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About krishnas

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  1. Because there is some abeda in Bhaagavatam, it does not follow that Advaita is substantiated by Bhaagavatam, since Advaita philosophy includes many other concepts like sa-guna Brahman, jiiva-paramaatmaa abeda, etc which are not based on shaastra. These days, followers of the various watered-down Advaita sects try to argue that Advaita is a correct understanding of Vedas, because the Vedas are an inherently inconsistent hodge podge of mutually contradictory ideas. Thus, when you quote a "personalist" verse to the Advaitin, he thinks that by quoting an "impersonal" verse, his job is done. What he doesn't realize is, he must explain ALL of the evidence according to "impersonalist" doctrine, or he hasn't substantiated Advaita at all. It's interesting to note that Christian Indologists are big fans of the "Inconsistent Vedas" theory. No Vedaanta school admits of such flaws in the Vedas. It would be pretty self-defeating if they did. ------------------ www.achintya.org
  2. I will also amend my previous statement, that I meant to say "Srila Prabhupada" and not "ISKCON" when I was referring to the types of criticism against different kinds of impersonalists. Karthik, I will say this again, one more time. There is absolutely NOTHING in RV 1.164.46 to suggest anything at all about reconciling different schools of philosophy. The mantra merely states that God has many different names and is thus addressed differently by different sages. What do Sri Aurobindo et. al. have to say about Aitareya Braahmana: agnirvai devaanamavamo viShNuH paramaH | Agni is the lowest of all deities and Vishnu is the highest. (aitareya braahmaNa 1.1.1) or Naaraayana Upanishad which states: atha puruSho ha vai naaraayaNo 'kaamayata prajaa sR^ijeyeti | naaraayaNaat praaNo jaayate manaH sarvendriyaaNi cha kha.m vaayur jyotir aapaH pR^ithivii vishvasya dhaariNii | naaraayaNaad brahmaa jaayate | naaraayaNaad rudro jaayate | naaraayaNaad indro jaayate | naaraayaNat prajaapatiH prajaayate | naaraayaNaad dvadashaadityaa rudraa vasavaH sarvaaNi chandaa.msi naaraayaNaad eva samutpadyante naaraayaNat pravartante naaraayaNe praliiyante | etad R^ig-vedo-shiro 'dhiite || naaraayaNopaniShad 1 || Naaraayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He desired, "I shall create children." From Naaraayana the life breath, mind, all the senses, either, air, fire, water, and earth, which maintains the universe, were born. From Naaraayana Brahmaa was born. From Naaraayana Shiva was born. From Naaraayana Indra was born. From Naaraayana Prajaapati was born. From Naaraayana the twelve Adityas, the Rudras, the Vasus, and all the Vedic hymns were born. From Naaraayana they were manifested. Into Naaraayana they again enter. This is the crown of the R^ig Veda (naaraayaNopaniShad 1). First of all, Karthik, this is not even Advaita that you are speaking. You are just reinterpreting Advaita to suit you. Secondly, Krishna DOES distinguish between impersonal and personal realization. He states in BG 12.1-5 that worship in the impersonal way is troublesome for the saadhaka. In Padma Puraana already quoted by me in response to Ram, Lord Shiva also states that maayaavaada will mislead people and delude the three worlds. Thirdly, you are again ignoring evidence, by referring to discussions with which I am not familiar. The verses you use to describe Brahman realization as the highest don't make sense without the next verse, which I will again post, since you (deliberately?) deleted it: bhoktaara.m yaj~natapasaa.m sarvalokamaheshvaram | suhR^ida.m sarvabhuutaanaa.m j~naatvaa maa.m shaantim R^ichchhati || giitaa 5.29 || A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries. (bhagavad-giitaa 5.29) What is the meaning of this, when it comes after Krishna's description of attaining Brahman as the highest? Simple. Krishna *is* that Brahman. You ignored that verse to cast an impersonalist slant on 5.24-28, when in fact those verses are NOT impersonal, because of the proximity of 5.29 to them. Karthik, can you just once, refer to the works of Shankara which I am quoting? Shankara's first interpretation of 14.27 *is* word-jugglery, LITERALLY speaking. This is not intended to be an insult. It is a fact. I have already explained this, in my posting to Ram. Are you even reading anything I write? Shankara clearly switches "Krishna" and "Brahman" to make his point, even though Krishna is the "aham" in that verse. This is mentioned by Maadhva and other commentators as well. What you clearly claimed, Karthik, was: to which I asked, where is the basis of the idea that Vedas do not give litreal meaning, and then you incorrectly offered RV 1.164.45, which says nothing of the sort. You could also try reading those verses, maybe at least once in a while. RV 1.64.46 "Ekam sad vipra: bahuddha vadati" as saying that two contradictory philosophies can be both be found in Vedas and acceptable? Come on... It is wrong. Why do you take Dayananda Sarasvati's correctness as a given, and then question Srila Prabhupada's correctness? Just because you believe in Dayananda Sarasvati does not make him correct. Note that all of my arguments have been based on various shaastric pramaanas to date, while many of your arguments rest on believing that Aurobindo/Sarasvati/Shankara are already correct in thier understandings. If you start with the premise that a philosopher is correct, then there is no meaning to questioning his philosophy's legitimacy based on Vedas, and there is no point in having this discussion. I quoted from a standard Sanskrit-English dictionary on the standard meanings of Purusha. I also quoted from Bhagavad-giitaa which identifies Krishna as Purusha. Karthik, please find one Sanskrit-English dictionary that gives the definition of Purusha that your Aurobindo is giving. With regards to the Advaita/Vaishnava debate, he is relatively impartial. Who can I quote that you will accept? Definitions given by Aurobindo/Shankara/Sarasvati are unacceptable, since it is their school whose ideas are in question in the first place. You seem to be having a hard time with this. And you won't accept Srila Prabhupada's teachings as a given. So who is neutral here? I disagree. Please quote one. In fact, I want *you* do it. Since it is your claim, you be the responsible one and back it up with evidence. Don't just claim that such evidence exists. Let's see it. Common sense holds that when you speak of "highest," you can refer to only one thing. An impersonal Brahman who has a face, walks around, etc etc. Krishna has many forms, colors, and qualities. Now let me ask you, Karthik, how Brahman can be without qualities and yet described as being of the color of the Sun? Even many shrutis have differences in word order from one shakha to another. Yet you accept shrutis as evidence. Interpolation is just an argument invented by people who want to brush aside inconvenient evidence. For any given pramaana for which you cry "interpolation," you are unable to prove that interpolation has occurred, or even show a conflict with shruti. And it is interesting to note that you have yet to provide even one impersonalist verse from BG. Your concept of guru has no foundation in orthodox Advaita. I have no doubt that Aurobindo will have a commentary on this verse. I am asking you to put Aurobindo aside for a moment and look at the mantra itself. How can it mean anything other than what it says? Don't just blindly quote Aurobindo. Don't assume that because Aurobindo gives an explanation, that it therefore is correct. But you just said I named only modern-day Advaitins and asked for proof that aachaaryas from previous ages also made those remarks! In your haste to accuse me of wrong doing, you just contradict yourself. Again quoting from the ADVAITA Home Page: "In addition to writing his own commentaries, Sankara sought out leaders of other schools, in order to engage them in debate. As per the accepted philosophical tradition in India, such debates helped to establish a new philosopher, and also to win disciples and converts from other schools. It was also traditional for the loser in the debate to become a disciple of the winner. Thus Sankara debated with Buddhist philosophers, with followers of sAm.khya and with pUrva mImAm.sakas, the followers of vedic ritualism, and proved more than capable in defeating all his opponents in debate. Sankara then sought out kumArila bhaTTa, the foremost proponent of the pUrva mImAm.sA in his age, but bhaTTa was on his deathbed