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Thread: Your definition of Brahma

  1. #11
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    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    Dear HLK,

    I am not learned enough to know the brahmam by myself. Nor am I having the intellectual curiosity to pursue knowing THAT by reading many scriptures. My simple belief in what is 'brahmam' comes from what my 'manasika guru' Sri Velukkudi Krishnan Swami defines: Saguna brahmam and Nirguna Brahmam are like 2 sides of the same coin and one attribute is indispensable of the other, really.

    So going by the above definition, I understand the generic term 'brahmam/brahman' then means an entity that is all-knowing, full of bliss, benevolent, humble, virtuous, joyous and meritorious that controls one and all, stands as a witness to everything and onto which everything dissolves and arises out of. I come to this conclusion about brahmam from the quoted lines because if nirguna brahmam is really the other side of saguna brahmam, then they share these attributes together!

    I would love any corrections on this one.
    Namaste Viraja Ji,

    I agree.You have put it so well.

  2. #12
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    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaste HLK,

    Yes, there is still something to be said about Brahman (Nirguna). Let's see what various scriptures say :

    Bhagwad Gita (Chapter 13)

    a)

    That which is to be known (it is described as 'gyeyam" == which is worth knowing) and by knowing which man attains the immortality is AnAdi i.e. beginning-less (which was never born/created), Prabrahman is said to be neither sat i.e. existing nor asat i.e. non-existing.

    So, it is described here as Gyeyam, AnAdi, neither sat nor asat in the above verse.

    b) He has his hands and feet, eyes, ears, head and mouth everywhere. He pervades all in this universe.

    What does it mean ? He is capable of doing anything anywhere or can feel the touch of anything (as he has hands everywhere), He reaches anywhere (as he feet everywhere, He sees all and everything because He has eyes everywhere, He observes everything and remembers everything as He has head everywhere, He tastes everything and he can devour everything as he has mouth everywhere.

    He pervades the universe through and through.

    c) He knows all the subjects of sense organs even though He has no sense organs. He is non-attached but supports and nourishes everyone in this world. He is Nirguna and is still the enjoyer of all gunas of nature.

    d) He is outside and also inside through and through in all beings. He alone is the Movable (char == which can move) and also Non-movable (achar == which cannot move or jada). He is not knowable due to being extremely subtle. He is the farthest and He also is the nearest.

    e) He is undivided (One alone without any division whatsoever) and yet appears as divided (into many) in all beings. That Brahman who is worth knowing is the Origin (BrahmA), Nourisher (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (as Rudra).

    So, the above verse makes it clear that Brahman is One without any division and yet appears as divided in all beings. He i.e. That One alone is BrahmA, Vishnu and Rudra.

    f) He is the light of all lights and is beyond MAyA. He is the Knowledge, worth knowing and Knowable by Realisation (of Knowledge). He lives in the heart of all beings.

    ==> light of all lights ===> Light helps us to see. He is the essence of all lights i.e. essence of all perceptions.
    ===> Beyond MAyA ===> Not deluded by MAyA, not bound by MAyA.

    g) He is the Observer/Witness, He is the guide, He is the nourisher/provider/Bhartaa, He is the enjoyer as (jeeva) and He alone is the great lord. Within this body that Purusha alone is the Supreme God.

    ===> He is the Purusha inside the body. He alone is Jeeva and He is the Supreme God.

    h) He who sees the same supreme God in all beings without any differences and sees the Indestructible among all destructibles sees the Reality.

    ===> Everything in this universe gets destroyed and yet there is One Reality (which exists in everything which gets destroyed) which cannot be destroyed.

    i) He who sees only the Prakriti as doer of all actions and sees AtmAn (Brahman in the heart of all beings) as non-doer sees the Reality.

    ===> Brahman doesn't do anything. Every action is performed by Prakriti.

    j) He is beginning-less, He is Nirguna, He is non-destructible ParmAtma, He stays in the body but doesn't do anything and is also not tainted by any actions performed (by the body).

    k) As one Sun lights the whole world, in the same way One Kshetri i.e. Brahman lights all the Kshetras.

