- This topic has 13 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 2019-03-04 at 02:36 by Ashish Dalela.
2018-11-12 at 9:01 pm #6598Ciprian Begu
In many New Age and Eastern philosophy circles we hear ultimate goals such as “merging into the Oneness” or “being one with the Universe”. There is, of course, the Advaita Vedanta school where the goal of spiritual life is also presented as an impersonal state of being. Why are people so attracted to these concepts, as opposed to the personalist schools which speak of a Supreme Being that is personal as the ultimate goal? I understand that, philosophically speaking, the arguments of these schools are not so strong, but my interest is why people are so attracted to them? What is behind this fascination with impersonalism? Isn’t the soul ultimately personal? Then why does it desires impersonalism? Frankly, it sounds as a form of spiritual suicide.
- This topic was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Ciprian Begu.
2018-11-13 at 3:49 pm #6603Ashish Dalela
The personality of the soul comes from ananda or pleasure, and this pleasure is created from desires or what we call likes and dislikes. Different people have different likes and dislikes and our personality is created from the hierarchy of these likes and dislikes. The hierarchy means we prioritize some likes and dislikes over others. In all religious and spiritual philosophies this desire is considered ‘evil’ and the cause of material bondage. This is in a way true, because material desires are indeed the cause of our attraction to the material world. Therefore, in all religions asceticism is encouraged, which basically means to renounce all your desires. Renunciation or asceticism is considered the fundamental distinction between religion and materialism.
When we renounce desires, we lose our individuality of likes and dislikes. In karma-yoga for example one has to become free of desires and perform one’s duties without desires. In jnana-yoga knowledge is supposed to give us detachment. In astanga-yoga by the practice of breath control one gains control over the mind and hence conquers their desires. A simple and austere life is similarly encouraged in all religions. Thus, there is a deep-rooted belief in all religious-minded people that desires lead to attachments and attachments lead to bondage. To be free of this bondage, we have to give up desires, and therefore the personality of likes and dislikes.
In the varnasrama system also, the brahmachari, vanaprastha, and sannyasa stages of life are different forms of renunciation or detachment and controlling of desires.
The personalist philosophy instead says that we don’t discard desires but we change the desires. This also means that we don’t give up likes and dislikes, but we change them. Accordingly, it is not a rejection of personality but the creation of a new personality. But since the path to this discovery passes through the rejection of all material desires, there is a strong sense in most people that to practice religion one has to give up their personality and hence impersonalism becomes the natural conclusion for anyone who is trying to control their desires.
The personalist philosophy instead says that you like something because God likes it and you dislike something because God dislikes it. This is also called yukta-vairagya or connected renunciation, where the ‘connection’ is to God, and our likes and dislikes are molded in accordance with the likes and dislikes of God. Accordingly, the personalist doesn’t focus on giving up all desires, but rather desires (or rejects) those things that are favored (or disfavored, respectively) by God.
The personalist philosophy is also a devotional philosophy and the impersonalist philosophy is the idea of liberation or emancipation. When one thinks about one’s own liberation then he or she thinks naturally about the desires that bind them to the world. But when one thinks about love of God then they naturally think about what would be liked or disliked by God. Therefore, impersonalism is individualism and personalism is God-consciousness.
There is hence another reason for people adopting impersonalism which is that they have a problem with a personal God, and hence they have a problem with a personal soul. Their aversion towards a personal God comes because such a God demands surrender and obedience, and they don’t want to surrender and obey. They want to remain free individuals. To achieve this freedom, they reject the personality of God, and hence their own personality, and ‘merge’ with God. This ‘merger’ is notional—we think or want to think that we are as good as God.
