The combination of panpsychism and priority monism leads to priority cosmopsychism, the view that the consciousness of individual sentient creatures is derivative of an underlying cosmic consciousness. It has been suggested that contemporary priority cosmopsychism parallels central ideas in the Advaita Vedānta tradition. The paper offers a critical evaluation of this claim. It argues that the Advaitic account of consciousness cannot be characterized as an instance of priority cosmopsychism, points out the differences between the two views, and suggests an alternative (...) positioning of the Advaitic canon within the contemporary debate on monism and panpsychism. (shrink)
It is argued that when it comes to the hard problem of consciousness neutral monism beats out the competition. It is further argued that neutral monism provides a unique route to a novel type of panentheism via Advaita Vedanta Hinduism.
Apart from his voluminous, immensely learned, and spectacularly successful contributions to the fields of Hermeneutics, non-dualist Metaphysics, and poetics, the sixteenth century South Indian polymath Appayyadīkṣita is famed for reviving from obscurity the moribund Śaivite Vedānta tradition represented by the Brahmasūtrabhāṣya of Śrīkaṇṭha. Appayya’s voluminous commentary on this work, his Śivārkamaṇidīpikā, not only reconstitutes Śrīkaṇṭha’s system, but radically transforms it, making it into a springboard for Appayya’s own highly original critiques of standard views of Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta. Appayya addresses long (...) sections of his commentary to matters dealt with glancingly or not at all in the root text, drawing conclusions which Śrīkaṇṭha nowhere endorses. Furthermore, the distinctive positions Appayya develops in the Śivārkamaṇidīpikā feed into Appayya’s other works in ways that have so far been largely ignored by modern scholars. For example, most or all the discussions Appayya’s Pūrvottaramīmāṃsāvādanakṣatramālā, twenty-seven essays on scattered topics in Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta, build on arguments first advanced in the Śivārkamaṇidīpikā—most notably Appayya’s totally original theory of the signification of adjectives, first developed in the Śivārkamaṇidīpikā, the full elaboration and defense of which takes up fully sixteen of the twenty-seven essays that make up the Pūrvottaramīmāṃsāvādanakṣatramālā. (shrink)
The philosophical teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, the nineteenth-century Bengali mystic, have been a source of lively interpretive controversy. Numerous commentators have interpreted Sri Ramakrishna’s views in terms of a particular philosophical sect, such as Advaita, Viśiṣṭāḍvaita, or Tantra. Militating against this sectarian approach to Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings, I argue that Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy is best characterized as “Vijñāna Vedānta,” a resolutely non-sectarian philosophy—rooted in the spiritual experience of what Sri Ramakrishna calls “vijñāna”—that harmonizes various apparently conflicting religious faiths, sectarian philosophies, (...) and spiritual disciplines. Part I outlines five interpretive principles that should govern any attempt to determine Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophical views on the basis of his recorded teachings. With this hermeneutic groundwork in place, Part II attempts to reconstruct from Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophical teachings the six main tenets of his Vijñāna Vedānta. Part III begins to explore how Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings on religious pluralism can be brought into dialogue with John Hick’s influential theory of religious pluralism. (shrink)
In this article, I suggest that moksha (liberation or enlightenment) in Advaita Vedanta is best understood psychologically. A psychological understanding is not only consistent with the Advaita Vedanta articulated by Shankara and Gaudapada, but avoids what will be called the problem of jivan mukti. This article will consist of three main parts. First, I will briefly discuss the metaphysics and ontology of Advaita Vedanta. Next, I will present the problem of jivan mukti, and the Advaitin response to (...) the problem. The problem of jivan mukti will lead to the third portion of the article, which is a presentation of what moksha is. At no point in the article will I be arguing the truth of the Advaitin position. Instead, I will be meeting Advaita on its own terms in order to come to some understanding of moksha. (shrink)
