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Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Printable Version
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Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-12-2004

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>In order to keep the focus of this thread on an Introductory level to establish definitions and concepts, I have decided to split this off and see how it goes (despite an opposing opinion). I would like this thread to be focused on topic, so that we all start off on the right foot. I find usually when assumptions and definitions are clearly stated much of the basis for future contentiousness is reduced and as a consequence has more clarity. This thread will follow the lead of Sunder by discussing Panchadasi by Vidyaranaya.</span>

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->May be it is time to have a full scale debate on Vedanta. But it will be fruitless if Vedanta were to be judged as science. It is a system of philosophy and those who are willing to debate it as a system of philosophy are welcome to join in. Also if someone hasn't spent the effort in going through the Vedanta texts and understanding them but still wants to pass judgements on them, then all I can say is that I can find better use for my time on the web.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Ashok, I agree with the general tenor of your remarks. Vedanta is indeed a powerful philosophy, an ontological construct of the human intellect that is grand in its scope and sweep but which is beyond the grasp of many as they ponder on the implications (I dont necessarily exclude myself from this category - even though I have been a perpetual student of this elegant logical construct for a few decades).

The Proper way to discuss Vedanta is to start from the beginning and establish your definitions and inferences slowly. If we intend to do this in this forum, i suggest an elementary prakarana grantha like Tattvabodha (to build up our dictionary of definitions and avoid unnecessary confusion) and work our way from there. That would induce newcomers to join. Even a relatively small text like the tattvabodha (or the Atma bodha both by Adi Sankara) needs several sessions. We need a moderator or a facilitator to lead the discussion and to keep it focused. If there are any takers it would be worthwhile (at the rate of 1 or 2 lecture or tutorial sessions per week. Such elaboratory material (bhashyas on bhashyas) are available in relative profusion in the net, but we still need a moderator to closely monitor the discussion. I have too many things to juggle at the moment. But if one of the members could organize such a discussion forum, tightly focused on the material at hand,then it would be a immense benefit.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-13-2004

Kaushal,

That is a good idea.

I think we should also try to get traditional terminology and explanations combined with contemporary explanations wherever possible. Many people, especially with training in modern sciences or philosophy, feel stumped due to traditional way vedanta is often discussed.

Vedanta of course is pretty vast. From its Upanishadic roots to shuddha advaita, vishista-advaita and dvaita there is a whole range of topics that may be covered. May be we should first try to understand some basic Upanishadic thoughts and shuddha-advaita of Shankara first. Then we can branch off into other things later.

I think Sunder might be the right person to moderate that discussion. I can also help wherever needed.

Ashok.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-13-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->  At the heart of it is the topology of the evolutionary relationships matter not whether you call it a tree or a bush. Are there not trees with a bush like branching?) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> But it will be fruitless if Vedanta were to be judged as science. It is a system of philosophy....<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Thanx RR and Ashok for your insightful posts. That does put things in the correct perspective.


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Anyways I fear we are rambling far away from itihasa-purana <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I apologize if my post went off in a tangential direction. I realize that the primary object of such forums is to discuss the "corpus" (or contents) of the scriptures. (Or at any rate remain within the framework of the texts, not the context-free speculations and personal world-views of individuals).

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->May be it is time to have a full scale debate on Vedanta <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I personally don't have the erudition to contribute, but I think the proposed Vedanta discussion will make fascinating reading. The challenge will be to generate <b>synergy</b> through such debate, for, as you said, there are so many nuances within Vedanta -- Kevala Advaita, Vishista-advaita, Dvaita, bhedabheda, Achintya Bhedabheda and the like. And it follows that there will be, today as in the past, passionate adherents for each of these schools. What then will be the sutra (string) which would hold together the disparate pearls of Shankara, Ramanuja, Vallabha, Nimbarka, Chaitanya and so many others long gone by?

In that context, may we commence remembering the spirit :
<i>"Yadyat pashyasi netrabhyam, tatad brahmeti bhavaya" </i>


(This is not to say that everything that passes off as philosophy is equally meritorious; only to generate synergy)


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Sunder - 07-13-2004

Ashok, thanks for the encouraging words. While I can contribute to the discussion, and steer it, I must admit I have not moderated discussions. Inorder to initiate a discussion on Vedanta, I would start with PANCHADASI of Swami Vidyaranya. Admabodha, Tathvabodha, Dashashloki, Vivekachudamani, and Avadutha Geetha are excellent texts that provide a strong foundation to the discussion.

Following the traditional methods, I shall try and post the "norms" of discussion - taking it from NYAYA. This will not only provide a decorum for a healthy arguement (tharka), but also provide a means to identify bad elements of discussion (like ku-tharkam, jalpa, chalam etc.)

Secondly, we shall also have to set up a framework of *acceptable* pramanas. I feel that a healthy discussion on Vedanta would be possible if and only if Vedas - i.e. Shruthi (Upanishads) and Smruthi (Bhagavat Geetha) and the Brahma Sutras are taken to be Pramanas.

