(Continued from previous post)
Knowing the ultimate reality has always been the quest of all intellectuals from time immemorial. Each philosopher has his/her own version of this reality. What does Ramana have to say about this ultimate reality?
Ramana’s often repeated assertion is that in the ultimate sense this world does not exist! What we perceive as world around us is “just a creation of the mind” and as such it actually does not exist!
Ramana gives the example of deep sleep when we are totally unaware of any world around us though we know that we exist. The world “appears” only when we wake up from our sleep and our mind once again starts functioning. Similarly, in samädhi - deep state of meditation (when the mind has stopped functioning), once again the world disappears. The obvious conclusion of Ramana is that world exists only when the mind functions. Or in other words, it is the creation of the mind.
People who are familiar with ancient Indian philosophy at once recognize similarity of this view with that of Vijñänavädi Buddhists, or the philosophy of Gaudapäda – grand Guru of well known Advaita proponent Sankara.
In my book “Some important missing dimensions in our current understanding of the mind”, I have discussed in detail how Gaudapäda puts forth his argument and even claims support from Upanishads. In that book, I have also discussed how Sankara later disagrees with this theory, and ridicules the Vijñänavädis in his commentary on Brahma sutra – one of most important ancient texts on Veda.
One of the readers of my book strongly objected to my view that Sankara disagrees with this theory even though I had quoted profusely from Sankara’s commentary. This reader felt that it is “a commonly accepted fact that Sankara propagated the same philosophy put forth by Gaudapäda”.
It is interesting that one of the visitors to Ramana points out this fact (that Sankara has refuted this view in his commentary), Ramana refuses to change his view and continues to say that world is only a creation of the mind and it does not exist!
I wonder whether the words in the Brahma sutra commentary attributed to Sankara were introduced later by his followers to escape from the allegation that this view is borrowed from the Buddhists. Since Ramana quotes heavily from Yoga Vasista – a supposedly 10th century composition (which was believed to have been continuously modified till 18th century), is it likely that Yoga vasista was composed based on Sankara’s original views which were modified later on by his followers ? – I am only trying to hazard a guess.
On my part, I find it difficult to accept Ramana’s/Gaudapäda’s views on this since I feel
1. Upanishads don’t support this view as Gaudapäda tries to show.
2. Sankara’s views expressed in the Brahma sutra commentary are genuine unless proven otherwise.
3. It is possible to logically show that the deep sleep analogy given by Ramana, or the dream analogy given by Gaudapäda are not foolproof.
4. It does not make any sense to have any discussion or enquiry if the entire thing is only nonexistent.
I have discussed all these issues in my book mentioned above. As always, my intention is not to show that all these great men were wrong, but to question till satisfactory answers are got.