Various vAda-s in advaita (was Re: A few questions)

Anand Hudli ahudli at APPN.CI.IN.AMERITECH.COM
Tue Feb 4 10:35:13 CST 1997

       Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU> wrote:
> I am not sure which verse you are talking about. One thing of course is that I
> have skipped all sections which talk about the chakras, siddhis etc. Of course
> I may have misunderstood the mAnasollAsa verses also. In one place the author
> talks about the "variety" in this world exists in brahman like the tree, fruit
> etc in the one seed. I don't think this contradicts sha.nkara in any way,
> though I haven't seen him use this particular analogy. Perhaps it is in this
> sense the author is talking about "work" also.
> Further, it says
>     nira.nsho nirvikAro.asau shrutyA yuktyA cha gamyate ||
>     ghaTAkAsho vikAro vA nA.nsho vA viyato vA | (3.20-3.21)
> (By shruti and reason we are given to understand he is partless and changeless
> just as the AkAsha in the jar is neither a part nor a modification of the
> infinite AkAsha)
> Given that He is partless and changeless, I am not sure what "activity is in
> brahman" means. May be after I see the verses you are talking about I may get
> some idea. Of course, this exact AkAsha-jar analogy occurs in the kArikA also.
    The following verse occurs early in the first chapter. Note the
    use of the word `kriyaa' (activity) which is typically found
    in Kashmir Shaivism.

   jnaanam na chedsvayaM siddhaM jagadandhaM tamo bhavet.h |
   kriyaa na chedasya kaachit vyavahaaraH kathaM bhavet.h ||

   If Knowledge (Consciousness) were not Self-established, then
   the world would have been in darkness.
   If it were without activity, then how would there be action
   (in the world).

   I have seen some people interpret the second line as "If there were
   no activity of Ishvara, then how would there be action in the world."
   This interpretation would be consistent with advaita. As you said,
   the rest of the chapter is typically advaitic and its treatment
   of the waking and dream states is similar to GauDapaada's.

> Moreover, AFAIK, the Kashmir school holds that the world is real. I don't know
> what arguments they give for this. But, clearly mAnasollAsa contradicts this
> even in the very first chapter. Further, avidyA being indeterminate (real or
> unreal) is not accepted by the Kashmir Shaivite school, whereas I remember the
> mAnasollAsa upholding this. I'll write more on this after I read up a bit
> Kashmir Shaivism.

  Same here. I have to find out more about Kashmir Shaivism, before I
  make further comments. I have read that Abhinavagupta did not explictly
  deny the reality of the world, as advaita does. Perhaps there is a
  connection between kriyaa being in Brahman (Shiva) and this. If Shiva
  is engaged in the activity of creation, preservation, and destruction of
  the world, then denying the reality of the world would mean denying the
  kriyaa of Shiva.

  Also, Kashmir Shaivism seems to think that advaita's calling the world
  unreal, makes the world tuchchha (insignificant). This leads to a
  negative attitude towards life.

  This criticism is probably of ideas such as the one in the following,
  a verse from Shankara's aparokshhaanubhuuti:

  brahmaadisthaavaraanteshhu vairaagyaM vishhayeshhvanu
  yathaiva kaakavishhTaayaaM vairaagyaM taddhi nirmalaM ||

  The objects of sense-enjoyment in all worlds from Brahmaloka upto
  this world should be viewed with the same indifference as one would
  view the excrement of a crow. This is pure vairaagya (dispassion).

  The criticism may be answered by noting that vairaagya has more to do with
  maintaining a neutral attitude (samachitta) towards life and not a
  negative attitude. The Giitaa talks about yadR^ichchhaalaabhasantushhTaH,
  one who is content with what he gets by chance. If there is no desire
  or passion for sense-enjoyment, then it is the same as dispassion.

> Ramakrishnan.


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