SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
The comprehension of the import of Vedas
Criticism of Advaita
An objection can be raised. In the śṛti-vākya (Vedic passage) “sadeva somya! idamagra āṣīt, ekameva advitīyam”, the words ekameva (only one) and sadeva (only Sat) contain the emphasis only repeated twice. So, the true purpose of this passage must be the complete denial of all entities of the same or different kind.
This position raised in the form of objection is unsound. The illustration of clay and pot used earlier makes it clear that the purpose of the passage is to convey that if a single entity exists in two states: cause and effect, knowing the entity in one state (cause) provides knowledge about its other states (effects). This is because, in essence, the entity is one though its states are several. Since Śvetaketu is ignorant that Brahman is the cause of everything, the teaching starting “sadeva somya!” is employed.
In ‘sadeva idamagra āṣīt’, the word ‘agre’ (before) indicates time reference. The word ‘āṣīt’ (was) indicates that the current manifest universe denoted by ‘idam’ (this) had attained the state of Sat previously. The word ‘ekameva’ (only one) clarifies that in this previous state of Sat, there was no differentiation as name and form which allow the perception of ‘several’. Through this much, it is taught that Sat is the material cause of this universe.
We generally observe that the material cause anticipates an intelligent cause (agent) to provide the transition of state (for eg. in the pot example, a potter is required to translate the clay into a pot) and expects a substratum on which the transition takes place. However, in this case, the Brahman does not anticipate another intelligent cause. Since the Brahman is distinguished in all ways, and is omniscient, it is not unreasonable to understand that the Brahman is also omnipotent. The word ‘advitīyam’ (without a second) rejects that the Brahman anticipates a second intelligent cause or any other support.
Since the Brahman is possessed of all potencies, several Vedic passages teach us that the Brahman is the material cause first, and then teach that it is also the intelligent cause.
The author clarifies the import of the Vedic passage that is the subject of debate. The objection raised to the author’s position significantly diminishes the richness of meaning contained in the teaching. The simple view is that the passage contains the emphasis ‘only’ merely to deny the existence of anything other than the Brahman.
The author rejects this position by showing that the import is more sophisticated than that. The author clarifies the correspondence of the teaching with the pot illustration employed in the earlier passage.
Every word in the passage is used with deep insight. The passage teaches us that the Brahman which has the universe unresolved into names and forms is the cause, and that the Brahman which has the universe resolved into names and forms is the effect. The current state (idam) is the resolved state of the Brahman’s body. Sat is the unresolved state of the Brahman’s body. The Brahman activates the transition from one state to another through its potency. In this manner, the Brahman is both the material cause and the intelligent cause.
In other Vedic passages, it is first taught that the Brahman is the intelligent cause, and then it is investigated what the material cause is. In conclusion, it is asserted that the Brahman is all causes including the material cause of the universe.
Consider the verse in Ṛg Veda:
“kiṃsvid-vanam? ka u sa vṛkṣa āsīt? yato dyāvāpṛthivī niṣtatakṣuḥ, manīṣino manasā pṛcchate du tat, yad-adhyatiṣthad-bhuvanāni dhārayan |
brahma vanaṃ brahma sa vṛkṣa āsīt | yato dyāvāpṛthivī niṣtatakṣuḥ, manīṣino manasā vibravīmi vaḥ brahmādhyatiṣhad-bhuvanāni dhārayan ||”
[What was the forest? What was the tree from which the skies and earth were shaped? The wise ones ask searching with their minds: through which support were the worlds supported?
Wise ones! I answer carefully analyzing through the mind: The Brahman was the forest; the Brahman was the tree. The Brahman creates the skies and the earth, supported by itself.]
Normally, it is not considered for the same entity to be the material cause, the support and the intelligent cause. This doubt is clarified by showing that the Brahman is very special and distinguished.
Tree provides wood for construction. It is the material cause. The carpenter seeks the wood from the forest and using tools and other supports converts the wood into an object.
The Brahman is the tree; it is the forest where the tree is the found. The Brahman is the carpenter who creates and the Brahman is the support also. The Vedic passage ‘sadeva’ is no different from this passage and it conveys the same teaching.
The Vedic passage offers zero scope to the Advaitin who seeks to establish a Brahman without any relations and attributes. The word ‘agre’ indicates a time relation. ‘āsīt’ conveys a relation of action (state transition). Through these relations, the relation of cause-effect between Sat and the universe is established. Attributes such as being material cause, intelligent cause and absence of difference between material and intelligent causes are explained. Through this, it is shown that the Brahman is very special and that it possesses all potencies. Several relations and attributes, which are otherwise unknown, are taught through the Vedic passage.
The Vedic passage intends to teach a real relationship of cause and effect. That is why it starts, ‘asadeva idamagra āsīt’ (Non-being alone was in the beginning) and then refutes the view that being can come into existence from non-being (asatkāryavāda). The passage asks the question ‘kutastu khalu somyaivaṃ syāt’ (Dear one! How can it be like this?)
The implication of the question is that if there was only non-being, we would have the absurdity of causeless origination. This is further emphasized through the question: ‘kathamasatas-saj-jāyeta’ (How can being arise from non-being?) The meaning is only that which is of the kind of non-being (asat) can arise from non-being. This is in the same way as a pot having the nature of clay. Then was the meaning of origin (utpatti) for something that is already being (sat)? Origin simply means that being has transitioned from one state to another for some purpose.
The teaching claimed that by knowing one, everything can be known. The reason for this claim is that it is the same entity existing as cause which undergoes transition of state and becomes called as effect.
In the theory that being can arise from non-being, the claim of knowing everything by knowing one becomes invalidated (because by knowing one, one cannot know something of a different or opposite nature). According to this theory, the material, instrumental and supporting causes produce an effect which is different from all of them. Hence, the effect is fundamentally a different substance from the cause. Then, the knowledge of cause cannot produce the knowledge of effect.
The advancer of this theory (Sāṅkhyan) can argue that the presence of a new object constituted from the older objects (causes) cannot be denied. To this, we reply that it is not so. The new object is merely a reconfiguration of the states of the causes and is not utterly novel with respect to its causes. Even the Sāṅkhyan agrees that a change of state in the cause is involved through some relation to produce the effect. The difference lies in our denial of the existence of a new substance called the effect which is utterly different from the cause. The view that the effect is a reconfiguration of the state of the cause explains the integrity of the effect and the reason for its being referred by a different name from the cause (the names are labels to the states and not to the substances of cause and effect). Also, no new entity is seen to be produced other than that originating from the causes. So, it is fit to regard the effect as a reconfiguration of state from the cause.
The true reason of the teaching is explained by the author. The teaching seeks to employ illustration and logic to reject asatkāryavāda and establish satkāryavāda. The goal of the Vedic teaching is to establish the Sat (being) as the cause. It is in the system of cause and effect that the claim of knowing everything by knowing one makes sense.
adiyen ranganatha ramanuja dasan
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