Endless debates continue

(I've not been able to blog all of what I planned yet and so am putting in something off Orkut debates here instead...)

Even subject to ridicule, I want to say that the discussions based on Ramanuja's seven untenables tend to close *open-ended* with no one agreeing on the other's philosophy. I'm an advaitin and find Ramanuja's objections as well as justifications ridiculous, just like Ramanuja may have found the untenables. IMHO, Shankara avoided these questions, not because he didn't find them interesting, but interesting is all it is, not in seeker's interest though!

All the work (explanations/ arguments/ debates/ whatever) on avidyA following Shankara is for the inquisitiveness that never saw an end, and never will see perhaps, with most seekers. Some find the locus of avidyA to be jIva as satisfying, while brahmAshraya suits others. As long as it helps one move ahead in manana, either is fair, but still anirvachaniya after a point. Ramanuja attacked this anirvachaniyatva *repetitively*, twisting the same question in many ways, without being able to replace *similar* questions with effective answers in his own philosophy. And arguments eventually end up in advaitic statements like what purvapakshi made (I'll take 3 examples):

i) "Are you saying it is anirvacaniya or ultimately unreal?"
What Advaitins meant here is both of the above. What is ultimately unreal from the pAramArthika is anirvachaniya in the vyAvhArika!

ii) "I think Ramanuja is basically repeating here that Avidya is NOT unreal.. but rather just an attribute of Brahman."
This is very similar to saying that avidyA has brahmaN as its locus (except that advaita doesn't qualify it as an attribute) and that avidyA is NOT unreal since it feels real for a baddha jIva!

iii) "Cognition IS real.. just not the Ultimate Reality. .. that’s all"
Precisely the point that advaitins make. But when we make it, a ridiculous Q is thrown at us, "Oh, then is it unreal?" Why does it have to be real or unreal if Ramanuja can make one as ultimate reality and the others as "not ultimate reality, but real". That somewhat real leaves scope for somewhat unreal and thats why advaita leaves it as anirvachaniya. All philosophies are faced with some questions that do not have an answer, or are not known to us, or where all known logic fails, or lead to infinite regress. Such Qs are neatly put in the category of anirvachaniyatva by advaita vedAnta and locked as unnecessary for sAdhana. To quote Swami Vivekananda about such Qs: Advaitins boldly say we do not know (since the answer is not known by *anyone*; but they beat around the bush)

purvapakshi also wrote: "It is actually absurd to assume that God doesn’t listen to prayers or is an entity that is devoid of any kind of interaction with His creation. That puts Avatars, shlokas, bhakti etc as void! This is preposterous. God is capable of granting His grace to his devotees.. and the Ultimate Realization is a combination of Both Bhakti and Jnana.. However what really pulls the final trigger toward Realization is nothing but Divine Grace…. There is NO fixed formula, following which, one would achieve realization."

God listens to prayers and answers them too, but thats the kind of thing that an advaitin sannyAsi renounces of asking God for things, since all of that is mithyA. Ishvara anugrah is needed only for chitta shuddhi leading to that mumukshatva and vairAgya. If there is no fixed formula, then that is something that throws all of bhakti and jnAna aside! But advaita sAdhana of shravaNa, manana and niddhidhyAsana, IMHO, guarantees moksha.

That bhakti is needed after jnAna has no foundation whatsoever in shruti, and no amount of nArada bhakti sutra, etc, can make room for it. Advaita has a grand place for bhakti that is clear in Shankara's works, but nowhere does Shankara say bhakti results in liberation. If anything, bhakti makes the jnAna mArga beautiful and journey itself seems its own reward! On that account, Advaita Vedanta upholds bhakti. In the end, bhakti is jnAna since that bhakti is interpreted by advaitins as Atmabhakti, the love for the Self!

In conclusion, I've no arguments with anyone. Its my opinion as well as conviction and no amount of anyone's banging much will help me see otherwise. So, to each his own path.

If I *seem to have* misinterpreted and/ or misrepresented anything, apologies anyways.

satyasya satyaM
shankarArpaNamastu
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