[Advaita-l] (no subject)

Michael Chandra Cohen michaelchandra108 at gmail.com
Mon May 23 14:40:26 EDT 2022

Please excuse formatting. I am having trouble responding to Advaita-l
emails and had to resort to cut and paste.

Dear Sri Chadramouli, Namaste.

   1. It seems to me, SSS was neither contradicting Sankara nor
   compromising his own position. Context is all important as Sankara does use
   terms with nuanced difference and then interchangeably at other times (my
   earlier Hacker link may provide example). In your citation, SSS is saying
   avidya causes samsara and from that arises maya which accounts for
   materiality - avidya is the cause of maya! I don't see the difficulty.

 H S Chandramouli hschandramouli at gmail.comHide
To Michael Chandra Cohen michaelchandra108 at gmail.com

Pranams Sri Cohen,

Please feel free to use sir in place of sri if you feel more natural and
comfortable with it. Better still, drop both of them altogether and be
really natural. No issues.

As I mentioned earlier, I haPlove oriented my understanding  of the Advaita
Sidhanta based on mUlAvidyA because that is what is advanced by Sri
Bhagavatpada. There is no better way to explain my position to you than to
start with Sri SSS himself.

I am citing from the Introduction by Sri SSS in his text on KathOpanishad,
page vi, in kannada under the title “what is avidyA”, which I have
translated to English here

Quote  << Although the AchArya has indeed used at some places the terms
avidyA and mAyA as synonymous terms, since apart from deliberating  that
avidyA is mithyAjnAna which is destroyed by vidyA (AdhyAsa BhAshya) and
that mayA is the seedform of nAmarUpa imagined through avidyA
(avidyAkalpita) (BSB 2-1-14) ;  again further in a sUtra bhAshya initiated
for deliberating upon the meaning of the term **avyakta **, two versions
are separately presented ;; on the one hand taking the stand that **avyakta
is mAyA ** and on the other hand  ** avyakta is avidyA ** (BSB 1-4-3),-- it
becomes clear that in shAnkara prasthAna avidyA belongs to the realm of
knowledge (jnAnakOti) while mAyA belongs to the realm of objects
(jnEyakOti). Hence ** avidyA is the seed for samsAra ** needs to be
 understood as cause for samsAra while ** avyakta is the seed for jagat **
needs to be understood as avyakta being the upAdAna kAraNa >>. Unquote

Sri SSS has presented the issue as one of self-contradiction in the bhAshya
which he has preferred to resolve by accepting an interpretational view of
the BhAshya (his own interpretation) rather than the direct view (avidyA
and mAyA are synonymous terms) stated in the BhAshya. This is in
contravention of the generally accepted rule which calls for accepting the
direct statements and interpreting others in line with this. Indeed that is
what the other commentators have adopted. Once this is done, there is no
selfcontradiction either in the BhAshya.

In this context (jnAnakOti and jnEyakOti), I am tempted to link it to one
of your observations in the thread in the Forum.

<<  *Something from nothing is good epistemology, bad ontology. avidya is an
epistemological error upon an ontological reality. An epistemological
agrahana commonly produces an effect - not knowing the train's schedule;
forgetting the wife's birthday. Name and form is all that accounts for what
we call jagat.    * >>

My understanding is that by epistemology you are referring to **jnAnakOti**
while ontology refers to **jnEyakOti**. As broughtout above, avidyA or
mUlAvidyA includes both epistemology (jnAna) and ontology (jnEya). I am not
elaborating as it is selfexplanatory.

I will limit myself to just this one reason for my leaning towards
mUlAvidyA in this note. In my understanding, Sri SSS has been obliged to
make compromises at so many points in the BhAshya just to sustain this one
fundamental postulate of his which I think is contradictory to the bhAshya
itself. As brought out above, he even has to present the bhAshya itself as
selfcontradictory just to sustain this one postulate of his.

I leave it at this for the present. You may like to consider.
Pranams and Regards

On Sat, May 21, 2022 at 9:00 PM Michael Chandra Cohen <
michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:

Pranam Sri Chandramouli, To my mind as a non-native speaker, sri and sir
carry similar respectfully impersonal tones. It is an honor and blessing to
have this forum to share with such venerable members, mulAvidya or

I am curious, if you don't mind, what your bias toward mulAvidya hinges
upon particularly after being so well read in SSS - not to argue but for
the sake of manana.