Ashok/Kaushal, do you think Vedanta needs a thread of it's own, or would it be appropriate to continue on this thread?

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I am posting below an excerpt from Panchadasi.

<b>Panchadasi : Analysis of Self</b>

The world consists of objects, and every object is a content of positive or negative perception and cognition. The special feature of each object is that it is distinguished from the other by characteristics that are ingrained in it in a particular manner. This is why we see the world variegated in colours, sounds, tastes, touches, and smells. The difference is in the existence somewhere of some characteristics outside the range of others at other places. Thus, for example, we mark a difference between a cow and a tree, because we do not find in a cow the features of a tree, and those of a cow in a tree. Objects manifest a mutual exclusion of one another. It is this that enables us to know the multitudinousness that the world is.

We also conceive such difference as that between God and the individual, God and the world, one individual and another, the individual and the world, in addition to the differences among the various contents of the world. There is a difference of limbs in the body. There is difference among individuals of the same species as also individuals of different species. There is external and internal variety. We may here raise a question as to what it is that knows that there is difference, and how is difference known at all? We have an immediate answer that a kind of consciousness in us is the knower of the different objects outside as also inside, and this difference is also known by consciousness itself. The world can be known by nothing other than consciousness. Though the objects differ in their external features, we do not find any difference among the various types of consciousness. There is distinction of sounds, colours, etc., but there is no distinction between the consciousness of sound and the consciousness of colour, and so on. This, then, means that the knowing consciousness is one and the same, though things are multifarious and possess changing characters. One and the same consciousness sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells, and it is also possible to be conscious of the consciousness of all these. Consciousness is a synthetic unity of apperception, it is all at once. Though the eyes cannot hear and ears cannot see, etc., and each sense has one particular function to perform, consciousness is the unity of them all. It is one and indivisible, and it is responsible for all the experiences in the world.
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-13-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> I would start with PANCHADASI of Swami Vidyaranya <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Thanx Sunder for taking the initiative. I think the Panchadashi of Vidyaranya is a great starting point. Vidyaranya has a lucid, no-nonsense style of putting things. (Personally, as a layman and beginner, I find that it seems to make easier reading than some of the other advanced works). Your choice could not have been more appropriate!

As a reference, I would like to lay out some "online tools" which may come in handy. I managed to locate this link which contains translations of a vast array of Vedantic texts, including some really rare ones :

http://www.celextel.org/index.htm

The Panchadashi, as the name suggests, is a work comprising of 15 chapters. (It was composed in the 2nd half of the 14th century by the very seer whose name is tied with the Vijayanagar Empire)

These links may be useful :

http://www.celextel.org/ebooks/other_books/panchadasi.htm

(The translations are due to Swami Swahananda, Ramakrishna Math)


1. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE REAL PRINCIPLE
2. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE FIVE ELEMENTS
3. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE FIVE SHEATHS
4. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF DUALITY
5. FIXING THE MEANING OF THE GREAT SAYINGS
6. THE LAMP OF THE PICTURE
7. THE LAMP OF PERFECT SATISFACTION
8. THE LAMP OF KUTASTHA
9. THE LAMP OF MEDITATION
10. THE LAMP OF THE THEATRE [/URL]
11. THE BLISS OF YOGA
12. THE BLISS OF THE SELF
13. THE BLISS OF NON-DUALITY
14. THE BLISS OF KNOWLEDGE
15. THE BLISS OF OBJECTS

Cheers,
Sri


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-13-2004

Vedanta & Hindu Philosophy
-Veera Vaishnava


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-14-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Do you understand the concept of 'Atman' in Vedanta? Do you understand
why Atman is equated with Brahman? <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Having adored the feet of the primordial hunter, in whose locks play the billows of the Ganges, let me with all humility offer my understanding of the matter in concise terms.

Now, the basic axiom that we have in place is :
BRAHMAN, THE ABSOLUTE, IS THE <b>ONLY</b> REALITY

If the individual soul is accepted as Brahman, it has reality because Brahman is real. If we argue that the individual soul is different from Brahman, then reality is denied to such an individual soul.

In other words, despite the pluralities exhibited by the universe, things exist
in the first place only because of their underlying reality - Brahman. It is useful to qualify the term reality with the adjective "underlying". On the face of it, it may seem that there are many realities in the universe but they all have one underlying reality called Brahman.

Now all this tends to get a little abstract! Let us get back to terra firma using a much beloved analogy. The pot has a reality (existence) only because the underlying clay is real. If we argue that the pot is different from the clay, we are denying its quintessential reality. The pot is just a connotation given to a mass of clay that has assumed a particular shape. Quintessentially, whatever you may choose to call it, it is just clay.

Similarly, we may say that the "jeeva" is a connotation given to the Brahman
that has assumed a particular form. Or, to put in the traditional way, the
differences we perceive are of "nama" and "rupa" (name and form).

