‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 3

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

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

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

Q.518 Reincarnation and Enlightenment

Q: I have been trying to wrap my mind around the question posed here: https://www.advaita-vision.org/q-489-creation-and-reincarnation.

Specifically: if reincarnation is not actually true and is just a part of adhyaropa-apavada — then why study Advaita at all when the probability of enlightenment is so low! Seems like life efforts would be better spent then trying to maximize ephemeral happiness.

The only way I can rationalize the practical utility of advaita is to accept that reincarnation is true in vyavaharika — that its a natural law, like gravity. Is that a fair understanding or is reincarnation truly just a teaching tool?

A: Where did you get the view that the probability of enlightenment is low? I know that this is implied in a few places in the scriptures but I rather think the point there is to ensure that only those who genuinely have mumukShutva pursue these ideas. If you are merely ‘interested’, you are going to lose that interest sooner or later and return to seeking the usual gratifications of empirical life. One of the seekers in the Upanishads is ecstatic when he is told that he ‘only’ has to live another few thousand lives before gaining enlightenment!

I believe that one of the main reasons that people today think that it is extremely ‘rare’ is their notion that there is ‘intellectual’ understanding that comes relatively easily and then there is experiential understanding that is extremely difficult to acquire. This is wrong! It is the erroneous understanding in the mind that keeps us in saMsAra and the correct understanding in the mind that frees us. It is perfectly possible to gain Self-knowledge in a single lifetime if you have the determination to do so. Obviously the best way is to find a qualified teacher. Then maybe years would be enough. If you have to read books and discuss with other seekers, it could take decades – especially if you read the wrong books!

As regards reincarnation, I wouldn’t worry about that too much. Whilst you really believe that the empirical world is real, then karma and reincarnation make sense. Without them, the ‘lawful’ nature of the universe appears to break down. The ‘good’ apparently suffer while the ‘evil’ triumph. Just look upon it as a mechanism that science is unable to explain or even believe. As I said in that other question, read the book by Muni Narayana Prasad if you want to understand more.

Determinism or Free-will

Is every action predetermined or is there free will?

The notion of ‘free will’ is of Jewish-Christian origin, and is the other side of the coin which refers to that other nostrum – ‘(the problem of) evil’, which complicates things even more. God, being the summum bonum, is not responsible for evil; therefore that responsibility falls entirely on (fallen) man.

There is no notion in Plato (and generally among the ancient Greeks) of the concept of ‘free will’, in the sense of a faculty of the soul which determines a particular course of action – choice, in other words. Rather, it is an inclination or appetite (desire) which motivates action and is either for the highest and noblest aspiration in man, or for his lower preferences (they correspond to Being and Becoming respectively). When the inclination is towards the Good, Plato calls it Eros. This account of ‘good will’ was preserved in St. Augustine (dilectio or caritas).

A similar view can be found in Br.Upanishad 4.4.5: “Man is fashioned by desire; according to his desire is his discernment; according to his discernment he does his work.” Also: “For just as men here below pursue the aim after which each aspires, as it were done at command, whether it be a kingdom, or an estate, and live only for that, (so in their aspiration for heavenly rewards they are the slaves of their desires” – Chand.Upanishad 8.1.5). Paul Deussen, in ‘The Philosophy of the Upanishads’, from which I just quoted, concludes: “The standpoint of the Upanishads, therefore, is a rigid determinism”.

That judgment, however, should be applied only to the empirical viewpoint of the everyday world, not to the higher one, where Atma (-Brahman), the only reality, reigns with absolute freedom, if one can say that. ‘That Thou art’.


Searchable ‘prasthAna trayI’ Database:

The दक्षिणाम्नाय श्रीशारदापीठम्, शृङ्गेरी (dakShinAmnAya shrI shAradA pITham of Sringeri) launched with the blessings of Shri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswami, a modest “searchable” database of Shankara bhAShya-s on the three canonical texts of Advaita over six years ago – on the Shankara Jayanti on May, 20, 2014.

