Posted by: adbhutam | April 19, 2012


On page 13 of the document available at the following URL is a remark made by Late Sri Vidyamanya Tirtha Swamiji, the then Head of two Madhwa Mutts at Udupi:

//Arjuna was given Divya chakshush (divine vision) when he was shown the
Vishva Roopa by Paramathma. He saw the world also at the same time. He saw the wonderful world and the Supreme Being at the same time. Though Arjuna had Brahma Prathyaksha at the time, the world continued to be seen by him. Thus the statement of Advaita that after Brahma Sakshathkara, the world will cease to exist is wrong. Therefore, all the three Prathyaksha, Shasthra and Yukthi are valid Pramanas.//

Response to the above observation:

The point in this particular case is that since Advaita holds the world to be a superimposition on the rope-snake analogy, the thinking among those not versed with the methods of Advaita tends to hold that once the ignorance goes owing to Brahman-knowledge, the superimposed world also should cease to be just as the rope knowledge results in the cessation of the snake-perception.  The Swami’s remark is in this background.  To prove his point he cites the case of Arjuna continuing to perceive the world even while having the Lord’s (Brahman’s) darshan in the 11th chapter.  Going by the analogy, the Swami points out, Advaita’s ‘statement’ that the world will cease to exist upon Brahmadarshana is false.  My endeavor is to show that Advaita never makes such a claim but on the contrary expressly states the continued availability of the world for the Jnani for vyavahara.

That this is a clear case of Advaita wrongly comprehended (by the Swami) is brought out by these sample ShAnkara-bhAShya quotes:

  1. ‘एतं वै तमात्मानं विदित्वा निवृत्तमिथ्याज्ञानाः सन्तः ब्राह्मणाः मिथ्याज्ञानवद्भिः अवश्यं कर्तव्येभ्यः पुत्रैषणादिभ्यो व्युत्थायाथ भिक्षाचर्यं शरीरस्थितिमात्रप्रयुक्तं चरन्ति न तेषामात्मज्ञाननिष्ठाव्यतिरेकेण अन्यत् कार्यमस्ति’ इत्येवं श्रुत्यर्थमिह गीताशास्त्रे प्रतिपिपादयिषितमाविष्कुर्वन् आह भगवान् –//यस्त्वात्मरतिरेव स्यादात्मतृप्तश्च मानवः।
    आत्मन्येव च सन्तुष्टस्तस्य कार्यं न विद्यते।। Bhagavadgita 3.17।।//
    यस्तु सांख्यः आत्मज्ञाननिष्ठः आत्मरतिः आत्मन्येव रतिः न विषयेषु यस्य सः आत्मरतिरेव स्यात् भवेत् आत्मतृप्तश्च आत्मनैव तृप्तः न अन्नरसादिना सः मानवः मनुष्यः संन्यासी आत्मन्येव च संतुष्टः। संतोषो हि बाह्यार्थलाभे सर्वस्य भवति, तमनपेक्ष्य आत्मन्येव च संतुष्टः सर्वतो वीततृष्ण इत्येतत्। यः ईदृशः आत्मवित् तस्य कार्यं करणीयं न विद्यते नास्ति इत्यर्थः।।3.17।।  [in order to making the meaning of the scripture (Gita) clearly understood, the Lord, revealing out of His own accord that the following substance of the Upanisads: Becoming freed from false knowledge by knowing this very Self, the Brahmanas renounce what is a compulsory duty for those having false knowledge, viz, desire for sons, etc., and then lead a mendicant life just for the purpose of maintaining the body; they have no duty to perform other than steadfastness in the knowledge of the Self (cf. Br. 3.5.1)-has been presented here in the Gita, says:…//  But that man who rejoices only in the Self and is satisfied with the Self, and is contented only in the Self-for him there is no duty to perform. 3.17 //
    Tu, but; that manavah, man, the sannyasin, the man of Knowledge, steadfast in the knowledge of the Self; yah, who; atmaratih eva syat, rejoices only in the Self-not in the sense objects; and atma-trptah, who is satisfied only with the Self-not with food and drink; and is santustah, contented; eva, only; atmani, in the Self; tasya, for him; na vidyate, there is no; karyam, duty Duty with a view to securing Liberation. to perform. Rati, trpti and santosha, though synonymous, are used to indicate various types of pleasures. Or, rati means attachment to objects; trpti means happiness arising from contact with some particular object; and santosa means happiness in general, arising from the acquisition of some coveted object only. All people surely feel contented by acquiring an external thing. But this one, without depending on it, remains contented only with the Self; that is to say, he remains detached from everything. The idea is that, for a man who is such a knower of the Self, there is no duty to undertake.   [ It is clear that the Jnani who has had BrahmasAkShAtkAra is functioning in the world which has not disappeared but continues to exist.]
  2. यस्तु प्रारब्धकर्मा सन् उत्तरकालमुत्पन्नात्मसम्यग्दर्शनः स्यात्, सः सर्वकर्मणि प्रयोजनमपश्यन् ससाधनं कर्म परित्यजत्येव। सः कुतश्चित् निमित्तात् कर्मपरित्यागासंभवे सति कर्मणि तत्फले च सङ्गरहिततया स्वप्रयोजनाभावात् लोकसंग्रहार्थं पूर्ववत् कर्मणि प्रवृत्तोऽपि नैव किञ्चित् करोति, ज्ञानाग्निदग्धकर्मत्वात् तदीयं कर्म अकर्मैव संपद्यते इत्येतमर्थं दर्शयिष्यन् आह — (Bhagavadgita 4.20 introduction) //He again who, having been engaged in actions under the influence of past tendencies, later on becomes endowed with the fullest Self-knowledge, he surely renounces (all) actions along with their accessories as he does not find any purpose in activity. For some reason, if it becomes impossible to renounce actions and he, for the sake of preventing people from going astray, even remains engaged as before in actions-without attachment to those actions and their results because of the absence of any selfish purpose-, still he surely does nothing at all! His actions verily become ‘inaction’ because of having been burnt away by the fire of wisdom.By way of pointing out this idea, the Lord says: // [That the Jnani engages in action is evidence to show that the world has not ceased to exist after Realization.]
  3. यः पुनः पूर्वोक्तविपरीतः प्रागेव कर्मारम्भात् ब्रह्मणि सर्वान्तरे प्रत्यगात्मनि निष्क्रिये संजातात्मदर्शनः स दृष्टादृष्टेष्टविषयाशीर्विवर्जिततया दृष्टादृष्टार्थे कर्मणि प्रयोजनमपश्यन् ससाधनं कर्म संन्यस्य शरीरयात्रामात्रचेष्टः यतिः ज्ञाननिष्ठो मुच्यते इत्येतमर्थं दर्शयितुमाह — ।।Bhagavadgita 4.20।।On the other hand, one who is the opposite of the above-mentioned one, (and) in whom, even before undertaking works, has dawned the realization of his identity with Brahman, the all-pervasive, inmost, actionless Self; who,being bereft of solicitation for desirable objects seen or unseen, has renounced actions along with their accessories, by virtue of seeing no purpose to be served by undertaking actions meant to secure some seen or unseen result, and makes effort only for the maintenance of the body, he, the monk steadfast in Knowledge, becomes free.Hence, in order to express this idea the Lord says….
    In the bhashya  Shankara says: विदुषा क्रियमाणं कर्म परमार्थतोऽकर्मैव, तस्य निष्क्रियात्मदर्शनसंपन्नत्वात्। तेन एवंभूतेन स्वप्रयोजनाभावात् ससाधनं कर्म परित्यक्तव्यमेव इति प्राप्ते, ततः निर्गमासंभवात् लोकसंग्रहचिकीर्षया शिष्टविगर्हणापरिजिहीर्षया वा पूर्ववत् कर्मणि अभिप्रवृत्तोऽपि निष्क्रियात्मदर्शनसंपन्नत्वात् नैव किञ्चित् करोति सः।
  4. नैव किञ्चित् करोमीति युक्तः समाहितः सन् मन्येत चिन्तयेत्, तत्त्ववित् आत्मनो याथात्म्यं तत्त्वं वेत्तीति तत्त्ववित् परमार्थदर्शीत्यर्थः।।कदा कथं वा तत्त्वमवधारयन् मन्येत इति, उच्यते — पश्यन्निति। मन्येत इति पूर्वेण संबन्धः। यस्य एवं तत्त्वविदः सर्वकार्यकरणचेष्टासु कर्मसु अकर्मैव, पश्यतः सम्यग्दर्शिनः  [BG 5.9] //Having realized the Truth, when or how should he think? This is being answered; Api, even; pasyan, while seeing; srnvan, hearing; sprsan, touching; jighran, smelling; asnan, eating; gacchan, moving; svapan, sleeping; svasan, breathing; pralapan, speaking; visrjan, releasing; grhnan, holding; unmisan, opening; nimisan, closing the eyes. All these are to be connected with the above manyeta (should think).For the man who has known the Truth thus, who finds nothing but inaction in action-in all the movements of the body and organs-, and who has full realization,..//  [All these activities of the senses of the Jnani will be impossible if ‘the world were to really cease to exist upon Brahma sAkShAtkaara’ as the Madhwa Pontiff has construed.]
  5. In the Brahmasutra Bhashya 4.1.15 Shankara says: बाधितमपि तु मिथ्याज्ञानं द्विचन्द्रज्ञानवत् संस्कारवशात् कंचित्कालमनुवर्तते एव । अपि च नैवात्र विवदितव्यं ब्रह्मविदा कंचित्कालं शरीरं ध्रियते न वा ध्रियत इति ।
    कथं ह्येकस्य स्वहृदयप्रत्ययं ब्रह्मवेदनं देहधारणं च अपरेण प्रतिक्षेप्तुं शक्त्यते । श्रुतिस्मृतिषु स्थितप्रज्ञलक्षणनिर्देशेनैतदेव निरुच्यते ।  //Moreover, it is not a matter for dispute at all whether the body of the Knower of Brahman continues to exist for sometime or not. For how can one contest the fact of another possessing the knowledge of Brahman – vouched for by his heart’s conviction – and at the same time continuing with the body?  This very fact is elaborated in the Upanishads and the SmRtis in the course of determining the characteristics of ‘the man of steady wisdom’. // //ಇದಲ್ಲದೆ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಜ್ಞಾನಿಯು ಕೆಲವು ಕಾಲದ ವರೆಗೆ ದೇಹವನ್ನು ಧರಿಸುತ್ತಾನೆಯೇ ಇಲ್ಲವೇ ಎಂಬೀ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ವಿವಾದ ಮಾಡುವಂತೆಯೇ ಇಲ್ಲ.  ಏಕೆಂದರೆ ‘ತನ್ನ ಹೃದಯಕ್ಕೆ ಮಾತ್ರ’ ತಿಳಿಯಬರುವ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಜ್ಞಾನ ಮತ್ತು ದೇಹಧಾರಣ ಇವನ್ನು ಮತ್ತೊಬ್ಬನು ಹೇಗೆತಾನೆ ಇಲ್ಲವೆನ್ನುವದಾಗೀತು? // Surely this is impossible if according to Advaita ‘the world ceases to exist after BrahmasAkShAtkaara.’

