mAyA is not the power of Brahman

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 16 13:11:42 CST 1998

 Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

>Quite often we read (on this list and in some books as well) that
>with power of mAyA is Ishwara, the saguna Brahman. It seems to me that
>way to understand Brahman is the following:
>Brahman does not have any powers. Brahman is powerless. We, in our
>ignorance, ascribe power to Brahman and make Brahman Ishwara. Just
>like we mistakenly superpose gross-subtle body combination on Brahman
>call ourselves jeevAs, we superpose the power of mAyA on Brahman and
>it Ishwara, the creator. When knowledge dawns on us, the superposition
>gets shattered and we see ourselves as Brahman. The concept of mAyA
>shattered and Ishwara merges with Brahman. All the while, Brahman stays
>as a witness, untouched by the jeevA's ignorance. MAyA simply dissolves
>(at the dawn of knowledge) just like the darkness dissolving when the
>light is switched on.
>I would very much appreciate if list-members point out any obvious
>and not-so-obvious drawbacks in this line of reasoning.
  If one reads carefully enough, the texts such as the
  vivekachUDAmaNi make it clear that the association of Brahman
  with Maayaa is only _apparent_.  "tayorvirodho .ayamupaadhi-
  kalpito, na vaastavaH kashchidupaadhireshhaH", the opposition
  (or difference) between the two (Brahman and Atman) is made
  by the upaadhi's (limiting adjuncts), in reality there is no
  limiting adjunct. Also, Ishasya mAyA mahadaadikAraNaM jiivasya
  kaaryaM shR^iNu paJNchakoshaM, the mAyA of Ishvara is the cause
  of mahat, etc., and know the effect of the jiiva to be the  five
  sheaths (annamaya, etc.)

  Brahman with samashhTi mAyA  becomes Ishavara _apparently_,
  and Brahman with vyashhTi mAyA becomes jiiva, again only
  _apparently_. samashhTi mAyA may be called the cosmic or
  collective mAyA whereas vyashhTi mAyA is  the individual mAyA
  associated with a jiiva.

 The Shruti texts may not always make this point of the association
 or limiting adjunct (upaadhi) very explicit because the method
 employed there is one adhyaaropa/apavaada. This means the texts
 point out the superimposition of the non-Brahman on Brahman first
 and then point out the sublation of that superimposition. So at
 the point where the superimposition (adhyaaropa) is being pointed
 out, the Shruti does not keep repeating "this is only apparent,
 this is only apparent,.."

 There may be another reason for this. The Shruti expects a seeker
 to proceed in steps or stages to Brahman. At each step, the previous
 stage is sublated.

 For an example from physics, consider a famous equation such as
 E = m *c^2. If a lay person reads a simple explanation which says
 "energy is equivalent to mass according to this equation", he or
 she will no doubt get some information, but there is no true
 insight gained. A true insight and a firm conviction about the
 correctness of the equation is gained by understanding the
 steps in the derivation of this equation.

 Similar is the case of the advaitic equation Brahman = Atman. If
 one simply has heard of this equation as saying that the Self is
 the very same as Brahman, that person will gain little insight.
 Another person, who actually studies/experiences the "derivation"
 of this great equation by means of various stages, will, without
 a doubt, have a much greater insight. Also, the conviction of the
 second person regarding the truth of the equation will be much
 greater than that of the first person. Of course, I am aware of
 limitations of analogies; one should not carry the analogy too far.
 The Brahman = Atman equation cannot be understood objectively in
 the same way as the energy-mass one which is still in the realm of
 mAyA.  That is why the Shruti adopts the unique technique of
 "neti neti" in teaching us about Brahman. If the Shruti were to
 declare only that "Brahman is all there is", what is there to
 negate with "neti neti"?


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