes,

    • Dear Dennis,

      Thank you for the elaboration of your views.

      Yes, you did attack, firing in all cylinders. But alas, you haven’t vanquished!
      For, in your carpet bombing, the focus was perhaps slightly lost; the bombs misfired or missed the target. 🙂

      The main contention, as I see it, is the misleading metaphor and its ‘fatally flawed formulation.” I am not sure that your post answered any of the principal objections effectively. Instead you raised many peripheral issues which are at the most only distantly related to the topic under discussion. The inadequacy of the scriptural metaphors and the need for the contrived metaphors left unexplained.

      Re: pratibhandaka--s: Please see my Post at:

      Re: prArabdha: You quoted BSB IV-I-5. This is What Shankara says in aparokshAnubhUti, as you know:
      tatva jnAnodayAt Urdhvam prArabdhaM naiva vidyate
      dehAdinAmasattvAttu yathA ‘ swapno vibodhataH
      — 91

      Meaning: After the origination of the Knowledge of Reality, prArabdha verily ceases to exist, in as much as the body and the like become non-existent; just as a dream is non-existent on waking.


      “… dehasyApi prapanchatvAt prArabdhAvasthtiH ktaH
      ajnAni-jana bodhArtham prArabdhaM vakti vai shrutiH
      ” — 97

      Meaning: The body also being in the phenomenal world (and hence unreal), how could prArabdha exist? it is, therefore, for the understanding of the ignorant folk alone that the sruti speaks of prArabdha.

      (English translation: Swami Vimuktananda).

      [Re: bhashyA-s vs. prakaraNa grantha-s : Please see:

      If a question arises as to how that body (which at one time belonged to the ajnAni but now with no claimant of ownership) functions, Shankara himself provided an answer in his bhagavad-gIta bhAshya for the verse IV-24.

      I would like to borrow the words of one of the discussants in a previous debate on this topic: “He who has created this universe and the firmament, He who has created the sun and the moon and the stars and holds them in their respective positions, He who makes the rivers flow and the oceans heave, He who makes the gods drive the senses of the multitude of beings in this universe, He who sees through a thousand eyes and speaks through a thousand mouths, can He not see and speak through [what used to be] the jnyAni’s body?” I leave it there. The topic is too controversial, and this is not perhaps the place to go into more detail.

      Re: bhamati vs. vivaraNa: I am glad you accept your commitment for vivaraNa. As for myself, I use both models as per the context, like the Sringeri maTh. Because you showed your allegiance to vivaraNa through the ensign for your post, I used in half jest the picture of pot-space and mahAkAsha for my Post. Incidentally, this picture helps to convey the sense of dissolution of the imagined limiting bounds after gaining Self-Knowledge. Again, this is another topic on which volumes are written. We may not go that route.

      Re my views on: nididhyAsana: Please see my Post:

      Re: benefits: As a follower of vivaraNa, you say in your post that Self-knowledge is obtained from shravanA as believed by this school which holds that shravaNa is the main means and the other two are subsidiary (Ref: But your metaphor requires further steps for ‘benefits.’
      You did use the word “benefit” two times in your original post.

      Re Sw-P: I don’t know him or his background. What I know is what you, Dr. Sada and others projected his views to be and the comments of other knowledgeable people thereon. But when you say: “…. a simple antipathy to the man himself (although I am not 100% sure of this),” doesn’t the phrase qualify to be called ad hominem?

      I shall rest here my case Acclaiming Victory for the classical metaphors :)).


  5. The point I struggle with in this, is the implicit assumption of a jiva – that needs to listen, contemplate and meditate, in order to attain liberation – which is clearly at odds with ajata vada. Before you hastily object that I confuse relative and absolute truth, indulge me in going back to first principles, and trying to remain as close to the absolute truth as possible.

    Ajata vada says there is NO ONE. The mahavakyas proclaim that I am Brahman / Consciousness. And that Brahman is indivisible and without attributes. Pure consciousness can never have ignorance. It just witnesses / knows. For whatever reason an illusory non-separate world / body / mind has been superimposed upon this consciousness and is witnessed. The superimposed mind is of course non-existent and just a series of thoughts. These thoughts arise in, are witnessed by, and fall back into the Universal Consciousness that I am.

    The superimposed thought witnessed by consciousness that “I am separate from the world” surely is the locus of ignorance. So the seeing that this thought is erroneous and limiting, and is not what I am, must be the end of knowledge, freedom from the known. And the absence of the separative I-thought just leaves pure consciousness witnessing whatever arises without the ignorance of the suffering “I”.

  6. Dennis / Ramesam

    Just to follow-on, as I am re-reading Panchadashi, in 2.46 Vidyaranya says:
    “When the movements of the mind are stilled, the witness-consciousness abides unobscured. Similarly before Maya was set in motion, Brahman alone existed in His pure form”.

