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Advaita and Its Fallacies

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sangom

sangom

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Shri Vikrama,

I have commenced giving some info which, to my best knowledge, is from one of the authentic scholars who spent a life time researching Sankara's works. It will give some idea about how far Sankara and his advaita have been twisted out of shape and presented to us.

It is not correct IMO to say that advaita is "too abstract for the masses ... and there was the danger of people getting disenchanted from Hinduism" because for nearly 400 years the Sankara Mathams existed and people owing allegience were not diminishing; may be it was due to the fact that there was no compulsion to follow its precepts strictly in daily life, like other religions. But then there was no need IMO to twist Sankara's teachings by adding various stotras, poojas at the Sankara Mathams, approval of and positive encouragement to tAntric practices like SreevidyA - which Shri Rakesh claims, etc., by the Mathams which had the moral duty to preserve advaita in its pristine form as enunciated by Sankara.

Now, it will be better to say that most of us are practising davitins or viSishTAdvaitins rather than mere lip service to advaitam, saying "everything is brahman".
 
...One portion is not clear to me, viz., but one that is eternal, inseparable -- अपृदक्सिद्धि -- the reason this siddantam is called Visihta - advaitam. It looks as though some words are to be supplied/edited.
Dear Shri sangom, what I am trying to say is the body/soul relationship between jagat and Ishvara is eternally inseparable, unlike other body/soul relationships like the one we have in this birth. This inseparableness is referred to as अपृदक्सिद्धि and this is from where "advaitm" comes in the term visihtadvaitam.

best ...
 
Dear Shri vikrama, Greetings!

... Ramanuja had no such enemies to conquer. The philosophy taught by Sankara was too abstract for the masses (like me) and there was the danger of people getting disenchanted from Hinduism. So Ramanuja postulated the Visishtadvaita philosophy. However he could not totally break away from the Advaita which had held sway for more than two centuries before him. So he called it qualified monism.
This not correct. I have no idea what role advaitam played in the day-to-day life of people during the time of Ramanuja, but I think it is fair to assume it did not play any greater role than today. That is to say, people did not bother how abstract these were. In fact, the same can be said about VA as well, it can get quite abstract.

Next, Ramanuja had his share of "enemies" to conquer. His bio is filled with challenges, intrigue and even assassination attempts.

Ramanuja did not come up with VA, he himself says that. He did not establish any new MaThams the way Adi Sankara did. Ramanuja simply took over the SV MaTham from Swami Alavandhar. What Ramanuja did was to give a formal and systematic commentary to Brahmma Sutras called Sri Bhashyam.

I also do not believe SVs in general including Ramanuja tried to placate the proponents of Advaitam. VA is in fact a complete rejection of A in every way possible. VAs ridiculed As as pracchanna (concealed) bouddhas. They went to the extent of saying A is nothing but poison. The fact is A and VA have been at each others throats all along. Swami Sri Desikan wrote 108 verses criticizing A and called it shata dhUShaNi (only 60 or so survive today).

Finally, he never used the term "visishtaadvaitam" (qualified monism) in any of his writings. This terminology came into parlance much later after the death of Ramanuja.

Cheers!
 
Dear Shri sangom, what I am trying to say is the body/soul relationship between jagat and Ishvara is eternally inseparable, unlike other body/soul relationships like the one we have in this birth. This inseparableness is referred to as अपृदक्सिद्धि and this is from where "advaitm" comes in the term visihtadvaitam.

Correction:
The correct word is अपृथक्सिद्धि (apruthak siddhi), I have misspelled it with a da instead of tha.

I thank Shri Sangom for pointing this out to me.

best regards ....
 
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sangom

sangom

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Since furnishing excerpts from the book will make this post unnecessarily lengthy, I am giving below only some of the salient observations summarized as best as I could. Portions from the book are given within quotes.

Out of 115 works (15 bhAshyas and 100 prakaraNa granthas) generally believed to be of Sankara, 12 as under are those which constitute the prasthAnatraya:

1. eeSAvAsya upanishadbhAshya
2. kEnopanishadbhAshya
3. kaThopanishadbhAshya
4. praSnopanishadbhAshya
5. muNDakopanishadbhAshya
6. mANDUkyopanishadbhAshya
7. taittiriyopanishadbhAshya
8. aitarEyopanishadbhAshya
9.chAndogyopanishadbhAshya
10. br^hadAraNyakopanishadbhAshya
11. bhagavadgitA bhAshya
12. brahmasUtra bhAshya

"Tradition dares not utter a word of doubt about their authorship, although interpolations have crept into them in the efflux of time."

Out of the 100 prakaraNa granthas, while some are Sankara's works, many do not look like so. Others must have written these using his name and since the words शंकराचार्य विरचितः appears, many generations have thought all of them to be real works of the Acharya.

Sankara is known mainly as bhAshyakAra or commentator and the bhAshyas are his main works, the others, if any, being secondary only in importance. His bhAshyas contain his immortal message, viz., advaita and these are considered the last word in advaita philosophy. Hence if a prakaraNa text makes a departure from the line of his bhAshyas, there is no reason why such a prakaraNa should not be summarily rejected as not Sankara's work, as it is inconceivable that the Acharya would have said one thing in his bhAshyas and a very different, or contrary view in a prakaraNa.

It is relevant to note, in this context, that the method used in most hindu religious texts is to prefix 'vyAsa yvAca', 'nArada uvAca', 'Suka uvAca', etc., and Swami Dayananda Saraswati has, in his satyArthaprakASikA, opined that that was the method used to make the illiterate, ignorant, devotees to believe that these messages had really come from some very high and supernatural sources, and hence have to be treated with unquestioned belief and reverence. A somewhat similar position obtains in the case of some of the texts purported to be of Sankara. There were many great scholars in the Sankara lineage and their works also bear the words शंकराचार्य विरचितः without any more details and so could have been mistaken for the Acharya's works.

