Feyman Lectures on Physics

Jul 12, 2017

औपनिषदिक जीवनसौख्य

Traditional Advaita teaches following doctrines:

(1) Ultimate reality is non-dual and apophatic (via-negativa)
(2) This reality is the substratum of experiential (and material) Universe.
(3) Knowledge of Ultimate Reality is liberating
(4) Liberation vide (3) is unique (Liberation iff Knowledge)
(5) Knowledge and Actions (karma) are incompatible with each other.

All Advaitins are likely to agree with (1) and (2) which define the metaphysical framework of Advaita, but they may not agree with one or more aspects of other three doctrines which define the axiology of Advaita. They also may not agree if (2) is interpreted to mean that experiential and material Universe is a secondary reality of the kind of illusion. For example, Bhagavata tradition in Maharashtra and boundary districts of Karnataka will agree with (1) and (2) in principle but may not agree with the axiology and illusory aspect of orthodox Advaita.

Aupanishadic Jivan-Saukhya (औपनिषदिक जीवनसौख्य) [AJS] is a typical rendering of such realistic and active Advaita. The book is written by Dr Keshav Laxman Daftari (1880-1956) in Marathi. Dr Daftari was known for his scholarship, truthfulness, self-less character, and rational thinking. He had both secular training (in Mathematics, Law, History, Sanskrit etc.) and traditional learning (in Vedanga, Dharmashastra, Jyotish etc.). AJS has been published by Vidarbha Samshodhana Mandal, Nagpur in 1957 with a forward by well known Sanskrit Scholar and Indologist Dr Vasudeva Vishnu Mirashi.

AJS directly interprets Upanishads and draws its conclusions independently - without getting influenced by any of the traditional teachers (Acharyas) of Advaita. It is divided in three parts. The first part discusses as to which Upanishads should be taken as evidence, how to interpret them, what is their Anubandha (subject, objective) and their style of narration.

The second part goes deeper to discuss the Anubandha. It concludes that Jivanmukti by way of acquiring the happiness of Knowledge - i.e. living, wakeful-blissful experience of Advaita - is the goal of Aupanishad Upadesha (Upanishads' Teachings). AJS discusses cosmogony and metaphysics of Upanishads to decide that Upanishads are talking about Vikasavada (teleological evolution) of the Universe rather than Vivartavada (transfiguration of the Universe). In the end, even though Brahman may the efficient and material cause of the Universe the bliss of Knowledge can be experienced only in waking state and not in sleep, Samadhi, or death (absolute non-duality) though non-duality is the ultimate reality.

Part three of AJS discusses methodology of being happy by adopting the vision (if not the ontologically absolute non-duality) of Advaita. It explains Pranopasana (प्राणोपासना) or Jivopasana (जीवोपासना) as taught by Upanishads and as understood by him: (a) Jiviopasana or Pranopasana is done by the Jiva by engaging itself (and in cooperation with others) in activities (karma) which are required for Jiva to keep a healthy body and mind, (b) Sense-gratification activities are limited to and to the purpose of meaningful survival and procreation, (c) Interact with others with an Advaitic vision - simply put, help the needy and avoid violence, (d) Advaitic vision is developed not only by karma or by Knowledge but by combination of both (Gyana-Karma samucchaya, ज्ञानकर्मसमुच्चय), (e) According to AJS, Upanishads mention after-death scenario, transmigration etc. only to eulogize Advaita (vision, values). Veda Apaurusheyatva (वेद अपौरूषेयत्व) is not taught by Upanishads and is not required for imbibing Advaitc values.

Dr Daftari's interpretation goes against traditional (Shankara) Bhashya which emphasizes karma-sannyasa (कर्म-संन्यास) by rejecting ज्ञानकर्मसमुच्चय. It also goes against Vivarta-Vada (विवर्त वाद) which assigns illusory secondariness to all empirical transactions. Though Vivarta and other Shankara Advaita concepts show compatibility and similarity with science and its paradoxes, and provide metaphysical insights, AJS provides a robust and practical alternative to traditional Shankara Advaita.