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A new Advaita forum has been opened exclusively to discuss Advaita Vedanta in terms of questions and answers. The purpose of the discussion is to arrive at clear understanding of Advaita using scriptures as pramaaNa or means of knowledge.  From time to time questions will be raised and answered to stimulate the discussion. In addition, some on going talks will be posted for listening and for contemplation.

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Hari Om!


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: I and the World- Kshetrajna and Kshetra  ( 2796 )
Dr. Sadananda
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« : April 04, 2010, 03:57:32 PM »

I and the World- Kshetrajna and Kshetra:

We will discuss now somewhat related topics that are of interest. First is the understanding of the world. We have dismissed the world as naama and ruupa or names and forms of the substantive Brahman. This statement is made based on the scriptures only.  For example, Ch. Up. says that existence alone was there before creation as one without a second. If there was a second which is other than existence, then it can only be non-existence. We cannot say non-existence existed, besides the existence; as such a statement is self-contradictory.  This means existence that was there was infinite in nature or it is Brahman or infiniteness. For, if it is finite, we ask again what was there beyond that finiteness. If something exists, then its existence cannot be different from the other existence. Hence existence that was there before creation was part-less (niShkalam, Kai. Up.), infiniteness, the Brahman.  Infiniteness cannot be qualified. Even the word infinite is only to indicate that it is not finite. There are many infinities that we discuss in mathematics, such as two parallel lines meet at infinity or pi has infinite series, etc. These are finite infinities or one dimensional infinities. Brahman is infiniteness means it is absolutely infinite from infinite dimensions "deSha kaala vastu parichchinna rahitam" essentially absence of any limitation what so ever or absolutely limitless. That is Brahman, pure existence.

Then the scripture says that existence SAW, and (decided)- let me become many, and it became many, tat aikshataa| bahushyaam, prajaayeya|. Capacity to see rests with a conscious entity alone and not with an inert entity. Hence the implication is existence that was there was a conscious entity and not an inert one. Thus before creation what was there was pure existence-consciousness and being limitless it is full, that is, it is sat-chit-ananda swaruupam.

Then the question that can be asked is what happened to that existence after creation. In response, Shankara asks us to pay close attention to the scriptural statement that says existence ALONE WAS there before creation. Therefore after creation existence is still there, but now with names and forms, where each name and form by definition is limited. Thus existence can never cease to exist as echoed by Krishna in the statement "nasato vidyate bhaave naabhaavo vidyate satH" (non-existence does not come into existence and existences cannot cease to exist - an absolute law of conservation, declares Krishna). On the other hand, if we say that the names and forms which are non-existent before creation came into existence after the creation, we have a case of non-existent names and forms coming into existence thus violating the Law of Conservation just stated.  It is not so, says the scriptures. If rings and bangles were not there before creation and even if they came into existence, the process involves no violation of law of conservation. The same gold which exists in the form of a lump now appears as varieties of names and forms, as rings, bangles, etc. The law of conservation is not violated, because these names and forms have no independent existence other than the borrowed existence from the gold from which they are formed, by which they are sustained and into which they go back. In other words they do not have substantiality of their own to count them separate from gold.  The same amount of gold remains before and after the transformation, maintaining the law of conservation. In fact, going one step further, gold does not even undergo any real transformation - it remains as gold before and after transformation in forming rings, bangles, bracelets, etc. Hence it is called as transformation-less transformation or vivarta, in contrast to, say, milk transforming into yogurt or curds which is an irreversible transformation or pariNaama. Hence the scripture calls this as apparent transformation, i.e. transformation only in name (naamkevaaste) - vaachaarambhanam vikaaro naamadheyam, a transformation that involves only a change of name from a lump of gold to bangle, necklace or ring of gold. To reinforce this idea, scriptures provides three examples; gold becoming ornaments, clay becoming pots, iron becoming iron tools.