    ==? As all places in the world are lighted by One Sun alone, One Brahman lights all the beings i.e. reflects His light in the hearts of all beings.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  3. #13
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    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaste,

    We have seen how Bhagwad Gita describes Brahman. Let's see how Upanishads describe Brahman :

    SvetAshvatar Upanishad

    III.9

    Nothing exists as better or worse than This. Nothing exists smaller or bigger than This. It is motionless as a tree, stading alone in glory of its own being, He is the Purusha by which all in this universe is filled.

    III.10

    That is the cause of Hiranyagrabha, He is without form, beyond sufferings.

    III.11 He is the face of all, He is the neck of all, He is the intelligence of all beings, He is all pervasive, He is God, he is the Self of all and He is Shiva/blissful/benign.

    III.12

    This Great being is all-pervasive, He is all powerful, He inspires the mind to attain the state of purity (Self-knowledge). He is the Supreme Lord, Self-luminous and always unchanging.

    III.13

    He is as small as the thumb ( as felt in meditation) and yet fills the whole universe. He is the source of knowldeg and he expresses as the various fluctuations of the mind.

    III.15

    That which is the past, that which is to be in future and that grows by food is the same Purusha.

    iv. 2

    Brahman is Fire, the Sun, The Air, the moon, the constellation of stars, Hiranyagarbha, water and VirAt.

    Iv 3

    Brahman is woman, Brahman is Man, He is boy, He is girl. He is the old man walking with the support of stick. You (Brahman) is born in all possible forms.

    iv. 4

    All the worlds of the universe emerge from Him.

    iv.10

    Know Prakriti to be MAyA. Also know Maheshwara to be the Lord of MAyA. The whole universe is the body of Maheshwara.

    iv 11

    The Lord is one without a second. He presides over the source of everything. He sustains the world when it comes into being and again when it perishes it goes back into Him. He controls everything.

    iv 18

    No one has seen Him above or on the side or in between. He is far beyond and above. There is no way to describe Him. He is what he is.

    v 5

    He is the first cause. It is ignorance that leads us to be born again and again and He is the cause of that ignorance. He is beyond the past, the present and the future. He is not parts joined together but He is a single whole. He is both the cause and the effect and He is the true object of worship. Meditate on the Lord as your indwelling Self.

    There are many verses dedicated to describing Brahman in this Upanishad but there is repetition of what has already been stated in above verses.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaskar Ji,

    Devotee-Ji, EM-JI and others have explained so perfectly through scripture and classical reasoning. This is my understanding too, and while I have nothing to add in that context, I would like to add a few, less graceful, thoughts based in modern physics.

    Parabrahman, to me in this context, is the foundation upon which time, energy, and matter unfurl. Space, before the vibration of energy. Infinite, indescribable, pristine Being.

    Brahman, the creative force, is that first expansion of energy, AUM, and all the vibrations that have come of it.

    ~Pranam
    ~~~~~
    What has Learning profited a man, if it has not led him to worship the good feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
    They alone dispel the mind's distress, who take refuge at the feet of the incomparable one.
    ~~Tirukural 2, 7

    Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam

  5. #15
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    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaste Anandiniiji,

    Quote Originally Posted by Aanandinii View Post
    Parabrahman, to me in this context, is the foundation upon which time, energy, and matter unfurl. Space, before the vibration of energy. Infinite, indescribable, pristine Being.
    Brahman, the creative force, is that first expansion of energy, AUM, and all the vibrations that have come of it.
    That is good "scientific" attempt to describe Brahman. I would like to add two words in your first description : Substratum (foundation) on which Time, Energy, Matter and reflected Consciousness in various beings appear (unfurl). If we use only Time, Energy and matter ... we are not going beyond elements of Prakriti. Purusha provides the reflected consciousness to beings in this world and Purusha is beyond Prakriti.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  6. #16
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    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Pranam Devotee Ji,
    Quote Originally Posted by devotee View Post
    Namaste Anandiniiji,



    That is good "scientific" attempt to describe Brahman. I would like to add two words in your first description : Substratum (foundation) on which Time, Energy, Matter and reflected Consciousness in various beings appear (unfurl). If we use only Time, Energy and matter ... we are not going beyond elements of Prakriti. Purusha provides the reflected consciousness to beings in this world and Purusha is beyond Prakriti.

