Sometimes, to explain the empirical world, Shri Shankara gives his cosmological teachings4 min read

Sometimes, to explain the empirical world and taking it to be existent for the sake of argument, Shri Shankara gives his cosmological teachings. But he never means for a second that the world of time-space and causation has any reality independent of Brahman. In his great Advaitism, Ishvara and Brahman are synonymous terms. Brahman is the origin and the source of the world. The highest good in life in which all duality ends and unbroken bliss is discovered is the one and only cause of the universe. It is to be realized by the individualised consciousness (the jiva) as his own Self, the very essence, pure and undifferentiated.

In his great commentary on the Vedanta Sutras the great Acharya says: “It has been further shown that Brahman is the omniscient and omnipotent cause of the origin, subsistence and dissolution of the world”. To cut all roots of materialism or quasi-materialism of Sankhya, Shri Shankara calls the intelligent Brahman the cause of the world. It is not the Pradhana of Sankhya nor Maya of the Neo- Vedantists which is the cause of the world. It is Brahman and Brahman alone.

Brahman is the first and originating cause of the universe and therefore it is reasonable to call it the Self of the universe and of every atom of it. Again and again the holy Acharya asserts Brahman to be omnipotent and omniscient. Maya can he said to be the magical cause, that is the inexplicable cause of the universe. Maya is the actualisation of the omnipotence of Brahman and it is in no way different from IT.

Shri Shankara recognizes one ultimate reality which is non-dual. That philosophy which recognizes duality will fall like foam in the water under the searchlight of dialectics.

The summit of human achievement is neither karma nor devotion nor learning but the realization that the very Self of man is the non-dual Brahman. Then alone all evils cease and the transmigratory existence and its attendant evils cease, once and for all.

The modern interpreters of the Advaita of Shankara who, like Prakashatman, feel the necessity of recognising a Mayavisishta Brahman are not faithful to the great Acharya.

The Advaita of Shri Shankara is not Platonism in which God is held to be a supremely good soul; hut He is not the same as the good and is on a lower level of reality than the pure good. Plato held that God is the intermediate good, a link between the eternal and unchanging universe of the Ideas and the world of mutations in which birth and death succeed each other in a perpetual cycle. Plato held that God is the Creator and Maker of the universe but He is a soul and not the supreme “Form”.

The Vivarana school is not the highest school of Advaita.

It is clear that Plato failed to understand the position of God and assigned Him a perilous position as the modern Vedantists do to Brahman.

We do not accept a conflict in the Vedantic metaphysics and Vedantic religion. Plato’s metaphysics lost ground on account of the complaint of duality raised by the Neo- Platonists and it assumed a new form.

Padmapada is a true exponent of Shri Shankara and not Prakashatman. The golden age of Vedanta is the age of Shri Shankara and Padmapada. Thibaut falls into the same error.

Brahman is a truly creative reality. We have to meditate on Brahman as the cause of the world and also of the personality of the jiva. In the realm of experience the aspirant accepts a provisional duality which is demolished in the higher aspect of experience called Ahangraha.

The Saguna Brahman is a progressive realization of the truth of Brahman. Through upasana of the Saguna Brahman we realize the Nirguna Brahman.

There are passages in the Chandogya such as: “He is my soul within my heart, greater than the earth, smaller than the ear of corn”. They are meant to be texts for meditation and are not the direct or highest texts like:”That thou art”. In the preparatory stages Brahman is to he meditated on as “having all natures, all desires, all tastes”.

There is no irreconcilable element in the metaphysics of Shri Shankara. The seeming duality is meant for upasana.

Brahman is jneya (to be known) as the Self of all; He is to be meditated upon (upasya) as the Creator of all. The Self and Brahman are identical and there is no duality in Shri Shankara’s system.

Swami Rama Tirthaji was asked” Sir, why the dualistic passages in the Upanishads if the truth is Advaita?”. “My son”, said the Mahatma”, “you have to speak to children in their own language”. I bowed low at the feet of the Mahatma. He withdrew his feet, saying: “That thou art, my son”.

Index for this series on Fundamental points on the Advaita of Shri Shankara that are overlooked or misunderstood: