Sunday, 5 October 2014

We can believe vivarta vāda directly but not ajāta vāda

In a comment on my previous article, The perceiver and the perceived are both unreal a friend called Sanjay asked whether advaita vāda is a synonym of vivarta vāda, to which I replied in another comment:
Sanjay, advaita means ‘non-two-ness’ (a-dvi-tā), so advaita-vāda is the argument or theory that there is absolutely no twoness or duality. The most complete and radical expression of advaita-vāda is therefore ajāta-vāda, because according to ajāta-vāda not only does twoness not actually exist but it does not even seem to exist.

However, vivarta vāda is also compatible with advaita-vāda, because according to vivarta vāda twoness does not actually exist even though it seems to exist. That is, vivarta vāda accepts that distinctions (dualities or twonesses) such as the perceiver and the perceived (the ego and the world) seem to exist, but it argues that their seeming existence is just a false appearance (vivarta) and hence unreal.

Because we now experience duality, we cannot apply ajāta-vāda in practice, so though ajāta was his actual experience, in his teachings Bhagavan (like Sankara and other advaitic sages) set aside ajāta-vāda and taught that vivarta vāda alone is true.
In his second comment Sanjay referred to ajāta as ‘pure-advaita’ and wrote that ‘we can take vivarta-vada to be true relative to our experience of ego, mind or body’ and that ‘if we believe in vivarta we are automatically believing in ajata (to a small or large extent), because after all all illusory dualities and triputis can only be experienced on the real, permanent, unborn and uncreated substratum of ajata’, to which I replied in another comment:
Yes, Sanjay, ajāta vāda is pure advaita, and we can say that vivarta vāda is a relative or diluted form of advaita, because it is only true relative to our experience of ourself as an ego who perceives the world.

However, it is not quite true to say, ‘if we believe in vivarta we are automatically believing in ajata’, because strictly speaking we cannot believe in both vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda, since vivarta vāda acknowledges that the ego and world seem to exist (though only as false appearances), whereas ajāta vāda denies that they even seem to exist. So long as we experience ourself as an ego and therefore perceive the world, we cannot but believe that they do at least seem to exist, so we cannot truly believe in ajāta.

Since ajāta is the state in which the ego and mind do not even seem to exist, it is beyond the range of belief or mental conception. Therefore when we say that we believe in ajāta vāda, what we actually believe in is just the ideas that ajāta is the ultimate truth, that it is Bhagavan’s actual experience and that it will be our experience when we experience ourself as we really are, whereas ajāta vāda denies the existence or even the seeming existence of the one who believes these ideas.

Incidentally, when I wrote in my previous comment that Bhagavan set aside ajāta-vāda and taught that vivarta vāda alone is true, I was paraphrasing Sri Muruganar’s words in verse 83 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, ‘விவர்த்த சித்தாந்தமே மெய் ஆக விண்டார்’ (vivartta siddhāntam-ē mey āha viṇḍār), ‘[he] taught as true only vivarta siddhānta’, but to express the idea more clearly and to avoid ambiguity I should perhaps have written that he set aside ajāta-vāda and taught that vivarta vāda alone is true for all practical purposes.
In reply to this Sanjay wrote a third comment, in which he said:
[...] is there much difference between our belief in vivarta-vada and our belief in ajata-vada? I think both are only mental beliefs or ideas or concepts till we transcend our mind. Like self-knowledge is also a concept till [we] attain it.

We may believe in vivarta-vada or that everything is an illusory dream, but can we ever fully experience vivarta till we transcend our mind? We may momentarily think while we are dreaming that what we are experiencing then is an illusory dream, but the very next moment we may take our dream to be real. Similarly I feel ajata-vada is also a belief, though it is a much more subtle belief.

Till our ego is intact we can never fully believe or be convinced of either vivarta-vada or ajata-vada. Of course as our ego gets more and more undermined we may start having stronger and stronger conviction in vivarta-vada. Similarly we may also start getting a taste of a relative ajata as our ego is close to destruction.

We can never fully believe or experience vivarta, we can only transcend it or wake up from the dream of self-ignorance by experiencing ourself as we really are, thereby we will become established in ajata.

