Sterben und Karma verstehen

Śrīḥ
Śrīmathē śatakōpāya namaḥ
Śrīmathē rāmānujāya namaḥ
Śrīmath varavaramunayē namaḥ
Śrī vānāchala mahāmunayē namaḥ

Ab und zu bietet sich die Gelegenheit, einigen unserer Mitbürger hier in Deutschland ein paar Grundzüge des Sanātana Dharma (Hinduismus) zu erklären. Dabei tauchen immer wieder zwei Fragen auf:


Wenn Du Hindu bist, glaubst Du dann wenn jemand etwas furchtbares passiert, dass es seine eigene Schuld ist? Dass er in seinem letzten Leben schlimme Dinge getan hat und dafür jetzt bestraft wird?


Wenn Du Hindu bist, glaubst Du dann, dass mein Haustier als Tier geboren wurde, weil es in seinem letzten Leben schlimme Sachen gemacht hat?


Zuweilen erzählen die Leute sogar von Dokumentationen aus Indien / Nepal, in denen gezeigt wird, wie behinderte Menschen beleidigt und mit Steinen beworfen werden, weil ihre Mitbürger glauben, dass sie in ihrem letzten Leben bösen Menschen gewesen sind.

Wir erklären dann, was wir selbst von Lehrern und Āchāryas gelernt haben: Dass die Idee, dass es eine einfache, geradezu mechanische Verbindung zwischen den Handlungen des Vorlebens und dem gibt, was in diesem Leben passiert, ist falsch. Es ist zwar in der Tat so, dass alle Wesen die Früchte ihrer früheren Handlungen erfahren, aber wie diese Früchte erscheinen, ist für uns kaum verständlich. Dies wird in Bhagavad Gīta 4:17 bestätigt. Bhagavad Gīta bedeutet Gesang Gottes, die Bhagavad Gīta ist ein Gespräch zwischen Gott, inkarniert als Kṛṣṇa, und seinem Freund Arjuna. Kṛṣṇa beendet den Vers mit folgender Feststellung:

gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ
Rätselhaft sind die Wege des Karmas

Unsere Āchāryas betonen, dass unsere innerste Essenz, unser Jīva, schon immer existiert hat und immer existieren wird. Es wandert von einem Körper zum nächsten und produziert dabei komplexe Wechselwirkungen zwischen diesen Leben. Aber welche Stellen der maßgeblichen Schriften sagen das klar und deutlich? Und wie kann man das in einer knappen, intuitiven Erklärung zusammen fassen? Einige Dinge kann man in Bhagavad Gīta 2:12 und 2:13 finden. In diesen Versen erklärt Kṛṣṇa die Natur des Jīvas und seine Reise durch die verschiedenen Körper. In Bhagavad Gīta 4:19 und nachfolgenden Versen erklärt Kṛṣṇa, wie man Karma überwinden kann. Was wir nicht in der Gīta finden, ist eine klare und kompakte Erklärung, wie Karma zu Stande kommt und funktioniert.

Wir finden eine solche Erklärung in der Bṛihad-Āraṇyaka Upanishad. In den ersten sechs Versen im vierten Brāmana des vierten Adhyāya dieser Upanishade (also Abschnitt 4.4.1 to 4.4.6 in moderner Zählweise) finden wir eine kompakte Beschreibung des Sterbevorgangs, der Natur unseres Jīvas und der Natur von Karma. Der Autor hat durch eine Antwort auf Quora von Rami Sivan, einem sehr kundigen aber auch recht kontroversen Śrī Vaiṣṇava mit westlichen Wurzeln, von dieser Stelle der Upanishade erfahren.

Der Text ist bemerkenswert klar und leicht zu lesen – zumindest für eine Upanishade. Hier ist die deutsche Übersetzung der englischen Übersetzung von Ernest Hume (1921), verfügbar auf archive.org, verfeinert mit einigen Aspekten von Rami Sivans Übersetzung auf Quora und einigen Aspekten von Swami Krishnanandas Übersetzung und demoriginalen Sanskrit Text:

Übersetzung

  1. Wenn das verkörperte Selbst schwach wird und der Geist verwirrt wird, sammelt das Jīva die Prāṇās um sich. Es nimmt die Prāṇās und steigt herunter zum Herzen. Wenn die Person im Auge (Bewusstsein, die wichtigste Eigenschaft des Jīva) sich von der Sonne abwendet, verliert man die Erkenntis von Formen.
  2. „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er sieht nicht.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er riecht nichts.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er schmeckt nichts.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er spricht nicht.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er hört nicht.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er denkt nicht.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er spürt nicht.“
    „Er wird eins mit der Mitte“, sagen sie; „er erkennt nicht.“
  3. Wie eine Raupe, die das Ende des Grashalms erreicht, sich zusammen zieht, um einen Sprung zum nächsten zu machen, genau so zieht das Jīva alles zusammen und springt zum nächsten Körper.
  4. Wie ein Goldschmied, der Gold nimmt und es in eine neue und schönere Form bringt, so nimmt das Jīva eine neue und schönere Form an, wie die der Väter, der Gandharvas, der Devas, der von Prajapati, oder Brahmā oder anderer Wesen, in dem es diesen Körper und seine Beschränkungen zurück lässt.
  5. Wahrlich, dieses Jīva ist Brahman, gemacht aus Wissen, aus Gemüt, aus Atem, aus Hören, aus Erde, aus Wasser, aus Wind, aus Raum, aus Energie und dem Fehlen von Energie, aus Verlangen und dem Fehlen von Verlangen, aus Wut und dem Fehlen von Wut, aus Tugendhaftigkeit und dem Fehlen von Tugendhaftigkeit. Es ist aus allem. Das ist mit der Aussage „Gemacht aus diesem, gemacht aus jenem“ gemeint.
  6. Dazu gibt es auch den Vers:

    Angehaftet an Sinnesobjekte, verlangend nach Sinnesobjekten,
    legt das Jīva seinen Körper ab.

    Doch im Gemüt (also im subtilen Körper, der den Tod überdauert)
    trägt es die Früchte seiner Handlungen
    .
    Diese Früchte müssen im Gemüt erfahren werden. Was auch immer hier getan wurde, dessen Wirkungen müssen dort erfahren werden.
    Daher kommt es zurück auf diese Welt, um erneut zu handeln.


    Dies ist das Schicksal dessen, der verlangt.

Anmerkungen

Der erste Vers beschreibt den Todesvorgang aus einer vedischen Perspektive. Da die Lebensenergie, Prāṇā genannt, von den Gliedmaßen zum Zentrum des Körpers, dem Herzchakra, gezogen wird, beginnt eine sterbende Person sich kalt anzufühlen. Wir können in ihren Augen sehen, ob sie noch lebt oder ob ihre Reise schon begonnen hat. Der zweite Vers gibt uns die Reihenfolge, in der die Sinne eines Sterbenden typischerweise nachlassen. Menschen, die andere beim Sterben begleitet haben, erzählen oft, dass Berührungen wie das Halten der Hand das letzte ist, zu was der Sterbende noch in der Lage ist.

Der dritte Vers gibt uns einen sehr griffigen Vergleich: Der Körper ist wie ein Grashalm und unsere Essenz, unser Jīva, ist wie eine Raupe, die auf diesem Grashalm krabbelt und zum nächsten Halm will. Um zum nächsten Halm zu kommen, zieht sie sich zunächst zusammen:

Quelle: Wikipedia

Genauso zieht das Jīva seine Hüllen, die ihm in den nächsten Körper folgen, zusammen, und geht dann zu einem neuen Körper. Hierbei muss man sich jedoch klar machen, dass diese Bewegung letzten Endes nicht auf die Kraft des Jīvas zurück geht. Sie wird ermöglicht durch Brahman, die All-heit, Gott. In Bhagavad Gīta 9:6 erläutert Kṛṣṇa, dass er der Urgrund aller Aspekte der Realität ist, nichts ist, das nicht in ihm ist und von ihm durchdrungen wird. Das Jīva zieht sich also in der Tat zusammen und reist zum nächsten Körper, aber dies ist keine unabhängige Handlung, sie wird von Brahman ermöglicht und begleitet.

Im vierten Vers wird festgestellt, dass der neue Körper besser als der alte, sterbende Körper sein wird. Das Jīva kann einen neuen menschlichen Körper bekommen, nachdem es für eine Weile im Reich der Vorväter (Pitru Loka) geweilt hat, den Köper eines Devas oder auch den Körper anderer Wesen.

