[Advaita-l] Meaning of praNo devI sarasvatI

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 20 02:38:46 CST 2006

----- Original Message ----
From: Dr. Yadu Moharir <ymoharir at yahoo.com>
To: Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2006 10:39:39 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Meaning of praNo devI sarasvatI

I am bit surprised that you agreed to the a classic dvaita position.
IMHO - Why should anyone who chooses to remain ignorant be protected by the God?

It is knowledge and recognizing the same can only result in liberation.  When one depends on others, then it is salvation but advaita there is liberation not salvation. Depending on God for salvation only creates "andha-shraddhaa" (Blind Faith).
Just my $0.02

Dr. Yaduji, namaste.

I heard some religions say, "do this (usually pray to God) or you will suffer the wrath of God"; a milder version goes "do this, only then would God save you." I thought the sanAtana dharma eschews that approach. For instance all worships end with the prayer 'sarve janAh sukhino bhavantu'.

Specifically, the eligibility of the knowledgeable, or their difference with the ignorant, was discussed in the Upanishads (Tai, 2.6.3)

athAto'nupraSnAh. utAvidvAnamum lokam pretya. kaScana gacchatI  3. Aho vidvAnamum lokam pretya. kaScit samaSnutA  3  u.

Here, a question is asked: where do the ignorant go at the very end? This question arises because earlier it is taught that Knowledge about the nature of Brahman is the means to liberation. So, when somebody does not know Brahman, logically, the answer ought to be no. But, since both the ignorant and the knowledgeable are made of Brahman, so to speak, their paths must be the same. So, the second question follows: Do the knowledgeable attain Brahman? Basically the difference between the ignorant and the knowledgeable w.r.t. Brahman is discussed here. (I have put this is my own words, to be brief. The authentic version with comments of the three acharyas is given at end of my post.)

My understanding of the answer taught by my teachers is: knowledgeable or ignorant, every Self is Brahman; the knoweldgeable realise it, the ignorant don't. Much like the rope always remains a rope, but ceases to scare a person in the impression that it is a snake only when that person realises that it is a rope and not a snake, Brahman is constant, and as long as we don't realise the truth, we don't attain that state.

In short, j~nAna is recommended - it is indeed the path to liberation - but a j~nAnin is in no way different from an aj~nAnin from the cosmic point of view.


----------- excerpts from comments of Sankara, Suresvara, and Vidyaranya ----------------

All unmarked comments are those of Sankracharya.

(paraphrased from A. Mahadeva Sastri, B.A., "THE TAITTIRIYA UPANISHAD with the commentaries of Sankaracharya, Suresvaracharya and Vidyaranya", GTA Printing Works, Mysore, 1903)

The disciple * upon understanding that the knower of Brahman reaches the Supreme and that He who is thus attainable through knowledge is the source of all being, is the essence of all, is the all, *(text between asterisks is Sri Mahadeva Sastry's explanation) now asks the questions:

a) Does any one who knows not, departing, go to that region? Or,

b) Does anyone who knows, departing, attain that region?

(Suresvara adds) Because Brahman is the Self of both the enlightened and the unenlightened and is the unknowable, the disciple addressed the questions to the teacher.

There has to be a third question or more, as the plural of praSna was used indicating three or more questions. Two explanations are given. 

First, Brahman is the same in the enlightened and the unenlightened, as He is the cause of akAsa etc. Therefore, it may be supposed that the attainment of Brahman is possible even in the case of the unenlightened. Hence, the question: Does even he who knows not, hence departing (after death), attain that region, the Supreme Self (paramAtman)? Or does he not attain? - This question is to be understood because of the plural.

If , though Brahman is the cause of both alike (of him who knows and of him who knows not), he who knows not does not attain Brahman, one may suppose that even he who knows does not attain Brahman***. Hence arise two questions: Does he who knows Brahman, hence departing, attain that region? Or does he, like him who knows not, not attain?.

The second explanation is that a question precedes the two above questions: "Does Brahman exist? If Brahman exists, it being the same in all, a second question arises: "Does he who knows not attain Brahman or not?" If he who knows not does not attain Brahman who is the same everywhere, then, even he who knows, it may be supposed, does not attain Brahman. Hence the third of the questions which follows: "Does he who knows attain Brahman or not? (Vidyaranya adds) That is to say, if the unenlightened does not attain Brahman, what evidence is there to show that the enlightened attains Brahman?

*** Here, Suresvaracharya adds: Brahman who is the cause of the whole universe and who, as jIva, has entered all bodies, is present in the unenlightened as well as in the enlightened. If, therefore, the latter attains Brahman, the former too may attain Him. If the unenilghtened cannot attain Brahman, even the enlightened may not attain Him.

------------------------------------ end of excerpts --------------------------

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