An Interesting article - any response?

Shrisha Rao shrao at NYX.NET
Wed Dec 4 21:42:49 CST 1996

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> On Wed, 4 Dec 1996, sadananda wrote:
> > Madhava Kumar Turumella has send me a copy of the on going discussion on
> > dvaita list between him and Sri Shrisha Rao and others on Maya.  I found
> > the article by Sri Guruprasad below interesting. Any response to the
> > challenge from the experts.
> I would have expected somebody in a Mathematics department to be able to
> appreciate subtle points in philosophy, but I was sorely disappointed with
> Sri Guruprasad's analysis.

It may be that skill in math is different from, or unrelated to, skill
in philosophical reasoning, perhaps?  I'm sure he will do better in
his next effort.  Don't be too harsh on him yet.  And besides, the
Unabomber was a mathematician -- don't speak ill of anyone who does
math, 'cause you never know when you'll see your mistake blow up in
your face.

> Anand has already pointed out flaws in his article.

-- which, upon closer scrutiny, aren't.  You can't tell with these
mathematicians; they're a different breed from normal human beings, I'm
convinced of it.  Anyone who can add two alphabets and come up with a
third is a mad genius; me, I can't even add two straight numbers.

> Let me stick to pointing out some of the positive statements that
> advaita vedAnta actually makes.

Thank you...

> > Hari Om!
> > Sadananda
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Copy of the article as I received in mail from Sri Madhava Kumar Turumella.
> >
> > Dear Devotees,
> >    The proponents of "Jeeva-Brahma-Aikya" (identity of Jeeva and
> > Brahman) invoke the example of dreams to prove their hypothesis.
> > However their proof is all wrong as we shall see.
> >   At the outset let me put forth their views in a nut shell:
> >   The dreams objects seen in the dream are unreal. On waking up they
> > vanish. Similarly visavis the absolute state of Brahman we are in a
> > dream state. The world around us , our sorrow, joys etc are all
> On the one hand, these dvaitins find fault with Gaduapada for equating the
> waking state with the dream state, i.e. dream objects are as real as or
> as illusory as objects in the waking state. On the other hand, they
> attribute to advaita, a false notion that dream objects are unreal.
> Nobody within advaita says that the dream objects are unreal.

In which case, Sri M K Turumella isn't an Advaitin, 'cause he said
they are "nothing but illusion," and even justified the illusory
nature of the universe itself on that basis. It's there in the
archive.  But perhaps he was wrong --

> They seem to be real as long as the dream persists. For the dreamer,
> they are real enough. What is pointed out in advaita is that the
> dream objects have no reality *independent of the dreamer*. Your
> dream objects have no meaning for me, they are forever inaccessible
> to me. I cannot even claim to know them, much less talk about their
> reality or otherwise.

If that is the case, then why are you talking of their reality or
otherwise, by saying they are not unreal, that they are real enough to
the dreamer, and that they seem to be real as long as the dream

> The analogy of dreams is given just to point out the meaning of the
> Sruti statements that the universe has no reality *independent of
> brahman*. However, everybody perceives the universe to be
> independent of any higher reality. This is the essential paradox,
> which advaita vedAnta seeks to describe as avidyA or ignorance about
> the true nature of reality.

Now see.  Not too long ago it seemed like you were saying that Anand Hudli
was right in criticizing Guruprasad for saying that the relationship
between dreams and waking is not of a piece with that between waking and
the absolute.  Yet, you are saying the same above?

If you are not saying the same, then the "Brahman" referred to must be the
Ishvara or the saguNa-Brahman, and saying that the universe has no reality
apart from Him, is a dualistic truth that describes something other than
the highest.  Was this your intention?

> > unreal and will vanish once we wake up to the state of being one with
> > Brahman. Avidya is responsible for lack of realisation of Jeeva's
> > identity with Brahman.
> Here, it might be well to point out the advaitic conception of the
> validity of cognition. Any cognition is held to be "svata: pramANa,
> parata: apramANa." i.e. a cognition is valid by itself, it is only
> invalidated by another cognition, which in turn is self-valid, and so on.
> This is nothing more than a statement of what all human beings take for
> granted all through their life.

That's not quite right.  David Hilbert would never have formulated the
famous Hilbert's Program, an idea to automate all theorem-proving
completely, had he known and understood prAmANya-svatastva.  And
besides, the meaning of prAmANya-svatastva is not that all cognition
(all pramANa, actually) is valid by itself -- if it were so, then
there would be no incorrect cognition at all, and/or any conflicts
that arose would be eternally unresolved.  It is that the prAmANya of
any cognition is perceived by the same agent as responsible for the
cognition itself, as part of the same knowledge.  This keeps the door
open to possible aprAmANya, whose paratastva again means that the
aprAmANya is perceived via a different source than the original
cognition.  This is quite non-trivial, and I submit any human being
who can think up all this by himself is very much out of the

> However, a little reflection on this will
> reveal that there is really no basis for attributing a higher reality to
> the waking state than to the dream state. As long as one dreams, the dream
> objects are real. Their reality is doubted only upon waking up. But then,
> this doubt about the reality of the dream arises from an assumption that
> the waking state is more real than the dream state. True, the objects of
> the waking state might be accessible to all perceivers, whereas the
> objects of the dream state are accessible only to one perceiver, the
> dreamer.