Der fünfte Vers enthält eine bemerkenswerte Aufzählung. Im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Aufzählungen in vedischen Texten ist die Aufzählung hier unvollständig. Zum Beispiel fehlen bei den Sinnen der Tastsinn und der Geschmackssinn. Bei den Elementen fehlt das Feuer. Der Autor ist nicht qualifziert, diese Besonderheit autoritativ zu erklären. Es mag aber angemerkt sein, dass diese Sinne das Feuer des Verlangens am stärksten schüren. Wut und Verlangen sind die Wurzeln unseres Fallens in die düstersten Regionen der materiellen Welt und ihre Überwindung ist das Tor zu unserem Aufstieg. Dies erläutert z.B. Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gīta 2:62ff.

Die Aufzählung betont, dass das Jīva Brahman ist, die All-heit, alle Sinne, alle Elemente und das ganze Spektrum an möglichen Gefühlen. Aussagen wie diese und scheinbar widersprüchliche Aussagen anderer Upanishaden haben zu langen Debatten unter vedischen Philosophen geführt. Wir haben in „Unsere Philosophie“ die Śrī Vaiṣṇava Philosophie erläutert, die Vishishtadvaita genannt wird und perfekt in der Lage ist, die scheinbaren Widersprüche zwischen den Upanishaden aufzulösen. Vishishtadvaita lehrt, dass das Jīva in dem Sinne Brahman ist, in dem wir eine Person „Joe“ nennen. Eigentlich sind weder der Finger noch der Fuß noch die Nase Joe, Joe ist das bewusste Wesen, was in Joes Körper wohnt. Auf die selbe Weise, hebt Rāmānuja hervor, ist Brahman die innerste Essenz des Jīva, das Āthmā des Jīva. Es ist daher legitim, das Jīva Brahman zu nennen – auch wenn das Jīva nicht identisch mit Brahman ist.

Der 6. Vers gibt uns schließlich den Grund, warum unser Jīva immer wieder in die Welt zurückkehrt. Da im vorigen Vers festgestellt wurde, dass das Jīva Brahman ist, stellt sich ja die Frage, warum es denn überhaupt zurück kehren muss, warum es von Körper zu Körper reist wie eine Raupe von Grashalm zu Grashalm. Ist seine Essenz nicht Brahman, die All-heit, das Absolute, Gott? Warum leiden wir dann hier?

Der Vers lehrt uns, dass das Problem Anhaftung ist. Das Jīva ist an Sinneserfahrungen angehaftet und handelt aus dieser Motivation. Handlung ist daher eine Art Sucht, das Jīva kann seine Anhaftung an Sinneserfahrungen nicht überwinden und damit auch nicht an den Handlungen, die die Sinneserfahrungen erzeugen können. Das Sanskrit Wort Karma bedeutet einfach Handlung, Arbeit.

Dies zeigt, dass Karma nicht – wie so oft missverstanden – ein Instrument zur Bestraftung ist. Es ist zunächst einmal nur ein Ansatz, eine Haltung, der eigenen Existenz gegenüber: Man handelt, um zu genießen. Die Pflanze wächst in Richtung der Sonne, das Reh sucht nach den schmackhaftesten Kräutern, der Mensch sucht nach dem „guten Leben“ aus Barbecue, Bier und Binge Watching, der Deva sucht Ruhm und nach Verehrung durch niedere Wesen. Einige dieser Handlungen haben guten Wirkungen, andere schlechte. Das Kriterium für die Art der Wirkung ist, ob andere Wesen durch die Handlungen Wohlergehen oder Leid erfahren. Erfahren sie Leid, wird dieses Leid in irgendeiner From wieder zu uns zurück kommen. In Patanjalis Yoga Sutras lesen wir:

Sutra 3:23
Die karmischen Effekte können sofort oder verspätet eintreten. (…)

Eine kompakte Antwort auf die Frage wäre also

Karma ist kein Instrument zur Bestraftung, es ist ein Nebeneffekt von Handlungen und wird oft unbewusst produziert. Seine Wirkungen können verzögert eintreten. Man erlebt zwar schlimme Dinge aufgrund eigener schlimmer Handlungen, aber diese Handlungen können lange zurück liegen.
Spiegelbildlich bedeutet die Erfahrung schöner Dinge nicht, dass wir nicht auch schlechtes Karma haben. Dieses Karma manifestiert sich nur gerade nicht.

