[Advaita-l] Cotard Syndrome and Brahman Realisation

sriram srirudra at vsnl.com
Wed Jun 6 10:42:27 CDT 2012

Dear Sri Rajaram Venkatraman
I have read about the Cotard Syndrome and Capgras syndrome in the book -The 
Tell Tale Brain by Sri V.S.Ramachandran.He speaks about it-Cotard - as 
either as a result of acute mental depression or associated withTLE-temporal 
lobe epilepsi.Your telling that these syndrome effects may also be as a 
result of nidhidhyasana and restraining the senses  and making them looking 
inward-prathyahara-in my opinion may not be correct.It may tantamount to 
calling an ardent sadhaka  as mentally sick.R.Krishnamoorthy.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rajaram Venkataramani" <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" 
<advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 10:20 PM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Cotard Syndrome and Brahman Realisation

> There are two types of supernatural powers or siddhis reported by astikas
> with respect to their acharyas. The first is the mental type where the
> acharya is able to read minds, predict future etc. The second is where he
> is able to manifest a physical object including his own body. I do not 
> know
> if we will be able to understand these anecdotes logically with a deeper
> understanding of the world.  From a vedanta point of view, these siddhis
> are the result of certain types of karma and not due to atmajnana.
> Ultimately, these siddhis are of no value to a Vedantin because they have
> temporary results. The Vedantin's focus is on the realisation "I am
> Brahman". Here, through application of pramanas (pratyaksha, anumana,
> upamana and especially sabda), one develops a firm conviction that the
> perceived world (Jiva, Jagat and Ishwara triad) is a sort of myth (mithya)
> and the underlying reality that is completely independent of all objects 
> of
> perception, the Self alone is real. I am that. The later afflictions of 
> the
> body or the mind (e.g. alzheimer's) or residual ignorance that has to be
> only exhausted through experience of prarabda does not interfere with
> brahman realisation. There is no rebirth for the jnani. (Thanks Sri
> Subrahmanian for your clarifications from a traditional point of view and
> hope I got it exactly as you intended to convey).
> I was recently having a conversation with someone, who argued that brahman
> realisation is most probably a neurological phenomenon. As you know, 
> modern
> science does not accept that mind is independent of the brain as our
> sastras teach. They have painstakingly mapped different functions of the
> mind (logic, creativity etc.) to parts of the brain. Neuroscientists have
> started to explain out of body experience as a neurological function.
> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070823141057.htm. Eminent
> neuroscientists such as Dr. V.S. Ramachandiran are talking about the areas
> of brain responsible for the sense of self and qualia.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTWmTJALe1w Basically, they try to explain
> why we perceive red when the respective neurons fires and more importantly
> why we see ourselves seeing ourselves seeing red! It gets interesting when
> neuroscientists study people who believe "This is not my father (mother,
> dog or house)", "This is not me",  "I am dead" or "I am immortal".
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqBGzkz1oDU
> http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1995.tb09764.x/abstract
> I argued that tattva jnana about who am I is akin to us analysing that our
> bodies are made of water, carbon etc. This understanding of underlying
> reality about our body does not bring about noticeable change in our
> brains. In the same way, by understanding that I am pure consciousness
> through analysis based on veda pramana does not change our brains. Having
> said that, it is possible that nidhidhyasana will bring about the changes
> in the brain. Continuous suppression of sensory stimulation will lead
> removing emotional association with visual and auditory inputs as in the
> case of capgras syndrome mentioned about. And profound meditation that I 
> am
> the Self and not the body, which appears to be real but is unreal may lead
> to the kind of convictions that arise in the case cotard's syndrome. The
> main difference will be that these changes will be accompanied not by
> sorrow as in the case of these syndromes but an experience of bliss 
> because
> of the repeated tuning of the mind to experience bliss from inside rather
> than outside.
> I would like to know the views of scholars here and our acharyas' views on
> the effect of atmajnana on the body and mind.
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