Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Mar 2 07:10:11 CST 1999

On Tue, 2 Mar 1999, Vivekananda Centre wrote:

> Namaste and pranams
> Further to Sri Vyasji's contribution - about analogy.With the idea of
> analogy comes the idea of how good is the fit. He can use Algebra or
> any devise to show how good is this analogy. Can there be a better
> analogy than rope in the snake? We await to hear from Sri Rama. He may
> find the answer in the book he recommended. We also asked Sri Vidyaji
> who wanted to take the discussion to its logical conclusion if he can
> kindly respond to "Son of Barren woman" is statement which contains
> contradiction 'apriori' How does that example help explain maya?

Once more with feeling.  When a person gets up in the dark and accidently
mistakes a rope for a snake he is superimposing a false cognition onto a
real one based on incomplete knowledge.  When the light comes on, the true
nature of the rope is revealed and the "snake" becomes non-existent.  In
the same way maya is a synonym for avidya.  It is the lack of correct
knowledge of the true nature of things which causes the jiva to believe it
is seperate from Brahman and the world of names and forms exists.  In
truth, they have no independent existence outside of the jivas ignorance.

The "son of a barren women" is only a contradiction because you know what
the terms "son", and "barren woman" mean in advance.  The statement is not
independent, it depends on external facts for comprehension.  In fact,
there is no reason why you could not define the terms so there is no
contradiction just as you can redefine the parallel postulate and still
come up with a valid system of geometry.  In the same way maya or avidya
is used to denote the false cognition of the jiva.  It isn't necessary
_for_the_purpose_of_the_inquiry_into_Brahman_ to know why maya is maya.
Presumably you could come up with an infinite number of other concepts but
there would be no point.

> On the question of samkhya and advaita we still have to take this
> further.

Btw every single one of your points have already been gone over.  But as
you seem to have missed them, here they are again.

> Further response by jay :-
> Yes very true but I am simply asking why were the similarities not pointed
> out?

Because the apparent similarities are not relevant.

> If we were discussing Dvaita and Advaita we would also show the
> similarities.

In what manner is this discussion being carried out?  For some types of
discussion a comparison maybe appropriate but the "business" of Vedanta is
enquiry into Brahman and for that the similarities are far less important
than the differences.

> jay now asking: -
> You have just said that both of them recognise the 'Self'. Would you not
> agree that the idea of the 'self' is the central most teaching of Advaita?
> If you agree then would you not also agree that if this idea of 'self' is
> also present (despite it being in multiple role) in Samkhya this shows an
> important similarity between the two darshanas.  I am deliberately not
> asking you to qualify how important? Can you comment that there is
> similarity and that the similarity is in the concept right at the centre in
> the teaching of Advaita?

The concept of the self is present in many philosophies.  There is nothing
special about the Samkhya concept of the self that makes it of particular

> jay now responds: -
> We are examining the similarities between two systems of philosophy. As you
> have just said many historians would say Samkhya is one of the oldest
> schools. Would it not be a fair comment to say that this school of
> philosophy 'could' have contributed towards the Vedantic thinking?

As a conjecture yes.  But why rely on some vague guess when we have
stronger and more direct evidence of the origins of Vedanta in
Mimamsa--which is also one of the oldest schools.  And the apparent
similarities are quite easily explained by the fact that both Samkhya and
Mimamsa are based on the the Vedas.

>  The
> second point raised earlier has still not been answered. Did Vedanta
> philosophy begin on a 'Tabula rasa' basis. (I.e. from a clean slate in
> absolute isolation without having to acknowledge any contribution from any
> one else).

No it developed out of the attempts to understand and analyze the language
of the Vedas.  That part of the enquiry that dealt with Karma became Purva
Mimamsa and that which dealt with Brahman became Uttara Mimamsa or
Vedanta.  Both Maharshi Jaimini the author of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras
and Maharshi Badarayana the author of the Brahma Sutras are quoted as
authorities in each others work as are many other early thinkers.

> With our example we cannot have historic proof if the theories evolved from
> each other but we have a 'could have' -- and that should be enough to stop
> us from saying we have ''no'' reverence to pay towards Samkhya.  You 'may'
> be doing injustice and showing ingratitude to a major sage. Would you take
> that risk? If so then for what?

I see no reason to accept dubious evidence when much stronger evidence

> By accepting a 'possible' contribution of Samkhya you cover that
> eventuality. You avoid showing 'possible' irreverence. Why can you not do
> that?

Because the fact is samkhya does not contribute to the understanding of
Vedanta.  If anything it is the opposite.  Without the "Vedantization" of
Samkhya t would have long ago ceased to exist.

> Jay replies
> If Shankara's grandfather was also the author of Samkhya then this
> would be a relevant point in the discussion.

And if Maharshi Kapila was the grandfather of Vedanta, it would be valid
for this discussion.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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