[Advaita-l] Locus of feeling in Advaita

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 23 01:05:00 CDT 2006

--- S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Replies to Mahesh Ursekar and Siva Senani Nori:
> > Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com> wrote:
> >   Pranams:
> > 
> > Can somebody let me know the Advaitic view on the locus of
> fleeling
> > e.g. of
> > pleasure and pain?
> > 
> The locus of pleasure and pain, AFAIK, is in the individual body
> and/or ahaMkAra. This is covered in some detail in the
> upadeshasAhasrI.

Here is the reference in the upadeshasAhasrii where this is
discussed. The seat of feelings is described to be the mind or

The detail into which Sankara goes into this topic makes it clear
that it is not a mere "mind game" as has been suggested, but is an
important point in Sankara's philosophy. It is also interesting that
pain is one of the least understood effects in physiology, for it is
completely unclear as to how and why "pain" can arise from the atoms
and compounds constituting the physical body.

upadeshasAhasrI (Prose Part)

(Translation by Swami Jagadananda)

33. If he (i.e. the disciple) says, "The pain due to burns or cuts in
the body and misery caused by hunger and the like, Sir, are
distinctly perceived to be in me. The supreme Self is known in all
the Srutis and smR^itis to be 'free from sin, old age, death, grief,
hunger, thirst, etc. and devoid of smell and taste'. How can I, who
am different from Him and possess so many phenomenal attributes,
possibly accept the supreme Self as myself; and myself, a
transmigratory being, as the supreme Self? I may very well admit that
fire is cold! ..."

[The disciple argument is very cogent - he says that he feels pain,
but the supreme Self as mentioned in the Sruti does not feel pain.
Ergo, the disciple cannot be the supreme Self.]

34. The teacher should say to him, "It was not right for you to say,
'I directly perceive the pain in me when my body gets cuts or burns.'
Why? As the pain due to cuts or burns is perceived in the body [1],
the object of the perception of the perceiver like a tree burnt or
cut, must have the same location as the burns etc. People point out
pain caused by burns and the like to be in that place where they
occur but not in the perceiver. How? For, on being asked where one's
pain lies, one says, 'I have pain in the head, in the chest or in the
stomach'. Thus one points out pain in that place where burns or cuts
occur, but never in the perceiver. If pain or its causes viz., burns
or cuts were in the perceiver one would have pointed out the
perceiver to be the seat of the pain, like the parts of the body the
seats of the burns or cuts.

35. "Moreover, (if it were in the Self) the pain could not be
perceived by the Self like the colour of the eye by the same eye.
Therefore, as it is perceived to have the same seat as burns, cuts
and the like, pain must be an object of perception like them. Since
it is an effect, it must have a receptacle like that in which rice is
cooked. The impressions of pain must have the same seat as pain
itself. As they are perceived during the time when memory is possible
(i.e., in waking and dream and not deep sleep), these impressions
must have the same location as pain. The aversion to cuts, burns and
the like, the causes of pain, must also have the same seat as the
impressions (of pain). It is therefore said, "Desire, aversion and
fear have a seat common with that of the impressions of colours. As
they have for their seat the intellect [2]; the knower, the Self is
always pure and devoid of fear."

Footnotes provided by Swami Jagadananda:

[1] Pain is located in the body, it is true, but as a matter of fact
it is in the mind.

[2] The intellect (and not the Self) is the seat of all other
feelings also.

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