It is daily experience that we all are different beings , therefore scriptures will be purposeless if they taught that is very obvious. Hence, the actual meaning of scripture must be some unknown thing, that is non-difference, everything is one brahman. Therefore duality is not logical.

In simple words, we know we are different from God or brahman, why should scriptures tell the same that is known to us that 'you are not brahman'. Hence if scriptures say you are brahman, that is something new and useful.

How do non-Advaitins defend against this argument?

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    I don't understand your argument against the non-advaitins here. Can you explain it properly? – Sarvabhouma Dec 28 '18 at 18:16
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    @Sarvabhouma I think at philosophical level of Hinduism this question is very clear. At the practical level we tolerate, negotiate and compromise over the claims of every sects of Hinduism to that 'one unknown Supreme being'. – B.N. Bhaskar Dec 29 '18 at 3:37
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    It is not sound argument. Without scripture, we don't know we are soul, brahman and their attributes. Dualists don't support duality as seen in this world, but difference based on interrelations between Lord and living entity. Since this relationship is unknown, that is not an argument at all. Scripture is actually teaching that which is not known even in this case. – user16618 Dec 29 '18 at 10:18
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    Your point is valid. you re basically what I m saying in this comment: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/30105/… @krr – Rickross Dec 29 '18 at 17:50
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    deleted my previous comment because the question itself got changed significantly.The statement "we know we are different from God or brahman" is itself incomplete since it is neither obvious nor perceptionally simple. Even if we "know" that and scripture says otherwise, the real question is "how" and not that what we "knew" was wrong. – Ambi Dec 30 '18 at 2:28

I think it is a pretty simple argument to defend against.

No one knows they are different from or identical to God or brahman, because no one knows there is such a thing called God or brahman from everyday experience. "shAstrayonitvAt", says the 3rd brahmasUtra. Brahman can be known only from scripture. When brahman can be known only from scripture, how can anyone know they are same or different from brahman just from everyday experience? Scripture is not purposeless because scripture teaches brahman, which cannot be known from everyday experience. "janmAdyasya yataH", says the 2nd brahmasUtra. Brahman is that from which the origin etc. of the world proceed. It is not a matter of experience that an intelligent entity (called brahman) gives rise to the universe. If that were so, even materialists would have accepted brahman. But they do not.

Let me elaborate this further, since this question got a bounty of 50 points. Here is an imaginary discussion between a dualist and a non-dualist -

Non-dualist: We all know we are different from brahman from everyday experience. If scripture teaches us the same thing, scripture is not adding anything new to our knowledge. Scripture will become purposeless.

Dualist: We dont even know that there is such an entity called brahman from everyday experience. It is precisely because of this reason that there are atheists and agnostics. The purpose of scripture is to tell us that there is an entity called brahman who is the cause of the world etc. So your statement that we know we are different from brahman in everyday experience is incorrect, because we dont even know there is an entity called brahman from everyday experience.

Let me add a bit more to the answer. This time, I want to turn the tables on the non-dualist.

Let us leave brahman out of the picture since that part is already adequately answered above by me in my opinion. The non-dualist is also claiming that we all know we are different beings from our experience. The non-dualist is correct here. Experience shows we are all different beings. Hence scriptural interpretation cannot and should not contradict this experience. There is a well known saying that thousands of scriptural statements cannot make a black crow white. In short, scriptural statements cannot contradict experience. Therefore, thousands of scriptural statements cannot make "you" and "me" the same. The non-dualist argues that "you" and "me" are the same brahman. In doing so, the non-dualist is essentially making a black crow white. (S)he is pitting two pramANas - pratyaksha and shAstra, against each other, rather than bringing out the harmony between them.

Further addition regarding the jeeva to address a point raised in the comments -

Krishna (scripture) says - dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati (Bhagavad geeta 2.13).

By these statements, Krishna/scripture is pointing out the existence of an immortal jeeva even when these bodies die. Such information, is once again unavailable for perception and happily acceptable to a dualist.

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    Dear Naveen, I dont need brahma jnana or Atma jnana to know that I am different from others. Scripture is not contradicting perception. Scripture teaches us that there is brahman, which is the cause of everything, and each of us is immortal even though we take on different bodies. None of this contradicts perception. But none of this can be attained from mere perception. Hope that helps. – Lazy Lubber Jan 31 at 16:29
  • I can understand you, you are saying if scriptures say fire is cold, but we perceive fire is hot, then we should accept only the perception i.e., fire is hot but not the scripture. Similarly, if scripture say we are same, but from perception we find we are all different beings, we should only accept perception, i.e., we are all different, but not scriptures. – Spark Sunshine Jan 31 at 16:40
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    Dear Naveen, I am saying something different. I am saying that scripture should be interpreted in such a way that it does not contradict perception. Scripture can (and usually does) add something which is not available to perception. But nothing given by scripture can contradict perception. – Lazy Lubber Jan 31 at 16:48
  • That is what I am also saying. – Spark Sunshine Jan 31 at 16:48

Sankara interpreted "tat twam asi" as "you are Brahman". All the Mahavakyas are empty words if you do not realize them. The same truth is realized by many - who may use somewhat different words - Krishnamurti has said "you are the world".

