Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shoonyavada and Mayavaada - 2

Humble prostrations to all.

Continuing the critical analysis of the criticism that “shoonyavaada” is equal to Advaita (again here refraining from using the word “Mayavaada” as Advaita is never a Mayavaada philosophy – pardon the usage of the word Mayavaada in the subject line in order to have it the same name as in the web site).

This series is further continued as below:

In addition to the tattvodyota which is pointed to by Dr. Sharma, I'maware of two other works, the anu-vyAkhyAna, the well-known metrical comm. on the Brahma Suutra, and the bR^ihad.h-bhAshhya, where the charge is madeand a proof attempted. As noted by Dr. Sharma and also previously on thislist, the charge is made in brief in the sumadhva-vijaya (chapter 1)against Shankara that he was a crypto-Buddhist:

The various works of Madhva use Tarka to a large extent than it should be used – anu vyakhyana is a commentary on the Brahma Sutra and this work doesn’t deal much with the Dvaita philosophy, instead it deals most of its part in critically refuting other systems through high-end logic (hair-splitting logic as is seen in the dvaita work Nyaayamrita of Vyaasateertha). Of course, I have personally read Tatparya Chandrika of Vyaasateertha which is based on and is a summary of anu-vyakhyana as well as Jaya Teertha’s tika on Madhva’s anu bhaashya on Brahma Sutras. Most of the criticism or objections in the work are clearly refuted or proved wrong when the system of Advaita is clearly understood with an open-mind.

avaidikaM mAdhyamikaM nirastaM nirIxya tatpaxa supaxapAtI
tameva paxaM pratipAduko.asau nyarUrupan.h mArgamihAnurUpam.h 50
On perceiving that the anti-Vedic mAdhyamika [doctrine] was destroyed, and being highly partial towards it, he (Shankara) propounded the very same thesis in disguise as a ruse to bring it once again.

Dr. Sharma himself claims that the dvaitins are not passionate but give sufficient logic enough to substantiate their stand whereas Advaitins are too passionate and just keep on repeating their stand like a parrot without even trying to refute. Such claim of Sharma itself is contradicted in the above sloka where a passionate claim is made without analyzing Sankara’s philosophy with an open-mind. As we have already seen, each of the criticism can be very clearly refuted through logic itself. Another important thing to be noted here is that Sanatana Dharma believes in “live and let live” and not “kill others and live oneself” which is very much evident in the dvaitins works and their attitude. Sankara and Advaitins can very well claim to strictly follow the Sanatana Dharma and its principles because even in Brahma Sutras Sankara’s doesn’t spend much effort to refute other systems except in the second chapter which itself has Vyaasa refuting other systems. Sankara does mention some Vedantins and refutes their views but this is very small compared to the entire content of Sankara’s bhashya. Moreover as Madhaveeya Sankara digvijaya states, Sankara united the 72 sects which were prevalent during his time in Hinduism under the title of Advaita which even today accepts other philosophies as being valid in the respective plane or level.

asatpade.asansadasadviviktaM mAyAkhyayA saMvR^itimabhyadhatta brahmApyakhaNDaM bata shUnyasiddhyai prachchhannabauddho.ayamataH prasiddhaH 51
The `asat.h' [of the Buddhist] was called `sadasadvivikta' (i.e., `sadasadvilaxaNa'), and by `mAyA' was referred the `samvR^iti'; Alas! Even the Brahman (who is to be worshipped as of eternal attributes, for one's salvation, per the Yajur Veda's `eshha nityo mahimA brahmaNasya', `tasyaiva AtmA padavittaM viditvA', etc.) was equated to the `shUnya' or Void (i.e., given the exact same characteristics of a total lack of any attributes, being the possessor only of illusory, inconstant attributes, being unable to be conveyed by speech, etc.) -- thus he (Shankara) is known as a crypto-Buddhist.

This is again a wrong criticism of the philosophy propagated by Sankara. Sankara and even Gaudapada never believes in a shoonya object as the final termination or moksha leading to such a void object – instead Sankara as well as Gaudapada again and again stress that there will be only pure Existence present after moksha. Saying that there will be nothing and that there will be Existence alone is completely different – it is alas pathetic enough to see intellectual people finding it difficult or unable to apprehend this difference itself. (we have to remember over here that an Advaitin never really refutes other philosophies because all philosophies are valid at the empirical level and Advaitin is really ready to accept any philosophy at the empirical level – this is very well seen through Vachaspathi Mishra, Vidyaranya, Appayya Dikshitar and others writing works on other systems even though they were staunch Advaitins).