and directed Sankara to viSvarUpa, his disciple. viSvarUpa is sometimes identified with maNDana miSra." I think this sufficiently defeats the idea of a politically-correct, all-accepting Shankaraachaarya. Criticizing ISKCON for its verbal attacks against maayaavaadiis, while turning a blind eye to attacks by maayaavaadis against Vaishnavas, is a double standard. Pointing it out is not a personal attack. Using Rig Veda 1.164.45-46 to say that mutually contradictory philosophies are acceptable and that Vedas are not literal, is dishonesty, because they say no such thing. Pointing that out is not a personal attack. You need to be more attentive to the evidence you quote, as well as the subject of the thread which you started. It looks to me like you have stooped to the level of making up accusations without evidence. The attacks of Vivekananda and Chinmayananda are for worse than anything I have read in Srila Prabhupada's books. Sai Baba followers call the Deity of Krishna a "mud statue." Hindu Students Council members make fun of ISKCON devotees for considering the cow sacred, and then the same HSC members go and eat hamburgers. Even more difficult to forgive is that these attacks are made on the basis of sheer ignorance of scriptural evidence. So why does Shankaraachaarya refute Buddhism? Why does he try to refute other schools of Vedic philosophy? Karthik, you really have no idea what you are talking about. Then how come you are unable to quote even one? Karthik, I am one person with a full time job and a family to support. Yet I have spent most of my evening carrying on a discussion with three different individuals on Advaita vs. Vaishnavism, one of whom needs things repeated over and over again just to make a point. All of the time I spent responding to you has gone to waste. -You say you want to see if Advaita can be defended by shrutis. But in reality, you take the correctness of Advaitist commentaries (Shankara, Aurobindo, et. al.) on shrutis as a given, and don't bother to question them even when they give meanings that are obviously illogical (example, the "impersonal" definition of purusha - an obvious contradiction). -You repeatedly misuse Vedic evidence to promote sentimental conclusions that are entirely of your own making. An example being your misuse of RV 1.164.45-46 to suggest that Vedas are not literal, or that contradictions are acceptable within Vedas. -You really do not even understand Advaita. I have at numerous times shown that Shankara did NOT accept contradictory schools of thought, that he did assail other philosophies besides his own, that he does not accept the personalist concept of God in the transcendental platform. It is clear from your writings that you have fundamentally misunderstood Advaita on a number of levels. I suggest, Karthik, that you put aside your preconceived, politically-correct notions of what Advaita is, and spend time actually reading genuine Advaitist work. I recommend starting with Shankara's Bhagavad-giitaa bhaashya, like the one translated by A.G. Warrier. -You say leave ISKCON out of it, yet you repeatedly bring it all back to a discussion of "scathing attacks" by one person against another. To make matters worse, you ignore the verbal abuses promoted by members of your side and heap all sorts of unfounded accusations on Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. Sorry, Karthik, but those are the tactics of someone who knows he has been defeated. -You repeatedly ignore evidence that I bring up to refute your "interpretations," and ignore also arguments refuting your arguments. You assert that there are no demigods, yet refuse to answer evidence that shows that there are. You say impersonalism is equally valid as personalism, yet you refuse to acknowledge verses like BG 14.27, 18.54, 5.39, etc which show the personalist conception to be higher. -You repeatedly assert all kinds of things about Vedas without providing proof. For example, you have yet to show us a single, undisputably "impersonalist" verse or mantra anywhere. I am sure you are a very nice guy in person, Karthik. But frankly you seem very confused to me. You don't seem to know what it is you want out of this thread - justify Advaita or insult ISKCON. You don't seem to understand Advaita at all, what with your claims that personalism and impersonalism are side-by-side concepts. You don't seem capable of understanding even the most elementary meanings of the evidence you quote - many of your definitions you just pull out of a hat and then use someone's name to justify it. I don't really see any evidence that you are interested in evaluating Advaita's legitimacy according to shaastric evidence. It seems more like you have already decided you will accept (your version of) Advaita, and then bend all the evidence to fit it. I on the other hand, have not hesitated to go to sources other than Srila Prabhupada to support his conclusions. As I said earlier Karthik, I just don't have time to keep repeating myself over and over. From now on, I will have to restrict my responses to those who at least have a better grasp of Advaita and can be attentive to the evidence. I'm sorry, but that does not include you. warm regards, - K
  3. Pretty much all of it was relevant, otherwise I would not have posted it. Vyavahaarika level exists because of contact with maayaa. Due to this, we see God with attributes and one Brahman as many jiivas, all according to Advaita. But Lord's attributes are transcendental and beyond maayaa. BG says "janma karma cha me divyam...." in which Krishna speaks of His activities and appearances and transcendental, which contradicts your/Advaitist theory. Shriimad Bhaagavatam 2.6.40 states that Lord is "vishuddha.m kevala.m" - pure and perfect, i.e. without any material tinge. This does not support the theory that Brahman is without attributes and only has/seems to have attributes do to contact with maayaa/illusory perception due to maayaa. BG 18.54 states that one renders devotional service to the Lord even after attaining Brahman. This makes no sense if Brahman has no form or attributes. Baladeva Vidyaabhuushana quotes Katha Upanishad 4.11 and 4.14 in Govinda-bhaashya 3.2.31 to refute the idea that the Lord is different from His form and attributes. manasaivedamaaptavya.m neha naanaasti ki.mchana | mR^ityoH sa mR^ityu.m gachchhati ya iha naaneva pashyati || katha 2.1.11 || Even through the purified mind this knowledge is to be obtained, that there is no difference whatsoever here (in the attributes of the Lord). From death to death he goes, who beholds this here with difference. (kaThopaniShad 2.1.11) * note some numbering schemes give this as 4.11 * Shrii Madhva also comments on this Upanishad in the same way. He writes, "In 'neha nanasti kinchaneti' kinchan is to be empasized to affirm that there exists absolutely no difference in His various limbs of the body, His attributes and His actions. Nor is there differentiation or denial mutually." There are other pramaanas, like Bhaagavatam 3.24.31, which speak of the Lord as having no form, yet many forms, which can only logically be interpreted to mean that Lord has no material form, yet has transcendental form. Incorrect, for the reasons already given above and elsewhere. I'm not clear on why these would be difficult to explain from a Vaishnava perspective. Perhaps you could clarify, preferably by giving an explanation that fits within the overall Vedic context? ------------------ www.achintya.org
  4. So in that case, why does Madhva teach Dvaita when his diiksha guru taught Advaita? If Madhva got diiksha from Vyaasa, then where is the evidence of it? Certainly not in the biography of his which I previously quoted in another thread. And even if it could be proven that Vyaasa is the diiksha guru of Madhva, then still why does Madhva teach Dvaita, when Vyaasa's own writings like Shriimad Bhaagavatam speak of beda/abeda? These arguments are pointless. One can come in a paramparaa and differ philosophically from it. Madhva has proven it. What one cannot claim is to follow exactly the philosophy of the puurvaachaaryas in that paramparaa, if he is introducing something new. One can claim any paramparaa he wants, but the test of a philosophy's legitimacy still rests on providing shaastric evidence. yours, - K ------------------ www.achintya.org
  5. I think I can now see where this discussion is going. You are probably going to just quote Shankara translations verbatim rather than address the specific points of contention. Again, I see no new, impersonal revelations in these Aurobindo translations.
