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Featured Hindus Only: The nature of Brahman in Upanishads

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Spirit_Warrior, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    Although Brahman has for the last 3000 years or so been interpreted as God by Hindus, and is a word that is often translated as the Hindu concept of God, very recently so-called Secular Atheist Hindus are attempting to translate Brahman as just "energy" or "universal field" or some insentient principle. This debate is to settle what the nature of Brahman is in the Upanishads, is it a insentient principle or a sentient entity.

    Only Hindus are allowed to participate(Also excludes Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs)
     
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  2. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    Transferring post from Sayak's thread "Why Materialism is probably false: A Hindu argument"


    Prajnana is a synonym for consciousness. It is often translated as consciousness:

    Here:

    "Rig Veda proclaims 'prajnanam brahma that is, prajnana is Brahma, Prajnana means awareness, consciousness, which is pervading the subtlest texture of the cosmos and is present and active everywhere, at all the places and all the time."

    What does "Prajnanam Brahma" Mean?

    Here:

    There are four Mahavakyas, or great statements in the Upanishads, which have a profound significance as pointers to Reality. They are: (1) Prajnanam Brahma – Consciousness is Brahman; (2) Aham Brahmasmi – I am Brahman: (3) Tat Tvam Asi – That Thou Art; (4) Ayam Atma Brahma – This Self is Brahman.

    Discrimination of the Mahavakyas - The Philosophy of the Panchadasi - Chapter 5

    Here:

    Prajnanam Brahma means, Consciousness is the Reality, Consciousness is All. For the spiritual seeker, perhaps it may be easier to start from the opposite direction. In the beginning, one can meditate on the truth that All is Consciousness.

    Prajnanam Brahma: Consciousness is Brahman | Meditation Is For You

    Here:

    Home Religion Dictionaries thesauruses pictures and press releases Prajñānam Brahma

    Brahma (Skt., ‘consciousness is Brahman’). One of the five Hindu mahāvākyas (great precepts): ‘All that is is guided by prajñānam, is founded on prajñānam. Prajñānam is Brahman’ (Aitareya Upaniṣad 3. 5. 3).

    Here:

    The Upanishads envisaged the Truth in the following Mahavakyas:

    Prajnanam Brahma: "Consciousness is infinite, the absolute, the highest Truth."

    Here:

    Our consciousness is responsible for all our sensory activities. Though it does not directly see or hear, it makes these activities possible. So many times we just look…and not see. What’s missing here is consciousness. It is the final meaning of our mental or physical activities…and is Brahman (the Ultimate). Brahman (the Ultimate) is that which is Absolute, fills all space, is complete in itself, to which there is no second, and which is continuously present in everything, from the creator down to the lowest of matter. It, being everywhere, is also in each and every individual.

    This is the meaning of the Mahavakya, ‘Prajnanam Brahma’ occurring in the Aitareya Upanishad.

    MAHAVAKYAS – PRAJNANAM BRAHMA – Consciousness is the Ultimate

    Here:

    Meditation and Its Practices

    Here:

    Meditation as a path to God-Realization. A study in the spiritual teachings of Swani Prabhavananda and his assessment of Christian spirituality

    Here:

    One Mahavakya from each Veda is taken to represent all the Mahavakyas in that particular Veda . Vedas being four namely Rg , Yajur , Sama and Atharva , there are four Mahavakyas . And they are :1. Prajnanam brahma , Consciousness is Brahman in the Aitreya Upanishad from the Rg Veda. 2. Aham brahmasmi - I am Brahman in the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad from the Yajur Veda . 3. Tat tvam asi - That thou art in the Chandyogya Upanishad from the Sama Veda and 4. Ayamatma brahma - this Self is Brahman in the Mandukya Upanishad from Atharvana Veda

    the four Mahavakyas | Vedanta Philosophy | India

    Others synonyms used are intelligence, knowledge and wisdom but they are all used equivalently to mean the same thing. Finally, we shall look at the Aitreya Upanishad itself to see the context in how Pranjnana is used:

    Who is he whom we all worship as the Self? He by whom one sees, one hears, one smells the various odours, one is able to speak, one is able to distinguish the tasty from the tasteless.
    That which is the heart, the mind, it is consciousness perception, discrimination, intelligence, mental brilliance, vision, determination, thought power, thoughtfulness, impulse, memory, decision, goal, life, desire, control. All these are different names of intelligence only

    The Aitareya Upanishad Translation by Jayaram V


    Thus, it is established beyond a reason for doubt that Brahman is a sentient entity, that is conscious, perceives, aware, discriminates, thinks, desires, remembers, controls etc. He is also described as omniscient, omnipresent, the Lord to be worshipped. It is very clear then Brahman is the Hindu concept of God.

    It seems like you are suggesting Brahman is not a sentient principle? If so, please prove it. As it is clear to anybody who can read that Brahman of the Upanishads is a thinking, seeing, feeling entity.
     
  3. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    In English consciousness is something you lose when I hit you on the head with a bat. Unless one is suggesting that the now happily unconscious Spirit Warrior ;) has thereby lost Brahman, some explanation is required from his side as to how the English word consciousness (cognate with Sanskrit word chetna or sangya) is what is being equated with Brahman?

    Also
    I am aware that it has become quite fashionable for neo-Hindu-s to conflate everything as consciousness. That is all that these internet links show, personal opinion without providing any linguistic reasoning as to why prajna can ever be considered synonymous with consciousness when all Sanskrit dictionaries say it is not. The simple fact is wisdom (prajna) is NOT synonymous with consciousness and never was.