Adiyēn Mādhava Rāmānuja Dāsan

Understanding Death and Karma

Śrīḥ
Śrīmathē śatakōpāya namaḥ
Śrīmathē rāmānujāya namaḥ
Śrīmath varavaramunayē namaḥ
Śrī vānāchala mahāmunayē namaḥ

Whenever there is a chance, Mādhava is explaining essentials of Sanātana Dharma to his fellow Germans. Often, people respond by asking a variant of one of the following two questions:


As a Hindu, do you really believe that if something bad happens to a person, it is because he was evil in his previous life? Are you really so mean to think that it is his own fault?


As a Hindu, do you really believe that my pet was born as an animal because it has done bad things in its previous life?


Sometimes, people even quote documentaries from India or Nepal, where disabled people were insulted and thrown after with stones because their fellow citizens thought that they were bad persons in their previous life.

Mādhava then usually explains what he learned from Upanyasakars (religions speakers) and Āchāryas: That the idea of a simple mechanical link, of the kind: „killed father, will be blind with one leg in next life“ is false. It is true that all beings ultimately experience the fruits of their own actions, but the manifestation of these fruits is not straight forward. This is confirmed by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gīta 4:17, where he ends the verse with

gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ
Intricate is the the way of Karma.

Our Āchāryas emphasize that our innermost essence, our Jīva, has no beginning and no end. It is moving from one body to the next, producing complex interactions between lifes along the way. But what are authoritative statements which back this? And how to put all of this into a crisp explanation? Some references can be found in Bhagavad Gīta 2:12 and 2:13, where Kṛṣṇa briefly explains the way of the Jīva. In Bhagavad Gīta 4:19 and following verses, Kṛṣṇa explains how to get rid of Karma. What we do not find in the Gīta is a concise description of the workings of Karma.

Such a description is available in the Bṛihad-Āraṇyaka Upanishad. The fourth Brāmana of the fourth Adhyāya (verse 4.4.1 to 4.4.6 in modern technical counting) contain a concise description of the process of death, the nature of the self (Jīva) and of the workings of karma. The author learned about this section of the Upanishad in a recent answer on Quora by Rami Sivan, a very knowledgable but also somewhat controversal Śrī Vaiṣṇava with Western roots.

This part of the Upanishad is remarkably clear and easy to read. Here is the translation from „The Thirteen Principal Upanishads“ by Ernest Hume (1921), available at archive.org, refined with aspects of Rami Sivan’s translation from Quora, of Swami Krishnanadas Translation and the original Sanskrit text.

Translation

  1. When this embodied self (Jīva) comes to weakness and to confusedness of mind, as it were, then the prāṇās gather around him. He takes the prāṇā and descends into the heart. When the person in the eye (consciousness, main attribute of the Jīva) turns away from the sun, then one becomes non-knowing of forms.
  2. „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; „he does not see.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; „he does not smell.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; „he does not taste.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; „he does not speak.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; „he does not hear.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; “ he does not think.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre,“ they say ; “ he does not touch.“
    „He is becoming one with the centre“, they say ; “ he does not know.“
  3. Now as a caterpillar, when it has come to the end of a blade of grass, in taking the next step draws itself together towards it, just so this Jīva in taking the next step strikes down this body, dispels its ignorance and draws itself together.
  4. As a goldsmith, taking a piece of gold, reduces it to another newer and more beautiful form, just so this Jīva, striking down this body and dispelling its ignorance, makes for itself another newer and more beautiful form like that either of the fathers, or of the Gandharvas, or of the Devas, or of Prajapati, or of Brahma, or of other beings.
  5. Verily, this Jīva is Brahman, made of knowledge, of mind, of breath, of seeing, of hearing, of earth, of water, of wind, of space, of energy and of non- energy, of desire and of non- desire, of anger and of non-anger, of virtuousness and of non- virtuousness. It is made of everything. This is what is meant by the saying „made of this, made of that.“
  6. On this point there is this verse :

    Attached to the sense objects, longing for sense objects,
    the Jīva sheds the body, but it carries with it result of its actions.
    Attached, the Jīva leaves this body, and goes together with its actions.
    Those actions find their completion through experience.
    Then it happens again, it comes to the world for more actions.


