Richard Jones in his Morality and Shankara's Advaitha Vedanta writes

The earlier Upanishads took the phenomena of the world to be real — Brahman is merely the root (KU II.3.1), “the real of the real” (satyasya satya) (BU II.1.20), the fire producing equally real sparks or the spider spinning the equally real web (BU II.1.20; MU I.1.7; SU VI.10), the colorless light refracted into the equally real colored lights through a prism (SU IV.1). But to Shankara, only Brahman is real (sat) and everything else is unreal (asat).

Is there any place for unreality of this World in the Early Upanishads??

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    ...and who is Richard Jones? Better to rely on an Indian commentator. His commentary is his opinion and not a reliable source. – Swami Vishwananda Mar 13 at 10:53
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    You could better address issue than poking words at the author @SwamiVishwananda – Sethu Srivatsa Koduru Mar 13 at 11:02
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    The unreality of the world is not based on the Upanishads. It was kind of assumed by Shankaracharya. – Ikshvaku Mar 13 at 12:10
  • World is a projection and exists only for bound souls, just like a student in a school need to study books with other students and repeat classes if failed in final exams, but in this spiritual school failure to realize Brahman before death means reincarnation i.e. repeating human or animal birth based on Karma, and very few pass . "ekam brahma dwitiya nasti", "only one Brahman exists, nothing else", world is a Parmarthik(temporary)-Satya quora.com/… and will disappear with Kaivalya or Self-realization for a perfected yogi. – user22687 Mar 30 at 17:43

The statement, only Brahman is real (sat) and everything else is unreal (asat), is entirely wrong. Advaita views the world as mithya and not asat. Please see my previous answer.

There are three methods of approach in Advaita vada for creation of the world

(1) The ajatavada is represented by no loss, no creation, no one bound, no sadhaka, no one desirous of liberation, no liberation. This is the Supreme Truth. (Mandukya Karika, II - 32).

(2) Drishti Srishtivada :- Simultaneous creation.

(3) Srishti Drishtivada is plain (Gradual creation and knowledge of it).

Now to the mithya of the world, Talk 315, Talks with Ramana Maharshi

The dream water quenches dream thirst. The dream creation is however contradicted in the waking state. The waking creation is contradicted in the other two states. What is not continuous cannot be real. If real, the thing must ever be real - and not real for a short time and unreal at other times. So it is with magical creations. They appear real and are yet illusory. Similarly the universe cannot be real of itself - that is to say, apart from the underlying Reality [Brahman].

I do not know how the author classifies the upanishads as old and new. For vedanta followers, the upanishads are eternal, authorless and beyond time. There is no classification of old and new.

While some upanishads discuss creation of the world, some upanishads such as Mandukya upanishad talk of mithya of the world. However, the world is not unreal but only mithya. That is the world, can not exist apart from the underlying Brahman but appears differently. It appears as a snake which is unreal but the rope is real.

Even if you take the above statements, you can read Shankara Bhashya for the same. Let us take the example of BU II.1.20 and read the bhashya here in page 290 onwards. The bhashya runs for around 30 pages and ends at 320. Shankara clearly establishes in the bhashya that the Brahman is the substratum of the world. He cites other upanishads, MU, Isa and even the Bhagavad Gita in support of the argument. Shankara states that Tiny sparks etc. in the text signify oneness with fire. For example, to quote his bhashya

For the passages are meant to convey the idea of oneness. We notice in life that sparks of fire may be considered identical with fire. Similarly a part may be considered identical with the whole. Such being the case, words signifying a modification or part of the Supreme Self, as applied to the individual self, are meant to convey its identity with It. That this is so appears also from the introduction and conclusion. In all the Upanisads first identity is broached, then by means of illustrations and reasons the universe is shown to be a modification or part or the like of the Supreme Self, and the conclusion again brings out the identity.

'This all is the Self' (II. iv. 6), then arguments for origin of universe is presented, then it is shown that that the creation is nothing but a projection of Brahman and then it will conclude that the self is Brahman (II.v.19).

  • Thanks a lot sir! Could I ping you here itself again when I get doubts regarding this topic? – Sethu Srivatsa Koduru Mar 13 at 15:08
  • Will surely put my qns in different threads as you suggested – Sethu Srivatsa Koduru Mar 13 at 15:08
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    Yes sir. If you put your questions in separate threads, many can answer you including me. I can try my best to answer but there are others who are more knowledgeable. Thank you sir – GIRIBLR Mar 13 at 15:10
  • Thanks a lot sir! – Sethu Srivatsa Koduru Mar 13 at 16:05

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