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Archive for category Dvaita

Your Self is That which never Ages.

Ask any one.

From a child to an octagenraian they will say, they always felt the same, they don’t feel they have aged at all.

Yes, their body has gone through many changes through time, and their mind has recorded, interpreted and abstracted all that it has experienced, but they themselves have not changed.

“I feel the same!” they say.

That which never ages, that which never changes is that which is eternal – that is your Self.

Interestingly the ones you truly love, you love independent of their present appearance, age, thoughts or behaviour. ‘I love my dad!’ you declare, and your mom and son and spouse and daughter even though they appear to change all the time. But there is a bit of them that does not change and your relationship is to that bit of them that does not change. Even after they have forgotten everything.

The relationship between you and another person or living being is a relationship between the your “Self” and their “Self”. That is why you love your friends so much even though you are not physically related to them.

Thus you hang on to pictures of your grandparents even after they have passed on and you ‘love your grandfather’ just as much as when he was around to tell you stories.

I have written previously that the mind is a body function, a brain function, intimately tied with the body and influencing it. See : The false divide : body and mind.

However, your Self is not a brain function. Several living things do not have a brain. And they have a Self.

Your Self is not a function of a nervous system. There are living things without a nervous system. And they have a Self.

In fact, those who believe in dvaita and re-birth, also believe that if you behave like an animal or worm, you can be re-born as one! Better behave as a dEva or at least a mAnava!

The sanskrit word for the Self is the Atman. The sanskrit word for the em-bodied one is dEhin. Both words are used in the bhagavad gIta.

dvaitins will tell you that your Self and my Self are different from each other and from the supreme Self., ie they will tell you that you-jIvAtma and me-jIvAtma are different from the paramAtma.

advaitins will tell you that your Self, my Self and the supreme Self are the same thing. To not know this is an illusion (mithya), to know this is realisation (satya).

What you believe depends not only on what you were taught but how you feel about it based on your own interpretations of your own experiences.

Movies represent your Self as a you-shaped transparent massless body, this is misleading and is not consistent with the sense of Atman or dEhin from a vEdAnta perspective. It may however represent what some hindus think, at least the ones who made the movie?

Think this – I am that which does not age, that which does not change, that which was always the same and which will always be the same.

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Philosophies : God and Vedas in different Ancient Indian Philosophies

The following ideas are a summary of my understanding of Alladi Mahadeva Sastry’s ideas as expressed in his Introduction to the *Dakshinamurthy Stotra.

  1. It is the Vedas that tell us that there is something beyond this world as we normally experience through our senses.
  2. The orthodox schools of thought lead to the nyaya, vaiseshika, sankhya and yoga philosophies. These accept Vedas as a pramANa or standard.
  3. The heterodox schools of thought lead to the Buddhist and the Arhat (Jain)  philosophies. These do not accept Vedas as a standard.
  4. There is no agreement in the conclusions about the First Cause of the Universe, at to the nature of Isvara and Atman, as to the cause of bondage, as to the nature and means of liberation.

The most ancient literature, the Brahmanas accept the Vedas as authority.

(Vedic concepts are expanded in the Upanishads and in the systems of Indian Philosophy.