Please clarify my understanding.
The following is my reply to this:

As Sanjay says, it is true that vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda are both ‘only mental beliefs or ideas or concepts’, because vāda means ‘argument’ or ‘theory’, so any vāda is just an idea. A theory or vāda is an idea or set of ideas by which we attempt to explain what we experience, so it is not something that we have to experience but something that we have to understand in terms of other ideas that we believe and thereby judge whether or not we can believe it. Generally we believe theories that seem plausible and do not clash with any of our other beliefs, and do not believe those that seem to be implausible or that clash with other beliefs that we hold. In other words, we believe a theory only if it is compatible with our entire system of beliefs.

Therefore it is not very clear to me what Sanjay means when he asks, ‘can we ever fully experience vivarta till we transcend our mind?’ If what he means by vivarta is vivarta vāda (the argument or theory that everything is a false appearance), then it is not something to be experienced but only an idea that is intended to explain what we experience. But if what he means by vivarta is only vivarta, which means an illusion or false appearance, then according to vivarta vāda what we are now experiencing (namely the ego and the world that it perceives) are only vivarta, an illusion or false appearance. If this is the case, then we will continue to experience only vivarta till we transcend our mind (the ego that experiences this illusion), and we will cease experiencing it only when we experience ourself as we really are and thereby destroy forever the illusion that we are this mind or ego.

Regarding Sanjay’s first question, ‘is there much difference between our belief in vivarta-vada and our belief in ajata-vada?’ there is a huge difference between believing vivarta vāda and believing ajāta vāda, because vivarta vāda is a conceivable idea and therefore very easy to believe, whereas ajāta vāda is an inconceivable idea and therefore impossible to believe directly.

How can we believe that what seems to exist does not seem to exist? The very idea that X is not X is inconceivable and incomprehensible, but believing this inconceivable and incomprehensible idea is what directly believing ajāta vāda entails. Our present experience is that ‘it is true that the ego and world seem to exist’, so if we take this experience to be ‘X’, ajāta vāda says ‘not X’, which means ‘it is not true that the ego and world seem to exist’, so to believe ajāta vāda we must believe that ‘X’ = ‘not X’, which is logically impossible. When our experience is that the ego and world seem to exist, how can we believe that they do not seem to exist? Obviously we cannot.

Thus as a vāda (an argument or theory) ajāta seems to be self-contradictory and hence absurd, which is perhaps why in verse 100 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai (which I quoted and discussed in another recent article, Metaphysical solipsism, idealism and creation theories in the teachings of Sri Ramana) Sri Muruganar referred to it as a siddhānta (a conclusion) rather than a vāda, because according to Sri Ramana it is the ultimate conclusion that we can reach only when the arguing and theorising ego merges in its source, our essential self, which is the unborn (ajāta) reality and which alone actually exists.

The idea that the ego and world that seem to exist do not seem to exist is inconceivable, incomprehensible and hence unbelievable because what tries to conceive, comprehend and believe it is only the ego, which according to ajāta vāda does not even seem to exist. Therefore it is futile for this ego to try to conceive, comprehend or believe this idea, and it is also unnecessary, because it is quite sufficient for our purposes (that is, for trying to experience ourself as we really are) that we simply believe that the ego and world are just an illusion or false appearance (vivarta).

Unlike ajāta vāda, vivarta vāda is perfectly conceivable, comprehensible and believable, because it does not postulate the self-contradictory idea that what seems to exist does not seem to exist (as ajāta vāda does), but only the perfectly reasonable idea that what seems to exist does not actually exist. We are familiar with so many examples in our day to day life of things that seem to exist but do not actually exist (because what they actually are is something other than what they seem to be), such as the illusion of a snake, which is not actually a snake but only a rope. Therefore it is conceivable and hence easy to believe that though the ego and world seem to exist, they may not actually exist, because what they actually are may be something other than what they seem to be.

Because vivarta vāda is thus a perfectly conceivable, comprehensible and believable idea, for the practical purpose of trying to experience what is real it is the most suitable theory to believe, and hence Sri Ramana taught that it is true, even though he knew from his own experience that we will eventually discover thereby that the ultimate truth is only ajāta.