    Can you find a Sanskrit dictionary where Prajna is said to be synonymous with consciousness (chetna, sangya)? I have failed to find one. It is strange indeed that one of the so-called mahavkya-s basic meaning has to be changed in order to support a neo-Hindu philosophy to make it appear to have common cause with 19th and 20th century Western spiritualism. (from Madame Blavatsky to 1970 flower revolution).

    Here is an example
    http://illa.ho.ua/materials/dictionarys/MacDonell.Sanskrit-English_Dictionary-50.pdf

    pra -gna., a. intelligent; knowing, acquainted with (-0): (a)-t4,/. knowledge; -pnapti, /. instruction, information; kind of magic art personified: -kausika, m. N.of a teacher familiar with this art. f . information; discrimination, judgment, intelligence, understanding; wisdom, knowledge; purpose, resolve: -grupta, pp. protected by wisdom ; -Aakshus, n. eye of understanding ; a. seeing with the eye of understanding; having understanding in place of eyes, blind; -Jidhya, TO. (rich in wisdom), N.

    pragnana:- n. cognisance ; knowledge; token of recognition, d


    By the way, Jayram's translation of Aitereya 3 is somewhat off. Here is the proper translation (Upanisads Oxford translation, Upanisads Olevelle and many others) .You can see the basic flow of the translation available everywhere with Advaitists arbitrarily putting in consciousness where it does not belong:-

    "Who is this self (atman)?"- that is how we venerate.
    Which of these is the self? Is it that by which one sees? Or hears? Or smells odors? Or utters speech? Or distinguishes between what is tasty and what is not? Is it the heart and the mind? Is it awareness? Perception? Discernment? Cognition? Wisdom? Insight? Steadfastness? Thought? Reflection? Drive? Memory? Intention? Purpose? Will? Love? Desire? But these are various names of knowledge.

    It is brahman; it is Indra; it is Prajapati; it is all gods. It is these five immense beings-earth, wind, space, the waters, and the lights; It is these beings, as well as those that are small mixtures of those;
    It is living beings of various sorts - those that are born from eggs, from wombs from sweat and from sprouts. It is horses, cattle, men, and elephants. It is everything that has life - those that move, those that fly, and those that are stationary.

    Knowledge is the eye of all of that, and on knowing it is founded. Knowledge is the eye of the world, and knowledge, the foundation. Brahman is knowing.

    It is with this self consisting of knowledge that he went up from this world and, having obtained all his desires in the heavenly world up there, became immortal.


    As I see it, this is just another formulation of Yajnavalkya-s premise of Brahman as the knower. Indeed the passage clearly shows the various cognitive capacities and consciousness as being aspects knowledge, just like all the material elements and living things with knowledge or knowing as the primary essence that is Brahman. I do not see how this can support your premise. It supports my premise that Brahman transcends consciousness just like it transcends matter and both consciousness and matter are emanations or aspects of Brahman in the plural world of diversity.

    I am still waiting for you to point out where I used the word ur-field for Brahman. You disparaged me multiple times for saying it. So, show me where.

    It is entirely possible that Sankara has redefined the various terms in his metaphysics. But nobody who speaks English has. So either you use the word "consciousness*" with a star and scare quote saying it is being defined entirely differently and then provide the definition, or use another word. I have obviously used the much more simple strategy of leaving Brahman untranslated and using the Upanisads to identify its characteristics than using an English term that deliberately or by accident conflates all sorts of mumbo-jumbo spiritualism with well-crafted and well-argued and well-validated Indian metaphysics and worldviews.
     
  4. निताइ dasa

    निताइ dasa Nitai's servant's servant

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    Jaya Nitaai!

    I will participate in this debate in a little bit. I just need to get some sources together.

    I just want to add, that the words used in the Upanishads were often very vague. Especially words such as Atman and Brahman. For example, in one place Atman is described as localized, in other places it is described as all-pervasive. Therefore either these contradictions must exist in one substance called Atman or they refer to two different objects (Jiva and Paratman) or there is a way to reconcile this contradiction. In a similiar way, in places Brahman is described as nirguna (without qualities) and other times it is defined as having certain qualities (prajnanam brahman). These terms do not have a uniform meaning everywhere and so perhaps Brahman can refer to the sentient origin, as well as the effects of that origin (which are not sentient)

    . As for the word prajnana. As per my understanding it does not mean consciousness itself, but rather intelligence or awareness (which is can say is a symptom of consciousness).
     
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  5. Kirran

    Kirran
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    The term consciousness as used in relation to Indian philosophy doesn't have the same meaning as it does in Western mainstream usage. It's more simple, and more fundamental, in the former usage.
     
  6. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    It has the same meaning in Sanskrit too. You are playing word games. It is like trying to debate that "pain" in Sanskrit does not mean "pain" in English. There are various words very closely related in Sanskrit for consciousness such as chaitaniya, cit, vedana, chetana. Almost every language in the world has an equivalent for consciousness because it is a universal phenomena. It would be silly to argue that the English consciousness is different from the Indian consciousness

    English consciousness:

    consciousness
    ˈkɒnʃəsnɪs/
    noun
    1. 1.
      the state of being aware of and responsive to one's surroundings.
      "she failed to regain consciousness and died two days later"
      synonyms: awareness, wakefulness, alertness, responsiveness, sentience
      "she failed to regain consciousness"
    2. 2.
      a person's awareness or perception of something.
      "her acute consciousness of Luke's presence"
      synonyms: awareness of, knowledge of the existence of, alertness to, sensitivity to, realization of, cognizance of, mindfulness of, perception of, apprehension of, recognition of
      "her acute consciousness of Luke's presence"


    Sanskrit

    Cit, Chaitanya, cetana and Prajnana are synonyms for consciousness

    Cit: Sentient, Consciousness, Understanding, Intelligence, Perception, sense, soul alive
    Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit

    Chaitanya: Consciousness, Intelligence, soul
    Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit

    Prajnana: Intelligence, wisdom, discrimination, understanding knowledge, cognizance

    Cetana: Intelligence, understanding, consciousness, sentient
    Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit


    I have emboldened the common synonyms.