    OM
    Yes, as you say. I didn't specify because I feel what provides the reflection of consciousness is just another form of energy. However, so is matter, so I should have included Purusha. My thanks for the correction.

    ~Pranam
    ~~~~~
    What has Learning profited a man, if it has not led him to worship the good feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
    They alone dispel the mind's distress, who take refuge at the feet of the incomparable one.
    ~~Tirukural 2, 7

    Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam

  7. #17

    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaste Fellow Advaitins

    The issue is that we try to say that oh there should be a definition of Brahman, definition is like making it definite. The issue here is that we can only give a Lakshana or a pointer to Brahman, even Satyam, Jnanam and Anantam are only pointers to Brahman. Coming to Saguna and Nirguna Brahman, Saguna Brahman is Mithya and Nirguna Brahman is Satyam. Mithya means something viz dependent upon Satyam. For eg:- We have a clay pot, the Pot is Mithya, it is not an illusion, not is it non existent, it is existent but cannot be called Satyam. Satyam viz the clay remains even though the pot is destroyed. It was there even before the pot came into being. So the pot is Mithya and the clay is Satyam. Similarly the world is Brahman. I will proceed logically to eliminate all objections here,

    We understand that the world is substantially Brahman, but what is the cause of this Mithya ? Over here we posit the existence of Ishwara. Maya is the cause of Mithya.

    We know that cause is not different from the effect. So if the cause of Mithya is Maya, Maya is also Mithya. Just as clay plus pot is still clay. Satyam plus Mithya is still Satyam.

    Brahman plus Maya is Ishwara here. As Maya is Mithya , Maya plus Brahman is still Brahman. Hence Advaita does not get compromised here.

    I hope people understood the presentation given above, it is a very logical and rational presentation of Advaita that I have given based on the traditional methodology used by Advaita Acharyas.


    Since Brahman is the sum and substance of everything that exists, even the definition given to Brahman , the Brahman will be the sum and substance of that definition. For this reason Brahman cannot be defined. We can only have pointers to Brahman. The Lakshanas or pointers over here cannot be called attributes they are merely pointers. Even word "Nirguna" is only a pointer. Finally even the word "Satyam" is a mere pointer to Brahman. That is why the Upanishad says "Yato vacho nivartante aprapya manasa saha" where words fall back and the mind cannot grasp that is Brahman.

  8. #18

    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaste all,

    I think Advaita or any other philosophy is rather a perspective on Reality than absolute Truth, It only becomes truth to the ones that accept this perspective. Then all the rest becomes logical. People tend to forget that these perspectives have unproven assumptions on which they build. Change the assumptions and the perspective changes. The same goes for science, all sciences (even mathematics ) have a base of unproven assumptions they build on. And again the same goes for logic. There can be made many other systems of mathematics and logic and using them would change our perception of reality and make us find relations that are now hidden from us. we may want to understand the limits of Human thinking.

    Understand that if you talk about Brahman you already accepted Brahman to begin with and a certain definition of Brahman. But one can easily live in a perspective without Brahman or a different kind of Brahman and still build a perfect logical structure on that that convinces people it is rational.

    Brahman for me rather is an Experience. People who have experienced Brahman know it is the most all encompassing experience they have ever met. It is indeed pure bliss, without any distinction. From there people have started reasoning, taking this experience as a base and calling it Brahman. And others have turned this experience into the goal of existence, hoping they can forever live in this experience of pure happiness. And thus they have started to look down on ordinary experiences calling them feeble and illusionary because they are not a constant bliss.

    They even started to call our world "illusionary". But that I see as a misappropriation of Maya, which can better be translated as the world of objects, or the world of changing experiences. They have defined that the experience of Brahman is superior because it is an unchanging experience. They define Absolute = Unchanging. Such definitions are hidden assumptions. One could easily counter that unchanging is like death, and change is like life and life is superior over death.

