From this answer where it explains about Brahman being Nirguṇa & Guṇas (attributes) appearing due to Avidyā, the ācārya writes,

तदेवमविद्यात्मकोपाधिपरिच्छेदापेक्षमेवेश्वरस्येश्वरत्वं सर्वज्ञत्वं सर्वशक्तित्वं च, न परमार्थो विद्यया अपास्तसर्वपाधिस्वरुपे आत्मनि ईशत्रीशितव्यसर्वज्ञत्वादिव्यवहार उपपद्यते, तथा चोक्तम् - 'यत्र नान्यपश्यति नान्यच्छृणोति नान्यद्विजानाति स भूमा इति' यत्र 'त्वस्य सर्वमात्मैवाभूत्तत्केन कं पश्येत्' इत्यादिना च एव परमार्थवस्थायां सर्वव्यवहाराभावं वदन्ति वेदान्ता ।। 2.1.14
Hence the Lord's being a Lord, his omniscience, his omnipotence, &c. all depend on the limitation due to the adjuncts whose Self is Avidya; while in reality none of these qualities belong to the Self whose true nature is cleared, by right knowledge, from all adjuncts whatever. 

Now, positing Guṇas appearing due to Māyā implies Guṇas were inherently present in Brahman, in latent form, which appears due to Avīdyā. If it were not so, then it would imply that existence sprung out from non-existence? rendering it inconsistent with Chānḍogya Upaniṣada 6,

  1. “The Existent was here in the beginning, my son, alone and without a second. On this there are some who say, ‘The Nonexistent was here in the beginning, alone and without a second. From that Nonexistent sprang the Existent.’ “But how could it really be so, my son?” he said. “How could what exists spring from what does not exist? On the contrary, my son, the Existent was here in the beginning, alone and without a second.

Wherefore end up expositing existence couldn't sprung from non-existence. It makes me wonder—

  • How all these Guṇas sprung forth out of Nirguṇa Brahman presuming Nirguṇa means attributeless?
  • Or is it the case that Nirguṇa Brahman is endowed with all the Guṇas in latent form?
    i.e, Claiming Brahman to be Nirguṇa actually means that the Brahman consists of all Guṇas while simultaneously surpassing them (panentheistic Brahman?), which doesn't leave Brahman confined to a particular Guṇa anymore, thus rendering Brahman fully Nirguṇa?
  • I think realizing Param Satya is the only way to know. – Pandya Jun 15 '17 at 1:17
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    Since a bounty has been raised, I might self-answer in this weekend. – BasedShaiva yesterday

My question is - saying Gunas/attributes/qualities appear due to Māyā clearly implies Gunas were present in Brahman in latent form which appears clearly due to Avīdyā, if it not so then it would mean that existence sprung out from non existence?

One of the fundamental concepts in Advaita Vedanta is "Mithya". While there is no correct translation into English, the closest is "Relative Reality". "Satyam" on the other hand is "Absolute Reality".

The three states of awareness - waking, dream, deep-sleep - are all Mithya. Most people realize easily that the dream state is Mithya, because it's not available during the waking state. However, when you are in the dream, it appears real. Note that the Advaitin does not negate the experience, only the absoluteness of that reality. Similarly, the waking state is not available in the dream or deep sleep states, and therefore is not Absolute Reality. Only Brahman, which permeates and transcends the three states is Absolute Reality, or Satyam.

Now, getting to your question, the Attributes/Gunas are also Mithya or ASat. (sorry - I don't know how to put the fancy characters up). Only Satyam is Absolute Existence; all Mithya is Relative Existence. The attributes are "relatively-existent", but not "absolutely-existent". Therefore, existence has NOT sprung from non-existence.

  • Visit editing help to know how to edit your posts using markdown language. – Sarvabhouma Mar 28 '17 at 5:10
  • Thanks for help. You should explain more. BTW, even dreams we see don't sprung out from non existence. They sprung from Vāsanās accumulated in the mind. Calling unreal unreal unreal is not clearing my doubts. It seems scholarly excuses. – BasedShaiva Mar 28 '17 at 12:39
  • @Rohit, the answer clearly depends on the definition of "existence", and therefore, yes, it's semantics at some level. Vishistadvaitam says dreams are also real. It's interpretation of the same Vedas. I'm offering Sankaracharya's Advaita viewpoint. – chakrax Mar 29 '17 at 1:59

The ancient advaitic writings don't often emphasize the utter simplicity and brevity with which the advaitic state of liberation should be talked about. To state "Brahman is Nirguna" without actually realizing it, is just a string of words strung together.

