[Advaita-l] The status of the world

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Oct 22 23:19:48 EDT 2022

One of the attendants asked:
Sri Bhagavan has said: ‘Reality and myth are both the same’. How is it so?

Maharshi.: The tantriks and others of the kind condemn Sri Sankara’s
philosophy as "Maya Vada" without understanding him aright.

What does he say? He says:
(1) Brahman is real;
(2) The universe is a myth;
(3) The Universe is Brahman.

He does not stop at the second statement but continues to supplement it
with the third. What does it signify?

The Universe conceived to be apart from Brahman - that perception is wrong.

The antagonists point to his illustration of rajju sarpa (rope snake). This
is unconditioned superimposition. After the truth of the rope is known, the
illusion of snake is removed once for all.

But they should take the conditioned superimposition also into
consideration, e.g., marumarichika or mrigatrishna (water of mirage).

The mirage does not disappear even after knowing it to be a mirage. The
vision is there but the man does not run to it for water.

Sri Sankara must be understood in the light of both the illustrations. The
world is a myth. Even after knowing it, it continues to appear. It must be
known to be Brahman and not apart.

If the world appears, yet to whom does it appear, he asks. What is your
You must say the Self. If not, will the world appear to you in the absence
of the cognising Self? Therefore the Self is the reality. That is his

The phenomena are real as the Self and are myths apart from the Self.

Now, what do the tantriks, etc., say?
They say that the phenomena are real because they are part of the Reality
in which they appear. Are not these two statements the same? That is what I
meant by reality and falsehood being one and the same.

The antagonists continue :-
With the conditioned as well as the
unconditioned illusions considered, the phenomenon of water in mirage is
purely illusory because that water cannot be used for any purpose. Whereas
the phenomenon of the world is different, for it is purposeful. How then
does the latter stand on a par with the former?

A phenomenon cannot be a reality simply because it serves a purpose or
purposes. Take a dream for example.

The dream creations are purposeful; they serve the dream-purpose. The dream
water quenches dream thirst. The dream creation is however contradicted in
the waking state. The waking creation is contradicted
in the other two states (dream and sleep).

What is not continuous cannot be real. If real, the thing must ever and
always be real - and not real for a short time and unreal at other times.
So it is with magical creations. They appear real and are yet illusory.
Similarly the universe cannot be real of itself - that is to say, apart
from the underlying Reality.

~Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 315

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