Thus, we may say that the knower of Brahman is freed from the shackles of
births and deaths because after all this is the denouement of nama and rupa
with the underlying reality remaining steadfast and unchanging. Actors come and
go upon the stage but the stage itself lingers on long after the curtains have fallen.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This much I have understood. At this point, since Sunder has so aptly chosen the Panchadashi as the Prakarana grantha, let us weave in some excerpts from the Panchadashi into our discussion. The following passages do not reflect my
understanding of the matter, but what the wise have written :

<b> The witness, like the lamp in a dancing hall, reveals all these as ‘I see’,
‘I hear’, ‘I smell’, ‘I taste’, ‘I touch’ as pieces of knowledge.
The witness, like the lamp in a dancing hall, reveals all these as ‘I see’, ‘I
hear’, ‘I smell’, ‘I taste’, ‘I touch’ as pieces of knowledge. </b>
[P'dashi, X. 10, 11 ]

Before we embark on the nature of consciousness etc, I must confess that I had
some rather crass and mundane doubts which were to some extent answered in the Panchadashi. (Since I was talking about births of the jeevas etc I thought I
may delve on it here. The translations and intepretations are adapted from 2
elegant Ramakrishna Math books, "Quest for Absolutism: Panchadashi for
beginners, by Swami Ramanujananda and "Pachadashi of Vidyaranya" by Swami
Swahananda).

<b>All this is talk of the underlying substratum is all very well. Then how is
it that the knower of the Brahman behaves like an ordinary man?</b>

" My behavior as an ordinary man is not due to perverted thought. It is due to
impressions and habits gathered over a long period. " [P. VII.262 ]

<b>It is common experience that even wise Brahman knowers are not ready to give up their "enjoyments". Why ? </b>

Due to ignorance there is a superimposition between the Consciousness and the
Jeeva. Because of this superimposition, the Jeeva appears to be real; the
enjoyments of the Jeeva also appear to be real. Hence the Jeeva does not want
to give up its enjoyments. All great men are after all Jeevas only. [P. VII.200]

<b>How do we explain the sufferings of the knowers of truth? </b>
This world of duality is like a magical creation, with its cause incomprehensible. What matters it to the wise man who does not forget this, if the past actions produce their results in him ?

<b>But even after getting the title "knower", will he not be free from the
resultant of past action ? </b>
The function of knowledge is to remind us that the world is unreal. The function of the resultant is to award pleasure and pain to the Jeeva. [P. VII.175]

(Let me not debate this here since this thread is for Panchadashi, not my
personal world-view. These things can get quite subjective, you know. But so
far so good. The established position of the scriptures is quite obvious: fructifying "Karma" yields pleasure and pain to the Jiva).

<b>Can we expect that knowledge (of brahman) brings an end to the resultant of
past action (ie. the fructification of Karma) </b>

Knowledge and Resultant are not opposed to each other. For example, people who
know that there is no reality in a magical performance eagerly await such a
performance. Dream objects cause joy and sorrow. Similarly, imaginary objects
bring joy and sorrow in the waking state also. [P.VII.176-177]

<b>What is the view of the Gita on this ?</b>

Sri Krishna says : O son of Kunti, natural tendencies have imposed certain duties
on you. Out of delusion you refuse to perform them. But your own nature will
compel you to perform those duties.

Here is a passage I found rather difficut to comprehend -
(Vedanta is full of such passages. This one is an illustration)

<b>From where do these sufferings come? Are we to understand that the
reflection of Consciousness has these afflictions? Are we sure that the Atman is free from these afflictions? </b>

The reflection of consiousness itself is free from afflictions. Is there any necessity then to say that Pure Consciousness is free from afflictions? The trouble with the Jeeva is that he identifies himself with the bodies.We have already seen that the Atman is real, and also that there is superimpostion because of ignorance. the reflection superimposes reality on the the bodies and imagines bodies are the self. [VII.229-232]

[But how can it not be so? The Jeeva is programmed by instinct to do so].

<b>But, fundamentally, what is the Jeeva? </b>
Jeeva is the reflection of consciousness; It is not there for absolute. [P.VIII.24]

<b>What about the Absolute? </b>
The absolute is the witness of the intellect and the operations.

(I think here we are converging at a point of common interest. The earlier posts of RR on the nature of consciousness and Sunder on the immanent Consciousness as the agent the which perceives "differences" comes into perspective. Any further elucidations from will be most welcome)

<b>May we know the relationshio between the Jeeva, the Absolute, and the mind? </b>
The Absolute can be compared with the FACE;
The mind the MIRROR; and the Jeeva to the REFLECTIOn. [P. VIII.24-26]

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->But Rene Descartes and more recently Chalmers takes a stance that consciousness is non-material. Descartes adopted the view that the seat of consciousness lay in the pineal gland. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<b> What are the various views in currency about the ATMAN? </b>

There are philsophers who say that the Atman is atomic in size, or that it is
as large as the universe or that the Atman is as big as the human body. Each of
them has an argument and is ready with a scriptural quote.