    Also the idea that we left Brahman to be here suggest that we want to be here. And what we strive for is generally a higher state not a lower one. I am not trying to disprove anything, but simply show that there are many other perceptions possible based on different considerations, and indeed present in Hinduism. I do not agree with those that want to create the impression that: Hinduism = believing this world is illusionary. That certainly is the prominent idea in many Hindu traditions but not all. In Tantra this world is considered very real and of prime importance.

    Personally I hold to Dharm and do not want to lock my mind in one perspective. I see value in all perspectives. I think personally keeping your mind free of embracing a sole perspective is actually the highest state for the mind. Or as Aristotle put it:

    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

    But others may rightfully say that you lose out a lot of the deeper experience of a perspective if you do not do that. So it is a personal choice and we should respect that rather then trying to disprove each others ideas. All people try to choose what they think makes them the most happy. I think it is like choosing the world (mind landscape you want to live in.
    Last edited by Avyaydya; 29 April 2015 at 01:34 PM.

  9. #19

    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Namaste Avyaydya,

    I am not here to argue with you but personally I feel you have a misconception. Advaita does not start with any assumption what so ever. It does not make any assumption, it gives a conclusion viz another matter but it does not start with any assumptions. Also since this thread is posted in an Advaita forum the answer is given from an Advaitic perspective.

    You also said some where that only post accepting the perspective it becomes the truth for the person. Not quite, it is only after you have verified it for yourself is when you accept it. If you have not verified Advaita for yourself then you can obviously not accept it.

    Also if you are against having perspectives you will not say the following

    "They even started to call our world "illusionary". But that I see as a misappropriation of Maya, which can better be translated as the world of objects, or the world of changing experiences. They have defined that the experience of Brahman is superior because it is an unchanging experience. They define Absolute = Unchanging. Such definitions are hidden assumptions. One could easily counter that unchanging is like death, and change is like life and life is superior over death. "

    This is your perspective which I totally respect and allow you to have, it is essentially based on certain assumptions or convictions.

    1)If you are really interested in finding out truth then you will doubt so absolutely that you will finally come to a place where there is no doubt.

    2)If you have absolute faith then you have no room for doubt nor do you have any quarrel with a person who does not agree with you. Since if you have complete faith you have completely surrendered and when any one disagrees with you will not bother as such a faith generally makes you innocent and childlike.

    The above 2 statements is generally the observation I have made but not a mere conviction or assumption by me, it is a general observation through which I got a sensible conclusion. If you have some thing which disproves my observation and conclusion I am ready to hear it, since I am open to all sorts of new thoughts and observations. I am not stuck up with my own convictions.

    However it seems that you do have quite strong convictions and assumptions from the post. Also no one is asking you to adopt any philosophy, Advaitins generally do not go and attack other beliefs or thought systems. They generally more at home with themselves, they however will only if they are unnecessarily attacked.






  10. #20

    Re: Your definition of Brahma

    Quote Originally Posted by Sriram257 View Post
    Namaste Avyaydya,

    I am not here to argue with you but personally I feel you have a misconception. Advaita does not start with any assumption what so ever. It does not make any assumption, it gives a conclusion viz another matter but it does not start with any assumptions. Also since this thread is posted in an Advaita forum the answer is given from an Advaitic perspective.
    Namaste Sriram257,

    That is your view and I respect that. Personally I think it suggest that one is not aware of the hidden assumptions of ones perspective. All perspectives begin with assumptions than people start to logically extend them. As logic guarantees the assumptions never contradict with what is derived from it, one easily starts to think the assumptions are proven as well. What one has then created is a self-sustaining rational fabric of thought. One can keep going round in that never finding a contradiction and people mistakenly believe absence of contradiction is proof of absolute Truth. But it is simply a well-knit fabric, one of many. But as they only swim in one, they can not see that. This will happen even more as most people do not develop these fabrics of thought themselves, but swim in those of others. For them there is no beginning or end, because they did not started it, someone else did that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sriram257 View Post
    You also said some where that only post accepting the perspective it becomes the truth for the person. Not quite, it is only after you have verified it for yourself is when you accept it. If you have not verified Advaita for yourself then you can obviously not accept it.
    As I see it, the mistake here is to believe that absence of contradictions is proof, and not realizing that many of such rational systems can be made. It is like people who can only envision one Universe, the one they live in, as they never reach the end, though Reality allows for infinite universes even on a totally different basis. And every Universe will be internally consistent.

