[Advaita-l] Sastra's Ability To Remove Ignorance

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 14:27:11 CDT 2012

Dear Sri Srinivas,

If I promise confidentiality, I will not breach. But as I did not, I post
here your private mail. I don't subscribe to offline criticism of advaitam
(or any school) as it leaves the proponents defenseless. It does not help
you either because you don't get your views challenged. You may have seen
people correct me for my misunderstandings. Every time I am shown to be
wrong, I delight in my victory because I gain knowledge. I do not think
your understanding of Advaita is correct. Please correct me if you think

The Vedas are within the vyavahara realm in advaita but as Sri Subrahmanian
pointed out in another context, Advaitam treats eternal entities such as
Ishwara in the vyavahara realm as parinama nityam. This opinion is also in
BSBh. Within the vyavahara, Vedas will never become a created entity or a
product just as anadi Ishwara is not considered a created entity just
because Advaita says He is maya sabalitha Brahman operating within the
vyavahara realm as the controller of Maya. The Vedas lose their value as
pramana for a jnani after his avidya is destroyed and he realises Brahman.
This is because he has nothing else to know. It is not that the status of
Vedas is lost from anadi and apoureshya within the vyavahara realm. Advaita
also, like Dvaita, does not negate Brahman. Advaita can say "This is
Brahman" but it does not agree that Brahman is an object.

The problem of saying "This is Brahman" is that on hearing that one will
know it like he knows any other object. How can words describe Brahman
which is beyond words? We have to argue that sastras are special words that
can reveal the identity of Brahman. But the Lord says (BG 11.48) that even
the most diligent study of Vedas cannot make even His cosmic form known
leave alone His svarupam. Sankara says it is only by Isvarugraha one can
know His form (BG 11.47). Even if we are devoted, we cannot see Him if we
don't become an object of His grace. Sri Madwacharya accepts that devotion
is required to see Brahman. The inescapable implication is that the Vedas
fail to reveal Brahman after repeatedly saying "This is Brahman". So, the
problem of Vedas not being able to reveal Brahman is equally present if not
more in Dvaita.

In the Dvaita position, it starts well by differentiating Brahman from Jiva
ad Jagat. But when it comes to statements such as sarvajna khalvidam
brahman, vasudevam sarvam iti etc., they need to introduce a special
connection between Brahman and its disjoint parts, the dependent realities.
If the statement,  "This is Brahman" cannot show Brahman (as seen above),
how can "And this is related to Brahman" show us any thing. All we end up
with is a mental construct of reality - blissful ignorance.

My enquiry, "How can sastras, which cannot know Brahman, remove ignorance
about Brahman?" applies to Dvaitam also from another perspective. Do
sastras fully describe all the attributes of Brahman? Even if you assume
that there are infinite verses, they still cannot describe the
indescribable beauty (qualities) of the Lord. So, they cannot remove our
ignorance about Brahman.

Best Regards

On Monday, June 18, 2012, Srinivas Kotekal wrote:

> Dear Mr.* *Rajaram,
> This private mail is in response to your question in Advaita-List about
> “Sastra's Ability To Remove Ignorance”.
> The pramANya of shAstra-s (the ability to reveal the truth) lies in them
> being apoUrushEyatva (authorlessness). There are no flaw in texts which
> are not authored by anybody (including Ishwara). Therefore, flawless
> shAstras are valid source of knowledge about Brahaman.
> In Advaita school, although it is been accepted that vEdas are authorless
> initially, but as a final conclusion of siddhAnta, vedAs are also mithya
> among other things. The profound implication of this final conclusion is
> that – vEdas too would become created types. How so? Before raise of jnAna,
> this jagat is ajnAna-kalpita. By labeling vEdas as “mithya”, vEdas too will
> become “product” of ignorance after all. This way, the authorless eternal
> (no origin, no end) vEdas will become another created thing and loses their
> initially accepted pramANya. This is a suicidal position of Advaita
> siddhAnta. Hence you see the issue in your question on how can shAstra have
> any ability to remove Ignorance.
> In Dvaita, nEti-nEti is understood as Brahman is not this jaDa and jIva;
> but at the same time other positively qualifying sruti statements attest
> Brahman is “iti” "iti" etc. Unlike Advaitins, Dvaitins have no problem in
> the position that bothers you.
> Thanks,
> Srinivas

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