[Advaita-l] Nirguna brahman.

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Sep 12 02:15:43 EDT 2022

On Fri, 9 Sep 2022, Kaushik Chevendra wrote:

> We say that brahman is satchitananda. But we also say that
> brahman is nirguna. Isnt ekam,sat,chit,ananda gunas of brahman?

What does guna mean in this context?  It is a tatastha lakshana meaning it 
is a quality that serves to distinguish between two entities of a 
particular class.  A human is a living being that has two legs; a cow is a 
living being that has four legs.  So leggedness is a guna that 
distinguishes members of the class of living beings.  Chaitra is a human 
being who is tall while Maitra is a human being who is short.  So height 
is a guna that distinguishes members of the class of human beings.

sat, chit, and ananda are not tatastha lakshanas.  We cannot compare two 
different members of the class of Brahmans because there is only one 
Brahman, i.e. it is a class of one.  Simultaneously it is in the class of 
all.  You cannot compare two random things and say one is Brahman and one 
is not because Brahman pervades all things.  There is not thing which is 
not Brahman.

So sat, chit and ananda are said to be svarupa lakshanas.  They discribe 
the thing in itself and not in comparison to others.

It is perfectly possible to conceive of Brahman as saguna ("with gunas") 
in fact in some contexts it may be advantageous to do so.  This is because 
the class of all includes the class of all gunas but conversely the class 
of gunas is only a subset of the class of all.  So saguna Brahman is only 
a subset of Brahman and that is why we refer to that Brahman as nirguna. 
i.e. "not having specific gunas" not "not having gunas at all."

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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