[Advaita-l] Karl H. Potter - Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies - Vol III: Advaita Vedanta upto Samkara and his pupils
Siva Senani Nori
sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 7 20:13:25 CST 2011
I don't know if this is a bit silly after all these years, but then I thought I
saw a new framework, or a fresh schematic, in which some of the things that were
discussed on this forum have been presented - including the merits or otherwise
of asatkAryavAda, satkAryavAda and ajAtivAda; sannyAsa; jñAnakarmasamuccaya;
jñAnakANDa vs. karmakANDa; jIvanmukti vs. videhamukti, abhihitAnvayavAda and
anvitAbhidAnavAda etc. To be sure, it is only that I was reading afresh a
birds-eye-view-account (as opposed to a particular text) after a considerable
time and the newness is more about me since both the topics and the book have
been around for a while; but since we are all old friends here, I thought there
is no harm if I share some of what I read.
The book mentioned in the subject line is published by MLBD in 1981. Potter's
general scheme is to survey the particular branch of philosophy and then given
abridged translations of the most works. What first attracted me to this series
was a series of works on NyAya given in pages 9 - 12 of Volume II (Tradition of
Nyaya Vaiseshika upto Gangesa) and a hope that similar list on Advaita would be
given (it is not, but that is not a big issue). The distinct advantage that I
saw was that concise summaries of most of those works are given.
I will share a series of emails on the more interesting aspects. Here are
excertps from page 7 and 8 (Chapter 1: Historical Resume). The context is that
the theoretical tenets of Advaita Vedanta are set out in 12 points and then the
author tackles some 'practical' propositions.
"13. Since all distinctions are the product of ignorance, any positive account
of a path to liberation, involving distinctions, must be ultimately false.
14. However, some false views are less misleading than others. By criticizing
worse views one arrives by stages at better ones.
15. For example, the view that effects are different from their causes
(asatkAryavAda) is worse than the view that the effect is essentially identical
with its cause (satkAryavAda); within the latter, the view that the cause
transforms itself into its effect (pariNAmavAda) is worse than the view that it
manifests its appearance as effect without itself changing in so doing
(vivartavAda); still, all views that take causation seriously are inferior to
nonorigination (ajAtivAda), since causal relations, as any relations, involve
differences and are thus tinged with ignorance.
16. Or, for example, the view that one needs a distinct judgment to verify or
justify true knowledge (paratahprAmANyavAda) is worse than the view that true
knowledge justifies itself (svatahprAmANya); however, both these views are
ultimately inferior to the view that truth is not to be found in judgments, that
therefore one cannot attain ultimate understanding of truth through the
pramANas, or 'instrument of knowledge.'
17. Or, again, atheism and agnosticism are worse views than theism; within
theism, again, monotheism is preferable to polytheism; but ultimately preferable
to all theisms is monism.
18. Or, again, the skeptical of materialist view (cArvAka or lokAyata) is
inferior to those view which accept the authority of scripture; among the
latter, those views (Buddhism, Jainism etc.) which accept as authority
scriptures other than Vedas as authoritative; among the latter, the view that
holds only the injunctive sections (karmakANDa) of scripture are authoritative
(or that scripture is exhausted in injunctions) is inferior to that which holds
that both the injunctive and declarative (jñAnakANDa) sections are
authoritative; within this last, those who think that both sections speak of
liberation - that both actions enjoined and knowledge conveyed in scripture are
directly relevant to gaining liberation - hold an inferior view compared to
those who believe that the two sections speak to different ends - injunctions
leading one to heaven, declarations to liberation, Ultimately, however,
scripture can provide no positive key to liberation, because the key lies in
removing ignorance, a negative step; so the highest view of all is that of
apavAda, that reality is "not this, not this" (neti, neti).
The 'dialectical' aspects of these last four examples of stages along the way
toward understanding explain why so many apparent contradictions - paradoxes, if
you will - are apparently condoned and indeed frequently celebrated in
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