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Bhedabheda

Discussion in 'Hinduism DIR' started by Meerkat, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    I've been looking at the philosophy of Bhedabheda, but I'm not clear about how things can be both identical and different. How would you explain this?

    Bhedabheda | Hindu philosophy
     
  2. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    I am posting the relevant portions about the mid-level vedanta philosophies from Wikipedia which you may find useful. The different schools are Nimbarka's Dvaita-Advaita, Ramanuja's Vishishta-Advaita, Vallabha's Shuddha-Advaita and Chaitanya's Acintya Bhedabheda Vedanta.

    The characteristic position of all the different Bhedābheda Vedānta schools is that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman. Each thinker within the Bhedābheda Vedānta tradition has their own particular understanding of the precise meanings of the philosophical terms "difference" and "non-difference". Bhedābheda Vedāntic ideas can be traced to some of the very oldest Vedāntic texts, including quite possibly Bādarāyaṇa's Brahma Sūtra (c. 4th century CE).

    Bhedābheda predates the positions of two other major schools of Vedānta. The Advaita (Non-dual) Vedānta that claims that the individual self is completely identical to Brahman, and the Dvaita (Dualist) Vedānta (13th century) that teaches complete difference between the individual self and Brahman.

    Nimbarka
    (7th Century ?): According to Nimbarka, there are three categories of existence, namely Isvara (God, Divine Being); cit (jiva, the individual soul); and acit (lifeless matter). Cit and acit are different from Isvara, in the sense that they have attributes (Guna) and capacities (Swabhaava), which are different from those of Isvara. At the same time, cit and acit are not different from Isvara, because they cannot exist independently of Him. Isvara is independent and exists by Himself, while cit and acit exist in dependence upon Him. Difference means a kind of existence which is separate but dependent, (para-tantra-satta-bhava); while non-difference means impossibility of separate existence (svatantra-satta-bhava).

    Vallabha: The school of in-essence monism or purified non-dualism of Vallabha sees equality in "essence" of the individual self with God. There is no real difference between the two (like the analogy of sparks to fire). However, unlike Shankara's Advaita, Vallabha does not deny God as the whole and the individual as the part. The individual soul is not the Supreme (Satcitananda) clouded by the force of avidya, but is itself Brahman, with one attribute (ananda) rendered imperceptible. The soul is both a doer and enjoyer.

    Ramanuja: VishishtAdvaita (literally "Advaita with uniqueness; qualifications") is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy. It is non-dualism of the qualified whole, in which Brahman alone exists, but is characterized by multiplicity. It can be described as qualified monism or qualified non-dualism or attributive monism. It is a school of Vedanta philosophy which believes in all diversity subsuming to an underlying unity.
    Asesha Chit-Achit Prakaaram Brahmaikameva Tatvam: Living and non-living are the various modes of Brahman with no remainder(i.e., there is no exception)

    Chaitanya (Hare-Krishnas): The philosophy of Achintya-bheda-abheda includes elements of both viewpoints (Dvaita and Advaita). The living soul is intrinsically linked with the Supreme Lord, and yet at the same time is not the same as God - the exact nature of this relationship being inconceivable to the human mind. The Soul is considered to be part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. Same in quality but not in quantity. God having all opulence in fullness, the spirit soul however, having only a partial expression of His divine opulence. God in this context is compared to a fire and the souls as sparks coming off of the flame.

    The best explanation of these philosophies is in Surendranath Dasgupta's History of Indian Philosophy (Part 1 for a short description and Part 3 for a full description). The book is avalaible at Archives.org. Part 1 will be enough for your purpose. I will go through that and post what I find important.
     
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  3. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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  4. shivsomashekhar

    shivsomashekhar Active Member

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    it is tricky, but oneness-difference is more logical than oneness.

    There is no perfect example, but the traditional, real world example for Bhedabheda is wave-ocean. Or the painting-canvas combo.

