Faith

The Sun analogy

In Visishtadvaita philosophy, the Paramatma and the Jivatma are believed to be different but connected. Our hands are a part of our body, but can the hands operate on their own? If someone asks one to raise one’s hand, it is possible only as long as one is alive. Can the hand rise voluntarily after the atma has exited the body?

Thus it is the atma that controls the action of raising the hand. In Visishtadvaita, all Jivatmas are believed to be the body of the Paramatma. So if the Jivatma is the body, then the Paramatma resident in the Jivatma, is the One making the Jivatma act. Although we are sentient beings, we do not have the independence to act on our own.

To think that we do is ignorance. To know that the Jivatmas serves as the body of the Paramatma requires understanding, which will come only with meditation. Once that gnana comes to us our ignorance disappears, in the same way that darkness is dispelled by sunlight. Gnana is like the Sun. Any other light will have only a limited reach. But the Sun’s rays shed light over the entire world. Such is the effulgence that gnana has, said Valayapet Ramachariar in a discourse.

The atma is the embodiment of gnana, but gnana is also a quality of the atma. This may sound confusing. But here again, an analogy will help understand the meaning of the statement.

The Sun is the embodiment of brightness and yet we can say that brightness is a quality of the Sun. The Sun and the brightness of the Sun are not the same.

Similarly, the atma is the embodiment of gnana, but this is different from the quality of gnana, which is a quality of the atma. It is our karma that keeps us from acquiring gnana.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 12:30:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/the-sun-analogy/article7504054.ece

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