Monday, May 23, 2016

Astika Darshanas –Part 2 - Vedanta & Sankhya Darshanas (Guest post by R.Ramanathan)

Astika Darshanas (Introduction and Vedanta Darshana)  Part - 1

VEDANTA continued...

Now we will discuss something about the Brahma sutra. The Brahma Sutra has been written by Badarayana. It is also considered as one of the pramana texts for Vedanta AKA Uttara Mimamsa. It begins with  “Athatho Brahma jignyasa, translated as “Thus the desire to know(Jignasatva)  Brahman”. The word “Athatho” in traditional sutra style means “Now”. It is used as a auspicious word too. This means that there was something to do prior to this and thus from “Now” on the aspirant has a desire to “know” Brahman. Now this word “Know” is loaded and pretty controversial. Each school derives a different meaning.  Will briefly summarize what “Knowing Brahman” means in each school.

  1. Advaita school considers “Knowing” as  removing the misconception or Avidya that we are the body and our individual soul (Jivatma) is actually brahman. Advaita recognizes Jeevan mukti or liberation in the body. Thus knowing can mean in the highest sense attaining Jeevan mukti. Advaita accepts Krama mukti i.e. Mukti by slow liberation. The soul slowly attains higher worlds and is liberated at the end of the kalpa. It accepts the following forms of Krama mukti
·         Salokyam (Same world): Attains the  word of his favorite relative Ishvara. For Example if after death if one attains Kailasa, he attains the same workd as Sbiva
·         Sameepyam (Nearness to Deity) Nearness to the desired relative Ishvara. Example is after death if one attains Kailasa he can see Lord Shiva nearby
·         Sarupyam (Same form): Attaining the same form as the desired Lord. For example attaining Shiva's form or Vishnus form
·         Sayujyam (Absorption into deity): Getting absorbed in a deity. This is the last stage of Krama mukti. At the end of this the relative Lord also merge into the absolute brahman.

  1. Vishishtadvaita considers “Knowing” means  “Understanding that we all are Sesha jivatmas and subservient to the Seshin(Absolute master)”. This school does not accept the doctrine of Jeevan Mukti and says that Moksha can be attained after death alone on reaching parama padam or Vaikuntam or abode of Vishnu. This can be done only by sharanagati.
  2. Dvaita says that “Knowing” means understanding the differences between Jeeva and Paramata. And by that surrendering or sharnagati one attains Krishna(Parabrahmam as per Dvaita).

Now before trying to “know”, one needs to develop certain qualifications before attempting to “Know”.

Shankara Bhashya says the necessary pre-requisites are “An aversion to all pleasures earthly and heavenly”. As per Shankara one needs to develop the Sadhana chathushyam
They are Sama (Equanimity), Dama(Sense control), Titeeksha(Patience), Uparati(Indifference to pain and pleasure).

All this is to be developed by unfailing performance of one's Varnashrama Dharma with a spirit of Desirelesness in the fruits(Nishkamya karma. So as per the Brahma sutra Bhashya of Shankara, one cannot suddenly drop of the performance of one's Varnasharama dharma as claimed by neo-vedantins today and suddenly proclaim “Aham Brahmasmi” and pretend to have attained brahma jnana.

The Brahma sutra Bashya of Shankara is written using the principles of Tarka (Logic) and Mimamsa.  The general format is something like this. A sutra is stated and then explained. Then a poorvapaksha (Opposing view) is stated. This is then refuted using logic and then the Siddhanta or final conclusion is established. It is difficult to understand the Bhashya without a good knowledge of Tarka and poorva Mimamsa.

I am not going into the Geeta as it is a well know text.


The sankhya darshana though not in vogue now is a great system of philosophy. The word sankhya means enumeration or “Clearly enunciated” or “quantified”. If not for this school, Vedanta cannot exist at all. This provides all the necessary fundamental concepts to Vedanta like the various types of Karma (Prarabda, Aagami, Sanchita), the gunas, the tattvas, an embryonic notion of evolution etc. The yoga system completely depends on sankhya for its philosophical and epistemological basis. Shankara in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya has great respect for this system and says that “In order to win the wrestling match easily we need to defeat the chief wrestler (Sankhya) first”. In fact this is the first Astika darshana that talks about Moksha being the separation of Purusha (Atman) from the trammels of Prakriti (The precursor term for “Samsara” used in Vedanta). The highlight of this system is that it is able to explain the creation of the universe without the help of a supreme god using the theory of Satkaryavada or theory of cause and effect. We will got into this a bit later.. Thus this is called a Nireeshvara darshana (Atheistic in modern parlance).  The pioneer of this system is Kapila Maharishi who has written the “Sankhya sutras”.

History and founders and acharyas.

The history of Kapila is vague as with every ancient Indian authority. The Bhagavata Purana says that he was the son of Prajapati Kardama and Devahooti, Swayambhuva Manus daughter.

The Ramayana differs on this. But it mentions sage kapila burnt the sons of Sagara forcing Bhageeratha to bring the Ganga.

The Mahabharata also describes Bhishma telling Yudhistra about Kapila and his philosophy (Shanti parva).The Rig Veda also has a seer called Kapila. But it is not clear from the RV whether it was this Kapila who wrote the aphorisms. The Shvetashvatara upanishad mentions Kapila the seer and the word Sankhya. I forget the hymn number. It must be in the 5th chapter.

The Gautam Grihya sutra codifies some rules for an ascetic life and he names it “Kapila Sannyasa Vidhi”. The Rishi Asuri is supposed to be a disciple of Kapila. Then there is Panchashika who actually codified it and widely taught it. Then there is a scholar Ishvara Krishna  who is supposed to have lived in 4th or 5th century CE. He wrote the Vartikam for the Sankhya Aphorism of Kapila.

Tenets of the Sankhya darshana.

Let’s get into the fundamental tenets of this system.

  1. This accepts first 3 of the 6 pramanas listed earlier. Since it accepts shruti pramana, it is an astika darshana.
  2. The individual soul is called Purusha here. This is a conscious entity called Chaitanya technically.  It is absolute and independent and unsullied by defects. Sankhya accepts the existence of multiple purushas,  compared to Advaita which accepts only one Atman.
  3. Prakriti is the principle responsible for all creation. It is an unconscious entity or called Jada in Sanskrit technically. It has three gunas, Satva (Illuminating), Rajas (Causes action), and Tamo (Causing restrictions or inertia) gunas respectively. When there is no creation or in Pralaya all the gunas are in equilibrium here. This kind of un-manifested prakriti is called Moola prakriti.
  4. Both Purusha and prakriti are real eternal entities. Thus sankhya is dualistic as it accepts two realities.
  5. When creation starts depending on the residual karma for a purusha the 3 fundamental gunas combine with each other, starting from moola prakriti to produce 23 tatvas
1.      Mahat/Buddhi(Intellect)
2.      Ahamkara or ego
3.      Manas or mind
4.      The five senses(Jnanendriyas)
5.      The five motor-organs(Karmendriyas)
6.      The five subtle elements
7.      The five gross elements

  1. Liberation or Moksha: Suffering is due to the failure to discriminate between purusha and matter. The self identifies itself with matter or prakriti. Liberation occurs when the purusha identifies itself that it is different from prakriti and is not limited by it. The Sankhyan approach to Liberation involves examining how perception operates, in order to reverse the world-generating process and allow pure Consciousness to be released from its bonds. See how close this view of Moksha is to the Advaitic school.
  2. It accepts the shruti as pramana. In fact Upanishads like Kata, Taittriya etc talks about sankhyan metaphysics at length. The Kata for example is explicitly sankhyan in nature. It talks about purusha, various tatvas and so on.
  3. No god or supreme lord is accepted in the Sankhya system. Kapila explicitly rejects the need for an Ishvara in his sutras. He says neither the shrutis adduce the need for ishvara nor is Ishvara visible with the sense-organs. So he says that a concept that can not be understood through any means of knowledge is useless for his purpose.
  4. When a poorvapaksha is raised as to the many Vedic statements that talk about a supreme lord who creates and sustains the world, Kapila rejects this saying that these are just advanced souls and are closer to liberation. But they themselves are within the knots of prakriti still though their knots are far more looser than humans and other beings. More about this later.  Many Ishvaric versions of sankhya have been written by particularly the followers of the Vaishnava schools (Vedanta Deshika for example) of Vedanta. These schools propose a supreme lord or Ishvara. But these later additions force many of the fundamental tenets of Sankhya to change. Thus these are not popular. Ishvara Krishna who wrote a vartika to Kapila's aphorisms rejects these schools as not true sankhya. The true strength of Sankhya lies in its ability to explain the world and moksha therein, without a need for a god. Because of this one can still remain astika but need not believe in any deity for moksha. A very liberating ideal indeed. For me personally this one principle of Sankhya is a great attraction and enables me to objectively study the worldly experiences without prejudicing myself with a god and needing to curse him whenever my prayers are not answered. But unfortunately this is one of its biggest caveats of Sankhya. We will go into this also later.
  5. The separation of the prakriti and purusha is practically achieve through contemplation on the tattvas.
  6. In fact yoga provides a more algorithmic approach for the above purpose.

Some more details of the sankhya system

The theory of satkaryavada or theory of cause and effect
The sankhya system uses the concept or theory of “Cause and effect” or called satkaryavada in sanskrit.

It is assumed by this theory that the effect is already found in the cause in a subtle form. Thus sat=Exists, Karya=effects.  For example like curd in milk and oil in sesame seeds.  If not for this restriction then any cause can create infinite effects. For example you could extract oil from a stone and curds from sand. Another corollary of this is you can work backward,  given an effect you can find the cause. You can see how scientific is the approach of sankhya here. But this assumption that “The effect is already found in the cause” is rejected by Nyaya, Vaishashika (Atomic theory) and the Baudhas too. Their theory is called asatkaryavada or Arambavada. We will discuss this in detail when discussing those darshanas. This theory is also called parinamavada too. Parinama means “Changing or evolution”. i.e.  The cause changes to its effect. The following are the 5 salient points of this theory.

  1. What is non existence can't be brought into existence by the cause. i.e. Curdling of milk can't produce oil.
  2. One distinct effect produces one cause
  3. All things cannot come from all things. Oil can't come out of stone.
  4. The energy required to produce a cause is visible in it's effect (A restatement of the law of conservation of energy?)
  5. Effect and cause not different but only different states.

Whenever creation has to happen, the equilibrium of the gunas is disturbed in Moola prakriti or pradhana. Then various permutation combinations produce the various other Tattvas as listed previously. Each  Tattva is briefly described.

Mahat or Buddhi: The product that evolves directly from Prakriti with the disturbance of gunas. This can be considered intellect or buddhi. This is the principle of reflection and discrimination. It is through the Buddhi that all thing are understood. The Buddhi is involved in the discrimination of prakriti and purusha.

Ahamkara:  The ego or tje “I”ness. This is the principle from where the desire to experience sense objects arise.

Manas: This is the principle or the intelligence that takes inputs from the 5 jnanendriyas and shows like(Raga) and dislike(Dvesha) and so on.

Jnanendriyas: (5 Sense-organs and 5 Tanmatras in brackets)
1.      Eye (seeing)
2.      Ear (Hearing)
3.      Skin (Sense of touch)
4.      Tongue (Taste)
5.      Nose (Smelling)

  1. Vak or power of speech
  2. Hands or power to grasp.
  3. Feet. Power of locomotion.
  4. Anus. Power of excretion.
  5. Sex organs or power of reproduction.

5 Bhutas
  1. Akasha (Ether)
  2. Vayu (Air)
  3. Agni (Fire)
  4. Apaha (Water)
  5. Prithivi (Earth)

Sankhya and god
As said earlier, the sankhya system does not accept the existence of a god. The Sankhya sutras clearly state that god cannot be proved through any means of knowledge and thus there is not use for such a conception. Some of the arguments for sankhya against a god are

  1. If god is eternal and unchanging and is the cause of the world, then the world too should be eternal and unchanging because as per sankhya the cause and the effects are not different. Since we find that the world is eternally changing as per the theory of Satkarya vada there can be no god and he never created the universe.
  2. This is taken from the Ishvara Krishna's Vartika.
"Why did god create the world?"

"Is he a baddha (Bonded person within prakriti) or mukta? If he is a baddha but created 
the world he is no good from any other baddha, except for his supernatural powers. If he is a mukta he has no use for creating the world. If he is beyond both he again does not need to create the world.

  1. If it is stated that god created the world for jivas to experience their karma, then he is not omniscient or omnipotent as he is acting on behalf of some other superior power compelling him to create. Thus again this kind of god has no use.
  2. If he created the world as sport as most puranas claim, then he is a cruel being and not merciful as is claimed. Even if an earthly mother(Human or animal) can show so much mercy on her children and god is considered to be a parent(Jagan mata or pita, he leave's much to be desired, as the world he created is full of death, disease and poverty"

Some problems with Sankhyas non acceptance of god.

Creation of the world needs a material cause and efficient cause or a intelligence. Now as per Sankhya the material cause is  prakriti. There is no efficient cause. So non acceptance of a god causes a problem in that there is no efficient cause. Sankhya does not answer this. But Yoga an allied darshana postulates an Ishvara. This can be found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. There the Ishvara postulated is just an efficient cause. He is also eternal like prakriti and purusha, but not their overload as postulated in later Vedantic schools and Puranas.

There is so much more but that would take up a separate article for sankhya alone. So with this, i think we can conclude our discussions on Sankhya and proceed to its allied darshana, which is a practical application of Sankhya, Yoga.


There is no system that is as popular as yoga all around the world. It is more popular than Advaita Vedanta in the west. But Yoga as a Darshana as envisioned in the Patanjali Yoga Sutra and what is being practiced now is totally different. Surely the original yoga system did not postulate Advaitic self realization or attainment of moksha of any other Vedantic school. Yoga shares Sankhya metaphysics. But differs from Sankhya with respect to the acceptance of god. We will go over this later quoting the relevant sutras. But first now a history of the yoga Darshana.


The oldest references to yoga can be found in the Veda itself. The Taittriya Samhita  in Kanda 4 Prashna 1 says

"युञ्जते मन उत युञ्जते धियो विप्रा विप्रस्य बृहतो विपश्चितः"

“The Rishis unite(The word Yunjatee, the verb derived from the root Yuj “To unite”, again Yoga is the verb derived from the same verb root yuj) the mind and intellect.”

Thus the concept of Yoga has existed since time immemorial though not in the present form. In the Taittriya Upanishad there is a reference to the word, the statement being “Yoga Atma| Mahafpucham pratishta”. “Yoga is the self and Mahat is the tail of the bird that is vijnana” Note the use of the Sankhya Tattva Mahat in the Upanishad. Various other Upanishads like the Katha, Brihadaranyaka Shvetashvatara etc have discussions about it. Especially the last one has very detailed one and discusses  yoga in tandem with sankhya philosophy.

Apart from this we can see references to Yoga in other darshanas. Kanata in his Vaisheshika sutra 5.2.15-5.2.16 states that

“Pleasure and pain results from contact of soul, sense, mind and object. Non-origination of that follows when the mind becomes steady in the soul. After it, there is non-existence of pain in the embodied soul. This is that Yoga.”

In the Nyaya sutras of Akshapada  in chapter 4 sutra 2 we see the following discussions.

We are instructed to practice meditation in such places as a forest, a cave or a sand-bank. Such possibilities [the opponent claims] may occur even in release. It is, we reply, not so, because knowledge must spring up only in a body already in the state of formation. And there is absence of a body in our release. For that purpose, there should be a purifying of our soul by abstinence from evil, and observance of certain virtues, as well as by following the spiritual injunctions gleaned from Yoga. To secure release [moksha], it is necessary to study and follow this treatise on knowledge [Yoga], as well as to hold discussions with those learned in that treatise.”

Both the above translations are taken from Wikipedia. Thus we see that other schools also recognize Yoga as a practical path to their metaphysics and theory.

Finally coming to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, even Vyasa is supposed to have authored a Bhashya on it.  There are other books and commentaries like those of Bhojha, Hemachandra etc.

To be continued....


jayasree said...

Thanks Mr Ramanathan for giving the darshanas in simple language. You have given the various contexts where the name Kapila appears. Let me add one more Kapila for Sangam Tamil texts. Infact there is a possibility of more than one Kapila in those times known in Tamil literary circles. There was a "Thol Kapilar" - the 'ancient Kapilar' who had done a grammar work like Thol kappiyar. A grammar work called "Kapilarathu paattu" is mentioned in some ancient commentaries.

There was a " Kapila Deva Nayanar" who had authored many works on Lord Siva. One Kapila appears in Thiuvilaiyaadal (divine sports) of Lord Siva. The period of these Kapilas is not known.

A widely talked about Kapila appears in the works of many Sangam poets who are all in praise of him. This Kapila was a Brahmin and has contributed many verses in different texts of Tamil Sangam. They have praised him as a knowledgeable one and an adept in Vedic yajans. He was born in Thiruvadhavur. A wikipedia article is there about him.

This Kapila must have lived 2000 years ago and was a contemporary of Paari Vallal. He was the one who took care of the 2 daughters of Paari after his death and tried to get them married. He was a close friend of Paari that he died by "vadakkirutthal" (fasting unto death) in memory of him. This place has been identified now as "Kapilar kundru"

This Kapilar has done a great service in the understanding of our history, for we find the mention of the lineage of the Vel king (Irungovel) tracing back to 49 generations that started with some one in the North who had come out of the Homa kunda. This perhaps refers to the sect of Vel getting initiated at the time of decline of Indus civilisation when Agni kula kshatriyas (Solankis, Chauhans, Pratiharas etc) were initiated to safeguard the North western border of India. The Vels (now perhaps degraded as Bela caste in the North), shifted to South and to Tamil lands which at that time was spread to most of Karnataka and Kerala also.

That there was not a big North - south divide at that time and that Tamil was popular across India can be known from Kapila's compositions. Kapila has authored a Sangam text called Kurinji Pattu which was composed to teach Tamil to a king of Aryavartha, named Brigadatta. This Aryan king Brigadatta learned Tamil from Kapila and composed verses in Tamil which are also found in the Sangam text.

This shows the name Kapila or people with the surname Kapila had lived in South India too and had Tamil as their mother tongue. In my opinion, the Kapila mentioned in Ramayana in the Sagara episode had lived in today's Rameswaram / Ram Sethu. (Read 47. கங்கையும், ராமர் சேதுவும். - and in English).

R.Ramanathan said...

Thanks for your comments. Will read the last mentioned link.

rk said...

Thanks Shri Ramanathan. Nice article and explained in simple terms. I am reading article at present on Athaysa Bhasyam by Shri Sankarachariar. The article is by Swami Paramarthnanda Ji. In the article he mentions about Vyasa Acharya being the author of Brahma Sutra. I appreciate your clarification on this , thanks.

rk said...

Thanks Shri Ramanathan. Nice article and explained in simple terms. I am reading article at present on Athaysa Bhasyam by Shri Sankarachariar. The article is by Swami Paramarthnanda Ji. In the article he mentions about Vyasa Acharya being the author of Brahma Sutra. I appreciate your clarification on this , thanks.

Ramathan Ramakrishnan said...

Mr Rk Thanks for your comments. Can you send me the link to the article you are reading?

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan
Here is the link. Thank you

""Brahmasutra is such a literature packed with various ideas, a Vedantic work written by Sage Vyasacharya. The work consists of 555 Sutras dealing with BRAHMAN/VEDANTIC teaching.

Sage Vyasacharya performs 3 tasks here:""

Hariharan B. said...

Mr. Ramanathan, Nice article. One more point I want to make here is Samkhyas believe in perception, inference and valid testimony as the means of right cognition. In valid testimony they accept vedas as right and self-authoritative as they are not authored by any human being and therefore free of defects. And they accept knowledge obtained from smritis, itihahas and puranas as valid as they have vedas as their source. This is based on the aphorisms of Ishwar Krishna's karika on Samkhya Yoga. So Samkhyas are not anti-vedic per se, but don't delve deep into it for other reasons.

Ramathan Ramakrishnan said...

