[Advaita-l] Permanence of the self

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Feb 17 05:10:56 CST 2015

The BG 2.16:  Sat, Existence, never goes out of existence. [Nor does it
come into existence; it is ever-existent]

This can never be proved wrong, that is, never denied, by anyone.   However
much can one try, one can never imagine a situation where existence is
not.  After denying existence, Sat, what will be? Such a question might be
answered: Nothing will be.  Still that nothing is admitted to exist, in
that reply itself: nothing will 'be'.  He is only giving another name or
no-name for that situation which still 'is'.  He is only vehemently against
the word 'existence', sat, since it comes from the Veda.

In the Panchadashi 2nd chapter, verses 25 onwards, Swami Vidyaranya has
pointed out that the term 'shūnya' is only another name for Sat, Existence:

( भूतविवेकोनामद्वितीयः परिच्छेदः |)
भगवत्पूज्यपादाश्च शुष्कतर्कपटूनमून् |
आहुर्माध्यमिकान्भ्रान्तानचिन्त्येऽस्मिन्सदात्मनि ||२५||
अनादृत्य श्रुतिं मौर्ख्यादिमे बौद्धस्तपस्विनः |
आपेदिरे निरामत्वमनुमानैकचक्षुषः ||२६||
शून्यमासीदिति ब्रूषे सद्योगं वा सदात्मताम् |
शून्यस्य न तु तद्युक्तमुभयं व्याहतत्वतः ||२७||
न युक्तस्तमसा सूर्यो नापि चासौ तमोमयः
|***सच्छून्ययोर्विरोधित्वाच्छून्यमासीत्कथं* वद *||२८||
*वियदादेर्नामरूपे मायया सति कल्पिते |
शून्यस्य नामरूपे च तथा चेज्जीव्यतां चिरम् ||२९||

30. The highly respected Bhagavatpada Sankara also refers to the Madhyamikas,
  experts in dry ratiocination (contradicting the vedic view), as
confused regarding
  the self-existent Brahman who is beyond thought.

    31. These Buddhists, merged in darkness, and seeing through the
one eye of inference
  and neglecting the authority of the Vedas, reached only the 'nothingness'.

  32. (We ask the Buddhists): When you said, 'nothing existed' did you mean it
  (nothing) was connected with existence (Sat) or it (nothing) was of
the nature
  of existence ? In either case its nothingness is contradicted.

    33. The sun does not have the attribute of darkness; nor is it
itself of the
  nature of darkness. As existence and non-existence are similarly
  (you cannot predicate something about nothing, so) how do you say
'nothing existed'

  34. (The Buddhists retort): (According to you Vedantins) The names and forms
  of Akasa and other elements are conjured up by Maya in (or on) Sat,
the existence
  or Reality. Similarly (according to us) they (names and forms) are illusively
  produced by Maya in (or on) non-existence, Asat. (Reply): Our answer is, 'May
  you live long', i.e. you have fallen into a logical trap.

    35. If you affirm that name and form attributed to an existing
thing: are both
  creations of Maya (an illusory principle), then tell us what is the
  upon which Maya creates names and forms; for illusion without a substratum,
  is never seen.

End of translation.

My advise is to first understand the above concepts thoroughly and
engage in an argument.

If he does not agree with the above, leave him at that.


On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 3:59 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I work in an office where my boss is a Buddhist, of the Madhyamaka
> tradition of Nagarjuna. We tend to have several lively debates on the
> nature of reality, and one of the questions that we have recently engaged
> on is the concept of a permanent Brahman (self) onto which this universe,
> including the BMI, is superimposed due to avidya.
> Unsurprisingly, he opposes the very notion of a self, and more
> fundamentally, the idea of permanence itself (even on a parAmArthika
> basis). His view, coming from the Nagarjuna school is of shunyata, or
> emptiness (mutual interdependence of everything). And that emptyness itself
> is empty.
> What are the arguments that I can make to prove the existence of the
> Universal self to him?
> I am aware of Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada's argument in the Brahma Sutra
> Bhashya that to deny the self is illogical - the denier would have to have
> a self in existence with which to deny the self. And if he didn't have a
> self, then the denial wouldn't exist. However, and my understanding is
> limited here - How does this in itself establish the permanence of the
> self? At best, it seems to me that this argument proves that the denier's
> ego at a fixed point in time, not the universal, permanent self. I suspect
> he could also reject the idea of an individual self, instead saying that it
> is the momentary mind that denies, in that example.
> I can point him to shruti vAkya pramAna, but to someone that denies the
> prAmanyam of shruti, that wouldn't be effective. Any suggestions?
> Regards,
> Venkat
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