Surrender to God is often equated to slavery and loss of freedom. Therefore the ‘freedom-loving’, ‘individualistic’ people want a freedom both from material bondage and from God. They are unable to distinguish between the laws of nature that forcibly bind a person and the loving relationship in which one is volunarily bound. They cannot imagine how or why someone would renounce their freedom even for love. They prize the happiness emerging from freedom much more, and don’t recognize or don’t understand that the happiness from loving bonds is greater. So, impersonalism is also a direct consequence of not having understood the nature of love, and how love involves a sacrifice but the gains of that sacrifice are far greater.
All these reasons—renunciation, fear of losing one’s freedom, and lack of understanding the happiness of true love—are contributing reasons for the prevalence of impersonalism.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by admin. Reason: grammar
2018-11-14 at 10:37 am #6607Harsha Matadhikari
I agree cārvaka philosophy says bhasmībhūtasya dēhasya punarāgamanaṁ kutaḥ
Thats the reason why moksha is the last purushartha, not everybody needs to aspire for it, it should come as a wish unasked for. And those who aspire for it may not get it. The policing to lead a moral life should never be a fear of God or fear of not getting Moksha. What should then keep a person moral and ethical? This should be out of the scope of sprituality. I believe this is the reason why spirituality and religion should be separate. Religion should define ethics and morality and hence smṛti’s are dependent on desha and kāla. Right?
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Harsha Matadhikari.
2018-11-14 at 5:28 pm #6611Ashish Dalela
Moksha is tangentially related to God. Worship of God can imply moksha but moksha doesn’t imply worship of God. That’s why there is an impersonal liberation called Brahman. It is moksha but it is not worship of God. The only problem is that the jiva can (and does) fall from Brahman.
Similarly, moral life is necessary for God consciousness, but God consciousness is not necessary for moral life. You can lead a moral life without being aware of God. It is not fear that drives one toward God but the desire to be in a loving relationship with God.
Yes, there is a difference between religion or dharma and spirituality or sanatana-dharma. Dharma is dependent on place and time and circumstances. Hence, dharma changes with time. But sanatana-dharma is unchanging. Smriti such as Manu Samhita can be considered dharma but not sanatana-dharma in so far as it covers the rules of moral living.
2018-11-17 at 5:54 pm #6672Harsha Matadhikari
// Worship of God can imply moksha but moksha doesn’t imply worship of God. //
Sorry I took sometime to really understand this comment.
Worship of God can imply Moksha — means it is not necessary that worship of God always results in moksha, but it may help in some situations to reach Moshatva and “can imply”
precisely denotes that.
Moksha does not imply Worship of God — means moksha is never the result of worship alone, there can be other means as well. This makes Bhakti absolutely optional.
Surprisingly even as per both the Acharyas Madhwa and Shankara, Bhakti Yoga is only the first step but the final is always Gnyana.
In Vivekachudamni Shankaracharya explicitly says it is knowledge and only knowledge that helps reach Brahma. So only necessary and sufficient condition is knowledge
But Madhwacharya never even hints about a path devoid of Bhakthi, even though he says Gnyana is absolutley necessary. For him Bhakthi is a necessary but not a sufficient condition.
I am planning to work on Brahmasutras in modern context, I want to start on it atleast after about two years from now. I am hence studying upanishads and bhashyas and the Gita. I also need to study western philosophy for this, which I am not sure where to start. Discussions like this helps me a lot.Thanks for your answers.
2018-11-17 at 7:01 pm #6677Ashish Dalela
There are five kinds of liberation called sayujya, salokya, samipya, sarupya, and sarsti. The first one doesn’t require bhakti and the later four require bhakti. So, when I say that worship of God can imply moksha I mean the later four types of liberation. When I say that moksha doesn’t imply worship of God I mean the first type of liberation. Krishna says bhaktya mam abhijanati or by bhakti I am known, which means that bhakti is sufficient, jnana is not necessary. But generally to practice pure bhakti one must have knowledge about God–How can you love God if you don’t know what God is? So, knowledge is knowledge about the nature of God.
