[Advaita-l] The body is the disease

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Jan 10 01:34:26 CST 2014

On Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 8:50 PM, Suresh <mayavaadi at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear Friends,
> When someone asked Ramana about his disease, he is said to have remarked:
> the body is the disease.
> I take it he means the body limits the all-pervading consciousness. If so,
> why does Brahman assume the body in the first place and limit itself thus?
> Even if it's maya, what purpose would taking a body serve?

The method of Advaita is that Brahman has assumed the body-idea out of
ignorance.  In advaita Brahman is not omniscient the way Ishwara is;
Brahman is nirguNa tattvam, secondless.  The concepts 'Ishwara' and 'jiva'
are assumed by the shAstra in order to explain the inexplicable samsAra
anubhava.  These verses of the Vivekachudamani reply the question raised:

श्रद्धाभक्ति-ध्यानयोगान् मुमुक्षोः

            मुक्तेर्हेतून् वक्ति साक्षाच्छ्रुतेर्गीः ।

यो वा एतेष्वेव तिष्ठत्यमुष्य

            मोक्षोऽविद्याकल्पिताद्देहबन्धात् ॥४८॥

The words of the Veda directly proclaim Truth, Devotion, Knowledge and
Concentration as the causes of Freedom.  To one who is steadfast in these
alone will there be freedom from the bondage of the body which is but a
creation of Ignorance.                                   (48)

अज्ञानयोगात्परमात्मनस्तव ह्यानात्मबन्धस्तत एव संसृतिः ।

तयोर्विवेकोदित-बोधवह्निः अज्ञानकार्यं प्रदहेत्समूलम् ॥४९॥

For you who are really Supreme Self, bondage with what is not-self arose by
association with ignorance; and from that itself arose samsara. The fire of
knowledge arising from the discrimination between these two (the self and
the not-self) will burn away all the offshoots of ignorance along with the
root cause (ignorance itself).

The above has the basis in the Brihadaranyaka up. 1.4.10 and the shAnkara
bhAShya thereon.  The upanishad here says: brahman indeed was.  It realized
itself as 'aham brahma asmi' ['I am Brahman'] and therefore shed its finite
idea realizing its infinite nature.

According to this shruti, Advaita concludes that Brahman alone owing to
ignorance entertained the idea of bondage and realized its true nature by

Closely corresponding to this above cited Br.up. mantra, there is another
mantra in this very upanishat: 1.4.17.  While the above 1.4.10 commences:
brahma vA idamagra AsIT, the 1.4.17 starts AtmA vA idam agra AsIt eka Eva
so'kAmayata jAyA mE syAt...

The complete mantra is thus translated:

//17.    In the beginning this aggregate of desirable objects was but the
self, one only. He cherished the desire: "Let me have a wife, so  that I
may be born as the child; and let me have wealth, so that I  may perform
rites." This much, indeed, is the range of desire;  even if one wishes, one
cannot get more than this. Therefore, to  this day, a man who is single
desires: "Let me have a wife, so  that I may be born as the child; and let
me have wealth, so that I  may perform rites." So long as he does not
obtain each one of  these, he thinks he is incomplete.  Now, his
completeness can also come in this way: The mind is  his self, speech his
wife, the vital breath his child, the eye his  human wealth, for he finds
it with the eye; the ear his divine  wealth, for he hears it with the ear;
the body his instrument of  rites, for he performs rites through the body.
So this sacrifice  has five factors—the animals have five factors, men have
five  factors and all this that exists has five factors. He who knows  this
obtains all this.  //

So, Atma/brahman assumes a body only in the wrong thinking that it is
finite and becomes a samsArin.



> Thanks in advance.
> Suresh
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