This article revisits a debate about the nature and function of <i>anubhava</i> or intuition in Advaita VedÄnta. In their presentation of Indian thought to the West, neo-VedÄntins such as Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan emphasized intuitive experience as a unique means to <i>brahmajÃ±Äna</i>, or Brahman-realization. In so doing, they distanced themselves from the traditionâs emphasis on the role of scripture in revealing Brahman. Detractors claim that such an account misrepresented Åaá¹ karaâs epistemology and led to a facile characterization of Advaita as a form of mysticism. It is argued here that the issue rests upon a confusion about the function of <i>anubhava</i>, and an understanding is proposed of intuition as a distinctive mode of cognition that mitigates the neo-VedÄntin claim that it is an independent means to <i>brahmajÃ±Äna</i>, yet that does not undermine the common view of Advaita as a system of thought whose fundamental claims about the nature of reality can be realized only in mystical experience.
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Sep 17, 2014