Srivaishnava Question and Answers – Learners Series – 12


40. What is the explaination of the dreams that one sees in his sleep?

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad clearly says that:

” In this dream world, there are no chariots. There are no horses to draw the chario. There are no roads on which the chariot can go. Then the Brahman creates chariots. He creates horses to draw the chariot and He Creates roads.

In this dream world, there are no joys or delights or raptures. Again, Brahman creates joys , delights and raptures.

In the dream world, there are no pools, no tanks and no rivers. Again, Brahman creates pools, He creates tanks and He creates rivers. Indeed Brahman creates all these, in the dream world”.

41. We only dream.So,how can we say that Brahman creates the oblects in the dream?Why not we say that we(jivatma) create the various objects in the dream?

There are two reasons why the jivatma can not create the objects in the dream:

1) The jivatma is not capable of creating the various objects in the dream. He does not have the power of creation because of his natural powers are restricted, as long as he is in this world.

2) We also see many bad things in the dream. We are afraid to see such terrible things in our dreams.We often wake up with a start whenever we see bad things in the drea. If the Jivatma creates these objects, naturally Will not create such bad things,such bad objects, which give him pain in his dreams. If the Jivatma creates these objects, naturally he will only create good and pleasant things in the dream. Since the dream consists of bad things also, it is clear that jivatma does not create the objects in the dreams. Only Iswara creates objects in the dream.

This is exactly what has been quoted in Brahadaranyaka Upanishad.

42. Are these objects created in the dream real?

Well they are real, so far as the person who dreams is concerned. They are only for the duration of the dream.

43. But we also say that the things which we dream are not real?

They are not real in the sense that, immediately after the dream, the objects vanish. Further they can not be seen by others, but only by the person, who dreams.

44. What are the reasons for the creation of these objects in the dream, which give us pain or pleasure?

The reason is simple. The Jivatma does some small good things and some small bad things. These are not big enough, or significant enough. As a reward for small good things done, God gives him pleasure and good things, in the dream. So, he is happy during the duration of the dream , enjoying pleasant things.

Similarly the Jivatma does small bad thigns, which are not very significant. Then a very mild punishment is given by the Lord, for those small bad things. This is by making the Jivatma feel the pain, by dreaming bad things or shocking news. So he is made to experience pain and sorrow during the duration of the dream.

Such is the reason for certain of good and bad things during our dream.

45. I find it difficult to understand that the objects in our dream are real?

I have cogently explained above the philosophy behind our dreams. I have also quoted extensively from the Brahadaranyaka Upanishad to show that Brahman creates the objects in our dream.

I have also explained the reasons for our seeing or experiencing good and bad things in our dream.

The creation of things in the dream world by Brahman is real 1) for the duration of the dream and 2) for the person who dreams.

46. Is there only one Brahman or there is more than one Brahman?

There are several passages in the Vedas, which declare that there is only one supreme Lord or Brahman.

The advaitins also agree that there is only one Brahman, the Para Brahman. However for purposes of worship, they accept a lower Brahman. This lower Brahman, is , according to them, not real ultimately, but is only Vyavaharika sat.

47. What is the difference between these two Brahmans according to The Advaitins?

They say that 1.) The Para Brahman has no attributes or qualities.(Nirguna) 2.) It has no form. (Niravayava Brahman)

According to them 1) The lower Brahman (Apara Brahman) has good qualities (Saguna Brahman), 2) It has aform (body). The lower Brahman can be worshipped as a Vishnu and so on.

They further say as follows: “After worshipping the Brahman, in a form with qualities, like Vishnu, a person develops sufficient maturity of knowledge and viveka. Then he understands the real Brahman, which is without attributes.

Then he also realizes that he is not different from the real Brahman or Paramatma. In other words, he ultimately realizes that the Jivatma and Paramatma are one and the same.

48. What is our philosophy in this regard?

We do not accept that there are two Brahmans. There is no question of one Brahman being higher and another Brahman being lower. There is only one Brahman.

The Brahman has all the auspicious qualities. That Brahman is free from all evil. The Brahman has also got a form – a beautiful and auspicious body, with four arms and sankha and chakra.

