neti neti

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Tue Mar 24 13:59:59 CST 1998


We are in agreement on some points (as stated in the previous four or
so posts) and I have not included them in this post. The points where
we differ in emphasis are only quoted here.

On Mon, 23 Mar 1998, Anand Hudli wrote:

>  [...]
>  As
>  Shankara says emphatically over and over again, in his works,
>  for example, vidyaiva ajnaanahaanaaya (upadeshasaahasrii).
>  So to deny ajnaana to begin with, ie. before the dawn of jnaana,
>  would be missing the point.

>  [...]
>  That is alright. But I was trying to point out that it is not
>  correct to deny ajnaana prior to becoming a jnaani. Such denial
>  will probably be the equivalent of spiritual suicide.

>  [...]
>  destination. The point here is that for a person in ajnaana, seeking
>  proper jnaana is essential. Otherwise, he cannot free himself from
>  samsaara. There is no use in denying bondage at that stage. In fact,
>  such denial will be counter productive.
>  In the samskshhepa shaariiraka, which is an abridged explanation
>  of the Brahma suutras based on Shankara's commentary, the author
>  Sarvajnaatman makes the point that due to avidyaa, a person even
>  after listening to statements about Brahman will not be in position
>  to truly understand them.
>  Furthermore, one of the essential qualifications of a student of
>  advaita, mentioned repeatedly in the texts is that of mumukshhutva,
>  the desire for liberation. Without this desire for liberation, the
>  learning and instruction will not be effective. Now how does a
>  desire for liberation arise? Necessarily, by the recognition that
>  one is in bondage in the present state. This being so, if the
>  would-be student thinks, "There is no bondage, no liberation, no
>  seekers after liberation. Why do I need the instructions of the
>  Guru?", this will be a most negative attitude. The spiritual life
>  of the student is doomed.
>  [...]

In all the above quotes, the point is well made that to deny ajnAna
while still being in ajnAna is spiritual suicide, is counter-productive
etc. I do not deny that, and I share that viewpoint to some extent.

My questions on that thinking are the following:

1. Obviously, if a sincere student of vedanta while being in ajnAna claims
   to be a jnAni, then the student is not honest to him/herself. Such a
   student is a fraud. At one stage or other, a (spiritual) fraud will be
   shown up both to the world and more importantly to oneself..

   There is no pressure on the jeeva to take up spiritual life. Firstly,
   pressure has no meaning in spiritual life. Secondly, a jeeva may be in
   pressure to lead a worldly life rather than lead a spiritual life.
   Thus, I cannot imagine a jeeva, for whatever reason, would lead a
   decietful "spiritual" life to deny ajnAna when he/she is full of
   ajnAna. What could be the motive that can be ascribed for such a
   behaviour by a sincere student of vedanta ?

2. We can persist on saying that we are ajnAnis and we are in bondage.
   (Whatever we say is immaterial, whatever we feel inside (whether we
   feel we are in bondage or whether we feel we are free) is the one that
   matters.) Will the statement (that we are ajnAnis and we are in
   bondage) be a perpetual statement ? Will there be, in the jeeva's life,
   any day when the jeeva would feel that he/she is not an ajnAni ? Is the
   jeeva doomed throughout its life to repeat I am an ajnAni ?

3. Let us look at two cases: Jeevas A and B are spiritual students, and
   honest to their conscience. Jeeva A says and feels that he/she is an
   ajnAni and repeats that as a mantra. Jeeva B does not say or feel
   he/she is an ajnAni. Jeeva A, like a typical ajnAni, identifies the
   Self with the body, possessions etc. Jeeva B does not feel he/she is an
   ajnAni and does not identify the Self with the gross-subtle body
   combination. How long will jeeva A continue to think he/she is an ajnAni ?
   Is there moksha for this jeeva A any time ? There should be a stage in
   the student's spiritual development, when the student has to let go the
   thought that he/she is an ajnAni. The moment when this thought is let
   go varies from student to student and is characteristic of the student.
   But, that thought that one is an ajnAni has to be dropped. Is not the
   difference between a jnAni and an ajnAni how they feel towards the worldly

3. It would be useful to make a balance-sheet for the two cases. Jeeva A
   would not face the dangers which Shri Anand Hudli so clearly stated.
   On the other hand, this student continuously thinks that he/she is an
   ajnAni, and this thought will hamper the progress. Jeeva B clearly
   faces the dangers cited by Anand. However, he/she progresses because
   the ajnAni thought is not holding him/her back. Any analysis of the
   balance sheet ?

>  Anand

Gummuluru Murthy
Yadaa sarve pramucyante kaamaa ye'sya hr^di shritaah
atha martyo'mr^to bhavatyatra brahma samashnute   Katha Upanishhad II.3.14

When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal
becomes immortal, and attains Brahman even here.

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