  1. Vaisesika of Kanada
  2. Nyaya of Gauthama
  3. Sankhya of Kapila
  4. Yoga of Patanjali (Yoga Web-Site)
  5. Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini
  6. Uttaramimamsa of Badarayana Vyasa.)
Tarkikas and Sankhyas :
  1. The Tarkikas (Naiyayikas and Vaiseshikas) hold that fine atoms (anu)  of matter are acted upon by the Will of Isvara who knows all and is all powerful. The atman is devoid of feeling and consciousness till it unites with the manas, through which it becomes conscious and suffers pleasure and pain. It identifies with the body. Then it meditates on the object of right knowledge, and by divine grace knows truth and destroys ignorance. Then it becomes dispassionate, ceases activity and birth, pain gets destroyed, becomes free of the manas and that is bliss.
  2. Sankhyas have two views. According to one view, Pradhana is an insentinent (without consciousness) all pervading matter. Conscious Isvara is reflected in it and it that sense enters it. According to the other view, there is no Isvara and Pradhana evolves into the manifold universe. To me this looks like the modern scientific view of the universe that sentinent or conscious life just emerges from insentinent matter-energy.. given enough of time and the right conditions. Prakriti (Nature – Indian definition) and Atman (Purusha) together co-dependently result in srishti .. creation. Buddhi belongs to Prakriti, the atman identifies with buddhi and feels sad. Then it does dhyana and realises that it is Purusha and not Prakriti. Kaivalya is the separation of Pursusha and Prakriti which is bliss for the Purusha! Once separate Purusha can no longer see Prakriti.
  3. Both Nyaya and Sankhya accept the Vedas as Pramana (Revelation as a truth).
  4. (Consciousness is Purusha, everything else is Prakriti. Sometimes Purusha knows itself as Prakriti and feels pleasure and pain and sometimes remembers that is Purusha and feels no pain. The fun is that even if you- the Purusha separate from Prakriti here., the Purusha is joining Prakriti elsewhere – so what would be the point? What is interesting is that modern scientists see consciousness as an emergent phenomenon and the sankhyas see it as something separate. – Satya)
Heterodox Schools : 
  1. Heterodox teachers like Buddha and Arhats (Jains), do not believe in the Vedas or in the Karmakanda (the ritual section of the Vedas).
  2. The Buddhists believe that there is no Isvara. Everything (even atman) is born of itself. It exists only for an instant. Not having existed before and not existing in the future. All is Pain. The bondage of the atman consists in looking upon the self and th universe as continually existent. This happens because of ignorance and consequent karma. Liberation is attained when the atman recognises the momentariness of itself and everything else. To attain this state the atman must meditate on the idea that all is pain, all is momentary and all is born of itself. Liberation consists in pure detached states of consciousness following one upon another in a continuous stream without being tainted by external perceptions, everything is a non-entity an absolute void. Density-wise this matches the modern scientific view.
  3. The Buddhists and Arhats replace the Vedas by the texts of pure morality delivered by all-knowing teachers.
  4. The Arhats (Jains) reject the momentariness of all things. They say the atman has a finite size neither big nor small. It does things now and reaps things in the future. They reject the Isvara, but accept the existence of faultless beings which have evolved to all-knowingness. Karma acts to make the universe out of the particles (anu). Everything has an eternal and temporary component. The cause of bondage is the assumption due to sin and false intution, that separate bodies occupy limited space. Liberation is release from all action, from decay of all causes of bondage and existence. The atman resides in the highest regions, absorbed in untainted bliss, with its knowledge unhindered.  To get there, you need absolute faith in the teachings of an arhat, avoid actions tending to evil, and to practice right conduct.
Mimamsa : 
  1. When reasoning is exclusively resorted to for guidance on matters which fall outside the sense organs, such variances in conclusions are natural. Religions based on Revelations require blind faith as well as following customs which over the ages have moved away from the Revelations. This also compounds the problem. Some systems behave as if by independent reasoning you can come to the same conclusions as the Revealed Truth (Vedas).
  2. The Mimamsakas, interpret the Vedas, trying to throw light on that part of knowledge only that cannot be gathered by the intellect and senses alone.
  3. The Purva Mimamsa deals with rituals.
  4. The Purva Mimamsa school hold that universe evolved out of particles acted upon by karma and salvation can be attained through the karma kanda of the Vedas. They deny the Isvara component of the Vedas and Upanishads. They treat Isvara as something to contemplate on to get bliss or Moksha.
  5. The Uttara or Saririka Mimamsa deals with the embodied atman. This is also known as Vedanta Sutras or Brahma Sutras.
  6. The Vedantins hold that only knowledge  leads to eternal salvation. The Brahmavadins hold that the Upanishads inculcate the existence of the Brahman from which all has come into existence, and in which all pervades.
  7. The Vedantins can be further divided into Dvaita, advaita and visishtadvaita schools.
  8. The dvaitins believe that every atman and object and paramatma are all different from each other.
  9. The visishtadvaitins hold that God is present in the sentinent or conscious (purusha) as well as in the insentinent prakriti. They hold that Isvara controls all beings from within and that each person has their own individual atman and consciousness. Bliss is attained when the atman is freed from samsara bandha and devotes itself eternally to the sovereign Purusha.
  10. There are several other schools among the vedantins.
  11. The advaitins hold that there is only One Atman, and the universe is in the atman itself and it appears by the light of the atman alone. Liberation is the knowledge of this oneness and seeing the Self in All and All in the Self.
Which am I?
  • I think consciousness is an emergent phenomenon. It emerged from nature.. For a match in Hindu symbolism : see Vatapatrasayi and Devi. So I am not one of the Tarkikas.
  • I believe in continuity. I am not a Buddhist.
  • I cannot have absolute faith in an arhat.. I am not a Jain.
  • I can be a Mimamsaka.. in that I accept the Vedas, but I also accept Isvara in my head and heart.. so that would make me a Vedantin.
  • I behave like a bit like a dvaitin, a bit like a visishtadvaitin and a bit like an advaitin.. but I think of myself as an advaitin.
Footnotes : 
* The Vedanta Doctrine of Sri Sankaracharya Essay in Book titled : Dakshinamorthi Stotra Sri Sankracharya.. Text and Translation by Alladi Mahadeva Sastry, Samata Books, 10 Congress Building, 573 Mount Road, Chennai 600 006. I got this book for Rs 150 at Vedanta Book House Malleswaram, Bangalore.

Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

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Sankara, Krishna, Yagnyavalkya .. Isa Upanishad and Gita

The Isa Upanishad is last part of the Sukla Yajur Veda, given to us by Yajnavalkya, received by him from Surya.

Krishna gave us the Bhagavad Gita which is the essence of all the upanishads.

Sankaracharya has written a commentary on the Isa Upanishad as well as on the Bhagavad Gita.

He advocated the Advaita Philosophy, based on how he interpreted the prasthana traya. He defended his view very well and got a lot of followers. At later points in time the leaders of the Dwaita and Visishtadwaita Philosophy critiqued his work and created their own following.

Today’s Hindus absorb a few words and ideas from each school of thought and end up with an easy dictum “be good and kind, and God will be pleased” kind of philosophy which is both nebulous and practical at the same time. Thus Indian Hindus were far more easy  to reform constitutionally than other groups.

However I like to know things exactly. This post discusses the first three mantras of the Isa Vasya Upanishad only, and what I understand about them, ie my interpretation and defence in relation to the Gita.

The first mantra says  “All this is to be covered by Isa, all that moves in the moving world. Be protected by giving it up, don’t covet, for whose his wealth?”

The second mantra says, “Karmas must be done only. (Life) is to be lived for a 100 years. Other than this there is no other way by which Karma does not stick to men.”

Sankara says that the first mantra is for the gnyanis and mumukhsus who want salvation. And that the second is for the ordinary people.

But I think that the first 2 slokas taken together give us Karma Yoga.. as Krishna said.

Live Long. See Isa in all. Do Karma (that which should be done).  Give up everything (the results). Thus protect yourself from the karma that you do from sticking to you.

The third mantra says “Indeed, covered with blinding darkness are those “asurya” worlds, having been sent, there go those “self-destructive (atmahanah) people”.

Now there is scope for definitions and interpretations.

I could interpret this as “People who commit suicide go to dark worlds (hell)”. And I have heard this theory float around.

Sankara says that the asurya worlds are those states/places other where the non-duality of the paramatama is neglected (left).

He says not educating oneself it self is atmahani. Who can argue with this? So people who don’t strive for gnyana (avidvansah) go to those blinding states of ignorance. Of Duality. And after remaining stationary in these states of devas and asuras, they return to karma according to Sankara.

But Krishna says in chapter 2 of the Gita, that atma is eternal and cannot be hurt killed and so on. So where is the question of atmahani?

My Veda Guru, Kunda Miss says that aatma here refers to atma-sanghaatam. Atma plus body plus mind. The union. That can be hurt. Physically with blows and mentally by lack of learning, thinking and other ways.

Krishna then says in Gita chapter 2, that IF you think the atma can be killed, then know that it will be reborn. That’s not what He thinks.

Is he referring to the likes of Yajnyavalkya who used the word atmahani? (Clearly Arjuna had no opinion of his own on these matters.) We have to see what the rest of the study reveals.