@Mr RK
Thanks the link.
@Mr Hariharan
Thanks for the info. You have given me a new point that the Sankhyas accepted the itihasa/puranas. I thought only the Mimamsakas accept Aitihya as a source of pramana. If possible can you give me the sutra no or some way of locating the sutra in Ishvara Krishna's work? Would be great.

Hariharan B. said...

Mr. Ramanathan, Please see sutras 4 & 5 and explanation theorof of Ishwara Krishna's Samkya Karika.

R.Ramanathan said...

Thanks Mr Hariharan

jayasree said...

@ Mr rk and Mr Ramanathan,

The first part of the first chapter containing 32 sutras was given solely given by sage Badarayana. But the whole body of Brahma sutras that we have today could not have been given by Badarayana for, in many sutras, it is being said "so says Badarayana". If the author of the Sutra is Badarayana, this kind of description can not be there. Similarly there are sutras that says "so says Jaimini" or "Badari". From Gita verse also we know that Brahma sutras are a compilation of aphorisms given by many sages, prominent among them being Badarayana. Many ancient commentators have identified Badarayana with Veda Vyasa in their commentaries. This shows Badarayana was a Vyasa of some era and he had compiled the Brahma sutras. Perhaps the entire 1st chapter was the work of Badarayana whose other sutras might have been lost for ever.

The presently available Brahma sutras clearly show that aphorisms of other sages have been included. This makes me think that this has been compiled by some other Vyasa and not necessarily by Badarayana or Veda Vyasa of Mahabharat times who compiled Vedas. I think there is a sutra attributed to Krishna Dwipayana also in the currently available Brahma sutras. I have to search for this verse. Krishna Dwipayana is the original name of Veda Vyasa of Mahabharata times. If this name is there, then it can't be said that Veda vyasa by name Krishna Dwipayana had compiled this. Some other Vyasa must have compiled it.

As for me, I am greatly inspired by the sutras attributed to Jaimini and Badarayana on what delivers the fruits of action and what state the released soul attains. Though they differ on these issues, on deeper thinking I think one is an extension or improvement over the other.

jayasree said...

Welcome Mr Hariharan. Your inputs add value to this article and our knowledge. As many of us have no way of reading Ishwara Krishna's Samkhya karika, may I request you to write here the 2 sutras that you have mentioned and give a brief about them?

rk said...

This is from "Divine life society". Basically says the same thing as Madam Ji
""Mimamsa means the investigation or enquiry into the connected meaning of the sacred texts. Of this Mimamsa two branches have been recognised, the Purva Mimamsa (earlier) and the Uttara Mimamsa (the latter). The former systematises the Karma Kanda-the portion of the Veda which pertains to action and sacrifices and which comprises Samhitas and the Brahmanas; the latter systematises the Jnana Kanda i.e., that part of the Vedas which includes the Aranyaka portion of the Brahmanas and the Upanishads. Jaimini is the author of the Purva Mimamsa. Sri Vyasa (Badarayana or Krishna Dvaipayana) the Guru of Jaimini is the author of the Brahma Sutras otherwise known as Vedanta Sutras. The study of Brahma Sutras is a synthetic study of the Upanishads. It treats of the Vedanta philosophy.

R.Ramanathan said...


Yes it is plausible that Badarayana AKA Krishna Dwaipayana AKA Vyasa did not write all the Brahma sutras based on the fact that, Badarayana's name appears in the sutras. But on the other hand such usage is not atypical in Sutra literature. For example in the Poorva mimamsa sutra of Jaimini, in the 8th Chapter 3rd Adhikarana the 7th sutra is.

Tat Avritti tu Jaimineeranhaan apratyaksha sankyaat

This Sutra basically discusses the mode of performance of a 12 day sacrifice or dvadashaha(Belonging to the satra class of Soma sacrifices). Here Jaimini says that he considers it to be a multiple of 2 six day sacrifices called shadaha.

This style is also followed in many lakshana granthas like the praatishakyas of various Vedic schools.

@Mr Hariharan

I quote sutra's 4 and 5 here
Sutra 4
Dhrishtam Anumanam AaptaVachanam cha sarvapramana siddhatvat|
Trividham pramanamishtam Pramaye siddhihi Pramanaddhi|

Translation: There are 3 types of pramanas, pratyaksha, anumana and valid testimony.
Rest of the pramanas are derived from these 3.

Sutra 5
Prati vishaya adhyavasaya dhristam.Trividham Anumanam Aakhyatam|
Tat Lingam Lingi Apurvakam. Aapta Shrutihi. Aapta Vachanam tu|

Translation: The ascertainment of objects(Vishaya)is dhrishtam. Anumana is of 3 types known from the characteristic signs of the object to be inferred. Aapta pramana is from trust worthy persons and the Veda.

There is one point here i need to make. I did not in my article say sankhyas were anti vedic. They are atheists is what i emphasize. Yes they do accept smriti as it is the word of rishi. But itihasa puranas on the other hand come into a category of pramana called the "Aitihyam". For example in the Taittriya Aranyakam prashna 1. We see at the beginning of anuvaka 2

Smritihi, pratyaksham Aitihyam(||) Anumanaha chatushtayam|Etaihi Aaditya

The Shruti here defines four pramanas that will be used internally in the shruti while discussing the Aditya Mandala. They are,

1 Smriti-The smriti and many Arsheya texts like the dharma shastra etc
2 Pratyaksham-Direct perception
3 Anumanam-inference,
4 Aitihyam- Incidents from ancient history or what we call in tamil Aideeham. For example this is used in where something has been heard from one's ancestors or from some particular rishi and so on. In the shruti this aitihyam is more reliable from the fact that the shruti has an aanupoorvikam(A particular hard ordering). The order of verses or riks appearing in the shruti is fixed. This can be seen in the pada paata. Also additional swaras help to demarcate the meaning thus preserving even the "Aitihya" portions of the shruti. Plus also there is the aacharya parampara of lineage of teachers given in the shruti.

But the Itihasa and purana has no fixed aanupoorvika. In fact it is intended, so that people can add and delete stories as per the intensities of their Bhakti. For example the Lakshman Rekha story in the Ramayana. Even though the valmiki ramayana has no such incident. Also we have the Itihasas and puranas in local languages like Hindi(Tulsi Das), Kamba ramayanam etc. There is nothing wrong in it. But for hard scientific inquiry as the one pursued in the darshanas, these would be difficult to validate. So i am not sure whether sankhya means the Itihasa & puranas by Aapta pramana, because of the above mentioned issues.

Your further inputs on this are welcome here.

Hariharan B. said...

@Mr. Ramanathan

The Sutras 4 & 5 of Samkhya Karika are as follows:
KARIKA IV-- Perception, Inference and Valid Testimony are admitted to be the three kinds of proof necessary; because they include all kinds of proof.

KARIKA V---"Perception" is definite sense cognition(i.e., cognition of particular objects through the senses); Inference is declared to be three-fold and it is preceded by (based upon) the knowledge of the major premises and the minor premises; and 'Valid Testimony' is true revelation.

Valid Testimony is true revelation. 'True' means 'proper'; hence 'true revelation' means 'proper revelation'. 'Sruti' is the comprehension of the meaning of a sentence by means of the sentence. This is self-evident and true since all doubts/discrepancies are set aside by the fact that it proceeds from the Vedas which is super human. And the knowledge obtained from the smritis, puranas,etc., which are founded on the Veda becomes true.

Smiritis and Puranas are included in 'Apta-vachana' as Sage Kapila was supposed to have studied the Srutis in his previous birth and recollected the same. And the revered Jaigishavya and Avatta speak of this reminiscence of his births.

The above explanation is from Tattva-Kaumudi(Samkhya) of Vacaspathi
Mishra by Ganganath Jha.

Hariharan B. said...

@Mr. Ramanathan

As regards the category of pramana called 'Aitihyam', Mr.Ramanathan
states that it is based on incidents from ancient history or from
particular rishi, etc. It also has riks like in the sruti which is
fixed. So based on this it is very difficult to say whether
puranas/ithihasas will fit in this category. Second,it is coming in
the context of yagna as stated in Taittriya Arankaya and hence
puranic quoting may not be applicable as it deals with certain
injuctions to be carried out for a particular purpose. Please
correct me in I am wrong.

Puranas(and also itihasas) are totally different in that it talks
about creation,genealogy of gods/kings,manvantaras, history of
solar/lunar races, etc. Moreoever puranas, etc., are quoted in the
vedanta context to explain the meaning/purport of the vedas and
vedanta sutras.So samkhyas quote the puranas in this sense only.
Please also note from the above karika that puranas,smritis which
are founded on the vedas only are true. Ancient vedanta acharyas
also quote puranas, etc., for this purpose only.

It is also noted that puranas contain both secular(historical) and
spiritual matters and it has undergone changes over a period of
time. But that does not mean it has not got authenticity and
validity in the remote past when it was pristine and handed down by
rishis through word of mouth and not contaminated due to other
reasons. There are quotations from Bhagavata and Skanda puranas
which are more than 1000 years old and which are used in
debates/discussions by the ancient vedanta acharyas which resolved
doubts & clarified their siddhanta position. If it is good for them
it is good for us also. More thoughts welcome.

jayasree said...

Thanks Mr Hariharan for the explanation. The importance for Puranas given by Acharyas in resolving doubts and clarifying their siddhanthic position is interesting. You seem to possess a wealth of Vedic knowledge like Mr Ramanathan. You are welcome to contribute to this blogspot. In the present context, would like to know more on Puranas as sources to resolve doubts on siddhanthic ideas. Thank you once again.

Hariharan B. said...

Thanks, Madam, for the compliments. I am just a seeker of truth and knowledge. Vedic knowledge is a continuous and never ending process and it is very difficult for anyone to master even a single branch of it. My knowledge is also too little and hence I may not deserve your accolade. I am not a natural (and gifted) scholar like you and Mr. Ramanathan but I will sure share my knowledge wherever possible.

jayasree said...

A correction Mr Hariharan. I am not a natural or gifted scholar as you think. I am also a seeker basically starting from a relentless pursue of why I am and what I am, which ultimately led me to search for the proportions of Brahman who / which is the one and everything of the Vedic knowledge. You are welcome to share your knowledge as blog posts or in a way you think suitable.

R.Ramanathan said...

@Mr Hariharan & Madam
I am not a gifted scholar as you think. I too am humble a seeker, pursuing Vedic knowledge at the feet of very great scholars who fortunately still exist in India. And in another 50 years time will cease to exist sadly. Any speck of knowledge i have is due to their grace and blessings. They are the one's that really deserve the credit, tirelessly working in the background, residing in remote villages away from the spotlight. My unending Namaskarams to those great selfless souls

R.Ramanathan said...

As for your statement on the Puranas, yes I too remember reading certain statements that establish Advaita Siddhanta. But it would be difficult to associate the purana's with a "Hard" atheistic school like Sankhya, is my humble opinion.

R.Ramanathan said...

As for your statement on the Puranas, yes I too remember reading certain statements that establish Advaita Siddhanta. But it would be difficult to associate the purana's with a "Hard" atheistic school like Sankhya, is my humble opinion.

Hariharan B. said...


I fully agree with you regarding the humble vedic scholars who do nishkama karma by spreading the vedic knowledge. The blessing you got from them for learning this shows that you have high merit and hence my praise is valid.

As for the puranas, Samkhyas accept the knowledge from puranas and smritis which is based in vedas atleast in principle.But the samkhya is not a comprehensive philosophy and hence it is easily humbled/overtaken by vedanta. Moreover the main drawback in samkhya is they accept only part of vedic/other literature and leave the others. Either they should accept all in toto or leave everything. There is no half way house. Hence their downfall. Secondly their Prakriti, even though insentient, causes everything in the world is also not convincing as it cannot act both as material and efficient cause and still remain a Jada! Now they have only historical value. Moreover the yoga system based on samkhya metaphysics has become valuable and popular because of their practical value. Any philosophy has to evolve to the changing needs of time and but if it remains static then it will be surely set aside. I also understand there is also theistic samkhya called 'sesheswara samkhya',

As regards Advaita, they purposely neglected the puranas as it will affect their pet non-dualistic ideology. This is noted by learned scholars. They also accept/reject some vedic literature as per their whim for the same purpose. This is for your kind information.

R.Ramanathan said...

@Mr Hariharan,
I do agree that Sankhya is an incomplete philosophy on account of a lack ofa upadhana karanam for creation. But i think Yoga to some extent has rectified it to some extent by postulating a Ishvara. But whose scope is limited. But i think Sankhya was a first attempt to explain creation without a god and has as result stumbled on many scientific concepts. As you rightly said Yoga is more popular. But it has lost its original sankhya/dualistic meaning and has been used for other schools. As far as i understand the yoga practices have been postulated with Sankhya concepts of Mahat, Ahankara and and so on. Other schools including Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and dvaita incorporate Sankhya into their philosophies. As for the seeshvara sankhya is just a farce and it has forced the re-formulation of many concepts unique to Sankhya denuding it of its originality, just to make Ishvara a superior being here.

As for your point that Sankhya doesn't take all shruti texts and only a part of it, all darshanas do so.Vedanta ignores or subordinates karma kanda to Jnana kanda. Poorva Mimamsa ignores jnana kanda. Nyaya and Vaisheshika also agree that yoga is needed so they do not also consider the complete shruti.

In truth as per my knowledge Madhvacharya is the only person to quote the puranas regularly out of the three tradition Vedantic schools, in his Brahma sutra Bhashya.

rk said...

My humble input with my very limited knowledge
I have read the Garuda Puranam in Tamil. It is terrible. Punishment meted out to those who do not do Devasam, Pithru karmas, etc and other things in life in that Purana reminds one of Koran and Bible and their scary tactics of eternal hell and boiling the unfortunate non believers in oil! Fire and brimstone from Hindu Purana!Karmic laws take a back seat in Garuda Puranam. Hence, rejection of certain Puranas and accepting some was probably a wise decision taken by some of our forefathers. Maybe, many of them got corrupted and interloped.
I have watched and read quite a bit from Shri Sadanada Acharya Ji' Advance Advaita. You can watch him discussing Advaita and Vishita advaita on You tube. Very informative, especially where he discuss how Adi Sankarachariyar negates systematically Vishita Advaita by tarka /logic.

R.Ramanathan said...

@Mr RK
You are right sir. Many puranas could have got modified and extrapolated from the one's Vyasa compiled. Even the famous Prahlada story does not get a consistent treatment across all puranas. So it is unreliable in that sense. As Mr Hariharan points out we get genealogies of kings and other secular events from them and they could serve as internal cross references for many historical events. But according to me, using them as references or pramanams in support of a particular school of philosophy may not be a correct thing to do.

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan, I agree with you. My question: are Puranas fulfill the criteria of pramana in the first place?

R.Ramanathan said...

I do not think so sir. Not at least for the Shodasa vidya staanas is my understanding. Though it does has aapta vachana as it's starting point, we are not sure if the puranas are the same as they were compiled by a rishi. That assurance we can provide in the veda and dharma shastra. The preservation of Veda is obviously a science in itself and has generated volumes and volumes of literature. The dharma shastras were codified as sutras. Now the structure of a sutra is well defined and conveys in most cases exactly what it has too. So we can say the dharma shastras(that include, the kalpa, grihya and the shrauta sutras for a Vedic school)has been preserved to a decent extent.

But the same can't be said of the puranas and i would say even the itihasa. But contemporary Hinduism is more puranic than Vedic. So Puranas can be taken as pramana for things like, the bhagavata sampradaya(including events like the Radha kalayanam, sita kalayanam and so on), Nama sankeertana festivals like Diwali, Janmashtami and so on. But where it impinges on Vedic authority it is to be summarily rejected. This is my humble opinion.

Mr Hariharan or Madam, any more ideas on this?

Hariharan B. said...


I noted your comments which I agree on all points except on the
issue of theistic samkhya. I want to share some thoughts on samkhya
here. The earliest commentators on Samkhya philosophy are Caraka and
Panchasikha and the latest being Ishvara Krishna who formulated the
orthodox athiestic samkhya. Please note that there is another
greatest(in the words of Dasgupta) expounder of samkhya called
Vijnana Bhiksu who is inclined to theistic samkhya rather than the
atheistic one.

Moreoever Bhiksu agrees more with the view of the puranas on the
samkhya doctrine (and also on Isvara) rather than the Yoga. In the Yoga view Ishvara is just an assumption/prop to do the sadhana which helps in final
liberation of the purusa. Vijnana Bhiksu says,in his works, that Samkhya was originally theistic and the athiestic samkhya is just a rational explanation to show that Ishvara is not necessary to explain the world process. The works of Vijnana Bhiksu are Samkhya pravacana bhasya, Yogavartika and Vijnana mrta bhasya,
the last being an independent commentary on the Brahma sutras on theistic samkhya lines.

There is also a oldest commentary on Samkhya called sastitantra sastra which is described in the Ahirbhudhnya samhita and which is a theistic one and resembles the pancaratra doctrine. Ahirbhudnya Samhita is one of the Pancaratra agamas which says Kapila's samkhya theory is a vaishnava one. Based on this and other proofs Dasgupta
opines that first the samkhya thought was a theistic one which was lost to us, but later recovered and modified as an atheistic one by Pancashika and further systematised by Ishvara Krishna as the orthodox atheistic system.

Hariharan B. said...

Puranas- Some points
1.Amarakosha, the sanskrit lexicon states that purana means, that work, which has five charecterstics. (Pancha laxanas).

(1) sarga - primary creation (2) Prathi Sarga - Secondary creation. (3) Vamsa - genealogy of Devas,Asuras, human beings etc. (4) Manvantara - period of time and (5) Vamsanucharitam - history of solar and lunar dynasties.

2.Apart from extolling the glories of God, puranas give in detail the sacrifice, Valour, greatness, compassion etc., of ancient kings,Rishis and great men. They are very old compositions as Matsya purana states:-

Puranas contained hundres crores of granthas in one volume in previous kalpas. They were condensed into 4 lakh granthas by Lord Sri Vedavyasa and divided into 18, for easy understanding by all.

3. An early occurrence of the term 'purana' is found in the Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.2). The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad refers to purana as the "fifth Veda", itihasapuranam pañcamam vedanam, reflecting the early religious importance of these facts. The term also appears in the Atharvaveda 11.7.24.

4. It is said in garuda purana :-

Of the Vedas, Purusha Suktha, of dharma shastras Manu smriti, Bhagavadgita of Mahabaratha and Vishnupurana of all the puranas contains the essence.

5. Parasara purana, one of the upapurana states.

All the satvika puranas are conducive to eternal welfare. Of them Bhagavata purana is the best. But there is better one than this and it is "Vishnu Purana"

6. The Linga purana extols Vishnu Purana as Sarvavedartena Samyutham, places Vishnu Purana in the same Level as Vedas.

7. Should a brahmin master the four vedas, Vedangas and upanishads without a sound knowledge of puranas, he cannot be considered a wise man.

8. One should expound vedas with the help of Itihasas and puranas.

9. "Throughout the Vedas and everywhere in the Ramayana, Puranas, and Mahabharata, from the beginning to the middle to the end, the praises of Lord Hari are sung." (Hari-vamsha 3.132.95).

10. The Mahabharata states the study of Itihasa and Purana has been rightly stressed as necessary for the correct interpretation of the Vedas.

11. You may also see the essence of Brahma sutra elucidated in Bhagavata and other puranas. One example is as follows:

Brahma sutra: Janmadyasya yatah

(Brahman is that) from which the origin etc.,(i.e. the origin, sustenance and dissolution) of this (world proceed).

Bhagavata Purana: janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijñah svarat

I meditate upon Lord Sri Krishna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him.(Gaudiya version)

R.Ramanathan said...

Interesting facts on Sankhya given by you, thanks for that. But Kapila sutra's explicitly reject god. If it was initially theistic then how would we explain the Kapila sutra? Or was the Sankhya sutra reformulated here based on atheistic notions?

Intriguing because when i was taught the Kapila sutra, by one person from Andhra he asked me whether i was ok to learn an atheistic school. Will check with him if their was a theistic sankhya prior to the current one.

Hariharan B. said...


The explanation is there in my note itself on the case for theistic Samkhya. Pl. read carefully. And we also have Vijnana Bhiksu in our midst in recent times in flesh and blood! What more proof you want for a theistic samkhya doctrine in the remote past? The samkhya philosophy is of Kapila from the earliest times but corrupted in later days and passed of as Kapila's samkhya(atheistic one, of course).

