From the Book
There is something profoundly counter-intuitive about Advaita Vedanta. Nothing is more obvious to both the philosophical as well as the non-philosophical observer than the fact that multiplicity constitutes the basic datum of our experience. Variety is not only the spice of life-it is a cardinal fact of life. The doctrines of Advaita Vedanta shock us by flying in the face of this fact and by denying any ultimacy to that plurality and variety which we experience so intimately. This naturally raises the question: how does Adavita Vedanta render its doctrines credible in the face their apparent implausibility.
This book is an exploration of one of its central illustrative devices with which it tries to accomplish this daunting task.
Arvind Sharma, formerly of the I.A.S., is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and currently engaged in promoting the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World’s Religions.
Human being are remarkable creatures; they not only want to know the unknowable. They want to be present at the birth of their grandmother. This is how some philosophers would like to characterize their desire to know how the world came to be, although they themselves were born in the world after it had come into existence.
Be that as it may, the desire to know the unknowable in some cases is hard to fault. The ultimate reality in Advaita Vedanta, referred to as Brahman, is considered unknowable in the conventional sense of the term. It is also considered to be the sole spiritual reality which paradoxically accounts for the multiplicity of perceived objects and perceiving subjects in the universe. How is this possible?
Advaita Vedanta resorts to several analogies and images to render such a juxtaposition credible. One such approach resorts to the phenomenon of an image - like our reflection in a mirror - to do so. This book is an exploration of its many-splendoured use in Advaita Vedanta.
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