If you accept Sankara’s premises and definitions, you can’t fault his crystal clear logic.

He is my kula guru. So I am an advaitin. And even otherwise my own reasoning leads to advaita.

My question in my own mind, for me to answer over time, is did Sankara correctly deduce the original intent of the mantras?

See Also :

Parabrahma – Sankaracharya




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Advaita, Dvaita and Visisthadvaita

I understood that all the three acharyas gave importance to Bhagavad Gita, BrahmaSutras, Upanishads and Vedas. And not as much to the puranas.


My next question was, how can 3 brilliant Acharyas read the same texts ie the Bhagavad Gita, BrahmaSutras, Upanishads and Vedas and come up with 3 significantly different interpretations?

My first clue came when I realised that the Veda Mantras were the insights of many different rishis with different ideologies and different levels of attainment. For eg our Gayathri Mantram is revealed to us by Viswamitra and the Purusha Suktham by Narayana Rishi and Devi Suktham by Vagambhrani Rishika.

The Upanishads which explained the Vedas were also the works of diverse rishis and influenced by their different ideas and understanding.

The Vedanta Sutras or Brahma Sutras were the gifted to us by Veda Vyasa.

The essence of the Upanishads was given to Arjuna by Sri Krishna as a free flowing conversation in an if-then structure.

It goes like this.

  • It is said by some in the Upanishads that “clause A” is true and by some others that “clause B” is true.
  • If YOU believe “A” then you should work because of ” reason X”, if you believe “B” then you should work because of ” reason Y”.
  • I believe you should work.
  • Even if you believe none of this and you believe in “clause C” then too you should work because of reason Z.
  • What people do is they quote single verses without reference to the context and to the whole argument. Then they weep that there are contradictions in the Gita.

Therefore, though the 3 Acharyas refer to the same texts, they are giving more importance to different statements in the texts made by diverse rishis and therefore able to draw different conclusions.


Sankara’s Advaita :

“Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.”

The reasoning of Sankaracharya leads to advaita : The unseen Brahman is the Truth, the experienced Jagat is an illusion and  The Jiva in you is the Brahman and no one else.

Knowledge destroys Karma.


Madhwa’s Dvaita :

Madhwa’s arguments lead to pancha bheda.

Paramatma is different from matter and from Jivatmas. The Jivatamas are different from each other and from matter. Matter is different from other matter.

This universe is real and is not Mithya or an illusion. The finite beings comprising the universe are subject to a system of gradation, beginning with the Goddess Laxmi, followed by other minor gods, seers, human beings and undivine beings. The rank of any soul in this scheme of gradation depends on the degree of its devotion to God. God is an embodiment of all virtues and excellences and ever remains untouched by any kind of blemish (Dosha). He has countless Roopas and forms. ……… Every follower of the Madhwa School should have a firm belief in the Pancha-bheda—five real and eternal distinctions. The distinction between one Jiva and another Jiva (jeeva-jeeva), between the Jiva and matter (jeeva-jada), between one piece of matter and another (jada-jada), between matter and spirit (Jada-Deva), between the Supreme Being and the individual soul (Deva-Jeeva).” (Source)


Ramanuja’s Visishtadwaita :

There is only one God. He has special attributes. The cit and acit form his sarira or body. He is nirguna in the sense of being free from blemishes and saguna in the sense of being ‘samasta kalyana gunakara’. Brahman is the atman of the atma.

There is prakriti. (Nature etc.. all you see around you). It is real. It is not maya.

There are numerous Jivatmas. These jivatmas are amsas or fractions of the divine paramatma. They are distinct from the brahman but inseparable from Him. They are dependent on the brahman, but they have free will. This is how they can accumulate karma. However they are also under the control of Brahman. Jivas are not just consciousness they are also knowers or gnyaatas.

Surrender to the Brahman and He will destroy your Karma. Spend your life in His Service. This is prapatti yoga.

Mother Lakshmi or SriDevi, pleads the cases of the individual jivatamas with the paramatma.

Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

For more basic details on Visihtadwaita you may refer Sri Ramanuja and Visisthadwaita , Qualified Non-Dualism Simplified by K. R. Krishnaswami.

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pArAyaNa or artha, Dvaita or Advaita, bhArat or India..?

