Ramanuja's Summary of the Advaitin's Position - 1

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at YAHOO.COM
Fri May 2 14:34:16 CDT 2003

--- Vidyasankar <vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> >  Short Explanation:
> >  The premise that: because there are no such
> statements, abheda is the
> >  proper interpretation requires that some
> statements are more valid
> >  than others, ...
> Not so. With all due respect to Vedanta Desika, or
> to his translators, the
> above statement is itself a quite heavy
> misunderstanding of the advaitic
> position. Sankara and his disciples never say that
> some Sruti statements
> are "more valid" than the others.

This is an extremenly important point, because if it's
correct, then most of Ramanuja's "refutation" of
advaita amounts to nothing more than misunderstanding
of the advaitin's viewpoint.

Just one more doubt -- are the following points made
by Ramanuja in his "Summary of the advaitin's
position" true at all?

(1) "nirguNa texts are of greater force than saguNa
Ramanuja claims that, according to the advaitin, the
shruti texts describing Brahman as nirguNa occur
subsequent to those that describe Brahman as saguNa.
Now, since the "latter" always sublates the "former",
the nirguNa texts are of "greater force" ("more
valid"?) than saguNa texts.

(2) "Scriptures are of greater force as against direct
Manifoldness is perceived due to beginningless and
*defective* avidya. Scripture is beginningless and
*defect-free*, hence it can sublate this knowledge of
manifoldness (basically because avidya is defective
and scripture is not).

Ramanuja spends a great amount of effort trying to
"refute" the above points, which he claims constitute
important parts of the advaitin's thesis.



> The question rather is, "for what state is a
> particular statement valid?" A
> Sruti statement that specifically applies only to
> the jyotishToma does not
> apply to the vAjapeya rite. Similarly, abheda vAkyas
> apply to the state of
> moksha and they always wipe out all bheda *in that
> state*. The only
> statements that talk of bheda relate to the state of
> sRshTi and saMsAra.
> True, there has to be a bridge from the bheda state
> to the abheda state,
> and Sruti itself provides various means, in the
> vidyA-s or upAsana-s that
> it describes at various places in the Upanishads. On
> the other hand, there
> are no Sruti statements that uphold bheda in the
> state of moksha. (So long
> as one discounts the "satyam bhidhA" statement of
> the mAdhva-s - and I
> would imagine that the followers of Ramanuja would
> discount that as much as
> the followers of Sankara do.)
> So, to recapitulate, each Sruti statement is valid
> in its own sphere, and
> what that sphere is, is revealed to us by Sruti
> itself. The statement "neha
> nAnAsti kiMcana" has a referent, "iha", which is
> given in the same context,
> so there is no special pleading from the advaita
> side about which Sruti
> statement is "more valid" than the rest.
> Vidyasankar

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