Selections from the ShAkta upaniShads -1 (bahvR^icha)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 23 10:55:48 CDT 1998

 Nanda Chandran wrote:

>I've a doubt here!
>Am I right in my assumption that Devi is used for Brahman here?

>By definition Brahman is the Absolute Eternal Being.
>Let me explain my argument with an anology :
>A flying piece of iron from somewhere wounds me. I apply medicine to
>wound and it heals. Here both the iron and the medicine are causes. By
>definition both are transient and are capable of action.
>But Brahman is eternal, inefficient and is not suseptible to change.
>Since Brahman cannot change, he cannot be a cause. If he cannot be a
>cause how can he create the egg shaped world?
>Anyway doesn't Shankara define the world of Maya as unexplainable?

 The whole universe is explained by advaita along the lines of a
 classic case of illusion, such as the illusion of the snake in the
 rope. What is seen  under the influence of illusion is the
 snake which has been superimposed on the snake. The whole illusion
 is the result of two powers of avidyA (ajnAna) called the
 AvaraNa-shakti and the vikShepa-shakti. Two phenomena happen in an
 illusion. First, the reality, the rope, is obscured or concealed.
 This is done by the AvaraNa-shakti. Second, the illusory object,
 the snake,  is projected by the vikShepa-shakti. The AvaraNa shakti
 is called the power of concealment and the vikShepa-shakti the power
 of projection.

 Nevertheless, the rope is the substratum of the illusion. In the
 illusion process, the rope gets _apparently_ transformed into the
 snake. Similar is the case of the brahman-universe illusion. It is
 only admitted by advaita that the universe (world) is an _apparent_
 transformation of the substratum Brahman, not a real transformation.
 According to realist schools such as the one by RaamAnuja, Brahman
 is really transformed into the universe. Such a real trasnformation
 is technically called "vikAra." But, according to advaita, the
 transformation of Brahman into the world is just apparent. Such an
 apparent transformation is called "vivarta." So you may say that
 advaita upholds vivartavAda.

 In the ShvetAshvatara, it is stated that the power of God is
 hidden within its own effects, (devAtmashaktiM svaguNairnigUDhAM).
 And God is nothing but Brahman with the limiting adjunct of mAyA
 which has a preponderance of Shuddha-sattva, pure sattva-guNa.
 The power by which the universe is created is  the vikShepa
 shakti. So the universe is a result of the vikShepa shakti of
 avidyA. Considered from one viewpoint, Brahman is the efficient
 cause of the world. From the viewpoint of its upAdhi (limiting
 adjunct), Brahman is also the material cause of the world.


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