[Advaita-l] Prayer with full understanding - 2

Kuntimaddi Sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 3 10:50:47 EDT 2021

Here is the second part--------------------
Immortality: mrutyormaa amrutam gamaya| The third part of the prayer says, “Leadus from mortality to immortality.” And there is a problem here too. The veryrequest assumes that we are mortal since we were born at such and such a timeand place. The whole Geetopadeshamstarted because of Arjuna’s apprehension that he was going to kill his ownteachers and grandsires, in whose lap he grew up: guruunahatvaa hi mahaanubhaavaan shreyobhoktum bhaixya mapeeha loke|“It would be better to beg alms and live, rather than kill these great teachersand noble souls.” Hence, like us, Arjuna is aware of our mortality. Krishnaconfirms this by stating the ‘Law of Eternal-Recycle,’ which follows from theLaw of Conservation: That which is born has to die, and that which dies has tobe reborn: jaatasyahi druvo mtuH, druvamjanma mrutasya ca| Hence, if one considers himself as a mortal, he cannever be immortal. On the other hand, if he knows he is immortal – because ofthe above statement of Krishana (na tvevaaham ...) – then the request to “lead us from mortality to immortality”is either impossible, since anything that is born must die; or useless, sinceit is already an accomplished fact – existence can never cease to exist. Basedon this analysis, the third part of the prayer, “mrutyormaa amrutam gamaya,” also appears to be in vain. 

In the scriptures, a sage calls us, ‘shrunvantu vishve amrutasya putraaH – Oh! The sons of immortality’.That is ‘immortality’ is our birthright. Thus, all three requests that we’vemade in our prayer appear to be in vain. If we just repeat the mantras withoutunderstanding, like a parrot, then we have no way of knowing even if the Lordgrants us our request – because we have no idea what we asked for! In addition,we are making these requests without even knowing whether we are qualified toreceive that which we are asking for. It’s as if a child were to go to auniversity professor and to ask him for knowledge of quantum mechanics, withoutknowing even what the term means, and without knowing whether he is qualifiedto receive that knowledge or not. But since these are Upanishadic mantras,there must be a deeper meaning involved. 

The Nature of Knowledge:  Knowledge,pramaa, can be known through pramaaNa(a means of knowledge) when there is a pramaata(knower) and prameya (object ofknowledge). Normally, I can only have objective knowledge. The means ofknowledge are basically three: (1) pratyaxa(perceptual); (2) anumaana(inferential); and shabda(scriptural). The first two are related to loukikaprameyas (worldly objective knowledge), while the third is shruti praamaana (revelatory knowledge)– that is, it is for aloukika prameyas(the knowledge of dharma, swarga, naraka, etc.). Any prameya, or object of knowledge, can be known only through itsattributes or qualities. In fact, the definition of an object is based on itsattributes, which differ from those of other objects in the Universe. Thesenses can only measure these attributes and feed that data to the mind. Themind, in turn, integrates the inputs from the senses and provides an image –superimposing on that image the gathered attributes. The result is expressed asa thought in mind. Thus, a chair “out there” is recognized by its form, color,and other properties as perceived by the senses; and the image of that chair isformed in mind with these attributes. So, the cognitive process involvesperception, volition, and cognition. The cognized image with the perceivedattributes is next compared with the images stored in our memory. When there isa reasonable match, we “recognize” that this thing out there is a chair. 
In reality, however –from the mind’s point of view – the chair out there is only a “chair-thought”in mind’. So, if there is no mind (i.e., if we are asleep or lost in ourdreams, etc.), there is no chair out there. Out of mind is out of sight! Infact, the very existence of a chair – or any object for that matter; even theentire world “out there” – cannot be established without the mind, supported bythe conscious entity, present. The existence of the world must be proved orestablished by a conscious entity since the world is jadam, or inert, whereas a conscious entity exists independently ofthe world. The world “out there” is dependent, whereas “I,” i.e., the consciousentity, is an independent entity. In fact, the self-conscious entity alone is aself-existent entity, while the inert entity must always depend on aself-conscious entity for its existence. To be continued --------------------

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