Next we ask, wherefrom or why did these beautiful rings, bangles, etc., form? Those forms are determined not by gold nor by gold smith, but on the basis of the Law of Demand by those who are going to use it.  In the same way, the creation of varieties of names and forms are based on the demand by the Karmas of the Jiivas that are there in potential form in the creation. Then the question is how this karma of Jiivas came into picture before the creation of Jiivas. The scripture says no Jiiva is newly created nor its karma, but they come from the previous creation as a package. Thus the correct story is creation, sustenance and annihilation are continuous cyclic processes with no beginning and end. Hence for the commonly asked question of why I am borne with silver spoon, while others are with gold-spoon and some others with wooden spoon and still others with no spoon at all, the answer is it is due to the result of actions that were done in the last life or last creation cycle. In addition, it also means no one can escape this law of action and results. Everyone is accountable for every deliberate action that is performed, here or hereafter, since life is an eternal continuous cycle. We can write a Vedantic law: what you sow, that only you reap, or you get only what you gave. However there is an escape from this eternal cycle of karma; the scriptures call this as moksha or freedom from all limitations, which was the central topic in the analysis of tat-tvam-asi series.

Hence if there is creator up there, His hands are tight, even if He is the most compassionate and omniscient God. Hence Krishna says "samoham sarvabhuuteshu, name dveshosthi na priyaH" - I am equal to every living being, neither favor anyone nor disfavor anyone - the results are give by law of cause-effect relationships, says Krishna. If I put my finger into the fire, whether I am innocent child or knowledgeable adult or great Krishna's devotee, it is bound to get burned and that is the law, whether I believe in the law or not. I cannot blame the God for burning the finger. Hence creation involves that which is in subtle form, in the form of pure existence, expresses itself into gross forms that we see. Scripture says same thing happens when we go to deep sleep state where the whole gross world disappears for us. That includes space-time as well as our egotistical presence. They, as though, merge into myself in subtle form, and then reappear exactly the same way when I am awake thereby not violating any law of conservation. However there is a transformation of subtle forms to grosser forms during creation and vice versa during dissolution, without violating the law of conservation. At micro-level or individual level, the sleep is called laya and at macro-level or global level, the sleep of the totality is called pra-laya. The essential cyclic process involves subtle impressions forming gross ones and sustaining for some time and going back into subtle one to become gross again - either at micro level or macro level. It is similar to a lump of gold becoming verities of ornaments, sustaining as ornaments for some time and going back into the lump of gold.

Hence when the scriptures says - tat aikshataa -, it saw, the seeing in relation to creation implies a deliberate planning or visualizing what or how the creation should be based on the karmas of the jiivas that are ready to fructify, by the only existent-conscious entity, Brahman.  Since seeing is an action, and Brahman being infinite cannot act, we bring in the concept of Iswara as Brahman identified with maayaa, the creative power as the intelligent cause for creation. All the karmas of all jiivas in subtle form or unmanifest form is called maayaa or prakRiti.  Iswara and maayaa are identified in Gita in the 13th Ch. as Purusha and prakRiti - prakRitim puruSham chaiva vidynaadii ubhaavapi - know that both are beginningless. They constitute the intelligent cause and material cause for the creation. Of these two only prakRiti can undergo transformation producing entities that are endowed with qualities or properties, guNas and undergo continuous changes while preserving law of conservation. maayaadhyaksheNa prakRitiH suuyate sa charaacharam - Under My presidentship the prakRiti manifests into movables and immovables, says Krishna.

The word creation and becoming are two important words which indicate intelligent cause and material cause, respectively. Gold smith creates ornaments while gold becomes ornaments. Hence the word creates is used with reference to intelligent cause while the word becomes is used for material cause. Since there cannot be two separate causes, Brahman which is one without a second has to be both the intelligent and material cause. Thus scriptures declare that a conscious existence entity alone was there before creation and it itself became many as per some predestined plan. This much we gather from the above statement. Scripture describes in detail the stages of creation, starting from space, then gaseous state, next energy, then liquid and finally the solid state. Matter itself is considered in terms of two states: a subtle state and a gross state. Subtle matter formed the basis for subtle entities including mind, and gross matter formed a basis for gross worlds including our physical body. Thus mind, intellect, senses, etc are clearly ascribed by Vedas as subtle matter and are in subtle form, constituting the subtle body.

