Dvaita and Sophistry - Part 3(Inherent natures of jivas)

Shrisha Rao shrao at NYX.NET
Tue Apr 1 20:58:00 CST 2003

On Tue, 1 Apr 2003, kalyan chakravarthy wrote:

> >This being so, wouldn't you say the `AtmA' in that portion is not a
> >Vedantic usage, but a ritual one?
> Since Dvaita does not accept division into karma kanda and jnana kanda, how
> would you say which is ritualistic and which is not?

I am not talking about Dvaita in that context; I am trying to understand
the explanation given by Sri Sankara in his Upanishad commentary in a way
that is consistent with his BSB; this is a samanvaya within the context of
an abhyupagama-vAda, if you will, just to correctly understand his views.

In this regard, we may note that the Dvaitic commentaries (which, as you
note, do not accept the distinction of ritualistic versus Vedantic)
explicitly reject Sri Sankara's explanation of `AtmA' as referring to a
second body; instead, the word is read as referring to
Chaturmukha-Brahma, who is a "second AtmA," the first being Vishnu who is
the primary referent for the word, and from whom Brahma gets the epithet
in a secondary sense (just as Vayu also is given the epithet of `Brahman'
vide `tvameva pratyakShaM brahmA.asi').

> >This being so, wouldn't you say the `AtmA' in that portion is not a
> >Vedantic usage, but a ritual one?
> If you remember the original argument, it was that sruti does not always use
> a particular word in the same sense. As both karma and jnana kandas are
> sruti only, and as the Br U reference is part of sruti, do you now accept
> that sruti can use the same word and especially the word AtmA, in different
> senses?

Let us clarify matters here: the original argument, if you will, was about
the meaning(s) of `abhigachchhanti' in a Vedantic sense of referring to a
post-mortem transit of a person.  There could be multiple meanings for
Shruti (in fact, Madhva clearly says there are, identifying them as
Adibhautika, Adidaivika, and AdhyAtmika); in an even more fundamental
sense, e.g., the word `vishhNu' has multiple derivations from the roots
`visha praveshane' and `vishhLR^i vyAptau' (in effect, there are homonyms
with different meanings).

However, in Vedanta, important epithets like `AtmA', or even verbs like
`gachchhanti', do have standard meanings that do not change; it cannot be
otherwise for there to be meaningful exchange or communication.  If a
special or different meaning is required, then there has to be an
interlocutory modifier as a prefix or ambient phrase; e.g., we may say
`jIvAtman' to clarify that we mean the embodied; Yajnavalkya himself uses
`praj~nA-Atman' and `pratyag.h-Atman' to make such a distinction.  But
lacking any such modifiers, it cannot be that `AtmA' itself is read
multiple ways without cause.  And at least with `AtmA' there is some room
in special cases with modifiers (as with saying `jIvAtman'); however, for
the verb `gachchhanti' there is not even a case made to date to suggest
that it can mean different things, or different kinds of transit.


Shrisha Rao

> Kalyan

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