Your argument on puranas also will not hold water because of 2 reasons. First, if puranas are not reliable for any proofs as they are later concoction/distortions the same argument may be applied for other vedic literature and smirtis also. If that be so even all the smiritis incl. dharma sastras will face the same fate! If we jettison them one by one then there is no possibility for us to gain any useful knowledge. But, on the contrary, we have gained valuable knowledge which shows that the shastras are valid. Second, It is not possible to reject puranas because of many cross references in the smritis, itihasas and other literature. So it is all intertwined with one another which again shows they belong to the same vedic tradition.

R.Ramanathan said...

@Mr Hariharan,
The Vedic literature has lakshana grantas for each school, in addition to general Shadangas. So that helps to preserve the peculiarity of each shaka in addition to the general grammatical rules. So what I said for the Vedas would not be applicable for the Puranas as they have no methods of preservation. For example in the Taittriya Shaka, in the purusha sukta found in Taittriya Aranyakam 3rd prashna, the statement

"Teena deva Aya(|)janta"
"The devas sacrificed through the purusha for creation"

Please note the swarita swara(intonation) mark i use(|) after the syllable "ya".

The same in line in the rig veda has (|)Ayajanta. i.e. the syllable "A" will be a swarita. As per the the general Ashtadhyayi of Panini, the Rig vedic swara is right. The reason is this. The word Ayajanta(They sacrficed/performed yajna) is a verb. So the intonation rule for a verb(kriya pada in sanskrit) is sarvanudatta. i.e.All the syllables in a verb are chanted in a lower tone. The word deva, has the following intonation
de(Anu)va(U)-> where Anu is anudata or lower tone and U is udatta or normal tone.

Now as per accentuation rules whenever a udatta syllable is followed by a train of anudattas, as in the rig vedic case of the purusha sukta the first anudatta following the udatta syllable becomes a swarita(higher accent)and the rest are chanted as if though they are udatta but are called prachaya accent. Will illustrate this here. The pada form for this(Rig veda)

"Te(u)na(swarita)|| de(anu)va(U)|| a(anu)ya(anu)jan(anu)ta(anu)||

When chanted in samhita mode it becomes

"Te(u)na(swarita) de(anu)va(U) a(Swa or |)ya(Prachaya)jan(Prachaya)ta(Prachata)||

Ok now consider the Yajur Veda accentuation of ayajanta in pada mode


You can easily compare the pada paata for rig and yajus and see the difference. Now under normal cases this would be an error since the yajus has not followed the accent rules for kriya padams. But it is here that the Taiitriya PraatiShaakya grantha kicks in and says that the meaning is different in both cases. The Rig Veda indicates Samashti srishti and Yajus vyashti.

So from the above you can see how scientific Vedic preservation is. This is not found in the purana. There are no check and balances here. For example we can use swara rules to determine whether a given word is right or corrupted. This is possible in most of the cases. Again an example in this respect...

R.Ramanathan said...

In the yajus the statement "Maa(U) Maa(Swa) higumsihi(All syllables are prachaya)" is very common. It simply means "Do not injure us". Now here the issue is Maa means "Dont" and also "Me". Now how are we going to distinguish which one means what? This is where the swara rules save us. Maa(U) means always "Don't" or prohibition. Maa(With Anu or Swar) always means "For me" or "to me".

Now let us say when doing adhyayanam a boy mispronounces it as

"Maa(U) Maa(U) Higumsihi(All prachaya)"

Both "Maa" are now mispronounced as udatta. As per swara rules the last word higumsihi is a verb meaning injure. Now as mentioned earlier this has all anudattas. And as per the previous explanation all will have anudatta intonation in pada paata. When recited in samhita mode it will be

"Maa(U) Maa(U) H(Swarita)igumsihi(All prachaya)"

The above combination is an impossible case. So we can correct the boy and thus prevent corruption. These are just 2 examples of how scientifically information was preserved and transmitted for ages.

All this is not possible in the puranas as there is no such scientific, foolproof based system found in them. So we do not know what got corrupted or what got added.

Similarly at the end of an anuvaka there is a word count appended to it. Like for example in the Taittriya Samhita 1st kanda 1st prashna, at the end of the first anuvaka starting with "Ishetvojetva", we have a sentence appended saying "Ishe Thrichatvaarigumshat". This means that in the para that started with "Ishee" you have 43 words(Trichatvaarimshat). This is similar to the CRC checking used in Computer science. CRC or cyclic redundancy check is a technique used to check whether data has been received without corruption. The sender calculates the CRC based on some algorithm and appends it to the data to be sent. The receiver picks the appended CRC, calculates the CRC over the received data with the same algorithm and compares the calculated value to the received value. If not equal data is corrupted else we got it fine.

So similarly when reciting an anuvaka, we should count the number of pada's chanted by a student and compare it to the one attached to it. We will not if something has been missed or something extra has been added. This helps to prevent later additions and/or cuts. On the other hand in the puranas we do not have such methods, to decide.

R.Ramanathan said...

Coming to the dharma shastra, the entire dharma shastra has been codified in sutra format. There are various kinds of sutras like Vidhi(Rule to be followed), Paribhasha sutra(Metadata of how to use the preceding and succeeding sutras), Samjya(Definition of certain peculiar terms), Adhikarana sutras(Demarcation sutras. How far or till how many sutras going forward, an operation or concept is applicable). So again these are precise devices that help to order the sutras. Typically you can find these in the ashtadhyayi, Apastamba sutras, Poorva mimamsa etc. Again many sutras use vedic accentuation to indicate different types of sutras. I have seen a text in grantha written 120 years ago having this format. So till recently the ashtadhyayi and many other sutras like the Bodhayana shrauta sutras were preserved with accents. Again these devices are not found in puranas.

So based on the above reasons only i had a doubt as to how far can we rely on them. Yes i agree puranas do contain valuable knowledge like events, geneologies etc which form the very bedrock of our dharma. Also it forms the basis of most contemporary Hindu Observances. But how how far it can be used as a pramana was my doubt. This was based on a study of the Veda and the Sutra literature like Ashtadhyayi, Apastamba sutras and so on. I assure it has nothing do with my personal prejudicess/likes/dislikes.

As for Sankhya may be you have a point. I need to check back with my Gurus. Will share with you what i gleaned from them. Thanks for debating. It brings up many points into the public. Again as always your further inputs are welcome

Hariharan B. said...

Thanks Mr.Ramanathan for the excellent explanation you have given about preservation of the vedic literature by our masters. This is very exciting and adventurous indeed. The practice of vedic life and ways seems to be out of the world experience. Moreover this kind of vedic learning & practice, and learning implies practice, cannot be learnt in the modern classroom or through internet. It has to be learnt at the feet of gurus only and this knowledge can be achieved only with full dedication. And what you say is the real 'education'(which is vedic, of course) and not the modern one which is just materialistic based on change in times.
Even the so called vedic knowledge/philosophy we study in the universities belong to this category only.

Please note with respect to puranas and other smiriti literature nobody is equating them with the vedic literature as you have mentioned above. They are only subsidiary and ancillary literature developed in course of time, side by side, along with the vedas- the samhitas, brahmanas, upanishad, etc. Even in the olden days the vedic education/knowledge imparted by the teachers/elders are only for the select few and not available for all. And vedas are in cyptic language not only with respect to its esoteric meaning but also with respect to its exoteric aspects like chanting, intonation and expression with all the parapernalia which you have demonstrated above. So in this context, smriti and other literature has evolved to satisfy the needs of the common masses. The Gods like only the cryptic language but they also know that it is not possible for all to understand them and hence they(as per tradition) gave other tools like puranas to understand the theme of the vedas in simple language understandable by the masses. Puranas and itihasas are meant to expound the purport of the sastras and even abstruse points through stories of great kings, sages, devas- their trials and tribulation, their lives, their goals, penance, etc. It is like how we explain to our children the morals of life through short stories.The methodology is just the same. And this is more of a necessity particularly in this age of kali which is the age of confusion and ignorance and wrong knowledge. And if this is required in the olden days what to speak of the current times!! So the puranas and smiriti literature are valid pramanas only in this sense. Hope you get my point.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Ramanathan,

I was spell bound reading your explanation on how Vedas have been preserved with checks and counter checks. My humble pranams to you. It is indeed a boon to countless readers of your articles including me, to have you write here. Please continue to enlighten us with info which we can never know.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Hariharan,

My humble pranams to you and the deep knowledge you possess and the ease with which you explain us. I do concur with your argument on Puranas as being valid sources of Paramana. For my simple mind, I do take them as resources to understand creation and genealogy. At times I used to think that they have hidden clues on geological happenings - one of which pertaining Tripura samhara was written by me in

Many interpolations had happened, but we can compare the info from different puranas and arrive at the common features. I would love to do that sometime in my life. Thanks again for your insightful comments.

rk said...

Thank you Shri Ramanathan and Shri Hariharn.
Shri Ramanathan, special thanks to you Sir for making it all clear regarding preservation of our Vedas in original forms.Pranams.
I have read similar article in Aginiveer few years back. For a lay person like me, I found the article very interesting. If anyone is interested, they can look it up
Here is the link

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. RK

Sorry for the belated reply to your comments. As regards heaven and hell, they find place in vedic literature for sure and its no wonder that they are expatiated in the puranas like Garuda and Vishnu. We can understand about the super sensuous entities like dharma, adharama, Moksa, swarga, naraka only through vedas and hence the details contained in puranas are valid pramanas, of course, mutatis mutandis.

Every individual soul has to reap phala karma according to their deeds-papa and punya and hence they are rational too. Even human justice which is actually 'injustice' is so exacting what's wrong with divine justice which is infallible on all its aspects. You can also see how great sages and kings have to undergo punishment for even seemingly small mistakes. The point is they are all evolved/realised souls and hence the punishment meted out to them is also commensurate with it. Sometimes we can see some punishments are overruled or toned down, as the case may be.

Second, according to Sri Aurobindo's 'Life Divine' there are asuric/hostile planes of existences and there are asuric beings who constantly exert pressure/influence on humans of earth. So he asks the sadhakas to always be wary of these hostile forces and be open only to divine grace, force and influence to avoid pitfalls.

Third, you should also note that hinduism is not a politically correct religion and hence cannot be compared with any other cults like islam or christianity which are actually political in nature and depends on its 'followers' and not on any philosophy. It is not the outcome of any religious search or quest like 'jainism' or 'buddhism'. The former cults are developed by various kinds of people, mostly unknown, but developed and crystalised by known figures like prophet or christ or saints like Paul, John. But their religion is also an outcome of pagan traditions existed in those times and not developed in isolation. They have lot of pagan traditions in their religion like worship, prayer, etc.,including idol worship, which is very patent for all to see.

So these concepts of heaven and hell appearing in the pagan tradition/hinduism is only used by them in their scriptures but they use particularly in the context of 'believers' and 'unbelievers' and hence the dichotomy- 'us' & 'them'. This is bound to arise because these religions are basically political in nature and their intention is conquest of material world and people (head count) and not self realisation or other virtues.

Hope I clarified your doubts.

R.Ramanathan said...

My pranams to you and thanks for the encouragement given to me on this blog. Nobody generally cares for Vedic knowledge and the science in it, but you do show a great interest in it. Will keep sharing whatever I know. Again as always credit goes to those Vidwans at whose feet i learnt all this. My eternal namaskarams to them.

@Mr Hariharan
Thanks for the exchange of ideas. It has helped to bring out good ideas on the comments section, that are deeper than the ones in the original article. Looks like a fruitful debate without personal animosity and respect for each other. I enjoyed it.

@Mr Rk
Thanks for following the article and the comments also with diligence. I see that you show a keen interest in Dharmic knowledge. That makes me happy as very few people like to participate in these type of discussions

jayasree said...

@ Mr rk and Mr Hariharan,

Astrology also speaks about hellish worlds which the atman (soul) passes through before human birth if it is burdened with paapa. Please read my old blog for details :
Even in Karma vipaka text having conversation between Shiva and Parvathy, there are details of the worlds of hell that an offender passes through before taking a human birth.

The human birth is known as Garbha gathi where we are going through a mix of paapa and punya. There are 4 gathis in all where we are born depending on the experiences we have to have based on our karma. I have written them in

To give a brief outline about them,

garbha-agathi :-
Those having a mix of punya and paapa are born in garbha-agathi

Yaamya gathi :-
Those who are to experience the effects of paapa alone are
born in Yaamya gathi.

Those who are to experience the effects of
punya alone are born in Dhoomaathi-gathi.

Archirathi-gathi :-
Those who are entitled to
attain paramapadam go by Archirathi-gathi.

In Yaamaya gathi, the atman undergoes the effects of only paapa. Perhaps the Garuda purana description is about Yamya gathi. In those descriptions of hell in Garuda purana, the atman does not burn, or get destroyed etc. But it feels the pangs of pain that it has caused to others in the previous births. By this perhaps some layers of heavy paapa are peeled out So that the atman can experience the experienceable after birth through Garbha gathi. Or how else the offenders like ISIS killers and animal harming meat eaters can shed their heavy karma?

rk said...

With due respect to all, please forgive my transgression and my ignorance. Little about my background. I have been a follower of the late Swamy Dayanda Saraswathi Ji for a number of years. I have also watched a number of videos by his disciple Vedantic teachers ( Neema Majmudar, Chimaya's Sadanda Ji) and I have read a number books on Vedanta. Plus I have some exposure to Swamy Paramathanda ji's works. In Sydney, I have been attending Gita classes by Michael Vasudevachariya, a student of Dayanda ji > 20 years, for the last 4 months ( we have just completed chapter 7 yesterday).
I believe our Santana Dharma is a knowledge system rather than system based on faith or belief. On this basis, I reject Puranas or any other Sasthras that do not conform to the ideas and ideals of Vedanta. Atman has no attributes ( Nirguna) and definitely has no body or sense organs. How Atman can suffer in hell? Roasting the soul in fire or boil it in oil ( I use soul here as it fits with Abrahamic religious concept) for not carrying out Pithru Karma and dsome other ritual is ridiculous and very Abrahamic. It does fit in with the high concept Karmic laws and rebirths. How can Atma travel when it is all prevalent,and permeates everything? To be born in hell or heaven one has to have parents,I presume. So to me, as of now , all this hell and heaven sounds ridiculous. As Dayanda Ji used to say, "Heaven and hell are here and now". Plus anything that is in space is bound by time and has to perish, including heaven and hell.
My simple understanding is this. We reap what we sow, (karmic laws in action,) in this life or in future births in the form of Punya/Pabha palam. I do not accept some Purana because ""it says so"" .
My apologies again for indulging with my view here, especially in front of scholars of high calibre.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. RK,

You are getting all wrong about vedanta, it seems. You are following a brand of vedanta which is called Neo-vedanta which is not the one which traditional acharyas taught. What you are following is an offshoot of Advaita vedanta or Mayavada which has evolved into many shades of thought/school in later times. The modern vedanta is started by Swami Vivekananda which he interpreted in his own way according to the needs of his time. What you are following is not even 2nd 3rd hand version as it has diluted so much. And all the Swamis be it Chinmayananda, Sivananda or Dayananda are just mimicking somebody else's words and not really original thinkers of vedanta(with all due respects).

It also seems that you want to follow what is comfortable to your senses and your notion of what wrong and right should be. What I say is either you follow the whole of vedanta or dump it altogether. There is no middle way. Another problem with you is you are not reading vedanta straight from the source but depend on others to do the interpretation for you. You cannot blindly follow anybody in this matter. Anybody can say basic things like, 'what you sow you reap' or 'heaven and hell is within you'. That is not the measure of correct knowledge of vedanta.

What I suggest is please follow your heart and study vedanta all by yourself and then find out who is interpreting it correctly. You are stuck because you are putting the cart before the horse. Don't feel you are insignificant. You have all the power and potential in you to get true knowledge. But it requires lot of effort as this is a dry area. If you know sanskrit it will be easier as nobody can fool you, or else you have to dig deep.

Hope I have clarified to some extent.

R.Ramanathan said...

@Mr RK
There is nothing wrong in articulating your view. Thanks for opening up a new point of debate.

You are right that Vaidika dharma is knowledge based. But it does not mean that there is no room for faith here. All the 6 astika darshanas that i have been writing about believe in the Vedas or Shabda pramana. Vaisheshika is good example. If you study the Vaisheshika sutras of kanaadha you can see topics like, Dynamics of moving bodies, reason for water vaporizing. even reason for movement of water in trees etc being discussed. It would appear to you as a science text book. But it starts with "Atato dharma Vyaakyaata" and goes onto explain that the source of Dharma is the Veda alone. Thus even a highly scientific Darshana like vaisheshika has faith in the Veda. Also Vedanta is just one school of thought and we cannot take it to be the only ultimate view. Even within Vedanta you talk of only Advaita Vedanta but there are others who wont accept it. I am an Advaiti by birth, but i am open to other darshanas also. In fact many Upanishads do have strong Sankhya & Yogic leanings. In that sense even Sankhya is a form of Vedanta.

Heaven and hell may be places where Jivas(Not Atman and it is wrong to use the term Atman roasts in hell) enjoy the fruits of their good or bad actions. Even the Veda has mentioned naraka. But there is no roasting, thumb-screwing etc there. But the notion of a place where one enjoys the fruits of his bad karmas is there in the Veda. The Taittriya Aranyaka 1st prashna
दिणपवाििशि(Dakshina purvasyndishi) वसपी(Visarpi) नरकः।
ताःपिर पािह।(Tasman naha pari paahi

"In the southeast is the naraka named Visarpi. Protect me from it"

Granted some Puranas play have very graphic descriptions and overplay the concept by descriptions of boiling in oil etc. The pure atman is never subjected to birth and death. What is intended to be conveyed in those Puranas is the Jiva=Atman+The 3 kind of shariras with Vasanas undergoes sufferings for various karmas.

Not doing pitru karmas or any other ordained karmic acts is a sin. May be one suffers in a different form for not doing it. Not necessarily be boiled in a pot. Poorva Mimamsakas accept hell as a valid place where the jiva undergoes suffering or torments for its misbehavior.

Sir one thing i wish to tell you. I apologize if i sound offensive. Please undergo training under traditional scholars. They are the one's who have preserved all this knowledge and they know it like the back of the palm and live it. They are one's who can give you right guidance. In fact even though they may not have degrees in any branch of Western education, they are walking encyclopedias and universities. I am not against learning from others. But it is these people in which the ideals of the Veda live.

rk said...

Thank you Shri Hariharan and Shri Ramanathan. I appreciate your points.
Dayanda Ji 's teachings are very traditional . I'm able to follow his teachings as they're easy to follow and contemplate. If anyone wants to label it Neo Vedanta, so be it. Of course Bhakti is emphasised as much knowledge. Please watch his video on prayer and effects. Nothing moves without the grace of Iswara. In my house in Sydney, very rarely the day would start without Priya sisters Vishnu sahasranamam recital running in the background! Thank you all for your kind advice. I am looking forward to reading more articles from both of you

jayasree said...

Dear Mr rk,

You have opened up the scope for discussing the Vedic / Vedanthic view on the existence of heaven and hell. Even I thought like you until a decade ago and had written in yahoo groups on the subject -svarg and narag. My search into pramana texts on this topic led me to write the following at that time. Let me reproduce it here - as food for thought or discussion / debate.

The full mail can be read here:

The issues are
1. what happens to the soul (jiva)
after leaving the body, ie., whether it goes to any

places like svargam or naragam
2. whether places called svargam and
naragam do exist.

My thoughts written at that time:-

To answer the first:-

The consolidated version from different scriptures of
yore has that there are 3 ways of passage for the
beings after death.
1. Those who have done prapatti or Bhakti, go either
through the path of the Sun or the Moon,
or during the day or night
or during the Northern or the southern course of the
sun (the Uththarayana and Dhakshinayana)
and reach the Brahman (brahma sutras chapter 4)
They attain paramapada and there is no return for

2. The men of good conduct attain the world of gods
and become Somaraja (king Soma)and on exhaustion of
meritorious deeds are reborn with 'residual' karma.

