[Advaita-l] Questions on Isvara

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Tue Jul 18 20:27:20 CDT 2006

        I have some questions on the goal of advaita, and on Isvara.

-- What is the difference between a person who achieves cessation of
all desires without endorsing the Self to be everything (like the
budhda), and a person who achieves cessation of all desires while
endorsing the Self (like shaMkarAchArya), from an advaitic
perspective? From what I gather, it seems like the budhda was treated
as a big heretic in not endorsing the Self. My question is this --
advaita also seems to claim that it is desire that makes a jIvAtma
transmigrate. Thus, when there is no more desire, the jIvatma should
cease to be -- whether it identifies with brahma or something else,
seems more a matter of debate on ontology. I understand that advaita
also has the job of vEdic exegesis to do, and hence it has to assert
the Self. But apart from that reason, is there any other reason why a
person who has achieved cessation of desire without accepting the Self
is incomplete (in terms of achieving mOkSha)?

-- I have been reading the tattva bOdha (the traditional ascription of
authorship seems to be to shaMkarAchArya, but I am not sure what the
modern scholarly consensus is), and Isvara is defined in that work as
a combination of brahma (consciousness) + mAya. jIva is defined as a
combination of brahma + avidya (avidya is also identified with the
kAraNa sharIra). avidya also consists of the three guNas, but the
sattva guNa could be dominated by either rajas.h or tamas.h. In the
case of Isvara though, the sattva guNa is unaffected by rajas.h or
tamas.h. Thus, it would seem that the jIva is a "part" of Isvara
(Please note that "part" here refers to avidya being a part of mAya,
as mAya comprises of everything which is triguNAtmika).

Now to my question. If jIva is thus dependent on Isvara, then why does
Isvara not make sure there is no evil in the world? The answer from a
dvaita perspective is that the so-called evil comes from the jIva, and
Isvara out of his compassion does not change the jIva because changing
the jIva is tantamount to killing that jIva and creating a new jIva. I
am a bit unsatisfied with this explanation, as I feel that if the
presence of evil were really bad, Isvara would be compassionate enough
to set the evil jIvas aright (even if it amounts to killing them. And
in any case, logic in such cases could be twisted to support either
theory, so I am presuming there ought to be vEdic statements
supporting the dvaita position on Isvara's compassion.) So, presumably
there is a higher purpose for the presence of evil (I am clueless as
to what that could be), or a different reason for why Isvara does
allow the evil to continue. Are there any explanations from an
advaitic perspective on this issue? Thanks.



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