Though we cannot directly believe that ajāta vāda is true (that is, that it is true that what seems to exist does not seem to exist), we can in a rather indirect way understand how it must be the ultimate truth, as I tried to explain when I wrote in my previous article, The perceiver and the perceived are both unreal:
When we look carefully at an illusory snake and thereby recognise that it is actually only a rope, we can at least say that before we recognised what it really is, the snake did seem to exist, but in the case of the ego and world, we will not be able to say even this, because they seem to exist only in the view of the ego, which does not actually exist. That is, since according to Sri Ramana our real self (our pure adjunct-free ‘I’) never experiences anything other than itself, in its view the ego and world never even seemed to exist, so it would not be true to say that when we experience ourself as we really are, we will recognise that the ego and world just seemed to exist but were actually only false appearances.

This is why the ultimate truth (paramārtha) is not that the ego and world are just false appearances, but only that they never even seemed to exist. This ultimate truth is what is called ajāta: [...]
That is, since the ego and world seem to exist only in the view of the ego, if the ego does not actually exist, they do not seem to exist at all, because there is nothing in whose experience they could seem to exist. Thus we can logically understand why ajāta must be the ultimate truth even though we (the ego) cannot directly comprehend or believe the idea that the ego and world do not even seem to exist. Therefore we can believe ajāta vāda only in a rather indirect and roundabout way, whereas we can believe vivarta vāda in a direct and straightforward way.

That is, whereas vivarta vāda is compatible with our experience of ourself as an ego who perceives the world, ajāta vāda is incompatible with it, because it denies the very existence of this experience. Though we can believe that what we are experiencing is just an illusion of false appearance, we cannot realistically believe that we are not experiencing it at all, as ajāta vāda maintains. Therefore until we experience ourself as we really are, we have to satisfy ourself with believing only vivarta vāda and not ajāta vāda, since ajāta vāda directly contradicts our belief that we are now experiencing an ego and world.

As Sri Ramana said in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu about those whose ego has been destroyed: ‘[…] தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?’ (taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?), ‘They do not know anything other than self, [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?’ So long as we experience ourself as an ego, we cannot in any way conceive or comprehend the state of ajāta that we will experience only when we experience nothing other than self, our pure adjunct-free ‘I’.

In a comment that he seems to have written in reply to Sanjay’s comments, another friend called Steve wrote, ‘Silence is not an idea or a concept. It’s not an illusion, it doesn’t require belief. It is here, now, always’, and he added a quotation that is presumably something that Sri Ramana was recorded to have said: ‘That which should be adhered to is only the experience of silence’. Absolute silence is only the experience of ajāta, because ajāta is the state of infinite and eternal silence that has never been disturbed by even the slightest appearance of any noise in the form of ego or world.

As Steve says, such silence is not an idea or concept, nor is it an illusion or something that requires belief, because ideas, concepts, beliefs and illusions exist only for the ego, which does not exist in silence. Therefore ajāta or absolute silence is not something that we can conceive or believe, but only something that we can experience by merging in it, thereby dissolving the illusion that we are this ego.

But even to speak of merging in it and dissolving the illusion that we are this ego is meaningful only so long as we have not yet experienced it. Once we do experience it, no merging, dissolving or anything else will ever even seem to have happened. This alone is the state of ajāta: ‘non-born’, ‘non-arisen’ or ‘non-happened’.

Until we experience ourself as we really are, ajāta is (from our perspective) just an idea that directly contradicts all that we now experience, so it is not an idea that we can really believe so long as we experience ourself as an ego. Therefore ajāta is not an idea that we should try to believe, but an experience that we can achieve only by investigating the ‘I’ who experiences the seeming existence of itself as an ego who perceives a world in which it is living as a person. If we persevere in investigating this ‘I’ until we experience what it really is, Sri Ramana assures us that we will then experience the ultimate truth, which is only ajāta. Until then, to explain the seeming existence of the ego and world he teaches that the most suitable theory for us to believe is only vivarta vāda.

