[Advaita-l] Real vs. Unreal

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 14 03:50:32 CST 2013

> > RV: Vedanta means that the conclusion s a synthesis of all knowledge. We
> have to suppose omniscience with respect to the teacher, sastras or
> Ishwara. Teachers don't claim omniscience (leave alone the yogic state that
> Madhusudana refers to). Ishwara is known only through sastras. Sastras are
> not inerrant (e.g. chandra farther than surya). In my understanding,
> sampradaya accepts sastras as omniscient but does not treat sabda pramana
> as inerrant as Christians or Muslims treat bible or quran. We treat sabda
> as the authority with respect to unseen (result of dharma, devas, Ishwara
> etc.) but don't blindly accept when it contradicts pratyaksha or anumana.
> If sastras say fire is cold, we won't conclude that it is so and touch it
> as pratyaksha pramana tells us otherwise. In relation to the current
> topic, though sastras say that the world is unreal, we are forced to accept
> its reality as long as we see it.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you are not satisfied with merely
better or more knowledge and have to suppose omniscience, then you have
to repose the requisite level of faith in the omniscience of teacher/SAstra-s. 
The question of not blindly accepting SAstra does not arise. If a SAstra vAkya
conflicts with pratyaksha, such as fire being cold, then we don't blindly reject
it either. We say that it has to have a hidden meaning behind the surface
meaning that causes such a conflict. We set aside the literal meaning in favor
of a secondary meaning. We take up that secondary meaning as a way to
resolve the apparent conflict, but we don't sacrifice the authority of SAstra
and we certainly don't accept it piecemeal.
So, when it comes to the advaita SAstra about the reality or otherwise of the
world, you cannot keep harping on pratyaksha and insist that the world has
to be real. You have to be prepared to understand what mithyAtva means, as
has been explained numerous times by numerous people on this list and not
get hung up on a binary view of reality vs. unreality. If you move on from this
kind of logic, then the problem of being forced to accept the absolute reality
of jagat as long as we see it just ceases to be a problem. 
> > You can also study a pot all you want, but unless you apply the SAstra
> > that says
> > that all matter is ultimately energy, you will never reach the conclusion
> > that the
> > pot is also ultimately energy. Similarly, you can study your self all you
> > want, but
> > unless you apply the SAstra that pertains to AtmavidyA, you will never be
> > free
> > of the adhyAsa that again and again conjures up a not-self as your Self.
> >
> > RV: If sastras are established as the authority with respect to atma
> vidya, yes but self is self-evident unlike devas, dharma etc. that can only
> be known through sastras. sastras or logic can only challenge
> my mis-conceptions of my self. They cannot illumine what is already known -
> the self- as it lead to the fallacy of teaching the obvious.
Not quite. What makes you think that the SAstra-s are not the authority for
AtmavidyA? Other than the self-evident reality of the self, SAstra is the *only*
authority for AtmavidyA.
If your self is so completely self-evident to you that you know yourself to be
liberated, then yes, the quest for moksha doesn't apply and yes, SAstra is
superfluous. The problem of bandha-moksha is exactly the reverse. You
(and I and almost everybody else) do not correctly distinguish your self
from not-self, which is why is SAstra is necessary. It is because the AtmA,
although self-evident, is hidden, that the upanishat says, AtmA vA are
drashTavyaH - the Self is to be seen. 
And if nothing less than omniscience of SAstra will satisfy you regarding its
acceptance as an authority in this regard, this brings you back to the need
to repose faith in that quality of the SAstra. You cannot keep vacillating
between positing omniscience to SAstra on the one had and saying that 
SAstra is not inerrant on the other. saMSayAtmA vinaSyati, the gItA teaches.
Best regards,

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