[Advaita-l] Advaita and other philosophies

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Apr 29 07:20:58 CDT 2004

On Wed, 21 Apr 2004, Kiran B R wrote:

> Jaldhar, what one calls as knowledge varies from
> person to person.

Then this is not knowledge.

> Everyone who is not in doubt thinks
> he has complete knowledge. The intelligent ones close
> all doors of doubt, for they know that there is no end
> to this quest for answers. That doesn't mean that
> their knowledge has answers to everything the closed
> doors hide.
> People outside your closed doors have different
> questions, and different answers, and correspondingly
> different knowledges.
> You are perhaps right in claiming that your answers
> are correct, but terribly foolish in claiming that
> others' answers are incorrect and the authors,
> inferior. You neither know their questions nor are you
> in a position to appreciate them. You simply are *not*
> riding on their radii.

Certainly my knowledge of Advaita Vedanta says nothing about knowledge of
say baking a cake.  But Dvaitins, vishistadvaitins etc. claim to be
talking about the same Brahmasutras upanishads etc. as we are.

> ...except if the programming has been initiated by the
> person in question like this: "MY AchArya is always
> right. I shall accept as Truth everything he says".
> All is well until a day dawns on which his learning is
> not enough to explain one thing or another. And then
> bubbles ahaMkAra and an attachment to the Guru and his
> teaching which two he now starts looking at as his
> karmaphala!

I think we are talking about two seperate types.  The one who just
mindlessly follows without reflection is indicative of a tamasic
personality.  The one who is builds a cult of personality around the guru
is rajasic.  It is this type which is affected by ahamkar.  The tamasic
type has a pathological lack of ahamkar.

The distinction is important because the means of getting away to a more
sattvic personality are different for each type.

> On the contrary, you are advocating for something very
> dangerous: "I am right".

Are you Kiran?  When answering this question did you stop to think
that you might not be Kiran?  I bet you didn't.  Now what is so
dangerous about your unwavering belief that you are Kiran?

Certainty is only dangerous...when it is dangerous.  skepticism can be
powerful but it can also be an excuse for intellectual paralysis.

> There is a famous subhAshita in this context:
> AchAryAt pAdamAdattE pAdaM shishyaH svamEdhayA |
> sabrahmachAribhyAh pAdam pAdaM kAlakramENa cha ||
> One-fourth is obtained from the AchArya, one-fourth by
> the shishya using his own intelligence, one-fourth
> from fellow-brahmachAris and the remaining one-fourth
> in course of time.
> The question, as you might see, is not necessarily
> that the student knows a better way than his AchArya.
> The one-fourth one learns from the AchArya is not
> sufficient to walk on the path the AchArya walked. And
> when one manages to walk on the path the AchArya
> walked, he does not necessarily agree 100% with the
> AchArya, for space and time will have changed. What
> this shishya does, on the other hand, is what the
> AchArya would have done in the new space and time.

This may be true about some things (note we are discussing this via the
new-fangled internet not palm leaves.) but Brahman is beyond space and
time.  Sandhyavandana, bhajans, ekadashi etc. are beyond space and time.
So where are the grounds for second-guessing what the Acharya would or
would not have done?

> The avatArapuruShas don't do the same thing in every
> birth. If in 2004 kRuShNa comes with his obsolete
> chakra, the George Bushes of this kaliyuga will blow
> him into smithereens with nuclear weapons.

See you are doing exactly what you warned against -- making inferences
beyond the facts at your disposal.  How do you know the sudarshan chakra
is not more powerful than a nuclear weapon?  The truth is we don't have
enough data on the subject.

> It must be clear by now that Truth is a relative
> thing.

And this is the crux of the matter.  Forget modern-traditional,
dvaita-advaita etc.  The philosophical fault-line is between those who
think that truth is absolute and those that think it is relative.  It
should be quite obvious that Shankaracharya and other classical Advaita
authors did think there was an absolute truth.  They didn't hesitate to
criticize others who they thought were deviating from that truth.

> It is the negation of the falsity in one's
> heart, which varies.

If truth is undefined, how do you know its opposite  varies?

>The problem arises only when you
> start with the stupid assumption that the falsity in
> everybody is the same. Of course some falsities are
> universal, but not all.

we think that the truth in everbody is universal and use that as the

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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