In the last blog, (Blog 58: Understanding Advaita – Part 1) we saw Advaita relative to Dwaitha, and mainly, we saw how Advaita and Dwaitha are not opposites. You may say they are two concentric circles, Advaita being the outer radius circle. To understand Advaitha, It’s very essential to know what it is not. So, in this blog, I’ll be busting some myths about Advaitha.
1. An Advaitic life will be boring, depressing, and lifeless.
In fact, it will be the opposite of all that. Isn’t it interesting to unravel who you truly are? And don’t you think that knowing that you are beyond just body and mind is liberating?, And isn’t that knowing, a fulfilled life? And that’s what Advaita is.
2. Advaitha is the worship of Lord Shiva as the epicenter rather than Lord Vishnu.
Far from the truth. The Advaitic way, in fact, does not require you to worship any deity. However, it is not prohibited either. You may worship any deity of your choice. The segregation of Jeeva and God (sadhguna parabrahma) exists only in the transactional reality, and Advaita is only bothered about the absolute reality.
3. Advaitha discards the existence of god.
No, it does not. Why would Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya write so many shlokas on various deities from Govinda to Devi, if he discarded the existence of god? His hymns clearly show how grateful and out of pure heart, he is praising the Lord. As I mentioned in the last point, Sadhguna Parabrahma (God) distinctly exists in transactional reality. It’s just that, Advaita emphasizes less on worshipping, rituals, etc. And again, it’s not that any of it is prohibited. In the Advaitic view, worshipping a deity, rituals, etc are all great tools to attain the balance you require to understand the ultimate, i.e, your ‘self’.
4. Advaitha discards Dwaitha.
No, It’s just that Advaitha took the discussion even further. In fact, Even the beacons of light who re-established Sanathana Dharma in perspective of their choice, if Shankaracharya (Advaita) and Madhwacharya (Dwaitha) came together, do you think they would fight each other, or even have a heated debate? They would, in fact, try to solve the confusion in people’s minds together and show their mercy on those people who are not able to understand that they both are representing truths individually, wouldn’t they? They both were great people, godly great, that’s why people even worship them. Only half-boiled, confused people fight over Dwaitha vs Advaitha.
5. “Aham Brahmasmi” translates to “I am God”.
This cannot be far from the truth. This is not the meaning of that statement – “Aham Brahmaasmi”. It conveys the meaning that “I am the Brahman”. And brahman here is not the lord Brahma, it is the eternal consciousness within all of us, even in the gods, The Brahman. So, here, knowing the clear distinction between nirguna (formless) and sadhguna (good/virtuous) Parbrahma becomes essential. You may read my blog 7: GOD to know the distinction.
6. “Jagan Mithya” translates to “World is false”.
Again, this is one of the greatest misconceptions in understanding Advaita. It’s probably mainly due to the word ‘Mithya’ having the meaning ‘false/lie’ in Kannada. But this ‘Mithya’ here is a Sanskrit word which means ‘Maya‘, I.e, delusion. And that’s a maker or a breaker kind of distinction. What Jagadguru Shree Shankaracharya is trying to convey is the absolute reality, there is nothing but the consciousness, the Brahman. All the world we see is a transactional reality. Sri Shankara’s statement is made at that level of understanding. People cannot misinterpret it by staying at this transactional level of understanding.
And when everything is the Brahman, what we are seeing with our eyes isn’t it delusion in that perspective?
Again, All I can do is provide the questions and reflections to ponder. You are free to think and understand in your own way.
Blog 60: Understanding Advaita – Part 3 – Why the discrepancies?