    Yours argument here is a textbook example of sophistry or playing dishonest gymnastics with words. It is the lowest form of debate to quibble over meaning of words because words have multiple meanings, and it is condemned in both the Indian and Western tradition.

    This argument is borderline conspiracy and you have already been embarrassed in the past, when you categorically claimed that the three-fold method of listening, contemplating and mediating was an invention by medieval schools, only for me to quote directly from the Upanishads where it is mentioned, Now, you are suggesting that translating Prajana as consciousness is some Neo-Hindu conspiracy. Before we jump to conspiracy talk, have you considered that perhaps these people are translating 'prajana' as consciousness, because it actually a common synonym? Some prefer the word knowledge, some intelligence, some consciousness.

    Furthermore, all I showed you that it is a very prolific translation and not every site I linked was a Neo-Hindu website. Such as:


    I think you might have to accept that 'Prajana' translated as 'consciousness' is one of the popular translations for this word. However, I actually agree with you, perhaps 'intelligence' is a better translation. I will explain next why that is a rather moot issue:

    Whether you use the word knowledge,intelligence, understanding, sentience or consciousness, discrimination etc etc is moot, because as I shown above all of these are synonyms of consciousness and all presuppose a sentient and aware entity. You cannot have knowledge without a knower, understanding without somebody who understands, sentience without a sentient person and discrimination without one who can discriminate.

    However, I think you are far too hung up on just one word 'prajnana' it becomes clear that Brahman is a sentient entity in literally hundreds of verses, which is a stronger argument you have ignored over and over again, because perhaps tackling a weaker argument by quibbling over just one word is easier for you?




    Another conspiracy argument. That every translation that suggests consciousness is by an Advaitist. As far as I know Jayaram has not said he is an Advaitst. Here is another translation which is quite similar to his:

    Whom shall we worship as the A'tman ? Who​
    is the Atman? Whether he by whom one sees* or
    he by whom one hears, or he by whom one smells
    the smell, or he by whom one speaks the speech or
    he by whom one discerns sweet and what is not
    sweet.

    This which is known as the heart, this mind,
    consciousness, discrimination, wisdom, reason,
    perception, steadiness, thought, acutenes&, quick-
    ness, memory, volition, decision, strength, desire
    and control, all these are indeed the names of
    wisdom*

    This Brahman, this Indra, this Creator, all
    these gods, these five great elements, earth, air,
    ether, water, fire, and all these small creatures,
    these others, the seeds of creation and these egg-
    born, womb-born, sweat-born, sprout-born, horses,,
    cows, men, elephants, and whatever else which
    breathes and moves and flies and is immoveable ;
    all this is guided by wisdom and is supported by
    wisdom ; the universe has wisdom for its guide ;
    wisdom is the basis ; wisdom is Brahman. (3)

    Aitareya &Taittiriya Upanishads with Shankara Bhashya - English : shankara_2000 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

    Cont.
     
  7. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    I had to laugh here you just agreed Brahman is the knower, then you are indirectly agreeing Brahman is a sentient entity because only a sentient entity knows. I don't think you realise that your arguments ends up proving my position rather than yours.

    Anyway, no, actually it does not say that material things and consciousness are reducible to Brahman. It actually argues for dualism between matter and consciousness. I find it curious how you don't get this as it is clearly written in the text. It says in both translations(including yours, which seems suspect) Firstly, it declares this:

    Translation 1: But these are various names of knowledge.
    Translation 2: all these are indeed the names of wisdom

    Secondly it declares this:

    Translation 1: Knowledge is the eye of all of that, and on knowing it is founded. Knowledge is the eye of the world, and knowledge, the foundation.
    Translation 2: all this is guided by wisdom and is supported by wisdom ; the universe has wisdom for its guide ; wisdom is the basis ;

    Thirdly and finally it declares this:

    Translation 1: Brahman is knowledge(corrected)
    Translation 2: Wisdom is Brahman.

    So two things can be comprehended here from both translations 1) It is still saying that consciousness, perception, sentience, mind, understanding, discriminating, reasoning, memory, desiring, wisdom etc etc are all synonyms. Hence proving my argument above that these are common and universal synonyms for consciousness. They all presuppose a sentient entity 2) It is NOT saying that created things like the material elements, gods, Brahma, Indra, creatures etc are also names of knowledge/wisdom which is Brahman, it says they are guided and supported by them. In other words there is a dualism here between sentient things and insentient and the sentient guides the insentient(exactly what you were opposing in my thread "Hindu proof of God") Therefore, it becomes clear you are misinterpreting when you say that consciousness etc are all also reducible to material things, it is actually saying the exact opposite, all material things are guided by consciousness/intelligence etc

    Anybody who can understand English can see I am interpreting correctly.