Here is a contemporary account of actually experiencing Nirguna Brahman:


The east was beginning to get brighter and there was that otherness in the room; it had been there for some hours. On waking in the middle of the night, it was there, something wholly objective which no thought or imagination could possibly bring about. Again, on waking the body was perfectly still, without any movement as was also the brain. The brain was not dormant but very much awake, watching without any interpretation. It was the strength of unapproachable purity, with an energy that was startling. It was there, ever new, ever penetrating. It wasn't just outside there in the room or on the terrace, it was inside and outside but there was no division. It was something in which the whole mind and heart were caught up and the mind and heart ceased to be.


Brahman is described in the upanishads

“Brahman is Existence, Consciousness, Infinitude.” —Taitt. Up., II. 1.

“Brahman is Consciousness, Bliss.” —Brih. Up., III. 9. 28.

Satchidananda is the svarupa lakshana of Brahman. Just like heat is the svarupa lakshana of fire. It is an attribute external but inherent to it. Therefore, if Brahman is eternal, Sat Chit Ananda must also be eternal. According to Shankara, you cannot split up Sat-Chit-Ananda into three separate entities, just as you cannot separate light, heat and luminosity from fire.

Just as luminosity is the nature of the Sun, coolness of water and heat of fire, so too the nature of the Atman is Eternity, Purity, Reality, Consciousness and Bliss. Atma Bodha 24

We cannot deny our own existence. Thus, we never were not existent and that we never will cease to be existent (even though our physical bodies may disappear) clearly proves that Atman always exists. Atman is Chit for it shines by itself unaided by any other light and illumines the whole universe by its own light. Just as we cannot deny existence, so also we cannot deny consciousness.

Sat, Chit and Ananda are one. Atman is partless and homogeneous. The three characteristics Sat, Chit and Ananda are not distinct from one another. When there is existence, there has to be consciousness. When there is only one, there is no fear of two and thus there is bliss.

"Where there is neither seeing nor hearing nor knowing of anything else which is a second entity—that is the Infinite [bliss]” (Chh. Up., VII. 23, 24).

Hence whatever is manifested, viz. this universe, is the Supreme Brahman Itself, the Real (Sat), the One without a second, pure, the Essence of Knowledge (Chit), taintless, serene, devoid of beginning and end, beyond activity, the Essence of Bliss Absolute (Ananda) transcending all the diversities created by Maya or Nescience, eternal, ever beyond the reach of pain, indivisible, immeasurable, formless, undifferentiated, nameless, immutable, self-luminous. Vivekachudamani 237-238



As weird as it may seem. According to Paramartha sathya, Saguna Brahman doesn't exist. Sagunas don't exist. Ishwara doesn't exist nor does the Jiva.

You have said

Brahman is Nirguna but Gunas appear due to Avidyā

Correct but you go on to say,

My question is - saying Gunas/attributes/qualities appear due to Māyā clearly implies Gunas were present in Brahman in latent form which appears clearly due to Avīdyā

This is where you are wrong. Its doesn't imply Gunas were latent in Brahman. How did you get that, it only means Gunas were imagined.

Snake is not latent in the rope
Suguna Brahman is not latent in the Nirguna Brahman

Avidya of the Jeevis makes us imagine things.

  • Snake is not latent in the rope. — it is. snake is latent in rope. If it were a box, the snake wouldn't have been imagined. – BasedShaiva yesterday
  • @BasedShaiva You are confusing latent with similarity. Rope and Snake both have a common property "longness". Just because both have a common property they can't be called latent. – Mr Green Gold yesterday
  • @BasedShaiva now so many things have common property, we can't go on saying everything is latent in everything just because they have common property. – Mr Green Gold yesterday
  • @BasedShaiva moreover what is the actual definition of latent. Here's the dictionary meaning. Latent:- present and capable of emerging or developing but not now visible, obvious, active, or symptomatic. So please use a different word to express your idea. A Snake is definitely not latent in this meaning. So please define in what way are you using the meaning. – Mr Green Gold yesterday
  • okay. Why isn't there analogy of gorilla appearing out of a rope? — snake is latent in rope w.r.t the analogy, for the snake is appearing out of avidya due to size, appearance, etc. of rope, therefore we call snake was latent in a rope. – BasedShaiva 13 hours ago

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