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    Advaita Primer ...

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    There are many conversations and debates that are occurring in the advaita folder on HDF. I thought, for one that is new to this knowledge, how will they follow along, how will they know of the fundamentals of advaita? For this I offer this simple brief.

    advaita
    When we say advaita as the philosophical subject at hand, it is more complete if we say advaita vedānta.
    • advaita अद्वैत means the following: a=not + dvaita = duality , duplicity , dualism
    • vedānta is veda + anta. Veda is from vid, knowing/knowledge + anta
    • anta means end.
    Hence vedānta means end of the veda, or end of knowledge. But what does this really imply? 'anta' means end as mentioned but also means 'limit , boundary , term'.
    Some read then that vedānta is the final chapter, as we come to the end of a book. A mildly interesting notion, yet there is more to this. 'End' can also mean final, but in the sense it cannot be surpassed.


    So if we say advaita vedānta, it says a+dvaita or non-duality is the final ( anta) knowledge (veda). There is nothing beyond this (anta) knowing ( veda or vid).

    But what knowledge? Surely not book knowledge as it is fleeting . There is nothing beyond the knowledge of the Self, or brahman. This implies that knowledge is beyond just words, but direct experience. The most comprehensive knowledge is that of the written or heard word + the personal, direct experience of that knowledge. One reads about an banana then tastes it; the knowledge is now complete in the action of taste ( and sight, smell, etc).

    prāsthana
    So, now one must ask , what is considered vedānta, the end of the ved? What are the source books? Another way of saying this is what is the prāsthana? This word is defined as starting-point , place of origin , source. For vedānta, it is considered prāsthana-traya , or the 3 sources or foundations. They are the upaniads¹ , the bhagavad-gītā ( part of the mahābhārata) and the brahmasūtra-s. But where are the veda-s? The upaniads are the ved, the end of or culmination of the ved. They sit or are derived/manifest from the ved.

    Some will say there are more then this... sure , no doubt, but I am talking prāsthana.

    catúr-liṅga ( 4 marks) of advaita vedānta
    Since we are talking core ideas - we then can say what then are the marks ( liṅga ) of advaita vedānta ?
    They are:
    1. the non-difference of the individual ātman with the universal brahman or individual being is part and parcel of Universal Being - there is no difference hence a+dvaiya: a=not + dvaita = duality , duplicity , dualism.

    2. A view or concept or point of view that helps one understand the qualities of pāramārthika (the Absolute, perfectness, stillness of Being) and vyāvahārika (the relative field of creation that has boundaries - size, shape, beginnings and endings i.e. the world of the senses and measures).
    Well that is a bit advanced do you think for this folder as a topic ? Perhaps, but let me offer a simple example. If we are viewing the world from the perspective of the sun , Where is the rising and setting of the sun?. From the Sun's point of view there is none. Yet if we are on this earth, this rising and setting produces day-and-night and this occurs every 24 hours, it is real and occurs and can be measured. Yet from the sun's view there is none of this. Like that, The Sun is the point of view of pāramārthika, the earth vyāvahārika - Absolute and relative views of reality, Yet there is just one reality.

    3. Avidyā - or ignorance. If all this is indeed brahman, from where can this ignorance be explained? Why is there not the instant view of Reality as being One without a second or advitīya (without a second , sole , unique, matchless) ? The idea of avidyā now comes to the forefront.
    This word is a+vid+yā, a=not + vid = knowledge + ya here means joining; hence avidyā = the joining of 'not' + ' knowledge' or ignorance.

    So, in advaita vedānta this ignorance needs to be addressed or understood. Hence we arrive at māyā-vāda. That is, the discourse ( vāda) on māyā¹. Many here have heard of this māyā and there is a tendency to get A bit too involved in proving or disproving this notion of māyā.
    What does an exponent of Reality have to say about this? Lets look to ādi śaṅkara-ji's offer in his Vivekacūḍāmaṇi ( 111th śloka) regarding this. He says, It (māyā) is neither real nor unreal nor both. It is neither undifferentiated nor different, nor both. It neither has parts nor is it partless nor both. It is supremely wonderful and of an inexpressible form.

    4. Liberation, some call jīvanmukti, liberated, free, while living ( in the body). If advaita vedānta is the inquiry into the Self ( Universal Being, brahman), and this is the core of every being, then the notion is how to make this a living reality here and now.

    Beyond academics
    So while many argue (jalpa&#185 these points, they miss the focus of advaita vedānta - the experience of brahman all the time ( 7x24x365) and the appreciation of this experience via the knowledge offered in vedānta.
    Net-net, advaita vedānta encompasses brahma-vāda , the discourse, understanding and experience of brahman. From these 4 points above much wisdom unfolds - yet is predicated on the direct personal experience of silence, of the Being within ( atman, Self, brahman).

    The above is offered as a snippet, a brief introduction , a pada ( a step or just a ray of light ). The full sun needs to blossom on this subject that brings the depth and breath of this profound wisdom.

    More can be said in future posts.

    praṇām

    words and references
    • upaniṣads - how many, what are some of the core upanisads? See this post: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?p=33491#post33491
    • māyā माया is illusion one is familiar with; it also means two meters; mā is measure
      • māya माय- is measuring; rooted in mā is measure, to measure accoss, etc.
      • maya मय- is rooted in mī and mā; mī to lose one's way , go astray ; to lessen , diminish , destroy ; mā is measure , binding ; ma is time
    For me, I keep this māyā simple - it is the notion that the infinite is measured out, is metered out. As if one can divide Infinity into parts. This is the illusion... that the Infinite (brahman) becomes finite in things; as if the Infinite can be constrained to parts.
    • jalpa - disputed banter; a kind of disputation (overbearing reply and disputed rejoinder)
    Last edited by yajvan; 12 January 2010 at 06:08 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2
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    Re: Advaita Primer ...