Shri Panoli then analyses several texts of this class. His findings are summarised below.

1. SvEtASvataropanishadbhAshya:
Panoli holds that the entire work is of some one other than Sankara, on the basis of the following:

a) The extra-ordinarily long introduction, uncharacteristic of Sankara.
b) The acceptance of sAnkhya and yoga as means of liberation in this treatise (sv. bh.-VI.13) whereas Sankara has unambiguously in more than one context in the other commentaries, e.g., SAnkarabhAshya on brahmasUtra (II,1-2-3), br^hadAraNyaka bhAshya, geetA bhAshya (XVIII.19), vivEkacUDAmaNi (56). Sankara clearly states in his sUtra bhAshya that द्वैतिनो हि सांख्या योगाश्च नात्मैकत्वदर्शिनः । (Those who follow sAmkhya and yoga are but dualists. They are not the perceivers of the unity of the Self.)
Further, the first two lines of sv. up.VI.13 appear in kaThopanishad (II,2-13) with the word 'nityAnAm' in the former changed to 'anityAnAm' which Sankara has commented in clear, logical and his usually recognized style, whereas, the commentary of the equivalent stanza in sv. up. is comparatively pedestrian.
A similar difference in style is seen in sv. up. IV.6 and muNDaka up. III,1-1 (both identical) the latter being the original source for the former.
For those who doubt the above conclusion Panoli's reply is as under:

" When the advaita philosophy of Sri Sankara won universal recognition, the Yoga and Samkhya systems of Patanjali and Kapila respectively, the Nyaya system of Gautama, the Vaiseshika system of Kanada and the Karmamimamsa of Jaimini could not hold ground as before. Even the logical system of Gautama which is more to the purpose than the other four was found to be wanting from the point of view of reaching the ultimate goal. The Bhakti cult also began to shake, for in the philosophy of the Acharya Devipooja or Sakti-worship or idol worship has no place at all. Naturally the followers of every other system and cult became aware of their weaknesses. How to stem the tide? The leaders of every other system and cult soon began to snatch every opportunity to interpolate 'little-bits' of their own philosophical principles in Acharya's works so carefully that none would be able to detect it, so that the followers and worshipers of the Acharya might think that he too was a sympathizer of their causes. That is how we find in the name of the Acharya a bhashya itself on the Svetasvatara Upanishad to make the readers believe that Samkhya and Yoga systems are capable of leading one to liberation. But we have seen already how both Badarayana and Sri Sankaracharya have totally refused to accept the claims of those two systems. In the coming chapters will be shown how the other systems too made attempts to infuse their theory into the Sankarabhashya and into the various Prakarana-texts composed by him. The Bhakti cult too was no exception. The votaries of that cult also invented many things for interpolating in the Acharya's works. As already pointed out above, there is not a single sentence in the Prasthanatraya-bhashya which tends to show Bhakti as having at least a remote claim to be a means of attaining emancipation. Definitely, the Bhakta-loka would never believe it, for they cannot bear to think of it. They would not also be prepared to examine the bhashya..."

2. vishNusahasranAmabhAshya:
vishNusahasranAma (vsn) is adhyAya 149 of the anuSAsanaparva of the mahAbhArata, consisting of 142 verses. The 13 initial verses are introductory passages. The bhAshya under consideration devotes an unduly long number of printed pages (in the Gita Press, Gorakhpur version 16-1/2) for the 10th. verse alone. Similarly the first name "visvam" is explained in 8-3/4 pages. When one considers the short, pithy introductions (23 sentences to the geetA, 4 sentences to praSnopanishadbhAshya) and made it clear in almost all his major works that he was giving only a brief commentary, such tediously long introduction and equally tedious treatment of a few names and stanzas, will definitely reveal that this too is not the work of the Acharya.

Further some of the names in vsn appear here and there in the Prasthanatraya-bhashyas as well, but the meaning/s assigned to those terms therein are widely different from those appearing in vsn bhashya.
Examples are-

a. prabhu - swAmi (geetA IX-18, IC-24); Atman (geetA V)--कालभेदमनादृत्य सन्मात्रप्रतियोगिकमैश्वर्यमस्येति प्रभुत्वम् (prabhu because of His greatness consisting in His absolute existence without being associated with different periods of time), सर्वासु क्रियासु सामर्थ्यातिशयात् प्रभुः(prabhu because of His being exceedingly powerful in all the acts), प्रकर्षेण भवनात् प्रभुः (prabhu because He exists most gloriously)-(all three in vsn bhashya)
b. eeSvaraH has been explained as निरुपाधिकमैश्वर्यमस्येति (of unlimited glory) in vsn bhAshya and, if the author could not summarize the commentary on the word in less than 8-3/4 pages, it is surprising that he could explain the word eeSvara, which is very important in philosophy, in such a condensed form! Sankara, on the contrary, explains the word eeSa as ईशा ईष्ट इतीष्ट् तेनेशः। ईशिता परमॆश्वरः। (He who commands is eeT; eeSA is the Supreme Lord, the Supreme self of everything.)in eeSAvAsyopanishadbhAshya, as नित्यशुद्धबुद्धमुक्तस्वभावः ईश्वरः (eeSvara is eternal, pure, intelligent and free by nature.) in muNDakabhAshya and the geetA bhAshya. The difference in the case of vsn bhAshya is obvious.

c. The word skanda स्कन्दः occurs only once in the whole of the ten principal upanishads (in chAndogya) and there sanatkumAra alone is meant which the Acharya also points this out. In geetA X-24, Acharya has explained skanda as dEvasEnApati. However in vsn bhAshya this word is interpreted as स्कन्दत्यमृतत्वरूपेण गच्छति वायुरूपॆण शोशयतीति वा स्कन्दः (He who flows in the form of nectar, or dries up everything as wind is skanda.) If the author was the Acharya he would have not used such a different meaning or at least explained as to why the difference came, especially since the name nArAyaNa has been explained in all possible ways in the vsn bhAshya.