    This is the fate of one who desires.

Remarks

The first verses give us a description of the death process from a Vedic perspective. As life-energy, which is called prāṇā, is moved from the limbs to the center of the body, the heart chakra, the dying person begins to feel cold. We can see from the look of someone’s eyes whether he is still alive or if he is already dead and his travel has begun. The second verse emphasizes this by enumerating the different senses which stop working as they are drawn inwards with the prāṇā. People who were accompanying a dying person report that touch, the holding of a hand, is the last thing the dying person was able to do.

The third verse gives us a straight-forward comparison: the body is like a blade of gras and the Jīva is like a worm who stays on that blade of gras for a while and then moves to the next. In order to do so, it has to contract:

Source: Wikipedia

In the same way, the Jīva contracts those layers that follow it and then goes to the next body. However, we must not forget that these movements are ultimately not due to the inherent power of the Jīva. They are enabled by Brahman, the totality, God. In Bhagavad Gīta 9:6, Kṛṣṇa points out that he is the ultimate support of each and every aspect of reality. So while the Jīva does indeed contract and move, this is not an independed action, it is framed and enabled by Brahman.

In the fourth verse, it is emphasized that the new body will be better than the dying one. The Jīva can gain a fresh human body, after staying for a while in the realm of the forefathers (Pitru Loka), it can gain the body of a Deva or a body of any other being.

The fifth verse contains remarkable enumeration. In contrast to a large number of comparable enumerations in Vedic texts, the enumeration here is incomplete. For example, amongst the senses, taste and touch are missing. Among the elements, fire is missing. The author is not in the position to explain why this is the case – but we note that the senses of taste and touch produce the strongest desire, and the energy within the element of fire is the most obvious. Anger and desire are the very roots of our downfall and the door to our way up, as pointed out in Bhagavad Gīta 2:62ff.

The enumeration emphasizes that Jīva is Brahman, is the totality, it is all senses, all elements and the whole spectrum of possible moods. Statements like this and seemingly contradictory statements from other Upanishads have led to endless debates between Vedic philosophers. We outlined in our article on Śrī Vaiṣṇava philosophy that our tradition’s philosophy, Vishishtadvaita, perfectly resolves these apparent contradictions. Vishishtadvaita teaches us that Jīva is Brahman in the sense we call a person „Joe“ while in actuality, neither the fingers nor the hair nor the legs are Joe, Joe is the conscious being that inhabits the body of Joe. In the same way, Rāmānuja points out, is Brahman is the innermost essence of the Jīva, the Āthmā of the Jīva. Hence it is legitimate to call Jīva Brahman.

The 6th verse gives us the reason why we return at all to this world. Having stated before that the Jīva is Brahman, one could ask why Jīvas return to this world at all, why it moves from body to body like a worm between blades of gras. Isn’t its essence Brahman, the totality, the ultimate, God? Why is it so miserable then?

The verse points out that the problem is attachment. The Jīva has been attached to sense objects and acted due to that. Thus action is like an addiction, the Jīva can’t let go of its attachment to sense objects and, by extension, the actions initiated by this. The sanskrit word Karma simply means action, work, in a very practical sense.

This shows that Karma is by no means a trivial mechanism for punishment. It is the continuation of a basic approach to existence, which is shared by all beings: they act to enjoy. Be it a plant that grows in the direction of the sun, be it a deer that looks for the most tasty weeds, be it a human looking the „good life“ of barbeque, beer and Netflix binge watching or be it a Deva seeking heavenly maidens and worship by lower beings. Some actions might have good repercussions, others bad ones. The criterion is whethe other beings experience suffering or delight due to the action. Both will return to the Jīva in due time. In Patanjali’s yoga sutras , we read:

Sutra 3:23
The Karmic effects of ones actions are immediate or delayed. (…)

So, a proper answer to the above questions would be:

Karma is not a punishing menchanism, it is a side effect of actions and often produced unknowingly. Its effects can be delayed. A person does indeed experience bad things due to his or her past actions, but these might have been done long ago.
Likewise, a person that does not experience bad things right now should not assume that it does not have suffient bad karma – this karma is just not manifesting itsself now.

Adiyēn Mādhava Rāmānuja Dāsan

Vedanta vs Empiricism

Mādhava asked in the spring of 2018 on Quora:

Is Vedanta immune to criticism from Atheism/Empiricism because its position is radically subjective?