As far as Brahma Sutra is concerned, it is written in a logical style in which there is a premise and each successive sutra adds to that premise. Nothing is repeated, just like in a mathematical proof every successive step takes the previous step and then adds something to it. Finally you get to the conclusion. Given this style of writing, it is much harder to understand Brahma Sutra and a single misunderstanding in any step will mean misunderstanding of all the subsequent steps.
Srimad Bhagavatam — which was written by Vyas Deva after authoring Vedanta Sutra — is considered the natural commentary on Vedanta Sutra and it is written in a style where even if you don’t understand something you can proceed further and understand the rest. The conclusions are repeated may times and there isn’t a strict dependence on premise to know the conclusion. Therefore, once we understand Srimad Bhagavatam then we can provide the proper interpretation of Vedanta Sutra.
Finally, Western philosophy is not needed to understand anything in Vedic philosophy. I use Western philosophy for a very specific purpose, and that purpose is that I’m trying to formulate an alternative science and to do that one needs to understand the philosophical basis of modern science, especially empiricism, rationalism, and materialism.
2019-02-07 at 12:50 pm #6829Pravin Singhania
In my opinion, this attraction towards ‘merger’ and oneness comes from our deep-rooted identification with concepts of western education, specifically evolution and anthropology. We think of ourselves as a human body and mind, which is a very recent development in evolutionary terms, and going back through monkeys, dinosaurs, primitive life-forms, complex molecules, base elements, all the way to the big bang. When thinking through this historical lens it becomes difficult/seems unscientific/unsophisticated to identify with God in the anthropomorphic form that is popular. By extension, we cannot merge with a dinosaur, or a diatom or even hydrogen atoms; much better to merge with big bang which is a condensed form of ‘everything’ before explosion into variety. Therefore this fashionable fascination with oneness, although appearing sophisticated, is rooted in a fundamental ignorance of our true nature, that of a soul having sat-chit-anand capabilities. Once we are able to get out of our scientific and historical thinking and begin thinking in terms of reality, experience and the nature of ‘person’ in personalism and the evolution of the soul, things fall into place much more easily.
2019-02-27 at 12:43 am #6842Ashish Dalela
There is something deeper hidden in the idea of oneness, which we can try to appreciate. Oneness is represented by Brahman, so it is not a Western idea. Oneness originally came through the philosophy of Advaita as a means to denounce Buddhism. In Buddhism the ultimate reality is nothingness, and Advaita stated that this reality (Brahman) is oneness. Both philosophies did not adequately explain the origins of diversity except to agree that this diversity is an illusion.
The difference really is that nothingness corresponds to the ultimate material reality and the oneness corresponds to Brahman. In nothingness, the self doesn’t exist, and in oneness the self exists but it is not an individual self. Both these ideas have an Indian origin.
The recent twist in the story is that mayavadis used the idea of oneness to claim that the many forms of demigods and the different incarnations of God are also material illusons. They were trying to make Hinduism more acceptable to the West and answer the challenges of Christian preachers who derided Hinduism as polytheistic pagan worshippers. The claim was that the West underwent a religious ‘reform’ which hasn’t yet occurred in India. Therefore, India was inferior relative to the West. Thus, rose the idea that Hinduism had to undergo some kind of reform. The ‘reformers’ of Hinduism however wanted to maintain a separate identity rather than blindly accepting the monotheism of Abrahamic religions. So, they came up with a new answer which was that Hinduism is neither monotheistic nor polytheistic; it is rather monistic. In other words, the Abrahamic distinction between soul and God itself does not exist.
This idea was rapidly lapped up by those who already had some problems with Abrahamic God where He is depicted as a judgmental personality who sends souls eternally to hell and heaven. If the distinction between soul and God is dissolved, then there are no judgments, nobody is superior or inferior and the concept of hell and heaven automatically disappears. This ‘solution’ to the problem of eternal hell and heaven became popular in the West as an alternative to Abrahamic religions, though it did not originate in the West. It is an atheistic but spiritual solution; there is no God, but we are a single spiritual being different from matter.