Further the Brahman has Jivatma and matteras His Body.

49. So,it is rather amusing – the Advaitins say that Brahman has no body.But we say that Brahman has,not one,but two bodies!

You’re right. Brahman has a divine and auspicious body, with four arms, sankha and chakra. He has also another body; the entire world, Jivatmas and Matter, as His body.

50. What about the identity of Jivatma and Brahman?

There is no question of Jivatma being identical with Paramatma. But Jivatma has Paramatma as its soul; and Jivatma; and Jivatma is the body of the Paramatma.

Thus both the Jivatma and Paramatma are one in the sense, that they form together the body and soul. So, they are 2-in-1. That is why our philosophy is called as Vishistadvaita.

51. How can one say that Brahman has all auspicious qualities?

You have to apply logic. At several places, the Vedas say that He has many auspicious qualities, attributes. In a few places, they say that Brahman is without attributes. We have to intepret this, in keeping with the majority portions.

So when the Upanishad says “without Attributes” we intepret this as “without bad attributes” i.e, ” with only good qualities” . This intepretation is necessary, to resolve the apparent contradiction between the portions saying Brahman has many auspicious qualities and the portions saying that Brahman is without attributes.

If we stick on saying that Brahman is without qualities, then all the portions mentioning about the good qualities of Brahman will have no meaning.

52. Can you give me some examples or illustrations?

In many places the Upanishads mention that Brahman is the Lord. He is the protector, and the world and the Jivatmas are Protected By Him.

Again the Upanishads talk about Bhakti, about 32 vidyas or methos of doing bhakti to the Lord, for getting salvation. If the Lord has no attributes, no qualities, how can He protect the world. How can He give Salvation or Moksha to the Jivatma?

It cannot be said that the Upanishads lay down the methods of Bhakti, for attaining salvation, and then deny these things , by saying that the Lord has no attributes or qualities. Without qualities how can He grant Salvation?

53. How can the passages saying Brahman has no qualities can be interpreted?

We intepret these in two ways:

1) ” Without Qualities” mean “without bad qualities”. So, Brahman has all good qualities.

2) The qualities are three sattva, rajas and tamas. So, “without qualities” can mean ” without any of these three qualities”. This will mean “suddha, sattva”. Thus, we can say that the Brahman has the quality of “Suddha Sattva”.

54. The Advaitins say that the words “Tattavamasi” proves the identity of Jivatma and Paramatma”. How can we intepret this?

The words “Tattvamasi” means ” That you there”. Here ” That” means Brahman. “You” means ” Your souls’s soul”.

So the words, “Tattvamasi” mean Brahman is your soul’s soul. This is exactly the body / soul relationship. Brahman is the soul of ones soul. ..viz…Jivatma. So, the word, “Tattvamasi” only says that Brahman is the soul of Jivatma. The above is the teaching of the father, to son Svetaketu. When we say Svetaketu, it means his body and his soul. It also means his soul’s soul which is Brahman.

55. How do you say that “you” means “your soul’s soul?”

The above is the teaching of the father, to son Svetaketu. When we say Svetaketu, it means his body and his soul. It also means his soul’s soul which is Brahman. Please refer to Chapter 3 where I have discussed the body/soul relationship.

56. So,according to us, the famous words “That you are ” actually denote body/soul relationship. Am I correct?

You are right.

57. Chandogya Upanishad says that Brahman was the only one. There was no second. Does this mean that the world is not real; that the Jivatmas are not real; that everything except Paramatma in unreal?

No, that is not correct. Brahman is eternal. Jivatmas are eternal, Matter ( mula Prakriti) is eternal and the Vedas are also eternal. These are all eternal and Vedas are also eternal as specifically mentioned in in so many Upanishads.

So, when Upanishads say Brahman is only one, without a second, it does not mean that everything else is not real. What it actually means is that Brahman has no equal. “He is without a Second” means, ” He is without an equal”, “He is unparalleled”.

All this means is that Brahman is Supreme, without any equals. It does not mean that there is nothing else than Brahman; and that everything else is an illusion or unreal.