3. The evil-doers after having undergone the results
of their evil works in the abode of Yama (Brahma
Sutras)are again reborn through the same course

(I requset the readers who have access to the book,
Brahma Sutras, Sri Bhashya by Swami Vireswarananda and
swami Adidevanada to go through the verse 3.1.7 and
the explanation again and again. I think there is a
hidden clue in this verse which I want to elaborate in
the forth coming paragraphs)

It is said that the one who has done good deeds like
digging ponds for the benefit of people, performing
yagas or giving gifts to the deserving, goes through
the path of smoke and reaches the moon and becomes
Soma raja (king Soma)

It is also said that which goes by the path of smoke
etc becomes the 'food' of gods (Chandogya)in this

But the soul is not a material edible thing. Does it
make any sense to say that the soul which goes to this
plane will be eaten by the gods there and
simultaneously the soul is bound to enjoy the fruits
of its good karma?

Then what is that the text actually wants to say?
The explanation goes that the word 'food' is not used
in the primary sense but metaphorically, meaning
objects of enjoyment and the soul in turn enjoys their
(the soma gods') company!


jayasree said...

The next sutra goes to say that after being like this
and after exhaustion of (good) work, (the soul) with
the residual karma descends to the earth.

These and other verses that follow raise these doubts:

# How can there be any residual karma if the soul is
said to have enjoyed it in the soma land? Does it
mean that whatever karma that is residual now must be
the bad karma?

# Now that the residual karma is only the bad karma,
why doesn't the soul go to the land of Yama and the
seven hells as happens for those with bad karma?
why does it descend to the earth straightaway?

(Readers kindly note there is no reference to movement
of souls from soma land to yama land or vice versa in
core scriptures like BS. All descriptions about svarg
and narag are found in later-born purans and stories.
Any evidence to the contrary from the readers is most

# The evil-doers after undergoing the fruits of their
evil deeds are said to descend the earth and are born
as the lowly beings, namely trees, animals etc.
But according to BS verse 3.1.8, the good ones who
have enjoyed the company of the gods of Soma come back
to earth with the good residual karma and are born in
good families, good places etc. How come they are now
left with good residual karma, since they must have
exhausted them all in the company of soma gods?

# If it is to said that they have some balance of good
karma to enable them to be born in good wombs, what is
the yard stick to decide how much to be spent in the
soma land and how much to be brought to the earth as
residual karma?
# The same types of questions arise in the case of
evil-doers holed up in yama land.

All these only go to show that there is something
wrong somewhere in our understanding of the whole
issue of souls reaching these levels and the so-called
enjoyment of fruits of their bad and good karma after

Taking cue from the hidden clue in the verse 3.1.7,
shall we say that all that happens in the so-called
soma world is that those souls reaching there (the
transitory abode before preparing itself for the next
birth)are fortunate enough to be in the company of
other enlightened souls. Like how our guys and girls
always want to make it to the IITs or AIIMS in India!

Another way of looking at this is the repeated
injunction from core scriptures that the souls are
born again and again in this world to shed their
karma. Then how can they be said to reap the results
of the karma incurred in the earthly plane, at some
other plane where they do not even exist in the
physical form (made up of pancha bhoothas)?

Another reasoning to support the above view is that
the earth is said to be the Karma bhoomi
(MahaBharatha). It is only in this plane that karma
phalam can take place consummate to the karma
committed.The other worlds talked by our scriptures
are (apart from Bhoo logam)Bhuvar, suvar, Maho, jano,
Tapo and satya logam. Beyond these there is Vaikundam.

One is at will to ask why can't the Bhuvar logam be
the same as the Soma land or even svarga as most of us
have been treated with stories of svarg-narag etc.

The implications behind what actually is this Bhuvar
or even Suvar logam are both philosophical and
metaphysical or even might be to do with the levels of
ascendance of the soul that scriptures like Taiitriya,
Chandogaya and Brihadaranyaka speak about.


jayasree said...

The Taiittriya (let me take up this as i am somewhat-
though very little- familiar with this
Upanishad)speaks extensively about Bhoo, Bhuvar and
Suvar levels. There are as many as 5 levels of
explanations for these,(or for any philosophical
matter that we find in scriptures. It all depends on
our experience and our understanding to grasp the
intricacies hidden in them.)

For our discussion here, suffice it to concentrate on
the following.
Bhoo stands for Agni,
Bhuvar stands for Vayu and
Suvar stands for Adhitya tattwam.
A correlation to this Taiitriya vachan is found in BS
too in 4.3.1 and 4.3.2

The soul on departing from the body begins its journey
from the light, (interpreted in the BS as agni)
proceeds through vayu (Bhuvar?) and the reaches the
Sun (Suvar) The subsequent verses in BS speak about
the 'guide' souls who conduct the soils to their

Nowhere do these passages indicate the existence of
svarg and narag. A combined reading of the BS verse
here and earlier on Soma land only indicates that the
departed soul is not alone in its onward journey.
There is someone to accompany it or guide it.
If the Vayu level of Bhuvar is considered to be the
transitory plane (because the soul is now prana devoid
of a body), we have the liberty to assume that it is
here it is spending its time with soma or yama in
accordance with the kind of company it deserves.
Beyond this the Sun (Suvar) comes, reaching which the
soul marches towards paramapadam, because scriptures
speak in unmistakable terms that those fortunate ones
who reach the sun never come back!!


jayasree said...

Are there any other proofs to say that svarg or narag
as we imagine do not exist, nor are our karmas spent
at these places?

Difficult to say because even Nachiketas was
prohibited from knowing the answer for this.
But certain real-life occurrences support the views
mentioned above.

One is the occasional cases we hear of (it must have
happened in many of our families) persons just hours
before dying,reportedly getting to see the pitrus or
beloved ones who have left long ago. (Guides or like
minded ones of the Soma land?)

The other is about the numerous well documented cases
of the clinically dead who have come back to life to
tell what had happened in the near-death conditions.
Their narrations almost tally with the scenario
explained above (about guides in accordance with their
belief, say a christian getting to see angels to guide
etc and going towards a light and so on)

For further information in connection with the above
views, I suggest a reading of R.K.Narayan's novel 'The
English teacher'( a reflection of his real life
experience after his wife died) and the books by the
Buddhist monk, Lobsang Rampa, particularly, the book
titled Twilight which also contains more of
Visishtadwata views!!

I request the devotees to have little more patience in
reading this post because, I also want to say what Sri
Ramanuja says in Vedanta sutras about svarg.

>From the above discussion, we can infer that there are
actually no such places called svarg or narag and the
kind of good and bad attached to them. As I have come
across some discussion on svarg (not narag)by Sri
Ramanuja in Vedanta sutras, I think this post may not
be complete without highlighting what Ramanuja says in
his commentary on VS.

In his Sri Bhashya to Vedanta Sutras, Ramanuja talks
about Svargam in as many as 8 places.In all these
places he treats the subject in the light of the Vedic
injunction that, "he who desires to attain Svarga,
shall perform Jyothishtoma sacrifice" and elsewhere he
says that svarga is the world in which there is "no
heat, no cold and no disagreeable-ness". (the relevant
scriptures that speak about this sacrifice are Purva
mimasaka and Taiittriya samhita)

Prasna upanishad speaks of 16 kalas as those
attainable by a man and this list ends with fruits of

The high point of the discussion on this in SriBhashya
to VS is Ramanuja's commentary in Adhikarana I
sutra-1, 'Mimamsaka refuted'
He finds the Vedic injunction 'JYOTHISHTOMENA
SVARGAKAMA YAJETA" neither daily obligatory, nor
occasionally obligatory. Because unlike the results of
the knowledge of the Brahman, which are infinite and
unenduring, the results of "these works (svarga kama
sacrifice)" .."are temporal, bear fruit as soon as
they are performed, in the form of plenty of food,
healthiness and such other things which are enjoyed
then (and there)and consequently there is no knowledge
of the experience of that pleasure which in contra-
distinction to them has no nature of (the working) of
a commandment."


jayasree said...

Now placing together all the information we have seen
above, some clarity seems to emerge (doesn't it?)

-> Svarga as spoken in / meant by scriptures is
different from what we, the small mortals understand,
as posed by Sri Varadarajan.

-> Svarga is a state of enjoyment which as Ramanuja
says, seems to be very much in the worldly plane (The
results of Jyothishtomena yagya)

-> The abode to which the departed souls ascend may
either be 'peopled' with souls of good nature and
souls of bad nature. This is decided by the conduct of
the soul while on the earth. This might be what is
meant by enjoying the fruits of good or bad actions in
svarg and narag.

-> Going by Sri Ramanuja's description of svarg as a
place where there is no dis-agreeable-ness, I get
reminded of the many references picked up in Rampa's
descriptions and after-death stories.There seems to be
perfect harmony and serenity in the other side. This
can either be called Pitru loka (BS speaks about this)
or the much higher lokas of kinnara, yaksha etc. Even
the Indra loka can be interpreted to mean the plane
that one attains if he/ she has controlled indriyas in
their life on earth. Because Indran means the one who
has conquered the Indriyas.

Taittriya upanishad minces no words in telling that
one attains a particular level based on what one
pursues (upasana). You believe there is svarg,(for the
sake of argument, for nowhere in Tai Upa I came
across a reference to svarg) with all its attendant
happy things, you will come have happy things of
svarg, so says tha Tai Upa. What you think, so you
become. Probably that is why, later puranas and
stories promoted notions about svarg and narag as
means to promote good conduct in people.

-> Enjoyment by indriyas is possible only in the human
form, and only on the Bhoo lokam.

-> The supreme place that is humanly possible is the
paramapadam which the mukhtas attain.

The next lower possible level is to reach the status
of devas which include pitrus, siddhas, gandharvas,
kinnaras, vasus and yakshas. This depends on the
differnt levels of knowledge attained by the jivas.
Once the time period to be in these levels gets over,
and if the jiva continues to possess residual karma to
be shed, rebirth takes place.

The inferior categories are stated as those of animals
and plants.

It seems it is not only by our actions, but also by
our attitude we choose where we have to be after

The real experience of happiness and suffering, if
they are to be synonymous with svarg and narag can
take place on the earth only where such experiences
can be felt through the indriyas and not in formless

jayasree said...

The Moderator of the Yahoo group in which I wrote the above contents, replied with pramanas on Svarg and narag. It can be read here:

Here I am reproducing the relevant parts from his mail:
(1)Svargam and Vedams: Upanishadic and Brahma Soothra
references of Sage VyAsa have been touched upon already
by her (Smt JS) and SrI Mani VaradarAjan. Let me cite
a few Vedic references about Svarga Lokam that precede
the Upanishads .The place of Svargam in the hierarchy of
worlds and the experience there are described by
these manthrAs.

A. Yajur vedam XVII.67 (pruTivyAa--svarjYothiragAmaham):
Vedam refers to Svar LOkam as the World of "Supra-Sun ".
Svargam and Soorya derive their meanings from the same root.
This is a world , a realm ,whhich is beyond the familiar
rhOdasI ( Heaven and earth ). This is beyond PruthvI ,
anthariksham ( the interspace over which our atmposphere
extends) and the celestail space ( dyauh )beyond anthariksham ;
this vast space is constituted by galaxies and stars
including Dhruva maNdalam .The Svar Lokam attained due to
the accumulated Punya KarmAs by the jeevans is beyond
this Dyauh lOkam . Svar lOkam is a world , a realm with
Indran as the presiding deity (Svarpathi)of this supraheavenly
realm. AzhwArs consider PuNyam and Paapam as the Golden
and Iron handcuffs and do not wish to be associated
with them and seek Mukthi , a state , where one is
free from both kinds of karmAs. Svar lOkam is also
referred to as " Uru lOkam " :

URUM nO lOkamnu nEshi vidvAn SVARVAJ jyOtir abhayam svasthi
rishvA ta INDRA sthavirasya bAhu upa sTEyAma saraNA bruhantha

--Rg Vedam : VI.47.8

Meaning: Thou with Your knowledge blesses us on to
the wide word, even Svar , the light , which is
freedom from fear , with happy state of existence .

Other selected passages relating to Svargam in
the ancient Rg Vedam are housed in the following

RV.VI.72.1 , RV.IV.16.4, RV. VII.99/3, VII.99.4

gnanthO Vrutraataran rhOdasI apa URUKSHAYAAYA-chakrirE
bhUvath kaNvE vrushAdhyumanyAhutha: krandadasvO gavishtushu

--RV: I.36.8

Meaning: Jeevans slaying the coverer (Vrutran )
have now travelled beyond both earth and heaven
and made the wide , bright world, Svargam, their
(temporary) world of residence.

There are many other passages referring to Svargam
as a world of radiance and enjoyment . After their
puNyAs , which got them there in the first place,
get exhausted the jeevans return with their residual
karmAs back to earth. The Prapanna Jeevan however
does not get here(Svarga) , but takes the DevayAna route
to SrI Vaikuntam and never returns to the karma BhUmi
(anAvrutthi sabdhAth, anAvrutthi sabdhAth)).


jayasree said...

>All descriptions about svarg and narag are found in
>later-born purans and stories. Any evidence to the contrary
>from the readers is most welcome)---(SrImathi JS)

2) Among all purANams , VishNu PurANam composed by
Sage Paraasara hs been celebrated as PurANa Rathnam
by Sawmy AlavanthAr. It is more ancient than all
other PurANams since it is authored by none other than
the Father of Sage VyAsa and the grandson of Sage Vasishta .
The passages from this PurANam has been taken up as
PramANam by AchArya RaamAnujA in His Sri BhAshyam .
This PurANam is not a "later-born purAnam " and
indeed can be considered as first-born purAnam
originating from a period coeval to some of
the Upanishads . This PurANam has six chapters (amsams)
and many sections (adhyAyams) in each of the chapters.

Brilliant insights are given about the naraka lOkams ,
the treatments there proportionate to the accumulated
paapams and PrAyasccitthams and the migration of the soul
after narakam . The third amsam ,seventh adhyAyam deals
at length with ViashNava prabhAvam (who is a Vaishnavan ?
What are his glories ? how does Yanma dharma raajan treats
them etc., These two sections from VishNu PurANam of
Swamy Parasara Bhagavaan are very pertinent to
the ongoing discussions .

jayasree said...

Opinions from Mr Ramanathan, Mr Hariharan, Mr rk and others on svarg and narag are welcome. This merits a separate post. I will consolidate the discussions in to a separate post. Likewise, Mr Ramanathan's comments on how Vedas have a self checking mechanism merits a separate post. Only then readers in search of those ideas can get to read them. I request Mr Ramanathan to consider this also and write separate post on this to be posted in this blogspot.

R.Ramanathan said...

Sure madam will write after i complete the current series.

Hariharan B. said...

Please note I am just putting everything in perspective and give you the facts as it is in the historical context for better understanding. No offense meant.

One point I want to say regarding swarga & naraga is this. These are atindriya (super sensuous) entities so sastra pramana is the only means of knowing this. Second, swarga and naraga are trans-empircal in nature and hence we cannot judge or conclude anything about them from this side. We have to leave it at that.

Regarding karma it is accepted by all that it is anadi(beginningless) but it can be ended. It is Paramatma who attaches the karma to the individual souls which are in eternal slumber and which are fit for 'creation' so that it may get released from that state and enjoy freedom and innate bliss of moksa (or liberation) by working out their karma. And it is Paramatma who provides the souls with individual body(called sadhana sarira), senses,etc., and creates the world for its sake to enjoy and understand life, its purpose and its destiny. So it is impossible for us, from this side, to say correctly how this karma mechanism works. There is also a saying that a man accumulates karma from the age on 14 onwards which will produce at least 20 births for him at the minimum. At this rate it is very difficult to wipe out the karma by one's own knowledge and action. Moreover the sanchita (accumulated) karma of the individual is also enormous. So God's supreme grace is absolutely necessary to wipe out the karma totally apart from other sadhanas.

rk said...

Thank you Madam Ji for your scholarly input. I thank Shri Hariharan also.
I believe Madam's point of view is from the perspective of Sri Vaishnavism, of which I am not familiar with. Although I hail from Vaishnava smartha family (only 3 villages in Palghat are Vaishnava smarthas) I was not educated into traditional practices.( Vishnu shashranamam was recited regularly by my father and the family priest used to recite Ramayana daily in the Puja room of our house in Coimbatore) Plus my education and medical career had taken me to a foreign country where I have had only very little exposure to traditional Hindu teachings. I have been trying to explore the Hindu thought, mainly Adavita Vedanta for the last twenty years. My sister in Chennai, a student of both Dayanada Saraswathi Ji and Paramarthanda ji has been influential in my pursuit.
My points
1) Lobsang Rampa was found to be a fraudster. His original name is Cyril Henry Hoskin and he had never ever visited Tibet.
2) Personal perspectives from two Australian patients of mine is worth recalling.One was a Japanese POW in Burma where he had his near death experience. He was clinically dead for about 15-30 minutes but got revived. Another died here in Australia and later was revived also. Both experienced "utter peace " and talked about the atmosphere of " unbelievable light". Both lost the fear of death and both were non practicing Christians. I am not sure what to make out of this.
3) Shri Hariharan Ji, I take your point of tradition but tradition has to start somewhere at sometime. All our information is only second hand or third hand. Even Guru Sishya Parampara cannot logically be called first hand. For example, Madam's explanation from Shri Bhashyam will be "third hand". I cannot dismiss it though. Paramthnada Ji and Dayananda Ji are following a tradition set up by Swamy Shivanda Ji.The point to ponder is whether their teaching strictly adhere to traditional Vedantic thoughts? I think so. At present, am watching video talks by Neema Majmudar Ji on Shankara's Adthiysa Bhashya and Shathur Sutrani. All comments from Sankara's Bhashya only. She reads each sutra and explains each word in detail based on Shankar's teaching. Can we call this traditional or dismiss it as Neo Vedanta? I will post the link and please watch her talks. It will be very basic for someone like you with high scholarly knowledge but please bear with her. It helps lay people like me.
4) My quest is find out who am I and is there a cause for this Universe and so on and so forth. Adavita with associated inputs from other Dharsanas answers my questions.Clearly and precisely.
5) If we have to experience pain and pleasure, we need to have a body and sense organs. Plus parents. So, when we die, do we born to parents to Swarga/Naraka with some form with organs of sensory perceptions? This is a unknown area and speculations at best.
5) My faith on Ishwara is based on reason. Every action has a result and my prayer should have some results and I want to improve the unknown variables of MY Karma in my favour with prayers.So my belief is based on reason. I pray to Ishwara for my welfare and the welfare of dear ones. These days I also pray for guidance and clear Budhi to pursue my spiritual path.
6) Ishwara's compassion is unlimited. Hence I don't believe in Hell where Atma gets tortured. You dispel the Pabha/Punya Karma with future births.ISIS savages will take thousands of births to get rid of their Pabhas. This my humble opinion.
Once again, thank you for hearing me out and my apologies for any transgression.

rk said...

Here is the link

Hariharan B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hariharan B. said...

Mr. rk, If you are satisfied with the present advaita and its gurus then that's fine. If it satisfies you then you can follow the same. But at the same time you are confused and have doubts also! My points regarding Advaita is this. You can take it or leave it. Its based on facts and not on hearsay or only tradition.The original advaitic thought of Shankara itself is fraught with many difficulties and logical inconsistencies. It is called 'Kevala' Advaita(Monism) meaning only one. This should be distinguished from 'Suddha Advaita' of Acharya Vallabha which is a realistic & theistic philosophy like Ramanuja's or Madhva's. Shankara's advaita is akin to buddhistic philosophy and it has been criticised as such by Bhaskara, another contemporary commentator on vedanta in the times of Shankara. Shankara is influenced greatly by his great guru Gaudapada who is himself a hidden buddhist. This is their school's historical evolution. Dasgupta, says in this regard, that Sankara's philosophy is a compound of Vijnana vada and sunya vada buddism with upanishad notion of self super-added.

