[Advaita-l] Questions on Mayavada by Krishna

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 7 13:28:56 CDT 2010

Dear Jaldharji,

Lot of misunderstanding occurred due to lack of correct chrological perspective. Lord Krishna talked about "Maya" some 5000 years ago. Yet most of Dvaitists, if not al of them, think of the "Maya" is an invention of Adi Sankaracharya. 

Secondly there is also a lot of misunderstanding about Lord Buddha and with the incomplete knowledge about Buddha they anti-Advaita people compare him with Lord Buddha, in a demeaning way.  Lord Buddha has been called an atheist and as a non-believer of the Vedas, while the contrary is only true. In the beginning Lord Buddha did teach only the moral code to the people, who were more like the Charvakas ( Brihaspati also  did the same to the Charvakas), so that the world becomes a better place and that the people get prepared for the spiritual progress. In the beginning when someone asked Lord Buddha about the existence of God he bluntly told them to first concentrate on the teachings that he had given. But when one man persisted the Lord Buddha kept mum. Later on his associate and disciple, Ananda, asked him the reason for keeping mum. Lord Buddha replied saying that whether he said there was God or no God, either way the man would be confused (
 presumably due to the intellectual level of that person).  Later on Lord Buddha did expound his higher philosophy of Mahayana, which of course the non-Mahayanis (the Hinayanis) do not think that Lord Buddha had given. Nagarjuna explains from the rooftop  that the Shunyata of Lord Buddha is not non-existence but how many people really know that.  Lord Buddha's Shunyata is not non-existence but is the same as for which Lord Vishnu has also called Shunya in the Vishnu sahasranama. In that, as said in the Heart sutra, the liberation is when one achieves shunyata by getting out of the five skandhas (koshas) and at that stage one loses the separateness and  merges with the universe, (which is nothing but the Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma, though Lord  Buddha did not specifically use that word). In fact, Lord Buddha used the word "Nirvana", which is taken from the word "Brahmanirvana", used by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, Some twelve centuries before Lord
 Buddha was born. The Purana rightly says that Lord Buddha would create confusion (though that was not the intention of Lord Buddha). Also mInd that the puranas were written mainly for the lay-persons (though it is not to say there is nothing for the intelligentsia ) and Advaita is definitely not for them. Some of the concepts of the Vedas and the Upanishadas were kept away from them, for the right reason. 

Lord Buddha was  not against the Vedas. He was only against excessive ritualism. He told the brahmanas that they should understand the true meaning of the Vedas. He prevented king Bimbisara from performing animal sacrifice but did not preve

Thirdly, Padmapurana itself says that Bhagavatam is the highest of the Puranas but when Madhvacharya wrote his short book "Bhagavata Tatparya Nirnaya"  he selectively quoted only about ten percent of the verses from the Bhagavatam in that, so that he could emphasise on the Dvaita philosophy and conveniently avoided the verses, which emphasise on Advaita.

I think all these factors should be kept in mind while replying to the Dvaitists.


Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Wed, 10/6/10, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:

From: Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Questions on Mayavada by Krishna
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 10:00 PM

On Sat, 2 Oct 2010, Rajaram Venkataramani wrote:

> Krishna,
> For the Padma Purana verses quoted by you (mayavadam asat sastram), no
> advaita acharya has given any refutation.

There is little point in refuting schoolyard taunts.

> When I asked the question, the scholars on this forum dismissed this verseoff as an interpolation. It is not possible to call it a gaudiya interpolation because even before gaudiyas other sampradayas refer to prachanna bauddham and rudra sampandham of sankara based on this verse.

It is probably a Madhvite interpolation taken up by the Gaudiyas when they began aligning with that sampradaya.  When is the earliest citation of those shlokas do you know?

> There are four recensions of Padma Purana extant today. I have not been able to check the manuscripts personally but learn that all of them contain Uttara Khanda where this occurs.

On the other hand there are many earlier scholars who quote Padmapurana but not these shlokas even when it would be to their advantage to do so. There is a fairly ancient Jain version of Padmapurana which does not mention these shlokas.  (And Jains have just as much reason to be anti-Advaita as Vaishnavas do.)  But the biggest reason to suspect an interpolation is that surely Bhagavan Vedavyas had a better grasp of Vedantic concepts then the pitiful caricature being passed under His name.

> Leave this verse alone. The fundamental question is, "Is Lord's name, form,
> qualities and lila absolute or relative?". It is a fundamental question
> because you need to know as a devotee if you are attracted to relative or
> absolute truth when worshipping Rama.

Why?  As the celebrated rope-snake analogy shows, a relative truth can have absolute effects.

> According to gaudiyas, there is no
> difference between the Lord and His body (abhinjnatva nama namine). Devoted
> advaitins such as Madhusudana Saraswati also state that there is no
> difference between the Lord and His body. (Rf. Sri Madhusudana's commentary
> on ajo api san).