The lack of the touch of genius and creativity observed in vsn bhAshya definitely points out that its author could not have been the Acharya.

Sankara in his geetA bhAshya has not explained यज्ञानाम् जपयज्ञोस्मि (Of yajnas I am japa. -X-26). Why this? Most probably because he did not consider japa as a necessary instrument for the realization of the Supreme.

Sankara has , in the br^hadAraNyakopanishadbhAshya (V-14) stated प्रयोक्तृगयत्राणात् गायत्रि (because it protects the organs of its reciter it is gAyatri.) but also follows with the statement न चान्येषाम् छन्दसाम् प्रयोक्तप्राणत्राणसामर्थ्यम् (And the metres other than gAyatri do not have the power to protect the prANa of the reciter.) This indicates that Sankara accepted, at best, only the recitation of the gAyatri and no other mantra or Sloka as a desirable means to liberation. He has not even once mentioned nAma japa in his entire prasthAnatrayabhAshya. Will such a person comment on vsn? It is an unauthentic work being attributed to Samkara.

(To be continued)
 
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sangom

sangom

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[FONT=&quot]Shri Panoli argues that the sanatsujAteeya bhAshya, popularly believed to be that of Sankara (published by Gita Press, Gorakhpur) also cannot have been written by Sankara. Among the various evidences adduced to prove this point, one has, in my opinion, far-reaching implications and I summarise it below:[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]The stanza- [/FONT][FONT=&quot]अविद्ययया मृत्युम् तीर्त्वा विद्यया अमृतम् अश्नुते ।[/FONT][FONT=&quot] in the Isavasyopanishad has been explained by Sankara as, तत्र च यस्य येन समुच्ययः सम्भवति न्यायतः शास्त्रतो वा तदिहोच्यते यद्दैवम् वित्तम् देवताविषयं ज्ञानम् कर्मसम्बन्धित्वेनोपन्यस्तं न परमात्मज्ञानम् । "विद्यया देवलोकः" इति पृथक्फलश्रवणात् । [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot][[/FONT][FONT=&quot]According to reasoning and the scripture, which can be combined with which? That has been explained here. "daivam vittam", i.e., knowledge pertaining to the dEvatas (gods) has been combined with karma (action) but not the knowledge of the Supreme Self. In support of this is the separate mantra "By vidyA the world of the dEvas (is attained)" (Br.Ar. Up. 1,5-16) which speaks of a different result (other than the attainment of Brahman).][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]यत एवमतो विद्यां चाविद्यां च देवताज्ञानं कर्मचेत्यर्थः । यस्तदेतदुभयं सहैकेन पुरुषेण अनुष्ठेयं वेद तस्यैवम् समुच्चयकारिण एव एकपुरुषार्थसम्बन्धः क्रमॆणस्यादित्युच्यते । [/FONT]
[FONT=&quot][[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Because it is so, therefore, he who knows that vidya and avidya, meaning the knowledge of the deities and karma respectively, should be followed together by the same person, to him alone who thus combines (both) will accrue the result of both successively. This is being explained.][/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Thus, Sankara first explains that the knowledge pertaining to gods combined with karma does not include knowledge of Brahman, and that such knowledge-cum-karma will only bestow the world of the dEvas. Then he goes on to say that the Isavasyopanishad mantra states that the result (the world of gods) will be attained only if both knowledge of gods and karma are combined. It is thus clear that according to Sankara neither the knowledge of the gods nor karma nor both combined will lead one to the knowledge of the Supreme Brahman.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]This is supported by the stanza in Isavasyopanishad, अन्धं तमः प्रविशन्ति येऽविद्यामुपास्यते । ततो भूय इव ते तमोय उ विद्यायाम् रतः॥ (Those who worship avidya go to pitch darkness, but to a greater darkness than this go those who are devoted to vidya.) If we take the definition of the terms vidya and avidya given by the Acharya (given above), it will show that those who are devoted to karma go to pitch darkness but to an even darker realm go those who are devoted to the knowledge of the deities (devas), which means the worshippers of deities. [/FONT]
 
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sangom

sangom

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In regard to "aparokshAnubhUti" Shri Panoli proves that verses 102 to 144 are later additions. This was done to make "yoga" as a means for attaining Self Realization, approved by the Acarya himself. Sankara was very clear that yoga is not a means of gaining the advaitic goal.
Verse 56 of vivekacUDAmaNi is as under:

न योगेन सांख्यॆन कर्मणा नो न विद्यया ।
ब्रह्मात्मैकत्वबोधेन मोक्षः सिध्यति नान्यथा ॥

(Neither by Yoga, nor by Samkhya, nor by Karma, nor by erudition, but by (constant) awareness of the unity of the self and Brahman is liberation attained, not by any other means.) Verses 102 to 144 of aparokshAnubhUti go against this clear advice.

Note :The starting verse of aparokShAnubhUti is a prayer:

१. ॐ श्रीहरिम् परमानन्दम् उपदेष्टारम् ईश्वरम् ।
व्यापकम् सर्वलोकानाम् कारणम् तम् नमाम्यहम् ॥

(I bow to Sree Hari, the Lord, the embodiment of the highest bliss, the preceptor, the all-pervasive, the source of all the worlds.)

Considering the views of the Acarya about Brahman, the adjectives like all-pervasive, source of all the worlds, etc., addressed to "Lord Hari" seem to go against his advaitic tenets. In the other works also there are similar invocatory verse praising vishNu, govinda, etc. "maneeshA pancakam" alone is an exception. It has no invocation but hagiography links it to an incident with Lord Siva in caNDALa form.