The quality of Brahman or Nirvishesha and Nirguna Brahman which Sankara propounds and the shoonya which Buddhists propound are completely different. How does Sankara define Brahman? Nitya Suddha Buddha Mukta Svabhaavam – this definition itself is about a Vasthu which means an “existent entity” and not a shoonya or voidness. Thus the Brahman of Advaita and shoonya of Buddhist have different characteristics.

Yes, in both the cases, there is lack of attributes, unable to be conveyed by speech etc. but that in no way proves that the object which Sankara points out is “void”. It can also mean that which is the Subject & hence cannot be objectified – and always Subject is not non-existent but it is existent. Thus considering the characteristics of shoonya and Brahman as same is nothing but utter foolishness (just to mention, whatever attributes Sankara gives to Brahman is from the sruthi only & he is not quoting his own definition of the reality).

In fact, later, the su-vi fulminates against Shankara in no uncertainterms:
svasUtrajAtasya viruddhabhAshhI tadbhAshhyakAro.ahamiti bruvan.h yaH
taM tatxaNAdyo na didhaxati sma, sa vyAsarUpo bhagavAn.h xamAbdhiH !!
Being the holder of views opposed to His sUtra-s, and yet claiming "I am his commentator" -- that he (Shankara) was not instantly incinerated, is because the Lord in the form of Vyasa is as an Ocean of mercy. Strong words, no doubt, but on a fair assessment, there is little tocontradict them except for pious posturing in favor of Shankara. Considerthat the Br. Su. explicitly rejects all the pet theories of Advaita in nouncertain terms:

Here comes out the real difference between a follower of Sanatana Dharma and a person who claims to be the true interpreter of VedantaJ. Advaitin never gives any such contention against other systems. Ramanuja’s criticisms against Advaita in Sri Bhashya, Vedanta Desika’s criticism in Shata Dhooshani (these were written in the 12th as well as 14th century) were not defended until M M Ananthakrishna Sastri in the 19th century. Even Madhusudana Saraswathi avoids usage of bad or harsh words in his AdvaitaSiddhi unlike the work of Nyaayamrithi which is being refuted in Advaita Siddhi.

OM janmAdyasya yataH OM
-- establishes that Brahman is described *only* as a qualified Being(there being no sUtra describing an unqualified Brahman);

It takes little intellectual thinking to show that there can really be no creation in the changeless entity of Brahman as propounded and supported in the Chandogya Sruthi (6th Chapter) As this part has been dealt in detail in SatyaDarshanam, am not entering into its analysis over here.

OM IxaternAshabdaM OM
-- refutes the charge that Brahman is `avAchya' (by saying `na ashabdaM', which is exactly the same as `na avAchyaM');

Ikshate in 1.1.5 is interpreted by Sankara as the ability to “think” as mentioned in Chandogya as Tad Aikshatha & Aitareya as Sah Ikshatha – as the meaning goes, there is no interpretation or meaning as to show that “it is avaachyam”. Sankara interprets “na ashabdham” as prakrithi or pradhaana is not sentient as it cannot think & if it is said that “it can think”, that is against sruthi and not mentioned in the scripture. It is very well known that SHABDHAM and its usage in the Vedas are to show the sruthi and not one’s own capability of hearing. Mundaka clearly states that “Yad tad adrishyam agraahyam” etc. Kena clearly mentions that Brahman is beyond WORDS or HEARING ORGAN.

It is quite interesting to note over here that even Ramanuja takes the same meaning as Sankara & it is only Madhva and the dvaitins who take the meaning of “ashabdam” as differently. Again if the sruthi wanted to say that Brahman is not beyond hearing, then it would have used the word “srutham” which is used in Chandogya Upanishad 6th chapter – instead it uses Ashabdham – as we all know, Shadbha is one of the six pramaanas accepted by Vedanta & this pramana termed as Shabdham is also accepted by the Naiyyaayikaas.

It is really sad that the Dvaitins take Brahma Sutra as the final authority which is against Vyaasa’s own statement that “TAT TU SAMANVAYAAT” – “that by harmony is shown that Brahman is the import of all scriptural statements” which clearly shows that Brahma Sutra is critically analyzing the Upanishads which should have the final authority. Thus the Dvaitins forget this and give more importance to Brahma Sutras than to the Upanishads. But contrary to this, Advaita depends on the Upanishads as the final authority and also gives Brahma Sutra its due importance.

