[Advaita-l] Re: Is an ISvara compatible with advaita?

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Tue Feb 15 06:25:13 CST 2005

namo nArAyaNAya

dear SrI Stig Lundgren,

before replying to your answer, i'd like to point out
that while a theory of karma is atleast a possible
solution to the question raised, for a jN.Ani as
you've mentioned, the same doesn't hold true for
ISvara. clearly, ISvara cannot be under the sway of
any karma whatsoever. the very fact that He's an
ISvara means that He's is the lord of a "world"
(otherwise, He'd be called brahman, not ISvara). no
momentum of previous actions can be held to be the
cause for this. so, how is a "world" possible for
ISvara according to advaita? this point is still

now, back to your reply.

> However, Shankara himself seems to be of a different
> opinion when he writes:
> "Perhaps you will say that disembodiment can only
> occur when the body falls
> at death, and not in the case of a living person.
> But this is not correct.
> For the notion that one has a body at all is
> prompted simply by wrong
> knowledge. One cannot suppose that the Self
> possesses a body except through
> erroneus knowledge, taking the form of identifying
> the Self with the body.
> For we have already
> explained how the bodilessness of the Self is
> eternal as it is
> not the result of any act." (SBh.1.1.4.)

here SrI SankarAcArya refutes the nonexistence of a
body to the Atma svarUpam. this doesn't seem to be
against the view of the later advaitins. all that
bhagavadpAdAcArya says is that the Self was never
embodied to become disembodied. 

> So when Shankara says that false knowledge
> (mithyAjnAna) continues for a
> while due to past tendencies (SBh 4.1.15.), he
> simply means that the body
> (and the empirical world) continues to exist due to
> impressions, experiences
> etc. in earlier lives. It could be compared to what
> happens when a potter
> rotates the wheel. When the potter stops the wheel,
> it continues to rotate
> for a while - in spite of being stopped - due to its
> own momentum. (SBh.
> 4.1.15.) Or when you see a snake in front of you
> laying on the ground:
> Suddenly you realise it is actually a rope, not a
> snake. But your heart
> continues to beat faster for a few seconds, even
> though you are 100%
> perfectly sure it is a rope

even if the above argument is accepted, a jN.Ani can
only reside as a witness to the "world" (even this is
questionable). but he cannot do any activity with the
body that he "had" before realization, for according
to advaita, any activity can proceed only due to the
superimposition of a variety of things like mind, body
etc. on the Atma svarUpam. this, being primarily due
to avidyA, cannot exist for a jN.Ani. so, any karma
whatsoever, since it pertains only to a SarIra, which
is a product of avidyA, and hence itself (i.e. karma)
being mithyA, cannot exist for a jN.Ani.

> If the jivanmukta still remained ignorant
> to some degree then he
> would not been able to teach us about the absolute
> reality since he didn´t
> knew it himself! In other words, we would never have
> the opportunity to know
> the truth even from
> the greatest of gurus.

consider this : to teach someone, a jIvanmukta has to
identify himself with a SarIra and what is more,
accept the existence of another person having avidyA,
both of which are not possible since they are the
result of superpositions on the Self. even if the
existence of a student is apparent to a jN.Ani, on
what ground will he identify the student with his
(i.e. the student's) SarIra? this raises another
question. can a jN.Ani perceive avidyA?

> So when Shankara says that false knowledge
> (mithyAjnAna) continues for a
> while due to past tendencies (SBh 4.1.15.), he
> simply means that the body
> (and the empirical world) continues to exist due to
> impressions, experiences
> etc. in earlier lives.

even if this is accepted, the "body" of a jN.Ani can
only remain like a corpse, no action should be
possible, for who is the performer of actions then?

> The
> Brihandaranyaka
> Upanishad says: "Just as the slough of a snake worn
> out and cast off, lies
> in an anthill, so does this body lie here, and AS
> FOR HIMSELF, he is verily
> bodiless, immortal, Life, Brahman indeed, Light
> itself." (Br.4.4.7.)

this clearly expresses my point! a jN.Ani's "body"
just lies here. as for the jN.Ani himself, he's

> Shankara´s commentary to this is as follows: "Now
> this other, the knowing
> one who is compared in the Shruti to the snake, has
> become free, identical
> with all. Like the snake in the illustration, he is
> verily bodiless.
> Although he continues to be there, he is no more an
> embodied being as before
> [...] he was embodied and mortal before this because
> of his
> pre-conceived identity with the body owing to desire
> and action. Now that he
> is free from either, he is bodiless, and hence
> immortal." (Br.Bh.4.4.7.).

again, SrI SankarAcArya clearly states "he's no more
embodied as before..". the implication is that a
jN.Ani does not have a SarIra, not that he is
indifferent to it. 

i'll make my point a little more clear. once a person
has aparokshAnubhUti, nothing other than the brahman
exists. now, how can "he" "come back" to a "world".
since in the state of AtmAnubhavam there is no
knowledge of a SarIra, using what will "he" superpose
on "himself" a "world"? (the words in quotes are just
to highlight the fact that these don't even exist in
the state of aparokshAnubhUti.) 

thank you for patiently reading this long mail.

hari sarvatra, 

Amuthan Arunkumar R,
4th year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Department of Aerospace Engineering,
Indian Institute of Technology Madras.
Address : 327, Tapti Hostel, IIT Madras.

Ph : 9840482709

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