In his geetA bhAshya there is a statement of the Acharya about krishNa's incarnation. There he mentions "mUlaprakriti" or "mAyA", as may be seen from the following:

स च भगवान् ज्ञानैश्वर्यशक्तिबलवीर्यतेजोभिः सदा सम्पन्नः त्रिगुणात्मिकां वैष्णवीं स्वां मायां मूलप्रकृतिं वशीकृत्य अजः अव्ययो भूतानां ईश्वरो नित्यशुद्धबुद्धमुक्तस्वभावः अपि सन् स्वमायया देहवान् इव जात इव च लोकानुग्रहं कुर्वन् इव लक्ष्यते ।
(That Lord, although the embodiment of wisdom, power, strength, prowess and resplendence, assumed his own vaishNavam mAyA called "mUlaprakriti" or the first cause , represented by the three guNas. Though lord of all beings, unborn and indestructible, eternal, pure, intelligent and free, he through his own mAyA, appeared as though he had a body and was achieving redemption of mankind.)

Does this not show that Sankara himself accepts that mAyA is under the control of the brahman (lord of all beings, unborn and indestructible, eternal, pure, intelligent and free)?
It looks to me therefore, that Sankara accepted a sort of dualism or viSishTAdvaita in actual practice though he preached advaita. --sangom

Learned members may clarify.
 

KRN

Active member
As far as I can make out, the website attempts to prove that Advaita is against Vedas using quotes from various scholars like Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Sri Panoli.

Some answers to the questions are

To (1), (2), (5), (6), (8), (11), (13) - Maya is not the same as illusion or shadow or ignorance or dream. The true explanation of the word 'maya' is 'Anirvachaneeya' i.e undefinable.

To (3) there are many examples cited in the Upanishads to describe the relationship between Brahman and Jagat. (ex: like Sparks and fire).

(4), (10) - Yes (9) - Relatively yes
(12) The example is to illustrate that just as the rope is 'jaDa', the world which by appearance is 'alive' is actually 'jaDa'.
(14) - Knowledge is actually removal of ignorance. It's not a 'positive action', rather the removal of a negative.
(15) - The comparison is like a prop to facilitate understanding. It's called Arundhati-nyaaya.
(16), (17) - The test of philosophy is whether it is TRUE or not. Mass acceptance cannot be a valid criteria. (We are not electing philosophies)
(18), (19) Many Rishis existed and have revealed the truths in the Upanishads. It's very much practical.
 

KRN

Active member
I was going through the quotations from Sri Panoli. It is very, very likely that in the course of centuries, many new works would have come up and started getting ascribed to Sri Shankaracharya. Normally authors would want to attain fame themselves (At least in the Western context), but here we can see situations where authors want their works to attain fame, while quietly allowing their own names going into oblivion in the relentless course of time!

While Sri Panoli calls him Bhashyakara, the first obvious question has to be, why/how did Acharya Sankara choose these 11 Upanishads alone for writing Bhashyas?

It's quite likely that many upanishads were in existence even in his time. There are Upanishads with traces of early Buddhism. I'd be curious to know what Sri Panoli thinks about this. I.e the criteria (acc. to him) based on which Bhagavan Bhashyakara selected the works for which he wrote Bhashyas.
 

KRN

Active member
It is relevant to note, in this context, that the method used in most hindu religious texts is to prefix 'vyAsa yvAca', 'nArada uvAca', 'Suka uvAca', etc., and Swami Dayananda Saraswati has, in his satyArthaprakASikA, opined that that was the method used to make the illiterate, ignorant, devotees to believe that these messages had really come from some very high and supernatural sources, and hence have to be treated with unquestioned belief and reverence. A somewhat similar position obtains in the case of some of the texts purported to be of Sankara. There were many great scholars in the Sankara lineage and their works also bear the words शंकराचार्य विरचितः without any more details and so could have been mistaken for the Acharya's works.
I *don't* think it's as simple, as outlined by Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Katha Upanishad, a widely respected text in the Vedic canon, has references to Lord Yama talking to the boy. Swami-ji was one of the greatest Indians who lived in the 19th Cent. But I don't think even he would have said that the Rishis would need such a ploy (of using the masses' fear for death) to get them have unquestioned reverence to the Upanishadic philosophy.

Many such references could be pointed out, from the Upanishads, Brahmanas, Aranyakas etc wherein supernatural beings are mentioned as sharing knowledge with humans. In one of the Upanishads, Satyakama Jabala was instructed by fire, a bird etc. Sri Sankaracharya found nothing incompatible in it.

So while it's quite possible that some tantras having 'Siva uvacha' etc might be later interpolations, we will have to look a lot more deeper into the rest of the works to divine out whether there's any other significance in the matter of a 'Siva uvacha'.
 
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KRN

Active member
The extra-ordinarily long introduction, uncharacteristic of Sankara

In the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya Sri Sankaracharya devotes an extraordinary amount of pages to the chapter on Kshetra -Kshetrajna Yoga. So would Sri Panoli conclude that, that chapter is an interpolation?

For those who doubt the above conclusion Panoli's reply is as under:

" When the advaita philosophy of Sri Sankara won universal recognition, the Yoga and Samkhya systems of Patanjali and Kapila respectively, the Nyaya system of Gautama, the Vaiseshika system of Kanada and the Karmamimamsa of Jaimini could not hold ground as before. Even the logical system of Gautama which is more to the purpose than the other four was found to be wanting from the point of view of reaching the ultimate goal. The Bhakti cult also began to shake, for in the philosophy of the Acharya Devipooja or Sakti-worship or idol worship has no place at all. Naturally the followers of every other system and cult became aware of their weaknesses. How to stem the tide? The leaders of every other system and cult soon began to snatch every opportunity to interpolate 'little-bits' of their own philosophical principles in Acharya's works so carefully that none would be able to detect it, so that the followers and worshipers of the Acharya might think that he too was a sympathizer of their causes. That is how we find in the name of the Acharya a bhashya itself on the Svetasvatara Upanishad to make the readers believe that Samkhya and Yoga systems are capable of leading one to liberation. But we have seen already how both Badarayana and Sri Sankaracharya have totally refused to accept the claims of those two systems. In the coming chapters will be shown how the other systems too made attempts to infuse their theory into the Sankarabhashya and into the various Prakarana-texts composed by him.