On Sat, May 21, 2022 at 5:29 AM H S Chandramouli <hschandramouli at gmail.com>

Pranams Cohen,

Please drop the ‘sir’ part while addressing me. We can be informal at least
in personal mails.

My mother tongue is kannada and my knowledge of Sanskrit is not adequate
for vedantic studies. Sri SSS has done a yeoman service for the benefit of
such kannadigas by publishing all the Prasthanatraya Bhashyas in kannada
script along with translation in kannada. It makes for easy and comfortable
reading and understanding. This backup enables vedantic studies in Sanskrit
language itself for a better understanding of the subject. Hence it is that
I have studied all the prasthanatraya bhashyas in kannada published by Sri
SSS. I have also studied many of his other works as well including VPP
(translated by Alston), Kleshapaharini (kannada rendering of the commentary
by Sri SSS on Naishkarmya Siddhi in Sanskrit), and many others.Even as on
date, I regularly refer to his works during day to day studies on Advaita

But I have also supplemented my reading of his works with other texts and
talks in kannada,english, tamil and Sanskrit as well.

Having said that, I have oriented my understanding of advaita sidhanta on
the mUlAvidyA concept as I believe that is what is advanced by Sri
Bhagavatpada. While I refer to the works of Sri SSS, I do bypass those
ideas which I know do not conform to this approach and proceed further.

I did have a discussion through mail with Subhanu, who is perhaps known to
you,  a few years back which ended midway thru on the mUlAvidyA topic. I am
weary of participating in discussions on Sri SSS views in open Forums
except on very few occasions.
Pranams and Regards
On Thu, May 19, 2022 at 3:35 AM Michael Chandra Cohen <
michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:

Chandramouli Sir, It is agreed by all that Upadesha Sahasri is a work of
Bhagavat Pujya. The one Sureswara reference you cited was discounted by SSS
in my last correspondence. Sureswara's reference to US18.47 is translated
by Alston in a manner not consistent with bhavarupa avidya - footnote

rajju-sarpo yatha rajjva satmakah prag vivekatah avastu sann api hy esa
kutasthenatmana tatha
"[46] Just as the rope-snake, (though unreal), possesses being by virtue of
the rope until it is discriminated from it, so also does the (complex of)
the Self, receptacle and reflection (possess being) by virtue of the
changeless Self (until it is discriminated from it).1"

fn1 The words ‘Self, receptacle and reflection’ have been drawn in from the
following verse according to the interpretation of the present verse given
by Svami Satchidanandendra in The Method of the Vedanta (London, 1989),
p.335 and p.432.

On Thu, May 19, 2022 at 5:25 PM Michael Chandra Cohen <
michaelchandra108 at gmail.com> wrote:

Chandramouli sir, Have you read many of SSS's texts but remain convinced of
mulAvidyavada? Can you casually note what convinces you one way or the

On Thu, May 19, 2022 at 7:25 AM H S Chandramouli <hschandramouli at gmail.com>

Pranams Sri Cohen,

Sri SSS has translated Upadesha Sahasri into kannada with a brief
commentary. The verses 45 and 46, Chapter 18 cited in my earlier posts
appear as verses 43 and 44 in this text. I am copying below the verses and
the translation/commentary  by Sri SSS in kannada rendered into English by

<< अविद्यामात्र एवातः संसारोऽस्त्वविवेकतः I कूटस्थेनात्मना
नित्यमात्मवानात्मनीव  सः II >>  II 43 II

<<  avidyAmAtra evAtaH saMsAro.astvavivekataH I kUTasthenAtmanA
nityamAtmavAnAtmanIva  saH II  >>  II 43 II

Translation by Sri SSS  <<  Therefore let samsAra be considered as avidyA
only, it always derives its existentiality from the kUtastha Atman, appears
to exist in Atman >>

