Location: India

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jeeva as per the sub schools of Advaita - 1

Hari OM,

We have already seen the three different schools of Advaita Vedanta in the previous section. Now, we will try to see the three different ways in which jeeva is considered as per the different schools of Advaita Vedanta.

There are three different schools of Advaita which are 1. Bhamathi school which takes resort to Bhamathi of Vachaspathi Mishra and the sub commentaries on the same, 2. Vivarana school which bases itself on the Panchapaadika Vivarana of Prakaashaatman, 3. Vartika school which bases itself on Sureshwaracharya’s Upanishad Vartikas and Brihadaranyaka Vartika Saara of Vidyaranya.

These three schools have different views about jeeva and the way in which jeeva is explained in each of these schools is termed as separate vadaas based on how the jeeva is interpreted.

1) Avaccheda vaada – Bhamathi school accepts jeeva as a limitation of the ultimate reality of Brahman by avidya or ignorance. This ignorance causes the duality in the world. There are different avidyaas and therefore nana jeeva is accepted. Since jeevas are many, the world experienced by each jeeva is also different from each other. Hence, jeeva is the material cause of the world. Since Ishwara is the substratum of ajnaana, therefore in ishwara also the causal state is superimposed. As per this theory, Brahman or Ishwara is the reality which is subject of ignorance. Thus Brahman is endowed with ignorance but is controller of ignorance. Brahman is the vishaya or subject of ignorance whereas jeeva is the asraya of ignorance (asraya means locus or that on which dependence is there – thus ignorance depends on the jeeva). Putting it in simple words, maha akasha is unlimited space – this is Brahman or Ishwara. Ishwara when subject to ignorance is limited (seemingly limited) by ignorance. This ignorance depends on the seemingly limited Ishwara which is jeeva. Maha akaasha is ishwara, the limitation or adjunct is body, mind etc and pot in this case. The jeeva is space limited by pot – it is never limited by pot but only seems to be limited by pot. Once pot is removed, the limited space is known as unlimited space. Similarly when the adjuncts of body, mind etc. are removed, then the jeeva is realized as one with Brahman. As eternal space is subject to the adjunct of pot, similarly Brahman or Ishwara is subject to the adjunct of avidya or ignorance. The limited jeeva (limited by avidya) is called jeeva. Avidya is there only when jeeva is there. Thus jeeva is the locus of avidya – avidya depends on jeeva for its existence. (there are many more things which can be explained over here but will wait for queries/doubts on the same and we can take it forward on the same). In this system, jeeva is many.

2) Prathibimba vaada – As per this theory, jeeva is the reflection of Brahman on the intellect or antah karana. Brahman or Ishwara is the Bimba Chaitanya or original consciousness. It is this Brahman or OC which gets reflected and becomes jeeva. As per Siddhantha Bindu “jeeva is the reflected consciousness on ignorance which is limited or categorized by antah karana and the samskaaraas of antah karana”. There is not much difference between siddhanta bindu and the normal definition. Sanskhepa Shareeraka of Sarvajnaatman accepts jeeva as reflection of Consciousness on Buddhi or intellect. This is what vivarana school follows and this theory is called prathibimba vaada or reflection theory. As per this theory, Ishwara is real and Brahman only. When ignorance is there and ishwara is reflected in it, the reflection is called jeeva. As many antah karanaas, so many jeevas are there. But unlike the limitation theory, here there is only one avidya (and not as many avidyaas as jeevas) – and when this avidya is removed, then Brahman alone exists. This is realization. Maybe here we can also take that many jeevas are there – therefore liberation or realization of all jeevas happen one by one. Vivarana school accepts only one avidya but different aspects of avidya or we can say different samskaaras and antah karaanas of the same avidya. Thus inferring, if one avidya vanishes – others too vanish & only Brahman remains. Whereas in bhamathi school, if one jeeva realizes – still many more avidyas are there & hence others are not realized (this is a complex concept – we will not analyze or argue on the same but at this place, accept whatever they say as such).

3) Aabhaasa vaada – this is what Vartika school follows. As per this theory, both ishwara and jeeva are aabhaasaas or fallacious representations of Consciousness or Brahman. These representations are on maya and avidya respectively (some people accept both maya and avidya as same whereas some don’t). Fallacious representation here also means that jeeva is reflection of Consciousness on intellect or avidya. The difference between reflection theory and this theory is that in reflection theory, the reflection is real empirically – but in this theory, there is no real reflection at all even at the empirical level. The example quoted for this theory is reflection of a material kept near a crystal on the crystal. There is no real reflection but reflection seems to be there empirically. But in reflection, the reflection is empirically real but never exists without the original – once the reflection medium is removed or sublated through knowledge, there is no reflection but original alone. This theory accepts ishwara too as an illusion only unlike reflection theory of vivarana school which accepts ishwara as Bimba or original Consciousness. Here too there is only one avidya and thereby we can say that there is really no many jeevas but one jeeva alone. Due to a single avidya, many jeevas are seen & thus nana jeeva is perceived.

To sum up in short:

Limitation theory – jeeva is limitation of Consciousness on avidya
Reflection theory – jeeva is reflection of Consciousness in intellect
Aabhaasa theory – jeeva is a fallacious (unreal reflection) representation of Consciousness in intellect or avidya.

In limitation theory alone, jeeva is considered as real and one with Brahman – in the other two theories, there is no jeeva apart from Brahman but still jeeva is not exactly the same as Brahman. This never contradicts Sankara’s statement of Jeevo brahmaiva na parah because here too jeeva is not different from Brahman but Brahman alone (jeeva is Brahman as the substratum and unreal as jeeva or the reflection – any reflection has no existence apart from the original – thus all reflections are original. When the medium is purified and removed, then reflection itself is seen as the original).

Hari OM


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