This is a very imaginative analysis, but I don't think it's factual. The established practice of the time is that adherents of each system of philosophy owing allegiance to the Vedas, writes a Bhashya on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, aiming to prove that their philosophy is derived from these canonical works. Sankara refers to Bhashyas written before his time, and that is what we see in the period post-Sankara too. So it's more logical to presume that we also had a Sankhya-Bhashya, a Yoga Bhashya etc to the Prasthana traya. In course of time, as the adherents of these systems died out or are assimilated, their works died out too. I'm not saying this with any certainty, as with over a 1000 years between us and that period, nobody can clearly predict what could have happened.
 
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sangom

sangom

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In the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya Sri Sankaracharya devotes an extraordinary amount of pages to the chapter on Kshetra -Kshetrajna Yoga. So would Sri Panoli conclude that, that chapter is an interpolation?



This is a very imaginative analysis, but I don't think it's factual. The established practice of the time is that adherents of each system of philosophy owing allegiance to the Vedas, writes a Bhashya on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, aiming to prove that their philosophy is derived from these canonical works. Sankara refers to Bhashyas written before his time, and that is what we see in the period post-Sankara too. So it's more logical to presume that we also had a Sankhya-Bhashya, a Yoga Bhashya etc to the Prasthana traya. In course of time, as the adherents of these systems died out or are assimilated, their works died out too. I'm not saying this with any certainty, as with over a 1000 years between us and that period, nobody can clearly predict what could have happened.
Shri KRN,

Thank you for your reasoned responses. I was merely trying to learn from various members, their opinion and in that process, also tried to summarize the opinions of Shri Panoli (who is no more with us). I will try to find out whether Shri Panoli's books - he has translated all the works of Sankara which he felt were genuinely the Acharya's I think - and supply more info. Kindly bear with me.
 

KRN

Active member
The Bhakti cult too was no exception. The votaries of that cult also invented many things for interpolating in the Acharya's works. As already pointed out above, there is not a single sentence in the Prasthanatraya-bhashya which tends to show Bhakti as having at least a remote claim to be a means of attaining emancipation. Definitely, the Bhakta-loka would never believe it, for they cannot bear to think of it. They would not also be prepared to examine the bhashya..."

Sorry, but this appears to be a very subjective statement. Even a brief perusal of the last few verses of Chapter 9 of Bhagavad Gita Bhashya will belie the above statements.
 

KRN

Active member
Hi Sangom,

I understood you were quoting from his article but didn't know Sri Panoli is no more. I think the key to understanding the kind of person Sri Shankara was, is to realize that he had accepted the Vedic tradition in it's entirety and simultaneously offered us a concrete philosophy explaining the nuances (and contradictions as perceived otherwise) of the Upanishads.
 
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sangom

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Sorry, but this appears to be a very subjective statement. Even a brief perusal of the last few verses of Chapter 9 of Bhagavad Gita Bhashya will belie the above statements.

Shri KRN,

I went through the Sankara bhashya for Ch. 9 of Bhagavad Gita. I agree with you that the Acharya has commented on the sloka "manmanA bhava.. etc." with the only slight modification that it is Isvara and not Krishna, whom Sankara refers to. Nevertheless, Sankara seems to have endorsed bhakti there.

The problem with Sankara's advaita seems - to my limited knowledge - to be its central concept of Brahman as the only Reality, the substratum of all things animate and inanimate, all else being unreal and appearing as though real as a result of adhyaropa or adhyasa, as the Acharya termed it. If one holds strictly to this axiom, Isvara also becomes a part of the unreal realm. How then can worship of the unreal Isvara by the unreal human, and bhakti being a mental state as different from intellectual state, enable one to attain liberation, is a problem; it is contradictory to the other dictum of Sankara viz., it is only through jnana that one will/can attain liberation.

One of the questions (No 1) in the web page which I referred to in the first post, touched on this point, I think. If Sankara himself was unreal, how can one be sure that his revelations are real? Can they also not be equally unreal and imaginary?

Perhaps it was this precarious position of advaita philosophy which could be convincingly opposed and exposed first by Ramanuja, and by Madhvacharya subsequently, I feel. The pre-eminent position of advaita could have come about more because it had the mathas in four corners of the country and the Europeans got acquainted with it (advaita) first. The smarta brahmins who are supposed to be advaitins are, for all practical purposes, non-advaitins and they worship Gods who are separate deities capable of granting material favours as well as heavenly bliss in the afterlife. Our usual prayers do not ask for 'brahmAnandam". (In fact it looks to me that the term "brahmAnandam" itself is contrary to the advaitic concept of brahman as nirguna.) The only vestige of advaita in their daily life may be the recital of "brahmaivaaham asmi" during the sandhyavandanam. Its import is not understood by many, and, in any case, forgotten immediately. Bhakti rules and bhakti is more in tune with visishtadvaita and dvaita and if advaita also endorses bhakti there is hardly any difference between them.

I would request you to give your views on the above.
 
Shri Rakeshji,

Excellent Thought. Absolutely agree with You. Petty Knowledge of Scriptures, Grammar, command over Sanskrit yeilds nothing; Moreover, it leads to Ego/Arrogance, more and more futile discussions, debates. . . . finally made some of them Ego-maniacs, who ill-treated the illiterates like worms. Now they have become beggars inside the temples.