    It is blatantly obvious that at least in this Upanishad Brahman is a sentient entity. In the very same Upanishad, even right at the beginning it says this:



    Verily, in the beginning all this was Atman, one only, there was nothing else blinking whatsoever.
    He thought: 'Shall I send forth worlds' He sent forth these worlds, Ambha, Marichi, Mara and Ap.
    That Amba(floods) is above the heaven, and it is heaven, the support. The Marichis(lights) are the sky.
    The Mara(mortals) is the Earth, and waters under the Earth are the Ap world.
    He thought: "There are these worlds; shall I send forth guardians of worlds"
    He then formed Purusha(the person) taking him forth from the water.
    He brooded on him, and when that person had thus been brooded in a mouth burst forth like an egg.
    From the mouth proceeded speech, from speech Agni(fire)
    Nostrils burst forth. From the nostrils proceeded scent(Prana) and from scent Vayu(air).
    Eyes burst forth. From the eyes proceeded sight, from sight Aditya(sun).
    Ears burst forth. From the ears proceeded hearing, from hearing Dish, quarters of the world.
    Skin burst forth. From the skin proceeded hairs, sense of touch, from the hairs shrubs and trees.
    The heart burst forth. From heart proceeded mind, from mind Chadrmas(moon).
    The navel burst forth. From the navel proceeded Apana, the down breathing, from Apana death.
    The generative organ burst forth. From the organ proceeded seed, from seed water.

    Compare:


    [1:1] In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
    [1:2] the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
    [1:3] Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
    [1:4] And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
    [1:5] God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
    [1:6] And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."
    [1:7] So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.
    [1:8] God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
    [1:9] And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
    [1:10] God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
    [1:11] Then God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it." And it was so.
    [1:12] The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.
    [1:13] And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
    [1:14] And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,
    [1:15] and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so.
    [1:16] God made the two great lights - the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night - and the stars.
    [1:17] God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,
    [1:18] to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
    [1:19] And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
    [1:20] And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."
    [1:21] So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
    [1:22] God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."
    [1:23] And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
    [1:24] And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so.
    [1:25] God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
    [1:26] Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."





    It is blatantly clear then the Upanishad is telling a creation myth of how God created this universe and life in it. Only a total ignoramus, not even most the militant atheist, would deny that God in Genesis is a sentient entity. Similarly, you would be a total ignoramus to deny that Atman/Brahman is a sentient entity. An entity that thinks,knows, understands, discriminates, desires, sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels. An entity that is conscious, intelligent etc etc.

    I think you have already lost this debate and should concede to me now. I can't see how you can deny that the Upanishads speaks of Brahman as a sentient entity, and only way you could try doing it, which is how you seem to be doing so far is 1) Simply ignore the contradictory evidence(i.e., avoid the issue) or 2) play word games(sophistry)




    You have not clearly said what you think Brahman is. All I seen you do so far is spurn pseudoscience around Brahman, suggesting Brahman is some kind of reconciliation of all laws of science, of biology, of chemistry, of physics, of psychology and thus not a sentient/conscious principle. I am not the only one who has levelled this charge against you, several people did in your thread. There should come a point where you have the humility to consider another's criticism, otherwise you will never learn from the mistakes you are making. You are making a massive mistake here is by interpreting Brahman to not be sentient, if that is indeed what you think. I am not sure if you are saying Brahman is insentient, because you describe Brahman as "knower" If you don't think Brahman is insentient, then were on the same page and have no cause for debate. If you think Brahman is insentient, then we have cause for debate. So make your position as clear as day in simple and clear language(not word salads please)
     
    #7 Spirit_Warrior, Apr 6, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  8. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    I completely agree with this. The Upanishads are full of apparent contradictions, and it is understandable why, they are not coherent philosophical treatises, they are religious texts appended to the Vedas, and have been composed by several authors over several centuries, in much the same way the Bible was. Granted, they far more philosophical than the Bible is, but they are still essentially religious texts and deal with religious subjects like God, soul, creation, nature of sin and like any religious text they use poetry, symbolism, metaphors, allegories, rituals, prayers etc.

    In order to offer a coherent interpretation of the Upanishads the school of Vedanta emerged, one of six traditional schools of Hindu philosophy. In fact, I sort of hesitate to call it Philosophy, it is more like Theology. Like in theology it deals with interpretation of scripture, resolving apparent contractions, deals with questions like who or what created this universe, gives proofs for God, deals with questions of suffering and sin etc, and deals with social rites. It reminds me a lot of the same medieval scholasticism that was was taking place in Europe. I guess in India it happened a few centuries earlier.

    The first attempt at a coherent interpretation is in the Brahma Sutras, but unfortunately the Sutras are themselves so cryptic, that they themselves require further interpretation. The second attempt is by Gaudapada and Shankara that give an Advaita interpretation, although it is now recognised by scholars that the Advaita school is older but the older commentaries are lost. The third attempt is by Ramunjacharya that gives a Visheadvaita interpretation. The fourth attempt is by Madhva that gives a Dvaita interpretation. Then follow the various schools of bhedabedha giving their own distinct interpretations. Everybody that attempted an interpretation ended up creating a different samapradaya of Hinduism. The influence of Vedanta in shaping Hinduism is widely recognised by scholars:

    Flood (1996, pp. 231–232, 238) states,

    ..the most influential school of theology in India has been Vedanta, exerting enormous influence on all religious traditions and becoming the central ideology of the Hindu renaissance in the nineteenth century. It has become the philosophical paradigm of Hinduism "par excellence".

    Vedanta - Wikipedia

    All the other philosophical systems of India were merged into Vedanta during the medieval age, however we can see evidence of it happening far sooner in the Smriti of the Bhagvad Gita, where it reconciles Vedanta, Samkhya, and Yoga. This is why the Bhagvad Gita is also part of the Prasthanatrayi, because it is effectively the first real attempt at reconciliation of the systems of philosophy in India, and hence why it becomes a core text in defining Hinduism and is regarded as akin to a Hindu bible.