If this view ( that all other are not real) is to be adopted, then let me repeat again that all the Upanishads explaining the process of Creation, explaining the Salvation of the jivatma, will all become meaningless.

When we say that the Chola King was unique and there was no second person, what dowe mean? We only mean that, in strength and valor, he had no equals. He had no parallels. It does not mean there was no other person in this world , at that time. Similarly here also, it only means that Brahman has no equals..

58. Does it mean that the Jivatma does not have all these good qualities like Brahman and that he is fully or mostly all evil?

The Jivatma also, by nature, has all the auspicious qualities and is free from evil, just like Brahman. But unfortunately, these good qualities are not fully exhibited, so long as he is in this world.

During the period he is in this world, in this samsara, he is like a diamond, covered with dirt. When he attains salvation and reaches Paramapada, all the auspicious qualities shine in full in him and he is free from all evil. That is, he becomes like a diamond, cleaned from all dirt, and fully shining.

59. What are these auspicious qualities?

They are eight in number:

1. Freedom from evil

2. Freedom from old age

3. Freedom from death

4. Freedom from sorrow

5. Freedom from hunger

6. Freedom from thirst

7. Desiring the truth (Satya kama)

8. Willing the truth (Satya sankalpa)

These are apart from the basic nature of the Jivatma, of knowledge, bliss or happiness, and purity and so on.

60. What is the concept of liberation or salvation, according to Advaita?

According to Advaita, liberation comes finally, when the Jivatma realises that he is identical with Brahman or Paramatma. So, it is this knowledge, which leads to salvation..

61. Then, is it possible for salvation in this world itself, according to Advaita?

Yes. According to Advaita, even in this world itself, it is possible to attain salvation. They call it Jivanmukti.

62. Is there the concept of Sri Vaikunta or Paramapada, in Advaita?

No. They do not recognise Paramapada, as the ultimate salvation.

63. In the Upanishads, the journey of Jivatma to paramapada is described in detail. How does the Advaitin explain this?

The Advaitins say that it is only a partial salvation. They call it Krama mukti. They do not recognise Paramapada as the ultimate salvation.

64. What is our concept of salvation?

Salvation means reaching Paramapada or Sri Vaikunta at the end of this life; and enjoying the Lord Sriman Narayana and being of service to Him and Lakshmi.

65. What are the “great sentences” (maha vakyas)in the Vedas?

The Advaitins call some passages in the Upanishads as “great sentences” (Maha. vakyas). They say that these great sentences show that Jivatma and paramatma are one.

66. What are these sentences?

No.l “That you are”.

No.2″ I am Brahman”

No.3 ” All the things here are Brahman.”

No. 4 ” There are no several things here”.

67. How do we interpret these sentences, as supporting the Visishtadvaita philosophy?

The interpretation is very simple, if we apply the body/soul relationship

1) The first sentence is the famous “Tattvamasi”.

2) In the same way, the second sentence, “I am Brahman” also is correct. I am jIvAtmA or soul. Jivatma’s soul is Brahman. So, my soul’s soul is Brahman. Hence “I am Brahman”.

3) The third sentence, “All things are Brahman,” is also correct. Because, the soul or Atma of all things is Brahman, by the body/soul relationship. So, everything is Brahman, since everything has Brahman for its soul. Brahman has everything for His body.

4) By the same reasoning, the fourth sentence “There are no several things here” is also correct. Because all things have Brahman as their soul. Hence, all things are identified with Brahman, as their soul. Hence there are no several things. All things are Brahman only (as their soul)

Thus we interpret the great sentences, in accordance with our philosophy.

68. How can these “maha vakyas”, be interpreted on the basis of body/soul relationship?

Apart from these “great sentences”, we have many portions in the same Upanishads, which proclaim clearly that Paramatma is different from the Jivatma. So, if “maha vakyas” are interpreted to mean that Jivatma is identical with Paramatma, we find these are followed by passages, saying Jivatma is different from Paramatma, viz., contra-dicting the identity of Jivatma and Paramatma.

There is no need for the Vedas to proclaim something, to be contradicted immediately afterwards. Indeed in some places, the Upanishads give the opponents’ view first and then give the correct view. But they clearly say that what was mentioned earlier was not the correct view and then explain or proclaim the correct view.

