Sunday, March 9, 2008
Do the Upanishads talk about Ishwara?
Q> > Does the concept of Ishvara find its greatest support and precise in the Brahma Sutra? Can it stand in tact without this and solely on the Upanishads ?I think it is futile to look for "precise formulations". Apart from the basic equation of Atman = brahman, I doubt if there are any absolutely precise formulations (about Ishwara) in advaita-vedAnta.
When we say that the equation atman = brahman is the only absolutely
precise formulation, perhaps it is useful to remember that this
equation (like all equations) is talking about two seemingly
dissimilar entities. Like mass and energy.
It makes no sense at all to say Brahman = Brahman.
What Vedanta refers to as atman is the jivatman alone.
No sooner does the term jivatman come into the picture, then that very
instance the term Paramatman or ParaBrahman is immediately relevant -
the equation points to the truth or essence of these seemingly
opposing entities being nondifferent i.e. the jivatma has no reality
separate from the Paramatma.
So inherent in the very fact that Vedanta talks about a equation is a
construct or an Order that involves the jiva,the jagat,and Ishwara.
This Order needs to be accounted for in any analysis of the Scripture.
These immortal words in the Kaivalopanishad are crystal clear
"(Who is) unthinkable, unmanifest, of endless forms, the good, the
peaceful, Immortal, the origin of the worlds, without beginning,
middle, and end, the only one, all-pervading, Consciousness, and
Bliss, the formless and the wonderful. Meditating on the highest Lord,
allied to Uma, powerful, three-eyed, blue-necked, and tranquil, the
holy man reaches Him who is the source of all, the witness of all and
is beyond darkness (i.e. Avidya). He is Brahma, He is Shiva, He is
Indra, He is the Immutable, the Supreme, the Self-luminous, He alone
is Vishnu, He is Prana, He is Time and Fire, He is the Moon. He alone
is all that was, and all that will be, the Eternal; knowing Him, one
transcends death; there is no other way to freedom."
"Thus realising the Paramatman, who lies in the cavity of the heart,
who is without parts, and without a second, the Witness of all, beyond
both existence and non-existence one attains the Pure Paramatman
The Bhagawad Gita exhaustively, and categorically, talks about Ishwara
or Paramatman - terminologies and vocabulary may be different in
different chapters, but the message is both uniform and unambiguous.
I would also like to point out that the term Ishwara does not really
refer to one particular "God" such as Shiva or Vishnu or Devi but to
the Omniscient Omnipotent, Nondual One, as in "vistabhyaham idam
krtsnam ekamsena sthito jagat" "With a single fragment of Myself I
pervade and support this entire universe."
In no scripture in Hinduism whether it be the Upanishads, the Bhagawad Gita or the BrahmaSutras will you find a circumvention of Ishwara - He is innate and implicit
in each of the Shrutivakyas.