Foundation of a debate

Over time, I have realized that debates, especially related to Vedanta, are in vain when those involved in the same have no formal training in logic, especially Nyaya. As such, there is no fundamental agreement as to what is an accepted common ground among them! The entire idea of the debate in the Vedanta texts is to establish the सिद्धान्तः for the benefit of everyone. If nothing, it should serve as a मनन to one's own progress in clarity of understanding. That being the case, one cannot start with the discussion having concluded on the subject one way or the other. Just because "I think so"  or "I don't agree" seem to be very valid statements, whereas they are not, unless there is a basis that supports these statements. On what basis one thinks the way one does has to be established with a concrete support from scripture and/or scriptural logic. In the case of Vedanta, श्रुतिः and/or भाष्यम् is a clinching argument. If one doesn't understand what is being said, one can't resort to simplistic resolution such as सर्वं खल्विदम् ब्रह्म, since its plain escapism or shirking your responsibility of participation in the debate in the first place.

The very process of development of the debate or even an understanding of what makes up a debate is amiss to most people of the category described! That one changes one's initial stance during the course of the debate is a clear indication of such illiteracy of basics of logic. This is why traditional Vedanta insists on training in न्यायशास्त्रः and पूर्वमीमांसा prior to one embarking on Vedanta. It is not for no reason that Vedanta is called "उत्तर-"मीमांसा!

One of the very common flaws I have heard is the overuse of the word मिथ्या for everything except what suits one's argument. It is to be clearly understood that everything, including the pursuit towards liberation, including the debate-- nay, liberation itself, is *only* in the sphere of मिथ्या! From the पारमार्थिक, there is nothing other, let alone a debate!!

For a debate to be fruitful, one has to be clear about the प्रतिज्ञा that is the point one is trying to establish, clear statements leaving no ambiguity, no contradiction with earlier points, unless one withdraws the same, no interruption during the examination of one's stated view from the other and during the latter's response that follows, which also necessarily needs the same level of clarity.

Personally, for me, a debate with a learned person is a learning experience. It is not an argument to win over. It is मननम्। And to that effect, may we all who share this view be blessed with मननम् to fruition.

ॐ तत् सत्।
श्रीगुरोः अर्पणमस्तु।


The topic of this article is the dichotomy between the function of the wavering mind and that of the intellectual resolve. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where our so-called will power exerts itself to all odds that we face, be it situational or due to our own रागद्वेषs, likes and dislikes. That is, we don't let ourselves get carried away by the forces that the mind faces. However, most times, we see that we are able to assess our response, rather reaction, to any situation only as an afterthought. We think later as to what we should have done in terms of control over our senses, anger, habits, etc. We also ponder thence, looking back, something to the effect of--  "how in the world could I have done so?!" So then, why is it that we do what we do, although we know it not to be proper when we think later? Why is the response more of an instinctual reaction in the moment than anything well-thought? We surely know right from wrong as seen from our postmortem analysis!

Herein comes what the scriptures call as अन्तःकरणम् or the inner-instrument. It is an instrument because its a tool that finds its utility in various forms-- मनः, बुद्धिः, चित्तः and अहङ्कारः। That is, the inner instrument serves one as mind, intellect, memory and ego. The ego is easily understood as some form of assertion of individuality. So too, the memory is understood as a storehouse of experiential derivations and recollections thereof, when similar situations are faced. The mind and intellect are more interesting to this current topic. The mind is defined as संकल्पविकल्पात्मकं मनः and the intellect as निश्चयात्मिका बुद्धिः। The mind is that which entertains doubts oscillating between them, while the intellect is the one that resolves those doubts. The mind is चञ्चलम्, fickle and being outgoing by its very nature, it doesn't let one focus on one thing easily. It has to be trained just like a child is. Let that be.

The question then is: in situations of रागद्वेष, why is it that the intellect is unable to take decisions though it is a tool meant for that very purpose?! The answer lies in the very formation of अन्तःकरणम् which itself functions as any of the aforementioned four. Generally, when the mind is tense or under the influence of a strong desire, we see that we cannot recall something that the memory should. Krishna says in the Bhagavadgita so-- सम्मोहात् स्मृतिविभ्रमः। Similarly, when we are recalling something important, trying to remember badly, we can't process other emotions or make decisions. When we are angry, we can't think straight; when immensely happy, we forget our own self, our own existence, so to say! So on and so forth. The idea is that the same four-fold tool gets used in one function completely overshadowing the others; meaning when the emotion is strong, the mind overpowers the intellect and deludes one into doing something that one would do only unthinkingly! Krishna says later, स्मृतिभ्रंशात् बद्धिनाशः। The intellect, as though, doesn't exist at the time. The mind takes over all the functions of the अन्तःकरणम् as its own playground and the intellect is put to sleep along with the memory that should otherwise have served by recalling the pitfalls of similar erroneous behaviour earlier. Bhagavatpada Shankaracharya explains विभ्रमः as स्मृति-उत्पत्ति-निमित्त-प्राप्तौ अनुत्पत्तिः। Alas! The intellect wakes up only on the emotions, arising in the mind, subsiding on fulfilment. Bhagavatpada further explains "the destruction of the intellect" as the loss of the ability of the inner-instrument to discriminate between what is to be done and what is not to be done, कार्य-अकार्य-विषय-विवेक-अयोग्यता अन्तःकरणस्य। Thus results afterthought after afterthought, over and over again!