There is no such specific statement in the Vedas, saying that bheda srutis are incorrect; or that abheda srutis only are correct. So, we say that all are to be interpreted suitably, to avoid any apparent contradiction.

69. The Advaitins say that the Upanishad sentence “Neti, Neti” (‘not so’, ‘not so’) shows that God has no attributes (nirguna). How do we explain this text in the Upanishad?

We argue that ‘Neti, Neti’ (‘not so\ not so’), in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad only means that Brahman’s attributes cannot be limited to what was explained earlier. His attributes are infinite. Therefore, the passage means that the Brahman’s attributes are not the only ones, which were mentioned earlier, but they are countless.

Our stand is also vindicated by the following:-

Immediately after this passage ‘not so’, ‘not so’, the Upanishad says that His name is Truth of the Truths. The Jivatmas are true, i.e., real and eternal. The Paramatma is the truth of the truth, i.e., also real and eternal.

So, this passage also clearly shows that Brahman has innumerable attributes, i.e., He is not nirguna..

70. What are the seven inconsistencies (anupapatti)?

While criticising the Advaita view point, Ramanuja develops subtle arguments and logic, to show that there are several inconsistencies in the Advaita standpoint, regarding the Brahman and the Jivatma. In particular, Ramanuja lists out 7 inconsistencies in the Advaita arguments, which say that Brahman is without attributes, Brahman is without form and the world is unreal..

71. What are these seven inconsistencies ?

I think we will not discuss them now. They require advanced logic philosophy, and knowledge of Sanskrit grammer. So, we shall pass over now for an advanced study at a later stage.

72. In the Dvaita system of philosophy, who is accepted as the supreme deity or Paramatma?

Narayana is accepted as the supreme deity.

73. Is He having attributes or qualities? Or, is He without attributes, Nirguna?

He is full of good qualities. The Dvaitins do not accept that Brahman is nirguna.

74. Who creates and destroys this world?

According to Dvaitins, Narayana only creates this world, sustains this world and destroys this world.

75. Do they accept the body also for Brahman?

They accept that Narayana has a divine body, a beautiful and shining body.

76. Do they accept the avataras of Narayana?

Yes. They accept the avataras like Rama and Krishna as all real.

77. What is the position of Lakshmi, according to Dvaitins?

Lakshmi is accepted as Narayana’s consort. But, they give Her a slightly lower place than Narayana. She also has a divine and beautiful body, like Narayana. However, Lakshmi is considered Jivatma.

78. Is Lakshmi’s soul atomic or vibhu – all pervading?

They state that Lakshmi is also vibhu, like Narayana.

79. Does the Dvaita system accept the reality of the world?

Yes. They accept the reality of the world and all beings

80. What about the Jivatmas?

They say that the Jivatmas are different from one another. The Jivatmas are grouped into two categories, as males and females. The Jivatmas are also atomic in nature.

81. What is their view, regarding salvation?

They accept the concept of salvation, viz., moksha and Paramapada. They agree that moksha means liberation from samsara and attainment of Paramapada.

82. Is their concept of moksha the same as for -Visishtadvaitins?

No, they have different categories or gradations in moksha, like salokya, sarupya, samipya and sayujya. Depending on their merits (punya), the Jivatmas attain salokya or sarupya and so on.

83. What are the means for attaining salvation?

They accept bhakti as the means.

84. What is the relationship between Jivatma and Paramatma?

The Dvaitins say that Jivatma and Paramatma are always different from one another. They do not accept the concept of body-soul relationship between Jivatma and Paramatma.

Since according to them, the Jivatma is eternally different from Paramatma, they are two. So, this system of philosophy is called Dvaita.

To be continued…

Source: A Dialog on Hinduism By Sri V.N. Gopala Desikan

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  1. // If the Jivatma creates these objects, naturally he will create such bad things,such bad objects, which give him pain in his dreams.

    Typo I believe Should be “Will not create such bad things”

    parthasarathy dAsan

  2. Dear Swamin
    I on March 8th have mentioned about rectangular patch on left while taking prints of good topics.Please take action immediately as am loosing important topics.


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