At this stage we run into two big problems. 1. Brahman being infinite it cannot undergo any vikaara or modification, for it to be a cause for anything, subtle or gross. 2. Brahman being a conscious entity (prajnaanam brahma), it cannot become an inert world that we see, including our gross body. Since we do not (and can not) have anything other than Brahman, as Brahman is one without a second, there cannot be an inert matter either separate from Brahman or part of Brahman.  Infinite cannot have parts; only limited can be made up of parts. Why can't infinite have infinite number of parts constituting the infinite?, a vishiShTaadvaitin may ask. They believe that infinite can have attributes as well as internal differences, swagata bhedaas. Finite only can have qualities or attributes. Attributes only can be sensed by senses. Brahman being infinite cannot have attributes and therefore imperceptible. Sum of finites can only make finite; and infinite cannot be parted. This Brahman being infinite, I cannot see or know or experience it, since whatever I can see, know or experience can only be finite. Therefore, scripture is only pramaaNa or means of knowledge to learn about Brahman that cannot be known; a statement that appears to be self-contradictory. On the other hand, we experience this world, solidly day-in and day-out, which cannot be really real, since there cannot be anything else absolutely real other than Brahman, the infiniteness, says the scripture.

We are so convinced that this world exists, since we live in it, experience it all the time from birth to death or from womb to the tomb, and therefore is very real to us; yet the scripture says it cannot be really real.  On the other hand, Brahman, which is infinite and inexperienceable, scriptures says, is really real.  Philosophers have struggled hard to reconcile these apparently contradictory facts, one experiential reality, and the other, the reality that cannot be experienced but declared in the scriptures. It is, of course, easy to dismiss the scriptures as hog-wash and go with our experiential reality, which is directly evident. However Vedanta also presents the facts logically that a rational intellect cannot easily dismiss. On the other hand, even from the science point, there are no convincing answers for a) the origin of the universe, other than the Big-bang theory, b) the nature of the fundamental or ultimate particle(s) that the universe is made up of, and c) what is the nature of life, other than what we know of it by its expressions in terms of physiological functions, starting from breathing, eating, growing and reproducing, etc. ? Vedanta provides a bridge between ephemeral and transcendental facts while accounting the ultimate truth and the very purpose or goal of life itself. We examine here where science ends and philosophy begins without conflicting each other, but complimenting each other.

One way to accommodate the two contradictory views is to clearly demark their area of validity or applicability. Science we know involves objectification and involves application of experimentally verifiable truths. In all scientific investigations, as we know, there is the subject, a conscious entity, who is the investigator and the object, an inert entity that is being investigated. In essence the science involves the objective world, which is inert. Objective facts or laws are established when they are confirmed independent of the investigators. Even in the analysis of the human mind, there is an objectification of the mind by the investigator, a conscious entity. In essence anything objectified is an inert entity only, even if there is life in the specimen that is being investigated. To put this crisply, Vedanta says, subject cannot be an object and object cannot be a subject. The reason is simple. Subject is always a conscious entity and object is always an inert entity, hence the above statement follows. Hence the first clear distinction between the two, Vedanta and objective science, is the area of their applicability. As a first and important point, we should know that Vedanta deals with the subject, the conscious entity, while objective sciences deal with inert entities. This demarcation should be understood before we discuss further or apply scientific principles to Vedanta to determine its validity.

Now we can define the subject and object to make sure the applicability of each is clear. Objects include all that can be objectified starting from the body. Hence Krishna differentiates the universe into two: idam and aham, or kshetram and kshetrajna - the field and the knower of the field. He includes in the kshetram, all that can be objectified including the emotions that arise in the mind of a being. Knower or investigator is conscious entity that comes under aham or I and everything else that can be objectified including the body, mind, intellect and the rest of the world come under objective field, kshetram, says Krishna. This is the Vedantic field theory. Objective sciences are obviously relevant for the field, kshetram and Vedanta is obviously relevant when consciousness or kshetrajna is involved, one way or the other, either directly or via as knower of the objective world, kshetram.

Next we address the tools available for each of the two and their characteristics including the origin of the world in terms of Vedanta and objective Sciences.

Hari Om!

« : April 06, 2015, 01:21:12 PM Dr. Sadananda »
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