  6. All of these unscholarly remarks have already been defeated numerous times by many individuals. Please consult the Achintya list archives (www.achintya.org) for a posting by me in which I very explicitly refuted all of these points with evidence. I believe the subject line of the message was "Re: Position Paper on ISKCON by the Poornaprajna Vidyapeetha." There are several messages with that title in the archive, but the one you are looking for is definitely there - look in the May - July 2001 area. I don't wish to go on repeating the same arguments ad nauseum, but unfortunately some critics of the Gaudiiya parmparaa have a habit of giving objections, ignoring the responses, and then finding another forum in which to spread those same objections again.
  7. You are mistaken, Karthik. I am familiar with this Upanishad. Your misconception is there because the Upanishad refers to the Brahman in a couple of places as "maheshvara," an epithet traditionally reserved for Lord Shiva. But according to Vishnu Sahasranaama, Vishnu also has names like Shiva, Shambhu, Maheshvara. Context supports the interpretation that Vishnu, not Shiva, is the Deity being glorified in the Shvetaashvatara. It is extremely unscholarly to argue that Shiva is the Deity being described. The same Upanishad states that this God gave birth to Lord Brahmaa and instructed him in Vedic knowledge. That is clearly Vishnu. Vedaanta-suutra supports the principle that if context clearly points to a deity being described as Brahman, then that deity must be Vishnu. According to the Rig Veda which *you* quoted, the Supreme Brahman has many names, including some names of various devatas. Yet at the same time, the other devatas besides Vishnu are subordinate to Him. This was *clearly* spelled out in the Aitareya Braahmana quote which I provided to you, and is substantiated by Puraanas, Bhagavad-giitaa, Naaraayanopanishad, and many, many others. Karthik, your logic in suggesting that Shiva is the Deity being described in Shve. Up. because some names associated with him are used therein, is like me saying that Ramakrishna Balasubramanian and I are the same person because we both have "Krishna" in our names. yours, - K
  8. Always it comes back to accusations about "scathing remarks." Can we stick to the philosophical concepts in question, or are you going to be more consistent in your concerns, and address the condescending teachings about Vaishnavism/personalism which Advaitists have been spreading long before ISKCON? Rejecting an incorrect philosophical concept is *discriminating,* not intolerance. I have no interest in debating people whose best rebuttal is to cry "intolerance" or "fanaticism" every time their arguments have been defeated. Please debate what you consider to be "debatable." I don't accept that a point is arguable simply on someone's claim that it is so. If you have left a point alone, then I assume you are conceeding it. Ram, when are you going to respond to the arguments I have already given, instead of knocking down strawmen? Where did I say that "brahma jyoti is just absence of duhkha?" That the Brahman described is the position of ultimate happiness (sukhasyaikaantikasya) contradicts nothing regarding the Gaudiiya interpretation, for reasons I have already given. When are you going to respond to my objection to Shankara's twisting of subject and object in BG 14.27? You can't win an argument by addressing one point and ignoring the rest. Shankara's "topsy-turvy" interpretation, which takes Krishna out of the subject of the sentence, even though He speaks it, cannot simply be brushed aside as inconsequential. Your interpretation makes no sense. For if it were as you say, then the Lord would be saying simply that He is fixed in Himself. Your interpretation implies duality between Krishna and His self, when no such duality is admitted to in scriptures. Also realize that you are actually contradicting Shankaraachaarya by proposing your explanation to be correct. Shankara has actually given TWO interpretations of BG 14.27, one of which takes Brahman to be the savikalpa Brahman vs. nirvikalpa Brahman (Brahman with and without form). Shankara's followers cannot honestly forgive this interpretation, and then disagree with the Gaudiiya one, because the Gaudiiya one simply reverses the two Brahman concepts and gives an interpretation that better fits context. If you wish to argue that Shankara's intepretation of BG 14.27 is correct, then you must address all of the objections. Please refer to Shankara's commentary again. I have the translation published by Sri Ramakrishna Matha and translated by Dr. A.G. Krishna Warrier. His translation of Shankara's commentary (again): "For, I, the inner Self, am the ground in which dwells Brahman, the Supreme Self." Again, let me point out that Shankara quotes 14.26 to describe the oneness of the inner Self and the Suprme Self. But 14.26 refers to the devotee who attains Brahman by performing Bhakti-yoga. So obviously, the inner Self is the jiivaatmaa. How can it not be so? Who is the inner Self? The inner Self is not Krishna, because Krishna has no need to perform bhakti-yoga to attain Brahman -- you yourself have already admitted that He is fixed in His position. Regardless of the nomenclature one uses, Shankara speaks of two things - inner Self and Supreme Self, Supreme Self vs His Self, or whatever, and then goes on to say that they are the same. But neither BG 14.26 nor 14.27 say that these two things are absolutely the SAME. BG 14.27 doesn't even make sense if the two things compared are exactly the same. Instead of saying "I am the basis...." He should say "I am that Brahman." Words like that should come from people who can produce *comprehensive* refutations of an opponent's point of view. You haven't even addressed 70% of the arguments brought up against Shankara's interpretation, so spare us. You haven't addressed Shankara's topsy-turvy switching of "Krishna" and "Brahman." You haven't addressed the evidence proving that there is both personal and impersonal forms of Brahman, and *both* are transcendental. You haven't addressed the fact that Shankara gives a nirguna/saguna Brahman interpretation to 14.27, which renders any critcism of the Gaudiiya interpretation hypocritical. You haven't addressed the shaastric evidence indicating that the brahmajyoti emanates from the Lord, and is also nondifferent from Him. In fact, your understanding of the Gaudiiya concept of brahmajyoti does leave much to be desired. So after insisting that the "I" and "Brahman" are the same, now you are saying it is important to realize that there is in fact more to realize after attaining Brahman. But you say this after insisting that the Brahman in 14.27 is the all in all, and that there is nothing higher. If either of Shankara's interpretations are correct, then the Gaudiiya one is not correct. If the Gaudiiya one is correct, then Shankara's are not correct. You want to say that Shankara's interpretation is correct, but you cannot bring yourself to reject the Gaudiiya interpretation. If you are not that sure about Shankara's interpretation, then why defend it? Sentimentalism is no substitute for mature conviction. regards, - K
  9. ISKCON devotees take note, this is the mess you made, and I'm not cleaning it up. Now maybe Atma and Shashi, who think I am offensive, can explain to Karthik why this double standard is in fact not so. I'm staying out of it. Oh please, is it too much to ask for a bit of honesty? No one has proven that Bhaktivinode Thaakur ate meat. Even if he did, the allegation is that he did so before his initiation/spiritual rebirth. When did Vivekananda eat meat? It was well known that he ate meat even while he was a sannyaasi, travelling around and lecturing on dharma. His followers have admitted to me that he ate meat and smoked cigarettes even while wearing the robes of a renunciate. The allegation is that Bhaktivinode ate meat before being initiated into Vaishnavism, after which he reformed and followed brahminical conduct. But Vivekananda ate meat and smoked even while preaching religion. His followers tell me that Vivekananda HAD to do these things, to get the strength to go and preach. In one case, one does wrong and is reformed by religion, while in the other case, one does wrong in the name of religion. How can you even think to compare these two examples? This is outright dishonesty. I don't defend the adharmic behavior of some ISKCON devotees, so stop making excuses for the adharmic behavior of modern-day Advaitins like Vivekananda. Actually, as bad as some ISKCONites are, I never saw them eat meat or smoke like Vivekananda did.
