Regarding sarvaM khalvidaM brahma

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Fri Aug 8 12:09:44 CDT 1997

MU: mANDUkya upanishhad:

Kartik wrote:

> In the Vishnu Purana, Parasara says:
> "The stars are Vishnu; forests, mountains, regions, rivers, oceans are Vishnu:
> He is all that is, all that is not."
> Parasara says that "Everything is Brahman." And includes *Everything* -- even
> the perceived reality.

I haven't read the vishhNu purANa. It's on the top on my of list of
things to read. However, the interpretation you give directly
contradicts shruti.

The MU says that turIya is

avyavahAram agrAhyam achintyaM ...

Note that turIya is avyavahAraM! For example if you say that the blue
Lotus is brahman, then does it mean brahman is blue? Not so, for brahman
is agrAhyaM. Is there a real transformation of brahman into the blue
Lotus? Not so, for the bR^ihadAraNyaka upanishhad says that "Indra
through _mAyA_ assumes diverse forms. Thus it is not the blue Lotus
which is brahman, but rather the substratum (adhishhThAna) behind the
illusion of the blue Lotus, which is brahman.

Note that the same MU says:

sarvaM hi etad brahma: all these are verily brahman

Thus the way to understand the MU is that the world as you preceive it
is _NOT_ brahman, but once established in turIya the substratum alone is
"seen" and then what was perceived before, i.e., the "all" is brahman.
In Atma bodha shrI sha.nkara says exactly the same thing. Please consult
this book.

> Parasara continues:
> "He, the lord, is identical with knowledge, through which he is all forms, but
> is not a substance. You must therefore conceive mountains, oceans, and all the
> diversities of earth and the rest, are the illusions of the apprenhension."
> Note that Parasara says "You must therefore conceive..." -- meaning that the
> sadhaka is told to treat the perceived reality as an illusion, although this
> is also nothing but Brahman.

Conception implies duality. This is a standard practice encouraged in
sAdhaka-s to get rid of their attachments to the object of senses. It
has no bearing with reality.

> The truth is that everything is Brahman. But the sadhaka is taught to treat
> the "perceived reality" as an illusion and negate it. It is then known to him
> that everything is Brahman.
> Kind of paradoxical!

There is no paradox.

> Anyway, this is the zen koan that proceeds in a very similar vein:
> "Before a man goes through zen, mountains are mountains and rivers are
> rivers. When a man is studying zen, mountains are no longer mountains and
> rivers no longer rivers. But when a man has realized zen, mountains are
> once again mountains and rivers, once again rivers."

I don't see the connection. As per advaita, the last sentence should be
"after advaita siddhi, there are neither mountains nor rivers, but only


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