Since I do not want to close here on a lost hope kind of situation, let me explain a bit of what I mentioned earlier as to training the mind, just like a child is to be trained. अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते says Krishna, meaning that only by repeated practice of what is to be done and renunciation of what is not to be done is the mind grasped and trained. Here, the word repeated is to be understood as continuous. That is, शम, दम, etc, are to be developed over a continuous and long period of time, causing better संस्कारs to form new channels of thoughts. The mind picks up the newly formed habits over the old ones only when the new ones grow stronger. All these need grace in abundance, so नित्यकर्म with परमेश्वरप्रीतिः is a must. The aspect of continuity in साधन cannot be stressed enough, because not following it regularly is akin to slipping off the mountain and restarting the trek all over again. Maharshi Patanjali clearly puts this as a Yoga Sutra so-- स तु दीर्घ-काल-नैरन्तर्य-सत्कारासेवितः दृढभूमिः। That is, an unswerving foundation can be attained for the mind only by continuously practicing for a long time. The length of time is subjective to the strength of earlier संस्कारs, which becomes shorter when the practice is continuous.

May we all follow this to cross over to the most sought-after goal, मोक्षः।

ॐ तत् सत्।
श्रीगुरोः चरणकमले अर्पणम् अस्तु।

The root of the problem

A dull-witted person goes to a doctor with a complaint of pain. Here's how the conversation goes--

Doctor: What seems to be the issue?
Patient: I have pain.
Doctor: Where's the pain?
Patient: Everywhere.
Doctor: What do you mean by everywhere?
Patient: From head to toe.
Doctor: Show me where all it hurts.
Patient: (starts by touching his finger on the head). It hurts here. (touches the finger to his nose). Hurts here. (touches the finger to his chest) hurts here. (touches his finger to the abdomen) hurts. (touches the finger to his knees) hurts here and here. (touches his finger to his feet) here and here too....
Doctor: Stop, stop, stop. (holds the patient's finger).
Patient: (starts crying in pain) Aaaaa, oooooo, Ouch! That hurts a lot.
Doctor: It doesn't hurt everywhere, you idiot... its your finger that is hurting!!

Now, this anecdote is something that we all may have heard. However, many of us don't know that we are exactly like this dull-witted patient. We blame all our problems to be with others, with the world outside, unaware of the fact that all our problems are truly centred only around us! The circumstances and things, behaviour of the people around us, etc, make us uncomfortable. That discomfort of ours, in relation to the thing, person, the world outside, is problematic to us. We are unable to accept the things and people the way they are. So the problem is centred on the individual. If we learn to accept them, we realize there is no real problem at all!

ॐ तत् सत्

Thoughts 108

108. A single सनन्त-pursuit can put an end to this यङन्त-cycle of life.

Another note on deep sleep, सुषुप्तिः।

In one of the discussions on examining the three states of existence अवस्थात्रयपरीक्षा some years back, I remember an interesting exchange. It just returned to my mind this morning and following is the blog about it.

At the end of every day we undergo an experience of नित्यप्रलयः, yet the one who slept, wakes up thinking that it is he who dreamt, he who experienced happiness and he who did not see/ know anything during deep sleep. This recollection of "not seeing/ knowing anything" is knowledge of lack of seeing/ knowing "during deep sleep". This is an important point to understand. This contrasts with the logic that says-- "since I don't recall anything, I must have not known anything". The being that went to sleep and the one that woke up, is the same one that was existing during deep sleep. He is the very witness of deep sleep, as he is in the other two states too.

The logic used otherwise comes from the question posed in the discussion I mentioned. I was asked as to why could it not be that the person commits to memory the last thought just before sleep and wakes to look it up and then concludes that he didn't know anything, while really being non-existent! This is pretty much what the क्षणिकवादः would be like. The logic here is likely fed by a computer engineering mind which thinks that a computer switched off wakes up to boot with its last known status thanks to the last commit to memory! While switched off, the program was not really existing then, was it? Such is the question.

