[Advaita-l] Did Vyaasa mean Athaato Vishnu Jijnaasaa or Shiva Jijnaasaa?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jul 20 01:42:55 CDT 2016

On Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 11:21 PM, Srinath Vedagarbha via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Who/What is Brahman?
> Shruti itself ask the question 'Why Brahman is called 'Brahman'? ' ataH
> kasmAt ucchatyE bhahmEti ? The answer comes from the same shruti
> 'brihantO asmin hi guNAha' . That's how idea of Brahman as ananta-guNa
> pUrNa.

Guṇas are attributed to Brahman for the purpose of upāsana. That Brahman
which is to be known, realized, is taught as:

Tat 'eva' Brahma tvam viddhi, nedam yadidam upāsate. Kenopaniṣad.  That
alone is Brahman that you have to know (which impels the sense organs) and
is not that which people meditate upon as 'idam', this, as an object.

Finding this detrimental to his siddhānta, Madhva broke that word 'upāsate'
into three: upa, āsa, te. 'That one who is sitting near you and controlling
you' is Brahman and not 'this jivarupam'.  Yet the mantra has been rendered
without the word shown as 'upāsa te':


> The same idea is echoed in mahA nArayaNa Upanishad's assertion "tad
> Eva brahma paramaM kavInaam". It says about deity Who is sarvOttama resting
> on the seprpent. At the very end, this Upanishad concludes with assertion
> 'tad Eva brahma paramam kavInaam'. Kavi-s (jnyAni-s) call this being only
> (tad Eva) as 'paramaM Brahma'. Please note the prefix 'paramaM' in case
> anyone were to say such deity is gouNI brahman. Thus, vishNu only is
> Parabrahma according to this pramANa.
> Also, when it come to the term 'Atma', we have shruti saying AtatatvAchha
> mAtrutvAdAtmEti paramO hariH | AtmA bhAsAstadanyE tu na heYtEShAM
> tatA guNAH ||
> Krishna's direct words in this sense nails the dispute on who is known from
> all of shAstra-s -- 'vEdEschha sarvErahamEva vEdyaH'

In the Kathopanishad 1.2.15 in reply to Nachiketa's question which itself
defines Brahman, we have:

सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति तपांसि सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति ।
यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति तत्ते पदं सङ्ग्रहेण ब्रवीम्योमित्येतत् ॥ १५ ॥

All the vedas teach that state to be reached and all austerities are
followed for that purpose, I shall say about it in brief: Om is that.

And after that what follows is all about the nature of this Brahman and
nowhere any guṇas are brought in. Thus, Krishna is meaning this Brahman
alone by the word 'Me', and not he, the person who was born on a particular
day and departed on another.

> Not all sUtra-s are about advaitic nirguNa bahman -- for example, second
> sUtra is about creation and under advaitic reading this sUtra is talking
> about creator gouNI brahman and not nirguNa brhamn.

Not so. The janmādi sutra and the mantra underlying it is taken by
Advaitins as meaning both the svarupa and taṭastha lakshana of Brhaman. It
is the vivartopādāna kāraṇam of the world.  See this explanation by a
scholar, especially the last line in the image:


Thus the jijñāsya Brahman is not a gauṇī (saguṇa) but mukhyam, nirguṇam.

Presenting Brahman as a person, with a body, resting on a serpent-couch,
etc. is symbolic, to help the initial aspirant to think of the abstract


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