This kind of solution appeals both to atheists (because they don’t have to accept God) as well as spiritualists (because the self is different from matter). The surprising fact is that it is recognized as a reality in Vedic philosophy, which means that atheistic spiritualism is an alternative. But it is not the ultimate alternative where Brahman is described as the rays emanating from God’s body.
In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, the knowledgeable folks don’t reject Brahman, but deny that it is ultimate. We accept that Brahman is sat-chit-ananda but deny that there is any factual experience of eternity, cognition, and pleasure in this state.
There is a subtle but important distinction between being eternal and experiencing eternity. To experience eternity, one must have the experience of time as it passes moment to moment accompanined by the realization that even through these passing moments I haven’t changed. The experience of eternity involves time, but being eternal means there is no time.
Therefore, Brahman is a real state, but due to the atheism (denial of God) there is no experience. The soul although individual fails to experience this individuality. This now becomes the basis on which many atheists want to construct ‘consciousness’ or experience from a state of no experience. They believe that if we added time to Brahman then we will get conscious experience. This is a very important idea, though not always understood. The idea is that I exist eternally but my experience (caused by time) is not eternal. So, apart from Brahman there must also be time, which creates the illusory experience called the material world. Time now becomes the explanation for why the soul falls into the material world or can be liberated from it.
Since time is identified with Lord Shiva all over Vedic philosophy, to free oneself from the illusion, one has to pray to Lord Shiva who can take the soul out of time, or the experience of the material world. Thus, in the true Advaita system, there is a personal God identified as Lord Shiva. He is different from Brahman, and never falls into the illusion. It is not the completely atheistic idea of mayavada where even Lord Shiva is an illusion just like the other demigods.
In summary, there is a philosophy of monism which came as a rejection of nothingness. This monism itself is atheistic although spiritual. It was adopted by Hindus who could not answer the challenges from Abrahamic religions, and it was embraced by those followers of Abrahamic religions who could not answer the challenges of sin and suffering, hell and heaven. This kind of monism recognizes Brahman as reality and material world as illusion but isn’t able to explain why the reality becomes the illusion. This incomplete monism is called mayavada.
Quite aside from this mayavada is Advaita in which there is Brahman but there is also Lord Shiva as time who has the power to liberate the worshipper from the material world. Most people don’t understand the difference between mayavada and Advaita and bundle the two together. The fact is that the mayavadi philosopher never gets liberated from the material world. But the Advaita philosopher can be liberated by the grace of Lord Shiva. Therefore, for liberation one has to worship some form of God; even for Brahman liberation one worships Lord Shiva.
Then there are other forms of liberation which exist in Vaikuntha. In these forms of liberation, there is experience in addition to existence (in Brahman liberation there is only existence).
Therefore, when arguing with a mayavada philosopher, it is better to encourage them to worship Lord Shiva and move them from the incomplete idea of mayavada to a more complete understanding of the difference between Brahman and Lord Shiva. If they make that first step, then they can also understand that Brahman is existence without experience.
2019-03-01 at 12:36 am #6846Danakeli Dasi
I feel I need some clarification on a couple of points brought up in the above comment.
1) About the distinction between Advaita & Mayavada:
“Oneness originally came through the philosophy of Advaita as a means to denounce Buddhism.”
So we’re clearly referring to Adi Shankaracarya here & his Advaita philosophy.
“Thus, in the true Advaita system, there is a personal God identified as Lord Shiva. He is different from Brahman, and never falls into the illusion. It is not the completely atheistic idea of mayavada where even Lord Shiva is an illusion just like the other demigods.”
My understanding is that although he’s an incarnation of Lord Shiva, Shankaracarya preached radical monism—EVERYTHING is an illusion except the undifferentiated Brahman—just as the Mayavadis do. And that’s what Sri Jiva Goswami says about him in his Tattva Sandarbha too.
