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Shankara’s Advaita is Context-Specific


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Shankara’s Advaita is Context-Specific

O Learned and Devoted Servants of God,


[July 03, 2011] The true Advaita of Shankara is only in the aspect of enjoying this creation by a soul just as God enjoys it. The following analogy is given to understand this concept. The director-ejaculate-producer of a cinema, after producing the cinema, himself sits in the audience to watch and enjoy it. His helper also sits along with him and enjoys the cinema. In this aspect of enjoying the cinema as spectators, there is no difference between the two. Of course, this similarity does not make the helper identical with the producer of the cinema. In the context of the producing of the cinema, the difference between the two always remains. But, once the cinema is already produced, there is no relevance of bringing in that difference, which is present in the context of production. Only the context of watching and enjoying the cinema is relevant. In this context, there is no difference between the helper and the producer.


God is that director-ejaculate-producer of the cinema of creation. The ordinary individual soul is the helper. In the context of producing the cinema, there is obviously a difference between the two. God has created this creation while the soul cannot even create an iota of creation. But, once the process of creation is over and it is time to merely watch it like a cinema and enjoy it, there is no need to bring in that difference between God and the soul. God enjoys all the aspects in this creation-cinema. He is not disturbed by the tragedies or comedies in it but derives equal enjoyment from both. Likewise, the soul too can derive equal enjoyment from both if the soul can remain uninvolved with the creation. Hence, Shankara said that the soul is the same as God. This is Advaita or monism. For the process of watching and enjoying the cinema of creation, awareness (Chit) alone is required; no creative powers are required. This awareness is the essence of this common spectatorship of both God and the soul.


Shankara called this common awareness as Brahman. In the aspect of this awareness (Brahman), both Jiva (soul) and Ishwara (God) are said to be equal. Hence, Shankara’s view is also called as Chinmatra Vada—the view that awareness (Chit) alone is true (relevant). The Jiva can remain in the same God-like state of an unattached spectator as long as it considers itself to be Brahman (awareness) and does not get attached to the world. In this context of spectatorship, the status of God as the Creator, Maintainer and Destroyer of creation is irrelevant. Similarly, the status of the soul as a created item is also irrelevant. To indicate this irrelevance and to highlight that awareness alone is relevant for spectatorship, Shankara reduced the difference between the Jiva (soul) and Ishwara (God) to zero by calling it Mithya (unreal).

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