From the Jacket:
One of the popular metaphors employed in the pedagogical and didactic exposition of Advaita Vedanta is that of the rope and the snake. When asked: How can this world, characterized by diversity, be accounted for if the ultimate reality as Brahman is claimed to be one and unique? The answer given is: just as a rope can be mistaken for a snake, Brahman is mistaken for the universe.
This book argues that this metaphor is a good start but only a start in explaining the doctrines of Advaita Vedanta. In what is perhaps the first sustained and extended study of its kind it explores the utility versatility and occasionally even the inapplicability of the metaphor in the traditional as well as the modern study of Advaita.
About the Author:
Arvind Sharma is currently the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at Mac Gill University, Montreal Canada. He has also taught in Australia at Brisbane and Sydney and in the USA at Boston and Philadelphia.
A leading historian of religion, he has also been acclaimed as one of the most significant Hindu thinkers since Radhakrishnan. His recent works include: A Hindu Perspective on the Philosophy of Religion (1991); The Experiential Dimension of Advaita Vedanta (1993) and the Philosophy of Religion and Advaita Vedanta: A Comparative Study of Religion and Reason (1995).
IT IS NOT an accident that the best-known work of Advaitic
fiction in English, by Raja Rao, should have borne the title -
The Serpent and The Rope. That metaphor is evocative of
the entire worldview called Advaita and provocative of many
insights. This book is an exploration-of that metaphor, or
rather an exploration of Advaita Vedanta through that
metaphor, in the hope that the metaphorical may serve as
window onto the metaphysical.
While snakes on the loose (such as the cobra) and ropes
rising in mid-air (as in the rope trick) have long captured
the popular imagination of the West, Hindu thought has
been fascinated by the fact that one could be mistaken for
the other. On behalf of Advaita Vedanta it may even be
claimed that the profound and cosmic secrets lie concealed
in the mechanism involved in this simple misperception. It
is the aim of this book to disclose them, as part and parcel
of a soul-searching which in Advaita is as often a case of
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