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

Jay Nelamangala jay at r-c-i.com
Sat May 31 15:50:06 CDT 2003

Dear VidyAshankar,

Namaste.    Thanks for quoting from shruti and smrutis.

The word 'Brahma'  itself has several meanings in shAstra.  We need
to understand the correct meaning based on the context.

Brahma could mean -  Chaturmukha-brahman,  Veda,  Parabrahman,
brahma-jAti,  jeeva  etc.

In the geetha,  the word Brahma is also used for mahAlakshmI.
"mama yOnir mahad brahma tasmin garbham dadAmyaham".
SriKrishna has called MahAlakshmI or chit-prakrti as "mahad brahma"
in the 14th chapter.

A brahma-jnAnee  understands  the "aparichinnatva" or "boundless"
nature of brahma-swaroopa. For this reason,  he very well understands
that whatever he knows about Brahman, due to the Infinite nature of
Brahman, is only partial.
If we say,  a certain Brahma-jnAnee has "grasped" parabrahman completely,
then that Brahma-jnAnee's knowledge has "contained" Parabrahman.
A "contained" God is no God.   This is why,  upanishats warn us,

"yasya amatam tasya matam matam yasya na vEda saha"
(one who thinks he does'nt know knows,  one who think he knows does'nt

So, if we translate  "Brahmavit brahmaiva bhavati"  literally to mean
brahmajnAnee becomes Brahman itself,  then we have lost "samanvaya" of

The more you know about God,  the more there is to know -  only such an
entity can be the Upanishadic Brahma-swaroopa which is "ananta" or

Once this fundamental is "grasped" properly,  then all of prasthAna-traya
become consistent.   If this fundamental is not grasped or is ignored,  then
certain Shruti statements are made to yield to certain interests that one
may have.   That
is when one gets contradictory ideas such as some shrutis saying "Jeeva
Brahman"  and some other shrutis saying "Jeeva never becomes Brahman".
Self contradicting knowledge can not be called knowledge either.

With this in the background, let us study each of the upanishadic/geeta
statements,  in the respective upanishadic/geeta context.

1) "BrahmavidApnOti param | tadEshAbhyktA |
satyam jnAnam anantam brahma"  - taittareeya

Taittareeya upanishat is saying,  parabrahma-jnAnee attains Moksha.
Attaining Brahman is sometimes expressed as attaining the abode
of Brahman.  "ApnOti param" in the upanishats
or  "tad dhAma paramam mama" in the Geetha.   That is because,
any attribute of Brahman is also Brahman,  so His abode is not
considered different from Him in shAstra.  It is only a matter of

"parAt param purusham upaiti divyam | sa yO ha vai tat paramam brahma
vEda brahmaiva bhavati |  - mundaka

Brahma is one who is "Brumhita"
Veda defines Parabrahman as
"atha kasmAt uchyatE brahmEti? " ( why is it called Brahman? )
"brihantO hi asmin guNaaha" - It is called Brahman
because All attributes are Complete in It.)

Keeping this in mind,  let us understand "brahma vEda brahmaiva bhavati"
Let us study the context here.   The previous sentence says
"parAt param purusham upaiti divyam"
(Brahma-jnAnee attains Parabrahman, the Highest)
"brahmaiva bhavati" should also be consistent with the
previous sentence of attaining Brahman.

So, like Brahman  this Brahma-jnAnee also becomes Bruhanta or
reaches his completeness which is same as attaining Brahman

But is this completeness same as Parabrahman's compleness?
Shrutis, sootras, and Geeta  in union say - NO.

So the choice is ours, to go with a meaning that comes out of
shAstra samanvaya,  or take a literal meaning,  and get contradictory
knowledge by studying prasthAna-traya.

"sa brahmabhUyAya kalpate"

Look at the context in geetha again.

SriKrishna has already declared what this Brahma is.
"mama yOnir mahad brahma tasmin garbham dadAmyaham"
So, the Brahma in this context is mahAlakshmI.

Brahma-bhooya - is the abode of chit-prakrti.  SriKrishna is saying
because He is the prathiSHTA of mahAlakshMi as well, one who
reaches LakshmI  will only reach Him only  in the end.

mAm  ca  yO-(a)vya-bhi-cA-raE-Na
bha-kti-yO-gaE-na  sae-va-taE |
sa  gu-NA-nsa-ma-tI-tyai-tAn
bra-hma-bhU-yA-ya  ka-lpa-taE ||26-14||
bra-hma-NO  hi  pra-ti-SHTHA-ham
a-mRe-tasyA-vya-ya-sya  ca |
shA-shva-ta-sya  ca  dha-rma-sya
su-kha-syai-kA-nti-ka-sya  ca ||27-14||

He is ever filled with untainted bhakti (avyabhichAra bhakti) towards
VishNu, which is Me.   He finds the root of everything that happens only in
Me without any sort of compromise (avyabhichAra).   He is dear to Me just as
chit-prakrti (avyaya ) is dear to Me.   By his tattva-jnAna that everything
is rooted (prathiSHTaa) in Me, even if he reaches Mahaa-lakshmII,  because
of his knowledge that I am the doer of All (sarva-kartr, sarvOttama) in the
end he attains only Me.  (14.26, 14.27).

This is the consistent meaning of the three quotes that you gave.

I hope all the readers realize the importance of  shAstra samanvaya.
If  our interpretation of Veda, Geetha and Sootras  produces knowledge
which is inconsistent with one another or if it contradicts other pramANas
such as pratyaksha,  then it means we have lost Veda itself, and along
with it goes the entire prasthAna-traya.

Harihi Om Tatsat,
Jayakrishna Nelamangala

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Vidyasankar Sundaresan" <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2003 4:27 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 1, Issue 29

> > >Be that as it may, your argument entails that even the words of Sruti
> > >smRti describe brahman only partially, never fully, inasmuch as they
> >are
> > >words. So how does one really know brahman then?
> >
> >That is why Brahman is always Brahman, and those who are trying to know
> >Brahman will never be Brahman.
> However, SAstra directly says otherwise. Sruti says, 'brahmavid Apnoti
> paraM' and 'brahmaiva bhavati' while smRti (gItA) says, 'sa brahmabhUyAya
> kalpate'. These statements include not only human beings on this earth
> trying to know brahman, but any being, anywhere in the universe. These
> directly contradict the idea that those who are trying to know brahman
> never be brahman.
> Vidyasankar
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