Does the stage of non-diversity (nirvikalpa-avasthaa) exists ultimately?
Acharya Shyam Ramanuj (Sidhdata Centre – Durban, South Africa) on Facebook —
“The constitutional position of the material mind is acceptance and rejection. When there are no alternatives the mind is forced to still itself.”
Bhakti-rasa-vedanta-pithadhishvara Gurupadacharya Shri-charana (BRVF — Lodi, CA, USA) —
“A) While it is true that an aspirant of moksha (emancipation from worldly conditioning) needs to transcend the mundane vs. mundane duality (laukika-laukika dvandva) of pain/pleasure, victory/defeat, loss/gain, respect/humiliation etc., such transcending does not translate into a condition replete with loss of diversity (shoonya-avasthaa). Diverse options will exist perennially. For if not so, the principle of spontaneously rejecting the lower grade of taste for the acquisition of that comparatively higher or even ultimately highest wouldn’t have found room in the very Second Chapter of Shreemad-bhagavad-geetaa which talks about transcending the mundane dual options enumerated above.
B) So whereas, verses like “…sukh-duhkhe same kritvaa laabha-alaabhau jayaajayau…” (SBG 2.38) + “…dvandva-ateeto vimatsarah…..” (SBG 4.22) + “maatraa-sparshaas tu kaunteya sheetoshna-sukha-duhkha-daah….” etc. speak of transcending the mundane temporal options (kshana-bhangura laukika-laukika vikalpa), again, SBG 2.59 – “vishayaa vinivarttante…..param drishtvaa nivarttate” — explicitly substantiates the concept of mundane vs. divine dualism (laukika-alaukika dvandva).
C) Hence, the mundane vs. mundane duality (options / vikalpa) needs to be transcended. Whereas, mundane vs. divine duality is needed for highlighting the par-excellent value of (parama mahattaa) the latter on top of the former. Or else, SBG 2.59 will turn irrelevant.
D) Among the divine plurality (divine variety or diversity which is eternal and not temporal unlike the mundane temporal duality) or ‘alaukika vaicitrya’, there prevails the internal hierarchical gradation (utkarsha-moolaka taaratamya). This does not denote the possibility of ‘svagata-bheda’ or ‘self-difference’ talked about by Vedantins, for divine diversity is devoid of self-difference as analogous to the oceanic waves’ oneness with the ocean despite an actual diversity among those mutual waves and the actual diversity prevalent between those waves and the ocean whole. The ‘apraakrita-vishesha’ (divine variety element) causes this eternal divine diversity.
E) If not, we would not have seen scriptures propounding the concepts of concurrently existing anabhivyakta-vishesha-avasthaa (status of divinity wherein, the divine does not manifest diversity) + aamshika-abhivyakta-vishesha-avasthaa (status of divinity wherein, the divine partially displays diversity) and the poorna-abhivyakta-vishesha-avasthaa (status of divinity wherein, the divine displays full diversity without bounds). In Shreemad-bhaagavatam 1.2.11, therefore, the three varied stages of one Absolute Reality (advaya-jnaana-tattva-aatmaka parabrahma/vaastava vastu / parama satya / svayam bhagavaan paripoornatama) have been described as brahma, paramaatmaa and bhagavaan.
Even in divinity, there are variations like five types of mukti and then the aatyantika pancama-purushaartha-svaroopa nirgunaa prema-bhakti superseding even the fourth objective moksha. Evidence is found in Shreemad-bhaagavatam 3.29.12-14 — “lakshanam bhaktiyogasya…..saalokya-saarshti-saameepya…..aatyantika udaahritah..” .
Hence, even after transcending mundane vs. mundane diversity (laukika/laukika vikalpa) and even after crossing through the demarcation of mundane vs. divine diversity (laukika/alaukika vikalpa), the domain of divine vs. divine diversity (alaukika/alaukika vikalpa) does not cease to exist.