The reference is to Gita 4.6.

ajo.api sannavyayAtmA bhUtAnAmIshvaro.api san.h |
prakR^itiM svAmadhishhThAya saMbhavaamyAtmamAyayA ||6||

"Though I am unborn and eternally knowing and the Lord of all beings yet
as My nature is under My control, I take birth by My own Maya."

Who took birth?  Krishna the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.  Shankaracharya notes that unlike the births and deaths of other living things, this birth and death is not the result of ignorance due to false identification with ahamkara.  So if this is meant by "there is no difference between the Lord and His body" then there is no objection from the Advaita side.  Just as Ishvara created the worlds, He is certainly capable of creating the rupa of Krishna.  But just as the entire universe to its furthest limits is only a part (amsha) of Brahman, the form of Krishna is an amsha of Brahman.  From the introduction to Gitabhashya: AdikartA nArAyaNAkhyo viShNu.h bhaumasya brahmaNo brAhmanatvasya rakShANArthaM devakyaM vasudevAd aMshena kR^iShNA.h kila saMbabhuva "The primordial creator Narayana known as Vishnu in order to protect the Brahmanahood of the Brahmanas on earth made a part of Himself take birth in Devaki from Vasudeva."  Is Krshna Bhagavan a part
 of Brahman or wholly Brahman?  I belive is where Advaitins and (some?) Vaishnavas part company.

Now did Swami Madhusudan Sarasvati believe in the first view or the second?

> Visvanath Chakravarthy Thakur, a gaudiya acharya, quotes
> Sri Madhusudana respectfully in his commentary to the same verse.

If you read what he wrote in the Gudarthadipika itself it is quite clear that his view is not different from Shankaracharya.

> Sridhara Swamin, claimed by advaitins and Vaishnavas both as their own, also considers the body of the Lord is non-different from His soul.

His Subodhini tika on this shloka also agrees with the description given by Shankaracharya.

> Though there
> are such statements, the traditional advaita position is that  Isvara's
> name, form, qualities and lila are mithya or products of maya.

Yes.  As Bhagavan Himself says.

> On
> liberation, there is no maya or its effects such as Isvara's form and
> activities


> no devotion.

Hold on!  Now you are leaping too far.  Why should the above mean there is no devotion?  Maya does not simply disappear to be replaced by a uniform grey void when jnana is attained.  All that it means is that one is freed from limitations and sees things for what they really are.

> This is why gaudiyas call them mayavadins though
> advaitins call themselves brahmavadins. Yes, advaitins realize brahmanandam
> (by Isvaranugraha!!!). But gaudiyas are more interested in relishing the
> nama, rupa, guna and lila than relishing ananda bereft of Isvara's
> attributes.

The error is in seeing jnana as a negative subtractive process.  Rather jnana is as I mentioned freedom from limitations.  The bhakta can certainly continue feeling ananda in the form of Ishvara, the difference is his concept of Ishvara is not restricted.  He will see Ishvara in everything.

> Advaitins consider devotion to be relative transecended on realization of
> nameless, formless, attributeless, actionless nirguna brahman.

Bheda has to be transcended.  It is certainly possible for there to be abheda bhakti too.

> It is
> interesting that Madhusudana Saraswati says that a jivan mukta is Vishnu
> bhakta and so does Vidyaranya. Sadasiva Brahmendral, considered a jivan
> mukta, sang chaste verses glorifying Rama, Krishna and Nirguna Brahman. But
> the advaita position is that this bhakti in a jivan mukta is residual effect
> of prarabda. Madusudana talks about samyama or a practice that removes karma
> vasana but he himself did not let go of his deovtion to Krishna!!! Which
> sane person would? Madhusudana distinguishes karma and bhakti, which is
> perhaps why he did not get rid of bhakti.

Or perhaps because it is not bhakti that has to be gotten rid of but duality.  Incidently as great a Krshnabhakta as he was, he also wrote a tika on the Shivamahimnastotra which extols Shiva Bhagavan in the highest possible terms.  His love was unbounded.  That's the difference between an Advaitin bhakta and the other kinds.

>  He also describes three stages of
> devotion. At the first stage a devotee thinks I am His (santa, dasya,
> sakhya). In the second stage he realizes He is mine (sakhya, vatsalya,
> madhurya) and in the final stage realizes I am He (madhurya). It is not that
> "dualists" do not accept this stage of devotion in oneness. Baladev, a
> gaudiya acharya, comments on a devotee realizing oneness (gopalaham). Rupa
> Gosvami, another gaudiya acharya, talks about realization of nirguna
> brahman.

Philosophically Gaudiyas are a mess.  Some do approach Advaita tenets. Some claim to be aligned with Madhva and some strike their own eccentric path.  Best to ignore their philosophical arguments altogether in my opinion.  If they can inspire the feeling of Bhakti in you that's all well and good.

-- Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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