The particular kind of wrong comprehension about Advaita that is stated in the above along with some other types of wrong understanding of the Swami about Advaita are available here:

[Here along with the above wrong idea, the erroneous thinking that ‘in Advaita, Ishwara is under the illusion/delusion of Maya’ is also expressed by the Swami.]


  1. The blog is beautiful and is really nice to read.

    About the (wrong) observation quoted here in the beginning about the world ceasing to “exist” once Bramhan is realised, I want to add(please correct me if I have made any mistake) :

    what really ceases to exist is the “Bedha” or differences/de-limitations. It is like the world is a set of sculptures made out of ice. Once the ice melts, the entire set of objects comes together as one , in the form of water , which was their true intrinsic state of existence. However this does not mean that the ice sculptures themselves disappear. Similar to this , once Bramhan is realised , the entire world will now be seen by the realised one, as Brahman itself. It will definitely not :cease to exist , but its true state of existence is revealed. The “avidya” in this case is not the world itself , but the “bedha” which we impose on this world.

    • What you say is correct, though the ice example does not exactly depict the position in Advaita.


      • In upanishads we have that the soul goes to moon world with respect to its karma. In the recent past we had astronauts who went to the moon but hadn’t see anything there. This should be solid proof that the souls mind only creates in the moon world according to its karma. If not it contradicts the presence of a moon world.

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