Anvaya  (entries shown within brackets to be added for completion)  <<  अतः
संसारः अविद्यामात्र एव (आत्मनात्मनोः) अविवेकतः (प्रतीयते इति) अस्तू I  सः
नित्यम्  कूटस्थेन आत्मना आत्मवान् आत्मनि (स्थित) इव  II  >>

<<  ataH saMsAraH avidyAmAtra eva (AtmanAtmanoH) avivekataH (pratIyate iti)
astU I  saH nityam  kUTasthena AtmanA AtmavAn Atmani (sthita) iva  II  >>

Commentary of Sri SSS  << This is the real answer to the question ** To
whom is samsAra bandha **. As told earlier, it is only when the three
--Self, ahamkAra and AtmAbhAsa appearing in ahamkAra—are not distinguished
 separately and understood, mithyAjnAna of the nature of ** I am
knower/karta/bhOkta** takes place >>.

<<  रज्जुसर्पो  यधा  रज्ज्वा  सात्मकः  प्राग्विवेकतः I  अवस्तुसन्नपि  ह्येष
  कूटस्थेनात्मना  तथा  आत्माभासाश्रयश्च II   >>  II 44 II

<<  rajjusarpo  yadhA  rajjvA  sAtmakaH  prAgvivekataH I  avastusannapi
hyeSha  kUTasthenAtmanA  tathA  AtmAbhAsAshrayashcha II  >>  II 44 II

Note :: The term आत्माभासाश्रयश्च AtmAbhAsAshrayashcha is an addition
appearing in this text. It is a significant addition.

Translation by Sri SSS  <<  Just as the rope-snake derives its being from
the rope alone prior to discrimination (viveka), even so though asatya it
derives its being from the kUtastha Atman. As Ashraya for AtmAbhAsa
(ahamkAra also similarly derives its being from the Atman)  >>

Anvaya  (entries shown within brackets to be added for completion)  << यथा
रज्जुसर्पः विवेकतः प्राक्  रज्वा सात्मकः तथा एषः (संसारः) अवस्तुसन्नपि
कूटस्थेनात्मना (सात्मकः) I  आत्माभासाश्रयः (अहङ्कारः) च (तथैव
कूटस्थेनात्मना सात्मकः) I  >>

<<  yathA rajjusarpaH vivekataH prAk  rajvA sAtmakaH tathA eShaH (saMsAraH)
avastusannapi kUTasthenAtmanA (sAtmakaH)  I  AtmAbhAsAshrayaH (aha~NkAraH)
cha (tathaiva kUTasthenAtmanA sAtmakaH)  I  >>

Alternate anvaya  <<  यथा रज्जुसर्पः विवेकतः प्राक्  रज्वा सात्मकः तथा एषः
आत्माभासाश्रयश्च (=आत्माभासाश्रयोपि) अवस्तुसन्नपि कूटस्थेनात्मना (आत्मवान्)
I  आत्माभासाश्रयः (अहङ्कारः) च (तथैव कूटस्थेनात्मना सात्मकः) I >>

<<  yathA rajjusarpaH vivekataH prAk  rajvA sAtmakaH tathA eShaH
AtmAbhAsAshrayashcha (=AtmAbhAsAshrayopi) avastusannapi kUTasthenAtmanA
(AtmavAn) I  AtmAbhAsAshrayaH (aha~NkAraH) cha (tathaiva kUTasthenAtmanA
sAtmakaH) I  >>.

Commentary by Sri SSS  << This is the answer to the question  ** What is
the reason for either the ahamkAra or samsAra which do not really have an
existence to appear to be existent ** . Similarly all mithyA objects such
as rope-snake etc derive their capacity to appear to exist from the sattA (
सत्ता) of their respective adhishthAnam like rope. The being of anAtma is
essentially the Being of Atman alone, they do not have a being separate or
apart from that. Only due to this, as soon as the discrimination between
Atman and anAtma (आत्मानात्मविवेक AtmAnAtmaviveka ) arises, it resolves
into the Atman >>.

You will notice the difference in the textual meaning as given above by Sri
SSS from the one presented by you from The Method of the Vedanta. My
understanding of the verses is not discounted by Sri SSS. It is upto you
how you look at it.

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