F) Again, a question arises as to why cannot diversity cease to exist in the ‘ekattva/kaivalya avasthaa’ wherein, soul/supersoul unification occurs? Evidence — Shreemad-bhaagavatam 12.13.13 — “…brahma-aatmaikattva-laksanam… kaivalyaika-prayojanam”. The answer is that the Gaudeeya Vaishnavism interprets this shloka to express the nitya-leelaa-pravesha of a bhakti-maargeeya jeeva. But, even if interpreted according to the jnaana-maargees, unless Maayaavaada is accepted, even the pure jnaana-maarga does not advocate any ontological identity between jeeva and parabrahma. It advocates only the egoistic oneness (aham-pratyaya-gata ekattva) of a jeeva with the parabrahma even during the saayujya-mukti or kaivalya.
G) Even if the Maayaavaadin interpretation is accepted, still, diversity remains in their non-diverse Absolute or nirvishesha-brahma. How? Even Maayaavaadees have been compelled to accept the nature of parabrahma where It is, simultaneously, subtle than the subtlest and great than the greatest — “anor aneeyaan mahato maheeyaan….” (Katha Upanishad 1.2.20).
This statement of shruti cannot be labeled as inapplicable to their (monists’/Advaitins’) nirupaadhika-brahma (Absolute Reality devoid of all mundane and divine adjuncts), be because, if it is made inapplicable to nirupaadhika-brahma, then the very ‘brahmattva’ or ‘absolute status’ of their nirupaadhika-brahma will be jeopardized. How? Because, irrespective of either sopaadhika (with limiting adjuncts) or nirupaadhika (without adjuncts), ‘brahma’ literally means ‘great’. Evidence — “brihattvaad brimhanattvaacca tasmaat brahmeti shabditah….” (Vishnu Puraana). And, treatment of Katha Upanishad 1.2.20 as inapplicable or ‘aprayujya’ to their nirupaadhika-brahma ultimately means acceptance that brahma is not ‘mahaan’ or ‘brihat’ or great. Therefore, it is the compulsion of nirvishesha-brahma-vaadees to accept K.U. 1.2.20 as applicable to their non-diversified Absolute.
But, as soon as they accept KU 1.2.20 as applicable to non-diversified Absolute (nirvishesha-brahma/nirupaadhika-brahma), non-diversified Absolute doesn’t seem to be any more bereft of diversity for KU 1.2.30 itself gives rise to divine eternal plurality (alaukika nitya dvandva / vaicitrya) when it asserts that Absolute Reality is, concurrently, subtle than the subtlest and great than the greatest. Isn’t this perennial diversity even within the svaroopa of a non-diversified Absolute?
Grand conclusion —
Hence, vikalpa/vaicitrya/dvandva/vishesha/vaividhy/bahutva/anekatva or options/diversity/plurality/duality/variety cannot cease to exist at any stage whatsoever.
Scriptures have accepted concurrence of diversified and non-diversified features of the Absolute. It is both savishesha and nirvishesha. Evidence — “apaanipaado javano grahitaa…” (Shvetaashvatara Upanishad 3.19) + “sarvatah paani-paadam tat sarvato’kshi-shiro-mukham” (Shreemad-bhagavad-geetaa 13.14) + “sahasra-sheershaa purushah sahasraakshah sahasrapaat” (Purusha-sookta from Krishna & Shukla Yajurveda Samhitaa).
But, concurrent acceptance of both, also, supports the concept of grand diversity only, for, only a grand diverse object can contain simultaneous diversity and non-diversity. Containing both oxymorons harmoniously tantamounts to the grand super-ultimate diversity or parama-aatyantika-vaicitrya of para-brahma. A grand non-diversified object (parama-aatyantika-avicitra-vastu) cannot harbour two oxymorons. So, the grand base of both diversity and non-diversity is diverse, thus, rejecting all possibilities of ultimate grand non-diversity.”