<b>Those philosophers who say that the Atman is ATOMIC in size, what is their
argument </b>

The declare that the Atman can exist in nerves and capillaries having the width
of a thousandth part of a hair. Therefore the Atman must be atomic in size.
They quote several Vedic texts to the effect that the Atman is smaller than the
smallest. An example is the Svetasvatra Upanishad 5.9.
Then, again, there are the views of the Digambaras who propogate a doctrine
that the Atman's size is that of the body.... {VI.78 onwards}

He then goes on to state the view point of the Sankhya School. {See VI.98-101}

<b>Then what is our conclusion? </b>
The Atman is NOT Atomic in size; not medium in size; The Atman is infinite,
Omnipresent, all-pervasive, undifferentiated... [P.VI.86]

My main purpose of presenting this medley of passages from the P was to kickstart the discussion by giving a general flavour of the text and the general standpoint of the traditionalists. May the votaries of the other Darshanas as well as the heretics pick up the gauntlet and enter the feisty bullring of philosophy!!


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-14-2004

SriDattaji, a humble request. Can you please put your comments in a different font/italics to differentiate them from the things you quote? It will help some ignorant souls like myself <!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> to understand better).

Thanks


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Sunder - 07-17-2004

<i>Gato va, Mrithpindo va, Anurapi cha, dhoomo'gnir achalah
Pato va, tanthur va pariharathi kim ghora shamanam...
Vrutha kanta kshobham vahasi tarasaa tharka vachasaa
Padhaamboja bhaja shambor parama saukhyam vrajashudhi.
-- Shivanandha Lahari (6)

(The various examples used by logicians, like Pot (and space), clod of earth, atom, smoke, fire, or mountain, cloth, and thread etc, which of these can save you from the face of death? You are unnecessarily wasting the water in your throat. Do bow to the lotus feet of Lord Shiva which alone purifies your mind.</i>



Sridatta, Yashasvi bhava. Keerthimaan bhava soumya.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><i><b>BRAHMAN, THE ABSOLUTE, IS THE ONLY REALITY</b></i>

If the individual soul is accepted as Brahman, it has reality because Brahman is real. If we argue that the individual soul is different from Brahman, then reality is denied to such an individual soul.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

In the above statement, Brahman is first termed "Absolute". The moment something is "Absolute", there cannot be more than one of it.This is a top down approach where, the Absolute is first defined, and explanations are given to justify the statement. For a beginner, it can only be *assumed* that there should be is Absolute Reality (or a Substratum) from which this visible and invisible universe has emerged from. This is purely a logical deduction (for a beginner). As one can observe that any material that exists in this universe HAS TO BE the product (or effect) of some cause. The Universe is a continuous transformation, and is a beautiful play of Energy (Sarvam Shakthimayam Jagath.)

We know that matter is frozen energy, or energy is mobile matter. We also know that Positive and Negative charges (Protons and Electrons) come together in a freakishly disciplined way - and in large numbers - to form different elements. Thus positive and negative charges, when combined with each other, and with the help of heat (agni), and pressure (vayu) etc forms matter.

It is also known that Hydrocarbons are the basic building blocks where an unexplained phenomenon called 'life' can manifest. This 'life form' is distinguished from other inanimate/inert matter by it's unique quality called 'Consciousness'. This consciousness is possible in matter which has hydrocarbons, and has water content in them. These oraganic conglomerations of matter are called 'organisms'.

Here it's worth noting that charvaka and related schools may claim that consciousness is produced by chemical combinations. If it is so, then the "I"-ness which is constant throughout one's life does not change with change in harmone levels. (The consciousness is same in Waking, dream and deep sleep, and during happiness,anger, and depression alike.)

Here, consciousness, which is unchangeable, and unlimited identifies itself with matter to which it is figuratively 'attached'. Consciousness is never dependent on matter for it's survival (this will be known only in Thuriyam where PURE consciousness exists, with absolutely no awareness of objects.)

[ I take cue from Yogasutras of Patanjali (as a pramana), to describe the various states of the Dhrashta (the Experiencer - aka consciousness.) ] The Experiencer is the Unchanging, Absolute. It views the physical world via a connection called the ego. The Ego, is at best a virtual entity that acts as a pivot, binding the Experiencer to the material body. The virtual entity (Ego), relies on the Mind, Intellect, sense-organs and organs-of-action to go about 'its' duties.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> On the face of it, it may seem that there are many realities in the universe but they all have one underlying reality called Brahman.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

There cannot be two "Absolute Realities" existing simultaneously. i.e. One Reality cannot be contradictory to Another. Thus, different view-points of an Absolute Reality can, must, and will exist. These are called 'relative' reality (or Rtham. or Rytham.) IF there are two incompatible versions of the same reality, then one of them (or sometimes both of them) will not be true. E.g. the Sky is blue, Vs. the Sky is black... Both these "apparent realities" are false as ether (or space) cannot have a color of it's own.