I know impersonalists will worship Shiva or Vishnu, etc., as illusory forms in the pancopasana system. But here we’re hearing that the TRUE Advaitins worship Shiva as a real, eternal form of God. But above I noted that SJG said Shankara considered all forms of God as illusory.
2) About experience of sat-chit-ananda:
“We accept that Brahman is sat-chit-ananda but deny that there is any factual experience of eternity, cognition, and pleasure in this state.”
I understand the need for passage of time to create experience of eternity, & the need for distinguishing another to create the experience of cognition, & the need to balance completeness & consistency to create the experience of ananda. (I hope I got that right.) What word, though, should we use to refer to the “experience” of one’s own intrinsic qualities of sat-chit-ananda when one is merged in Brahman? They are not unconscious stones. But we say they’re not “experiencing.” Yet we hear acaryas say that such souls experience brahmananda, for ex.
2019-03-01 at 2:30 am #6847Ashish Dalela
Regarding the comment by Srila Jiva Goswami, can you provide some reference that I can read?
I realize that I may have used the term Advaita in a loose sense, as there are many schools within it and many of them accept Lord Shiva as the person who liberates the soul into Brahman.
The notion that everthing is an illusion is problematic because it entails that even Brahma-Sutra is an illusion and so is the claim that everything is an illusion. This is a well-known critique of the illusion thesis. Also the idea that Brahman alone is real is also problematic because it doesn’t explain how the soul falls from Brahman and comes under the influence of maya. When Brahman, Shiva, and Shakti are recognized as three separate entities, these problems disappear so the thesis of impersonal monism (Brahman) requires Shiva and Shakti, and this is what I meant by the soul going to Brahman state by the grace of Lord Shiva. This is a more complete and consistent form of Advaita (Brahman), although different from Vaishnavism.
Regarding the sat-chit-ananda question, I now realize that I used the term ‘experience’ in a Western sense of ‘experiencing the world’ or something other than the self. Yes, there is expereince of the self in which the soul is both the knower and known, pleaser and the pleasured, the object and the subject. The reconciliation of these opposites is non-duality.
2019-03-02 at 3:10 am #6855Danakeli Dasi
Thank you for the above response. As a reply…
You wrote, “Regarding the comment by Srila Jiva Goswami, can you provide some reference that I can read?”
From Jiva Goswami’s comment to verse 71 of Paramatma Sandarbha, translated by Satyanarayan das Babaji:
“In his bhasya on Brahma Sutra (2.1.14), Sri Sankara clearly says that…. neither Isvara himself or his potencies are real. Sankaracarya states: ‘Thus, Isvara’s rulership, omniscience, & omnipotence are contingent solely on the limiting adjuncts (upadhis) that are a product of ignorance; they are w/o ontological reality.’”
From Jiva Goswami’s comment in verse 57 of Paramatma Sandarbha, translated by Bhanu Swami:
“Moreover, if everything arising w/ duality is created by the jiva’s ignorance & the svarupa of the jiva is none other than Brahman, there is no separate being called Isvara who identifies himself as having qualities like omniscience. In vivarta-vada, Isvara is in essence an imaginary entity like thinking a pole is a man. In the beginning, there was no person identifying himself as Isvara, like mistaking a pole for a person (whereas the scriptures say that the Lord is eternal.)”
2019-03-03 at 9:00 am #6866Ashish Dalela
If we take the Vedic system as a whole, there are three dominant sects called Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism. The Advaita system is separate from these three, and it appears that Shankaracharya disavowed all three, which are personalist schools. However, if Advaita is treated more generically as non-duality, then there have been other schools which synthesized non-duality with the Shaivism. One prominent synthesis is the so-called “Kashmir Shaivism”.
