Significance of the name Advaita - part I

Vaidya Sundaram Vaidya_Sundaram at I2.COM
Wed Feb 23 07:31:17 CST 2000

The following is from the book dialogues with The Guru (Talks with his Holiness
Sri Sri Chandrasekara Bharati Swaminah, late ShankarAcharya of Sringeri Sharada
The book is a comiplation of HH's discussion and talks, compiled by Sri. R.
Krishnaswami Aiyar fisrt published in 1957 by Chetana Limited, Bombay. These are
from Chapter  XII of the book, beginning in page 107.

(this discussion is with a disciple, who was well learned in the vedanta
literature and a scholar. He once approached HH and asked to be initiated in
Advaita - the first portion of the talk relates to ability of one to be
initiated/ one to be able to initiate advaita - HH makes the point that advaita
is to  be experienced, like "sweetness" and cannot be described or one cannot be
initiated into it. This discussion below follows that)

Significance of the name.

(G = Guru, D = Disciple)

G: First we shall try to understand what is meant by Advaita. How have you
understood it?

D: I have heard it explained thus: dvi means two, dvita means the state of being
two, that is two-ness. Dvaitam is the same as dvita. Advaita is therefore that
thing in which there is no two-ness or duality.

G: Quite so. What do you call that some thing in which there is two-ness?

D: It is brAhman.

G: Perfectly right. And by brAhman you mean that basic principle of reality
where from the universe derives its existence, whereon it restes  and wherein it

D: Yes.

G: Let us ignore the word brAhman and its full significance for a moment. You
give the name of Advaita to the principle which is responsible for the creation,
maintenance and dissolution of the universe?

D: Quite so.

G: You mean then that there is no two-ness in this principle?

D: Yes.

G: In other words, you mean that that principle is one and one only?

D: Certainly

G: To explain it again, you mean that there are no two such principles?

D: Yes.

G: And you claim that our system of thought is rightly called Advaita as it
enunciates the doctrine of the non-existence of two such principles?

D: Quite so.

G: That is all right. Now we shall consider for a moment the other systems of
thought, be it Christianity or Mohammedanism, visishtAdvaitA or dvaitA, tarka or
yogA, be it any system of thought which admits the existence of a principle
which is responsible for the creation, the sustenance and the dissolution of the
universe. Do any of these systems ever proclaim that there are two such
principles or do they all agree in proclaiming that there is and can be only one
such principle?

D: No system postulates any plurality in God. There may be and is plurality
among the devAs, who are as much created beings as ourselves, but certainly none
in the Supreme Godhead. He is ever One.

G: Quite so. No system therefore enunciates any duality so far as God is

D: It is so.

G: Then, every system, inasmuch as it negatives the existince of two Gods is
entitled to give the name of Advaita to the God enunciated by it and to
appropriate the same name for itself also. If so, what is the justification for
your monopolising the name Advaita specially to your God and to your particular
system of thought?

D: I pray that Your Holiness may  be pleased to explain it.

G: There is another difficulty. You know that in the Advaita philosophy a
practical saguNa brAhman and a transcendant nirguNa brAhman are both enunciated.

D: Yes.

G: None of the other systems accepts similar distinction and they decline to
conceive of brAhman as twofold?

D: Yes.

G:  It would seem therefore that all other systems, except your own, enunciate a
single supreme principle and that in your system only there is an enunciation of
two supreme principles, the saguNa and the nirguNa. Strictly speaking,
therefore, it would seem that all systems are equally entitled to call
themselves Advaita and that, if any system can be disqualified from using that
name by reason of enunciating plurality in God, it is certainly your system only
that can be so disqualified. The advaita system is thus not entitled at all to
call itself by that name. How do you then call advaita?

D: The answer for this also must come from Your Holiness.

G: Not necessarily, for you yourself can give the answer quite easily.

D: How?

(to be continued in part II)

 I beg your indulgence in me posting this single talk of HH as a series - for
one, I would like to give the members the chance to ponder on such a fundamental
question as the significance of the very name advaita - and secondly, I am a
little pressed for time now. I hope to be able to post the second of this series
by tomorrow.
bhava shankara desikame sharanam

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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>From  Wed Feb 23 07:49:29 2000
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Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:49:29 -0600
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Anand Hudli wrote:
> aadau karmaprasaN^gaatkalayati kalushhaM maatR^ikukShau sthitaM maaM
>  viNmuutraamedhyamadhye kvathayati nitaraaM jaaTharo jaatavedaaH |
>  yadyadvai tatra duHkhaM vyathayati nitaraaM shakyate kena vaktuM
>  xantavyo me.aparaadhaH shiva shiva shiva bho shriimahaadeva shambho || 1||
>  First, the sin due to attachment to karma carries me to the womb of
>  a mother. Then, the heat of the womb boils (me) exceedingly in the impure
>  place containing excrement and urine. Who can describe the suffering that
>  afflict (me) exceedingly in that place! O Shiva! O Shiva! O Shiva!
>  O MahAdeva! O Shambhu! Forgive my offense!

I was told that bhaagavatam discusses the agony the jiiva undergoes in
the womb. And due to that agony it ceaselessly prays to God. May be
someone can elaborate it. That way it will motivate us to seriously
think about liberation.

After hearing that, I was scared to death :-) for few days, then I was
assured I will just do fine, as I have done that (going through womb)
many many times in the past :-)). More than anything, it will be
terribly claustrophobic. May shiva-shakti protect us and give the
ability to meditate on them. The key, I conlcuded, is to think of God
right here and now, that habit will help whether one is in hell or

Anand, thanks for starting this series.

With respects,

AUM shrImAtre namaH

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bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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