In Aparokshanubhuti 18th shoka it says

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But how can the Brahman be the controller as it is akartha(non doer) and cannot influence maya at all?

1 Answer 1


This is an excellent question.

It is true that Brahman and Atman in Jiva are not active. However, according to Advaita Vedanta nothing can happen without Atman which is prior to everything. Mind itself is inert and seems to be conscious because of the Atman. An analogy would be the Sun which does nothing on earth but earth would be frozen solid without the light and heat from the Sun. In a similar manner Atman is the controller of everything.

Broadly speaking, Advaita philosophy views knowledge in its empirical and in its metaphysical aspect. Fundamentally, knowledge is Pure Consciousness beyond the relativity of the knower and the known. Consciousness is prior to every form of existence. But for this nothing can be affirmed or denied. It illuminates all objects. It has no illuminator. It is self-luminous and self-existent. It shines even when there is no object to illuminate. Non-relational, nondual Pure Consciousness is the ultimate Reality. Being is identical with Pure Consciousness. Relational knowledge is an expression of non-relational Pure Consciousness through a mental mode of the cognizer, the knowing self. It has varied forms according to the nature of the object. It may be either psychological or psychophysical. Internal cognition is psychological. Sense-perception is psychophysical. The same Pure Consciousness is individualized as the knowing self or the ego, being manifest through a particular mode of the mind characterized by 'I-ness'. So we see that in Advaita Vedanta epistemology is inseparable from metaphysics. The problems of knowledge are dwelt upon and solved with reference to its essential nature.

The essence of knowledge is self-shining consciousness. Self-revealing it reveals all objects. The luminosity of consciousness is contrary to that of physical light, which is unaware of itself and all else. Despite its radiance physical light is marked by nescience, so to speak. A non-luminous object cannot be seen without light. But light requires no other physical light to be seen. So physical light is apparently self-manifest. But actually it is not. That which is neither self-aware nor aware of anything else cannot make itself or any other thing known. Its manifestation depends on self-luminous consciousness, which alone makes it known. Physical processes can produce physical light, but not the light of consciousness, which is of opposite nature. This is a truth which some psychologists and philosophers are apt to overlook. Not even mental processes can bring forth consciousness, which inheres neither in the body nor in the mind, but in the luminous self, the cognizer of both. The point is, consciousness belongs to the cognizer as its essence but not to the cognized. Mental states are not conscious in themselves. They are illuminated by the radiance of the knowing self, which is ever the subject and never an object.

Methods of Knowledge according to Advaita Vedanta, Preface by Swami Satprakashananda

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