16 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, thank you for this article which clarifies the doubts raised by me. As you have written in one your recent comment on another article (in reply to Ramana_devotee):

No theory can ever be proved, because a theory is just one of various possible interpretations of whatever may be experienced, but it is not necessary to prove any theory so long as it serves its purpose. So long as we experience ourself as an ego, we can neither prove nor disprove the theory that this world is just a dream, but if we believe this theory and therefore lose interest in in all this unreal appearance, that will help us to turn within and thereby experience ourself as we really are, which is the only purpose that this theory is intended to serve.

Therefore if are even tentatively convinced that this world is a dream dreamt by this eka-jiva (myself), it will greatly motivate us to wake up to reality, and which we can only do by experiencing ourself as we really are.

Thank you once again for this clarification.

Thanking you and pranams.

Steve said...

The quote from my previous comment - ‘That which should be adhered to is only the experience of silence’ - is part of a Q&A from David Godman's book, Be As You Are, Chapter 1. The footnote shows that it is originally from Guru Vachaka Kovai, Verse 1161:

'For those who live in Self as the beauty devoid of thought, there is nothing to be thought of. That which
is to be adhered to is only the experience of Silence [mauna-anubhava-katchi], [because] in [that] supreme
state nothing exists to be attained other than oneself.'

I take it as another example that the goal and the practice (to the extent it can be accomplished) are the same.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, Bhagavan has given us the following theories (vadas) and the conclusion (siddhanta) to help us in our inward journey:

a. Karma theory
b. Eka-jiva-vada
c. Drsti-srsti-vada
d. Vivarta vada
e. Ajata siddhanta

Are there any more such theories given to us by Bhagavan, or is the above list exhaustive?

Thanking you and pranams.

Wittgenstein said...

If ajata is a siddhanta (not vivartha) , then why is the section with verses 83 to 99 in GVK named vivartha siddhanta thiran?

Anonymous said...

Sanjay, in the list you have given, a to d mean one and the same. Last one is not for a seeker. So he has given just one simple theory for us seekers.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dear Anonymous, yes, eka-jiva-vada, drsti-srsti-vada and vivarta-vada are almost synonymous or at least complementary. However karma-theory is quite different from these three. You may read Micheal’s last 4/5 articles to get a clear meaning of these theories.

Yes, ajata-vada or ajata-siddhanta may not have any practical benefit for seekers. It may be an almost unbelievable or at least an unimaginable theory or conclusion, but so is the final state of atma-jnana.

Thanking you and pranams.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sanjay, thanks for your reply. I have been reading Michael’s last few articles. The connection between karma and eka-jiva theories can be understood by thinking little beyond those articles. I can illustrate my point.

Eka-jiva theory says everything is a projection of the mind. Well, in order to project, we need some stuff (jada) to project (chit cannot be projected). What is that stuff? That stuff is thoughts (jada). Now, what are these thoughts? Thoughts are not there for a jnani who has no karma left. So, thoughts in this life are our prarabhdha karma. That’s why Bhagavan says karma is jada and it is in the seed form (that is, as vasanas) before getting projected. These thoughts or karma or jada or vasanas are determined and they are determined a priori by Iswara. So, in short, according to eka-jiva vada, there is a mind that projects karma. This projection is called the world comprising of all seemingly interacting egos. Further, Iswara himself is a projection of that mind. Although there seems to be determinism in the karma and its sequence, determinism itself comes into picture after the ego arises. Eka-jiva theory says that the ego is an uncaused appearance and hence not ultimately real (only its basis, the essential self, is real). Hence, all that it projects (determinism, space, time, other egos, world of things, karma, etc.) are also not ultimately real.

From the above we can see that the point of Sri Ramana is that we cannot do much with these appearances that are not ultimately real. Therefore, if eka-jiva vada is considered, he is suggesting us to turn away from the ultimately unreal world and if karma theory is considered he is suggesting us that there is no (real) freedom that can be found in ultimately unreal jada karma. In either case, he is suggesting us to turn into ourselves where the ‘real world’ (our essential self) or ‘real freedom’ can be found. That is the sought connection between two theories.