  10. Agreement and disagreement must be according to shaastra. Vedavyaasa approved of Madhva's Giitaa commentary, according to tradition. But that is not necessarily approval against an absolute standard; Krishna arranges for the truth to be revealed gradually, according to time, place, and circumstance. For his time, Madhva's staunchly dualistic concept was acceptable to begin refuting the predominantly impersonalist doctrines which existed. Now again, this is a Gaudiiya view, which Maadhvas will not accept. I am just explaining how we can come in Madhva's paramparaa even though we differ philosophically. You quoted ISKCON devotees, who are all from the 20th century. What about Gaudiiya Vaishnavas from earlier ages? It is a politically-correct myth that Aadi Shankara did not assail any school of philosophy, and that he just peacefully settled in and accepted all other philosophies while simultaneously propagating his own. It is well known among the scholarly Advaita community that Shankara wrote refutations of other Vedic systems of philosophy as well as Buddhism. Again, see the Advaita home page if you do not believe me: "In addition to writing his own commentaries, Sankara sought out leaders of other schools, in order to engage them in debate. As per the accepted philosophical tradition in India, such debates helped to establish a new philosopher, and also to win disciples and converts from other schools. It was also traditional for the loser in the debate to become a disciple of the winner. Thus Sankara debated with Buddhist philosophers, with followers of sAm.khya and with pUrva mImAm.sakas, the followers of vedic ritualism, and proved more than capable in defeating all his opponents in debate. Sankara then sought out kumArila bhaTTa, the foremost proponent of the pUrva mImAm.sA in his age, but bhaTTa was on his deathbed and directed Sankara to viSvarUpa, his disciple. viSvarUpa is sometimes identified with maNDana miSra." Again, Karthik, I note the double standard in your thinking. On one hand, you don't want to hold Advaita responsible for the scathing, anti-Vaishnava remarks of modern-day Advaitins. But on the other hand, you hold Gaudiiya Vaishnavism responsible for some bad behavior on the part of neophyte, modern-day, ISKCON devotees. yours, - K
  11. Dear Karthik, Can you please clarify what the purpose of this thread is? I was led into this discussion because I thought we were going to discuss the shaastric basis of Vaishnavism vs. Advaita. But now it seems you are worried about the behavior of some ISKCON followers. If you want to talk about ISKCON, then I must excuse myself. I am neither a member of, nor a spokesperson for, that organization. I cannot defend the behavior of ISKCON devotees, anymore than you can defend the numerous meat-eating "Advaitists" who presume to talk about what dharma is. I will, however, defend Srila Prabhupada's writings, which I regard as properly representative of Gaudiiya Vaishnavism. If you have some problem with something Srila Prabhupada wrote, please quote the exact source and we will discuss it. My point has been that Srila Prabhupada launches criticisms against all impersonalists, against all Advaitisits, and sometimes against the real Advaita promoted by Shankara. You have to distinguish between them before you go on launching accusations. My experience has been that nothing I read was particularly scathing (especially compared to some Advaitist stuff I have read), but the more strongly worded criticisms in his writings are almost invariably directed against the cheap pseudo-Advaitist yogis who make a mockery of Sanaatana-dharma like Vivekananda et. al. Yes he does call them "debates," doesn't he? Like I said, his "debates" usually consist of ignoring shaastric evidence that he cannot explain, and then going on character assasination trips until his opponent just gives up trying to have a civilized discussion. Karthik, you are misusing this. The entire mantra states: indra.m mitra.m varuNamagnimaahuratho divyaH sa suparNo garutmaan | eka.m sadvipraa bahuDhaa vadantyagni.m yama.m maatarishvaanmaahuH || R^igveda 1.164.46 || They have styled (Him, God) Indra (the resplendent), Mitra (the surveyor), Varuna (the venerable), Agni (the adorable), and He is the celestial, well-winged garutmat (the great), for learned priests call one by many names as they speak of the adorable as yama (ordainer) and matarishvan (cosmic breath). (R^igveda sa.mhitaa 1.164.46) There is NOTHING in this mantra that says that all philosophies are correct. This mantra only says that God, Vishnu, has many names, among which are some names of various demigods. By absolutely no stretch of the imagination can this mantra be used to sanction belief in two, mutually contradictory schools of philosophy. You are quite mistaken on this point, Karthik. Go see the Advaita home page located at http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ . There you will find the following excerpt (located at http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/avhp/ad-phil.html) located under the heading "nirguna and saguna brahman" : "To resolve such passages in the upanishads, advaita vedAnta maintains that really brahman is devoid of all attributes, and is therefore known as nirguNa. brahman may be described as in the upanishads, as Truth (satyam), Knowledge (jnAnam), Infinite (anantam), or as Being (sat), Consciousness (cit), Bliss (Ananda), but none of these terms can be truly interpreted as attributes of brahman as a Super-person/God. Rather, it is because brahman exists, that this whole universe is possible. It is because brahman exists that man ascribes attributes to brahman. However, brahman's true nature cannot be captured in words, for all these attributes are ultimately just words. Hence, it is man's ignorance of Its true nature that postulates attributes to brahman, thereby describing It in saguNa terms (with attributes). This saguNa brahman is ISvara, the Lord, whose essential reality as brahman is not dependent on anything else, and does not change because of the production of this universe. Therefore, advaita holds that brahman's own nature (svarUpa- lakshaNa) is devoid of any attributes (nirguNa), while It is seen for the temporary purposes of explaining creation (taTastha- lakshaNa) to be ISvara, with attributes (saguNa)." Please note, Karthik, that it clearly states that Brahman is really without attributes, that attributes are only ascribed to Brahman due to ignorance. This is an offensive sentiment to Vaishnavas, who maintain based on shaastra the Lord's essential nature is to have infinite transcendental attributes. This is NOT the conception of an ignorant person, but simply the shaastrically based fact. Shankaraachaarya is actually an incarnation of Lord Shiva, who is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu (vaishNavaanaam yathaa shambhu). So it is not surprising that, from time to time, devotional outpouring will appear in Shankara's writings. For example, in his introduction to his Bhagavad-giitaa bhaashya, he writes: naaraayaNaH parovyaktaat: "Naaraayana is beyond the Unmanifest (Prakriti)" But this is clearly not mainstream Advaita as promoted by Shankaraachaarya. Advaitists will tell you that to worship Vishnu is good. But they will also tell you that this is a saguna form of Brahman, or Brahman covered by maayaa, and thus it is ultimately not real. Orthodox Vaishnavas (those not following Advaita) find this offensive. But such worship is impersonal, for it proceeds with the assumption that the Deity being worshiped is sa-guna and thus ultimately not real. Only the underlying formless Brahman is real. I'm sorry if the real Advaita does not match with your sentiments, Karthik, but you cannot redefine Advaita to make it suit your "all philosophies are one" world view. Advaita is what it is, and we must take it as it is. How convenient for you that you do not mention the very next verse! After describing the attainment of the Supreme (Brahman), Krishna then states: bhoktaara.m yaj~natapasaa.m sarvalokamaheshvaram | suhR^ida.m sarvabhuutaanaa.m j~naatvaa maa.m shaantim R^ichchhati || giitaa 5.29 || A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries. (bhagavad-giitaa 5.29) Krishna is the Supreme Brahman as admitted in Giitaa itself: para.m brahma para.m dhaama || giitaa 10.12 || You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate abode... (bhagavad-giitaa 10.12) Advaitists cannot use verses describing the attainment of Brahman to mean that attaining formless Brahman is the highest goal, because Krishna clearly states "brahmaNo hi pratiShThaaham" - "I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman." Please note here that this simply follows from the Advaitist tendency to interpret the word "Brahman" in an impersonal way. If "brahman" means something impersonal, then the Advaitist cannot ignore the fact that Krishna is the basis of this "impersonal Brahman." Shankara tries to get around it by word-jugglery, but that simply will not work! There is absolutely NOTHING in the above statement that holds that the Vedic statements are not literal. There is NOTHING in the above statement that supports Advaita specifically. That interpretation is wrong. Indirect meanings should not be resorted to when direct meanings are acceptable in context. The straightforward meaning of purusha is not impersonal. Monier-Williams, a fairly impartial source, gives the following meanings of "purusha": "a man, male, human being; a person; the primaevel man as the soul and original source of the universe; the personal and animating principle in men and other beings, the soul or spirit; the Supreme Being or Soul of the universe..." As you can see, these definitions clearly connote personality. There are other definitions that are neutral in this regard, but there is certainly nothing that is obviously impersonal. Furthermore, it is also said to Krishna in Bhagavad-giitaa: tvam aadidevaH puruShaH puraaNas tvam asya vishvasya para.m nidhaanam | vettaasi vedya.m cha para.m cha dhaama tvayaa tata.m vishvam anantaruupa || giitaa 11.38 || You are the original Personality of Godhead, the oldest, the ultimate sanctuary of this manifested cosmic world. You are the knower of everything, and You are all that is knowable. You are the supreme refuge, above the material modes. O limitless form! This whole cosmic manifestation is pervaded by You! (bhagavad-giitaa 11.38) Please note that Arjuna addresses Krishna as "purusha." There is no basis for assuming that he refers to something impersonal within Krishna. There is no basis for assuming that purusha means something impersonal, when context clearly dictates otherwise. No, no, no. Look Karthik, I don't mean to offend you. But you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Brahman does not necessarily mean "impersonal." Why do you assume it be so? Brahman in Vedaanta-suutra is clearly a personal Godhead. Madhva, Vallabha, Raamaanuja, Baladeva, and many other Vaishnava commentators have taken it as such. Of all the schools of Vedaanta, the majority are personalist. Brahman is not impersonal, because even in shruti we find evidence of the contrary - His personality. For example, Iishopanishad 15 states "hiraNmayena paatreNa satyasyaapihita.m mukham" -- "Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence." Similarly we have Iishopanishad 5: "tad ejati tan naijati" -- "The Lord walks and does not walk." The Shvetaashvatara Upanishad 3.16 says: sarvataHpaanipaada.m tatsarvato'kShishiromukham | sarvataHshrutimalloke sarvamaavR^itya tiShThati || shve 3.16 || With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads, and faces everywhere, and with ears everywhere, that remains encompassing everything in the world... (shvetaashvataropaniShad 3.16) Similarly we also have the following ultra-personalist statement: vedaahameta.m puruSha.m mahaantamaadityavarNa.m tamasaH parastaat | tameva viditvaati mR^ityumeti na anyaH panthaa vidhyate'yanaaya || shve 3.8 || I know that immense Person, having the color of the sun and beyond darkness. Only when a man knows him does he pass beyond death; there is no other path for getting there. (shvetaashvataropaniShad 3.8) sa imaa.nllokaansR^ijata | ambho mariichiirmaramaapaH | ado'mbhaH pareNa diva.m ghauH pratiShThaantarikSha.m sariichayaH pR^ithivii maro yaa adhyastaattaa aapaH || aitareya 1.1.2 || So He created these worlds.... (aitareyopaniShad 1.1.2) Surely, Karthik, common sense must prevail when we approach shaastric statements for interpretation. Do the above statements seems consistent with the activities of a Transcendental Person or a formless entity? Having a face, body parts, creating things, and walking about are not the activities of a formless entity. You are mistaken. Itihaasas and Puraanas constitute the fifth Veda, and this is acknowledged even in the shrutis. naama vaa rikvedo yajurvedaH saamaveda aatharvaNashchaturtha itihaasapuraaNaH pa~nchamo vedaanaa.m vedaH pitryo raashirdaivo nidhirvaakovaakyamekaayana.n devavidyaa brahmavidyaa bhuutavidyaa kShatravidyaa nakshatravidyaa sarpadevajanavidyaa naamaivaitannaamopaasveti || CU 7.1.4 || Verily, a name is the Rig Veda so also Yajur Veda, Saama Veda, Atharva Veda, as the forth, the Itihaasa, Puraanas, as the fifth, graammar, the rules for the worship of the manes, amthematics, the science of portents, the chronology, the logic, the science of ethics, etymology, the ancillary knowledge of the Vedas, the physical science, the science of war, the Astrology, the science of snake-charming and the fine arts -- this is mere name, meditate on the name (chaandogya upaniShad 7.1.4). R^igyajuHsaamaatharvaakhyaa vedaishchatvaara uddhR^itaaH | itihaasapuraaNa.m cha pa~nchamo veda uchyate || bhaa 1.4.20 || R^ig-yajuH-saama-atharva-aakhyaaH - the names of the four Vedas; vedaaH - the Vedas; chatvaaraH - four; uddhR^itaaH - made into separate parts; itihaasa - historical records (.mahaabhaarata); puraaNam cha - and the Puraanas; pa~nchamaH - the fifth; vedaH - the original source of knowedge; uchyate - is said to be. The four divisions of the original sources of knowledge [the Vedas] were made separately. But the historical facts and authentic stories mentioned in the Puraanas are called the fifth Veda (bhaagavata puraaNa 1.4.20). It is also stated in the Atharva Veda that the Puraanas have the same divine origin as the Vedas: R^ichaH saamaani chandaa.msi puraaNa.m yajuShaa saha | uchchhiShTaaj jaj~nire sarve divi devaa divishritaaH || AV 11.7.24 || The R^ig, Saama, Yajur, and Atharva Vedas appeared from the Supreme Lord along with the PuraaNas and all the demigods residing in the heavenly planets (atharva veda 11.7.24). Hence, Puraanas cannot be rejected as valid evidence, since they are considered as Fifth Veda and are also not of human composition. But so far, most of what I have quoted is from even you will accept as Veda. I think it is sufficient for now. No, the Vedas unequivocally state that the Supreme is a personal God, and that He is Brahman. Brahman is not subserviant to Him; He is Brahman. There is an effulence emanating from His body which is also Brahman. All of this has already been supported by adequate pramaanas. Let me ask you something, Karthik. You keep looking for evidence from shruti for personalism, even though shruti is by nature more difficult to understand that smriti. But Bhagavad-giitaa is clearly personalist from beginning to end, and you cannot accept it. If you cannot even appreciate the obviously personalist thrust of the Giitaa, what makes you think you are going to recognize it in the shrutis? Advaitists launch scathing attacks on Vaishnavas. Vivekananda blames all the wars of the world on Dvaita. Chinmayananda says that Bhakti is for people of poor intelligence. The list goes on and on, yet I notice that you don't take issue with them. Why the double standard, Karthik? At least Gaudiiya Vaishnava writings base their criticisms of Advaita on shaastric evidence. Most Advaitist criticism of Vaishnavism that I have seen is just sentimental bunk. You say that Srila Prabhupada is a guru, but you reject those teachings of his which you cannot reconcile with your own personal views. This is not a very honest attitude. You also object to the ranking of deities in the Vedas. But that ranking is also substantiated very EXPLICITLY by shruti: agnirvai devaanamavamo viShNuH paramaH | Agni is the lowest of all deities and Vishnu is the highest. (aitareya braahmaNa 1.1.1) Now what do you have to say about this? One should evaluate a philosophy's correctness by referring to shaastra. It is not that one picks the philosophy he likes, and then bends all the evidence to suit him. Ahh, the good old "It's correct if it is correct for you" philosophy. Where I'm from, we call that sentimentalism. regards, - K
