[Advaita-l] Holenarsipur Swamiji's remarks and why even Avidya is not necessary for Advaita

Kalyan K kalyankc.81 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 29 10:24:56 CST 2012

Dear Sri Subramanian,

>The shruti wants the sAdhaka to use tarka/logic too to arrive at the
>realization of the Truth.  That is the role of mananam.  Shankara and
>GaudapAda have written a lot to aid the sAdhaka on this indispensable

Yes, Shravana, manana and nidhidhyasana, but on what? Not on mAyA, but on
brahman. Knowledge of multiple realities is not necessary for a sAdhaka.
Now, this mAya should not be confused with adhyAsa. While adhyAsa is
natural, mAya is not. We will come to this later.

Now to quote some Sruti statements to illustrate this point - In
bruhadAranyaka 1.4.10, shruti says - brahma vA idam agra AsIt, tadAtmAnam
eva Avet aham brahmAsmi iti, tasmAt tat sarvam abhavat

"this was indeed brahman in the beginning, it knew ONLY itself (AtmAnam
*eva* Avet) in this manner - I am brahman. therefore it became everything."

Note that there is no mention of brahman knowing anything about mAya or
multiple realities for achieving the highest state. It knew ONLY itself.

Commenting on this Sri Sankara says (translation from Sri Madhavananda) -

"How did It know Itself? As 'I am Brahman, the Self that is the seer of
sight.' 'Brahman'.is That which is immediate and direct, the Self that is
within all, beyond hunger and the like, described as 'Not this, not this,'
neither gross nor subtle, and so on. 'I am, as you (teacher) said, That and
no other, not the transmigrating self.' Therefore, from knowing thus, It,
Brahman. became all. Since by the cessation of the superimposed notion of
not being Brahman, its effect, the notion of not being all, was also gone,
therefore It became all."

There is no mention of brahman investigating about multiple levels of
reality in the above in order to achieve knowledge. Yes, there is talk
about superimposition, but superimposition is completely natural, while
multiple realities are not, which brings us to -

 >In fact in the beginning of the Brahmasutra bhAshya
>Shankara declares that with a view to destroy the 'anartha hetu' called
>adhyAsa/avidyA He is commencing the shArIraka mImAmsA.  Surely He has the
>sAdhaka in mind.

Yes, adhyAsa is written by Sankara with the sAdhaka in mind. But this
adhyAsa is completely natural (naisargika, to use Sankara's words). (This
has nothing to do with multiple realities). People naturally superimpose
the self on non-self. But hardly anyone naturally comes up with the idea of
mAya or mithya.

There are many examples of adhyAsa in sruti and smriti (which is probably
why Sri Sankara rightly starts the sUtra bhAshya with a commentary on
adhyAsa). The classic case of superimposition occurs in the second chapter
of bhagavad gIta where Arjuna mixes up the Self with the body. This brings
us to the following quotes from you -

>For a sAdhaka the ideal is the siddha.  This is the foundation of the
>sthitaprajna, etc. lakshanas taught in the shruti/smriti.  The BG contains
>a very explicit statement as to how (what) the Jnani knows: 2.16 requires
>that the jnani's realization is about these two: the Sat AND the asat.
 >This is reiterated in the last verse of the 13th chapter.  Both these
>crucial verses were cited in the recent discussions.

First of all, I will disagree with you and say that there is no such thing
in the bhagavad gIta like - "some particular verse is more crucial than the
rest of the gIta".  The entire bhagavad gIta fits nicely into the advaitic
framework and this is not just for a handful of verses here and there.
Having said that, the second chapter, where the Lord starts imparting
knowledge to Arjuna, has the elements of adhyAsa (by Arjuna) and its
removal (by Lord Krishna). This fits perfectly well in the framework of
advaita. Arjuna is unhappy because he superimposes the body on the self and
thinks that he will be killing his relatives (the self is an agent, the
self can be destroyed etc.). Krishna mentions the true nature of the Self
as something that is not an agent, that is not subjected to birth, death
etc. It is in this context that we must read verse 2.16 in the BG. In BG
2.16, the non-Self is termed as unreal because it is changing and hence
non-eternal. The Self is termed as real since it is eternal. Here, reality
and unreality indicate the condition of being unchanging or changing.

>The shruti says: shrotavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyaH.  This teaching, in
>its entirety, is meant for the sAdhaka only and not a debater.  Shankara in
>this bhashyam for this shruti reiterates:  It is ONLY when ALL the three
>are in place does Atma darshanam takes place and not by adhering to just
>one or two of these.

The triad of shravana etc. do not in any way indicate that a sAdhaka needs
to investigate multiple realities. Of course, there is no harm in knowing
about multiple realities, but it is not necessary to do so.

>This article, though quite long, may be found to be useful in grasping a
>number of ideas of Advaita Vedanta:


If knowledge of mithya is required for liberation, the sruti would have
*explicitly* talked in detail about mithyatva and the multiple realities.
Now before you reply, please see the last part of this post.

>> (by the way, multiple realities originally was a
>> buddhistic concept, found in mUla-mAdhyamika kArIka of nAgArjuna).

>The above misconception which is prevalent among non-advaitins is shown to
>have no basis; the shruti itself proves them wrong:

There is no misconception. It is not a misconception that penicillin was
discovered by Alexander Fleming. Anyone who thinks that the concepts of
multiple truths is not used by Buddhists are free to read the
mUla-mAdhyamika kArIka of nAgArjuna and verify things for themselves. Or if
one does not have this book available, one can verify this at the following
website below -


And Subramanianji, I do not in any way say that the multiple realities
cannot be inferred from Sruti statements. (But it is not explicit in
Sruti). So please excuse me for not taking up the remaining part of your



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