My background is in Vishistadvaita and I have always had a few challenges in understanding some of the concepts from Advaita and have wondered if later acharyas in the Advaita sampradaya have provided answers to some of these. I am wondering if anyone here is able to clarify and provide references to me for further reading. One such concept is the analogy of a dream to explain vyavahaarika sat (existential reality).

According to the Advaita, there is only one Brahman and whatever realities different living entities are going through are only like a dream which all come to an end the moment their egos are destroyed. In a dream, one person (the same consciousness) becomes life to many characters that all seem to interact with each other. From what I understand, just as the entire dream consisting of all these characters comes to an end the moment one wakes up and one realizes that all these characters do not exist except oneself, the moment a person awakens to knowledge/liberation, they realize they are the Brahman.

Taking this example, what is not clear to me is when a person wakes up from a dream, all characters end all at once. However, when one person is liberated (say, the Guru), there are still others who are living here who are in ignorance. How, then, can parts of Brahman be in knowledge while other parts are in ignorance? Is not Brahman supposed to have a unified conscious experience? How can other characters continue to exist when at least one person is liberated? Shouldn't at least one be equal to everyone's liberation at the same time? Also, to begin with, why does the Brahman that is "yah sarvajna sarvavit" impose avidya upon Itself and become many realities? In Adi Shankaracharya's commentary on the Gita for verse 13.2, he writes that "bondage and liberation cannot be simultaneous states of the Self as they both are mutually opposed". How then, can one Self simultaneously have parts of it that are in knowledge and parts that are in ignorance?

  • This is a classic problem addressed in Advaita. One's liberation is not everybody's liberation. Its not a theoretical phenomenon, its real. Brahman is the unified consciousness true, but it differs in a Jiva. There is an entire tattva for Jivas' existence. A Jiva has a part of Brahman in it deluded by Maya. Plus a Jiva constitutes of Panch-tattva, Indriyas, Tanmatras etc. all in its combined state. The spiritual progression level of one Jiva depends on the Atma embedded (temporarily) in that Sthula Sharira. The unified existence is there. Its just the veil of Maya, which keeps us.
    – user9072
    Jun 20, 2018 at 22:12
  • Plus Moksha or spiritual endeavors depend on karma, or what action a Jiva has done, which they must account for. A Guru can do anything, because they have mastered the Self, controlled the Indriyas, Tanmatras, Tattvas etc, through sadhana and yoga. They've realized the illusory things and segregated them accordingly. They are able to disintegrate an integrate their body, and matter all around them because they have reached that state. By "THEY" I mean the Atman enclosed in that Jiva. This is where the term Atman comes into picture. Whereas in essence Atman and Brahman are one.
    – user9072
    Jun 20, 2018 at 22:15
  • Atman is yet to realize that because its in form of that Jiva.
    – user9072
    Jun 20, 2018 at 22:16
  • That's why its not like a linked computer network where any update is reflected in other systems as well. Its more of an Inheritance problem, if you're familiar with Programming. The base class (Jivatman) derives its basic self from the superclass (Brahman) but has things which are exclusive to it (tattvas, indriyas, tanmatras) from which the superclass (Brahman) is free.
    – user9072
    Jun 20, 2018 at 22:18
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    Btw, refer Ajatvada I discussed here. I think it can explain or answer the confusion you may have. It also refutes the existence of Maya!
    – Pandya
    Jun 21, 2018 at 11:59


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