  12. Ram, just because we are connected to Madhva in paramparaa, it does not follow that we accept all of Madhva's teachings as true and correct. There are many points in which Madhva's philosophy differs with the Gaudiiya one, and it is hardly honest to say that we accept everything which Madhva says. We don't find fault with Madhva since he was ordered to teach what he taught in Mahaaprabhu's unmanifest pastimes - this is described in the Bhavishya Puraana and Navadviipa Mahaatmyaa. Of course, non-Gaudiiyas will reject the historicity of these accounts. But the point here is simply that Gaudiiyas have reason to worship all of the Vaishnava sampradaayas, even if they staunchly defend their own siddhaanta from the criticisms of those same sampradaayas. What I said (please reread my posting) is that Brahman in BG 14.27 means Brahman (God) because of context, and because that is the common meaning. But more specifically, it refers to the brahmajyoti aspect of Brahman, because Krishna (who is Brahman) is saying that He is the basis of this Brahman. That is not true. The previous verse says that the devotee comes to the level of Brahman. There is no question of "becoming" Brahman, as even this is defined by Lord Krishna in a Non-Advaitic sense - "brahma bhuuta prasanaatmaa.... mad-bhaktim labhate paraam" (BG 18.54) That is also not true. Where are you getting your information from? Both the devotee and jnaani attain the brahmajyoti. In the case of the devotee, this is *obvious* from BG 14.26-27, and BG 18.54. BG 18.54 clearly states that upon attaining the Brahman platform, the devotee renders pure devotional service. BG 14.26 clearly states that the devotee attains Brahman by performance of bhakti-yoga, and that the personal Godhead Krishna is the basis of this "Brahman." So in reality, both devotees and jnaanis are situated in the brahmajyoti. The difference is that the devotees are situated closer to the Lord, in His Vaikuntha planets, and they render personal service to Him. The impersonalist jnaanis have no realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and so they remain outside (but still in the brahmajyoti), and they do not render service. Brahman means many things, and in the Govinda-bhaashya, Baladeva Vidyaabhuushana uses "Brahman" to mean Krishna. But in this particular case (BG 14.27), Brahman refers to the brahmajyoti, for the numerous reasons already given. Other aachaaryas may give other meanings with varying levels of correctness, but the brahmajyoti explanation is most consistent with context. Really? How is that? For your kind information, critics of the Gaudiiya view do NOT use that logic to reject the brahmajyoti explanation. Their whole argument is that there is no such thing as a brahmajyoti, and/or even were there such a thing, it is different from Brahman. I have already more than addressed these points. Where is Brahman defined as Lakshmii in BG? Where is Brahman defined as sa-guna in BG? (note: don't try to use the beginning of chapter 14, since we have already established that this is not the same Brahman) Where is Brahman defined as jiiva in BG? On the contrary, one can clearly infer from Bhagavad-giitaa alone that "Brahman" in BG 14.27 is the Supreme, and yet a distinct concept from Bhagavaan Krishna. These arguments have already been given by me. The Lakshmii interpretation is just a very roundabout way of avoiding what Maadhvas will perceive as an impersonalist taint. As far as using other shaastras besides Bhagavad-giitaa to understand the Giitaa, what of it? Is it, or is it not the case that any interpretation of a Vedic text should be consistent with other Vedic texts? When other Vedic texts clearly speak of an impersonal, effulgence that is also part of the Brahman, then how can you argue that no such concept can be in Bhagavad-giitaa? I assume, Ram, that you are now going to prove this to us using authoritative, shaastric references. If you cannot do so, then please don't say it as if it is an undisputed fact. Also realize (again), that the verses in question merely describe the jiivas attaining Brahman. They do not say that the jiivas "become" Brahman, at least not in any literal sense. No such thing has been shown. The Gaudiiya interpretation is that this Brahman or brahmajyoti is the "constitutional position of ultimate happiness." - dharmasya sukhasyaikaantikasya cha. That makes sense since it is the platform from which the devotee renders devotional service. First of all Ram, calm down. Advaitists have said many nasty things about Vaishnavas for hundreds of years. Would you like to hear about some of them? Swami Vivekananda has written (documented in his complete works) that all the wars and conflicts in the world are due to Dvaita. He also said in his speech in the World Parliament of Religions that the worship of the archa-vigraha (which is sacred for Vaishnavas) is a superstition intended for primitive people who cannot grasp the Absolute Truth. Chinamayananda writes in his book _Self Unfoldment_ that jnaana is for people whose minds are more developed than their hearts, while bhakti is for those whose hearts are more developed than their minds. The audacity of these individuals is striking, considering how little shaastric pramaana they bring up to support their views. Not only the likes of Chinmayananda and Vivekananda, but practically every Tom, Dick, and Harry I have met on the streets who professes to follow Advaita tries to claim that bhakti is a sentimental activity which at best leads to jnaana. Of course, these same "jnaanis" who claim this often eat hamburgers in McDonalds, make fun of ISKCON devotees for considering the cow sacred, go to Desi nightclubs, drink liquor, etc etc. Frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of "Advaitist" Hindus (often 2nd generation American Born Confused Desis) who claim that we are not meant to follow scriptural injunctions, and that to profess absolute correctness to them is somehow fanaticism on the order of Christianity or Islam. I am tired of these "Advaitist" Hindus who claim to be experts in Bhagavad-giitaa even though they have never read even a single verse of the Giitaa. I am also sick of these ABCD Advaitists who talk about how we are all God, and yet at the same time defy their parents by going out on dates with members of the opposite gender (Whatever happened to maatro devo bhava, pitro devo bhagava? I guess everyone is God except for the parents who try to teach proper behavior). I have also had it with "Advaitists" who try to argue that Advaita is correct because the Vedas are a mass of inherently contradictory texts written over the ages by different sages. All of these Hindus use lofty words like "Advaita,Vedaanta," and "dharma" with no concept of what they mean. I can go on and on about the glories of "Advaita" as it is practiced in the United States, but I trust my point is clear. We can make this a character debate if you want, or we can stick to the philosophies themselves. If you wish to attack ISKCON devotees, do it somewhere else. This thread was initiated by Karthik who wanted to know if Advaita could be justified from the shrutis. Secondly, where is your evidence that Thyaagaraaja is a follower of Shankaraachaarya? Not only I, but several of my friends in ISKCON who are Thyaagaraaja fans would take great exception to this statement. Much of the history written about Thyaagaraaja is tainted by Advaitic bias, because the people recording those histories are Advaitists. Thyaagaraaja may have been born into a smaartha family, but he was definitely Vaishnava in his