[Advaita-l] Is the concept of maya essential to explain advaita?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 23 13:23:54 CST 2012

> Rajaram: May I point you to what Shri Bhaskar wrote in response to my
> question on whether Ishwara is sat or mithya? Shri Bhaskar said,"Kindly
> refer shankara's AraMbhaNAdhikaraNa sUtra bhAsya with regard to this.
> Shankara quite explicitly mentions here that Ishwara, IshwaratvaM etc.
> holds good only at transactional level where jevEshwara bedha is there!!
> tadevaM avidyAtmakOpAdhiparicchedApekshameva Ishwarasya IshvaratvaM,
> sarvajnatvaM, *sarvashaktitvaM* cha..." na paramArthataH vidyayA
> apAstasarvOpAdhisvarUpe Atmani Ishtreeshitavya sarvajnatvAdi vyavahAraH
> upapadyate. No ambiguity here in shankara's declaration. He clearly
> states that the existence of Ishwara and his qualities like *omnipotence*,
> omniscience etc. are only in the realm of avidyA."
> If Ishwara is sat, then His shakti (maya) should also be sat. If Ishwara is
> mithya, how can His shakti be sat? Contrariwise, if maya is sad asad, how
> can Ishwara be sat because that would imply a difference between shakti and
> shaktiman?

Others have responded on this thread addressing different aspects of this issue,
so I will go back to the original question I asked and leave it at that.
There is a reason I asked Sri Venkatesh for a Sanskrit quote which says ISvara-
Sakti is mithyA. The range and applicability of terms like avidyA, mAyA, mithyA
Sakti, sad-asat and sad-asad-vilakshaNa are often misunderstood, especially by
non-advaitins and also by translators who struggle to find equivalent expressions
to convey what is meant by these terms in the Sanskrit sources. Yes, they are
used in related contexts, but they are not mutually interchangeable terms.
Anyway, to be brief, when someone raises a criticism and asks, why is such and
such a thing mithyA, I would like them to clarify exactly what they understand by
the term and see whether that is indeed what the advaita teachers mean by it.
ISvara and jIva are both, in ultimate essence, pure "sat" alone, pure brahman
alone. However, when ISvara-tva is seen by the jIva as consisting in ISvara
ruling over a created world, and when the jIva further argues that he or she is 
separate from ISvara and that the created world has got to be real, in order for
ISvara to be ruling over it, then the jIva is (a) already presuming a multiplicity
of entities to be ultimately real, and worse, (b) subordinating ISvara's being to
this imputed ultimate reality of perceived multiplicity.
Now, in teaching sad eva, ekam eva, advitIya, tat tvam asi, neha nAnAsti kiMcana,
etc. the Sruti explicitly teaches that this multiplicity is not really present in brahman.
This is the paramArtha dRshTi but its distinction from the vyavahAra dRshTi is often
easily lost in these criticisms when people start assuming things about advaita that
are quite incorrect. 

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