[Advaita-l] 'Ishwaro'ham' and 'IshwarabhAvaH'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Aug 29 21:15:27 CDT 2013

In the 16th chapter of the BG. we have these words:

 'Ishwaro'ham aham bhogI siddho'ham balavAn sukhI 16.14॥

'I am the lord', I am the enjoyer, endowed with power/strength and am

This kind of thinking, Lord Krishna says, is the way of the demoniacal

Non-advaitins, especially some Dvaitins, take this expression 'Ishvaro'ham'
to be the Advaitic non-dual expression and go to say that the Lord is
censuring such a thinking.


//Firstly advaita’s final conclusion is You(as in you/me everyone are GOD;
no matter how much one twists this is the base conclusion that all
advitinis must and will agree upon.

Dvaitas or Tattvavadis ( correct technical term ) reject the conclusion
itself. Because the definition of GOD is sarvatantra Swatantra. In all
aspects and eternally; GOD is sarvatantra swatantra. We will never become
GOD; we cannot even hope to become GOD; we cannot even understand GOD
completely. This is an unthinkable mistake from Tattvavada point of view.

All of advaitas philisophy and reasoning flows from this Eeshoham attitude
as opposed to “Dasoham attitude” of Tattvavada.//
Actually, as shown above, the expression has nothing to do with Ishwara who
is the Lord of the Creation/sustenance/dissolution, who is the
karmaphaladAtA, etc.  It is simply the haughty person's thinking about his
wealth/power, etc. and lordliness.  An extremely wealthy and powerful
person may entertain this attitude, considering his status in society.
Such is not the Advaitic realization of the oneness of the individual self
and the Supreme Brahman.  In this realization, the creatorship, etc. of
Ishwara (who is saguNa brahman in Advaita) are negated and the body-mind
apparatus constituting the jIvahood entailing transmigratory life of the
individual is negated. The unnegatable Consciousness and Existence alone is
the subject matter of the unity.  Such realization does not express itself
as 'I am Ishwara'.  It is no way related to the arrogant thinking 'I am

The word Ishwara has several meanings depending on the context.
 For instance in the BG 18 ch. 43rd verse contains kshatriya's karma: dAnam
IshwarabhAvashcha...which simply means the kshatriya has the tendency to
engage in dAnam and it is dharma for him to have the feeling of lordship
over subjects/country.  Could we say that the kshatriya having IshwarabhAva
to be arrogance? Never.

In the BG we have expressions like: madbhAvam so'dhigacchati [he, the
Jnani, attains to My state] 14.19, 'madbhAvAyopapadyate' [the jnani is fit
to attain to My state]13.18.  These instances, for Advaitins, are
significant in that they are about the Advaitic realization of the unity of
the individual with the Supreme.  The word 'IshwarabhAvaH' of the 18.43,
might look very similar to the above two expressions.  But, as explained
above, Advaita does not take that as the realization signifying unity.

Krishna is specifying it as dharma for kshatriya.  In the 16th ch.
instance, it is Asuric for one to think that he is a lord (landlord, etc.)
and that he is having immense bhoga at his disposal.  The dvaitins have
wrongly attributed this to be Krishna's indictment of Advaita. Advaitins
never teach or claim that 'the jiva is Ishwara' or ' aham  IshwaraH'.  For
advaitins Ishwara is saguNa brahman and no identity can be possible with
Him.  The identity, aikya, is ONLY with the nirguNa brahman which is pure
consciousness (without the admixture of prakRti/mAyA which is essential for
Ishwara to engage in creation) whereas the jIva, divested of his body/mind
complex is also pure consciousness.  ONLY at this level there is aikyam.
Dvaitins, not aware of this, mistakenly think that this verse is

In fact the term 'IshwarabhAva' of the 18.43 can be a fine candidate for
criticism since the Lord Himself says elsewhere: 'madbhAvam so'dhigacchati'
{the aparokSha jnAni attains to My state'} While this would mean for
advaitins the advaitic moksha, this term 'madbhAvaH' can (wrongly) match
with 'IshwarabhAvaH'.  But they never mean the same, as pointed out above.

We have 'koTeeswara' to indicate a crore-pati, lankeshwara to indicate
RavaNa, vittesha, to indicate kubera (a word in the BG itself ), sureshwara
to indicate Indra, ganesha/wara  and so on.  We have in the Gita itself the
name 'sarva-yogeeshwareshvaraH' which means: the Lord Krishna is the Lord
of all lords of yoga.  That is, an expert yogin is a yogeeswara.  Lord
Krishna is the Lord of all such experts.  I pointed out these instances
just to show that the word ishwara is not just Parameswara or sarveswara
but simply lord.  Lord of what and whom is the question to be considered
wherever this word is encountered.

Just thought of giving a clarification.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list