Advaitic philosophy and the concept of personal God

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Mon Aug 5 15:28:37 CDT 1996

          Sri SaMkara has written voluminous material on philosophy and
          also many stotrAs.  His works, both devotional and philosophic,
          had been widely acknowledged as the work of a genius, a rare
          human intellect.  When we read Lalitha Trisathi BhAshya, or any of
          his devotional stOtras, particularly SivAnanda LaharI, we see the
          depth of feeling of devotion which the great AcArya felt. When we
          read Sri SaMkara's prakarana grandhAs, we see a great intellect at
          work, stating precisely what he wanted to say and very clearly.  I
          read somewhere that Sri SaMkara created stotras and prakrana
          grandhas for the good of mankind where he has descended a few
          steps below his intellect (in creating the stotrAs and prakarana
          grandhas) so that common people can understand him.

          Now,  all the Universe is a creation of mAya. Also, jeevAtma, the
          soul inside us, and the Saguna Brahman, the personal God are also
          creation of mAya. All these (the Universe, jeevAtma, the Saguna
          Brahman) are all superpositions by mAya on the base Reality of
          Nirguna Brahman. We have realized that there are powers beyond
          us which are responsible for the creation and we have developed
          the concept of Saguna Brahman who is the Creator. But in the
          ultimate Reality, there is no creation.

          Now my question is:  Did  the concept of Saguna Brahman make
          the understanding of non-duality more difficult ? If all the three
          were mentioned above are all creations of mAya or ajnAna, why do
          we need to classify the relative levels of ajnAna? Such a concept
          may not be a very useful exercise.  I whole-heartedly think that
          Devotion  and Bhakti towards Personal God are extremely important.
          It allows us to completely surrender to something beyond us, and get
          rid of the ego. But still the thoughts are confined to illusory
          Can we ever graduate with our thoughts confined only to this illusory
          world  ?  Neither in the great treatise on Advaita "The
          nor in the prakarana grandhas of Sri SaMkara, do we see the mention
          of Saguna Brahman.

          In this context, I have one more comment. While going through the
          earlier writings in this Discussion Group (logfile 9606B), I came
          across  postings which classify karmas as of three types (prarabdha,
          .. )  and so on. While not denying that concept in the framework of
          the illusory world, it is to be recognized that the concept of karma
          is a direct result of ajnAna. Again, why do we need to classify the
          levels of ajnAna? Am I correct in this thinking?

          This is like the concepts of centripetal force and centrifugal force
          physics. Centripetal force is the "real" (in physics) force in a non-
          inertial frame of reference while the centrifugal force, which is
          fictitious, exists only in the rotating frame of reference.  We can
          explain what we see by means of either force as long as we say in
          which frame of reference we are speaking.

          I would like to hear the views of  the learned members so that I can
          clarify my thoughts.

          Gummuluru Murthy
Adau ante ca yan nAsti vartamAnepi tat tathA !
                                GaudapAda in Mandukya kArika
What did not exist at the beginning and what is not going to exist at the
 end is as good as non-existent even in the present.

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