In the same way, as the Akasha (ether) has no quality, and yet is seen as blue owing to perception. The Absolute, which has no qualities, is seen as one with attributes and qualities.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The pot has a reality (existence) only because the underlying clay is real. If we argue that the pot is different from the clay, we are denying its quintessential reality. The pot is just a connotation given to a mass of clay that has assumed a particular shape. Quintessentially, whatever you may choose to call it, it is just clay.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

A pot is not clay per se. It is the effect (or product of clay.) By definition, the effect SHOULD have atleast one quality or attribute different from the cause. The pot has clay for it's substratum, but there is also the potter's efforts in shaping it up, and the fire's work in tempering the clay into a pot. So also, any cause needs an agent to shape it into effect. (Ashishtaanam, thatha kartha, karanam cha prithakvidham, vividhaah cha prithak cheshta, dhaivam chaivatra panchamam.) Thus, for a cause to become an effect, there should be an agent/force acting upon it.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Similarly, we may say that the "jeeva" is a connotation given to the Brahman that has assumed a particular form. Or, to put in the traditional way, the differences we perceive are of "nama" and "rupa" (name and form).<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Jeeva is indeed another name for Brahman. Just as a water-drop is the same exact H2O as that of the Ocean. The name (waterdrop and ocean) or the form (tiny vs gigantic) may differ, but the substratum is the same. The confusion (and difference) exists is only with respect to the Jeeva, not with respect to the Parama.

Here it's worth mentioning that Bhakthi is the Bottom-up approach where the water drop says, "I am a tiny drop, you are the Ocean, O Lord", and then merges into the ocean. Thus losing it's identity. While Gnana is the top-down approach where the OCEAN recognizes itself and thus all waterdrops (jeevas) instantly is recognized as it own self. That's all the difference there is. (I did not lift this off any book.. <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->)

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> Before we embark on the nature of consciousness etc, I must confess that I had some rather crass and mundane doubts which were to some extent answered in the Panchadashi. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Nyaya defines Samshaya (doubt) as a situation when one has two or more contradictory views about the same object, and does not know which view is valid. While Panchadasi answers most questions, I would recommend you to read the Bhagavat Geetha, Brahma Sutra and the Major Upanishads (again.) For me, the doubts were cleared by the Brahma Sutra (Shankara Bhashyam.) and the Mandukya Upanishad - Gaudapada Karika. Regarding birth of the Jeeva etc, I recommend reading the Panchagni Vidya (with a Guru if possible), to understand the dept of understanding of our Great Ancestors.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->All this is talk of the underlying substratum is all very well. Then how is it that the knower of the Brahman behaves like an ordinary man?

" My behavior as an ordinary man is not due to perverted thought. It is due to impressions and habits gathered over a long period. " [P. VII.262 ] <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

The Knower sometimes behaves like a child or like a lunatic also (Bala-unmattha vad eva.) There is no rule binding the Knower (naiva thasya krithenartho na'akruthenaeha kaschana.) The same also applies to Avatara Purushas. E.g. A teacher may have graduated, but will behave like a student when teaching kindergarten. He/She will come to school every day, will sing nursery rhymes etc, but he/she is definitely not a student. The same way, a Guru, though interacting with the world, does not fit into the understanding level of a mere mortal.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->How do we explain the sufferings of the knowers of truth?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Ignorance and suffering are non-entities. They do not exist in real. They are only terms and terminogies. Here is a wonderful story that illustrates this point. http://www.salagram.net/atheists-unscientific-page.htm

Can we expect that knowledge (of brahman) brings an end to the resultant of
past action (ie. the fructification of Karma)

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Here is a passage I found rather difficut to comprehend -
(Vedanta is full of such passages. This one is an illustration)

From where do these sufferings come? Are we to understand that the reflection of Consciousness has these afflictions? Are we sure that the Atman is free from these afflictions?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

ABSOLUTELY.. Consciousness itself does not undergo pleasure or pain. It only is a Witness to both pleasure and pain, and this is only when it identifies itself with the entity that undergoes suffering.

If you have a new car, and it gets scratched.. Is your heart feeling the pain of the car? If a house has burnt down, it would cause pain which is directly proportional to your attachment with it. Thus consciousness itself cannot undergo suffering, it only SAVOURS (or Witnesses) the pain/pleasure of the objects that it is attached to. If Consciousness itself undergoes pain, then there is no agent that can be conscious of this. (just like the brain does not know it's own pain.)

Hope this makes sense.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Atman is NOT Atomic in size; not medium in size; The Atman is infinite, Omnipresent, all-pervasive, undifferentiated... [P.VI.86]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Atman IS ATOMIC, and because it is atomic, it is infinite. <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo--> Atomic really means <b>indivisible</b>. Something that cannot be further subdivided. If there is something that Absolutely cannot be further subdivided, then, there can only be ONE of it's kind. There cannot be two of it. If there is two of it, then it's already divided. Thus Brahman is Atomic, and hence infinite. (Anor aneeyaan, mahatho maheeyaan.)

