Shankaracharya and other Advaitins admit that Jagat is Mithya, that is, the world is unreal. According to them, the world is a hallucination. It is a product of avidya, ignorance and maya, illusion. Saint Jnanadeva, popularly known as Jnaneshwara, in his work, Amritanubhava – the sweet nectar of experience — shows on the basis of his experience, and not on the authority of the Vedas, that the world is not a product of ignorance or illusion, but is the product of loving devotion, infinite love, joy and selfless activism.
Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhava, Vallabha and other Vedantic acharyas interpret the Upanishads, Bhagwad Gita and Brahamsutras and arrive at their own conclusions. But Jnaneshwara relies on his own experience. He categorically asserts in his Amritanubhava III.18, “It is not because Shiva or Krishna has spoken thus, that we are making our statement. It would have been the same thing if they had not spoken”.
For him, God is the only reality, with power and wisdom as attributes. They are like two sides of a coin, distinguishable, but not separable. That God and reality are One, is spiritual, self-evident and self-illuminating. All proof for the existence of God, according to Jnaneshwara, are redundant. Perceivable objects are seen in the light of the sun, but the existence of the sun is not proved by seen objects; it is presupposed by the existence or perception of objects. Likewise, all proof for the existence of God presuppose His existence. The notion of God inherently implies His existence. Just as ‘lustre, hardness and yellowness are inherent in gold’ and ‘whiteness, fragrance and softness are the constitutive properties of camphor’, ‘existence, knowledge and bliss’ are integral to God. Jnaneshwara held that God’s existence is beyond proof or disproof. Knowledge of God does not depend on shruti, revelation; the eternal word, inference or perception. These sources of knowledge may point towards God but are not proof of His existence. A lamp lit in broad daylight is useless as it neither dispels non-existent darkness, nor lights the sun as the sun is self-luminous, Jnaneshwara regards proof as useless.
Taking the analogy of a man who is sleeping in a deep forest where there are no other men, Jnaneshwara argues, that we cannot conclude that he is non-existent because he is neither perceived by others nor does he perceive himself.
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