    Now, the problem is, this new breed of Secular/Athiest Hindus, the illegitimate children of the Empire and Nehru, are coming along trying to force an atheist interpretation of the Upanishads. In a sense trying to create another atheist/materialist school of Vedanta, except they don't want to play by the rules. Like every other Vedanta school that has preceded them, they have NOT provided a coherent interpretation of the Prasthanatrayi. In fact, I would even excuse them the Brahma Sutras and Bhagvad Gita, just the 13 principal Upanishads is fine.(I am giving them the platform to do it in this thread) In fact, I tell a lie when I said in the last 3000 years nobody came up with an interpretation of Brahman as insentient, I think it is implied that the Samkhyans(though they are dualists) interpreted Brahman as Pradhana(material energy or prakriti) otherwise Shankaracharya would not constantly feel the need to refute that interpretation in his bhasyas e.g.

    Brahma Sutra 5: On account of thinking/seeing etc(being attributed as the First Cause by scriptures, the Pradhana) is not(the First Cause attributed to by them) It(Pradhana) is not based on scriptures

    Shankara's commentary: The First Cause is said is said to have willed or thought before creation. "This universe, my dear, was but the Real(Sat) in the beginning -- One only, without a second. It thought "May I be many, may I grow" and it projected fire(Chh 6.2.2-3). It(Atman) willed, "Let me project worlds" So it projected these worlds(Ait 1.1.1-2) Such and thinking or willing is not possible to the insentient Pradhana. It is only possible if the First Cause is an intelligent principle like Brahman​

    Note: Sayak has in the past rejected the translation of the Brahma sutras with the words added, the actual translation says On account of thinking/seeing etc, is not, it not based on scriptures. The words that are added are not in the original Brahma Sutras, but that is because Sayak does not understand the nature of Sutra literature, which are suppose to be terse statements, which later are explained by the commentator by adding in the missing words. He has mistakenly thought that it is a single sentence, but actually it is three sentences on account of seeing(add missing words) is not(add missing words) is not based on scriptures(add missing words)
    As usual, he has fallen back on a Vedanta and Neo-Hindu conspiracy theory argument, that all Sanskrit scholars, including Western ones are in cahoots to force "spiritualist" interpretations on Hindu scriptures. You can see in the above exchange how quickly he plays the conspiracy card.

    Shankara's argument is basically the same argument I made in my previous post. Brahman is categorically described as a sentient entity and God in very much same way Allah or Yaweh is described as sentient entities and God.

    The Secular/Atheist Hindus fall back on these sentimental conspiracy theory arguments, that us Vedantists have conspired together to force our interpretation of Brahman as God for religious purposes(he has also likened to me to a religious terrorist/fundamentalist/Nazi) and we have even succeeded in getting Western scholars on the act and make emotional appeals that we have all missed the true meaning of the Rishis, who were in fact proto-scientists and actually atheists and materialists. They do this, because of their frustration in trying to force the sentient, thinking willing Brahman who created this universe, who is to be worshipped as Lord into an insentient material/abstract principle. They follow the philosophy, If you cannot prove your argument by logic, resort to attacks and emotional appeals.
     
    #8 Spirit_Warrior, Apr 6, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  9. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    My take on the nirguna saguna question is that both saguna and nirguna Brahman are on an equal footing. Since Brahman supports both the personal-intentional and the impersonal-structural aspects of the diversified reality, both descriptions capture significant and true ways of talking about Brahman, which however ultimately transcends both categories. But one has describe it using some strategy, and using both personal and impersonal strategies and balancing them helps the rishi-s to portray a more complete picture, as far as words can.
     
  10. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    Again, it will help if you can give a clear description of what exactly you believe Brahman is. I am having to guess at what you think Brahman is because you have not yet clarified your position. It sounds like from the above you think Brahman is neither personal or impersonal, neither with attributes or without attributes, neither consciousness or matter, neither light or dark, neither good or evil -- i.e. beyond all names and categories, but you end up with a void if you throw everything away. So, my problem is you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If you include everything that we know in the category to throw away(not this, not that) you end up with a void like the Buddhists. Then your problem becomes to justify why from this void anything could arise(justify something coming out of nothing) and why these opposites would arise such as good and evil/personal and impersonal at all from this nothing.

    I can easily answer this problem and it is consistent with the concept of Maya, there are no two entities, but only one entity. The apparent second entity is just the absence of the first entity e.g. Darkness is not a real entity, but just the absence of light; likewise evil is not a real entity, but just the absence of goodness; matter is not a real entity, but just the absence of consciousness. This is the Advaita explanation. The Dvaitist(I'll let Dasa add to it or correct me if he wants) is the second entity is also real, but it is created by the Maya of Brahman. Brahman is a person and the repository of all good qualities(not a mixture of good and bad) it is the delusion of Maya or avidya which creates bad qualities.

    What you are failing to do here is discriminate between what is real and what is unreal/or what is divine and what is not divine, you are treating them all the same. To use the standard stock example you are treating the wheat and the chaff as the same, and looking for a fictitious third entity.

    The next problem is you need to justify that this is a valid interpretation of the Upanishads(look you are free to come up with your own theory of some categorless void that transcends everything we know, just don't call it Brahman or Hindu) The Upanishads make declarative statements on the nature of Brahman, they are not agnostic on the matter, they declare Brahman is consciousness/intelligence(i.e., they do not include that in the throw away category) they declare Brahman is the Self(how that is interpreted is of course open to interpretation) They declare Brahman to be pure Goodness.
     
