Attributes of the Brahman

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Wed Apr 23 18:06:18 CDT 1997

>         Can someone give a clear explanation of the three attributes of the
> Brahman - satyam, jnanam and anandam.

The ultimate way of knowing Brahman is to know It as without attributes.
However, it is easy to assume that an entity without any attributes can
only be a dead void, which cannot be said to know anything. To prevent
such a misconception, the Upanishads describe Brahman as satyam, jnAnam
and anantam. This is to affirm that Brahman is not unreal, is not ignorant
and is not finite. This point is made very forcefully in Sankaracarya's
commentary to the Chandogya upanishad. Another way to think about this is
- because Brahman IS, we can begin to think of concepts like real,
infinity etc. These are not to be taken as real attributes of Brahman,
except as a feature of relative speech.

S. Vidyasankar

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