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Dr. Sadananda

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General Analysis
« on: February 26, 2015, 01:47:38 PM »
General Analysis


      The topic of discussion in this adhikaraNam is Brahma lakshaNam or the definition of Brahman. Hence the second suutram is also called Brahma lakshaNa suutram. There is a well-known statement in the shaastra which says: 'lakshaNa pramaaNaabhyaam vastu siddhiH', which means that any object is established only through two factors; lakshaNam and pramaaNam. Only after the object is fully established (siddham), there is a possibility for further inquiry into the nature of the object. No inquiry can be done if the existence of the object itself is not established. The inquiry in such a case can only be limited to the extent whether such an object exists or not. Hence vichaara or inquiry of an object presupposes the knowledge of its siddhatvam or existence. Furthermore, even if an object can be defined by its lakshaNam or definition that is not sufficient to establish its siddhatvam or existence. In addition to lakshaNam, we need a valid pramaaNam or valid means for knowing the object. For example, even if someone provides a lakshaNam of a full moon in the sky, that is not sufficient to establish the existence of a moon, if I do not have the eyes to see. Hence we require at least two entities for any inquiry, a lakshaNam and a pramaaNam. If either one is present without the other, it is still useless for me to inquire into that object. Even if I have the eyes to see (pramaaNam), I will not know about the moon, unless I have the definition of the moon that distinguishes it from many luminary objects in the sky. To put in Sanskrit (one can skip these lines if you want, without losing the continuity)

      lakshaNa satve api, pramaaNam vinaa na vastu siddhiH |
      pramaaNam satve api, lakshaNam vinaa na vastu siddhiH |
      yatra lakshaNam cha vartate, pramaaNam cha vartate, tatra eva vastunaH siddhiH |
     
      Once the moon is established through the lakshaNam and pramaaNam one can spend his whole lifetime, if he wants, inquiring into the moon. Thus vichaara or inquiry presupposes siddhi or existence, and siddhi requires both lakshaNam and pramaaNam.

      lakshaNam and pramaaNam of Brahman

      We are discussing in Brahmasuutra -s about the inquiry into Brahman.

      Inquiry into Brahman is possible only if there is such a thing called 'Brahman'. To know Brahman's existence therefore we need 'Brahma lakshaNam and Brahma pramaaNam. Hence in the second suutra Vyasacharya gives Brahma lakshaNam and in the third suutra he gives Brahma pramaaNam. Only from the fourth suutra on, we get into Brahma vichaara or inquiry.

      In this context it is worth discussing Shankaracharya's comments at the end of the first suutra. There Shankara asks a question - Is Brahman known or unknown before we can talk about the inquiry of Brahman? Purvapakshi comes and says either way the inquiry is not required. If Brahman is unknown, how can one make an inquiry of an object that one does not know. If I ask a student to inquire on 'gaagaabuubuu' and if none of us know what that blessed 'gaagaabuubuu' is or whether such a thing exists or not, then how can one do any inquiry. If Brahman is already known, then one is already a 'brahmaj~naani'. Then any further inquiry into Brahman is also useless. Hence Brahmasutra need not be studied. There is an interesting shloka in Vivekachudamani (shloka 59) to this effect.

      avij~naate pare tattve shaastraadhiitistu nishhphalaa |
      vij~naate api pare tattve shaastraadhiitistu nishhphalaa ||
     
      If one does not know the Brahman, the study of the shaastra -s is futile. Having known the Brahman, the study of the shaastra -s is again futile.

      In response to puurvapakshi, Shankara says, Brahman is not unknown.

      It is known through Veda pramaaNa. Even the word 'Brahman', one is conversant with only because of Veda-s. When a Vedic student studies Veda, he comes to know that there is something called 'Brahman'.

      Veda teaches him 'brahmavit brahma eva bhavati', 'brahmavidaapnoti param', 'satyam j~naanam anantam brahma'. The very word 'Brahman' indicates that the object in question is infinitely big, since the word is derived from the root 'bR^ih' meaning 'bR^ihati' or 'bR^inhati' - in the meaning of vR^iddhi or expansion or bigness.

      Hence the student comes to know that there is an entity which is very big. Further Shankara says that the very word 'big' is a relative word. The meaning of the word 'big', which is an adjective, itself gets qualified by the noun that it qualifies. There is a big mountain ahead if we say, not only the mountain is qualified by its bigness, but bigness is also qualified by the word mountain in relation to a normal size mountain. In contrast if we say there is a big mosquito in my net, the bigness of the mosquito is qualified by the normal size mosquito which is different from the normal size mountain. The dimensions of the bigness for a mountain are different from those of a mosquito, or an ameba. When upanishhad talks about Brahman it uses the adjective 'big' as the noun itself, as The Big.

      That is there is no noun to condition the bigness, as the big itself is used as a noun. That is it is unconditionally big, meaning it is infinite. Similarly we use existence not as an adjective but as a noun referring to Brahman. Thus adjectives are used as nouns to indicate that we are not talking about any object that is conditioned but that which is beyond any conditioning. Hence Shankara says through veda pramaaNa, one comes to know that there is infinitely big entity called Brahman. Since all my experiences are about finite things or entities and that one has never experienced an infinitely big entity, one would doubt the existence of such a thing indicated by Vedas. Hence to remove such a doubt the scripture says that entity is nothing but one's own Self, the aatma. If so, I can never doubt the existence of Brahman, since doubting the existence of Brahman means doubting my own existence. Nobody doubts whether 'I am or not', since the very doubt presupposes my existence. Doubter cannot be doubted, because doubt cannot exist without a doubter.

      Hence Shankara says 'na kaschit naahamasmiiti pratyeti', no one can question his own existence. Hence there is no doubt regarding aatma astitvam, and thus brahma astitvam, existence of Brahman. And such a 'Brahman', I come to know through veda pramaaNa. Therefore the inquiry is into 'known Brahman' only and not unknown Brahman.

      But puurvapakshi still questions, if you have already known Brahman, why do you need to do inquiry? For that Shankara says that from scriptures, I learn that Brahman is aatma. Hence one does not doubt about the existence of oneself, but one still does not have complete knowledge of oneself. One does not know 'who am I?' I do not have clear knowledge of my self due to adhyaasa (See Ch. III). Because of this reason only different philosophers have different notions about the self. The chaarvaaka -s say 'I am the body'. The naiyyayika -s say I am not the body, but the soul, which is all pervading.

      There are many souls or aatma -s,'aneka vibhu aatmaanaH', each one is all pervading, but locused, one on each body and is kartaa and bhoktaa. The saa.nkhyaa -s say, these all pervading multiple aatma -s are not kartaa -s but only bhoktaa -s. Thus regarding 'who am I' there is so much of confusion, and hence Shankara concludes that inquiry is required. Thus Brahman is neither totally known nor totally unknown, but it is unclearly known. Hence 'aapaata j~naanam' or unclear or vague knowledge or paroksha j~naanam exists. Hence Brahman inquiry is required to convert the unclear knowledge or paroksha j~naanam into aparoksha j~naanam or clear and direct experiential knowledge. Thus Shankara discusses in his introduction to suutra 2, that there are pramaaNam and lakshaNam for Brahman.