This question was based on listening to Aron Ra’s intelligent and very systematic refutations of American Evangelist Christian’s „proofs“ for the existence of God. Pondering how we followers of Vedanta would converse with a stout empiricist like Aron Ra, Mādhava came to the conjecture that the subjectivism inherent in Vedanta is the key difference to the Abrahamist’s position. Vedanta starts from the subjective observation, the occurrences in the field (Kshetra) to use the parlance of the Bhagavad Gīta.

Answer by Kratu Nandan (abbreviated)
It is true that Vedanta presupposes a Knower or Witness (subject) which alone is the common element in the ever-changing phenomena of the universe. It is therefore very easy to label Vedanta as ‘radically subjective’. However, it is not as simple as that.

On the contrary, Shankaracharya, in his Brahmasutrabhashya, has uncompromisingly stated that Brahmajnana (Knowledge of the final, underlying Reality of all phenomena) depends solely on the object (vastutantra) and not on the subject (purushatantra or kartrutantra). Evidently, this is out and out objectivity. Therefore Vedanta is not a weak system of philosophy that gleefully hides under the protective canopy of the ‘subjective’.

Vedanta remains objective, and yet remains immune to criticism from empiricism on account of its questioning, challenging and disproving of the conventional definitions and limits of the subject (vishayi) and object (vishaya). Instead, it is shown that the sense organs (indriya) themselves are objects of perception , as opposed to the empiricist’s idea of them being the subject.

(…)

What is more, Vedanta does not consider anything that appears and disappears to be real. Something real must always exist and should remain unaffected by time. Thus, the appearing and disappearing ego, along with its ‘subservient operatives’, are held to be an unreal. The true Knower is the one who perceives the presence and absence of ego, and is always unaffected by it.

Further on, Vedanta observes that what goes under the name of empirical knowledge of the objective world is defective and incomplete, as it is ‘mediate’ (paroksha). What is meant is that such knowledge is obtained, moulded, fashioned and shaped through the ‘medium’ of indriya, manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara, which themselves are unreal. Even taking for granted that they are real, the knowledge obtained through them is relative. We might find a peanut to be a tiny object, while an ant will find it huge. We may see a colourful world while an animal without colour perception will see it differently. Which of us can claim our own knowledge alone to be real?

It is therefore that according to Vedanta, the true knowledge of the objective world lies in getting rid of such media and knowing it directly. The term employed for such a knowledge is – ‘immediate’ (aparoksha). Such a direct perception is called aparokshanubhuti,and the one with such a knowledge is called aparokshajnani.

When through vichara (enquiry) the unreal ego is discarded, the trinity of known, knower and knowledge vanishes – and the Reality without any such distinctions shines as I – but without the ego. The Knower is non-different from Knowledge.

(…)

It is a grand Unity that cannot even be described as One, due to the lack of anything else besides It. It is perfect Silence.

There are at least two logical validations or paradoxes possible in this direction. One is that if the whole physical universe is one interdependent, interwoven system, why is our consciousness limited to our body alone? The other, as Swami Vivekananda points out, is that “motion is possible in comparison with something which is a little less in motion or entirely motionless”. If the universe is taken as a unit whole, it has to be motionless or unchangeable, for there is nothing else besides it with respect to which it changes. Yet, we see movement every moment..

Indeed, the ‘true validation’ of this lies in the Experience of this Unity for the individual concerned, and is verily subjective. The proof of such an experience for the onlookers lie in the conduct of such people. They do not escape any responsibility that life may bring. They completely take it up and execute it to perfection. Their compassion is unbound and universal. They do not transgress anything that is held ethical. The feeble feelings of empathy, love, compassion and responsibility that we, the ordinary people, feel are only pointers in that direction.

The reproducibility of such an experience is seen when such people instill similar feelings in the individuals they come in contact with, which is also subjective. Moreover, the deep sleep (that comes closest to aparokshanubhuti) in which the subject-object duality is suspended, though subjective, is a universal experience. The articulation of the deep sleep experience is universally corroborated, reproduced and validated in the words, ‘I did not know anything then’.

Finally, for that matter, the reproducibility of any empirical validation is also subjective, as the validation will have to be experienced by a validator, and is relative to him.