    Also, Dennis has again raised the issue of Jnani vs Jivanmukta, for which, as Ramesam notes, no reference has been provided. I concur with Ramesam that this is a dangerous concept for an ego to grasp hold of – we all read and gain knowledge of advaita, and yet many of us still do not feel free. However, having spent all this time absorbing knowledge, it would be quite easy for an ego to grasp onto this concept that all this effort has led me to be a jnani (because I have an intellectual understanding and conviction), even though I am not yet a jivanmukta.

    As we discussed previously, there are references cited in BG and BS which suggests that there is no time interval between the arising of true knowledge and liberation. To add to these references, here is Vidyaranya in 2.102:
    “When the intellect has been convinced of the falsity of all notions of duality, it becomes firmly established in the conception of non-duality. The man who is firmly rooted in the conviction of non-duality is called a jivanmukta”.

    Hence I would submit AV just repoints to the ultimate truth, Ajata Vada. 😉

    Best wishes,

    PS Ramesam – JK came upon the definition of vedanta being the ‘end of knowledge’ in a wonderful dialogue with Swami Venkatesananda in the early 70s, where the latter quizzes him on his interpretation of Vedantic concepts. The link is below, and the discussion about ‘end of knowledge’ occurs from 45:55. Worth listening to!

  7. Dear Ramesam,

    As I pointed out earlier, and as you have now acknowledged, your main point of contention seems to be the metaphor. I am not really interested in the metaphor. I found it useful and believe that others will also, but I am happy to accept that you did not. Indeed, there would be significant cognitive dissonance in your accepting it since you do not accept the concepts for which it is a metaphor! This attitude is like someone who has been told the rope-snake metaphor with the purpose of explaining the mithyAtva of the world being more interested in arguing about the probability of an encountered snake being poisonous and how this would affect the world.

    Excellent post on pratibandhaka-s! I obviously missed that one – the timing of mid October clashed with trying to complete the Gaudapada book. Clearly you are familiar with (and accept) the concept! My apologies for any hint that this was otherwise.

    Regarding your reference to aparokShanubhUti, I don’t see that this is any different from the situation regarding anything empirical. The scriptures talk about creation but later state that there has never been any creation. Gaudapada refutes karma in the kArikA-s. As you know, it’s called adhyAropa-apavAda. Clearly a j~nAnI, knowing that the entire world is mithyA, recognizes that there is no such thing as prArabdha in reality. His body-mind is equally mithyA so that any pratibandhaka-s are also mithyA. The situation is that, from the empirical point of view, all of these things are real but, from the absolute perspective, none exist. Once the rope is known, we negate the snake even if it still looks like one in the partial light.

    I don’t accept the view given in your article ‘Sankara Bhashyas vs. Prakarana Granthas’. It would not make sense for Shankara intentionally to misrepresent his views in his most important works (the commentaries on prasthAna traya). (He does, in any case, support Gaudapada, who refutes cause and effect, and hence karma, in K4.14 et seq.) Also the authorship of many of the prakaraNa grantha-s is questionable. It seems most unlikely, for example, that Shankara wrote vivekachUDAmaNi. (Also, although I am not familiar with the yogataravalli, my glance through your article would put that document into the same category, I’m afraid. It does not seem likely that any j~nAnI would branch out into yet more mithyA concepts, once having gained Self-knowledge.)

    In any case, nothing actually changes when an aj~nAnI becomes a j~nAnI. Before, everything is brahman; after, everything is brahman. The only difference is that the latter now knows this. There isn’t X speaking through the body before and Y speaking through it after.

    Regarding vivaraNa, you say: “But your metaphor requires further steps for ‘benefits.’
    You did use the word “benefit” two times in your original post.” I really don’t understand what you are getting at here. The original post indicated that, in the metaphor, the removal of one cloth signifies the removal of doubts (which is one ‘benefit’) and the removal of the other cloth signifies removal of pratibandhaka-s (which is the other benefit). In my response to this on 11th Jan, I said: “Is it not clear that “doubts to be removed by manana” is represented by one black cloth and “mistaken idea that Atman is something to be found elsewhere to be dropped” is represented by the second black cloth?”

    If this is still not clear, can you please indicate exactly what it is about it that you do not understand, and I will do my best to spell it out. I apologize for my statement “I will assume that your objection to the metaphor of Swami P is because you do not accept the notion of ‘obstacles to be removed’ rather than a simple antipathy to the man himself (although I am not 100% sure of this).” I don’t think it does qualify as ad hominem because I did not actually say that you had an antipathy. But I agree that implying that you might does come close! (…even if you do.) 

    Approaching valediction (I hope, since these posts are taking up an awful lot of time),

    P.S. Sorry for not addressing your ‘locus of ignorance’, Venkat, but that is a massive topic on its own.

  8. Just a couple of related links:

    Dhanya wrote an article on pratibandhaka-s some years ago which readers may find interesting –

    Also, her teacher Radha asked Swami Dayananda a number of questions on the topic and Dhanya transcribed the discussion at

    Finally, thanks to Venkat for referencing the pan~chadashI. I had a look there and found some interesting shloka-s. But I will post those in a new thread, since this is getting quite long. See ‘pa~nchadashI and prArabdha’.

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