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Featured Hindu Only: Brahman

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by SalixIncendium, Sep 16, 2020.

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  1. I am Advaitan and accept the concept of Nirguna Brahman.

    5 vote(s)
    55.6%
  2. I am not Advaitan and accept the concept of Nirguna Brahman.

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
  3. I am Advaitan and do not accept the concept of Nirguna Brahman.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. I am not Advaitan and do not accept the concept of Nirguana Brahman.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. None of the choices above reflect my view (explain below).

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
  1. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Sākṣī
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    As noted in the title, this thread is in Same Faith Debates and is for Hindus only. If you do not identify as Hindu, please refrain from posting here or participating in the poll.

    In another thread, it was suggested that Advaita Vedanta is the only school in Hinduism that accepts the concept of Nirguna Brahman (Brahman without qualities). I'm posting a poll here as a litmus test to see if the suggestion holds water. It would also be helpful to comment below regarding how you voted and what school of Hinduism you subscribe to.

    Please read the choices and respond accordingly. If you select that none of the choices reflect your view, please elaborate below.

    It was also suggested that there is only one Brahman and that Brahman has several gunas. While it's not part of the poll choices, I'm interested to see if you agree or disagree with this statement and why.
     
  2. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    That seems strange to me. Humans are influenced by the gunas (satwa, rajas, tamas), That is what I was taught
    When we, as incarnations of the Divine, are influenced by the 3 gunas, maybe someone might think that way
     
    #2 stvdv, Sep 16, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  3. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    I follow Sai Baba for my teachings. He explains all of this; so I think all schools will explain all of it
    Although I really love all these concepts, I can't claim "I live in such high state". Working on it though
     
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  4. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    I voted: None of the choices above reflect my view (explain below).

    I would call it "I am an incarnation of the Divine"
    I Love the concept of Nirguna Brahman
    I Love the concept of Saguna Brahman
    I Love the concept of Para Bhakti

    All these concept help me to remember "I am an incarnation of the Divine"
     
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  5. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Monistic Saiva Siddhanta is also called Shaiva Advaita. we have no conflict with Advaita. The differences lie in how to get there.
     
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  6. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
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    I voted: I am Advaitan and accept the concept of Nirguna Brahman.

    Pure consciousness in timeless sat-cit-ananda (being-awareness-bliss) is my understanding from those who I believe have delved deeper into the nature of consciousness than me.

    That said, there is still this mystery of a creative aspect producing Maya. A mystery we can never get behind.
     
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  7. shivsomashekhar

    shivsomashekhar Active Member

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    All Advaitins accept Nirguna Brahman as it is an integral part of the doctrine.

    Other traditions of Vedanta (Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita, etc) reject the concept. Their views are aligned.

    1. Ishvara is Brahman (the Saguna Brahman of Advaita)
    2. Ishvara/Brahman has countless auspicious attributes (Kalyana Gunas)
    3. Sruti that allude to a Nirvishesha Brahman are taken to mean that Brahman has no inauspicious attributes

    Therefore there is only one Brahman and there is no such thing as a Nirguna (devoid of all atrributes) Brahman. There are several arguments made against the concept. Lack of scriptural support, flawed logic - how does Satyam, Jnanam, Anantam apply to a Brahman that has no attributes? How does Ananda (bliss) apply to a neutral Brahman? and so on.

    Advaitins have raised counter arguments and defended the validity of the Nirguna Brahman and the temporal nature of Ishvara/Saguna Brahman.
     
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  8. Cassandra

    Cassandra Active Member

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    Personally I see no contradiction here. Brahman is This and That. Manifested and non-manifested, like ice and water. I personally never met a Hindu who denied that (which proves nothing). Hinduism is so rich in diversity that some may take this viewpoint. I think many more may not know or care.

    Is it important to people who face very practical day to day challenges to engage in deep philosophy? I think it is the pleasure of thinkers/intellectuals. And as I see it, Hinduism is not centered around the right philosophical beliefs, but the right action/behavior. They may be theoretically connected, but that is for the intellectual to admire.

    I think the right (natural) behavior rather translated into the right thinking than the other way round. I think that is where Dharmic religions differ from doctrine based religions. I rather build myself bottom up, not top down. Translate experience into thought, not thought into experience. That is what natural sciences are about.

    In the west the accent is on translating ideas in (artificial) surroundings and behaviour, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think a healthy mind and body needs to be fully connected to nature. I am not dreaming of living in a underground tube on Mars surrounded by techno pleasure devices. I do not dream like Elon Musk to become an enhanced more productive cyborg that can compete with AI.

    As see it artificial surroundings and adaptation create a more intelligent anthill, but the ants are losing their individuality. I read recently that the new generation calls itself "Einsteiners". Google is their memory and they are more creative. It must feel that way when you can no longer reference what you come up with.

    I am sidetracking, but those things keep me more occupied than ultimate philosophical truth of Brahman. One of the things I like most about Hinduism is that there are many different perspectives, it allows freedom of thought. It also creates interesting discussions.

    For people on the threshold to enlightenment it may be very different and Brahman a very tangible experience. But for the others? For some reason the Greek mythological story of Daedalus pops up. He just slew the Bull of Minos and tried to escape a labyrinth. So he created wings of feathers held together with wax. As he started to fly, he felt the warm light of the Sun. Ever more attracted he flew higher and higher to the Sun and until the wax melted and his wings fell apart. He fell back to Earth again and died. Still wondering what that means.
     
    #8 Cassandra, Sep 16, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  9. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    I'm Advaiti, and clicked on the 1st choice.
    It never occurred to me that Brahman was a concept unique to Advaita. I assumed it was a unifying concept throughout Hinduism, Buddhism and all mystical 'religions', though not all dwell on it.

    Brahman's an abstraction, and few people pay much attention to abstractions. They have no particular effect on one's life, they won't pay the rent or feed your children. But among the Dharmic religions, most schools and practices share a goal of raising consciousness, of transcending the illusion and, perhaps -- eventually -- perceiving Unity. But this is a far away goal for most people, who must struggle in the world they perceive.
     
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  10. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Though I claim to be a staunch 'advaitist', Brahman can never be termed as 'nirguna'. Like Shiva (Shivsomashekhar) said, do we not accept that Brahman is eternal? That is a 'guna', a 'qualification'. There are other qualifications as well - Brahman is form-independent, Brahman is uninvolved, and Brahman is changeless. If you can think of more, kindly mention that in your next post.

    Now we have to understand these qualifications. Changeless means it never stops changing. It is changeless in that way. Even an atom is constantly absorbing and emitting virtual particles all the time. A change will be if Brahman stops doing that.

    Similarly - how is Brahman eternal! It may be a property of Brahman to 'exist' at some time and 'not exist' at another time. Must Brahman be bound by our view point? 'Existence' may just be one of the phases, the other being 'non-existence'. Yeah, we have no example of that in our world other than the virtual particles though virtual particles require a force field to exist. Probably Brahman can pop out of 'absolute nothing' (a seeming creation) also return to 'nothing' (pralaya - a seeming dissolution).
     
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  11. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    It would be interesting to see if there is any scriptural support for the distinction between Nirguna and Saguna Brahman, or more generally for two aspects of Brahman.

    Something which might be relevant here is verse 2 of the Mandukya Upanishad:
    "All that we see is Brahman. And all that we don't see is Brahman".
    Presumably we only see that which has qualities, that which manifests, that which changes.
    I don't know whether this verse supports Nirguna v. Saguna, but it does show two aspects of Brahman. In my Upanishads translation it explains that "All that we see" refers to the universe without, and "all that we don't see" refers to the Self within.
     
    #11 Meerkat, Sep 17, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  12. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Is the Nirguna/Saguna distinction clearly present in the Upanishads, or was it introduced later by Adi Shankara? Answering that question might give a clearer idea about whether Nirguna Brahman is an exclusively Advaita doctrine. If Nirguna Brahman WAS introduced by Shankara, it would be interesting to examine why. Was it to support the doctrine of Atman and (Nirguna) Brahman being identical?
     
    #12 Meerkat, Sep 17, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  13. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Or maybe manifested v. unmanifested? Brahman as the ground of being.
     
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  14. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Yeah, like that.
    Yes, you are an 'Advaitin' (Sanskrit, Hindu, Bangla, Odia, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam .. for that matter any Indian language) or you are an 'Advaitist' (English). :D
     
    #14 Aupmanyav, Sep 17, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
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  15. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    Though according to the Upanishads, everything is Brahman, all that we see and all that we don't see.
    Possibly it's Nirguna Brahman which is an "abstraction", that which is usually unseen, or unrecognised?
     
  16. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Ha-ha, something like Dark-matter. Does not interact with anything, but still binds galaxies. :)
    The Upanishads have said various things (it is Brahman, it is Ishwara, etc.), and so have said the other books and teachers. A person accepts according to his choice / inclination.
     
  17. Meerkat

    Meerkat Active Member

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    We still haven't established whether the Nirguna/Saguna distinction is actually in the Upanishads, or whether it was introduced later by Adi Shankara.
    And it's still not clear from the discussion why such a distinction is necessary. Why is there a need for two types of Brahman, and what purpose does this distinction serve?
    Do you know?

    And where does the distinction between Brahman and shakti fit in here?
     
    #17 Meerkat, Sep 17, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  18. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Whether Brahman interacts with life on earth. If it does, then it is Ishwara, and Saguna, a personal God.
    Worshipers of Mother Goddess saw it in the form of Shakti, Adi Shakti, primordial power / energy.
    :) Then came Shiva-Shakti. Ishwara and his power. and the saying that Shiva is 'shava' (dead body) without Shakti.
    The Hindu way of bringing together two different views. So one consort or two is must for a God. Vishnu / Lakshmi, Shiva / Parvati, Rama / Sita, Krishna / Rukmani / Radha, Kartikeya / Devasena / Valli, Ganesha / Riddhi / Siddhi, etc.
    I will check what Gaudapada or Brahma Sutras say about it.
    For myself, Brahman does not interact with the world.
     
    #18 Aupmanyav, Sep 17, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  19. stvdv

    stvdv Well-Known Member

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    :D
     
  20. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    The distinction makes it possible to talk about the featureless without resorting to pure maths.
    Many languages have nouns, verbs, adjectives, &c. How would we apply any of these to a no-thing; featureless, changeless, timeless? Attaching gunas makes it possible to conceive of and talk about Brahman, though with features it might be proper to call it by a different name.

    The material world around us is dualistic, it's full of different things, and it's layered, ie: hierarchical. The 'things' are made of parts and substances. These are made of molecules, which are made of atoms -- and we're already down to only 92 'things' in the world. But atoms, too can be subdivided, as can component baryons like neutrons or protons, "composed of" of various flavors of quarks. A proton, for example, has two up and one down quark, but this accounts for only about 1% of the proton's mass, the rest is in various binding energies, -- its Shakti -- and so on.

    This doesn't mean there are two types of Brahman, or that the distinction is unnecessary. Brahman is a concept of theoretical physics; a metaphysics articulated as best a primitive people could, with the inadequate linguistic tools they had.

    Physics seeks a single, fundamental, unifying "stuff," "force," brane" or "brahman," underlying all reality -- from which reality emanates.
    There are not 'two types' of reality, and perhaps these 'distinctions' are irrelevant to the average householder, but this does not make them meaningless to philosophers, sadhus or scientists.
     
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