  11. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I absolutely and categorically deny that I am trying to interpret Brahman as any type of universal field or energy or insentient principle. I challenge you to quote me on this.
    I also claim that the Upanishads use both personal/intentional language and impersonal/process language to describe the activities of Brahman to highlight the fact the fact that both partially capture certain aspects of Brahman but not all, as no human concept or language can. Hence Spirit-Warriors either/or distinction is misconstrued and short-sighted and not in keeping with the Upanisads.

    When it comes to creation hymns, an immediate look at the BHU and other Upanisads show that there were many different ones being told, distinct from each other (BHU 1.3 vs BHU 1.4 etc.) and they were meant as vehicles to expand on theological and spiritual interconnections than any objective account of world. One must not forget that the creation is a topic covered both in personal terms and impersonal terms in RgVd by Nasadiya sukta and purusha sukta respectively,
    Nasadiya Sukta - Wikipedia
    Purusha Suktam - in sanskrit with meaning - from Rig Veda 10.90

    And one must not forget the neti neti dictum that invokes us to go beyond the visible gross and subtle manifestations of Brahman in 2.3 (BHU)

    Let us also look at BHU 3.4 to see the basic ineffability of Brahman as clearly told by Yajyavalka:-
    Yajnavalkya and Ushasta [Section IV]

    3.4.2:-
    Usasta Cakrayan retorted:- "That's a fine explanation1 Its like saying : This is a cow AND this is a horse!" Come on, give me a real explanation of the brahman that is plain and not cryptic, of the self that is within all."

    "The self within all is this self of yours."
    "Which one is the self within all Yajnavalkya?"
    "You can't see the seer who does the seeing; you can't hear the hearer who does the hearing; you can't think the thinker who who does the thinking; and you can't perceive the perceiver who does the perceiving. The self within all is that self of yours. All else besides is grief."

    Thereupon Usasta Cakrayana fell silent.

    Indeed yajnavalkya, in the very next verse criticizes Kaustakeya for being too scholastic about Brahman. He says:-
    katamo yājñavalkya sarvāntaraḥ ?
    yo'śanāyāpipāse śokaṃ mohaṃ jarāṃ mṛtyumatyeti | etaṃ vai tamātmānaṃ viditvā brāhmaṇāḥ putraiṣaṇāyāśca vittaiṣaṇāyāśca lokaiṣaṇāyāśca vyutthāyātha bhikśācaryaṃ caranti; yā hyeva putraiṣaṇā sā vittaiṣaṇā, yā vittaiṣaṇā sā lokaiṣaṇā, ubhe hyete eṣaṇe eva bhavataḥ | tasmādbrāhmaṇaḥ pāṇḍityaṃ nirvidya bālyena tiṣṭhāset | bālyaṃ ca pāṇḍityaṃ ca nirvidyātha muniḥ, amaunaṃ ca maunaṃ ca nirvidyātha brāhmaṇaḥ; sa brāhmaṇaḥ kena syāt ? yena syāttenedṛśa eva, ato'nyadārtam | tato ha kaholaḥ kauṣītakeya upararāma || 1 ||
    iti pañcamaṃ brāhmaṇam ||

    Which one is the self within all Yajnavalkya?
    He is the one who is beyond hunger and thirst, sorrow and delusion, old age and death. It is only when they come to know this self that Brahmins give up the desire for sons, the desire for wealth, and the desire for worlds, and undertake a mendicant life. The desire for sons, after all is the same as the desire for wealth, and the desire for wealth is the same as the desire for worlds-all are simply desires. Therefore, a Brahmin should stop being a Pandit and try to live like a child. When he has stopped living like a child or a pandit, he becomes a sage. And when he has stopped living like a sage, he becomes a Brahmin (a knower of Brahman). He remains just such a Brahmin, no matter how he may live. All besides this is grief."


    Also note BHU 4.2:-
    sa eṣa neti netyātmā; agṛhyo na hi gṛhyate, aśīryo nahi śīryate, asaṅgo na hi sajyate, asito na vyathate na riṣyati; abhayaṃ vai janaka prāpto'sīti hovāca yājñavalkyaḥ । sa hovāca janako vaidehaḥ, abhayaṃ tvā gacchatādyājñavalkya yo no bhagavannabhayaṃ vedayase; namaste'stu; ime videhāḥ, ayamahamasmi

    This self is That which has been described as ‘Not this, not this,’ ‘It is ungraspable, for It cannot be grasped, undecaying, for It never decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered—It never feels pain, and never suffers injury. You have attained That which is free from fear, O Janaka,’ said Yājñavalkya. ‘Revered Yājñavalkya,’ said Emperor Janaka, ‘may That which is free from fear be yours, for you have made That which is free from fear known to us.



    Further see the domain of Brahman in 4.3.19-4.3.38.
    Investigation of the Three States [Section III]
    23. That it does not see in that state is because, although seeing then, it does not see; for the vision of the witness can never be lost, [Page 673] because it is immortal. But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can see.
    24. That it does not smell in that state is because, although smelling then, it does not smell; for the smeller’s function of smelling can never be lost, because it is immortal. «But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can smell.
    25. That it does not taste in that state is because, although tasting then, it does not taste; for the taster’s function of tasting can never be lost, because it is immortal. But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can taste.
    26. [Page 677] That it does not speak in that state is because, although speaking then, it does not speak; for the speaker's function of speaking •can never be lost, because it is immortal. But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can speak.
    28. That it does not think in that state is because, although thinking then, it does not think; for the thinker’s function of thinking can never be lost, because it is immortal. But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can think.
    30. That it does not know in that state is because, although knowing then, it does not know; for the knower’s function of knowing can never be lost, because it is immortal. But there is not that second thing separate from it which it can know.
    31. When there is something else, as it were, then one can see something, one can smell some-thing, one can taste something, one can speak something, one can hear something, one can think something, one can touch something, or one can know something.
    32. It becomes (transparent) like water, one, the witness, and without a second. This is the world (state) of Brahman, O Emperor. Thus did Yājñavalkya instruct Janaka: This is its supreme attainment, this is its supreme glory, this is its highest world, this is its supreme bliss. On a particle of this very bliss other beings live.