It is also interesting (but not surprising) to note that Sri Ramana uses the analogy of a cinema projector and a slide show by a projectionist to illustrate the eka-jiva vada and the karma theory respectively. The film or the slides are our prarabhdha karmas (vasanas/thoughts) and the operator of the show is Ishwara (who himself is part of the projection). In these analogies he is asking us to turn our attention from the screen and directly look at the light which will bring everything about the show (film, projectionist etc.)to a close. Then there is neither eka-jiva nor karma (this is ajata, which is not a theory).

That was the reason why I said Sri Ramana taught just one useful theory for seekers (it is called by various names). All these theories have one thing in common: evolution of I-thought, which appears without a cause, which cannot happen without a source or a basis (every illusion requires a basis that has got to be true). The entire exercise is to trace that I-thought back to its source.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dear Wittgenstein, I think vadas (theories) and siddhantas (conclusions) have a close connection.

Let us take the theory in chemistry which says that water is composed of H2O. For students of chemistry this is a theory or a hypothesis, till they confirm it by their own experiment and find it to be true. However for Professors of chemistry this is not a theory or a hypothesis but a siddhanta (conclusion).

Similarly I feel eka-jiva-vada, drsti-srsti-vada and vivarta-vada are theories or arguments for spiritual aspirants, till they prove it to themselves that it is true, and they can conclusively validate these theories only on attaining atma-jnana. However these vadas or theories are not actually theories for atma-jnanis, but siddhantas or definite conclusions.

Thus conclusions are just extension of theories, therefore when we say vivarta-vada we are speaking from the perspective of an aspirant, and when we say vivarta-siddhanta we may be speaking from a jnani’s perspective.

Thanking you and pranams.

Wittgenstein said...

Dear Sanjay, many thanks for sharing your views on my question.
In Michael’s recent article entitled, “Metaphysical solipsism, idealism and creation theories in the teachings of Sri Ramana”, he says, “[…] When we do experience ourself as we really are, we will discover that neither of these two theories [ēka-jīva-vāda and dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda] is actually true, because there is no jīva (ego or finite self) and hence no dṛṣṭi (seeing or perception) or sṛṣṭi(creation or coming into existence of anything) […]”.
In the light of the above statement by Michael, if we take your statement, “[…] Similarly I feel eka-jiva-vada, drsti-srsti-vada and vivarta-vada are theories or arguments for spiritual aspirants, till they prove it to themselves that it is true, and they can conclusively validate these theories only on attaining atma-jnana […]”, we can see the following points:
1. The aspirant cannot prove or validate to himself that these theories are true as you are saying. In this case, however, the theory turns out to be false when the aspirant experiences himself as he really is. That is what is being said by Michael in his comment that I quoted above. It may be better to rephrases your statement as, “Eka-jiva-vada, drsti-srsti-vada and vivarta-vada are theories or arguments for spiritual aspirants, till [that is, till the destruction of ego] they see them to be false or invalid”.
2. When you say, “[…] However these vadas or theories are not actually theories for atma-jnanis, but siddhantas or definite conclusions […]”, do you mean to say that vivartha-vada is a conclusion for a jnani? That cannot be so.
3. You say, “[…] when we say vivarta-vada we are speaking from the perspective of an aspirant, and when we say vivarta-siddhanta we may be speaking from a jnani’s perspective”. Is there a vivarta-siddhanta from a jnani’s perspective? I don’t think that is the message of this article.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dear Anonymous, yes, all theories given by Bhagavan or other advaitic sages are powerful aids, which if properly understood and applied in practice will greatly help us, as you say, ‘to turn our attention from the screen and directly look at the light which will bring everything about the show (film, projectionist etc.) to a close. Then there is neither eka-jiva nor karma (this is ajata, which is not a theory)’.