To quote from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashmir_Shaivism:
All that exists, throughout all time and beyond, is one infinite divine Consciousness, free and blissful, which projects within the field of its awareness a vast multiplicity of apparently differentiated subjects and objects: each object an actualization of a timeless potentiality inherent in the Light of Consciousness, and each subject the same plus a contracted locus of self-awareness. This creation, a divine play, is the result of the natural impulse within Consciousness to express the totality of its self-knowledge in action, an impulse arising from love. The unbounded Light of Consciousness contracts into finite embodied loci of awareness out of its own free will. When those finite subjects then identify with the limited and circumscribed cognitions and circumstances that make up this phase of their existence, instead of identifying with the transindividual overarching pulsation of pure Awareness that is their true nature, they experience what they call “suffering.”
We can see several similarities between this form of non-dualism and Vaishnavism: (1) the soul is a part of God, (2) it is projected by God as His own free will and love, and (3) it identifies with matter and thereby suffers. The non-dualism here is simply that the soul is part of God, and not a separate entity. Nevertheless, since Shiva doesn’t fall down but the jiva does, there is (perhaps an unstated) distinction between the two. The grace of Shiva is needed to liberate the soul.
Generally, in Gaudiya Vaishnavism very little attention is given to the Shaiva and Shakta systems, because they pertain to the material world, where Vaishnavism is explicitly transcendental. However, to the extent that devotees give primacy of Srimati Radharani, we are also a Shakta system. Speaking more generally in the context of Vedic cosmology, if we consider that the soul can be liberated from the individual universes into Devi-Dhama or Mahesh-Dhama, besides Brahman, and in some sense becomes identical with a different kinds of reality, we can see that Advaita can have many versions. In one version, the soul is simply part of Shakti. In another version, the soul is part of Shiva. In yet another version, soul is part of Brahman.
To answer your other questions, based on the above:
1) Is this idea of 3 eternal, real, non-illusory entities (Brahman, Shiva, Shakti) a development made after Shankaracarya? Is it based on pramana or just a philosophical proposal?
As noted above, they are based on other scriptures such as Shiva Tantra and Shakti Tantra.
2) I’ve always heard that only Vishnu can award moksha. What is the pramana that Shiva can do so? Does he do so independently or as a deputy of Vishnu? But is Vishnu even in this picture of only 3 real entities?
The idea of liberation is itself nuanced. Is it coming out an individual universe — i.e. into Devi-Dhama? Is it coming out of the entire material creation into eternity of time — i.e. Mahesh-Dhama? Is it coming out of the control of time — i.e. Brahman? Or, is it establishing an eternal personal relationship in relation to Lord Vishnu — i.e. Vaikuntha? Since we recognize all these as progressive forms of realization we can understand why different Vedic texts explain all of these for different classes of individuals interested in different kinds of realizations. Then again, who says that Shiva is not Vishnu? He is identified as a form of Lord Vishnu called Sankarsana.
3) When discussing Shiva as a deliverer, are you just saying that this is their philosophy, or are you saying that Vaishnavas also see their path as truly legitimate and real?
I think we can say that they are all real in the sense that there is a destination which really exists. However, they are not necessarily the supreme destination according to Vaishnavism. But this in as much as even Vaikuntha is not accepted as a supreme destination in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Pure mayavada — i.e. the rejection of all personalism — is not a destination. Hence it is actually maya. Prabhupada says in one place that even to reach Brahman you have to worship God and accept Him as the supreme source. Without that there is no liberation.
Lastly, it is not wonderful that devotees conflate Mayavada & Advaita because Prabhupada often (or always) talks like that. For ex…. “The Māyāvādī philosophers, however, try to equate the minute living entities with the supreme living entity. Because they recognize no distinctions between them, their philosophy is called Advaita-vāda, or monism.” (CC Adi 7.10) “Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya had to make some compromise with the Buddhist philosophy, and as such he preached the philosophy of monism, for it was required at that time. Otherwise there was no need for his preaching Māyāvāda philosophy.” (SB 4.24.17)
As regards Brahman, even in SB it is said that the Absolute Truth is understood as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Therefore, anyone who says that Brahman is Absolute Truth, is essentially repeating one part of SB, and must therefore be correct. This claim doesn’t contradict the other claims of Paramatma and Bhagavan. The reality of Brahman is the true component of Advaita. Then the notion that the world is vivarta has many meanings including ‘distortion’, ‘change’, ‘motion’, besides ‘illusion’. In general we agree with these claims. We also disagree in some ways by saying that some things — e.g. scriptures, deities, devotees — are not illusions. Our position is the counter challenge that if everything is illusion then the philosophy of Advaita must also be an illusion. Nobody can escape this trap; which is why Advaita can’t escape it.