This is what I opine. Feel free to add/correct this.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-17-2004

Thanx Sunder for that scintillating post! I'm still ruminating over it -- like a cow chewing cud -- trying to grasp it fully and refine my crude understanding. But that did clarify a lot of things. Its amazin how much one learns from such interactions --to me its like a fresh zephyr blowing into a musty room!

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Atman IS ATOMIC, and because it is atomic, it is infinite.  Atomic really means indivisible. Something that cannot be further subdivided. If there is something that Absolutely cannot be further subdivided, then, there can only be ONE of it's kind. There cannot be two of it. If there is two of it, then it's already divided. Thus Brahman is Atomic, and hence infinite. (Anor aneeyaan, mahatho maheeyaan.) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Hmmm.... quite a remarkable statement! I think it effects a reconciliation between the Vedantins and the Atomists. I wonder why then the grouse of the Vedantins towards the Atomists. But when you say "Atomic" you probably mean it in the sense "un-differentiated" rather than "particulate". For, anything which has dimensions like length etc can be further divided and subdivided -- and that process is theoretically endless. Say we reach the limits of that process, can we say that the resulting particle encapsulates the Atman? Can we equate the Atman with the most fundamental particle in Nature?

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This 'life form' is distinguished from other inanimate/inert matter by it's unique quality called 'Consciousness'. This consciousness is possible in matter which has hydrocarbons, and has water content in them. These oraganic conglomerations of matter are called 'organisms'. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I suppose a sticky situation would arise when we consider viruses which lie on the fringes of what we call life : on the one hand they are just molecules and can't make more of themselves without a host cell; they do not contain the enzymes needed for the complex reactions which take place within the cell. Yet, even the simplest viruses contain enough RNA or DNA to encode four proteins. The most complex can encode 100 200 proteins!

[ Here is something quite remarkable: The nucleic acid of a virion is enclosed within a protein coat (or capsid) composed of multiple copies of one protein (or a few different proteins) each of which is encoded by a single viral gene. Because of this structure, a virus is able to encode all the information for making a relatively large capsid in a small number of genes. ]

And is there any <b>relation between "information content" and consciousness? </b>There are some other fascinating instances of information encoding like in the case of protein folding -- all the information required for the 3-d conformation of a protein is encoded within its primary sequence. So, they are able to put themselves together in a jiffy : less than a minute after they are formed, proteins automatically fold into their preordained shape. (Lo! a string of beads becomes a globular mass!)
I wonder what level of "consciousness", if any, is involved here? Is "information" something purely quantitative without any semantics or significance attached to it? Sometimes I wonder whether nature has any immanent predilection for structures like the icosahedron <!--emo&Rolleyes--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo-->


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->If it is so, then the "I"-ness which is constant throughout one's life does not change with change in harmone levels. (The consciousness is same in Waking, dream and deep sleep, and during happiness,anger, and depression alike.) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Just thought I'd adduce a few quick notes references from the text :

Yes, the author of the Panchadashi says that that subtle force/entity which caused you to realize, upon waking up, that "I was in deep sleep" is itself Consciousness. In other words, it is thru consciousness that the absence of knowledge in deep sleep is perceived. [P.I.5]

And he goes on to say:

The underlying entity which supports the sense organs and causes them to function is Consciousness. Prajnanam is another name for that consciousness. The same consciousness is said to dwell in living beings. That consciouness is verily Brahman. [P.V.1]

While differentiating between the MIND and consciouness, Vidyaranya uses an interesting analogy :

In P.I.3 he says words to the effect : "It is consciousness which perceives the sensory objects, but it is different from the objects perceived" (P. I.3)

"On the other hand, to understand an object the mind has to assume <i>that</i> form. Acharya Sankara and Sureshwara have supported this view [IV.27] "

"Molten copper when poured into a mould assumes the form of the latter. Similarly, the mind assumes the form of the object perceived by it. [IV. 28 ]
(But that which actually perceives is Consciousness)

In 4.30 he gives a succint explanation of the phenomenon :

" Jeeva prompts the mind to modify itself. This modifcation moves thru the nerves and senses towards that object and assumes the form of the object " [IV.30]

(Vidyaranya's theory of perception!)

But I think this is a rather unsystematic way to discuss things. To carry this thread further, we could perhaps lay the plinth by fixing the meaning of the great dicta which form the bedrock of Vedanta :
1. Prajnanam Brahma
2. Aham Brahmasmi
3. Tattvamasi
4. Ayamatma Brahma

I believe that these sayings were not intended as fundamental dogmas, but they were subject to active debate and logical analysis by the ancients. It would be of great help if somebody could provide succint explanations for these sayings.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> Here it's worth mentioning that Bhakthi is the Bottom-up approach where the water drop says, "I am a tiny drop, you are the Ocean, O Lord", and then merges into the ocean. Thus losing it's identity. While Gnana is the top-down approach where the OCEAN recognizes itself and thus all waterdrops (jeevas) instantly is recognized as it own self. That's all the difference there is. (I did not lift this off any book.. ) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Glorious! What a profound analogy! Reminds me of the song of the lovesick maid of Vraja, which in its own ingenuous way, is in consonance with the philosophy of Advaita.