    It is clear from these proclamations that saying Brahman is a state that is more fundamental and deeper than consciousness or lack of it (as the dictionary definitions of consciousness will show).
     
    #11 sayak83, Apr 6, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  12. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    That is great. Resolving the 3,000 old paradox once for all through a thread in a forum. It seems to be sentient (spooky action at a distance), however, this sentience can in no way be equated to human sentience. That of Brahman is through force fields, and that of humans is through chemical and electrical reactions (although at its base that also is through force fields).
     
  13. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    In debates with Sayak over the last few weeks, I have come to spot patterns in the way he debates, which is very sorry to say not honest and honourable. He employs two fallacies in particular a lot, I will mention those fallacies and then show how is has used them again in his most recent post.

    Fallacy 1: Avoiding the argument

    (also known as: avoiding the question [form of], missing the point, straying off the subject, digressing, distraction [form of])​

    Description: When an arguer responds to an argument by not addressing the points of the argument. Unlike the strawman fallacy, avoiding the issue does not create an unrelated argument to divert attention, it simply avoids the argument.

    Logical Form:

    X is Y. Did you see that new show on TV last night?

    Example #1:

    Daryl: Answer honestly, do you think if we were born and raised in Iran, by Iranian parents, we would still be Christian, or would we be Muslim?

    Ross: I think those of us raised in a place where Christianity is taught are fortunate.

    Daryl: I agree, but do you think if we were born and raised in Iran, by Iranian parents, we would still be Christian, or would we be Muslim?

    Ross: Your faith is weak -- you need to pray to God to make it stronger.

    Daryl: I guess you’re right. What was I thinking?

    Explanation: Some questions are not easy to answer, and some answers are not easy to accept. While it may seem, at the time, like avoiding the question is the best action, it is actually an abandonment of reason and honest inquiry; therefore, fallacious.

    Fallacy 2: Strawman

    Description: Substituting a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument.​

    Logical Form:

    Person 1 makes claim Y.

    Person 2 restates person 1’s claim (in a distorted way).

    Person 2 attacks the distorted version of the claim.

    Therefore, claim Y is false.

    Example #1:

    Ted: Biological evolution is both a theory and a fact.

    Edwin: That is ridiculous! How can you possibly be absolutely certain that we evolved from pond scum!

    Ted: Actually that is a gross misrepresentation of my assertion. I never claimed we evolved from pond scum. Unlike math and logic, science is based on empirical evidence and, therefore, a scientific fact is something that is confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent. The empirical evidence for the fact that biological evolution does occur falls into this category.

    Explanation: Edwin has ignorantly mischaracterized the argument by a) assuming we evolved from pond scum (whatever that is exactly), and b) assuming “fact” means “certainty”.


    Now, I will show he has used both these fallacies, sometimes combining them both:


    Fallacy 1: Avoiding the issue.

    I have asked Sayak on several occasions to clarify his position on Brahman.

    Here:

    Here:


    Here:

    First time, you might think he missed that I said it. Second time, you might think it is suspicious. Third time, it becomes clear he is deliberately avoiding the issue. I have a very clear position on what I think Brahman is and I have made it clear at the start, and then backed it up with quotations from the Upanishads: Brahman is the Hindu concept of God, a sentient, conscious, thinking, seeing, feeling entity.

    I will again to shame Sayak now into answering the question, ask him a fourth time . What does he think the nature of Brahman is in the Upanishad(the debate topic) and can he back it up with quotations from the Upanishads.

    Cont.
     
  14. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    Fallacy 2: Strawman.

    I have never during the course of this debate disputed that the Upanishads use personal and impersonal language to describe Brahman. He has misrepresented my position, because my actual argument is stronger which he has not even responded to. I have consistently said that Brahman is a sentient entity, that is conscious/intelligent, thinks, feels, sees. I know the Upanishads use both personal and impersonal language to describe Brahman, but the fact that Brahman is sentient, conscious and intelligent is never disputed.

    Sayak has consistently tried to oppose this in every thread, hence one may surmise by the opposition that Sayak does not believe Brahman is a sentient entity. Now he saying he has not denied Brahman is a sentient entity, in which case why he is spending so time and energy trying to refute the position?


    Fallacy 2: Strawman

    I never said there were not other creation myths, the number of creation myths and whether they were personal or impersonal was never in dispute. My argument was that the creation myth in the Airtareya Upanishad clearly describes Brahman as God as a sentient and thinking entity, and it not dissimilar to the creation myths in the book of Genesis. I then said only a total ignoramus would deny that the God of the Bible is not sentient i.e., a conscious being. Similarly, only a total ignoramus would deny that Brahman spoken about in the Upanishad is not sentient. Notice the total avoidance of my actual argument.

    Fallacy 1: Avoiding the argument

    Here is what he avoided:

    Neti Neti, or what is known as the method of negation in Vedanta, is also what is known as a process of elimination, that is you eliminate what Brahman is not. However, you do not go on eliminating forever, hence why I told him:

    The doctrine of the ultimate reality being void/empyness(sunyata) is a Buddhist doctrine, not a Hindu one. The Upanishads do actually say many positive things about Brahman, ironically even in the BH Upanishad he cited you find this:

    "The self within all is this self of yours."