Jai Durga Devi!

This random title expresses the questions I have been asked of over the past couple of days.. and the post discusses their answers.

Yesterday evening we were invited to the Devi Puja celebrations at a friends’ place. Here all the ladies were chanting soundarya lahari. This chanting of sanskrit text culture is something relatively new to our circles.. less than 10 years… if I am right. In every local neighbourhood ladies gather together in the home of a teacher and learn how to chant variously, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Lalita Sahasranamam. Soundary Lahari, Bhagavad Gita ad so on., in pristine Sanskrit.

About 20 years ago, it was Bhajans, to one or the other of the Sai Babas, generally in Hindi.

Prior to that I think ladies used to sing Mangala Arathi Songs.. in Telugu (Kannada). Now very few ladies know these songs, in our circles. The circle is the same by the way, chanting habits have changed.

Parayanam : Today one of my bhagavad gita students said that he would like to learn “only the chanting” since it was the sounds that are very important. Chanting the Gita, Vedas, or any other text is called pArAyaNam. Many traditional schools believe only in pArAyaNam for several years at least. It is held that you must chant till it is perfect and then keep doing manana (contemplation) in your head.

I have started pArAyaNam (of Vedas and Gita) since Jan this year and find that it feels really good. Since I already know some level of Sanskrit and other languages, over repetitions, the sounds form into words and the meaning emerges in my mind. So I think that learning Sanskrit Bhasha together with parayanam is definitely beneficial. There are also pranayama benefits to this.

I think to some students the mystic sounds of the chants appeal, the sounds themselves. Even if they do not resolve themselves into words and meanings. This also has value.

Artha :

I love to know what things mean. What am I saying when I chant? What did it mean when it was first said? What has it come to mean now? How have other interpreted these sounds and words? Do I agree with the interpretation?  Do I agree with the original idea?

I have been following the artha of various texts since my childhood and I have found it every bit as appealing as the sounds themselves.

vAk : artha :: parvati : parameswara.

aaah.. to choose only one and reject the other.. what a pity! what a limitation.

Dvaita :

Dvaita means duality. Dvaita holds that every jiva atman is unique and different from the paramataman and similarly that all dravyas are different from each other, as well as different from jiva atmas and from the paramatama. This seems to follow from our immediate experience of the universe. (anubhava). It also holds that the rewards in heaven (vaikunTa) are greater for the more pious atmans and less for the less pious souls. It hold that Vishnu values the virtuous more than the less virtuous. It sounds fair and encourages good behaviour.. it fits in with what people can infer from the world around them.

Advaita :

Advaita means the lack of duality. The jivaatman is the paramaatman and the jagat or world you see around you is an illusion (mithya).

To attain the advaita state of aham brahma, you have to first get attached to sat (sat-sanga) and then get detached from that also (nih-sanga), reach nir-mohatva (lack of fascination/delusion), nis’cala tatva (a state of unchangingness) and finally jivan-muktih – a state of being free while still in your body.

When you follow the advaita path  and become a complete advaitin – you attain brahma padam – aham brahmAsmi – i am brahman. This is absolute oneness with the paramatma and the universe and all the indescribable bliss and knowledge that state holds.

dvaitins need to do good karma, advaitins need do nothing at all except for setting an example to society. People exercise their choice as per their nature… both require you to behave well in society... If you wish to realise the “Tat” in your embodied form.. advaita is the way to go.

bhArat :

The Vishnu Purana defines bhArata varSam as the area to the south of the mountains and to the north of the seas. The name is derived from bharata meaning great.

India :

Arrian defined India as the area to the east of the Sindhu, south of the mountains and to the north of the seas. The word is derived from the word Indus – originally Sindhu – meaning water or the river Sindhu

Our country is presently called both Bharat and India on coins and postage stamps. Recently someone left  a comment insisting that I use only the word Bharat and not the word India.

Bharata is a fine word and names but one vamsam of all the kingly dynasties. Why not Ikshavaku or Dileep from Sri Rama’s Vamsam?

If we are going by the meaning bharata as great.. then why not sanAtana (ancient), puNyabhUmi or karma bhUmi or my favorite – devabhumi/divyabhumi ?