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    A brief review
    The 1st post defined advaita as 'not two' . The non-difference of the individual, the world ( universe) and brahman. This implies eka sva advitīyam¹ , one without a second. This reality is sometimes viewed as saguṇa and nirguṇa ( form and formless) brahman ; moving and Moveless.

    I also mentioned in post 1, the notion of avidya and māyā . This for lack of a better term is a 'linguistic' device used to explain how this Unity or eka sva advitīyam, is seen as multiplicity - all that we see and experience.
    The notion of ignorance (avidya) and that of māyā are the concepts that are used, But these concepts are also an actual personal experince. Do we not see diversity? Many-fold-ness of this world... i.e. multiplicity.

    Here's the pickle
    We have this part of a world of diversity in our vision every day - what is missing in our vision is the wholeness of Being, fullness ( bhūman) of brahman. When this is missing, we are considered ( by the wise) living in avidyā - ignorance. The ignorance of not knowing or seeing the total picture of the world and its structure. When one uses the word illusion for this , it is NOT suggesting the world and its view is unreal it is saying you are deluded by what you see, as if the only thing to see is diversity of creation. You are missing the wholeness ( pūrṇa or fullness) of creation as a total unitary environment. This is māyā called out in advaita vedānta.

    māyāvāda
    Because this whole māyā notion has gotten too much attention , it is almost thought of as the theme of advaita vedānta. Those critical of advaita vedānta tend to call advaita vedānta āyāvāda. Hence advaitin-s ( those practicing this darśana ) are considered māyā-vādins.

    The critic's notion for this name? - explaining (vāda) why one experiences diversity (māyā) is high on the discussion list of advaita vedānta, so they say . This māyā-vādin epithet is not considered complementary as it misses the overall theme of advaita vedānta, ekaṁ sva advitīyam.

    I am not in this camp of critical thinkers. suggest more complimentary name, brahma-vāda and hence brahma-vādin-s, as Fullness (bhūman), sattā, are always on the advaitin-s lips.

    A more advanced view would also consider ...
    Now some would add the concept of adhyāsa ¹(imposition) and vivarta-vāda (illusory appearance discussion) to the mix of avidya. This helps explain one's experiences in the world of apparent duality, but this again is outside a thumbnails view of advaita vedānta brief.

    praṇām


    words
    • pronoucing advaita - advaita is aud-vai-ta or uhd-vahy-tuh. Care to hear this word? see this url: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/advaita
      • advaita is composed of a + dvaita; a अ= not ( like 'un' in English) + dvaita द्वैत= duality , duplicity , dualism = not (a) dual (dvaita).
    • ekaṁ or eka एक- one and the same , solitary , single + sva स्व- one's own + advitiya अद्वितीय- without a second
    • adhyāsa अध्यास- imposing; the in vogue term is considered super-imposition
    • vivarta विवर्त- 'the revolving one'
    • darśana दर्शन- view , doctrine , philosophical system
    • FYI only māyā discussion http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=1768
    Last edited by yajvan; 24 January 2010 at 08:02 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  3. #3

    Re: Advaita Primer ...


    A more advanced view would also consider ...
    Now some would add the concept of adhyāsa (imposition) and vivarta-vāda (illusory appearance discussion) to the mix of avidya. This helps explain one's experiences in the world of apparent duality, but this again is outside a thumbnails view of aadvaita vedānta brief.

    Yes Yajvanji , it is right . Advaita means Ekmevavashishyate or only one remains at last , it means there are two, one jeevatma and second parmatma at beginning . This also can be said in other words that the jeevatma seeks mukti to meet parmatma and if Aham brahmasmi then no need for mukti or mukti is imaginary .This also be said that , Tamaeo vidittwati mrutyamaeti, as shruti says or tam or brahma is someone else .This is of course Advaita but Vishishta .

  4. #4
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    Re: Advaita Primer ...

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    A rational question posed...

    I had a person write me and say, if advaita अद्वैत means a=not + dvaita = duality , duplicity , dualism i.e. not two, well what about 3, 15 or 100? If its not 2, why can it not be just multiplicity, leaving out '2' ?

    I can understand this point of view - and it brings out more knowledge on advitīya = without a second. When we say not-two , it is from the point of view of creation , all that is in it, as its relationship to ourselves.

    When we view the world our experience today is me + everything else. This is the '2' advaita vedānta is addressing. You have 'me' then you have everything that is 'not me', this is the two.

    Another way of looking at it, anything 2 and above has this duality built into to it . Lets say 3 items , it is the dualty of 2 + 1 more , duality is there. Or 110, it is just 2 + 108 and the duality still is there.

    So being with 2, it does not matter how many more things you see or experience due to the fact that the least common denominator in the view is still 2, 'me' and everything that is 'not me'.

    So, this is the wisdom that advaita vedānta offers - it says this two, this duality is not so. We know you see 2 ( or more) but that is the illusion. With enlightened vision this 2 is really just 1. One of brahman, of Unity.

    Now the wise say this vision is not a theoretical construct, a notion, a concept, but an actual direct experience that one can have - and in fact it is what is missing. That the fact of creation is its Unity.

    But what of all this apparent diversity? We can talk about that in the next post.

    praṇām

    1. See post one and two above for definitions if needed.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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