[Advaita-l] Re: Ishvara in advaita vEdAnta

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Thu Nov 30 20:48:43 CST 2006

praNAm.h shrI Kathirasan,

> Siddharthaji, you have made a very good point. Shankara does not clearly
> distinguish Ishvara from Brahman. In fact, at times Ishvara is also
> taken to be Hiranyagarbha. And Nirguna Brahman as well. Om.

Thanks for pointing this.

praNAm.h shrI Amuthan,
      I will make a few observations and rest my case. I agree with you that
the arguments are becoming pretty repetitive. Thanks for the pointer on the
bR^ihadAraNyaka upaniShat.h bhAShya.

> let me mention at the outset that the dialogues with svAmi
> chandrasekhara bhArati that you  quoted does not contain anything in
> it that contradicts what i said.

Let's see if that is the case. Here are some assertions I am making:
-- nirguNa brahma is the substrate for the nAmarUpa, and is untouched by the
nAmarUpa (exactly like the snake and rope analogy). Thus, nirguNa brahma has
no name and form.
-- Ishvara (at least the kind you speak of) has some name and form
(presumably many such forms like shrI mahAviShNu or shrI sadAshiva. As I
mentioned earlier, I am not particular about the exact form(s).)
-- hiraNyagarbha has some name and form. His form comprises the entire
Let me know if you disagree with any of the above.

Now, given the above and the article on Sandhya worship, there are two cases
(the relation refers to the degree of their omniscience/omnipotence etc.):
-- hiraNyagarbha < Ishvara with name and form
-- hiraNyagarbha >= Ishvara with name and form
Note that hiraNyagarbha being a jIva, the second case is not possible. That
leaves the first case. This means that there is an entity between
hiraNyagarbha and nirguNa brahma that can be worshipped, and which has been
skipped by shrI chandrashEkhara bhArati. Is this your position when you say
that your position is consistent with the article.

> i never said that mahAviShNu in vaikuNTha is the *only* form of
> Ishvara or that it is this form which remains during pralaya.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not really particular about the exact form or
the number of such forms.

the Ishvara who exists during pralaya is saguNa brahman only, not
> nirguNa brahman. ('existence' is nirguNa brahman.) saguNa brahman need
> not always be with a name and form.

AFAIK, vyavahAra is by definition the world of nAmarUpa. And saguNa brahma
is in vyavahAra. Ergo, saguNa brahma should have name and form.

what defines saguNatva is the
> presence of a guNa. Ishvara is anAma and arUpa during pralaya,

You probably do not mean anAma and arUpa, but avyAkR^ita nAmarUpa.

> this does not imply that he is nirguNa. jagatkAraNatvAdi guNAs still
> exist in a latent form in Ishvara during pralaya. thus, it is saguNa
> brahman who remains without names and forms during pralaya and it is
> saguNa brahman who manifests names and forms during sRShTi.

If the saguNa brahma remains without names and forms, and manifests names
and forms later on, then this saguNa brahma can be nothing but nirguNa
brahma being discussed in relation to vyavahAra. I do not see where a form
like shrI mahAviShNu even figures in this discussion. (As you noted, we are
both agreed upon the nirguNa aspect of things, and in fact, we seem to be
saying the same thing. While I am using the term nirguNa brahma in relation
to the universe in praLaya and you are using the terms saguNa brahma/Ishvara
in his anAma and arUpa form.)

> true, everything is withdrawn during pralaya, but that does not amount
> to a destruction of the special rUpAs or lokAs of Ishvara since they
> exist the subsequent creations also [1]. it is just that these are not
> manifested during pralaya. will the limbs of a tortoise become
> non-existent after they have been withdrawn? non-manifestation does
> not amount to destruction. moreover, since all jIvAs are withdrawn, to
> whom can the lokAs or forms be manifested?

I agree non-manifestation is not destruction. But this begs the question: If
even Ishvara is subject to this non-manifestation etc., then do not all the
attributes like immutability etc. fall apart?

since Ishvara was defined as jagadkAraNa and since all lokAs and rUpAs
> are kAryAs, a clear understanding of the relation between kAraNa and
> kArya in the context of sRShTi, pralaya etc. is absolutely necessary.
> to clearly understand bhagavatpAda's views on this issue **please**
> read AchArya's bhAShya for the bRhadAraNyaka shruti 'naiveha
> ki~nchanAgra AsIt... ashanAyA hi mRtyuH..' ( 1.2.1). arguing along the
> same lines should settle this issue once and for all.

Thanks for pointing this. I will try to go through it soon.

please also note
> that the above shruti talks of the existence of kAraNa brahman
> (identified with hiraNyagarbha) during pralaya. this is not a
> reference to nirguNa brahman, but only to saguNa brahman.

This is curious because in the article hiraNyagarbha is referred to as a
jIva. But I should probably read the bhAShya to see the context.

it is true that AchArya uses terms like Ishvara, parameshvara etc.
> when referring to the pratyagAtman. but that is not the *only* usage.
> AchArya uses it with reference to saguNa brahman also. the gItA
> bhAShya i quoted is clearly with reference to saguNa brahman only. let
> me know how you would interpretet 'sa bhagavAn **sRShTvA** idaM jagat,
> tasya cha sthitiM **chikIrShuH**... sa bhagavAn **AdikartA**
> nArayaNAkhyaH..' etc. with reference to nirguNa brahman.

(i reiterate,
> nirguNa brahman has nothing to do with any vyavahAra.) the moment you
> talk of sRShTi, pralaya etc., all references are only to saguNa
> brahman (who is both sarUpa and arUpa).

regarding the actual existence of lokAs in vyavahAra, there is a whole
> lot of smRtIs to support it. note that these saguNa mUrtIs are NOT
> some jIvAs who have attained that position because of previous karma.

In the article, hiraNyagarbha is referred to as having the entire cosmos as
his body, and that he is a jIva. How do you reconcile that with your
statement above?

Ishvara, who is verily anAma and arUpa, Himself takes those forms (why
> should He? i don't know. they say that's His svabhAva :) ). and He
> doesn't lose His Ishvaratva by doing so. so, there's nothing wrong in
> calling these special forms as Ishvara.

I agree with all of the above. What I do not agree is the eternality part of
these special forms.

i guess it's time to put this thread to rest.

I agree. This is my final mail pending further investigation of the matter.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list