Without doubt it is a stupendous and fantastic job carried out by several dedicated workers from  The Sringeri Math at Srirangam;  The Sri Shankara Advaita Research Centre, Sringeri; Sriranga Digital Software Technologies, Srirangapatna and many others. The first offering of Advaita Sharada is a text searchable, extensively hyperlinked Internet edition of the Sri Shaankara Granthavali, published by the Vani Vilasa Press, Srirangam. It has been under constant improvement  ever since and since about a year ago, additional texts like prakaraNa grantha-s, commentaries and sub-commentaries have been added to it. There are also plans to introduce multimedia “Leveraging audio, video, commentaries, sub-commentaries, notes, tags and hyperlinks,” and “to provide a platform for in-depth research and additional learning for seekers, scholars and students.”

The link to the top page is:  https://advaitasharada.sringeri.net/

The page comes with 5 Navigation buttons at the top. They are: Continue reading

The Lie of the Upanishads – 2/2:

Part – 1

Shankara leaves no scope for any doubt when he declares at the end of his commentary at 2.1.33, sUtra bhAShya, that “The shruti statement of creation does not relate to any reality, for it must not be forgotten that such a text is … meant for propounding the fact that everything has brahman as its Self.” (Translation by Swami Gambhirananda).

Shankara also asserts in his commentary on mantra 2.1.20, brihadAraNyaka: “Therefore the-mention in all Vedanta texts of the origin, continuity and dissolution of the universe is only to strengthen our idea of Brahman being a homogeneous unity, and not to make us believe in the origin etc. as an actuality.” (Trans: Swami Madhavananda).

He makes it abundantly clear in his commentary at 3.15, Gaudapada kArikA  that “Therefore, we have reasonably to conclude that the scriptural statements regarding creation, etc., are for the purpose of helping the mind to realize the oneness of Atman, and for no other purpose whatsoever. Therefore, no multiplicity is brought about by creation, etc. (Translation by Swami Nikhilananda.)

The 35th Sringeri Acharya HH Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha was unequivocal when he told a disciple that “To cater to the doubts of such people (i.e. less advanced aspirants) as regards creation, the scriptures speak variously of origination. Scriptures are actually not concerned with creation at all.” Continue reading

The Lie of the Upanishads – 1/2:

The uncompromising position of Advaita Vedanta is that “Nothing is ever born” as Gaudapada tells us in his mANDUkya kArikA (verse) at 3.48 and  repeats it for emphasis at 4.71. As many as four Upanishads wrap up the Absolute Reality from the Advaita viewpoint in the following verse which appears also in Gaudapada’s kArikA and Shankara’s vivekaCUDAmaNi :

न निरोधो न चोत्पत्तिर्न बद्धो न च साधकः ।
न मुमुक्षुर्न वै मुक्त इत्येषा परमार्थता ॥         —  10, amRitabindu upanishad; 2.31, Atma upanishad, 11, avadhUta upanishad; 5.13, tripuratApini upanishad; 2.32, Gaudapada kArikA; 575,vivekaCUDAmaNi .

[Meaning: There is neither Dissolution nor Creation. There is neither bondage nor any seeker for freedom. There is neither any one wishing for salvation nor any one who achieved it. This is the absolute Truth.] Continue reading

Two questions in QUORA

Q&As in Quora)

What are some essential self awareness exercises?

M. None, unless attention… Greg Goode (a Non-dualist teacher) recommends ‘Standing as Awareness’. That is the title of a booklet by him.

In Advaita Vedanta Gaudapada and Shankara did not recommend any exercises except, perhaps, Asparsha yoga (which means, ‘no-relationship – with anything), and only as a preparation for less-gifted students. All experiences derived from exercises, including Samadhi, are only temporary. Advaita is not Yoga, and there are no injunctions or exercises in it – only Intuition and reasoning based on it. There is the triple way or method: ‘hearing’ (the scriptures= Upanishads), reflecting on what has been read or listened to (if one has a guide or teacher), and contemplation (nididhyasana). That is all. (There are other answers to this question and the following one).

Will we as humans be able to distinguish between our conscious and electrical conscious?

M. I don’t understand what you mean by ‘electrical conscious’. Do you mean the electro-chemical signals between synapses in the brain which transmit and share information between neurons? That is only the physical basis or vehicle for consciousness. Consciousness is not a phenomenon, it is an (ontological) reality – ‘what is’ – beyond even conceptualization, and not physical. Consciousness is indescribable and unknowable by the mind (brain-based mind, again, being a vehicle or ‘transducer’), and, thus, a metaphysical or spiritual reality.