[Advaita-l] A question on the 'form' and its purpose

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Jun 2 22:26:55 EDT 2018

A question on the 'form' and its purpose

In the course of a discussion in FB on a statement of the previous Sringeri
Jagadguru, posted by Sri Padmanabhan Venkataraman as part of his 'Sringeri
Days - Experiences with the Sringeri Acharya') the following was posted by
me.  I thought it would be a chintanam exercise for interested members here
and hence copied it in this forum:

The complete discussion, with several participants, including Dvaitins, can
be read here:

https://www.facebook.com/Paddyrao54/posts/1743198715765566   [no need for
one to be a FB member to view this]

I think of this entire question: //“ If you want to restrict Vishnu with a
rUpa , try to answer this : Is there Vishnu between the four arms ? If he
does not exist between arms , he is not omnipresent. On the contrary, if he
is present in the gaps between arms, where does his form start and end ?
What is the purpose of positing a form when presence transcends it?”.//
only one part, the first one, was discussed. Even there, the Sringeri
Acharya's 'if you want to restrict Vishnu to a rupa' portion, I think was
not noticed. The Sringeri Acharya was not therefore making any accusation
as he was only giving options. The portion of the question //On the
contrary, if he is present in the gaps between arms, where does his form
start and end ? What is the purpose of positing a form when presence
transcends it?// is that which requires serious consideration. The argument
that 'sarvaakaara' being 'vishva rupa' is fine. But vishva rupa has a limit
since vishva itself has a limit. The Purusha sukta says: paado'sya vishvaa
bhutaani, tripaadasya amrutam divi' [only one 'part' of Brahman is the
creation, vishva/bhutani and the three 'parts' are amrutam, in divi,
untouched by the world/creation/bhutaani. And it also says: 'atya tiShThad
dashaangulam' further confirming that Brahman is untouched by the creation
and is transcending creation. Even though no parts are there in Brahman,
Sayana clarifies that the part idea is only to let us know that Brahman is
untouched by creation. The Bh.Gita 10th chapter last verse also says this:
अथवा बहुनैतेन किं ज्ञातेन तवार्जुन ।
विष्टभ्याहमिदं कृत्स्नमेकांशेन स्थितो जगत् ॥ ४२ ॥ [...I support this entire
creation with just one amsha] Shankara cites the purusha sukta line:
विष्टभ्य विशेषतः स्तम्भनं दृढं कृत्वा इदं कृत्स्नं जगत् एकांशेन एकावयवेन
एकपादेन, सर्वभूतस्वरूपेण इत्येतत् ; तथा च मन्त्रवर्णः — ‘पादोऽस्य विश्वा
भूतानि’ (ऋ. १० । ८ । ९० । ३) इति ; स्थितः अहम् इति ॥ ४२ ॥ So, Brahman'
vishva rupa is the entire creation which itself is only an ekadesha of

So, we get the answer for the Sringeri Acharya's question: // if he is
present in the gaps between arms, where does his form start and end ?//
here in the above cited portions. The 'form' of Vishnu, Brahman, is the
entire creation, not restricted to the four-armed form. It starts and ends
with the entire creation. The Acharya's next statement, in conclusion, //
What is the purpose of positing a form when presence transcends it?” //
also gets nicely resolved by the above scriptural statements. The cited
statements clearly say that Brahman's Existence, Presence, Sat, transcends
the form, whether it is four-armed or the sarvaakaara, vishva rupa, form.
Naturally, then, the transcendental Brahman has to have no form, for 'form'
is that which can be seen/felt through indriya, whether sthula or sukshma.
That such is the case is known from the word 'divya chakshus' that Krishna
granted Arjuna to witness the vishva rupa. In Sanskrit the specs is called
upa-netram. The microscope or a telescope is also a special upa-netram
alone, enabling one to see the aNu and mahat rupa of Vishnu, Brahman. Yet,
this is restricted to the composite 'vishvam' and Brahman extends beyond
the vishvam, transcending it, although immanent in creation. The
transcendental aspect is the subject matter of the Upanishads, the Mandukya
seventh mantra; naantah prajnam....prapanchopashamam, ..being one example.
Then the question //the purpose of positing a form when presence transcends
it (the form)// is answered thus. The purpose of a form, whether eka rupa
or vishva rupa, is a means, upaya, to grasp the transcendental, rupaateeta,
Brahman that is 'atya tiShThat' which means: vishvaa bhuutaani ateetya
atiShThat' that which is Present transcending the vishva, creation. The
Acharya's 'poser' and the subtly implicit solution to the poser - both can
be seen in the entire statement that Sri Padmanabhan cited. That the
statement is so full of philosophical discourse is what can be appreciated.
It is a lesson in Vedanta.

Warm regards.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list