Well, but there certainly is a basis for attributing a higher reality
to the waking than to the dreaming.  For the theory of Advaita, the
fact of Shruti, etc., exist only in the waking state!

> But this is hardly the real point of adviata vedAnta. Instead of
> assuming that there are in reality multiple perceivers, advaita asks you
> to analyze the ultimate reality of the perceiver himself.

-- or, in other words, it asks you to assume that in ultimate reality
there is but one perceiver?  How is that any different from assuming
that there are many?  At least, there is cognition (your style of
svataH pramANa, even) for there being many perceivers; what cognition
exists to show that there is only one?

> The blind logic of the dvaitin might claim that the assumption that the
> waking state is really real cannot be doubted.

Well, no.  The "blind logic of the dvaitin" will merely say that you
cannot define what you mean by "real" without reference to the waking
state, and that thus, its reality is a matter of definition rather
than assumption.  If you can show differently, I'll be glad to learn.

> However, it is only by questioning the validity of one's assumptions
> that any real understanding develops.

That's good.  Let's start, then, by questioning the validity of the
assumption that there is one ultimate reality of *the* perceiver

> Unlike the dvaitin who twists Sruti to conform to his assumption
> that the waking state is ultimately real, advaita vedAnta holds to the
> tenet that where ordinary perception seems to be opposed to the knowledge
> of the Atman gained from Sruti, the latter is true.

But isn't it the case that the "knowledge of the Atman gained from Sruti"
is itself channelled through the knowledge of the waking state?  And
that if the latter is opposed by the former, and the former is true,
then we have a logical error?

> Sruti asserts that
> there is a higher reality than that of the waking state. In this higher
> state, the Atman is "na anta: pragna:, na bahishpragna:". The logic of the
> waking state vanishes here. However, I hardly expect any dvaitin to really
> understand the meaning of the mANDUkya upanishad.

Be careful saying such things when you're around mathematicians who
happen to be Dvaitins.  Don't say I didn't warn you...


Shrisha Rao

> S. Vidyasankar

>From  Wed Dec  4 21:00:42 1996
Message-Id: <WED.4.DEC.1996.210042.0700.>
Date: Wed, 4 Dec 1996 21:00:42 -0700
Reply-To: dvaita-list at, ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU
To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Shrisha Rao <shrao at NYX.NET>
Subject: Re: An Interesting article - any response?
Comments: To: dvaita-list at, ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU
Comments: cc: "Dr. K. Guruprasad" <kguru at>
In-Reply-To: < at> from "Charles
        A. Hillig" at Dec 4, 96 07:19:36 am
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Charles Hillig wrote:

> >   Let us give names to the various states in the advaitic framework
> >1.The Dream-state: This is state of dreams which we experience
> >when we sleep ("Svapnaavastha")
> >2. The waking state: The state of the world we experience when we are
> >awake, i.e. the world we see around ; the birds, the trees etc.
> >3. Absolute state: the state of the Advaitic Brahman, i.e. the state
> > of the frozen consciousness of the Advaitic Brahman.
> >    Dream state is unreal visavis the Waking state and the latter
> >unreal visavis the Absolute state-this is the thesis of Advaita.
> >   Let us analyse the dream-state. We see several objects in our
> >dreams. Granting for a minute they are all unreal, what causes them?
>      Any attempt to seek a time-based, linear "causality" ignores the fact
> that cause and effect are, quintessentially, the same thing because they
> "both" arise simultaneously.

Or, in other words, we dream at the same time as we are wakeful?

> >In the waking state we see several objects and the impressions are
> >formed in the mind  and they reappear in the dreams perhaps jumbled
> >up arbitrarily. In other words the variety that is there in the
> >waking state accounts for the variety in the dream. Let us even grant
> >that the waking - state is unreal visavis the absolute -state of
> >advaita. What accounts for the variety seen in the waking state?
> >Even accepting the alleged unreality of dream-objects, we can account
> >for its variety invoking the variety seen in the waking-state.
> >However we cannot invoke anything to explain away the variety in the
> >waking state, because their is no variety in the absolute state of
> >the advaitic brahman which is "akhanda", "nirguna",etc. Even if the
> >advaitic stand-point of unreality of this world is accepted, the
> >variety in the waking-state cannot be explained in their own
> >frame-work. Thus using the method of "reductio-ad-absurdum" ,we
> >see that the entire edifice on which advaita is built crumbles.
> >------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Conclusion: the world is real. Jeeva can never be the same as
> >Brahman.
>      However, just because I see an intense movie during the waking state
> and then dream about that movie at night, it still doesn't mean that the
> movie is "real" or that the characters and action really, in fact, occurred.

Of course it occurred.  Movies are made at tremendous cost, etc.; they
don't happen by themselves.

>      The variety of dream-objects manifesting as part of the dream was,
> seemingly, only triggered by the illusory variety of objects that appeared
> as the movie on the screen.

... which in turn was "triggered" by what?

>      But didn't the screen, itself, still remain seamless, undivided, and
> whole?

... and different from oneself as well?


Shrisha Rao

>                                                  Chuck Hillig

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