This and the following lessons cover the topic of Vedānta and ethics. Vedānta has two meanings. The first is the literal sense – “End of Vedas” – and refers to the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads—the latter part of the Vedas. The second sense of “Vedanta” is a scholastic one, and refers to a philosophical orientation that attempts to explain the cryptic Vedānta Sūtra (Brahma Sūtra) of Bādarāyaṇa, which aims at being a summary of the End of the Vedas. We shall (...) pursue the question of ethics in both senses of Vedānta. In this module we shall examine the ethical theory of Deontology found in the Upaniṣads. Having explored the implications of this model for moral philosophy, we can reflect upon the three commentarial approaches. In this lesson, we will examine Śaṅkara’s Advaita approach. Advaita Vedānta, especially in Śaṅkara's form, presents a version of moral scepticism, or more strongly, moral irrealism. In this account, there is nothing objective about ethics: it mediates our desires-oriented psychology, and should be dispensed with along with the desire-oriented psychology. Śaṅkara seems to come close to doing the impossible: saying insightful things about what he takes to be a fiction, which is the individual self, for which ethics is essential. (shrink)
Do you have to be one to know one? Madhvàcàrya, the founder of the thirteenth century school of Vedànta, answered this question with a resounding 'yes!' Madhvàcàrya's insistence that one must be a Màdhva to study Màdhva Vedànta led him to employ various strategies to exclude outsiders and unauthorized readers from accessing the root texts of his tradition and from obtaining oral commentary from living virtuosos. Deepak Sarma explores the degree to which outsiders can understand and interpret the doctrine of (...) the Màdhva school of Vedànta. The school is based on insider epistemology which is so restrictive that few can learn its intricate doctrines. This book reveals the complexity of studying traditions based on insider epistemologies and encourages its audience to ponder both the value and the hazards of granting any outsider the authority and opportunity to derive important insights into a tradition as an insider. The first analysis of the Màdhva tradition, this work contributes to the ongoing controversies regarding epistemic authority and voice in religious studies. (shrink)
The seventeenth century author Nīlakaṇṭha Caturdhara wrote several works criticising the Vedāntic theology of the sixteenth century author, Appayya Dīkṣita. In one of these works, the Vedāntakataka, Nīlakaṇṭha picks out two doctrines for criticism: that the liberated soul becomes the Lord, and that souls thus liberated remain the Lord until all other souls are liberated. These doctrines appear both in Appayya’s Advaitin and in his Śivādvaitin writings. They appear to be ones to which Appayya was committed. They raise theological and (...) conceptual problems, however, both in themselves as doctrines, and as part of nondual Vedāntic teaching. A study of the Vedāntakataka reveals those features of Appayya’s Vedānta that Advaitins in Banaras in the century after his life considered to be anomalous, and illuminates aspects of the context in which his ideas developed and circulated. (shrink)
The quest for self knowledge is pervasive in indian thought and is a central concern of advaita vedanta--The non-Dualistic system expounded primarily by samkara. The article explicates the advaitic conception of the self in its two primary dimensions: self and the empirical self. Arguments used to demonstrate the supreme self are critically appraised and the various theories which seek to explain the relation that obtains between the supreme self and the empirical self are examined. The advaitic analysis of the (...) empirical self is interpreted to be a "phenomenology of consciousness." it is argued that advaita vedanta does not so much explain the self as it describes the process by which we come to believe that it exists. The four levels of consciousness identified by advaita are then analyzed in terms of their respective ontological contexts and epistemological contents. (shrink)
This book is a compilation of various articles published in the special issue of the English journal 'The Vedanta Kesari' of December 2002. Many monks and other thinkers have put forth their ideas on various methods to organise our lives.
