[Advaita-l] non-negation

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 19:35:02 CST 2010

On Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 2:30 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> wrote:

> Sri Vidyasankar,
> You said "In a way, advaita already does negate nothing while negating
> everything". It is the same thing that Sri Jaladhar Vyas also said "It is
> the common mistake of seeing Jnana as a subtractive process". This is what
> I
> am trying to understand. You negate the world, jivatvam and Ishwaratwam.
> How
> can you say you negate nothing? The only thing that you dont negate is
> Brahman but even the name Brahman is negated. Any concept of Brahman is
> only
> a mental modification, also to be negated.

 ऋतं आत्मा परं ब्रह्म सत्यं इत्यादिका बुधैः
 कल्पिता व्यवहारार्थं तस्य सज्ञा महात्मनः ॥

The above verse from the YogavAsiShTha (and perhaps from some other work
too) says that the One Truth (that is also a word!!) is indicated by using
several optional words like Rtam, Atma, Param, Brahma, Satyam. These words
have been designed by the Wise.  Why?  With a view to teach the aspirant.
The verse ends up by saying these words are used to indicate, samjnA, this
'mahAtman', which is yet another word!.  We can see here how difficult it is
to do away with words when it comes to teaching the most subtle thing.

That is why we see the Upanishads use several words to indicate Brahman,
which itself is one of such words.  For example, the Chandogya Upanishad 6th
chapter uses the word 'Sat' and not 'Brahman'.  The seventh chapter
(Narada-Sanatkumara) uses the word 'BhUman' for Brahman.  The word
'aksharam' is also one such.

The purport of the above is this:  Truth has no name whatsoever.  A name is
only an aid to relate with it, understand it.  Ultimately the purpose of
relating with it and understanding it is to realize one's identity with it.
The one who has succeeded in realizing it needs no name whatsoever; his
experience is there for him.  However, if he has to instruct anyone else on
it, he looks for words, names, and chooses one or several from the available
list; or perhpas invents one to suit the situation.  That is why it is often
said to be 'silence'.  What name can one give to such an entity and assert
that that alone is the name?

Everything other than this is negated by the Upanishad by the words 'neti
neti' - न असतः विद्यते भावः’ (The unreal does not have an existence).
However, this One can never be negated, this is the unnegatable.  How can
one negate the Existence, Sat?  There is no power that can nullify or negate
Existence, Sat.  'न अभावो विद्यते सतः’. (the real can never go out of

Sri Vidyashankar ji made a very fine point when he said that even to say
Brahman is the substratum of all superimpositions is not absolutely true.
This is because the status of being a substratum is relative only to the
superimposed.  When the superimposed itself is not absolutely there, even
the status of being the substratum is not real.

The Upanishad superimposes the entire world by the process called adhyAropa
by talking about sriShTi.  This is inevitable for drawing the attention of
the aspirant from his outward turned disposition to the truth.  The
Upanishad is compelled to do this in order to provide a reference point for
the aspirant to relate himself to by showing Brahman as the Creator.  Once
this point is well made, the need for the superimposition no longer exists.
That is also negated.  This is the apavAda stage. Ultimately even doing
apavada is not absolute becuase it is also only relative to the adhyaropa.
That is why one has to conclude by simply saying that It is a 'certainty';
another word, though.

Vedanta is no conundrum if taught by an accomplished Acharya.  Teaching is
undoubtedly a great skill.  If the Acharya is a combination of shrotriyatvam
and BrahmaniShThatvam, the teaching turns out to be a wonderful one:
Ashcharyo vaktA....


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