    Going by these examples, Bhedabheda's ontology makes the soul completely dependent on Ishvara. The soul is real, distinct, permanent and has its own identity, but it is part of a whole or is owned. Hence, the emphasis on Bhakti and Sharanagati (surrender) in schools that adopt this view. This approach has the best support from Sruti as it requires the least interpretation.

    Contrast the above with oneness where the number of open questions are too many. Does A become B? If A becomes B, A no longer exists. But if A was always B, then who is talking about oneness to whom and what is Vedanta all about for A is already B and there is nothing to be done? These questions have been discussed multiple times on this forum. This view only finds support from Abedha Sruti and requires reinterpretation of (or just dismissal) of all other Sruti.

    The third ontology is strict, absolute duality. Logically, this is the most simplest and straight forward system. But it requires radical reinterpretation of Sruti to find support.

    To summarize:

    Oneness (Advaita) - Moderate scripture support, complex/convoluted logic
    Duality (Dvaita) - Moderate scripture support, very simple and straightforward logic
    Oneness-difference (Bhedabheda, Vishistadvaita) - Strong scripture support, moderately complex logic
     
    #4 shivsomashekhar, Sep 14, 2020
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  5. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Yes, that's useful. It seems to support the Upanishads description of everything being Brahman, rather than setting up the strange Advaitan dichotomy of Brahman v. Maya.

    I've always felt that preaching Brahman v. non-Brahman stuff is incongruous for a tradition like Advaita, which rests on non-duality.
     
    #5 Meerkat, Sep 14, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  6. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    There is no non-Brahman stuff in the whole universe in Vedanta (even in Madhva's 'Dvaita', though I have not researched it. It was a discussion with a follower of Madhva). Maya in not vs. Brahman. Maya is because of Brahman, because of the object which causes a shadow against light. The very existence of Brahman causes all 'maya'. Just like energy causes waves / fundamental particles duality, and then they cause atoms and molecules and all the phenomena of the universe. Since Brahman is eternal, maya too is eternal. One can understand the process of maya, but no one can escape it. 'I' can escape maya only after death, but that will be a wrong statement because after death, there will be no 'me' to escape maya. Till 'I' remains, maya will always be there. If the observer is there, then there will be the observed too. Do not observe, and there will be no wave function collapse (Wave function collapse - Wikipedia). It is pure physics. :D
     
  7. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    A person's choice if one wants to escape complex logic (once understood, it is not at all complex. Convoluted is an abuse). :D
     
  8. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    It is true that as per Advaita Vedanta, everything is pure consciousness at its fundamental state and are all one.

    Prajñanam brahma - Brahman is pure consciousness (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)

    “There is One unchanging indivisible Reality which, though unmanifest, reveals Itself in infinite multiplicity and diversity.” ~ Anandamayi Ma

    It is through the multiplicity of name and form that one can arrive at the One. It is from this One that this Infinite Variety has manifested. In the end all return to that effulgent One.~ Shivayogini Matha



    However, this does not mean that one should stroke the head of the tiger or alligator.

    The advaitan perception comes clearly to the enlightened one, free from the pull of karma, while it is mostly misunderstood or misinterpreted by unenlightened ones as per their imaginative speculations, as highlighted and warned about in the Srimad Bhagavatham and Vedas. This error is because of the difficulty of thought in comprehending something subtler than it. One's own purified consciousness, not the intellect or thought, then becomes the instrument to comprehend Brahman properly.

    Brahman is true, and its tangible manifestation of Shakti as in matter,energy, space, time and causation is also true. If we ignore the latter, we will not be able to function efficiently in the world.

    For the common people and laymen who need a philosophy to function effectively in the practical and empirical world with an element of spirituality, Bhedabheda and other dualistic religious philosophies can be employed.
     
  9. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Thanks, that's a useful summary of the three positions. It's nice to see an objective view.
    So with Bhedabheda, Atman is a distinct part of Brahman, the whole? Like a wave is part of the ocean?
    Is the distinction between Saguna and Nirguna Brahman relevant here?
     
    #9 Meerkat, Sep 15, 2020
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  10. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    So you're saying that Maya is because of Brahman, but is not itself Brahman? And yet the Upanishads say that everything is Brahman.... Hmm!
    But what has Maya got to do with Bhedabheda anyway?
     
    #10 Meerkat, Sep 15, 2020
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  11. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Thanks, but you seem more concerned with promoting Advaita than answering the OP question.
     
    #11 Meerkat, Sep 15, 2020
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  12. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    The advaitan teaching that pure consciousness pervades all of existence and is the fundamental state, is the basic fact. This is perceptible upon enlightenment.

    Your question is how things can be both identical and different.

    I have given you the analogy that pure consciousness pervades both the tiger and alligator and you as well at the fundamental state, but obviously you need to exercise discretion in the practical world and abstain from giving hugs to them.

    Bhedabheda philosophy helps one to understand that all of existence is one at its fundamental essence, while at the same time appreciating the diversity and differences that mark existence on the outside, and acting accordingly.
     
  13. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    To me Advaita logic does look convoluted, particularly the stuff about Brahman v. Maya.
    That's an observation, not an "abuse".

    Anyway, could we get back to Bhedabheda, rather than yet another display of Advaita rhetoric?
     
    #13 Meerkat, Sep 15, 2020
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  14. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    But with Bhedabheda, the diversity is real, not illusory. And it's all Brahman, as per the Upanishads.
    I don't buy your rhetoric about Advaita being the superior interpretation.
     
    #14 Meerkat, Sep 15, 2020
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  15. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    The diversity is real. If it is not, I would not be spending time conversing with you on the subject. Similarly the unitary consciousness that pervades the tangible existence is also real.

    Both Brahman and Shakti are real.

    Does the Upanishads differ from the Advaitan interpretation of Brahman !
     
  16. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Maya envelopes Brahman. It inserts colored glasses lenses and prisms, like we see in distortion of stellar images due to heavy objects, making us think what is not truth to be the truth. But just like scientists are able to account for the distortion and know the exact location of the distant star, an enlightened person is able to realize the abberations due to maya and know the truth.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  17. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Well, you can't blame me for that. I am an advaitist. But I have collected information for you about philosophies which do not go the whole hog one way or the other, i.e., advaita and dvaita. I still want to provide you more information from Surendranath Dasgupta's book.
    Yeah, it is. Saguna too has some special attributes but in essence is the same as Nirguna.
    Maya is what causes the 'Bheda' - Difference. Otherwise it is all Brahman Abheda (No difference).
     
    #17 Aupmanyav, Sep 15, 2020
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  18. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    No, the difference is illusory. It is not illusory only in Dvaita (Duality) of Sri Madhvacharya. In pragamtic sense (Vyavaharika), the difference is real. In absolute sense (Parmarthika), the difference is illusory. So, it is important to realize at what place are we considering the things. In Vyavaharika Pakistan and China are India's enemies. In Absolute sence, they are same as India.
    Oh, you are not alone. Most Hindus will not accept my interpretation and I am not disappointed by that. They are welcome to their views.
     
    #18 Aupmanyav, Sep 15, 2020
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  19. shivsomashekhar

    shivsomashekhar Active Member

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    Correct. The Atman is part of the whole and has its own distinct identity. This is why I was saying the example is close, but not perfect. The wave has a finite lifetime after which it no longer exists (loses its identity). But according to Vedanta, souls are eternal. This is only possible if they retain their distinct identities forever.

    No. The concept of Nirguna Brahman is peculiar to Advaita and has no place in other traditions of Vedanta. There is only one Brahman and this Brahman has an infinite number of auspicious gunas.
     
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  20. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Sākṣī
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    Is this from a Bhedabheda perspective, or is this your personal opinion?
     
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