outlook. This is obvious from his kiirtanas themselves. But perhaps we should save this for another thread. Thirdly, your objection to Chaitanya-charitamrita's warning about hearing maayaavaadi commentaries is not sound. That same warning is echoed in Lord Shiva's own statements as recorded in Padma Puraana: maayaavaadamasachchhaastraMprachchhannaMbauddhamuchyate | mayaivakathita.ndevikalaubraahmaNaruupiNaa || 7 || apaartha.nshrutivaakyaanaa.ndarshayan lokagarhitam | svakarmmaruupa.ntyaajyatvamatraivapratipaadhyate || 8 || sarvakarmmaparibhraShTairvaidharmmatva.ntaduchyate | pareshajiivapaaraikyaMmayaatupratipaadhyate || 9 || brahmanosyasvaya.nruupa.nnirguNa.nvakShyatemayaa | sarvasyajagatopyatramohanaartha.nkalauyuge || 10 || vedaarthavanmahaashaastraMmaayayaayadavaidikam | mayaivakalpita.ndevijagataa.nnaashakaaraNaat || 11 || The doctrine of Maayaa (illusion) is a wicked doctrine and said to be pseudo-Buddhist. I myself, of the form of a braahmana, proclaimed it in Kali (age). It shows the meaninglessness of the words of the holy texts and is condemned in the world. In this (doctrine) only the giving up of one's own duties is expounded. And that is said to be religiousness by those who have fallen from all duties. I have propounded the identiy of the Highest Lord and the (individual) soul. I stated this Brahman's nature to be qualityless. O goddess, I myself have conceived, for the destruction of the worlds, and for deluding the world in this Kali age, the great doctrine resembling the purport of the Vedas, (but) non-Vedic due to the principle of Maayaa (illusion) (present in it). (padma puraaNa, uttara-khaNDa, 236.7-11) By the way, Ram, the Thotaka whose name you invoked earlier, wrote a hymn in which he declared Shankaraachaarya to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. This was posted by Anand Hudli to soc.religion.vaishnava many years ago. That also seems consistent with the Padma Puraana's statement to the effect that Lord Shiva would appear in the Kali Yuga and speak the doctrine identifying the Lord as nirguna and one with the jiivas. Note that Lord Shiva also states that this doctrine is veiled Buddhism, that it will cause destruction of the worlds, etc. So against that backdrop, I see nothing wrong with Lord Chaitanya's warnings about maayaavaada bhaashyas. Unless of course, you are going to argue that the doctrine mentioned here is not Advaita.... Or perhaps you will try to argue that it is all interpolation. That is a predictable argument used by those who wish to dismiss inconvenient evidence. Just be aware that I won't consider such an argument reasonable unless it is accompanied by convincing evidence. That is not what is explained in 14.27. Krishna has already said that the devotee attains Brahman by bhakti-yoga in 14.26. But in 14.27 He says that He is the basis of this Brahman. Have you even looked at this verse lately? Not so according to Shankaraachaarya. If you are a follower of Shankaraachaarya, then why are you not following his commentary? Shankara writes that the "I" is the jiiva while the "Brahman" is the supreme self. So Shankara does NOT interpret it the way you just did, although in the end he says that both of these entities are the same. But his interpretation is flaws for the obvious reasons given: you can't just switch subject and object for no good reason. No one is denying it. But like many Sanskrit words, Brahman can mean several different things depending on context. In BG 14.27 it refers to the brahmajyoti aspect of the Lord. [snip] This interpretation makes no sense at all. Before you said that Krishna is Brahman, and that this is the obvious meaning of Brahman. But now you say that He is also the basis of Brahman, which thus translates into Him saying that He is the basis of Himself. The idea that the Lord is different from His body and form has no basis in shaastra. regards, - K ------------------ www.achintya.org
  13. I have the Giitaa bhaashyas of Shankaraachaarya, Raamaanuja, and Madhva, and I am prepared to discuss them if it is desired. But for the sake of brevity in my postings, I may not always bring up their commentaries initially since I am expecting that the puurva-pakshin will volunteer them if he finds them troublesome to explain away. ...and by Raamaanuja to mean the jiiva. Many people can give interpretations, but the issue is whether or not those interpretations are acceptable here. Surely we are not going to fall prey to sentimentalism and say that no one meaning is correct because someone else has given a different meaning. Let's examine these individually: 1) Shankara on BG 14.27: First of all, the idea of a "superior" Brahman and an "inferior" Brahman make no sense in a philosophy in which Brahman alone exists, and is undifferentiated and without qualities. Shankara seems unable to definitively explain the meaning of Brahman in 14.27, because he actually gives two different, mutually contradictory interpretations. In the first interpretation, "I" is taken to be the "inner Self" while "Brahman" is taken to be the "Supreme Self." Already this is confusing, since Lord Krishna is the Supreme Brahman and He is speaking. So is Krishna not the Supreme Self? Shankara's commentary: brahmaNaH iti || brahmaNaH paramaatmanaH hi yasmaat pratiShTaa aha.m pratitiShTati asmin iti pratiShTaa aha.m pratyagaatmaa | A.G. Warrier's translation (which attempts to follow Shankara): "For, I, the inner Sef; am the ground in which dwells Brahman, the Supreme Self." Confused? That's not all. For after distinguising between the "inner Self" and the "Supreme Self," Shankara then goes on to say that they are both the same, and that this is understood through jnaana-yoga: "The inner Self is the ground of the Supreme Self whose essence is immortality, etc., and the highest bliss. This inner Self is ascertained to be the Supreme Self through right knowledge. This truth has already been affirmed in 14.26, 'becomes fit for the status of Brahman.'" But the subject of 14.26 is the jiiva, which if Shankara is going to quote here, considerably muddles this interpretation. He already considers "I" to be the inner Self in 14.27, and then says this inner Self is the same as the Supreme Self based on 14.26, whose subject is the jiiva becoming Brahman. He is thus equating the jiiva of 14.26 with the "I" or inner Self of 14.27. But Krishna is speaking this verse, so how has Krishna suddenly become a jiiva? Furthermore, Shankara writes that this jiiva, or inner Self, is the basis of Brahman, the Supreme Self. Why is the jiiva the basis of Brahman? According to Advaita, it should be the other way around, because the Brahman when combined with upaadhi or limiting adjunct yields the jiivas. Finally, Shankara then contradicts all of the preceeding remarks by writing that both the jiiva and Brahman are the same. This is all very nice and good for someone who forgets the verse in his attempt to understand the commenary, but we may perhaps remember that the verse is speaking of these two things as different, and is further saying that one is resting on the other. In the second interpretation, "Brahman" is taken to be "Brahman with attributes" and "I" is taken to be Brahman which is beyond all attributes. Ignoring for the moment the problems of accepting a twofold concept of Brahman in Advaita, the other obvious problem with this interpretation is that Krishna is speaking the verse, and "I" can only refer to Him, who has attributes. There is no reason to switch subject and direct object in clear defiance of the context. In fact, if Shankara is going to propose this as a valid explanation of the verse, then the Gaudiiya interpretation makes even more sense by virtue of being more literal. 