"Every Cause has its Effect." - Gautama Buddha/Adi Shankaracharya.

"Religion means Realization" says Swami Vivekananda. "First Realise God, then give lectures to your Heart content" says Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Let us put an end to this endless quarrels about the superiority of one philosophy/worship/God over other and strive to achieve God-Realisation/Self-Liberation; if one is really religious.

"God is one. As many Faiths, So many Paths." - Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

"There is no person on this Earth, who is praised by all or who is criticised by all." - Gautama Buddha.

With Respect, Love and Regards,
One more soul in God's Creation

You have hit the nail on its head; but I know for sure some heads conveniently do the disappearance act. To know one's own self takes years and pain; or probe your own path thoroughly. Problem with some people is they cannot restrain themselves owing to OCD syndrome. Whatever faith or philosophy or religion one follows that should give enough light to lead them to converge at the one and the same point. Is it a habit to create discard? The fact is no religion is perfect as every path is confusing; because the head of all religions is god which every one wants to have on his palm and in the hip packet. Why do not you touch the heart with your palm? Or, not satisfied with their own path, do they stray into other's path? God, you have not done a great job by creating man. Your art is creating his mind, which does not believe in itself, jumps and jerks at its own irony and like a med rep confusing the doctor on his own Profession, questions your efficacy. In this mortal world they are called philosophers, people who go in search of truth. They know not that truth is naked and not visible. Please give them peace.
 
I think any discussion of advaita would be a completely futile thing to do, it would be like an intellectual exercise. I discussed with my friend the other day about a movie, we both have not seen the movie and we are fighting who is the villian and who is the hero. that is how all intellectual discussions end they have no real value, than time pass, instead I would better spend time listening to some old hind song. advaita is experience. Second hand knowledge of self even from own's guru does not give any benefit. if you need to realize you need wake up and start exploring, instead of that relying on other's versions will give you some intellectual exercises nothing other than that.

its like someone asked who is eligible to chant gayatri, the answer very simple, whose mind has reached a level where he can no longer considers only his own self but expanded it to include others, so what will happen if a person without this quality starts chanting gayatri, the answer nothing will happen except wasting some time, it like i watched a movie the other day today i chant gayatri, both are for entertainment.

Criticizing sankara and all is a very easy job, since they all are passed away right now?

My question is leave all that criticism and what is your contribution??? If you dont have a contribution start making some contribution and then try to criticize. People who do not even have the ability to write a sanksrit poem of 100 lines with all the rules are trying to criticize sankara and his advaita concept! Even vivekananda has mentioned that dwaita, visishtadvaita, suddhadvaita, and advaita are all a progression and advaita includes every other theory within its ambit. Yoga vasishta mentions a beautiful story where the whole universe is an ocean and its just that we remove a drop of water from it and claim that water and ocean are different, when it goes back to the ocean it becomes ocean. start spending your time on sadhana and anushtana rather than leading this futile intellectual discussions, its never going to end and neither one is going to win or lose. Any discussions on sadhana and anushtana are welcome.
 

KRN

Active member
Sri Sangom,

I went through the Sankara bhashya for Ch. 9 of Bhagavad Gita. I agree with you that the Acharya has commented on the sloka "manmanA bhava.. etc." with the only slight modification that it is Isvara and not Krishna, whom Sankara refers to. Nevertheless, Sankara seems to have endorsed bhakti there.

Yes, and my own favourite Bhakti verse 'patram pushpam phalam thoyam...' Even thousands of years before Sankaracharya our Rishishvaras used to offer 'thoyam' to the divine Sun as part of nitya karma!

One of the questions (No 1) in the web page which I referred to in the first post, touched on this point, I think. If Sankara himself was unreal, how can one be sure that his revelations are real? Can they also not be equally unreal and imaginary?

I don't consider myself spiritually developed enough to discuss this matter. I will anyway give my thoughts. The questioner was under a misconception. Advaita is 'absence of duality'. Sankaracharya was *not* unreal. Advaita says he is very much real but something different from how he presently appears to you and me. Similarly you yourself are actually something different from how I perceive you today. And in Advaita these two 'somethings different', i.e Sankara and you, are not really two, but actually one and the same :)

Sankaracharya has stated in many places that Jnana is the only means to liberation. Jnana is not a positive action, but the removal of a negative. Many of the questions from the website were based on the premise that some action would lead to liberation. Whether prayer to some God or performing some sacrifice, whatever karma one does, will not directly lead to liberation. But certain ordained actions can lead to purification of the self and consequently aid the removal of ignorance. Hence indirectly, Bhakti and prescribed karma will lead to liberation.

Jnana is not the same as 'intellectuality'. There is a word "Medha' for intellectuality and the Upanishads state that no amount of reasoning or application of Medha can directly lead to liberation.

One of the Upanishads (I think it's Svetasvatara or Mundaka) states that when you have purified yourself through the performance of karma in the prescribed way, the grace of Brahman comes on you and bestows Jnana to you. I think this verse was the basis of the dualist theories like Vishishtadvaita etc. Advaita does not need a 'bestower' as in Advaita once the self is purified, Jnana automatically comes as the realisation that there is no separate entity, it's all One.
 
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sangom

sangom

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Sri Sangom,

Yes, and my own favourite Bhakti verse 'patram pushpam phalam thoyam...' Even thousands of years before Sankaracharya our Rishishvaras used to offer 'thoyam' to the divine Sun as part of nitya karma!



