[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 1, Issue 29

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu May 29 22:37:24 CDT 2003

>Thanks for your reply.   It feels good to have a conversation
>with a knowledgeable person like you.

Thanks. And likewise.

>ShwEtAshwatara describes Brahman as :
>"He grabs without hands, He  goes without legs" etc

That is also adhyAropa-apavAda, in our view.

>"Anandam brahmaNO vidvAn",  "satyam jnAnam anantam brahma" etc
>tell us that His "body" is jnAna-Ananda-shareera.

Inasmuch as one may talk of the body of brahman, it is not just a "pure" 
jnAna-Ananda-SarIra. Sruti tells us that everything, bar none, is the 
SarIra. e.g. "yasya sarvANi bhUtAni SarIraM", "yasya cakshuH SarIraM", 
"yasya manaH SarIraM" ... etc. There is no such thing as a SarIra of brahman 
that excludes the normally experienced universe. That is the view of Sruti 
when it argues "via positiva". On the other hand, there is more to brahman 
than this. Therefore, Sruti also adopts "via negativa" reasoning and tells 
us that He has no SarIra, e.g. "aSarIraH amRtaH" etc. This is not meant to 
postulate a different SarIra than the one that is experienced through the 
senses and therefore described as evolutes of prakRti.

>When Shruti/smritis talk about His indriyas,   they are talking about

Not really; see above.

>Geetha puts it as "sarvatOkshi shirOmukham".
>When Shruti/Smritis talk about His not having indriyas, they are talking
>about His not having
>prAkrita indriyas.   Geetha puts it as "sarvEndriya vivarjitam"

No, it either talks about His having all indriya-s, everywhere and every 
time, or about His having no indriya-s whatsoever.

>When we understand Shruti/Smritis consistenly in this fashion without using
>I am not quite sure why  we still need adhyArOpa-apavAda.

Well, since it is not correct to interpret Sruti by restricting the SarIra 
of brahman to a "pure" one made of jnAna and Ananda, one needs another way 
to understand it.

>Shrutis say,  when you understand Brahman through words,   you can
>understand Brahman
>only partially,  because of  Brahman's infinite nature.   "Om IkshatErna
>ashabdam Om"
>makes it clear that Brahman is not ashabda,  because Shruti/Smritis do
>describe Brahman.

May I enquire which school's explanation you follow for the above sUtra? 
That Sruti and smRti do describe brahman is already covered in the sUtra-s 
"SAstra-yonitvAt" and "tat tu samanvayAt". There is no reason to offer 
another sUtra to return to the same topic after it has already been 
concluded. Moreover, how about pada-sangati? How would your explanation of 
the sUtra tie in with that of the next few ones, gauNaS cen na AtmaSabdAt 
etc? The intention of the sUtrakAra cannot be how you understand it.

Be that as it may, your argument entails that even the words of Sruti and 
smRti describe brahman only partially, never fully, inasmuch as they too are 
words. So how does one really know brahman then? Sruti, which teaches 
through words, offers us the way out of this problem, through the neti, neti 
reasoning, which first goes through adhyAropa and then proceeds to apavAda.

In this context, see brahmasUtra and its bhAshya, 3.2.22-24. I am talking of 
the sUtras, "prakRtaitAvattvaM hi pratishedhati ..." to "api saMrAdhane 
...", in case you follow a different numbering of sUtra-s than the one found 
in Sankara's bhAshya.


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