<i>In whichever direction I look, I find
the landscape full of Shyama (dark blue).
The bowers and the groves are dark;
The water of the Yamuna is dark,
The sky and the clouds are dark;
All colours seem merged in that dark hue.
People say this is something novel.
Am I mad? Or is it that the dark pupil of
the peoples' eyes is changed?
The heart of the Moon and the scion
of the Sun are dark, the musk too is dark;
As well as Cupid (Manmatha), the conqueror of the world!
Lo! The neck of Mahadeva is also dark (Nilakantha).
Indeed, as if the dark colour has been broadcast all over the world,
the letters of the Vedas appear dark;
Even the point of the tapering beam of light also seems dark to me.
Not to speak of men and gods, the formless Brahman Itself
seems to have assumed a dark form! </i>


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-17-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-Sridatta+Jul 17 2004, 10:50 AM-->QUOTE(Sridatta @ Jul 17 2004, 10:50 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> And is there any <b>relation between "information content" and  consciousness? </b>There are some other fascinating instances of information encoding like in the case of protein folding -- all the information required for the 3-d conformation of a protein is encoded within its primary sequence. So, they are able to put themselves together in a jiffy : less than a minute after they are formed, proteins automatically fold into their preordained shape. (Lo! a string of beads becomes a globular mass!)
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Though your post raises many points of interest, I do not want to distract the focus of this thread. But regarding the above point you may want to look at Chalmers' works if you have not already done so. I have been recently trying to think of the synthesis after my husband pointed me in this direction and being a Hindu the parallels were interesting.

Warning-
They are large verbally intensive works.

http://jamaica.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/moving.html
http://jamaica.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/papers/facing.html


Since you raise all these biological issues I would like to point to something in this context. Is there something like a collective consciousness in the social animal- ant, some spiders or lion or ape? I think answering this issue of collectivity in consciousness is necessary to test if the model of Advaita is ultimately correct or not.

Apologies to everyone else for detracting from this thread's main focus.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-23-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is there something like a collective consciousness in the social animal- ant, some spiders or lion or ape? I think answering this issue of collectivity in consciousness is necessary to test if the model of Advaita is ultimately correct or not. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I must confess that I didn't quite grasp this point. Could you please elaborate? And how would exactly would that relate to Advaita?

Are you referring to instances where the identity of the individual is submerged in the cause of the group? I believe such instances are many in nature -- from insects to primates. For instance, it has been observed that the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) goes thru an ceremony of "sniffing and licking" before setting forth on the hunt. Males and females, dominant or submissive all seem to muster in a close huddle licking and sniffing each other. Then this flurry suddenly stops and they sally forth across the plain in pursuit of Zebras/Wildebeests. We could speculate that this "incitement of the hunt", if translated into human language, would read something like this: <b>"I submerge my ego for the sake of the pack". </b>
There is a great deal of <b>cohesiveness</b> in the group. Not all mothers bear litter in a given season. All other females in the pack nurse the offspring of the few mothers that have given birth. This kind of cooperation is not surprising considering that they are group hunters; their very survival -- the ability to bring down much larger prey -- depends on the close-knit cooperation among group members.

Thus, consciously or unconsciously there is some kind of social consciousness <!--emo&:lol:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='laugh.gif' /><!--endemo-->


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Sunder - 07-24-2004

I am reading a book by Erwin Schrodinger titled "What is life", and "Mind and Matter" (just began reading it yesterday.) These are essays written by the Nobel Laureate. He was an "ardent fan" of Vedanta, and these lectures were derived from Vedanta.

I am reading the book at my own pace. I hope there's something I can learn from Sri Schrodinger's work.

http://home.att.net/~p.caimi/schrodinger.html


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-24-2004

<i>
There cannot be two of it. If there is two of it, then it's already divided.
</i>
I am sorry, I don't get you. Why can't there exist two things that cannot be further subdivided?
I don't seen an obvious contradiction above.
How do you corelate the number of copies an object to the property of it being further subdivisible or not?


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Sunder - 07-24-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-vijnan_anand+Jul 24 2004, 01:29 PM-->QUOTE(vijnan_anand @ Jul 24 2004, 01:29 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> <i>
There cannot be two of it. If there is two of it, then it's already divided.
</i>
I am sorry, I don't get you. Why can't there exist two things that cannot be further subdivided?
I don't seen an obvious contradiction above.
How do you corelate the number of copies an object to the property of it being further subdivisible or not? <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Let us say there is an object that cannot be divided. In the conventional sense, it is so small that YOU cannot further subdivide it. This does not imply Nature has not already divided it (hence the duality.)

