The Rope And The Snake: A Metaphorical Exploration of Advaita 


The Rope And The Snake: A Metaphorical Exploration of Advaita Vedanta

Item Code: IDF767
Author: Arvind Sharma
Publisher: Manohar Publishers and Distributors
Language: English
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8173041792
Pages: 149
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7" X 5.7"
Weight 340 gm

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 sole-searching.

  Preface 9
1 Prolegomena: the Rope-Snake Metaphor in Mahayana Buddhism 13
2 The Rope-Snake Metaphor in Early Advaita 21
3 The Rope-Snake Metaphor in the Interface between Mimamsa and Advaita Vedanta 30
4 The Rope-Snake Metaphor in the Vivekacudamani and Beyond 34
5 The Rope-Snake Metaphor and Theories of Causation 40
6 The Rope-Snake Metaphor in Advaita Vedanta 46
7 P. T. Raju's use of the Rope- Snake Metaphor 58
8 The Rope-Snake Metaphor and the theories of Error 63
9 The Rope-Snake Metaphor and the Doctrine of Maya 75
10 The Rope-snake Metaphor in the Advaita-Bodha-Dipika 84
11 The Rope-Snake in the teaching of Ramana Maharsi 89
12 Some Metaphysical Issues and their Mataphorical Clarification 94
13 The serpent and the Rope in the Modern World 104
14 The Limits of Metaphorical Exploration 109
  Conclusion 123
  Notes 125
  Glossary 145
  Bibliography 147
  Index 151

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