    ]Also if you are against having perspectives you will not say the following

    "They even started to call our world "illusionary". But that I see as a misappropriation of Maya, which can better be translated as the world of objects, or the world of changing experiences. They have defined that the experience of Brahman is superior because it is an unchanging experience. They define Absolute = Unchanging. Such definitions are hidden assumptions. One could easily counter that unchanging is like death, and change is like life and life is superior over death. "

    This is your perspective which I totally respect and allow you to have, it is essentially based on certain assumptions or convictions.
    I do not describe advaita here but what I witness people saying adhering to it. It has to be understood that every system also leads to its own misconceptions by people who do not fully understand it as people are bound to not fully understand it. That is a practical consequence that intellectuals refuse to take responsibility for. They will always say the system is perfect but people misunderstand, abuse it. That is the difference between theoretical and practical thinking. Theoretical thinking is very limited and does move outside of self-imposed limitations.

    1)If you are really interested in finding out truth then you will doubt so absolutely that you will finally come to a place where there is no doubt.

    2)If you have absolute faith then you have no room for doubt nor do you have any quarrel with a person who does not agree with you. Since if you have complete faith you have completely surrendered and when any one disagrees with you will not bother as such a faith generally makes you innocent and childlike.

    The above 2 statements is generally the observation I have made but not a mere conviction or assumption by me, it is a general observation through which I got a sensible conclusion. If you have some thing which disproves my observation and conclusion I am ready to hear it, since I am open to all sorts of new thoughts and observations. I am not stuck up with my own convictions.

    However it seems that you do have quite strong convictions and assumptions from the post. Also no one is asking you to adopt any philosophy, Advaitins generally do not go and attack other beliefs or thought systems. They generally more at home with themselves, they however will only if they are unnecessarily attacked.
    Thank you but I am not interested in finding "truth" as I do not believe such truth exists. The only truth that is absolute for me is the experience itself. Experiencing Brahman is absolute truth, all else is simply conjecture by intellectuals. The idea that Reality, Brahman can be captured in any model of thinking I see as a mistake. The Gita 2:46 says: To a Self-realized person the Vedas are as useful as a small reservoir of water when the water of a huge lake becomes available. (2.46)

    My personal opinion: The Jana path can for some be a path to enlightenment. But it is not so that all, or even most, or even many that follow it become enlightened. The enlightenment follows when through a process of neti neti one starts to understand the absolute hopelessness of understanding Brahman, in the same way that Buddha did not become enlightened by his thinking but the utter failure of his thinking, leaving him disillusioned under a tree. In his utter hopelessness his enlightenment was born. To free man from his illusion total desperation is necessary which can only come from failure, not the illusion of truth. The jnana path is a steep path with many casualties along the way. It also creates many people who think they have reached higher consciousness by dressing themselves up with ideas they regard as absolute truth. A slower, less steep and easier path is Bhakti but that requires a different mind set.

    I am a practical person deeply connected to Nature, that is why I follow a Dharmic religion, intellectual pursuit I find trivial, that does not however mean l do not have a clear mind. I do not have strong convictions, I have no convictions. Nothing I write should be taken seriously. It is only how I look at it now, my present personal outlook. I constantly try to see things differently, expand the perspectives. As I see it that is the best way to get ahead. Because I question thinking that gets stuck, it is fairly well thought out, people mistake that with convictions. For me it is simply a stepping stone to the next level. That is why I do not have to defend it. I share it so maybe some of it is of value to others, that is all. I absolutely understand it if people find it of no value at all. That is rather to be expected I think.

    For me, it is not a matter of me or you being right or wrong, not even of a different perspective, but how we both relate to reality. It is our way of thinking, our mentality that differs. You can not overcome that by reasoning. Reasoning is only of use within an established and agreed on system of thought, like Advaita. But if you take such a perspective as absolute truth than of course everyone who thinks different becomes wrong.
    Last edited by Avyaydya; 29 April 2015 at 03:12 PM.

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