This means, the object has a finite size (it is small). When this object has boundaries *nature* has already divided it from other particles of nature...

When I mentioned Atomicity, it denoted undifferenciated - and did not denote nuclear particles. For example space cannot be divided [there cannot be "two" spaces.)]

Anything that can be divided is Finite and hence impermanent. Please let me know if you see a flaw in logic or concept.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-25-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->When I mentioned Atomicity, it denoted undifferenciated - and did not denote nuclear particles. For example space cannot be divided [there cannot be "two" spaces.)] .... it is so small that you cannot further subdivide it. This does not imply Nature has not already divided it (hence the duality.) <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I think <b>"continuum"</b> would be a good word to describe the concept.
The dictionary defines <i>continuum</i> as : continuous extent, whole, no part of which can be distinguished from neighboring parts except by arbitrary division.

The ancient notion of <b>Ether</b> is also analogous to this idea. Ether was said to be an all-pervading, infinitely elastic, massless medium.

In mathematical parlance there are two connotations for continuum:
1. A set having the same number of points as all the real numbers in an interval.
2. The set of all real numbers.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This means, the object has a finite size. When this object has boundaries *nature* has already divided it from other particles of nature... <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

In Object Oriented programming parlance, this is how they formally define an object:

"An object is a concept, abstraction, or thing, with <b>crisp boundaries</b> and meaning for the problem at hand. Objects serve two purposes: they promote understanding of the real world, and provide a practical basis for computer implementation. ”.

"An object has state, behavior, and identity; the structure and behavior of similar objects are defined in their class; That is, an object is an instance of a class. "

While objects have crisp boundaries, Reality (Brahman) itself is more like a <b>"seamless web".</b>


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-25-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-Sunder+Jul 24 2004, 09:27 PM-->QUOTE(Sunder @ Jul 24 2004, 09:27 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->
When I mentioned Atomicity, it denoted undifferenciated - and did not denote nuclear particles. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Thanks for the clarification.
In that case doesn't it become a tautology.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-25-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-Sridatta+Jul 25 2004, 08:19 AM-->QUOTE(Sridatta @ Jul 25 2004, 08:19 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->

I think <b>"continuum"</b> would be a good word to describe the concept.
The dictionary defines <i>continuum</i> as : continuous extent, whole, no part of which can be distinguished from neighboring parts except by arbitrary division.

In mathematical parlance there are two connotations for continuum:
1. A set having the same number of points as all the real numbers in an interval.
2. The set of all real numbers.

<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Perhaps that won't do, real line/interval can be partitioned up in a variety of ways : into further intervals, into rationals and irrationals etc.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-27-2004

<!--QuoteBegin-Sridatta+Jul 23 2004, 06:19 AM-->QUOTE(Sridatta @ Jul 23 2004, 06:19 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> I must confess that I didn't quite grasp this point. Could you please elaborate? And how would exactly would that relate to Advaita?
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
While the sociobiological points that you raise are of great interest to me due to my primary education in that subject, shall keep away from any further discussion on it because this is not the forum.

I understand that the concept of vedant can be simple put as equalizing our consciouness with that of the universe. This is what I think is meant by the equation of the atman with the brahman. So I was wondering if there some kind of partial merger of atmans in assemblages like social organisms. From an Indic viewpoint this appears plausible. Like Arjuna and Krishna communicating on the night Abhimanyu was killed.


Vedanta - Discussion Forum I (introductory)) - Guest - 07-31-2004

Reading these posts a lot of questions came to my mind. I am just posting them as they arose. Not sure whether they fit in here or should belong to the philosphy thread.

1) Does the Sankhya philisophy belong to Vedanta.

2) Can some of the Gurus out here give a small write up on what Sankhya philosophy is and how different it is from the main three Advaita, Vishitadvaita, and Dvaita, which i am able to comprehend? Or atleast can some one point me to a place where the difference is mentioned in layman's terms.

3) I infer from my limited reading on the subject that the three philosophies talks about the same thing, but from three different standpoints.All of them find reference in Srimad Bhagavat Gita and they were propogated to suit the need of the times. Also, i find that except for some bigots, most agree that all them are valid from their standpoint. In that sense, where does Sankhya fit? I become all the more curious because, according to Srimad Bhagavatam, Kapila is one of the Lord Vishnu's avataras.

4) Have any of the big three, Adi Sankara, Ramanujar or Madhvacharyar refuted Sankhya?

5) What is the Bhagavata philosophy that Sunderji talks about, which is also mentioned in the Brahmasutra link that he posted. I have just started reading it and haven't proceeded far.

6) Another question that comes to my mind is that if everything is Brahman, then why are certain thing considered superior or holier i.e. Say why a Cow is more holier than a tiger, even though they are all the manisfestation of the same Brahman.

I hope the Gurus don't mind answering this questions.

Regards