His interpretation of the Brahma sootras also is defective in many respects and have lot of fallacies because of his own terms and concepts like saguna and nirguna brahman, etc. Dr. Tibaut, the well known oriental scholar, says thus: "I must give it as my opinion that they (the Sootras) do not set forth the distinction of a higher and a lower knowledge of Brahman, that they do not acknowledge the
distinction of Brahman and Iswara in Sankara's sense, that they do not hold the doctrine of the unreality of the world, and that they do not, with Sankara, proclaim the identity of the individual and the highest self." Lala Baijnath, Chief Justice of Indore, once spoke as follows about the true philosophy of the Upanishads:- "The later Vedantic philosophers of India, including Sankaracharya have however pressed these teachings to mean that the world is maya, a baseless illusion, to be destroyed by knowledge. This is, however, not the true philosophy of the Upanishads. In none of them except the Swetaswatara Upanishad does the word Maya, which supports the illusion theory, occur, and even in the Swetaswatara the word Maya is used synonymously with Prakrita, and differentiated matter."Know the Maya to be Prakriti, and the Lord of Maya to be Maheswara! this whole world is pervaded by power which are his parts." (Swet. Up. IV 10). Dasgupta says, with regard to Upanishads, that Sankara is using liguistic trickery to interpret certain passages of upanishads to yield his 'meaning' but which are clearly dualistic and theistic in nature.

Sankara is not good in explaining the Mahavakyas also. In fact there is no such thing in the vedic literature which classified some as 'Mahavakyas' and some 'orginary'(!). All have equal validity.For eg., see the Mahavakya 'Aham Brahmasmi' In the beginning the Supreme Being was only there and no one was around. Hence he declared ' Aham asmi' and hence He is called as 'Aham'. This is stated in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and you have to see in context to understand the meaning. You cannot interpret in any way you want like 'I am Brahman','you are Brahman',etc. This is just an example.

Again you confusing between faith and reason. It means your advaita is not giving you proper answers to your queries. But the Lord's power is beyond all this and hence we cannot understand any of his actions,etc. It is all happening because of his 'Achintya Adbhuda sakthi'. That's how we have to understand.

rk said...

Thank you Mr Haran Ji. I appreciate your response.

1) I would appreciate it if you could point out the area of confusion that I am having so that I can clear it up with my Acharya Ji, a collegue of Swamy Paramarthnda Ji. My understanding of Advaitya ( Monism, if I might make it clearer, or as Dayanada Ji used to say"In Hinduism, there is not just one God, but there is only God. This was in relation to discussion on polytheism ). Atman is part and parcel of Brahman and there cannot be even a dust outside Brahman.If Brahman is infinite, then there cant be anything outside Brahman. (Satyam, Gnaynam, Anatham ( without border) Brahman) Atman is the silent witness to the actions of Jiva. As discussed in Gita, ( Ch 7) Bhagvan Krishna states about His 2 manifestations of Prakritis. The lower Apara Prakriti which includes body and mind and the higher Para Prakriti. Lord sayss both are His manifestations only and there is nothing else there. There is nothing other than the Lord and His manifestations. Hence my belief in Monism of Advaita. I respect all other Dharsanas though.
Please let me also know the errors Sankara ji makes in hi Bhashyam so that I can clarify it with appropriate scholars. I also will be interested what the four Sankara Maths say about these errors. Maybe , I will pass on the errors of Shankara Ji to my niece, a regular visitor to Sringeri Math for clarification.
It is also news to me that Gauda pada, Parama Guru of Adi Shankara was a closet Buddhist. I am hoping someone can throw more light on this.
Thank you once again Shri Haran Ji.

R.Ramanathan said...

Dear Mr RK,
I have not read the Bashya of Shankara fully to point out the errors, but these are the fundamental doubts i have with Advaita, I am not criticizing but these are the doubts that many people, how scholarly have not been able to answer. If you have answers would be happy to learn from you. Or if possible please ask your sister to ask for the answers to these question in Shankara mutt

1. Since creation and samsara is due to maya, then everything is maya including the Vedas. The very statement you quote "Satyam jnanam anantam brahma" is also maya. Thus self realization is also maya. All statements including the mahavakyas are maya. If the Veda is maya what to talk of the Geeta and puranas then?

2. Gaudapada was an Ajaati vaadi. i.e. who argued that there is no creation or samsara. It is due to ignorance or Avidya that creation happens. In the state of self realization we come to know this. Now consider a jnani enters samadhi and is absorbed in his self for say a few days or months or years even. After his Samadhi is disturbed he exits and comes to the normal plane. If Ajaati Vaada was true, then he should of have never come into the worldly plane again, because from his point of view he has realized that all creation was a dream. Just as we don't see the tiger in the dream that chased us, we should not see the "Tiger" called creation after self realization. So is Ajaati Vaada false or true?

Again remember that i too am a Smaarta by birth and my family gurus are the gurus of Shringeri peetam. I have great respect for them. If not for the Poorva Mimamsakas and Shankara we would have been buddhists now or far worse, we would have been the followers of Islam/Christianity.

So personally i have formulated the following. It applies to me only and nobody needs to follow or accept it. This is based on the reading of the Vedas and the upanishads and the Darshanas.

1. I prefer nireeshavaraic darshanas. I am not sure that a merciful kind god exists, seeing the state of the world.

2. I prefer to combine the Darshanas. Nyaya Vaisheshika and Sankhya combined together give a good reason for creation. Poorva mimamsa helps me in my nithya and naimitikka karmas by helping me interpret the vedas. Yoga and Advaita Vedanta combined give a good Moksha ideal. Yoga darshana helps to tone down the problems in the Advaita caused due to mayavada.

3. Because of (1) i am not drawn to theistic school of Vedanta or the Puranas. Of course there are great beautiful pieces of literature like the 4k Diyaprabandham, Tiruvaachakam and countless others. I enjoy listening to them. The puranas as i had said in our previous discussions contain valuable information for our Dharma. So i have problems with that.

I reiterate this that this is not a condemnation of anything, but just my views of things at present. Experiences in life and meeting of mahaans could modify it later.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. RK,

According to Advaita monism which is also 'mayavada' Brahman alone is real and world is illusion. His famous maxim is 'Brahma satya jagan mithya'. And the jivans appear as such under avidya ignorance (in the world) but in reality it is Brahman only. And the same Brahman appears as Iswara(in the world) by virtue of Maya which is not ignorance. That is why Advaita is called 'vivarta vada' or 'parinama vada'.

And Sankara is dividing reality into 3- paramathika, vyvaharika and pratibhasika. Now what is this? Either you exist or don't. it cannot be both. This is also very confusing. Sankara accepts 'Maya' as a category/assumption but does not explain. To him world is a magic show of Maya or illusion. Hence the assertion of your Swamiji that 'there is only God" It is very vague and he is not telling much. why? Also note the jiva is ignorant now and will become Brahman only after all spiritual sadhana. Where was jiva before? it was not Brahman before. Brahman is always Brahman(all knowing, powerful,etc.) in the past, present and future. So how these two reals are always one and same?? Have you asked these questions?

Compare this with Ramanuja's or Vallaba's. R says Brahman, world(achit), jivas(chit) are all real and part and parcel of Brahman. According to him, world is real and jivans are servants of God connected by sesha-sehi bhava. V states that jivans are sparks/rays of Brahman and but in essence they are same.According to him the world is real which is created and sustained by God. Devotion and surrender to God and Bhakthi are important elements to attain liberation or moksha according to both these schools.

Regarding your second point, Brahman is satyam, jnanam and anantam means it is all powerful and full of attributes but it does not means it is equal to jiva or the world is false. It is also said in the upanishad that God creates the world like the spider weaves web and then absorb it in itself. So what is created by God is real and not an illusion is very clear and there are lot of similar statements also in the vedic literature. But God is also immanent in the world and beings and activating them from within as their antaryami 'atman'. All this is happening because of 'Ahintya Adbhuda Sakthi' of the Lord. So where is the confusion here on these matters when explained in terms of realist world and Brahman according to scriptures.The domains of empirical world and trans-empiral world have to explained in this way only.

Regarding Sri Krishna's 2 prakritis- The lower prakriti and higher prakriti (Chit(or chetana)-prakriti - ie., Mahalakshmi) springs from him only. There is no conflict here as he talks about his two forms and there are many forms which are also identical with him. He is also states elsewhere that his place is beyond the manifest and the unmanifest and hence he is called Purushottamma. In that sense there is nothing else beyond him and he is a highest.This is meant to understand the relationship of the jivas with the supreme Lord. What is your confusion here?

There are lot of errors in Sankara philosophy and in his bhasyas but specifics I dont have right know because (as for me) it is not really a fruitful but wasteful only in view few examples cited above. One point that comes to mind is this- in his brahma sutra bashya he talks approvingly about the concept of Para- Vasudeva and his Vyuhas as detailed in the pancharata agamas and accepts his supremacy in principle but denounces the same elsewhere states that pancharatra agamas and bhagavata school are rejected but which cannot be inferred from the sutra itself.

rk said...

Thank you Shri Hariharan and Shri Raamanathan Ji. This sort of discussions helps people like me to learn about our Dharma Shastras. I will be forwarding your enquires to Sringeri via my niece. I will also ask my sister to give her views, hopefully with inputs from Swamy Paramarthanda Ji. I will post their response when and I get them.
Luckily, I was fortunate to hear this lecture from Jagath Guru HH Shankara ji of Sringeri this morning. I have given the link below on video 5. Obviously one has to hear all of Jagath Guru Ji's lectures to have a better understanding. BTW, is it a coincidence that this video came up when I was just browsing?!! Ishwara's grace, I suppose. I am still confused on Swarga and Naraga part!!Hopefully these videos will answer all your questions. Thank you all once again. Namaskar.

R.Ramanathan said...

Dear Mr Hariharan,
I have a question. We have Jnanis like Ramana, SadaShiva Brahman, Chandrashekara Bharati and Saraswati(Maha Periyava) of Shringeri and Kanchi respectively. These Jnanis are Brahmavits. They have Brahmananda experience. But all of them are staunch Advaitins. One of the biggest takeaways of Advaita is Jeevan mukta as spelt out by the purushasukta.

Tam Eevam Vidwan Amrutam iha Bhavati
He who knows him attains immortality here in this body only

The above people exemplify such an experience. How do you reconcile their Brahman experiences with caveats you explained in the Shankara Bhashya?

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. Ramanathan,

These words like 'Jivan Muktha' are all loaded particularly in the context of advaita which has been the ruling philosophy for centuries. We have to tread carefully to unravel this concept from various angles. Some schools don't agree with this concept at all because it is not possible to attain liberation or mukthi is this body. Now What is 'Moksha'? Moksa is the state of positive blissfulness of the intrinsic nature of the soul for eternity. These are trans empiral experiences for which judgement cannot be passed or said of living persons in the empirical world. Moreover at present all of us including the above peoples are having prakriti body and in its bondage, how we can experience the bliss of moksha for eternity now and here. It is possible only in swarupa deha and hence moksha is possible only in after life according to God's will. Please note that we have having other sheaths like linga and aniruddha deha and all have to be cut asundered, then only we will be free of prakritic bondage and come to the other side to enjoy complete bliss of satchithananda. And what about their karmas-prarabha, sanchita, etc? It also has been burned completely before you can attain moksha. Is it not? So its not so easy to say about the fate of these people even though they have many yogic feats.

Advaita is nothing but a mishmash of yoga and vedanta. So all these persons you have mentioned are a type of yogis or siddhas and who have some accomplishments like self realisation ,clairvoyance, and other feats. Based on these we cannot call them Brahma jnanis. Brahma Jnana is also called as 'Aporaksha jnanam', direct vision of God. Now who is having the authority to call them brahma jnanis in the first place. If the followers and admirers call them so it is absurd because we ourselves are not brahma jnanis. Only experts and equal in accomplishments can call others as brahma jnanis. WE have not seen such kind of people. Then who will pass the judgement. Or any asariri told them about this people? We are all carried by their charisma and yoga feats and the traditional account certification which give them that brand name which cannot be accepted by right thinking persons.

YOu also would have heard about the story of debate/fight between vasistha and Vishwamitra regarding this same question of brahma jnana. After very many difficulties only Vishwamitra was declared as 'Brahma Jnani' by Vasistha, his superior in this kind of jnanam. Sage Narada who was the superior was the guide in the experience of God realisation for Prahalada and the list goes like that. So we have to take the help of sastras , itihahas and puranas in this kind of things.

Coming to scriptures it says MOksa is bestowed upon the people only by the grace of God and not by any other means inspite of all sadhanas.

1.Narayana Sruti states 'Narayan the Great, should be contemplated by those desirous of Moksha, by whose Grace alone release from this world of misery can result'.
2.Sri Krishna says in Bh. G 18-56 ... 'from my grace souls attain eternal happiness.
3. Sri Krishna also says elsewhere that 'Janma Karma sa me divyamevam....' which means one who understands correctly the Lord's divine kriyas, manifestation in the correct way will be entitled to come to me.
4.There is also a sruti saying: "To whomsoever I choose I bestow moksa on him". 5."Tho' He remained unmanifest always, by His own grace He reveals Himself to the Upasaka, by His own inscrutable power. Without His choosing to reveal Himself in this way,who can ever see Him, the limiltless one?"-Brahma sutra iii, 2, 27

As for purusa sukta I have to check with versions and then only i can tell.

R.Ramanathan said...

Dear Mr Hariharan,
Even Vaisheshika and Nyaya accept embodied moksha. As far as shruti pramanas there are statements that talk about of self knowledge or Brahma jnana without the need for a god.

1. "Ayamaamtma Brahma": This self is Brahman

2. "Tat Twam asi": At the end of the discourse between Uddalaka and Swetaketu, the Upanishad say he reflected and attained self knowledge that rendered his knots asunder. I don't think that it means he died.

3. At the fag end of the Taittiriya Upanishad from Eetat sama gayannastee Ha(3)u Ha(3)" till the end we see the ecstasy of a realized sage. He says "I am food, I am the eater of food, I was the first born, I was the navel of creation of the devas, I am the Universe".

4. In the Brihadaranyaka upanishad Yajnavalkya tells Maitreyi, "Aatma va aree shroatvyaha mantavyaha nidhidhasitavyaha". The atman is to be attained by shravana manana and nididhyasana. At the end he says that in the state of Atmic realization the upanishad says The devas are not devas, the vedas are no vedas. This indicates a state where the realized soul becomes a kritakritya.

R.Ramanathan said...

5. In the famous dialogue between Bhrigu and his father Varuna in the Bhrigu valli of the Taittiriya upanishad, We find a discussion of each sheath you talk about. Bhrigu goes to Varuna and asks about Brahman. Varuna says the Annamaya, pranamaya koshas upto the anandamaya kosha could be brahman. So go and perform tapas and find out. Each time after austerities varuna transcends each koshaa and finds that the anandamaya kosha is finally the brahman. The Upanishad runs as follows for this context
Aanando Brahma it vijaanaat| Aanandaat eeva khalu Imaani Bhutaani Jayantee|Aanandeena Jaatani Jeevanti|Aanandam Prayanti Abhisamvishanti| Saishaa Bhargavi Vaaruni Vidya|"
"Bhrigu understood Aananda is brahman after tapas. Indeed it is from that all these beings are born. It is because of that all beings live. And it is into it all are absorbed. This is called the VARUNI VIDYA"

This is corroborated by the 2nd chapter called Aananda valli where it says that
"Tasmat va etasmat Vijnanaayat|Anyontara aatma aandanda mayaha. Tenaisha purnaha. Sa vaa Eesha purusha vida eeva. Tasya purusha vida tam. Anvayam purush vidaha. Tasya priyameeva shiraha|Modo dakshinafpakshaha|pramoda uttarafpaksha| Aandanda aatma|Brahma pucham prathishta|

I am not going to translate all this. This can be looked up online. The important line is "Brahma pucham pratishta?: The Ananda maya kosha rests on Brahman"

There are still many shruti vaakyas but it will get longer. The crux of the issue is that there is still a way to attain brahma jnana without a god. Yes Brahma jnana is paroksha. But it is learnt through the shruti and also realized transcending the mind and senses. Again one more quote from the same Taittiriya upanishad
"Yatoo vaacho nivartante|Apraapya manasaha saha|Anandam brahmano Vidwan|Na bibeti kutashchaneti|Eetagum ha vava na tapati|Kimaham sadhu naa karavam|Kimaham paapam akaravam iti|"

"Where speech fails. Where the mind cannot reach. That is the statement of bliss of the Brahmavit. He fears not for anything(Na bibeeti kutashchaneeti)"

In order that this should be not mistaken for brahma jnana attained only after reaching a particular god or loka, the shruti proceeds in its inimitable style

"The realized man is not smitten by guilr like why i did bad deeds. Why did i not do good deeds?"

This shows that the shruti talks of embodied jnana. If not embodied why would a man be guilty about good and bad deeds? Also a reference is made to the karma of the realized soul and it's effects on him. It is basically null. So though prarabda may be ongoing the rest of the 2 are done basically from the above statement.

So from the above we can infer the shruti does talk of embodied liberation. And thus it just strikes me now that this could provide an explanation of my previous question. How Jnani's like Ramana, Brahmendral etc experience Brahman, inspite of the Shankara Bhashya's caveats.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. Ramanathan,

I am not disputing the experiences of the yogis per se. But what I am questioning is whether all come under Brahma Jnana? There are various types of realisations, yogic trance, feat at different levels which we do not know correctly. What you have shown through scriptures is how various sages attained brahma jnana through the advice of their gurus which is all well documented via sruti vakyas. That's why these realised are able to teach ordinary humans in the path of brahma jnana, otherwise there will be no way of knowing it. The current yogis are also doing the same but not exactly is my contention. The current yogis like Ramana, etc., have attained this position through some good deeds of the past which is fructifying now.

There are lot of yogis and sanyasis who have attained lot of atmic/brahmic realisations like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo,Paramahamsa Yogananada apart from the ones you have mentioned. Their teachings vary considerably also according to the type and depth of their realisation which is in accordance with their intrinsic nature. But whether it is brahma jnana as per the scriptures is a big quesiton.

We have also a great tradition of mystics and god intoxicated/realised souls in all sampradayas like the mystics of Maratha, Bengal,etc., like Chaitanya, Eknatha, Ramdas, Tukuram,Meera Bai, Kabir, etc. And we have mystics and realised souls in Karnataka hari dasa kuta like Kanaka Dasa, Purandara Dasa, Jaganatha Dasa, etc., who have been hailed in their tradition as very great souls in the path of brahma jnanam. And we have the greatest Raghavendra Thirtha who is agreed by all including the sceptics as an unparalleld master of wisdom and brahman realisation.

I personally fee that there are brahma jnanis in our midst and even i can agree that some are great jnanis like Raghavendra, but certainly cannot agree with respect to all people. The Karma phala accrues to all people like alike including the yogics you have mentioned which is based on previous merits & sat/asat karmas. But their choosing of a particular sampradaya like advaita is based on their intrinsic nature or swabhava. But God only knows the purpose of their creation in our midst and what purpose they came to fulfil or what kind of knowledge they impart to the masses. Please also note that there are classes of souls- some like right knowledge and some go for wrong knowledge based on their swabaha -satva, rajas or tamas guna- which is predominating them. This much only we can say.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear RK,

I will see the video and come back to you. In the meanwhile please also note that Adi Sankara (and also his earlier commentators) basically has lot of vaishnava leanings and accepts saguna brahman as Vishnu as per his commentaries on Bhagavat gita, brahma sutra bhasya and vishnu sahasranama.

There are several places in the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya where Shankara introduces the notion of an eternal abode for Saguna Brahman, Vishnu.

Bhagavat Gita 15-6:

na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ |
yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṃ mama ||BhG_15.6||


That abode is once again described. Neither the sun that is capable of illuminating the entire sky, nor the moon, nor fire illuminates that self-effulgent abode. Those who obtain that abode, associated with Vishnu, enter into it and do not return. That abode, which even the sun etc. do not illuminate, is my, Vishnu’s, highest abode.

Bhagavat Gita 18-62:-

tameva śaraṇaṃ gaccha sarvabhāvena bhārata।
tatprasādātparāṃ śāntiṃ sthānaṃ prāpsyasi śāśvatam।।18.62।।

Translation: Take refuge in Him the Lord alone with your whole being for getting rid of your mundane sufferings O scion of the Bharata dynasty. Through His grace, i.e., through the Lord’s grace, you will attain the supreme peace, i.e. highest tranquility, and the eternal Abode associated with Me i.e., Vishnu’s paramaM padam.