We must however also realize that the route through which the mayavada comes to the conclusion is essentially correct. They say that everything temporary is unreal. Since scriptures, deities, and devotees appear and disappear, so they are unreal. The incarnations of the Lord are temporary manifestations in our vision, so how can we say that one temporary manifestion is actually eternal, while other manifestations are eternal? To solve this problem, we have to say that everything is eternal, but it exists as a possibility. It is not experienced but it is always indiviudal and eternal. Even the material world is an eternal possibility. So, to solve the problem temporary = false, we have to say that nothing is temporary, everything is eternal. But it is experienced temporarily.
Now if we make that claim, then it turns out that even the material world is not an illusion. Then what is unreal? Our identification with the material world. But this identification is material, and all matter is eternal, so how can it be unreal? Again, the short answer is all that exists is not necessarily true. So, illusion exists but it is not true. How is that possible? Only if matter is meaning but it is false meanings.
Now we come to the conclusion that matter is meaning and spirit is meaning, and some meaning is true and some meaning is false. Both of them exist eternally. If you accept the false as truth, sometime in the future it will be disproved and then you will reject it, and accept another false meaning. So, even though that falsity exists eternally, you will keep moving from one falsity to another. In that sense, what keeps changing is false, and what is false will keep changing. Only if you arrive at the truth, it will never be contradicted and hence you will never reject it.
Defeating mayavada is not a very easy thing. It is a very complicated argument. Since most people don’t get this argument, there is a very simplified version of Advaita = bad. The alternative is going through a lot of philosophical material to get to a very nuanced position in which Advaita as Brahman is real, although not the supreme. Even Krishna is Brahman, but the supreme Brahman, so He is called Param-Brahman. So Brahman simply means a type description, like everything is water — of the same type. But there is a big ocean and a small drop. Saying that I’m Brahman is realizing that I am non-different from God because He is sat-chit-ananda as I am. The main problem in rejecting Advaita is rejecting this type of non-dualism.
2019-03-04 at 12:28 am #6870Danakeli Dasi
Thank you very much for the above explanations & answers. I feel all of my questions have been adequately dealt with.
Honestly, my education in Vedic philosophy has been very limited to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, so I never actually knew much about Shaivism or Shaktism, & I always thought they were akin to ordinary demigod worship. So this thread has been very educational & edifying!
2019-03-04 at 2:36 am #6872Ashish Dalela
Yes, we don’t emphasize Shaivism and Shaktism, but they exist. Parallel to the Purana there are Tantras. There are Vaishnava, Shaiva, and Shakta Tantra. For example, the philosophy of Vaishnavism is described eloquently in the Laxmi Tantra. In this, you will find a lot of discussion on the chatur-vyuha and the six qualities of God namely knowledge, beauty, power, wealth, fame, and renunciation. I happened to read some of these and that’s why I understood how these these two ideas (chatur-vyuha and the six qualities of God) are so essential to Vaishnavism.
You can see a brief about Laxmi Tantra here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakshmi_Tantra.
Lord Shiva is not a demigod; He has a special position as the master of the materal energy or time. But He is not master of the soul; Lord Vishnu is the master of the soul. Nevertheless, since matter is controlled by time, the soul can be liberated from matter by the grace of Lord Shiva. In that sense, He is sometimes worshipped and then sometimes not considered supreme.
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