Ajativada – the missing link.
An abstract due early tomorrow morning that I’vent even started yet(it’s 3 Am now!), codes blowing up, severe headache, and sleep debt!..yeah, situation perfect to write a long due post :) Mind it..it’s going to be quite intense and core philosophy :P
In a rather overwhelming feeling of relief and calmness, I am just a little too glad that I understood the purport of the missing link, ajativada, that has managed to assuage my over inquisitive mind at least for a little while. Ever since I read this book, The Phantoms in the Brain, there has been this nagging restlessness and doubt about perceptions of reality. Whatever we perceive to be “true” or “real” or even “existent” is all dependent on how the neuro-signals that our sensory organs send to the brain is interpreted. It is highly possible that a “happy” or “pain” signal can be interpreted as a “sad” or “no sensation” signal by the brain if it gets mapped to a slightly different zone, may it be due to some injury or any other reason. Only then did it strike me that all sensations & “feelings” are nothing but the result of some signal being processed inside your brain. So, god forbid, that something happens to us, and the existing mapping between our perceptor organs and the brain changes a bit, what would happen then? Taking a simple example from the book, suppose we don’t feel “pain” or “fear” at all, our entire perception of the world around us would change. Complete fearlessness in each and each activity we do, is something unimaginable, and this “small” change would cause a phenomenal change in the personality of the person. Imagine if your brain gets re-wired somehow that it minimizes your “egoic” reactions. That would be awesome! You would be well on your course to becoming a yogi. Ok, humor apart, now, my question is – how can our perceptions of the “reality” and the “truth”, forget about the gross materialism, even about the subtler aspects, be, for the lack of a better word, stand alone? This is one of the most fundamental questions being addressed in neuroscience research today. I might be wrong in terming this entire “setup” as illusion, may I call it Maya if it can convey the meaning a little better. We perceive the Mayaic world, why even the subtler world, through our senses. Probably, through conditioning of the mind, perceptions become minimal, but still, the fact remains, that all we cognize or experience is still through our physical senses. I guess, controlling our thoughts would be our first task at hand, but once you reach that peak, there is another profound realization that awaits you. Now, onto the advaitic correlations.
There are three popular creation theories in advaita, srishti-drishti-vada(what’s been created is perceived), drishti-srishti-vada(perception is simultaneous with creation), and ajativada(creation is not an absolute real event). In the srishti-drishtivada, the universe is held to be created by the Brahman in his capacity as Ishwara. So, here, the universe is seen to have been created by Ishwara. Srishti(creation) is therefore prior to Drishti(perception). In other words, a thing has to exist for it to be perceived. So, in this view, there are multiple jivas, corresponding to numerous sentient individuals in the universe. However, to even talk of creation, one has to admit of Maya, as the power of Ishwara. Under this view, maya is accorded a measure of reality with respect to the observed universe, though it is still denied that this maya has an independent existence or reality of its own, and is made absolutely dependent on the Brahman, that is the sole reality. This notion of brahman as Ishwara, with attributes, who appears to be different from the creation, is like a temporary description for the purposes of explaining creation to those who seek one
Now, on to what Ajativada means. The notion that maya has no reality in itself, and that brahman is the only real, allows the Srishti-Drisht-vadin to “graduate” to Ajativada, the view that no creation really occured ever. Although one initially starts looking for brahman as the ontological basis of the perceived universe, advaita also recognizes that this search for origins is ultimately futile, as far as moksha is concerned. Till now, we have been mainly concerned with explaining the external world, that we know only through the operation of the senses. Ajativada says that the identity propounded by the upanishads(between the Atman and Brahman) opens up an even more fascinating inner world that is not seen by the eye, not heard by the ear, not felt by touch, essentially transcending all sensory perceptions. This inner discovery ultimately should ultimately lead to denying of maya, and any other reality whatsover, as an illusion, that doesn’t even exist, a level deeper than what the traditional advaitic philosophies have to say. At that stage, the Brahman, that was earlier understood to be with attributed, is actually “understood” in the true essence to be really Nirguna, without any attributes. Then, Maya completely disappears and consequently, the universe has to disappear too. This level of abstraction is very difficult to accept, as our senses constantly seem to remind the presence of the universe. By some divine grace, I probably caught the essence of it for a brief couple of moments, but denying something that we “tangibly” deal with during every second of our existence, is just insane to even think about! This extremely short moment of understanding, not just gave me that deep sense of calm, but also increase my deep reverence to Sri Ramana Maharishi beyond limits. To one of the greatest souls to have ever lived, an articulate adherent to ajativada, offering my humble respects and praying for your divine grace!
I just realized that my blog name – Cogito, ergo sum that I randomly chose when I started has evolved to live up to its meaning! :-)