In this paper I compare two very different deployments of love in ethics. Swami Vivekananda's concept of ethical love ties into the project of constructing an alternative masculinity for a colonized people; while feminist care ethics uses love to escape the perceived masculinity of traditional ethical theory. Using Kenneth Goodpaster's distinction between ‘framework questions’ and ‘application questions,’ I try to show that love in Practical Vedanta addresses the former while feminist care ethics concerns itself with the latter. Even though (...) this difference, I suggest, could be a function of their varying historical-political contexts, the two issues need to be taken together for a more complete understanding of the ethical subject. (shrink)
A human being is a complex entity consisting of the Self (also known as Consciousness), mind, senses and the body. The Vedānta tradition holds that the mind, the senses and the body are essentially different from the Self or Consciousness. It is through consciousness that we are able to know the things of the world, making use of the medium of the mind and the senses. Furthermore, the mind, though material, is able to reveal things, borrowing the light from consciousness. (...) From the phenomenological point of view, we have to answer the following questions: how does one know the mind/the mental operations/the cogitations of the mind? Does the mind know itself? Is it possible? There is, again, the problem of the intentionality of consciousness. Is consciousness intentional? According to Vedānta, consciousness by its very nature is not intentional, but it becomes intentional through the mind. The mind or the ego is not part of the consciousness; on the contrary, it is transcendent to consciousness. It is difficult to spell out the relation between consciousness and the mind. How does consciousness, which is totally different from the mind, get related to the mind in such a way that it makes the latter capable of comprehending the things of the world? The Vedānta tradition provides the answer to this question in terms of the knower-known relation. Consciousness is pure light, self-luminous by its very nature, that is, although it reveals other objects, it is not revealed by anything else. When Sartre describes it as nothingness, bereft of even ego, it is to show that it is pure light revealing objects outside it. (shrink)
The late 16th century Indian philosopher Vijñānabhikṣu is most well known today for his commentaries on Sāṃkhya and Yoga texts. However, the majority of his extant corpus belongs to the tradition of Bhedābheda (Difference and Non-Difference) Vedānta. This article elucidates three Vedāntic arguments from Vijñānabhikṣu’s voluminous commentary on the Brahma Sūtra, entitled Vijñānāmṛtabhāṣya (Commentary on the Nectar of Knowledge). The first section of the article explores the meaning of bhedābheda, showing that in Vijñānabhikṣu’s understanding, “difference and non-difference” does not entail (...) a denial of the principle of contradiction. The second shows how the relation between the individual soul (jīva) and Brahman can be understood as a relation of part and whole. The third section discusses Brahman as cause of the world, and Vijñānabhikṣu’s particular formulation of Brahman as “locus cause” (adhiṣṭhānakāraṇa). Understanding these arguments enables us to appreciate how Vijñānabhikṣu’s Difference and Non-Difference Vedānta is a credible alternative to the Advaita Vedānta schools prevalent in northern India in the late medieval period, and how in his later works Vijñānabhikṣu built upon this Difference and Non-Difference metaphysical framework to argue for the unity of Vedānta, Yoga, and Sāṃ-khya philosophies. (shrink)
The aim of this dissertation is to present a systematic exposition of renunciation (Samnyasa) as a philosophico-religious category within Indian tradition with special reference to Advaita Vedanta of Samkaracarya.
Vṛṣabhadeva’s Sphuṭākṣarā, a commentary on the first chapter of Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya and its Vṛtti, offers a peculiar interpretation of the monistic ideas exposed at the beginning of the mūla text. The reflection on the status of ordinary reality and its relation with the unitary metaphysical principle is particularly interesting. Although according to Bhartṛhari’s perspective the entities of the world are real, the Sphuṭākṣarā offers a more intricate picture in which different degrees of reality seem involved. Furthermore, the author adopts hermeneutical (...) tools that are unusual in Bhartṛhari’s texts, and comparable to those of Advaita Vedānta. In particular, the article will deal with Vṛṣabhadeva’s use of the notion of ‘inexpressibility’, as well as with other concepts which are typical of the scholastic phase of Advaita. In discussing these affinities the paper will also touch upon the problem of Vṛṣabhadeva’s historical collocation. (shrink)
Dharmarāja Adhvarin’s Vedānta Paribhāṣā is a well-known introduction to Advaita Vedānta, targeted to beginners who are already trained in Navya Nyāya. According to Dasgupta, the VP is so heavily indebted to Rāmādvaya’s Vedānta Kaumudī, which was composed in the middle of the 14th century and is today almost forgotten, that the VP’s “claim to originality vanishes”. The VK was, however, only edited in 1955 and then again in 1973. In the light of this improved textual basis, what is our judgement (...) about Dasgupta’s hypercritical statement? Did actually the VP ever claim to be original? Was this originality somehow superimposed on the VP later? Is the VP really so much indebted to the VK? This paper aims at comparatively analysing the textual background of these questions. I will start from the analysis of one Advaita’s epistemological tenet, namely the valid knowledge, in the VK and then compare it to the corresponding parts in the VP. (shrink)
pt. 1. Five schools: Samkara's Kevalādvaitāda. Rāmānuja's Visiṣtādvaitavāda. Nimbārka's Svābhāvika-Dvaitādvaitavāda. Madhva's Dvaita-vāda. Vallabha's Śuddhādvaita-vāda.--pt. 2. Further reflections on the five schools of the Vedanta.--pt. 3. Five remaining schools, together with the unique school of Swami Vivekananda.