Ramanuja says Brahman is your in-dweller which is essentially the same as "you are Brahman", although Vaishnavites vehemently claim a difference. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has said Sankara is correct and Ramanuja is also correct.

In other words, although denying the Advaitists' startling claim that you are Brahman, Ramanuja is also saying something different from everyday experience - that you are (we all are) the body of God.

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    Ramanujacarya's stand on tat tvam asi does not translate to "you are brahman" in the same way as Shankaracharya's. He stand on the middle ground between Shankaracarya and Madhvacharya, using sarira-sariri bhava. Which is very different from the meaning that Shankaracharya gave to it. So, it is not simply vehement claims. Ramakrishna might have said both are correct... but one is more correct than others according to which sampradaya they are in. Happens in everything. – Ambi Jan 31 at 16:10

There is no difference in Bhagwan of Puranas and Brahman of Vedas

Brahman/Supersoul/God/Bhagwan explained in Katha Upanishad

The seer (Atman, Self) is not born, nor does he die, He does not originate from anybody, nor does he become anybody, Eternal, ancient one, he remains eternal, he is not killed, even though the body is killed.

If the killer thinks that he kills, if the killed thinks that he is killed, they do not understand; for this one does not kill, nor is that one killed.

The Self (Atman), smaller than small, greater than great, is hidden in the heart of each creature, Free from avarice, free from grief, peaceful and content, he sees the supreme glory of Atman. — Katha Upanishad

In final verses of the second Valli, the Katha Upanishad asserts that Atman-knowledge, or Self-realization, is not attained by instruction, not arguments nor reasoning from scriptures. It is comprehended by oneself through meditation and introspection. It is not attained by those who do not abstain from misconduct, not those who are restless nor composed, not those whose mind is not calm and tranquil, but only those who live ethically, are composed, tranquil, internally peaceful, search within and examine their own nature

Swami Vivekananda

Pray all the time, read all the scriptures(Vedas) in the world, and worship all the gods there are …[but] unless you realize the Self (atman), there is no freedom.

Buddha is the only prophet who said, I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good.

Learning and wisdom are superfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the > heart that is the seat of all power. It is not in the brain but in the heart that the Atman, possessed of knowledge, power, and activity, has its seat.

Soft-brained people, weak-minded, chicken-hearted, cannot find the truth. One has to be free, and as broad as the sky.

> The essential thing in religion is making the heart pure; the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, but only the pure in heart can see the King. While we think of the world, it is only the world for us; but let us come to it with the feeling that the world is God, and we shall have God.

Let me tell you again that you must be pure and help any one who comes to you, as much as lies in your power. And this is good Karma. By the power of this, the heart becomes pure (Chitta-shuddhi), and then Shiva who is residing in every one will become manifest. He is always in the heart of every one. If there is dirt and dust on a mirror, we cannot see our image. So ignorance and wickedness are the dirt and dust that are on the mirror of our hearts. Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first. He who thinks, "I will eat first, I will have more money than others, and I will possess everything", he who thinks, "I will get to heaven before others I will get Mukti before others" is the selfish man. The unselfish man says, "I will be last, I do not care to go to heaven, I will even go to hell if by doing so I can help my brothers." This unselfishness is the test of religion. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to Shiva. Whether he is learned or ignorant, he is nearer to Shiva than anybody else, whether he knows it or not. And if a man is selfish, even though he has visited all the temples, seen all the places of pilgrimage, and painted himself like a leopard, he is still further off from Shiva.

Ramakrishna Paramhans

He who is called Brahman by the jnanis is known as Atman by the yogis and as Bhagavan by the bhaktas. The same brahmin is called priest, when worshipping in the temple, and cook, when preparing a meal in the kitchen. The jnani, following the path of knowledge, always reason about the Reality saying, "not this, not this." Brahman is neither "this" nor "that"; It is neither the universe nor its living beings. Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady. Finally it disappears and the aspirant goes into samadhi. This is the Knowledge of Brahman. It is the unwavering conviction of the jnani that Brahman alone is real and the world is illusory. All these names and forms are illusory, like a dream. What Brahman is cannot be described. One cannot even say that Brahman is a Person. This is the opinion of the jnanis, the followers of Vedanta

The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves. A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egotistic ideas as "I am such an important man" or "I am so and so". Level the mound of "I" to the ground by dissolving it with tears of devotion.

In the Kaliyuga, man, being totally dependent on food for life, cannot altogether shake off the idea that he is the body. In this state of mind it is not proper for him to say: "I am He". When a man does all sorts of worldly things, he should not say, "I am Brahman". Those who cannot give up attachment to worldly things, and who find no means to shake off the feeling of "I", should rather cherish the idea, "I am God's servant; I am His devotee."

Knower of Brahman/Atman alone is the true Brahmin.

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