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

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Tue Feb 18 10:15:14 CST 1997

Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:

> > advaitins of today. Instead of realizing this, arguments like "gauDapAda was
> > wrong" are quite ridiculous, and that too with nothing to substantiate such
> > arguments.
> >
> Remember how this whole thing started?  An assertion was made that the
> waking state and the dream were at the same metaphysical plane of reality.
> (Actually non-reality.)  I pointed out that this cannot be right as shruti
> enumerates them seperately and it would be guilty of redundancy if it
> spoke of four when there were really three.  Gaudapadacharya was brought
> into the picture to defend the idea that dream and reality are the same.
> I then pointed out that even if he did believe that (which I don't believe
> for a minute.) this view was discarded by the mainstream of later Advaita
> tradition.  I see no evidence in the Upadesha Sahasri that Shankaracharya
> supported the idea that is being ascribed to Gaudapadacharya and I think
> the Bhashya on Brahma Sutra III. 2. pretty much says the opposite.  So to
> sum up the position I'm defending.  Both the dream and waking states are
> unreal but they are not the same kind of unreality.

Uhm, this whole line of argument itself shows that you haven't understood
neither the mANDUkya nor the kArikA-s. Just because the shruti ennumerates 3
states it does not mean that it gives the waking state higher priority. In fact
the mANDUkya says no such thing. The shruti just says that there _seem_ to be 3
states, but that the Lord is above them all, i.e., the turIya. Refer to the
verses on vishva and taijasa. Nowhere does it state that vishva has greater
reality. shruti also says that there is a world, but it is actually un-real.
Just because it says that there is a world, it does not mean it is real. In
fact the shruti goes into quite a bit of detail about creation. So you don't
mean to say that is real do you? Advaitins hold that creation _seems_ to have
happened, but in reality it is unreal.

Further, I don't see who the later advaitins contradicting shrI gauDapAda are:

1. shrI sha.nkara follows shrI gauDapAda closely in the upadeshasAhasRi and the
   GK bhAshhya. Asserting ad-infinitum that he does not do so is unacceptable
   especially when I have given a quotation to prove otherwise.
2. shrI sureshvara has written naishkarmya siddhi, which is basically an
   expansion of the upadeshasAhasrI.
3. shrI vidyAraNya has written a commentary on the yoga vAsishhTha, a source
   book of shR^isshTi-dR^ishhTi.
4. shrI Anandagiri has written a TIkA on the GK bhAsshya and agrees with the GK
   and the bhAshhya thereon.

Among minor authors, sadhu nishchala dAsa, who wrote the monumental vichAra
sAgara accepts GK and the vedAnta siddhAnta muktAvali.

Quoting the sUtra bhAshhya will not cut any ice, since I have already pointed
out why shrI sha.nkara explains in a different manner in different texts. Vidya
also made a very good point about the original text and constraints due to

So, in reality important advaitins have indeed accepted both pariNAma and
vivarta vAda-s. The fact is that each is taught to a different kind of student.
That is precisely what HH abhinava vidyAtIrtha mahAsvAmigaL has said.

Now, since sha.nkara accepts the GK kind of reasoning in the upadeshasAhasrI
and all others mentioned above have also accepted vivarta vAda, either they
are all cheats (saying different things at different places), or they were
thoroughly confused, or were schizophrenics, etc, etc. Of course, shrI
sureshvara who says in his naishkarmya siddhi that the two most venerated
teachers in his school are shrI sha.nkara and shrI gauDapAda is nothing other
than another confused person, in the long list of advaitins who seem to be

_Or_, more logically they accepted both vAda-s, but as suitable for two kinds
of people. That is exactly the living advaita tradition also says. If you see
swami Nikhilanandaji's translation of GK, he has mentioned that GK was
explained to him by a disciple of HH sivabhinava Narasimha Bharati mahasvamgal.
Apparently the disciple wanted advaita explained on the basis of reason _and_
shruti and HH explained to him that the GK was the primary text for this and
explained to him asparsha yoga as expounded in the GK. Not surprisingly HH
abhinava vidyAtIrtha has also said exactly the same thing.

> > BTW, Jaldhar, Can you tell us who you learnt vedAnta from
> and what
> > authoritative text he was following and whether he had the gall to claim
> > gauDapAda was wrong? Initially you claimed that you had read the GK and that
> > it  agreed with you. When I gave relevant quotations now you are
> > actually saying
> > "gauDapAda was wrong".
> >
> What I'm saying is the reading of Gaudapadacharya that makes him say that
> the world is literally a dream (i.e metaphysically the same as a dream) is
> rejected by the mainstream Advaita tradition.  That idea is problematic as
> it is redolent of Buddhism.  I don't believe that's what Gaudapadacharya
> meant and it's possible to interpret his words differently.  In fact I
> believe Shankaracharya did just that.  (I also think paranthetically that
> Shankaracharya distances himself somewhat from the style, not neccessarily
> the substance of his Paramaguru.)

No, see upadeshasAhasrI. It's quite obvious that the buddha himself took some
of his ideas from the upanishhad-s. So there is bound to be some resemblance
between buddhism and advaita, since the latter follows shruti closely.
Traditional yogAchAra and advaita differ in some crucial points. I shall write
an article when my studies on yogAchAra is complete.

> If you say the waking world is like a dream I have no problem.  It is only
> the idea the world is literally a dream I object to.

What do you mean by the above statement? I never said that the world is
literally a dream. The point is that by logic and shruti the waking state
cannot be given _greater_ reality than the dream state. Of course from the
point of view of the waking state, the dream state _appears_ different and
_less_ real. In actuality the waking state is not _more_ real.

I am not trying to be rude here, but the point here is not whether _you_ have
a problem with gauDapAda. It's obvious that you do. The point was whether
advaitins accept vivarta vAda (the seed of S-D vAda) as expounded by shrI
gauDapAda. Yes, they do, as I have indicated above (the most important ones at
any rate). So does the living advaita tradition. Asserting ad-infinitum that
later advaitins do not accept gauDapAda will not quite do, especially when I
have given concrete examples to show otherwise, both among early authors and
from the living tradition.

I feel I have to add a note here on why I am dragging on with this argument. I
had some arguments with various people, both advaitins and dvaitins about the
GK, upadeshasAhasrI and put forth the claim that shrI sha.nkara had said things
in a different manner in different books to suit persons of different
capabilities. In srv, when I said this, Shrisha Rao actually claimed I was
being disrespectful to shrI sha.nkara and so on. I feel that the point that
advaita recognizes people of various grades and accommodates all of them cannot
be over-emphasized. Other schools, especially the vaishnavites (I do not have
much experience with shaivites), have the "either-or" approach, which other
religions like christianity, etc also have, and it is very difficult for them
to understand this particular aspect of advaita (as seen by the confusion which
some Western scholars and also non-advaitins on the net seem to have).

You still haven't answered my question on whether some one taught you advaita
and from what. It is good to discuss with people who are experienced so that
confusions may not arise. In my case, my father explained to me both the dR^ik
dR^ishya viveka and vivarta vAda and also that each catered to people with
different mentalities. So I was able to easily avoid the confusion you seem to
be having.


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