OM bhedavyapadeshAt.h OM
OM aMsho nAnAvyapadeshAt.h OM
OM pR^ithagupadeshAt.h OM
-- et cetera could not be clearer in stating difference;

OM saMbhogaprAptiritichenna vaisheshhyAt.h OM
-- says that Brahman does not experience as the jIva, raising a questionmark on how the two could be identical;

OM anupapattestu na shArIraH OM
-- says even more clearly that Brahman is not the embodied, such identitybeing implausible;

OM jagadvyApAravarjam.h OM
-- denies the identity of the individual and Brahman even after theformer's release, by ruling out any applicability to the individual of thedefinition of Brahman as Creator, etc., stated earlier as `janmAdi asyayataH';

OM vaidharmyAchcha na svapnAdivat.h OM
-- clearly refutes the theory of Gaudapada, et al., that the world ofwaking is akin to a dream.

The above other sutra statements will be analyzed later as the limited intellect hasn’t learnt the Brahma Sutras except the first sutras and some other sutras. The last sutra doesn’t really refute Gaudapada’s statement but in fact acknowledges it. Vidyaranya clearly says in Panchadashi that “Tatha svapne atra vedhyam tu na sthiram jaagare sthiram” – “the difference between Svapna and Jagrat is that in Svapna things are not staying for long but in waking it stays for a longer period” --- this statement is an empirical one and in no way can show that dream and waking is not akin or similar.

Brahma Sutra is considered as the Nyaaya Prasthana in Vedanta – and since it uses logic, we cannot assume or take it for granted that Vyaasa overlooked the logic which Gaudapada could clearly find out.

Our own very experience shows that both are same – both are changing as Sri Krishna himself accepts “anityam asukham lokam”. Gaudapada also anticipates this objection or Vidyaranya’s statement and therefore says “if there is another dream world inside the dream world, the first dream world will seem to be sthiram or long with respect to the inner or the second dream world”.

Other sUtra-s also state the Brahman and the jIva in highly contrastingterms, such as the former being Universal, All-encompassing, and thelatter, minute, atomic.
In fact, B N K Sharma observes in some placesthat the Advaitins themselves admit that a not a single sUtra can be foundto directly support any of their theories! What Advaita one finds inShankara's "commentary" belongs there only; it does not originate in theoriginal text that he is allegedly commenting upon. Which is perhaps whythe Br. Su. per se is not taken as an important source-document in Advaita(for example, Advaitins do not quote sUtra-s to prove points of theirdoctrine), other sources like Gaudapada being given preference. Veryprobably, Shankara would have preferred to ignore the Br. Su. altogetherin formulating his doctrine (as Gaudapada did), but he realized that thetext had gained an unquestioned prestige and dominance by his time, so hecould not do so and expect to be taken for a serious Vedantin.

Even so,one must observe that the charge of fraud for his statement:
yathA chAyamarthaH sarveshhAM vedAntAnAM tathA vayamasyAM shArIrakamImAMsAyAM pradarshaishhyAmaH
-- is beyond refutation, as the statement clearly claims to do somethinghe could not, viz., show that the Br. Su. supported his world-view.

Here we find a major difference between Advaita and Dvaita. As mentioned earlier but still stressing again, Advaita or Vedanta is not Brahma Sutra but Vedanta is the theory present in the Upanishads. Brahma Sutra is only a logical analysis of Vedanta continued in the scriptures of Upanishads. Thus if a person takes resort to Brahma Sutras without taking into account sruthi – gives more importance or primary importance to Brahma Sutras than to the Upanishads, that system itself cannot be claimed to be a Vedanta system. This is what Advaita refrains from doing – when the scripture itself is clear, then why the need for a logical analysis through the Brahma Sutras which is very crypt and terse that a single sutra can be taken to mean 100s of things. But what Shrisha Rao says over here is wrong because Advaita never neglects Brahma Sutras. This becomes very clear when a seeker understands that the Advaitic commentary on the Upanishads have been done by Sankara, tika of Anandagiri, UpanishadBrahma Yogin, Vidyaranya and Sankarananda. Other than these, no advaitin has tried to write a commentary on the Upanishads but Brahma Sutra has a vast literature on it by Advaitins – it will require more than a life time to even just read the entire literature or sub-commentary sets on Brahma Sutras written by Advaitins. Thus Advaitins have never neglected B S (in short for Brahma Sutras) but they give it its due credit only and not keep it higher than Upanishads.

Yes, Brahma Sutras should also point out the ultimate reality which it very clearly brings out – if a person is unable to find Advaita in the Brahma Sutras it is only because he is wearing the spectacle of another system & thereby cannot see Advaita in B S. And no advaitin says that Brahma Sutra doesn’t clearly mention about Advaita --- this is a wrong statement of B N K Sharma.

