Saturday, December 26, 2009


[FIRST A WELCOME: Trey, Neil and Juhana and a FaceBook user are the new members to our Blog. A VERY HAPPY WELCOME TO ALL OF THEM. Trey has been kind to introduce the Blog at the FaceBook; I am grateful to him for this -- ramesam.]


As we end the year 2009 to snuggle cozily into the welcoming arms of 2010, thoughts on the Past, Present and Future do hover in our minds. We accumulate our experiences as memory. Our brains decipher certain inviolable patterns in those experiences. The patterns and their recurrence go to reinforce and solidify our belief in the reality of our experience.

Ancient Indian scriptures talk of three levels of ‘reality’ – (i) Absolute; (ii) Transactional and (iii) Dream. The Absolute Reality is the ultimate, unchanging Truth. Transactional reality is what we live with in our daily life. The ephemeral reality is the one we experience in a dream world.

Vedanta shouts from roof-tops: The dream and transactional experiences are equally FALSE and UNREAL. There is nothing like a past and future of things happening. Everything just happens in the NOW. There is NO thing other than Nowness, the Aliveness, the very Beingness. It is Alone. No second one is there. And that is Advaita.

That is the view from the Absolute Reality that Gaudapada gives us.

Venerable Gaudapada was a Great Sage of the 8th Century. He expounded the above philosophy of Ajativada (nothing is ever born), the true gist of Vedanta, in his classic Karika (commentary in verses) on Mandukya Upanishad. The Second Chapter of the Karika discusses the illusory nature of the world that we experience and the non-difference of dream and awake states of man. The Mandukya Upanishad and Karika hold these two states to be mere 'arisings' in the deep sleep state.

Quoting Gaudapada Karika:

A question arises then: who cognizes the illusory objects of dream and wakeful states, if the objects cognized in both the states are unreal? (Karika II – 11).

The 12th verse of the Chapter II goes to answer (Swami Nikhilananda’s translation, Advaita Ashrama, 1995):

“Atman, the self-luminous, through the power of his own Maya, imagines in himself by himself (all the objects that the subject experiences within or without). He alone is the cognizer of the objects (so created). That is the decision of the Vedanta.”

Gaudapada further explains that internally conceived things like thoughts, ideas etc. are no different from objects seen ‘out there’. He says in the 14th verse:

"Those that are cognized within only as long as the thought of them lasts, as well as those that are perceived by the senses and that conform to two points of time, are all mere imaginations. There is no other ground for differentiating the one from the other."

Swami Nikhilananda amplifying on the word “imaginations” writes as follows:

“That a thing exists independently of the perceiving mind is also an idea. …. Past, present and future are nothing but ideas present in the mind at the moment.”

Peter Dziuban provides us, like Gaudapada, the worldview from the stance of and as Absolute Reality. His teachings echo Gaudapada’s Ajativada.

We are fortunate that he explains with great clarity, irrefutable logic and inimitable expression our questions at his Blog: Reality Check.

I posed him the following question:

Though we seem to understand intellectually the non-dualism, how is it that a sense of ‘lack’ continues to haunt us?

I want to get to the root of this 'lack' - a lack not for any objective 'thing' but that gut feeling of "not satisficing".

One way is to see the 'lack' to be "ALL", the very Being. However, this looks to be a mere explanation.

Peter’s response is available at his Post of 23rd Dec 2009.

What Peter said, in brief (as I understood in my words) was:

1. Notice that "something" has cognised that sense of 'lack'.

2. Be that very "Cogniser" rather than claiming ownership for that sense of 'lack'.

3. The sense or gut feeling of 'lack' is time dependent (hence transitory) and therefore, sure to 'dissolve'.

4. The sense of 'lack' has its origin because of an 'assumed add-on' i.e. some unspelt 'expectations' of a person in 'me' looking for 'object-oriented experience'.

Later Peter answered in three Posts of 25th Dec 2009, the following question of mine:

I do not find anywhere, either in the ancient Indian lore or in the modern non-dualism teachings, anybody explaining the emergence of the wakeful state with all the phenomenal 'world' and its goings on.

Words like 'Maya', 'Leela' (play), 'Freedom', [Vibhuti, Karma, Cyclicity] etc. are used to explain how from that Immutable Oneness the first 'I-thought' is engendered to manifest later as the variegated manifold. But these are admittedly just explanatory fictions. Such explanations take all the mathematical precision and scientific regularity in the phenomenal 'world' as 'given'. They accept the inevitability of inexorable natural laws and never provide any clue as to why a law is the way it is.

[.....,] we see a 'signature' of dream state in a dreaming brain (REM sleep). How do you think the brain state would be when one is "abiding" as ALL, One, Consciousness, Brahman.

I would like to draw the attention of the readers of this Blog to the excellent Posts of Peter in reply to my query, a befitting way to end the year 2009.

[The possible state of the brain of a “realized” man (Jivanmukta) is obviously something he cannot comment. It would fall under Neuroscience. However, his surmise is that there would be no thinking activity, and little or no experience of sensations — so he speculates that those apparent related areas of brain activity would be greatly reduced or inactive. Meanwhile, in such states the body usually still appears to breathe, pump blood, etc. so it would seem that whatever brain activity is involved in these apparent functions would continue.

This topic can be a good study for Barrow Neurological Institute, Arizona, U.S.A. One of their Directors attended the Oct 2009 'Science and Non-dualism Conference' in San Rafael, California.

As no thinking can happen without stored information, it will also be interesting to see how memory will behave in a Jivanmukta. Our ancient scriptures say that vasana-s (past stored impressions) will become ineffective like burnt out seeds. Memory is still an active on going research topic in Neuroscience.

Information we have from Neuroscince on retention, loss or erasure of memory, abnormal memory of a savant brain and related issues will form the subject of a future Blog Post.]



Ramesam Vemuri said...


I find that important Comments posted by the Readers have not appeared here. I understand that the Blog administrators are trying to fix the problem.

In the meanwhile, may I request the honorable readers to e-mail their Comments to me so that I can post them. (Please indicate if the Comment should appear as Anonymous or with name)

My e-mail is: ramesamvijaya at yahoo dot com

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thanks and regards,

Ramesam Vemuri said...

An anonymous Reader appreciated the Post and said that the message should receive wider dissemination.

Unknown said...

Gaudapada's book was translated into Chinese in 600 BCE. Then how can he be l;iving in 800 AD ?!!

Ramesam Vemuri said...

Dear "Unknown",

Thank you for your observation.
You raise a very valid point, but as you must be aware, the historiography of ancient India is riddled with many uncertainties.

What seems to be generally more reliable fact is that Gaudapada was the Grand-teacher (teacher's teacher) of Shanakra. But unfortunately, we do not have incontrovertible evidences for even Shankara's time. The widely accepted date for Shankara is 788-820 AD and this date is accepted by the Sringeri Math also. Based on that, one may say Gaudapada was living sometime in the 8th cent AD.

The date of Shanakra was discussed several times at the AdvaitaL forum. You may refer to those discussions. You may also please see: DETERMINING SANKARA'S DATE - AN OVERVIEW OF ANCIENT SOURCES AND MODERN LITERATURE

You are welcome to write a Post if you have studied the chronology of Gaudapada and Shankara and you have evidence to prove the b.c. dates for them.