Only great men (magn+animus), above all others, can be the butt of bitter attacks – be it personal or to their output or works – as was the case with Hujwiri, 6th Buddhist Patriarch, Jesus of Nazareth and, in other realms, Shakespeare in England, Cervantes and Lope de Vega in Spain – and so many others. Such was also the case with, to me the best Advaitist writer of the 20th Cent., Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati. The attacks or resistance to accept their views is often motivated by envy. As it has been well-documented, there was initial resistance to accept or agree with the notion of mulavidya in the early work of Swamiji (SSS from now on) as he unfolded it.
Under the section ‘Tarka vs Sruti’ the more or less unconscious devise (upadhi) of removing the subject from the ‘picture’ aimed at understanding the world is broached, and the author (RB) quotes E. Schrödinger in that connection: “It became inherent in any attempt to form a picture of the objective world such as the Ionians made”. And so, “…the desire for understanding the world through our imperfect sensory knowledge invariably leads to certain, frequently overlooked, assumptions”.
It is curious that the first sleight of hand – by ‘primordial man’, the demiurge of mythology and Platonic philosophy – consisted in carrying out a scission within reality so that subject and object would emerge in opposition to each other: God and man (the Garden of Eden), the One and the many. A second scission was done by philosophical, or ‘thinking’, man, by removing the human subject altogether – provisionally, for the Ionian ‘physiologoi’ knew what they were doing, though, it is related, Thales of Miletus fell once into a ditch while absorbed looking at the firmament’s stars in utter wonder. Certainly, this device – or both combined – made possible all the empirical sciences, literature, art, and everything we know about the world. If there were no division or separation (no adhyasa and it’s attending ‘names and forms’), there would be no ‘world’. Allusion was made to this parallel mythological account previously, as well as to the kind of ignorance that became knowledge (with small case). Continue reading →
Review of ‘A New Approach to Understanding Advaita asTaught by ´Sa ˙ nkara Bhagavadp¯ada’ – 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 in a primary sense. He continues: “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”. RB’s 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 →