2) Madhva on 14.27: Madhvaachaarya interprets the "Brahman" in 14.27 in the same way as he interprets "avyakta" in 12.1-5. So what what are the characteristics of this avyakta/Brahman? Let us see: - Those who worship this avyakta/Brahman do attain Lord Krishna (12.4) - Nevertheless those who are attached to worship of this avyakta/Brahman find that their progress is very troublesome (12.5) - This avyakta/Brahman is immortal, imperishable, and eternal, and is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness (14.27) Now what makes more sense as an explanation for the avyakta or Brahman in these verses? Is Brahman the supreme absolute truth, or is Brahman Lakshmii? Does worship of Lakshmii lead to Krishna? Only by worship of the Supreme Brahman can one attain the Supreme Brahman. Even Maadhvas will readily agree to this. Is worship of Lakshmii, a pure devotee of Vishnu, troublesome and difficult? Perhaps if one is worshiping Lakshmii independently, then this might be the case. But if one worships Her as the servant of Vishnu, then where is the difficulty? Worship of the devotees is always highly regarded and beneficial for the saadhaka. But even then, it is worship of Lakshmii with Naaraayana (the Supreme Brahman) that leads to Brahman, so worship of Lakshmii alone still does not. Is Lakshmii the constitutional platform of happiness and bliss, from which devotees render pure devotional service to Krishna? Krishna says of Brahman (not Lakshmii) that it is the postion which, having attained, one neither desires for nor laments for anything, and becomes equal to all: brahmabhuutaH prasanaatmaa no shochati na kaa.nkShati | samaH sarveShu bhuuteShu madbhakti.m labhate paraam || giitaa 18.54 || (note that Brahman in this verse is NOT interpreted to mean Lakshmii by the Maadhvas) He further states that Brahman is attained by performance of bhakti-yoga: maa.m cha yo'vyabhichaareNa bhaktiyogena sevate | sa guNaan samatiityaitaan brahmabhuuyaaya kalpate || giitaa 14.26 || One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman. (bhagavad-giitaa 14.26) "sa guNaan samatiityaitaan" ... he transcends the material modes of nature. This is the well-known result of attaining the Supreme Brahman, not Lakshmii. If the attainment of Brahman causes one to neither desire nor lament for anything (BG 18.54), then why should we assume that the Brahman described similarly in 14.26-27, is something different, like goddess Lakshmii? In chapter 14, the subject of Lakshmii-worship does not even come up. There is no explicit reference to Lakshmii worship in this chapter, so context does not support Madhva's interpreation. It is true that Krishna refers to "Brahman" in the beginning as the material nature (from which Maadhvas get the interpretation of Lakshmii, since she is the basis of the material energy in their view). But the occurrence of "Brahman" later in the chapter is clearly different, as we see the contrast beginning in verse 14.19, in which Krishna begins speaking of transcending the three modes. This is in contrast to the "Brahman" of the earlier verses, in which He discuss the various modes and their interactions. They are not the same. Furthermore, Bhagavad-giitaa is not like the Upanishads. It was spoken before an audience of kshatriyas. Hence, we would not expect needlessly cryptic language and roundabout interpretations when simpler meanings and understandings would do just as well. That being the case, there is no reason to pick an out-of-the-way meaning for "Brahman" (as meaning Lakshmii, for example) in 14.27 when a more common one would do. Brahman commonly refers to the Supreme, and this makes sense here because it is spoken of as being that which is attained by bhakti-yoga, gives one supreme bliss, etc. The same criticisms of Madhva's interepration apply as well to that of Raamaanuja. Note that I intend no disrespect to these great aachaaryas. Historically, their followers have never hesitated to attack our interpretation of BG 14.27. Most of the time they simply cannot accept that there is such a thing as an impersonal aspect of Brahman. But the idea of a formless effulgence emanating from the Lord is clearly admitted to in shaastras: yena svarochiShaa vishva.m rochita.m rochayaamyaham | yathaarko'gniryathaa somo yatharkShagrahataarakaaH || bhaa 2.5.11 || I create after the Lord's creation by His personal effulgence [known as the brahmajyoti], just as when the sun manifests its fire, the moon, the firmament, the influential planets and the twinkling stars also manifest their brightness (bhaagavata puraaNa 2.5.11). dvaareNa chakraanupathena tattamaH para.m para.m jyotir anantapaaram | samashnuvaana.m prasamiikShya phaalgunaH prataaDitaakSho'pidadhe'kShiNii ubhe || bhaa 10.89.51 || Following the Sudarshana disc, the chariot went beyond the darkness and reached the endless spiritual light of the all-pervasive brahma-jyoti. As Arjuna beheld this glaring effulgence, his eyes hurt, and so he shut them (bhaagavata puraaNa 10.89.51). The Hari-vamsha, describing the same pastime, goes on to say that this effulgence is also the Lord: brahmatejomaya.m divya.m mahat yad dR^iShTavaan asi | aha.m sa bharatashreShTha mattejas tat sanaatanam || HV 2.114.9 || The divine expanse of Brahman effulgence you have seen is none other than Myself, O best of the Bhaaratas. It is My own eternal effulgence (shrii hariva.msha, viShNuparva 114.9). Hari-vamsha states that the yogis enter it upon liberation: prakR^itiH saa mama paraa vyaktaavyaktaa sanaatanii | taa.m pravishya bhavantiiha muktaa yogaviduttamaaH || HV 2.114.10 || It comprises My eternal, spiritual energy, both manifest and unmanifest. The foremost yoga experts of this world enter within it and become liberated (shrii hariva.msha, viShNuparva 114.10). ... and goes on to state that this effulgence by itself is the goal of the nondevotee yogis: saa saa.nkhyaanaa.m gatiH paartha yoginaa.m cha tapasvinaam | tat pada.m parama.m brahma sarva.m vibhajate jagat || HV 2.114.11 || maameva tad ghana.m tejo j~naatum arhasi bhaarata || HV 2.114.12 || It is the supreme goal of the followers of Saa.nkhya, O Paartha, as well as that of the yogiis and ascetics. It is the Supreme Absolute Truth, manifesting the varieties of the entire created cosmos. You should understand this brahma-jyoti, O Bhaarata, to be My concentrated personal effulgence (shrii hariva.msha, viShNuparva 114.11-12). Vishnu Puraana also speaks of a form and formless aspect of the Lord: aashrayashchetaso brahma dvidhaa tachcha svabhaavataH | bhuupa muurttamamuurtta~ncha para~nchaaparameva cha || VP 6.5.47 || The asylum of mind is Brahman, which of its own nature is twofold, as being with or without form; and each of these is supreme and secondary (viShNu puraaNa 6.5.47 - Wilson's critical edition). amurtta brahmaNo ruupa.m yat sadityuchyate budhauH | samastaaH shatktayashchaitaa nR^ipa yatra pratiShTitaaH || VP 6.5.69 || The second state of him who is called Vishnu, and which is to be meditated upon by the sage, is that imperceptible, shapeless form of Brahman, which is called by the wise, "that which is" (viShNu puraaNa 6.5.69 - Wilson's critical edition). Thus, the Maadhvas and Shrii Vaishnavas cannot object to our saying there is such a thing as the Lord's brahmajyoti, and that it is nondifferent from the Lord Himself. Except of course, that I did not say this. There is nothing higher than Brahman. Reread my exact words. I said that Advaitins do not admit of any higher conception of Brahman than the formless aspect - in this regard it is certainly incorrect. The concept of Brahman as Bhagavaan, posessing attributes, form, etc, is the higher (and more complete) *concept* of Brahman. There is no difference between the Lord and His brahmajyoti effulgence, but the concept of Brahman as brahmajyoti alone is incomplete. The Lord is simply saying here that He (Bhagavaan) is the basis of this incomplete, impersonal conception of His effulgence. Many sentimentalists try to argue that Advaita is ok, because shaastras acknowledge an impersonal or formless aspect of Brahman. But inherent in Advaita is the idea that this and only this is Brahman, all else is maya or at best a lower conception. That simply will not due. The issue is not whether or not there are impersonal and personal conceptions in the Absolute Truth, because clearly there are. The issue is that Advaita accepts only the reality of the impersonal conception, and in that regard it contradicts numerous shaastric pramaanas and must thus be rejected. regards, - K
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