I don't consider myself spiritually developed enough to discuss this matter. I will anyway give my thoughts. The questioner was under a misconception. Advaita is 'absence of duality'. Sankaracharya was *not* unreal. Advaita says he is very much real but something different from how he presently appears to you and me. Similarly you yourself are actually something different from how I perceive you today. And in Advaita these two 'somethings different', i.e Sankara and you, are not really two, but actually one and the same :)

Sankaracharya has stated in many places that Jnana is the only means to liberation. Jnana is not a positive action, but the removal of a negative. Many of the questions from the website were based on the premise that some action would lead to liberation. Whether prayer to some God or performing some sacrifice, whatever karma one does, will not directly lead to liberation. But certain ordained actions can lead to purification of the self and consequently aid the removal of ignorance. Hence indirectly, Bhakti and prescribed karma will lead to liberation.

Jnana is not the same as 'intellectuality'. There is a word "Medha' for intellectuality and the Upanishads state that no amount of reasoning or application of Medha can directly lead to liberation.

One of the Upanishads (I think it's Svetasvatara or Mundaka) states that when you have purified yourself through the performance of karma in the prescribed way, the grace of Brahman comes on you and bestows Jnana to you. I think this verse was the basis of the dualist theories like Vishishtadvaita etc. Advaita does not need a 'bestower' as in Advaita once the self is purified, Jnana automatically comes as the realisation that there is no separate entity, it's all One.
Shri KRN,

I consider it my good fortune to have come in contact with you. Your elucidation of Advaita is uniquely simple and simply unique. I would like to learn from you as much as I am able to absorb.
I will post my doubts. But believe me these are not to test your knowledge or to show off my understanding, but only to express my doubts and get clarification and further enlightenment.

Though I started this thread with the title "Advaita and its fallacies", it has benefitted me to understand Advaita!

With respects and regards,
 

KRN

Active member
Sri Sangom,

Your words are too kind. However I too am only a student of Advaita(but neither 'for' nor 'against'). In fact I got into the discussion simply because I thought Sri Panoli despite his scholarship was rather dismissive of rival philosophies/alternatives, even to much respected ideas like Bhakti. The spirit of cordial respect for divergent opinion, which Sri Sankaracharya maintained in his Bhashyas, is worth emulating.

Also when we discuss such profound matters, we need to be extra careful not to fall into the 'ego trap' which is the worst fall for a spiritual aspirant. Such discussions without the backing of spiritual experiences can easily meander into 'where the blind lead the blind'. I'm sure you understand what I mean.

So we can discuss and learn from each other :)
 
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Sri Sangom,

Your words are too kind. However I too am only a student of Advaita(but neither 'for' nor 'against'). In fact I got into the discussion simply because I thought Sri Panoli despite his scholarship was rather dismissive of rival philosophies/alternatives, even to much respected ideas like Bhakti. The spirit of cordial respect for divergent opinion, which Sri Sankaracharya maintained in his Bhashyas, is worth emulating.

Also when we discuss such profound matters, we need to be extra careful not to fall into the 'ego trap' which is the worst fall for a spiritual aspirant. Such discussions without the backing of spiritual experiences can easily meander into 'where the blind lead the blind'. I'm sure you understand what I mean.

So we can discuss and learn from each other :)
Dear Shri KRN,

I had one chance to write a letter to Shri Panoli some years ago. It was regarding his views on Rama as seen from one of his earlier books and a later book. He was kind enough to reply to me and said that his earlier book was written before he had learnt many things about our scriptures and was, thus, imperfect, but he forgot to give a suitable explanation of the variance in his second book. I feel that was a sign of humility for a very learned man of his stature.

Coming to Panoli's views on Advaita, he feels, in my opinion, that the Saguna brahman is not in the scheme of Adi Sankara's scheme of Advaita but a later addition or concession made by the subsequent Advaitins to meet the criticisms on Advaita. I find the notion of bhakti having been not directly endorsed by sankara, is seen in many other books also. Even in the commentary of the carama SlOka of the bg, they say, Sankara only emphasized "sarvadharmAn parityajya" - i.e., renunciation, asceticism, and all, but for the second half viz., "mAm Ekam SaraNam vraja", he did not recommend "bhakti" in the common parlance but some further course of action such as meditation on the brahman, etc.

There is also an opinion that the Tenkalai interpretation of the above SlOka will tally with sankara's if one were to say that Sankara recommended bhakti as the meaning of the second half.

I would request you to give your views.
 
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Advaita

I am awed but with interest to read the discussions/conversations amongst the colossuses on ‘advaita’. As a fly in a blacksmith’s shop let me make a flying sound, of course from afar, to request the Titans to refer to “Ulladhu Naarpadhu” brought out by Sri RamanAsramam. I would like to know whether the following stanzas explain anything on the subject:
மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமதயானை
மரத்தில் மறைந்தது மாமதயானை
பரத்தை மறைத்தது பார்முதல் பூதம்
பரத்தில் மறைந்தது பார்முதல் பூதமே. (p76 quote of Thirumandiram)
The book quotes on theoretical knowledge: p185 34/40 in ‘anubandham

“Puthradaradhisansara tatbhavanthyalpachetasam.
Vidusham shastrasansaro Yogabhyasasya vignakruth”.

To the moderators: In my humble opinion it is time we make our religious or philosophical discussions as homogenous as possible in words, deeds and spirits. Don’t we have enough problems. Division begets divisions. All the saints of the yore, were they alive today, would feel the same way. This said, I am not discouraging the intellectual exercises which should be within the sacred precincts of scholardom to which I do not belong. Knowledge should flourish to achieve peace.
 
'Advaita' is a particular stage/phase in one's spiritual endeavours. It is the pinnacle of one's journey. All cannot reach this stage. Naturally, those who could not will find fault with it.

It is nothing but 'sour grape' mechanism (சீ சீ, இந்தப் பழம் புளிக்கும்; இதைத் தின்றால் பல் கூசும்.)

ஆசா நிகளம் துகளாயின பின்
பேசா அநுபூ திபிறந் ததுவே
------------------------------------------------------
தன்னந் தனிநின் றதுதா னறிய
இன்னம் ஒருவர்க் கிசைவிப் பதுவோ?
-------------------------------------------------------

கந்தர் அனுபூதியில் இருந்து சில மணிகள்.
 