Well, the software was very much embedded in the memory and existent just like the status data is. That is what unmanifest state is. However, the program that wakes up to refer to the last status is the same that slept and woke up. Without the program existing in between the boot down and boot up phases, that is, the continuous existence, there would be no knowledge of its last status. Else, the new unconnected program will not know what to make of the last status. If this were a data monitoring program that shutdown and woke up, the missing data in between is because it monitored nothing. Similarly, the conscious being has knowledge of not monitoring anything during deep sleep, because it was as existent as it is in the other two states, a topic of Mandukya Upanishad and a firm conclusion thereof.

नमः श्रीगुरुपादुकाभ्याम्।
ॐ तत् सत्॥


॥ हरिः ॐ ॥

In भजगोविन्दम्, भगवत्पादः says नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृञ्करणे। The word डुकृञ्करणे is a Paninian grammar word and hence, almost all texts interpret the phrase to mean that the grammar is not going to save you or lead to मोक्षः। However, Bhagavatpada being who He is, likely used this धातु, among thousands available, to drive home a more important point. The root talked about in डुकृञ्करणे is कृञ्/ कृ करणे meaning action/ कर्म।

The meaning of the phrase then becomes that कर्म is not going to lead to मोक्षः, thereby refuting ज्ञान-कर्म-समुच्चयः (action and knowledge together).

॥ ॐ तत् सत् ॥



Yesterday, there was an example in class about the words "golden chain", which is the background for this blog entry.

When we think of these words in the regular parlance, we see that the word chain is the substantive while the word golden is the adjective that describes this chain. What it means is a chain or a necklace that has golden hue, being made of gold. The fact, however, is quite to the contrary. If you remove that which adds the golden tinge to the chain, there will be nothing left to be called anything, much less a chain! Being made of gold, the chain gets not only its colour from it, but its very essence is gold. Ergo, gold that gave rise to the adjective golden, describing the chain as substantive, is the substance itself, while chain is merely its name and form! The substantive has no existence as it is just नामरूपात्मक. The chain depends completely upon, owes its existence to, gold; that is, gold is THE substance, nothing else exists.

Similarly, the world that we experience, inclusive of the body that we consider ourselves to be, is seen as the substantive, while truly it owes its existence to ब्रह्म। This world is नामरूपात्मक just like the chain and is therefore मिथ्या, whereas akin to gold, ब्रह्म is सत्यम्।

ॐ तत् सत्॥

Blogging back to life

हरिः ॐ॥

Although the title is based on one of my favourite Floyd songs, this is about the status of the blog. After a long laze from any blogging, I am planning to return to it. Hopefully, I will. :)

ॐ तत् सत्॥


Maya and its aspects.

It is said yA mA sA mAyA, meaning that that which is not, is Maya. But when not a negative definiton, Maya is said to be Ishvara's shakti or at other places, as a universal avidyA as seen in contrast to individual jIva avidyA. With the latter explanation, jIva is under the influence of avidyA while Maya is under the control of Ishvara. In further detail, Maya is described as having two aspects in the form of powers: AvaraNa (concealing) shakti and vikshepa (projecting) shakti. The AvaraNa conceals the svarUpa of brahman for the jIva, while the vikshepa projects this jagat. Under the influence of avidya, jIva dances with vikshepa jagat and goes through countless janma-mRtyu cycles. With these fundamentals in the background, I present a premise herewith: AvaraNa is the cause for vikshepa. How so?

Suppose a table upon which you place a thing known to you, but unknown to me. Further, you conceal it with an opaque cloth so that I can't see what it is, let alone know it. That is Ishvara's AvaraNa of brahman, causing jIva's ignorance of his own svarUpa. Then, whether or not you ask me, I start guessing and deluding what is it that is concealed underneath, based on what I consider to be its outward shape, giving rise to several forms. Those, I start naming as per my own association of things or such. Over a period of time or all at once, I'd end up projecting several things. That is Ishvara's vikshepa of jagat. In this play, someone pulls off the cloth or somehow the thing concealed is revealed to me. I'd suddenly lose the ignorance of the thing, gaining the knowledge of it. With that event, what would happen to all those deluded things projected? Or what would happen if you or I start discussing as to what all things it looks like? Nothing in particular would happen of the nature of ignorance again. I may still play along, but all the while having the knowledge of the thing revealed unto me and not get deluded with projections of different forms and names. Ergo, if Ishvara were not to use AvaraNa shakti to conceal my svarUpa, I'd never get deluded by his vikshepa shakti. In other words, you cannot tell me the truth and then make me believe in lies.

श्रीगुरुपादुकार्पणमस्तु ||