I am getting used to bengaluru, kolkatta, chennai and mumbai and if the govt, insists I will also get used to the name bharat.

I think if we want the most ancient name of all we should choose Gondwana and call ourselves narmadeeyas…

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Bhakti : Vairagya : Halalladaru haku neeralladaru haku Raghavendra ಹಾಲಲ್ಲಾದರು ಹಾಕು ನೀರಲ್ಲಾದರು ಹಾಕು ರಾಘವೇಂದ್ರ – devata manushya

This lovely devotional song is dedicated to Sri Raghavendra Swamy. The song is sung by the late actor by Dr. Rajkumar, himself an icon of the Kannada People. This is one of my favorite songs.

Puja Vidhi : The puja method is clearly demonstrated:

  1. It demonstrates a simple puja with song, flowers, incense and lamps.
  2. You can observe how the devotee lights the incense sticks (agarbathis) and does not blow on it (which is inappropriate), but shakes them and then sticks them in a pair of bananas or plantins as they are called locally.
  3. You can also see that he sits erect in a padmasana. (Dr. Rajkumar was an expert yoga practioner in real life too.)
  4. Father and daughter then offer flowers to Raghavendraswamy by throwing them on his pata or portrait. Notice the manner of throwing flowers on the portrait, with the hand turned upwards.
  5. You can see that a coconut has been broken and offered to the Guru-Deva. (The guru is the deity or luminary who is being worshipped).
  6. Notice how the little girl brings oil to refill the lamp. In Hindu tradition, it is considered auspicious to keep the lamp aflame during worship and to not to let it go out during the puja.
  7. The dress that the grown up daughter wears is called a langa dhavni, often translated – somewhat incorrectly as a half saree. In telugu it is called a parikini-oni.
  8. The theme is as beautiful as the melody and the singers voice. The devotee sings that he does not mind whatever circumstances Raghavendra gives him, he will accept and enjoy all of them, as long as Raghavendra is always with him.

Translation :

You can throw me in milk or in water O Raghavendra,

I will be happy as the cream in milk or like a fish in water, Raghavendra!

Push me into thorns or into rocks O Raghavendra,

I will be one with them as a thorn among thorns and as a rock among rocks, Raghavendra!

Dry me in the sun, put me to sleep in the shade, O Raghavendra,

I shall laughingly be red in the sun and cool in the shade, Raghavendra!

I never ask you to give me only happiness, O Raghavendra,

Whose inheritance (literally .. grandfather’s bundle), is the sin (papa) of one’s, you tell me Raghavendra!

Wherever I am and however I am, O Raghavendra,

It is enough if you are with us and if we have taken refuge in you, Raghavendra!

Translation, Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Reserved : Satya Sarada Kandula

Notes :

  • Source : “The stone hallowed by a touch of Sri Ramachandra who had sat on it searching Sri Sitamata is seen even today as Moola Brindavanam at Mantralaya.”

See Also :

  1. http://www.gururaghavendra.org/ and
  2. http://www.dvaita.org for details on Sri Raghavendra Swamy and the Dwaita or dualist system of philosophy, popularised by Sri Madhwacharya
  3. See Also :  Blog  on Kannada songs, recipies, culture by Meera Subbarao,
  4. http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/scripts/FullindexDefault.htm?path1=/data/upload/0030/531&first=1&last=641&barcode=1010010030526  (Brahmasutra.. Madhvacarya)

Source“This universe is real and is not Mithya or an illusion. The finite beings comprising the universe are subject to a system of gradation, beginning with the Goddess Laxmi, followed by other minor gods, seers, human beings and undivine beings. The rank of any soul in this scheme of gradation depends on the degree of its devotion to God. God is an embodiment of all virtues and excellences and ever remains untouched by any kind of blemish (Dosha). He has countless Roopas and forms. ……… Every follower of the Madhwa School should have a firm belief in the Pancha-bheda—five real and eternal distinctions. The distinction between one Jiva and another Jiva (jeeva-jeeva), between the Jiva and matter (jeeva-jada), between one piece of matter and another (jada-jada), between matter and spirit (Jada-Deva), between the Supreme Being and the individual soul (Deva-Jeeva).”

All Rights for Sourced Material Vest with the Source.

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