Introduction: Experiential deconstructive inquiry -- Foundational philosophies and spiritual methods -- Non-duality in Advaita Vedanta and Zen Buddhism -- Ontological differences and non-duality -- Meditative inquiry, questioning, and dialoguing as a means to spiritual insight -- The undoing or deconstruction of dualistic conceptions -- Advaita Vedanta : philosophical foundations and deconstructive strategies -- Sources of the tradition -- Upaniads that art thou (Tat Tvam Asi) -- Gauapda (c.7th century) : no bondage, no liberation -- Aakara (c.7th-8th century) : (...) there is no apprehender different from this apprehension to apprehend it -- Modern and contemporary masters -- Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) : who am I? -- H.W.L Poonja (1910-1997) : you have to do nothing to be who you are! -- Gangaji (b. 1942) : you are that! -- Advaita Vedanta summary : nothing ever happens -- Zen Buddhism : philosophical foundations and deconstructive strategies -- Sources of the tradition -- The Lakvatra Sutra and the Vajracchedik Prajñpramit Sutra all things ... are not independent of each other and not two -- Ngrjuna (c.113-213) : Sasra is Nirva -- Eihei Dgen (1200-1253) : if I am already enlightened, why must I practice -- Contemporary masters -- Ekai Korematsu (b. 1948) : return to the spine -- Hgen Yamahata (b. 1935) : why not now -- Zen Buddhism summary : neither being nor non-being is to be taken hold of -- Deconstructive techniques and dynamics of experiential undoing -- Deconstructive techniques common to both traditions -- The teacher-student dynamic -- Key deconstructive techniques -- Unfindability analysis -- Bringing everything back to the here and now -- Paradoxical problems -- Negation -- Dynamics of experiential undoing -- Non-dual experiential space -- Experiential mapping : practitioners in the space -- Experiential undoing in Advaita Vedanta -- Experiential undoing in Zen Buddhism -- Conclusion: Deconstruction of reified awareness. (shrink)
Applying Michel Henry’s philosophical framework to the phenomenological analysis of religious experience, the author introduces a concept of material introspection and a new theory of the constitution of religious experience in phenomenologically material interiority. As opposed to ordinary mental self-scrutiny, material introspection happens when the usual outgoing attention is reverted onto embodied self-awareness in search of mystical self-knowledge or union with God. Such reversal posits the internal field of consciousness with the self-disclosure of phenomenological materiality. As shown by the example (...) of Vedantic self-inquiry, material introspection is conditioned on the attitude ‘I “see” myself’ and employs reductions which relieve phenomenological materiality from the structuring influence of intentionality; the telos of material introspection is expressed by the inward self-transcendence of intentional consciousness into purified phenomenological materiality. Experience in material introspection is constituted by the self-affection and self-luminosity of phenomenological materiality; experience is recognized as religious due to such essential properties as the capacity of being selffulfilled, and specific qualitative “what it’s like”(s). Drawing on more than 5000 live accounts of internal religious experience, it is shown that introspective attention can have different trajectories, producing, within a temporal extension of material introspection, different spatial modifications of embodied selfawareness and a variety of corresponding religious experiences. (shrink)