    "He is the one who is beyond hunger and thirst, sorrow and delusion, old age and death."

    "undecaying, for It never decays; unattached, for It is never attached; unfettered—It never feels pain, and never suffers injury. You have attained That which is free from fear, O Janaka,’ said Yājñavalkya. ‘Revered Yājñavalkya,’ said Emperor Janaka, ‘may That which is free from fear be yours, for you have made That which is free from fear known to us.

    So by using the method of negation(neti neti) you eliminate everything that Brahman is not Brahman -- Brahman is not decaying, not attached, is not fettered, never feels pain, never suffers injury, free from fear, not mortal. Then by the method of affirmation we declare what Brahman is: Brahman is undecaying, unattached, fearless, infinite, immortal. Elsewhere we get Brahman is pure bliss, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, the controller, the supporter, the ultimate reality, pure consciousness, unchanging, the creator, the sustainer etc

    If summarise then we get a positive description of Brahman:

    Infinite
    Fearless
    Blissful
    Beloved
    Omnipotent
    Omniscient
    Omnipresent
    Immortal
    Controller
    Creator
    Sustainer
    Universal Self
    Ultimate reality
    Witness
    Pure Consciousness
    Unchanging

    These are also some of the many names that we find in Hindu literature, such as Vishnusahasranama, and in the Vedanta treatises. It is blatantly clear then Brahman is the Hindu concept of God. Sayak just ends up proving my own position every-time he writes(Like he admitted Brahman is a knower earlier)

    Look at the text he emboldened, where does it say that "Brahman is a state more fundamental than consciousness"? Nowhere in the entire discourse does it say this. And this is the problem as I showed in the previous post; the text is saying one thing, and he is comprehending something completely different. It reveals that Sayak has very poor comprehension.

    In fact, it is very clearly implies Brahman is consciousness, because it calls Brahman the "Witness"(Sakshi) Nowhere does it say that there is something beyond consciousness.

    By the way, did anybody notice, the total bait and switch, earlier he was arguing that that Prajnana does not mean consciousness and after I showed conclusively that Prajanan was a synonym for consciousness, he completely drops the topic and switches to something else.

    Sayak needs to make his position clear on what he thinks the nature of Brahman is and what it isn't. If he is arguing that Brahman is something beyond consciousness, then he needs to support that with citations from the Upanishads. So far it has conclusively been demonstrated that Brahman is described as synonymous with consciousness.
     
    #14 Spirit_Warrior, Apr 7, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
  15. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    Spooky action at a distance(i.e. quantum entanglement)
    force fields
    chemical and electrical reactions

    Are not sentient.
     
  16. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    It is quite clear to everybody who talks to spirit warrior, that the only person he ever responds to are voices in his own head which has very little resemblance what anybody else is saying about the topic.

    So the most efficient way to progress in this thread, or in any thread spirit warrior creates is to respond to the topic outlying and defending one's positions and talking about other possible positions in an intelligent and coherent manner rather than responding to the garbled, distorted and incoherent ideas in Spirit Warriors long and wandering posts and accusations.

    A good example of what a waste of time some of the arguing here would be is talking about the ridiculous idea that because two words have the same word as synonym, they mean the same is conclusively established! Is this a new rule of grammar? It can't be since its clearly false:-

    Lovely:- Synonyms contains splendid and beautiful as synonym
    Splendid :- Synonyms contain beautiful as synonym.

    Therefore it is established that lovely and splendid mean the same thing?


    Now I am sure Spirit Warrior will post two gigantic posts "decisively refuting" this obvious problem with just one of his 100 contentless arguments he makes in his previous posts, which itself will contain another 100 ridiculous propositions (interspersed with 2-3 interesting ones). But will it be any use for the readers in this thread? No. After all there is no point in pointing out the grammatical mistakes of someone who writes:- "lkdjfbjhvwbgfkjbwkjv" if the response is also "jfebfewhfjvwfjvkj".

    So I will make my own points regarding my conclusions regarding what the Upanisads say about Brahman and make some points that others (including Spirit Warrior..sometimes...rarely) make that requires some reflection and have interesting points. Spirit Warrior can write whatever he wants to in as long paragraphs of rambling nonsense he wants. After all, convincing spirit warrior of anything is not my intentions, as I have no clue as to how his mind works. Its just all over the place like a maelstrom.


    However I will provide lots of likes to anyone here who can clearly and simply tell me what Spirit Warrior is getting at with a concise statement and what argument he is making. Because I, sure as hell can't.
     
  17. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    ^^ I think it is clear from the above Sayak has no position to debate, and is neither willing to engage the arguments of his opponents. Instead he just wants to waste our time with endless fallacies, avoiding arguments, strawman, adhominems, bait and switch and emotional appeals. He has clearly lost this debate

    I hope I have removed all doubt that Brahman of Upanishads is the Hindu concept of God. I have stuck to the proper protocols and backed up with my interpretation with citations from Upanishads.
     
    #17 Spirit_Warrior, Apr 7, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017
  18. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    And the monologue continues....
     
  19. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Just for the record:-
    Open invitation to get ten free likes for anybody who can tell me what Spirit Warrior has argued so far that is relevant in refuting my actual positions and argument about the nature of Brahman in the Upanisads concisely summarized in the post below:-

    Hindus Only: The nature of Brahman in Upanishads
     
  20. Spirit_Warrior

    Spirit_Warrior Active Member

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    By the way I just had to respond to this


    Upanishad:


    It is clear this man revels in ignorance.
     
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