[Advaita-l] Re: Ishvara in advaita vEdAnta

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Wed Nov 22 17:49:49 CST 2006

praNAm.h shrI Amuthan,

what is the pramANa that you are looking for? it cannot be pratyakSha
> or anumAna since there is no possible way to prove the existence of
> Ishvara by using them, let alone proving that rAma or kRShNa is
> Ishvara.

Yes, I agree pratyakSha and anumAna are not conclusive in this regard. So,
let's leave them aside.

it cannot be shruti pramANa either since shruti's prAmANya
> itself is based on faith. in other words, even quotes from vedAs that
> rAma or kRShNa is Ishvara do not provide a better solution than
> acceptance of the same by faith.

I agree again that there is an element of faith in claiming the
of the vEda. But I am asking the question from the point of view of vEdAnta,
not as a nAstika.

does the bhagavadgItA lose it's prAmANya just because it is found in
> the mahAbhArata which is pauruSheya? accepting the prAmANya of shruti
> because it is apauruSheya and rejecting at the same time all smRti-s
> (which do not contradict shruti) as apramANa because they are
> pauruSheya and hence require faith for accepting what they say doesn't
> really make any sense.

I am not rejecting the pramANatva of bhagavad.h gIta etc. They are pramANa
as smR^iti since they are in line with the vEda. The question is about the
omniscience of the authors of these smR^itis. As I pointed out, how can a
B know person A is omniscient. B can at best know that A knows more than
him/her. But knowing that A is indeed omniscient would require B to be
omniscient in the first place. And the mImAmsaka argument against the
hinges on denying the omniscience of the budhda (apart from other things).
shaN^kara himself, for example, denies the sAMkhya claim regarding the
omniscience of kapila.

You seem to claim that the apaurushEyatva of the vEda and the Ishvaratva of
shrI rAma
etc. are both equally articles of faith. This is not true for a vEdAntin (at
least I
do not see how at this point). The vEdAntin accepts a certain proof for the
apaurushEyatva of the vEda. And this proof involves denying the
omniscience/Ishvaratva of any being.  Thus, the corollary is that shrI rAma
might not be Ishvara in reality (at any rate, there is no way to determine
Thus, a vEdAntin could say that he accepts shrI rAma as Ishvara as a matter
of faith (as opposed to the apaurushEyatva of the vEda which is a matter of
for him). Or he could modify the mImAmsaka proof to accomodate this case,
and I
am wondering if this has been done by the tradition.

the mImAmsaka's argument misses the possibility of Ishvara
> sAkShAtkAra. (Ishvara sAkShAtkAra is accepted by the shruti-s; 'sadA
> pashyanti sUrayaH', 'tasmin dRShTe parAvare' etc.) maharShi-s like
> vyAsa and valmIki are indeed omniscient and their words are definitely
> accepted as pramANa.

The question that arises is, how do we know vyAsa was omniscient? For
as I mentioned earlier, kumArila bhaTTA asks the Buddhists how they knew
that the
budhda was omniscient. And so also with shaN^kara regarding kapila.

that is also accepted though that is not the only form. Ishvara is
> accepted as both sarUpa and arUpa. see for instance shruti-s like
> 'sahasrashIrShaM devaM', 'hrIshcha te lakShmIshcha patnyau', 'yA te
> rudra shivA tanUH..' etc. which speak of the sarUpa aspect of Ishvara
> and shruti-s like 'apANipAdo javano grahItA pashaytachakShuH...' which
> speak of the arUpa aspect of Ishvara.
> There is saguNa brahma where forms are deliberately superimposed on the
nirguNa brahma according to the injunctions of the vEda for purposes of
meditation. Let's put this case aside.

Here are some problems I find with Ishvara being conceived of as shrI
mahAviShNu in vaikunTha:
-- The analogy of a magician and his illusion is given to explain the notion
of Ishvara
and mAyA. Thus, Ishvara Himself is outside the mAyA which corresponds to the
world of vyAvahAra. But, by definition, vaikunTha is a place and shrI
is an entity in the vyAvahArika world and this analogy breaks down.
-- We could say that Ishvara is an entity within the mAyA which has complete

control over all the aspects of mAyA, for example shrI mahAviShNu in
But the fact is that this Ishvara depends on the nirguNa brahma for His very
and is not independent. Thus, this definition of Ishvara does not seem to be
-- And even if we accept the above definition, by attributing all the
auspicious qualities
to shrI mahAviShNu, there arises the question of whether this entity stays
eternally in
the vyAvahArika world.
       If He stays eternally, is this not a contradiction to the fact that
only nirguNa brahma
is eternal? In other words, the status of being Ishvara becomes a parallel
reality to
nirguNa brahma, i.e., people might as well try to become Ishvara rather than
with nirguNa brahma.
-- If, on the other hand, Ishvara Himself attains the supreme nirguNa brahma
at the
time of praLaya (as suggested by BSB IV.iii.10 according to svAmi
Gambhiranandaji's translation. The word used here is hiraNyagarbha. In other
words, I am considering
the definition of Ishvara to be hiraNyagarbha in this bullet point), then
there arises the
possibility of multiple Ishvaras during the multiple cycles of the world.
This contradicts
the vEda which says that there is only one Ishvara.

Thus, considering all these cases, it seems that the term Ishvara can
properly only be applied
when referring to the nirguNa brahma in the vyAvahArika world. Of course,
please let me know if there are other possibilities that I might have

praNAmamulu shrI Viswanathan gAru,
        Thanks for your comments. I am trying to find out the traditional
position on these issues.


> From: Viswanathan N <vishy1962 at yahoo.com>
  You are very correct and valid in raising these  points. These are the
> questions that raise in any rational mind. But unfortunately , we try to
> stub them or beat arround the bush instead of addressing them directly.
> Certainly I am not a scholor or quote from scriptures to support my views.
> But as person who had studied a bit and understood the advaita vedanta, in
> spirit, I wish to submit my views:
>    "What is the nature of Ishvara in advaita vEdAnta? This is my
> understanding, please let me know if it's correct. It is the same nirguNa
> brahma that in vyAvahArika parlance is called Ishvara."
>   I certainly can' t quote anything, but going by the spirit of Advaita ,
> This could be and only be right way of looking at the trurth.
>    " Thus, Ishvara is not like a shrI mahAviShNu in vaikunTha (or shrI
> sadAshiva in kailAsa)."
>   Sure ,its for  common folk's    visualisation of the "Brahman" ( how
> formless, beginningless/endless, birthless/deathless, omnipresent/omniscient
> could be in vaikuntam or kailasam ) to suit their capacity/liking/knowledge/
> imagination
>   " But the rules of vyAvahAra (as set forward by the vEda) also mean that
> omniscient and omnipotent persons (like shrI rAma or shrI kR^iShNa) take
> their birth on Earth every now and then, for example, when dharma is
> degenerating"
>   Ofcourse, these are the cases of maifestation of Brahman in certain form
> to establish the Balance (Dharma) in vyAvahAraic world and certain
> manifestaions are glorified bit more to drive the moral values. But
> why  stop only with Rama or Krishna...could include Christ or Buddha
> even.....
>   In that way if you look  "You are and I am too are That" Isnt it!
>   Pl bear with me and pardon me if I have hurt anyone i this pocess
>   Pranams
>   Viswanathan

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