To conclude, Vedanta is not escaping the objectivity criterion. In an uncompromising, undying effort to grasp the objective, it discards what is wrongly held to be the subject, and finally declares the distinction of ‘objective & subjective’ and ‘God and the individual’ to be limited, relative and false.

I hope I made some sense in writing all this!

Mādhava
Ooh, I think we are getting confused by the words objective and subjective. If we take object in the Advaita sense as “the perceived”, yes, agree, then there is no issue.

There are two buts:

  • if we put on the hat of an empiricist, objective means perceivable for all, reproducible. He would not accept your conclusion as it can not be proven by the “objective (his sense of the word)” means of science. He might say that if everything beyond the perceiver is unreal, Advaita is pure religion as it does not allow for falsification.
  • Even tough many take Vedanta = Advaita, that’s not the case. In fact the lineage in which I received Deeksha, the Śrī Vaishnava Sampradāya, has very strong objections on Advaita which I share. As there are parts of the Upanishads which speak of difference between Jīvāthmā and Brahman and a real world, we cannot presuppose that everything beyond the perceiver is ultimately unreal / the same category of object (in the Advaita sense).

So, I think it’s not that easy. We cannot use the Advaita presupposition since this position is rejected both by empiricists and some Vedanta schools, so we can’t argue us as followers of Sanatana Dharma out from the criticism of empiricists this way…

Kratu Nandan

🙂 Thanks for your comments. As an academic student of physics, I understand it well enough. The solution lies in questioning the empiricists’ criteria.

  1. Vedanta does not deny the empiricists’ meaning that what is “objective” must be perceivable for all. It simply extends it by saying that anything that is objective should be “perceivable for all (all cognitive entities including animals) at all times”. Therefore, it should be perceivable to oneself at all times too. In other words, it should be time-space-independent. The only thing, Vedanta says, that is time-space-independent is the “perceiver”. The only constant in the ever changing phenomena is the witness of it. And no one can deny that he as a perceiver exists. Or does the empiricist say that his existence as a perceiver should be perceived by all to be true? Is not the perception of one’s own existence independent of other’s validation?
  2. If this criterion of time-space-independence be included, would falsification of the empiricists’ “means of science” based on it be allowed? If yes, then the empiricists’ “objective” will become a time-space-dependent religion. If not allowed, how can we take something to be objective if it isn’t perceived by all at all times? How can we agree upon something that we don’t even perceive or perceive only at certain times and places?
  3. Does the empiricist deny his own mind as an object of perception? Is it not “known” by him? Is his mind an object for any of thr five senses? If “perceivable for all” be the criterion, then his mind doesn’t exist, as it is not at all perceivable through senses for anyone, let alone all.
  4. Does the empiricists’ “all” include the other cognitive entities including animals?
  5. Do not the “all (other people who are equal validators)” form a part of his own experience? Do they exist outside his own experience? Does he or anyone at anytime have anything but their own experiences to rely on? Does anyone at anytime cognise anything but his/her own experience? Is the empiricist’s experience “perceivable for all”? If not, are those experiences objective by his own definition? If he admits they aren’t objective, how and why does he rely on them? Is not the criterion, “perceivable by all”, one’s own experience?
  6. Who will validate the “perceivable for all” criterion? Collectively by every single cognitive entity at the present moment? Or is it that “all” a hypothetical?
  7. Why does the empiricist limit his “perceivable by all” to the senses alone?
  8. Coming to interpretations of Vedanta as being many faced, yes. As a south Indian, I am more aware of it.But if you question the followers of each of those groups, they will say their’s alone is true. So, in the individual’s perception, there is only one Vedanta.
  9. I must say, with all due immense respects to all the great acharyas of all the sampradayas, none of them can even come close to addressing the empiricists ideas, but Advaita.

Finally, thanks for this question. It’s very desirable to engage in such thought processes.

Mādhava

1) I doubt that your fellow physicists or numerous non Advaita Acharyas would agree. From an empiricist‘s point of view, predictability and measureability suffices for objective existence. Requiring the permanence you outline already imposes the Advaita result of non-existence of reality.

5) & 6) This is presuposing Advaita Siddhānta. Empirically, we can easily demonstrate that you are not me and perceive differently.

9) : ) I would object to that, but that‘s kinda obvious, isn’t it?