A few remarks on your comment:

a) You say: ‘we need some stuff (jada) to project (chit cannot be projected). What is that stuff? That stuff is thoughts (jada)’. As per my understanding this is not quite accurate. The stuff which projects this seeming world is our ego, and this ego is a mixture of chit and jada. Therefore, all our thoughts (or this seeming world) are projected by this thought called ‘I’ or ego or chit-jada-granthi.

b) You say: ‘so thoughts in this life are our prarabhdha karma’. Yes, our thoughts in this life may be due to our prarabdha karma, because in order to bring about our predestined experiences we need to act by our mind, speech and body in certain ways, but our vasanas (which are other than our prarabdha) may also make us think, speak and act in certain ways. Therefore these actions impelled by our prarabdha are addition to our predestined actions, and these create agamya.


c) You say: ‘eka-jiva theory says that the ego is an uncaused appearance and hence not ultimately real (only its basis, the essential self is real)’. Ego is not exactly an uncaused appearance. The immediate and the only cause of the appearance of our ego is self-ignorance, which is our primal sleep of self-forgetfulness. This can also be described as the lack of clarity of self-awareness. This self-ignorance is called avarana, which is the basic form of maya. This avarana gives rise to our ego and all viksepa, or the various thoughts that the ego thinks.

I agree when you say: ‘All these theories have one thing in common: evolution of I-thought…’. Yes, all spiritual theories can only be for the ‘I’-thought or ego or chit-jada-granthi or the individual ‘ I’, because our true non-dual self needs no liberation, thus it needs no theories.

Thanking you and pranams.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dear Wittgenstein, thank you for bringing out these interesting and thought provoking points.

Who has given us or who could have given us theories such as eka-jiva-vada, drsti-srsti-vada and vivarta-vada? Can a person still in the grips of his or her ego ever think of his own that he is the only seemingly existing jiva, and that everything he sees including all the other jivas he sees are only his or her dream? I doubt.

When did Bhagavan give us these theories and conclusions? From our perspective he taught us these ideas when he had already attained atma-jnana. Though as this time his experience was only that of ajata, somehow his mind and body were made instruments to give us these invaluable theories. Thus from our limited perspective or knowledge, a jnani was seen explaining us all these theories.

However I have no problem when you write: “Eka-jiva-vada, drsti-srsti-vada and vivarta-vada are theories or arguments for spiritual aspirants, till [that is, till the destruction of ego] they see them to be false or invalid”, because this appears to be true. But who confirms or gives us this upadesa that these theories or arguments are valid for spiritual aspirants?

Therefore my line of argument in my previous e-mail was only this: who gives us these theories? Can a person with a little ego teach us these theories? Or the supreme power of sat-chit somehow uses the jnanis (also called seers) mind and body to instruct us with these theories?

Thanking you and pranams.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dear Wittgenstein, I was just now glancing through Michael’s article titled: We should seek guru only within ourself. I quote him below, as he writes in the article:

You say that you understand how to practise atma-vicāra. How did you come to understand this? Was it not by studying the teachings of Sri Ramana? Is it not clear then that he is your guru?

Therefore even though Bhagavan was experiencing only ajata, but from our perspective it is only he who taught us this practice of atma-vichara and all other theories like vivarta-vada. Thus it is clear that only a jnani or a satguru can really teach us. Of course his most direct upadesa is always taking place in the core of our heart by his mere presence, but if the need arises he has to manifest in ‘person’ to teach us, and only such teachings can liberate us.

Thanking you and pranams.

chris bell said...

867. God, who seems to be non-existent, alone is ever existing, while oneself [the individual], who seems to be existing, is ever non-existent. The state of thus seeing one’s own non-existence [maya] can alone be said to be the supreme Jnana.
Aha! This 'I' is the differenceless Supreme. What can satiate it? What can replace it? Who can take it away? So yesterdays note is confirmed: "
The fact is that 'I' is Being. I should say 'I is am' rather than 'I am'."

Michael James said...

Sanjay, in reply to your comment of 7 October 2014 12:17, vāda has a range of closely related meanings, including utterance, statement, proposition, explanation, theory, argument, conclusion and assertion, but in this context it is probably best to take it to mean an explanation or argument. Though certain explanations or arguments are given specific names such as ēka-jīva-vāda, vivarta vāda, dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or ajāta vāda, not every explanation or argument is given such a name.

Therefore it would be easier to answer your question if we were to reword it by replacing the word ‘theories’ with ‘explanations or arguments’: ‘Are there any more such explanations or arguments given to us by Bhagavan, or is the above list exhaustive?’ The answer then would be that Bhagavan has given us many explanations and arguments, but not all of them can be named like the ones you have listed.