Please check this also with your gurus and other learned people and tell me.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. Ramanathan,

In TAittarya upanishad Bhrigu realises Brahman in all forms as annamaya, pranamaya, etc., one by one according to the instruction from his father Varuna. These are not koshas but forms of Brahman. Here 'maya' means full/complete like sun is called 'prakasa maya' becasue of its effulgence.It is pranamaya because Brahman in full of energy, he is annamaya because it is the source of food for all beings, etc. Bhrigu talks about Brahman only and asks his father to teach again the various forms which he realises in sequence. Kosas or sheath belong to the prakritic body and it is not meant here at all. Its obviously a wrong interpretaion by advaitins.

It seems you have pet aversion to God and his grace. But as per vedanta both exists. There is a statement that nothing moves without his grace- from highest brahma to the blade of grass. Modern rishi Sri Aurobindo has written a lot about Divine Grace and its working in his Life Divine and Yoga synthesis.I have also seen in practical life how grace works in mysterious ways-both in gross and subtle ways. In my case, it is only subtle and mostly it is just topsy-turvy- fully of shocks and pitfalls, but i have no reason to doubt its efficacy considering how its works in other peoples' lives.

I also feel that your statement that god cannot be the creator of this evil world is incorrect and unfounded. We are in the prakritic world and product of prakriti only. Whereas God is aprakrita and hence nothing attaches to him. He only ignites the prakriti to act for the welfare of the souls. Moreover we have our own swarupa (swabhava) guna by which we act. Why we choose a particular course of action and not any another? It is because of our intrinsic nature or svarupa guna. We even see lot of rich men act very meanly and in a very destructive way whereas poor men act very humbly and don't create problem for the society. All good and evil in the world are created by men according to their modes of nature. There is so much evil because there are so many evil tendency in men who act like that.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. Ramanathan,

Purusha Suktha(Gaudiya version)

Text Seventeen

dhata purastadya mudajahara
shakrah pravidvan pradishashcha tasraha
tamevam vidvan amrita iha bhavati
nanyah pantha ayanaya vidyate

In the ancient days, Prajapati (Brahma) praised Him. Indra who knows all the four quarters also spoke about Him. Anyone who knows Him thus, will become immortal even in this life. For attaining liberation there is no other path (than knowledge of this Purusha, the Supreme Lord).

According to the above, it is the people who are able to know PUrusa in all his aspects and who have that kind of knowledge about the Purusa who become immortal in this life. It is same as what Sri Krishna spoke in BG mentioned earlier. But the big question is whether the yogis you mentioned are in this category/calibre? So I said its very difficult to come to any conclusion in this regard.

R.Ramanathan said...

Dear Mr Hariharan,
I do not have a pet aversion to god and his grace.It is based on life's experiences and pains. It is not an aversion. Personally i have reached a stage were the existence of a god does not matter to me anymore. I will summarize those experiences/pains in chronological order as far as i remember them and then the circumstances in which i came to be exposed to the Nireeshvara darshanas. A couple of them i had already shared in our private conversations over e-mail. But i will repeat it at the risk of redundancy

1. My first bitter experience in life was when i was in 9th class(April 1989). Maths was my strongest subject. I got nothing less than 90% all through my schooling and college. But when the results were out i was failed with 17% .I remember the day i got my failed card. It was the day i returned from the Meenakshi Amman car festival. My mother was shocked and got into inquiring and found that my paper was misplaced. But the school refused to re-evaluate my paper and said it will give me an outpass.

2. A similar thing happened in my MCA admissions I joined my degree course very late in August and by the time i joined the Math ancillary stream was filled out. I had to join for Chemistry major with Zoology and physics ancillary. I completed my degree and wrote the MKU entrance for MCA and was admitted. But a year later after scoring 99% in my MCA math papers was dismissed for not having math ancillary in my degree. Then followed court cases for 2 years. The the AICTE changed rules and mandated that math till 12th class was sufficient. This was in 1995-97

3. Fast forwarding to 2000, one of my friends called Alagarasan(Tamil translation of sundararaja perumal) in Madurai, who lived in a village called Kallanthiri 7km from the foot hills of the famous Azhagar koil. Their entire family was devoted to the perumal in Azhagar koil. They would not miss any Saturday and go to the temple. In the month of May 2000 Alaguraja fell into a barren well and injured his spine permanently. He is now a cripple for life. The saddest part is he had to join in about a week in a company called Hexaware in Chennai. I had visited him just the day before this happened. I was shocked. His mother lost her sanity on this incident.

4. In 2002 December one of my colleagues and friend in Hewlett Packard a native of Nagapattinam, Shanmugam lost his mother and sister in the Tsunami that happened. His parents where both great devotees of the goddess neelayadaaskhi. The pathetic thing is he was engaged 15 days before. The poor guy became dumb after this tragedy. His marriage was cancelled. So much for the grace of god.

R.Ramanathan said...

5. My own personal loss was that of one my relativemy mothers periamma's grand-daughter. Never have i known such an affectionate person. She was my solace many times in my life. I never care about even my first cousins who are conceited and arrogant. But a distant relative like her showed me more care and affection. When i was in chennai from 2010-11, she taught me the Lalita Sahahsranama. She was 44 at that time. She has 2 kids, a girl who was 15 and a son who was 12. She passed away due to lung collapse for unknown reasons in November 2014. I just was devastated and took a month's leave and was reeling under depression. When i was struggling to come to grips with what happened i chanced to go to a soma yajna in the may 2015. I meet a mimamsa vidwaan from a village near East Godavari in the then Andhrapradesh. He was a great Vedic scholar and an expert in the Shadarshanas. But he had an atheistic view and was an expert in the Nireeshvara versions of Sankhya and Mimamsa. He agreed to teach me and then when i started to learn the Kapila sutras, it's views coincided with my experiences. The switch was natural. I have read the Bhagavata purana for atleast 10 years. But none of that helped. I agree Sankhya and Mimamsa are imperfect. But there is nothing so irreconcilable like postulating a kind merciful god but seeing a miserable, problematic sad world.

I am not talking about even the evil part. All the above incidents are due to accidents, disease. It involves no human cunning or manipulation or ruthlessness. There are people who would have undergone greater unimaginable tragedies than me. Without even considering the evil part, the world does not seem to be a pleasant place.

In my company i have gone to a terminal cancer home. I saw colleagues adopting children who had terminal cancer. If these mere humans with their limitations could show so much compassion, i am perplexed that the so called god of infinite mercy created such a painful disappointing world.

R.Ramanathan said...

6. I also saw my own periappa die with a rare type of brain cancer. He was an ardent Meenakshi amman devotee. He never missed any "Uzhvara Pani" in the temple.

7. One of the closest family friends of my maternal grandfather Nambi Iyengar was an ardent devotee of thirukurungudi perumal. His son got electrocuted 3 years ago. Nambi mama never missed the thirumanjanam of perumal in that temple. He died of putrashoka and the misfortune of having to cremate his son.

My question is why all these god fearing people underwent all this sorrow if there is a kind merciful god? If it is said that it is one's own karma then what is the role that god's grace plays here?I do not write all this for anybodies pity or sympathy. These experiences are the one's that lead me to my conclusion that you can have shraddha in the Vedas but can follow Nireeshvara Darshanas and thus still remain an astika.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr.Ramanathan,

I am extremely sorry to have asked that question in the first place. I never thought you have experienced/encountered so much tragedies in your life. Certain things we cannot explain with logic or reason. I myself have experienced a lot of tragic things in my life - both material and health wise. I can also list at least 10-15 things which are very horrible considering the particular situation. When there is a need things will happen exactly the opposite way! But for me too no grace came to help in all those circumstances.

In principle, I fully agree with you as we have some similarity in experience although not at the same level. But at the same time you have to note that all other people are also undergoing similar experience/fate in their lives and hence it is a common problem for all and God is not partial. And there are people whose lives have been very good and pleasant always right from the start which also we have seen. They enjoy all grace and bounties of nature showered upon them. So they will have a different view of life- as full of joy, hope and success and blessing. It all depends upon how we attach importance to those things/events - whether sad, cruel or joyful.

In my case i think I have become insulated to these things in due course of time (even though traces are there in the background) and contrary to normal perceptions I became an ardent devotee of vedanta instead! It is impossible to say with our limited knowledge/understanding how these mechanisms work in our life. We can also see lot of grave things/sufferings happenned to even realised souls. So we have to see in this context and solace ourselves. Moreover we are seeing only one life of that person and don't have a clue to his past lives/actions. And prarabda works relentless for everyone whether innocent or criminal or saint. Or is it we are so attached to prakriti(which is so erratic and destructive in its wake) and don't concentrate on the pure consciousness of the purusa? I am also trying to find out that only. In the meanwhile I pray for your peace and solace of your heart.

R.Ramanathan said...

Thanks for your understanding Mr Hariharan. Yes what you say regarding sufferings of realized souls is right. I think i got carried away by my own pains, especially the loss of my Lalita sahasranama guru and dear friend philosopher and guide. Still i feel the pain after 1.5 years. And yes i have to mature too, which with experience in life and Vedic learning i will. Sorry if i turned an intellectually stimulating debate to a somber one.

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan, Shri Hariharan, please watch Jagadguru"s video 9 from 13.49 minute onwards. It very much answers your questions on merciful Ishwara. Infact if you watch all the fifteen videos, it will clear all your doubts about Adavita Vedanta. All your previous assumptions on errors by Ad Shankara will be shown in new light. Thankls

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. RK,

Im sorry Mr. RK. This is typical Mayavada advaita talk only which is mimicked by these scholars(including your Sringeri Guru(video 5/15). I told you before which is confirmed now on hearing this. This talk is roundabout and confusing only as I expected and tells nothing worthwhile. For eg.,note his explanation on Srishti. What you understand? God is the creator, sustainer and destroyer,giver/removal of bondage and bestower of liberation/bliss is attested by scriptures. He is telling as if nothing is being done by Iswara. Also note his tricky explanation on 'Mithya' concept. Please tell me honestly what kind of understanding you can get from these.

Please note the fundamental assumptions of ADvaita is itself is wrong.
1. Brahma is alone real and world is unreal.
2. JIva and Brahma are same and not different.

From this assumption(not proof) if you evolve a philosophy it is bound to give lot of inconsistencies and other fallacies which cannot be sustained for long. Naturally you end up in lot of spin and wrong knowledge only. And it is giving exactly that.

rk said...

Shri Hariharan, if you cannot understand the very concept of Adavita from the words of Jagadguru Ji Himself, who am I, a mere lay person, to convince you? By the way Sir, Jagadguru is not only " My Guru" as you want to address him with disdain but to thousands and thousands of devotees.Your attitude Sir with regards to his "Upanyasa", calling it spin borders on arrogance. I am sorry to say this. Best wishes to you Sir in search of whatsoever that you are seeking. Good luck and goodbye Sir.

R.Ramanathan said...

Dear Mr RK,
Thanks for the link. The Jagatguru gave a great explanation of Advaita in terms of Paaramartika and Vyaavaharikasat in the time span you gave. I have certain questions again in addition to the one's previously asked. Don't take it personal. Am trying to learn.

1. In Nirvakalpla samadhi is one in Paaramartika sat or Vyavaharika sat?. The reason i asked is that, the great Guru Chandrashekara Bharati used to go into Samadhi and come out of it, so are there 2 realities?If paramaartika sat was the only reality then vyavahaarika sat should not exist after one attains realization. But HH Chandrashekara Bharati used to come back to the normal plane after samadhi. So if "Brahmaiva satyam jagat mitya" is true, vyaavaharika should disappear on realization. But we see jnanis like Ramana, Brahmendral were transacting in vyavaharika too even though they were realized souls.

2. Just curious to know whether you got any response from your sister for my previous questions?

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan, I have been laid down with Flu for the last few days, hence the delay. I will post her response after talking over the phone. Rarely she looks at emails! I am glad that the videos gave you some answers to your queries .

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan, this link might help.

In my opinion, Vyavaharika is NOT Sat. Avidya all living creatures results in Maya, the manifestation due to Ishwara Sakti to help out humanity to enjoy/suffer their respective Karma Palan. This Maya is APPARENT reality and not the absolute reality, SAT. The Apara Prakriti /Maya is synonymous with Vyavaharika. The Realized Atman still functions in the apparent world and duality remains in this state. Ramana, Ramakrishnan are examples and were PROOF that Vyavvaharika state does not disappear with self realization of INDIVIDUAL.The realized individually cannot undo the Maya, which is result of combined Karma of humanity( Nil palan effect with Nishkama karma for realized Atman though) My speculation: If all people in the world have ""self realization"" at the same time, then Maya will disappear, a very unlikely scenario.

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan, Jagad Guru explains in His talks the exact questions that you have posted previously (about world being Maya , hence Sruthi is Maya too,etc) Please watch all the videos from 5 onwards. No way my sister is going to explain it any better!!!

jayasree said...

I am very astounded to see the kind of intellectual discussion happening here. My respects to all those who are writing here. Though I want to contribute my thoughts on many of the issues discussed here and from the article on the Kapila's idea of whether there is a need for Ishwara, I am pointing out only one idea here for want of time to write. (Anyway I am planning to write other views soon).

This refers to the list of sufferings that Mr Ramanathan has given. I am sure everyone in this world would have experienced atleast one of them at some time in their life and cried why God did it to them or whether God is really merciful.

Though the first name that comes to my mind on reading (that list by Mr Ramanatahan) is Sita whose sufferings were endless and out of the ordinary, (inspite of being the wife of Rama, the karuna murthy), I thought of quoting here Arthur Ashe as a more effective example to reconcile with this issue.

Arthur Ashe, the Tennis legend died of AIDS at a younger age. He contacted the disease through blood transfusion. His fans and even non-fans were shocked to know this happen to him. One of them wrote him
"Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?".

To this Arthur Ashe replied:
The world over--50,000,000 children start playing tennis, 5,000,000 learn to play tennis, 500,000 learn profesional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach the Wimbledon, 4 to semi finals, 2 to finals. When I was the one holding the cup, I never asked god "Why me?".
And today in pain, I should not be asking GOD "why me?".

I am astounded by this answer as we never ask "why me" when the going is good for us. This answer contains a whole lot of Vedanthic thought which many of us can understand. The Gita verse that comes to my mind on reading this reply of Arthur is "sukha dhukke same krithwa laabhaa labhau jaya jayau/ thatho yuddhaya yujyasva naivam paapam avapsyasi//" Arthur is a sthitha-prajnan. We have to aim at that state come whatever be the good or bad happening to us.

jayasree said...

@ Mr rk.

What is MAYA?

Can you explain whether 'Maya' in the following verses of Rig Veda also mean illusion?

Verse I-144-1 :- "Agni, the Divine Hotar priest sends upward with his MAYA, a hymn of glorious brilliancy"

Verse I-160-3:- "The sun purifies the worlds with MAYA"

Verse II-17-5:- "With his MAYA Indra stays the canopy of heaven from falling"

Verse III-27-7:- "The immortal Agni leads the way with his MAYA"

Verses IV- 30, 12 and 21:- "Indra with his MAYA resists the overflowing stream and with his MAYA and weapons he puts thirty thousand Dasas to slumber"

Verses V- 63- 3, 4-7:- "Mitra and Varuna, by the MAYA of Asura, cause heaven to rain; their MAYA rests in heaven; and they guard their ordinances with Asura's MAYA

Verse VIII- 23, 15:- "No mortal with his MAYA can ever prevail over Agni."

rk said...

Madam Ji, I am not an expert . You are asking the wrong person. My two cents. My feeling is that the word Maya used here is context based and should not be taken as Maya of Ishwara. As Jagadguru explained about the word Graham. It means the vessel that holds Soma juice to be used in yagna. The vessel needs to be cleaned and dried with cloth. If one takes the meaning of Graham as stars, it would look ridiculous . How cane one clean and dry the sun and stars? This my humble opinion but please do not take a lay man's word here.
Talking about karma, another incident comes to my mind. A middle aged couple brought their son to Maha Periaval. They want him to cure this child who would no talk or do anything since birth. They have tried all medicines without success and Periaval was the last resort. Periaval did not say anything and just gave them vibuthi. The couple went away disappointed. Then Periaval remarked" this couple are very fortunate, they have a son who is a self realised Atman in his last leg of last janma. He will be leaving his mortal body very soon and there will not be another birth for him. But how can I say this to the grieving couple?" Sure enough the boy died in a few weeks.
We do not know the unknown variables of karma.

rk said...

Btw Maya is not an illusion. It is an apparent reality and I dot think there is an equivalent English term there. Mithya explains Maya. Mithya is dependent reality and is not Nithya or Sathya.

rk said...

Shri Ramanathan, I have posted a link on Athyasa Bhashyam. Shankara talks about Vedas ALSO being in the category of "Avidya". If you read the whole article, it will become clearer and it answers your question about Sruti being Maya.
I also have problem with the the word Maya as illusion. Maya is apparent reality and functions in a precise orderly fashion called natural laws( Rta). Illusion does not natural laws and there is no reality there. Even a Self realized person will break his legs when he jumps from a building in the Maya world.What the magician does is Illusion. What ParaAtma does is Maya.
Your scholarly out put and Madam Ji's views will be appreciated. Thank you.

The conclusion at the end makes it very clear

"In his brief introduction, shankara tells us the reason we cannot attain enlightenment. It is because it is in our nature to mix up the real and not real, and therefore perceive a world of duality with multiple knowers/doers/subjects and things to be known/done/objects. In particular, we falsely confuse the eternal Atman, that is our innermost self and is The Witness with no role in empirical life, to be acting as an agent . This confusion is innate to us, and is a matter of common experience requiring no proof. It is is beginningless and endless in the sphere of the empirical universe. This confusion, or superimposition is the basic ignorance that results in this world of duality. The world of duality fashioned by avidyA is termed to be mAyA, or illusion, as it can only be perceived once this basic superimposition has occurred., and all activities including the secular and vedic fall into the field of ignorance as they must presuppose a distinct doer.

jayasree said...

The above article by Mr Ramanathan and the comments by himself, Mr Hariharan and Mr rk are thought provoking. Though I could completely agree with Mr Hariharan’s views, I think the others’ views and that of the Sankhyas can be differently interpreted. Let me analyse them here.

From the article
// No god or supreme lord is accepted in the Sankhya system. Kapila explicitly rejects the need for an Ishvara in his sutras. He says neither the shrutis adduce the need for ishvara nor is Ishvara visible with the sense-organs. So he says that a concept that cannot be understood through any means of knowledge is useless for his purpose.//

Mr Hariharan has refuted this view and has shown that Sankhya philosophy does not reject the idea of / need for Ishvara and that Sankhya philosophy is theistic. In my limited understanding, I don’t find anything averse to Ishvara in the explanation of the Sankhya system given in the article. It is anyway theistic (definitely so, being based on Vedic – sruti pramana) as the existence of a Creator is presumed from creation itself. Using the examples we find in commentaries, let me say that the existence of a pot presupposes the existence of a potter. The Sankhyas explain how the pot was formed. This does not deny the existence of a potter.

The basic thread of discussion of the Sankhyas seems to be creation starting from the union of Prakrithi and Purusha and ending with human births. There is assumption of pre-existence of the ingredients of creation namely Prakriti and Purusha. But there is no talk of why they are there or who / what was there to give a cause / push / trigger / justification to start creation. If this question is taken up, then the talk of Ishvara will come inevitably. Srutis do not adduce the need for Ishvara just as how the visible worlds around us do not need a creator make them happen. Like Einstein we can say that there is no need for a God, to explain how creation happens / proceeds. But when we ask why creation has happened, there is need for God / Ishvara.

Sruti texts attest the need for God more in the context of ending the creation of our own cycle of rebirths. The need for Ishvara for Liberation from rebirth pre-supposes the presence of Ishvara to start Creation of worlds to facilitate birth.

The above quote from the article says that Ishvara is not visible through sense organs. True. Sense organs are products of one of the materials of creation, namely Prakriti. Parts cannot perceive the Whole. As part of the created things, they cannot grasp the whole.


jayasree said...