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sangom

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Dear Shri Iyyaarooraan,

First of all may I humbly submit to your good self that the owner of this web site has provided this section (thread) for questions on our current understanding of our scriptures as may be seen from the following:

"Philosophy and Scriptures
This section questions our current understanding of scriptures and existing practices. If you absolutely believe that our current ways are supreme and that traditions should not be questioned in any way this is NOT the thread for you. There is another thread in the Customs and Traditions section."

I have been very careful to start my thread here lest it offends any one's susceptibilities. Secondly, we are not trying to sow the seeds of discord among tambrams or any others. I found a web page where some questions against advaita had been raised and wanted to know the views of our tambram members (many among whom are supposed to be well-versed in advaita) for my enlightenment. There was no question of creating discord.

There is one subject called "philosophy" which is studied by many people. (I am a beginner in that subject.) They may or may not become new Thirumulars or Ramana Maharshis but will get some interest in the subjects which were propounded by the great philosophers like Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya and others.

The Tirumantiram verse which you quote is well-known. But permit me to ask you a question :

Tirumoolar says "marattil maraintatu maamadayaanai"; if someone goes further beyond, and thinks of the seed from which the tree grew up, and says "vitthil maraintadu maamadayaanai", will there be an equivalent in the "param" and "paar mutal bhootam" simile? If that simile of Tirumoolar is to be taken as some great and divine revelation, will it not necessitate that we accept, at least for comparison's sake, that "param" also has an origin, and param & its origin (seed) should have a "seed & tree" (which came first?) type of existence? does this not show that Tirumoolar's is not a good enough simile, and that he could have thought of something more appropriate? Further, if we accept that this verse explains advaita in its essence, does it not show that knowledge (that the toy was made out of wood, and was not a living elephant) alone will be able to reveal brahman?

Hence, what you desire is unquestioned belief in the scriptures and any discussion is anathema, as indicated in your post given below:

You have hit the nail on its head; but I know for sure some heads conveniently do the disappearance act. To know one's own self takes years and pain; or probe your own path thoroughly. Problem with some people is they cannot restrain themselves owing to OCD syndrome. Whatever faith or philosophy or religion one follows that should give enough light to lead them to converge at the one and the same point. Is it a habit to create discard? The fact is no religion is perfect as every path is confusing; because the head of all religions is god which every one wants to have on his palm and in the hip packet. Why do not you touch the heart with your palm? Or, not satisfied with their own path, do they stray into other's path? God, you have not done a great job by creating man. Your art is creating his mind, which does not believe in itself, jumps and jerks at its own irony and like a med rep confusing the doctor on his own Profession, questions your efficacy. In this mortal world they are called philosophers, people who go in search of truth. They know not that truth is naked and not visible. Please give them peace.
I do not think this sort of intolerance behoves one who is a true seeker of brahman; it is the language of a religious fundamentalist. I feel the many characterizations you have given therein were not at all warranted and were the product of extreme intolerance to some notions about religion which you hold. If you are so sure about advaita, brahman realization etc., why should you get perturbed if some others discuss it? Does it not reveal your own shaky belief in advaita as a means of liberation and your perturbed mind?

Again, where does Sankaracharya say that "To know one's own self takes years and pain"? Does advaita talk about knowing one's own self or realizing (not knowing, pl. note) the identity between the self and the brahman? Where does "pain" come in, in this search? Are you referring to some self-mortification methods of "bhakti"? Did not Sankara and many others realize the brahman without "pain" but with constant effort and meditation? Why should some one else also not get that realization through those methods?

You state that the "head of all religions is god"; do all religions envisage their God in the same way as advaita views brahman? If that were so will it not mean Sankara was merely copying from some other extant religion?

Lastly, while I agree that you are free to continue to record whatever your opinions are, I only hope that the moderators will allow discussions of the type here, between Shri KRN and myself because this section does envisage questions (of course, polite) on our current understanding of scriptures and existing practices.
 
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Advaitam

Thank you for your reply. First of all I feel there is a difference between “ I disagree” and “You are wrong”. Left with nothing to do I browse our website and read the contents with interest. I become wiser by the day and stunned by the people’s knowledge. Because I am an ordinary man. Believe me, I am not pretending to be an ordinary man but just that. You say there is no question of discord and I am glad you said it.

When an arrow is shot from the bow there is a time in between before it hits the target. Like our own positions in the ‘world’, let us forget when the arrow was shot and when it hit the target. Now if we divide the time to the minutest fraction, we may find that it does not travel. I am not sure whether my analogy is correct. But my quote should only serve the minimum purpose. The entire thing is Maya; so there is no question of the tree or its seeds, much less a “real” elephant or the marapaachchi. I think it would be appropriate to say that Knowledge is Brahman and Brahman is the knowledge.

In the matter of questioning the scriptures for more enlightenment, I am afraid the “advaita” philosophy is the most abused one if I may say so, so much so that least is known on ‘Dwaitam’ and ‘Vashishtadwaitam’. In whatever way other religions envisage god, the atman has to shed its cloak it has enclosed itself within, to be devoid of this egoistic universe and all that it contains, to be one with That One much the same way. I think it is difficult not to understand than to understand.

Shri Sankaraachaarya has presented to us in a better way what was there before like Kannadaasan gave it to us from Pattinaththar paadals. I promise you I am not at all offended by your appreciation of me and it is your privilege and pleasure to hold any opinion of me and my views. I will continue to respect the knowledge base the site provides and the people of your stature who provide it.

I just came across the “mind chow” saying ‘everybody knows how to say nothing but few know when’. I feel I failed to put it across then and hence hate to repeat my mistake. With regards,
 
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