For example, many of the most important explanations and arguments that he gave us were regarding the fundamental question ‘who am I?’, in answer to which he explained why we cannot be either this body or this mind, because we experience ‘I’ (ourself) in dream without experiencing our present body, and we experience ‘I’ in sleep without experiencing either our mind or any body (as I explained in more detail in the new article I posted here today, The essential teachings of Sri Ramana). All such explanations and arguments are vādas, even though they do not each have any specific name.

Therefore we cannot limit the number of explanations and arguments given by Bhagavan to a list of just a few that have specific names.

Michael James said...

Wittgenstein, in your first comment above you asked: ‘If ajata is a siddhanta (not vivartha), then why is the section with verses 83 to 99 in GVK named vivartha siddhanta thiran?’ In many respects the terms vāda and siddhānta are synonymous, because siddhānta means a conclusion, and every vāda (argument, explanation, proposition or theory) is a conclusion supported by reasons (which are called premises in the case of a logical argument).

For example, if we take vivarta vāda to mean the argument (vāda) that everything other than ‘I’ is a false appearance (vivarta), the conclusion (siddhānta) of this argument is that everything other than ‘I’ is a false appearance. This is why one of the meanings of vāda is conclusion, and why vivarta vāda and vivarta siddhānta are synonymous terms.

However, though every argument ends with a conclusion, not every conclusion is based upon an argument, because we reach many conclusions on the basis of experience, observation or evidence without the need for any argument.

Since ajāta is a conclusion that directly contradicts our present experience, no argument for ajāta can be entirely satisfactory, as I tried to explain in this article. Therefore, rather than considering ajāta to be a conclusion based on any argument (vāda), it would be more accurate to say that it is a conclusion (siddhānta) that can be reached only by experience — that is, by experiencing ourself as we really are.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, in your comment of 8 October 2014 05:41 you say, ‘thoughts in this life are our prarabhdha karma’, but it is not as simple as that, because there are two forces that create thoughts in us, namely our free will (mati) and our fate (vidhi or prārabdha), and as I explained in The karma theory as taught by Sri Ramana these two forces may work at any moment either in harmony or in conflict with each other.

As Sadhu Om used to say while explaining verse 2 of Upadēśa Undiyār, like the fruit of many plants (such as a grape, apple, pear, orange or mango), the fruit of any volitional action (āgāmya karma) consists of two parts, an edible portion and the seed, which remains after the edible portion is eaten. The edible portion of the fruit of an āgāmya karma is what is stored in sañcita and later experienced as prārabdha, whereas the seed that remains even after the respective prārabdha has been experienced is a karma-vāsanā, an inclination to do the same action again and again. It is because of such karma-vāsanās that karma is self-perpetuating and can therefore never give liberation, as Bhagavan says in verse 2 of Upadēśa Undiyār.

Any action (whether thought, word or deed) that is impelled by our karma-vāsanās is an āgāmya karma, but we are free (at least to a limited extent) to choose whether or not to allow any karma-vāsanā to make us act, or which of many possibly conflicting karma-vāsanās we should allow to make us act, and the power by which we choose this is what is called ‘free will’. Though our karma-vāsanās do constrain our free will to some extent, they do not bind it entirely, so if we wish we can control whether or not we allow ourself to be impelled by our karma-vāsanās.

Moreover, the karma-vāsanās that now influence us were created by whatever use we made of our free will in the past, and the use we make of our free will now will shape the karma-vāsanās that will influence us in future. Therefore though karma-vāsanās do influence whatever āgāmya karma we may do, the ultimate cause of it is only our free will, which formed our karma-vāsanās in the past and which has a controlling influence over them now.

Every thought is formed by our vāsanās and is therefore a manifestation of them. Hence, since everything that we experience is a thought (that is, a mental phenomenon of one kind or another), the entire world that we experience is formed by our vāsanās. The vāsanās that shape what we experience are determined by our prārabdha or fate, but even while we are experiencing the manifestation of such vāsanās, other vāsanās under the control of our free will are determining how we react to our experiences and how we try to act in the midst of them.