Another way of explanation is that only sensory objects can be understood by sensory organs, but knowledge is Purusha based. That is why the Kshetrajna nature of Parama Purusha can be understood by every entity of Purusha though enshrined within Prakriti. There is Sruti pramana for it which Sankhyas cannot reject. In the immediate context I can quote the discussion in Gita on Kshetra – Kshetrajna tattwa. As per BG 13-4, this Tattwa has been revealed by “vibidha Chandobhi” (various Vedic mantras) and “Brahma Sutra pathai” (Brahma sutras). So knowledge of the Paramatman can be understood by the Jiva. From the 7th verse onwards in 13th chapter, Gita tells about how to acquire this knowledge.

The quote also says // that a concept that cannot be understood through any means of knowledge is useless for his purpose//

Here I am reminded of Nasadiya sukta which wonders whether the one who has fashioned this creation knows that he has done this or he doesn’t even know. When that is the case with the creator, what is the state of the created ones to understand the creator?
But that doesn’t mean one cannot acquire knowledge or use knowledge to understand the Creator / God. Otherwise what is the use of so many Sruti verses that insist on knowing and knowledge?

Another idea that the above quote from the article gives is that knowledge by no means can understand the concept of Ishvara. Yes, even speech returns along with mind, being unable reach Ishvara. That is enshrined in the sruti vachan, ‘yatho vaacho nivarthanthe’. It means “Without being able to attain Him, speech returns with the mind”. This vachan explains the non-sustainability of an idea given in the comment section, viz, jivan mukthi.


jayasree said...

“yatho vaacho nivarthanthe”. ( “Without being able to attain Him, speech returns with the mind”.)

The following inference can be made from this vachan:-

When does a thing, sent to reach another thing, return?

When it strikes it but unable to go further, it is returned back to its source.
This is the principle of echo.

If it be said that speech and mind are returned without attaining Him, it implies that the jiva, though capable of knowing him till his boundary level (if something like that exists) cannot go further because if it goes further that amounts to Liberation from where it would not return to tell us what had happened.

But until that threshold level, the jiva’s speech and mind keep doing the shuttle and re-shuttle trips. The seeker with gyana / knowledge, tries to describe Him with the faculties he possesses. But what exactly is that Brahman is something no one in finite body can tell.

The words of realisation spoken by Bhrigu or Vamadeva are of this category. We consider them as realised souls – which Mr Ramanathan calls as embodied gyana. But can such gyana be expressed in words, IF “yatho vaacho...” is true? IF the Sruti vachan “Yatho Vaacho” is true, it means that there is still a thread separating the speaker from the state from where speech does not return. That implies that once for all state of Liberation did not happen to those gyanis such as Bhrigu and Vamadeva. What they realised is complete knowledge of Immortality of their own Atman – residing inside them. That Atman is still confined within prakriti based body. There is no Mukthi yet.

Mukthi or Liberation can mean coming out of ALL coils. The mortal coil is such that if there is an obstructing karma, the realised has to take another birth too (according to Brahma sutras). Therefore Jivan mukthi is not actual or final mukthi state. Only when the Atman leaves the body actual Mukthi comes.

What we can say is that those jivas have attained knowledge of Immortality. But body is still the limiting factor. Immortality of the body cannot happen. One instance is that Vishwamithra was discouraged from sending Trishanku to heavens in his mortal frame. In BG (Bhagawad Gita) too, we come across verses which clearly say that after death only, do the jivas reach Him. Bhagavan clearly rejects the idea of jivan mukthi in Gita.

Thus there is a case of Immortality versus Liberation. A realised soul experiences itself as immortal and is therefore free to do anything at will. The Siddha purushas leaving the body and coming back to it or becoming invisible at will or walking in fire and water are all instances of the power of the immortal soul. But Liberation or Mukthi can be actually mean shedding mortal coils and ceasing to take up a body again. Only in that state, the realised jiva becomes one with the Paramatman or subservient to It – in whichever way it had identified itself with It while living in the created world.


jayasree said...

Four arguments have been given by Mr Ramanathan from the Sankhya philosophy’s refusal to accept a Creator God.

1. //If god is eternal and unchanging and is the cause of the world, then the world too should be eternal and unchanging because as per sankhya the cause and the effects are not different. Since we find that the world is eternally changing as per the theory of Satkarya vada there can be no god and he never created the universe.//

We can approach this idea with the example of a potter (creator) and pot (created world). None of the qualities of the potter comes to stick to the pot. The pot was created through a process of change underwent by the mud. And the pot is not eternal too as it can break anytime. But it is not necessary for the potter to change and / or break along with the pot.

2. //Why did god create the world?"
"Is he a baddha (Bonded person within prakriti) or mukta? If he is a baddha but created the world he is no good from any other baddha, except for his supernatural powers. If he is a mukta he has no use for creating the world. If he is beyond both he again does not need to create the world.//

Using the potter analogy, even a bonded labourer – potter can create a pot and his bonded nature does in no way affect or influence the nature of the pot. But Ishvara is not baddha nor a Muktha. He is beyond all that. Whatever be the stature of a potter, it will have no influence on the pot he makes. According to srutis, God has no purpose other than mercy and leela in having created the worlds. (we will see the explanations in the course of these comments).

3.// If it is stated that god created the world for jivas to experience their karma, then he is not omniscient or omnipotent as he is acting on behalf of some other superior power compelling him to create. Thus again this kind of god has no use.//

It is out of mercy / kaarunyam / compassion for the Jivas to shed their karma, God has created the worlds. Imagine the long night time kalpas and the after-time of pralayas. The Jivas have no way to take a body to shed their karma and realize the Atman. Only when God is back to creation act, the Jivas get a chance to shed their karma. That is why scriptures ask us not to waste our births but quickly get engaged into knowing the nature of Atman and births in order to shed the karmic bondage.

Using the potter analogy, Ishvara has a purpose to do creation just like how a potter makes the pot for specific purposes (for cooking / storage / in homas etc). The potter gets remuneration in return. What Ishvara gets in return? (next question answers that).


jayasree said...

4. // If he created the world as sport as most puranas claim, then he is a cruel being and not merciful as is claimed. Even if an earthly mother(Human or animal) can show so much mercy on her children and god is considered to be a parent(Jagan mata or pita, he leave's much to be desired, as the world he created is full of death, disease and poverty"//

It is “leela” or “sport” for which Ishvara is engaged in creation activity.
The first proof is that scriptures say so.

Secondly, it must have been so ordained that each must, at some point of time, come to realise / enjoy the game with the Lord.

That is, it is entirely upto each Jiva to understand, to know and to experience the Lord within himself.

The relationship between the Lord and the Jiva can be
any of the following

# The master and the servant
# The owner and the owned
# the mother and the child
# The father and the son
# The nayaka and the nayaki

But what happens if the roles are inter- changed?

„³The master serving the Pandavas,

„³The owner asking for three foot-feet of land

„³The mother getting into the arms of Yashoda and asking for Moon – the moon which
revolves obeying HIS command

„³The son who till today stands out as the only glorious example for pithru vaakhya paripalanam

„³ and the nayaka (whom the Jiva must cling to as a climber embracing the tree) who desires to take a place in the hearts of the devotees like Meera Bhai.

( panikkadalil palli kollai pazhaga vittu, vodi vanden manakkadalil
vaazha valla maaya manaala nambi)

Are theses not reversal of roles?
If creation has not proceeded, how can HE enjoy these

Initially He or It remained too bored to remain with Itself.
It can do anything but didn’t do as It was Un-manifest.
So It Thought, May I become Many and It became many. That is how creation started according scriptures.

It followed a permutation combination for variety in creation. The basic ingredients are available from Moola Prakriti.

In the first ever formation after permutation, the trigger for first ever karma comes from Guna- mix. Gita vachan “KaryathE hyavasa: karma sarva: prakritijair Gunai:” (BG -3 -5). The three gunas with which the Jiva is entangled make the Jiva do things as per the mix of these three gunas. And it continues as a cycle of karma. Complications arise to such an extent that we start wondering whether there is anything of God remaining in this world or whether God is cruel in having left us to endure these complications.
It is here we all start wondering whether God is merciful at all, least remembering that it is the karmic burden that we are carrying that is doing us all that is bad and even those that are good. The list of woes expressed by Mr Ramanathan is common to most of us. What is God’s role in this?


jayasree said...

God as the prime creator of the Universe and as one having put /pushed us into this cycle has to bear the responsibility. It is herein He has kept up a clue. As long as we think we are the doer and do actions with expectations for ourselves, we have to bear the responsibility. But if we realise that He is responsible for our actions and do things for His cause, we forfeit the doer-ship and He takes over the doer-ship.

For this to happen we must first accept that He is within us directing us to do things. We have to be like Dhanur-dhaari Arjuna listening to the guidance of Yogeshwara Krishna. In the process, Arjuna lost his sons in the battle and in gruesome ways. His wife was molested. He lost lands. But he had his tale of goodies too. He took all that with a mind on Krishna as a God who can save him ultimately. Saving here only means to come out of the maze of paapa and punya and the confusion in understanding what to do and what not to do. Krishna did not interfere at each step to save him, we must understand that. Where the interference is warranted, or where one is qualified to enjoy the positive interference by God, one gets it. When one does not get that, one must know that one has to go some more distance to qualify oneself for God’s grace in the form of positive interference.

We can see around us that those who are highly aware of God and His ways are repeatedly pounded by God (or Destiny, their karma?). I have pondered over this many times as I myself have come across such great people whose woes are endless. But one clue I noticed from their palm lines is that the more they are becoming Realised ones, God is making them exhaust the inevitable karmas reserved for future births to be experienced in the present birth itself.

It is in the lines of Immortality vs Liberation I wrote above. Even though they are very high in terms of realisation of Atman, they have to take future births to work out the karma that cannot be dispensed with (Brahma sutras). Such karma are experienced by them in the present birth itself in a modified event- experience set up so that Moksha becomes a reality at the end of this birth itself. Is this not a show of mercy by God?


jayasree said...

God makes amends and changes as and when required, by His mercy. But when we suffer without respite or escape, we must know that our karma is overpowering so much as not to give a scope for God to re-write our destiny. Popular example is Kannagi of Silappadhikaram.

Hers is a true story. She suffered on two counts, one, her husband developed relationship with another woman and two, even after she put up with that behaviour and accepted him when he returned a pauper and gave him her jewel to start a business, he was killed in the name of the jewel that she had given him. She was not responsible for this twin suffering in her life. It was as though God had cheated her. This infuriated her and she burnt down the city that did her injustice by killing her husband. At that moment, the guardian deity of the City, Madhurapathi appeared before her and explained her why she was made to suffer. It was the story of her past karma when she did a similar wrong to someone else. That karma stood between her and God from safeguarding her interests. In that context it is not right to accuse God as being merciless.

But her endurance of the suffering and her adherence to Dharmic way in her situation earned her Deva-hood after that birth. That is how the world goes. In such scenario, there is no personal reason of mercy or cruelty to be attributed to God.

But all these are part and parcel of the leela nature of His creation running to timelessness. In Kannagi’s story the one who started life as an ordinary girl of a business community, became a Goddess after her death. Her deification continues to exist even today. If this is not leela of God, what else is?


jayasree said...

In this context mistaking the worldly ordeals as real and eternal and suspecting the nature of God as not being merciful is MAYA, the illusion.

But to think the world itself is Maya, such a notion would contradict many a statement of sruti texts.

For example, Shvetasvatara Upanishad is one important text that speaks about Maya. In verse 4-10 it says, “ Mayaam tu prakritim vidhyaan – maayinam tu Maheswaram”. Prakriti is Maya and Maheswara is the one who controls the maya of Prakriti. If the sage has meant this Maya to be illusion, how would one understand the very next verse which talks about the One who has permeated the Prakriti and in whom the worlds get converged and diverged as well and who rules and grants and is praiseworthy? If Prakriti is understood as Maya, the illusion, what would be the One who has permeated the Prakriti?

In several passages in sruti texts, the name- form – works concept is given. Particularly in the passages on Creation / Shrishti, whatever was thought by Brahman or the Creator by name immediately got a form and came to possess the action in consonance with that. If Prakriti is spelt as illusion, the Maya, its form and works would be a negation of what it is as we perceive today – the ingredient of creation.

It is not my intention to question a great philosophy nor I am capable of doing that, but logically, there are issues in equating Maya with illusion for created worlds. Let me limit my talks on this by borrowing an analogy from the ancient commentators. It is “mother is barren” talk. To say that world that we live in to experience various karma is illusion is like a person saying that his mother is barren!

rk said...

Thank you Madam ji. If you will excuse my impertinence, can I add some comments?
Your statement: According to srutis, God has no purpose other than mercy and leela in having created the worlds.
My belief is that Brahman has no attributes.He is Nirguna. What is the need for Leela? If leela is needed for Brahman, does it not show that He lacks "something" and needs leela for whatever purpose? Is it not similar to standard Abrhamic default excuse that"God works in mysterious ways" when cornered about their dogmas?
BTW, I have given a link on Jivamukti, a discussion between Ramesan Vemuri and NDM. Thought provoking. I would appreciate if Shri Ramanathan has a look at this article as it answers some of his questions that he posted earlier. Thank you ( Please ignore some of the scientific terms if need be)

If Madam Ji has time, I would appreciate her thoughts on this article,ramesamvemuri.htm

jayasree said...

Dear Mr rk.

You wrote
//According to srutis, God has no purpose other than mercy and leela in having created the worlds. My belief is that Brahman has no attributes. He is Nirguna. What is the need for Leela? If leela is needed for Brahman, does it not show that He lacks "something" and needs leela for whatever purpose? Is it not similar to standard Abrhamic default excuse that"God works in mysterious ways" when cornered about their dogmas?//

I wrote “scriptures say so” as the pramana for ‘leela’ as the purpose of creation. But you talk about your belief. I don’t read Abrahamic texts and so I cannot say what they say. But I do read primary texts (prasthana trayam – Upanishads, Brahma sutras and Bhagawad Gita) and if you also read the primary texts you will accept what I write here. A single text that answers all your queries and beliefs that you have written in the thread is Svetasvatara Upanishad. I request you to read that Upanishad to know replies for your thoughts. And you will know how it is not the same as what you have been reading from secondary texts.

Now coming to the each point you have written.

// Brahman has no attributes. He is Nirguna//

(1) When you say that there are no attributes, attribute-less-ness itself becomes an attribute thereby contradicting the Nirguna state.

(2) That Brahman is ‘satyam, gyanam and anatham’ is repeated in many Upanishads. In this ‘anantham’ attribute, comes a whole lot of contradictory attributes. Then how could Brahman be Nirgunan?

(3) Using the syllogism of logic,
If Everything is Brahaman (and)

If Brahamam is Nirguna

Then Everything is Nirguna.
Is it so? Are we Nirguna entities?

(4) Sruti texts do speak about Brahman as two-natured characteristic. Verses from 3-2-11 to 3-2-25 of Brahma sutras speak of this two-naturedness. One is being free from imperfectness and the second one is possessing endless auspicious qualities. Verse 25 of chapter 3-2 of Brahma sutra says “Hence, Brahman is qualified by endless qualities; this his (two-fold) characteristics (hold good)”

(5) In Chapter 12, verses 3 and 4, Bhagavan talks about two types of worshippers, those who worship Him directly and those who worship Brahman. In so saying He identifies Brahman as having 8 attributes (anirdHeshyam, avyakhtham, sarvthram, achinthyam, kUtastham, achalam dhruvam and aksharam). What does this indicate, Nirguna Brahman?

Does this all mean that Brahman is never Nirguna? Nasadiya sukta of Rig Veda provides an excellent answer for this.


jayasree said...

It (Nasadiya sukta) says that before creation began, qualities did not arise. That stage cannot even be called as nothingness (nor zero). Nor even as darkness. Because it is said later only, that from where conception seems to arise, a blinding darkness first appeared. So prior to this, the “It’ which constituted (if this term is correct) this stage was just not this , not this and even this ‘not this’ attribute does not seem to describe the situation. This is a perfect state of Nirguna. At this stage no presence is there, no absence is there. Nor even nothingness is there. The upanishadic vachan that He is not a male, nor a female and nor even an eunuch cannot be applied to this state. For by purport this vachan indicates Him as male by calling Him as HE. Even that He –ness is an attribute. This is one proof that the ‘Him’ of Upanishads is saguna.

Then by the time (?) the It reached a stage that “It willed, may I become many”, the first sign of I-ness appears. What was the status of this I-ness until then is what no one can know, because nothing was conceived until then. But the moment It willed, the It loses its nirguna status, because the will or the thought is an attribute making Its status saguna.

The saguna status further springs out when It comes to be known as Brahman. It is Brahmaandam, therefore It is Brahman. And Brahmaandam is an attribute. It grows, therefore It is Barhman and growing is an attribute.

So in the created world or once creation has begun, it is Saguna Brahman. Only in unmanifested state, it is Nirguna Brahman.

In the same breadth we can say that non-duality of advita is applicable in unmenifest or prior to creation or in uncreated worlds. Once creation has begun there is duality.

Both kind of verses on duality and non-duality as found in Sruti texts must be reconciled without one contradicting the other. The issue of Nirguna vs saguna Brahman also must be dealt in these lines.


jayasree said...

Now your 2nd point on Leela // If leela is needed for Brahman, does it not show that He lacks "something" and needs leela for whatever purpose?//

I have already written about this in some of my blogs. Let me quote here from “Some thoughts on “Neene Doddavano” – the song Dr Kalam liked.”

(Link- )

“The core question of why the Paramathman created the universe at all.
It was because It wanted to play! This may sound alarming, but scriptures say that Creation is a play for Him. Brahma Sutra says, “ Lokavanthu, leelaa kaivalyam”. (Brahma Sutra – 2-1-33) It means “Its (Brahman’s creative activity) is mere pastime as is seen in the world”. The clue is ‘as is seen in the world”. So what is seen in the world? To know that let's start from the beginning!

In the beginning there was Brahman.
Brahman is Brihat – huge and keeps growing.
Why did it grow in the first place?

Because without growth or before it started growing, It existed as an embodiment of all faculties and everything. It could see but it did not have an agent or an organ to see. It could hear but It did not have an organ to hear. Like this, It was capable of everything but could not actually exhibit anything. (It is like how we have the urge to express ourselves. That is a quality we have bequeathed from Brahman!). So It thought, “May I become many” and It became many. That is how creation began. In such scenario, Brahman (God) is not deviated from the created worlds or the “many” It became. In other words, It is in us as we are also part of the Many!

But we lost memory of It. That is where It has to somehow ‘bring us around’ towards It and make us eligible to be like That sometime or the other. That is why Nammazhwar said, “Vaikuntham puguvathu mannavar vidhiye” (All people are destined to enter Vaikuntham) (Thiruvaimozhi – 10-9-9).

This is like a play that we ourselves have played as kids. Imagine a kid – alone and having no one for company to play. What the kid will do? It will have the toys of a boy or a girl or an animal or anything that it has and make scenes of play by making someone hit or cry or laugh or succeed.

All these we are witnessing in the world. In all these we gain something in our 6th sense, and develop better understanding of how to play our parts.

So who is great in this equation, is it we?

We are like the toys that the kid is playing and we start enacting our role on our own (or we think so?).

Will the kid become more excited about it? Or the toy becomes more excited?
Will the kid try to outsmart the toy or the toy try to grab whatever it can to outsmart the moves of the kid?

This is the essence of "neene doddavano" (Is God great?) or "ninna dasaru doddavaro?" (Are devotees great?). The calls and wails for God from the devotees and the replies from God which these devotees can hear is what is meant by "as is seen in the world" that Brahma Sutra says. This interaction having dramatic elements of suffering and happiness, competition and excellence of one over the other makes it look like a play from a bird's eye view.

In essence, everything seems to be a play – but that was originally started by the Kid, here the Paramathman. The kid enjoys the play as it has no one else but only its toys to play with.”

So the basic purpose of Creation is (1) The Brahman 'willed' Itself to be manifest (2) and such manifestation is its pastime - a sport by which IT and its creations enjoy each other (ultimately). This is the reason the scriptures also call Him as a puppeteer and we as the puppets.

The two places signifying this coming from an undated past are Amabalam - the ChiRRalmabalam (Chidambaram) where the Lord does the Creation - Destruction dance and Arangam - Sreerangam where the lord is watching the drama in leisure!


jayasree said...