As we have already analyzed in the reply to Koushik about creation of the world – the very second sutra that “creation came from Brahman – that is Brahman who is the cause of the world”, here clearly ajaathivaada or Advaita is mentioned. We have already analyzed this but just to say, Brahman alone was there, then how come the world came from Brahman --- Brahman is blissful whereas the world is sorrowful (as Sri Krishna says Anityam asukham lokam) – how can sorrow come from a blissful object? How can the changing world come from changeless Brahman? What about the changeless Brahman desire to create? Was there a desire? Why the desire when Brahman is perfect? The answer that “it is his leela” is wrong because for leela also there should be a desire and that makes Brahman imperfect which is contradictory to its own nature of “perfect” or BHOOMA as Chandogya Sruthi clearly says. Thus here there is both advaita in the form of ajaathivaada. Again any effect is only a name and form of the cause – any name and form is only an illusion & therefore again clearly advaita from empirical viewpoint is mentioned here.

Thus when it is clearly mentioned – even though not directly but indirectly (B S is a logical work & logic always will never be direct), to say that there is no Advaita & Sankara cannot claim that he is commenting on Advaita and Sankara’s Advaita is only in his works is foolishness & these statements are what we can call as “passion outpourings of the heart” – and substantiating with wrong or incomplete logic.

An acharya Sachidanandendra Saraswathi, who is the founder of Adhyatma Prakaashana Karyalaya in Holenarsipur, Karnataka has very clearly in his works proved that Advaita is not Sankara’s theory as has Kanchi Mahaperiyavaal about Sankara siddhanta --- SS (Sachidanandendra Saraswathi) in one of his works quotes Sankara’s bhashya on BS to show that during Sankara’s time there were no dvaitins or vishistadvaitins or any other systems – only Advaitins were there who differenced in the outlook or approach towards the reality from empirical viewpoint.

It is interesting to see here that Brahma Siddhi was written by one Mandana Misra who was an Advaitin and he clearly refutes theory of BHEDHA and proves that “difference” can never be proved or established --- and this Mandana Misra is refuted by Sankara as well as Sureswaracharya in his Naishkarmya Siddhi and other works (not complete refutation but refutation of some of the concepts in the empirical viewpoint of Mandana Misra).

Thus Advaita is not a creation of either Gaudapada or Sankara but it is the eternal theory found in the Upanishads and experience of Mahatmas from time immemorial.

Coming back to the charge of crypto-Buddhism -- although, as Dr. Sharmapoints out, the treatment in the tattvodyota+TIkA is perhaps the mostextensive, I am not familiar with it (Srinivasa Varakhedi did quote partsof the tattvodyota last month), and would like to present instead the onefound in the bR^ihad.hbhAshhya (as commented upon in the bhAvabodhasubcommentary of Sri Raghuttama Tiirtha).
To my mind, while this may be alaconic treatment of the subject of the identity of shUnyavAda andmAyAvAda, it is a complete one even so, and it is only necessary for oneto look at the relevant subcommentary, parts of which I quote. Under the passage `na tatra rathA na rathayogA na panthAno', etc.(VI-3-10) of the Upanishad, our commentator says (in part):
na cha sukhaduHkhAdermithyAtve kiJNchinmAnam.h
`yAthAtathyo.arthAn.h vyadadhAchchhAshvatIbhyaH samAbhyaH' (IshA. 8), `asatyamapratishhThaM te jagadAhuranIshvaraM (bha. gI. XVI-8),
`vaidhyarmyAchcha na svapnAdivat.h' (bra. sU. II-2-29)

Then, too, there is not the least proof that experiences of joy and suffering are illusory. This is also opposed to statements such as "for eternal time, the Lord has ordained all objects in their real forms (yAthA tathyo arthAn.h vyadadhAt.h); "they (the evil-minded) say that the world is illusory, unfounded, and without a Lord"; "also on account of the differences in characteristics [the world is not unreal] as those of dream, etc."

I believe everyone would have gone through AtmaRahasyam commentary on Isha Upanishad or atleast sankara’s interpretation where the line of yAthA tathyo arthAn.h vyadadhAt.h
is interpreted as “assigns eternal time as is right or deserved”. And even if the opponent’s meaning is taken, advaita never disproves it but only says that empirically it is right but from the ultimate viewpoint, it is not correct. Thus there is no fault or opposition to such statements from advaita’s viewpoint.

About experiences of joy and suffering as illusory, will be taken up in the next posting on the same.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


Post a Comment

<< Home