[Advaita-l] The body is the disease

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Jan 10 11:09:57 CST 2014

On Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 9:59 PM, Suresh <mayavaadi at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear Subrahmanian,
> Thanks for the explanation, but isn't it a little odd to ascribe ignorance
> to Brahman? I may be missing something, so please clarify. If Brahman is
> nirguna, how did ignorance or desire come about? Why the need to create the
> world?
> Or should I assume that the world, being an illusion, was never created -
> and that its 'existence' is only accepted in the same sense that the
> snake's existence is accepted (that is, until the rope is clearly seen)?

The kalpanA is done based on the shruti passage that I cited:
Br.up.1.4.10.  Shankara addresses the question: 'how can Brahman have
ignorance?'  and concludes: since there is no other sentient being which
can realize its own self as 'aham brahma asmi' and thereby realize its
infinitude 'brahma vA idam agra AsIt, tat AtmAnam Eva avEt aham brahma asmi
iti. tasmAt tat sarvam abhavat', it is perforce to be accepted that it had
ignorance which it shed owing to the knowledge of itself it gained.  For,
ignorance and knowledge can happen only to a sentient being.

As per Advaita all the shruti passages about brahman creating the world,
sustaining it and dissolving it, pertain to the saguNa brahman, Ishwara
which is a shruti-made adhyAropa only to enable the liberation of the
jiva-aspirant.  The apavAda of the adhyAropa comes/happens when the jIva
realizes the Truth: that he, as Brahman, was never ever in bondage; ever
free.  As I have pointed out before, citing Vidyaranya's verse from the

 मायाख्यायाः कामधेनोर्वत्सौ जीवेश्वरावुभौ।
यथेच्छं पिबतां द्वैतं तत्त्वं त्वद्वैतमेव हि॥६-२३६॥
 jIva and Ishvara are the two calves of the Kamadhenu cow called mAyA. Let
them drink (the milk) of duality as much as they desire, but nonduality
alone is the truth.


> Thanks again.
> Suresh
>   On Friday, 10 January 2014 1:04 PM, V Subrahmanian <
> v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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).
> (49)
> 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
> knowledge.
> 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.
> regards
> subbu
> Thanks in advance.
> Suresh
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