You wrote
// BTW, I have given a link on Jivamukti, a discussion between Ramesan Vemuri and NDM. Thought provoking. I would appreciate if Shri Ramanathan has a look at this article as it answers some of his questions that he posted earlier. Thank you ( Please ignore some of the scientific terms if need be)

If Madam Ji has time, I would appreciate her thoughts on this article,ramesamvemuri.htm//

The very first description in that article you have quoted negates whatever else is written for pages after that! The very first description is that Jivan mukthi means liberation - Mukti meaning liberation. How can liberation happen when the Jiva is still confined within the body?

Call it by any other name, but not as Mukthi if the freedom from prakriti (body) has not yet happened.

I will just talk about simple logic. The Sruti texts talk about the JIva attaining 'deathless ness' (amrutha bhavanthi) upon mukthi. The Jiva is that which never dies nor is born etc - something we know very clearly from Gita vachan. The Jiva is eternal. So there can't be any deathlessness for the Jiva. But it undergoes 'death' only when confined to prakriti and takes up body and sheds it alternatively like changing a dress.

Then comes a stage when the JIva 'realises' itself and 'attains' deathlessness - meaning no need to take a birth within a body. Such being the reality situation of Mukthi, if we say that the Jiva attains Jivan Mukthi within the body, a time is going to come when it's physical sheath - the body has to die - which it will have to do eventually. When the death of the body within which it is still enshrined is still pending, how can the Jiva be said to be enjoying dealthlessness or Mukthi while living?

Just go through Svetasvatara Upanishad. It talks about Jiva coming out of Mrithyu paasha and all Sarva paasha. The Jiva has to come out of all bondages, including the physical body. In verse 5-14 Sve-upa tells about shedding body too for Mukthi.

The JIva however can realise the Atman while living. That is the state of "Vasudevam sarvam iti" that Gitacharyan tells in BG. Of the 4 types of worshippers that Gitacharyan speaks about, the 4th type is of jyani who realises that everything Him.

This realisation of Vasudeva level is not happening in avyakta level but at the level of manifest Brahman.

(a)In Taittriya Upanishad, sage Bhrigu attains Brahman as ‘aham viswam’, ‘aham bhuvanam’ and so on which are all about manifested Brahman.

(b) In Brihadharanyaka Upanishad, the sage Vama deva and other sages attain Brahman, “Seeing this rishi Vama deva understood, I have become Manu, the sun.” This is at manifest level of Brahman where Creation is still going.

In Brahma sutras (3-2-24) it is said that those who experience Brahman find the gross and subtle universes as Its modes and attributes. The above two instances testify this.

In KaushItaki Upanishad, the individual self’s journey to Vaikuntam and the vaikuntham itself is described in manifest forms of gross and subtle nature.

This experience qualifies one to Mukthi - Release that ensures no re-birth. But there is a verse in Brahma sutra "there is no rule as to fruit of Final Release, because the meditation has that condition (of granting fruit in the ABSENCE OF OBSTRUCTION); has that condition" (3-4-51). The obstruction can be some offence / karma which have to be definitely worked out. If such obstruction exists, the Jiva however Realised, must take another birth to work out that obstructive karma. This verse of Brahma Sutra therefore challenges the idea of Jivan mukthi. Mukthi which means liberation must happen from physical existence too.

rk said...

I cannot thank you enough Madam Ji for your kind response. I am still in the learning curve and please excuse my impertinence. All I am trying to do is to learn from scholars like yourself.
Let me recall what Ramesan says" As the word connotes, Jivanmukti is release or freedom (in Sanskrit ‘mukti’) when one is still living (in Sanskrit ‘jivan’) with a body. The immediate question that comes up will then be: is there release after death also? The answer is yes. It is called Videhamukti or Liberation without the body.
Apparently there is another term for Mukti without the body called " Videhamukti" Did Ramana Maharishi attain Jiva Mukti while alive? Didd Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa attain Jiv Mukti while alive? You do not seem to think so but there are many who think so.
Reading Ramesan's article gives one clearer understanding of Jiva Mukti functioning in a body. If Madam Ji cares to look at it again, I would appreciate it.
In spite of your lengthy explanation reg Leela of Brahman, I still cannot fathom the reason for manifestation of Jagat. Nirguna Brahman in his primary state does not lack anything including His /Her ability to manifest, hence it cannot be the reason. If it is Leela, then He lacks compassion. As He is omnipotent and omniscience, He must be aware of the suffering of humans and animals will undergo because of His Leela ( which apparently lacks a cause) This is what I meant when I brought Abrahamic default excuse of God working in mysterious ways and we Humans with our little knowledge should not question.
Reg my previous queries on other Lokas, Jagad Guru of Sringeri does mention about Devas having a physical body ( Sthula sariram) in Devaloka.He mentions about Indira wielding a weapon in his hands and the constant fighting between Devas and Asuras and says all the above are not possible without bodies of some form.I presume the same will apply in Naraga loka too. Hence my doubts about Swarga and Naraga. If bodies exist in other Lokas, then naturally they are the effect of a cause like parents. Do parents exist also in other Lokas? As I said earlier, I am still in the very early stage of the learning curve and constant scholarly inputs from yourself and Shri Ramanathan make it a lot easier for me to negotiate this curve. Thank you once again Madam Ji.

rk said...

This is an article from Divine life society where Swamy Sivanada talks about Jiova Mukti and Videhamukti

jayasree said...

Dear Mr rk,

I wish you read primary texts especially in this context Sve Upa to know where your currently held opinions are challenged and how they are held by sruti texts.

On the question of compassion of God whose purpose of creation is leela, I repeat you read the primary texts as I dont want to repeat them. The very next sutra after leela sutra (In Brahma sutras)raises this question whether this means that God is impartial and cruel. The deduced answer is no. I think you have reached a stage where there are no answers in the secondary texts for the questions you raise. The absence of convincing answers in them do not mean that basic pramana of our scriptures is wrong. Its time you read the sruti texts also to know what they say and how they justify.

On Indra having body, I have written in the comment section of 2 or more places on how Indra is perceived at 3 levels of which one is reality-living on the earth. My Tamil articles on that topic can be read in my Tamil blog in 19th, 20th and 21st articles in sequence. The link to the 19th article is here:

rk said...

Thank you Madam Ji for the link. I read your scholarly article and the comments.I am unable to find the answers for the following. If Devas are born with Sariram, then they are progeny of some parents.In the same logic you would expecta line of ancestors present in Deva Loka. Is it so? BTW, if you do exhaust your punya palan in Devaloka, you will be back on earth.Presuming you have no pabha palans, your karma account will be neutral,hence you should not have another birth (having exhausted all karmic palans.)
Here is Swamy Sivanda's take on Jiva Mukti and Videhamukti. I will close my comments on Jiva Mukti on this note. Thank you Ji. Please forgive my impertinence .
"The destruction of Chitta is of two kinds, that with form and without form. The destruction of that with form is of the Jivanmukta; the destruction of that without form is of the Videhamukta.

As soon as the Prarabdha is fully exhausted, the Jivanmukta attains the state of Videhamukti, just as the pot - ether becomes one with the universal ether when the pot is broken.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr rk,

Birth as Devas does not mean birth like human beings. In human life there is growth and decay. For Devas it is always amruth - deathlessnes meaning no decay. No decay means its counterpart, namely 'no- growth' is also present. Therefore it is wrong to consider that Devas have sariram like us which has a limitation by decay. The Devas are described to have a glow.

Devas are not born to someone like us, human beings. Please re-read the 4 gathis I have written in one of the comments above. As per scriptures only these 4 gathis exist which jivas meander through. Garbha gathi refers to birth on earth where we enjoy the results of mixed paapa and punya. In other words, for the kind of results which can not be strictly termed as arising from paapa alone or punya alone, we born in garbha gathi to get the results and experiences. It is difficult to see around us any one act as paapa alone without seeing some element of positive justification for it. We human beings undergo results for this kind of mixed karma.

For Devas it is all positive only. They enjoy only the merits of pure punya in Deva loka (some realm which can also called as Swarga). Once those merits are exhausted they are born in the world to work out the mixed karma.

As you said, suppose there are no Paapa karma for them and if there are no mixed karma either, they go to Archirathi gathi by which they never return to any created worlds, They attain oneness with Brahman. Many Puranic stories of exalted people do talk about them going to exalted realms and finally reaching the realm of no-return. The above offers an explanation for such descriptions.

The existence of only punya- enjoying Deva loka or Swarga loka justifies the existence of Naraka. The Yamya gathi (among the 4 gathis I have written in earlier comment) fits with that description. It is a realm where the JIva undergoes the experience for only paapa. Once that is exhausted, it is born to earth to experience mixture of paapa and punya or is born in Deva loka (Dhoomathi gathi) to experience results of only punya. If nothing of those kinds exist, permanent Release (Archirathi gathi) is the result.

In stories of Mahabharata we have heard of Arjuna seeing Duryodhana in swarga loka and himself in naraka loka. The rationale given is that those who have done more paapa (alone) would go to swarga loka first to enjoy the little punya they have done before going to naraka loka where they have to spend more time.

In my opinion these lokas are realms where experience happens not with physical body. Once the Jiva exits the body after death, there is no physical body for it. Yet it is still covered with other sheaths of Prakriti where experiences are felt. For example the Jiva can feel thirsty without having a mouth. We have heard of this for the departed souls which are supposed to feel thirsty. The 10 day rituals include offering water to them. The Jiva does not drink that water in physical body but it can get the satiated.

Likewise the sensory perceptions are there without sense organs. The sense organs come into existence only in the earth in physical birth. As such the Jiva need not take a 'birth' as a baby in Deva loka or naraka loka to experience the allotted feelings of the respective lokas.

What we must understand here is that these experiences are the results of what the Jiva has done in its earthly existence. God is not responsible for whatever pure paapa or pure punya or mixture of them that the Jiva has done. But God is INDEED merciful in having given the Jiva a platform to be born again and again, to inquire why it is born again and again and show a way to come out of it. He sets Himself as the goal to aim at, to come out of the mess the Jiva has created for itself. He is also offering the platform and venues to try and come out of the mess. That is why texts say that He is the Means and also the End. This is the status quo of God / Brahman vis-a-vis the experiences / sufferings that we undergo.


jayasree said...

On Jivan mukthi, you yourself have written about the Prarabdha to be fully exhausted. Until it is there clinging to the Jiva, whatever terms you are using are jargons and they do not convey the real status. The Brahma sutra I quoted says precisely that. If that Prarabdha karma is still there capable of obstruction, the Realised Jiva has to take another birth to work out that karma. Once for all shedding of the physical body comes only after obstructive karma is worked out. Therefore Jivan mukthi does not mean Final Mukthi and it is contradictory in its meaning.

It is contradictory in its own meaning because a 'Jivan Mukta' will take birth again to work out the obstructive karma and and be a Jivan Mukta again. We have heard of people who are Realised ones right from birth / from young age and have spent the rest of their lives so. Why should they get a birth at all if they are enlightened ones right from birth / young age? One popular example I can think of is Nammalwar. His birth as a Realised soul and his breaking his silence by answering a riddle are all ominous of a birth of what you call Jivan Mukta. (Google search Nammalwar to know his history)

Hariharan B. said...

Madam, It is very enlightening to see your excellent explanation on various vedanta topics. I would like to add some more thoughts on few topics discussed above.

Brahman realisation or Aporaksha Jnana
According to Madhvacharya, dhyana or meditation, otherwise known as Upasana merely leads to direct realisation. This is a mental configuration of Brahman that Upasaka has before his mind even in the most absorbed state of meditation and SAmadhi. In dhyana one sees only the reflection of Brahman in the citta. It gradually leads
to actual vision of Lord by the His own grace. So the revealing of Brahman to the sadhaka is different from the mental construct in dhyana/upanasa.So Aparoksa jnana is a flash like revelation of the supreme as our Bimba. Tehnically put, as souls are pratibimbas of Lord it must see his BImba(LOrd) in himself.That is Aparoksa.
But ultimately it is He that much choose to reveal HImself. This is said beautifully in the Brahma sutra bhasya -3-2-27.

"Tho' He remained unmanifest always, by His own grace He reveals Himself to the Upasaka, by His own inscrutable power. Without His choosing to reveal Himself in this way,who can ever see Him, the limiltless one?"-Brahma sutra iii, 2, 27

The above is also very logical as the individual soul is the reflection of the Lord. This is agreed to by all schools of thought more or less.So if it has to realise God it has to reach ( go back) in the same way by attaining the vision of its image( Bimba rupa of the Lord) according to its intrinsic capacity.

Brahmna Jnanais and prarabda karma.

By the critical study of all scriptures and with sound logic one should understand that “moxa is achievable only by performing nishkAmakarma as prescribed in the Vedas with the sole objective of pleasing shrI hari.

By performing such nishkAmakarma ones anthaHkaraNa becomes pure and becomes free from all the doShAs such as rAga, dveSha etc. A pure anthaHkaraNa gives rise to pure devotion towards the lord. Undertaking continuous shravaNa, manana and nidhidhyAsana with full devotion towards the lord will result in the sAxAtkAra of Brahman.

Pleased by the devotion, the lord destroys all aprArabdha karmas. But some prArabdha karmas still remain. For the sake of the continuation of bhAgavata dharma in this world, the lord does not destroy all the prArabdha karmas of a brahma j~nAni. Otherwise there will be no brahma j~nAni in this world to preach the bhAgavata dharma as he immediately gets liberated once all his prArabdha karmas are cleared. Hence shrI hari sets aside some prArabdha karmas for this purpose. These prArabdha karmas are to be destroyed only by enjoying their fruits. Thus a brahma j~nAni continues to dwell in this world until the destruction of all his prArabdha karmas. This gives him a chance to preach the bhAgavata dharma to the eligible

Once all of his prArabdha karmas are destroyed, the lord frees the brahma j~nAni from the clutches of prakriti. Thus he becomes liberated”. With this knowledge one should do constant upAsana of the auspicious qualities of shrI hari according to ones eligibility.

It is already discussed in detail that the muktha jivas, once freed from the clutches of prakriti, enjoy its liberated status for eternity in its swarupa deha.


Hariharan B. said...

Saguna and nirguna debate
The concept of nirguna (attributeless) brahman cannot be sustained for it is opposed to sruti and reason. There are no objects in the world which are utterly attributeless is the statement of the wise.

There are lot of clearly worded statements in the scriptures which affirm various attributes for Brahman and it is not proper to only project a few nirguna srutis as the purport of sastras.The following sruti vakyas will prove that Brahman is endowed with auspicious attributes and hence it is all saguna only. Moreover
Brahman should be concieved as SAguna only because it possesses creatorship, omniscience, etc. which means it has full knowledge of the effects to be, its accessories, the expected result, etc., to accomplish the work.

1. Brahman's nature is of bliss
2. From Him this four-faced Brahma, name, form and anna proceed.
3. He is our FAther, protector, nourisher, etc.
4. He is infinite and full, He is the lord of all, free from untruth
and false attachement.
5. Who can declare the herioc deeds of the all pervading Lord? Thou
hast transcended all, they greatness is incomprhensible.
6. None among the living or those to be born has attained the truth about your majesty.

One Nirguna-sruti states: He is one Lord present in all creatures tho invisible, all pervading, controlling all,presiding over all our karma, the knower, without physical body and without qualities. This means Brahman is without material attributes and not anything contrary to the above auspicious attributes.

Brahma sutra also talks about the trans-empiral/ transcendental form of Brahman in various places.

1. "Brahman is 'Formless' because it transcends Prakriti and other and controls them all"---3-2-14

2. " The srutis do speak of the trans-empircal form of Brahman of its hands, feet, face, etc., constituted of the essence of bliss and reality knowledge, etc."--3-2-16

3.Even though the ananda, jnana,etc., that constitute the nature of Brahman are trans-empirical they are designated by words in ordinary empirical usage just to give us an idea of their nature since there is no other way to know the Infinite from our limited understanding.(Explanation to BS-3-2-34).

So the division of Brahman as nirguna and saguna is so artifical and contrived that it should be dumped forthwith. Advaita school only talks about this because (it is obvious) they only have the motive in interpreting the scriptures according to their (pre-determined) line of thought.

jayasree said...

Excellent articulation Mr Hariharan. My paranams to you.

rk said...

This will be my last response and I thank Madam ji and others for their scholarly inputs.
I can look at this only from Advaidic point of view and NOT on Duality point of view of Madhvachariyar and Sri Vaishnava. TO ME only the following applies and not meant for anyone else. Adavita makes logical sense and that is MY personal point of view.
The following is from what I have taken out from fellow Advaitis .As I said earlier, I am on a learning curve. I presume this applies to all except to the self realized.
I as a subject do not need proof of my existence. Everything else is only objects of my perception only. This cannot be disputed at all.Then, when I look at the cause my existence and the Jagat, I find the cause and effect is one and same in Brahman. There is nothing but Brahman. Sadhasiva Brahmendra's beautiful song "Sarvam Brahamamayam"comes to my mind here.

When man tries to think of the Infinite Brahman with his finite mind,he unknowingly projects the limitations of his finite mind on Nirguna Brahman.As a result, Nirguna Brahman appears to become finite to him.Important point to note. The human mind can never think other than in human terms.
But no matter what epithets are used,Nirguna Brahman can never be adequately described
by the finite words and expressions of our world of limitations. This applies to Srutis also.From Nirguna Brahman point view nothing CAN exist outside Him/Her as "That" is infinite. You cannot have finite in infinite or different kind of Infinities! ( Duality).Now, we come to Tat Vam Asi. The fourth state of consciousness, Turiya ( in my opinion synonymous with Jiva Mukti). This cannot be negated by any another Dharsana from any point of view. Atman and Brahman is one and same and finally the fifth state of "I am only". Aham Brahamasi ( Vidahamukti).
Nirguna Brahaman is attribute less does not lack anything. He is causeless, hence cannot attribute His effects to any cause. Saguna Brahman is only from Human point of view of , the lower state( for want of better expression) of Brahman. Yes, it is correct to say that that dividing Brahman into Nirguna and Saguna is artificial but the inference is wrong. It should ONLY be Nirguna. But after all we are Humans and we do need Saguna Brahman (for our sake only.) The Human mind cannot fathom a formless Brahman. What is in Sruti about Purusha having face and legs need to be taken in poetic sense. Otherwise it will all become ridiculous.
Attributing some sort motive(!!!) behind Kevala Adavita dharsana of Adi Shankara, in my opinion,is mere allegations only without substance. I feel one lacks sane valid point to counter.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Madam,

You can clearly see from Mr. RK's comments that he has nothing to show except scorn and hate for others who don't toe their line. No study or any analysis. This itself is a sufficient proof that advaita is dubious. And why blame the poor vaishnavas for preaching a 'strange gospel'(and not vedanta)? Why don't he ask the same question to Adi shankara(or his gurus) who also preached the 'same thing' in his bhasyas as indicated by me elsewhere. That he will not do because he has neither the guts nor the honesty. This only shows their taliban mentality. Any proof needed?

rk said...

This will definitely, definitely be my last response, personal abuse or not. In my earlier response , I emphasized that my views were for my own self only and meant for NOT anyone else. Hardly "Taliban" here !! Why the personal attack Mr Hariharan sir? If it makes you happy Sir, then I am glad that I am instrumental in your tiny happiness. God bless you sir and my best wishes.

jayasree said...

Please don't get personal. Let the discussion be on issues. Let's focus on the ideas written here.

Hariharan B. said...

Dear Mr. RK,

Please note that I am not personally attacking you. It is only a strong criticism and if anything else is implied I am sorry for that. I am only questioning your utter disregard for facts and other scriptural proofs/authority and your blind belief. But the latter is your choice(at your risk, of course). What I also mean here is the followers are also equally (if not more) responsible for the omissions/commissions of the leaders and they have to take a bit of criticism. Is it not? As for me, I am not a bit influenced/conditioned by advaita tradition at all even though I belong to that tradition by birth. And I criticise the whole advaita tradition and its gurus who propagate pseudo vedanta( and other false worship/practices) without any strings attached as I see it clearly. Hope it is all clarified now.