Rope-Snake Analogy Using Logic: How Falsehood Becomes Truth


– Article inspired by Onudhyan Blog.

You've arrived on an anticipated retreat in a luscious tropical forest.

Thrilled to be here, mosquito spray handy, what else to do then explore it's surroundings.

Exhausted from day's exploration, you return to the private bungalow.

Assortment of birds along the way greet the presence with their selfless chirps.

The sun has almost set.

It's neither completely dark nor practically bright.

Opening the mosquito net surrounding the bed, there lies on the white sheet a long serpent!

Instant adrenaline. Mind alert! The body jerks away violently without thought.

Perhaps the snake's presence temporarily overshadowed our intellect's capacity to think-and-respond.

In that very moment the snake is your absolute reality. A doubtless conclusion.

Take courage“, retorts the intellect. “Turn on the light!

The moment light illumines the mind's false conclusion — what happens? That which NEVER was, ceases to be. A fancy way of saying, “The snake is no more“.


“You and I both relate to this phenomena. It's not a deep
philosophical concept. But a down-to-earth observation.”


A snake or a belt?

The light has revealed that which actually IS. A fancy way of saying, “There lies one's belt in brown leather skin which was there all-along — but we forgot owing to distractions”.

In other words, the snake which never was to begin with   was removed by bringing in THAT which opposes darkness — which is light.

In short, absence of light innocently caused a perceptual error.

Then what?…

Vexed emotions subside and rationality (ability to discern THIS from THAT) returns.

Peace is restored. Clarity triumphs.

You ponder, “It feels great to be liberated from my ignorance!

What you've read is the classical example of rope-snake metaphor in Advaita Vedanta.  (I've changed rope to belt for some novelty.)

Purpose of metaphor is to contrast reality for one whose vision is aligned with WHAT-IS. But also consequences for one whose vision of reality is FALSE yet takes it to be TRUE.

The metaphor is not isolated to Advaita. Although allegedly, Adi Shankara popularized it to help demonstrate principle of superimposition (adhyasa).

Put all philosophical differences aside; it's a valid analogy applicable in every day life.

For example, wife or husband is late. Mind starts to project (or superimpose) it's personal conclusions of their whereabouts and even questions their loyalty.

Upon return, our story couldn't be farther from the truth. Wife was the rope. My false notions were the snake.

So far, we've related rope-snake analogy to everyday life.

Now let's look deeper into it philosophically. Specifically according to Advaita Vedanta… 

After reading and contemplating — you might gain a deeper insight how beginingless ignorance (avidyā) gives rise to projection/superimposition (adhyāsa).

For example, we will continue mispronouncing someone's name since the beginning — until someone points out the error of our pronunciation.

Purpose of below analysis is to logically show how, “I continue believing that I am separate from the you-world-God… until the guru points out error in my thinking”.

First let us go over the basic principles of Advaita (non-duality):


Basics of Advaita:

  1. The Absolute or the Ultimate Reality is referred as Brahman.
    1. The word Brahman means, what is big or vast. However the bigness is not limited by any object. It is bigger then the biggest. It accommodates everything, including time-space. Meaning nothing is outside Brahman; not even your thoughts or doubts about what Brahman is or isn't.
    2. Brahman is beyond thought or emotion. Brahman is beyond space-time and causation.
      • The word “beyond” does NOT mean Brahman is separate from space-time-objects. It means, Brahman is not affected or modified by anything in past-present-future. Simultaneously, Brahman is the truth of all names-forms (subtle like thoughts and gross like atoms or rock).
      • Example: Your personality is the truth of all physical gestures of your body. They are never apart. Meaning your personality continues to exist even when body is not gesticulating or moving. Thus we can say: Personality is “beyond” the body. But it doesn't mean they are separate.
        • Above example also shows that no amount of gesticulation is going to reveal your personality. Why? It's only BECAUSE OF personality, that gesticulation IS. In the same way, one can't know Brahman as a separate object. Why? It's only BECAUSE OF Brahman, that I AM.
    3. Nothing caused Brahman.
      • EG: Every child has it's cause which are parents. However Brahman has no ‘parents'. Nothing gave birth to the Absolute, because it is not bound by time. Brahman never started at some point in the past.
    4. The best intuition of Brahman is ‘not this, not this' (neti neti).
      • Meaning Brahman is nothing that one can specifically indicate (referred to by first neti).
      • Brahman is also not that it is nothing (referred to by second neti). Meaning, it's erroneous to think, “Brahman is nothing“. Because “nothing” is another subtle thought.
    5. The best conceptual / verbal approximation using words is that Brahman is infinite existence-consciousness (satcitananda).
      • The depth and meaning of sat-cit-ānanda is taught by a Vedanta teacher. It can't be fully comprehended on one's own due to subtlety of the matter.
    6. Brahman is one without a second (non-dual) – being Absolute reality.
      • Meaning nothing is separate from Brahman. Not even your agreement or disagreement to this statement.
  2. Real/Unreal:
    1. That which is always real, no matter what, is called absolutely real (sat).
      • This can be both unmanifest-real (EG: tree in potential within a seed) — OR manifest real (EG: your grown hand).
    2. That which is always unreal, no matter what, is called absolutely unreal (asat).
      • Example: Human-horns,  square-circle.
        • Yes, we know one will argue, “Human horns exist in imagination”. But we're not talking about prātibhāsika (subjective reality). We're talking about vyāvahārika (objective, empirical reality).
    3. That which is dependent on something else for it's reality, is called apparently real (mithyā). Meaning it's neither absolutely real, nor absolutely unreal.
      • Example: The chair depends on the wood for it's reality. Without the the wood, there is no wooden chair, table, cup, etc.
      • Just how the form-name “chair” depends on wood for it's existence — the world (jagat) depends on Brahman. Thus the world is neither absolutely real, nor absolutely unreal, but apparently real.  (99% of cases against Advaita go like this, “Advaita dismisses the world as unreal“. That is NOT what Advaita says! Read statement above.)
        • In short: The world we experience only has an appearing/apparent reality. (brahman satyam jagat mithyā)
        • Example: The rain is real, until clouds clear up. The clear sky is real until you fly out of earth's atmosphere. In other words, this relativity is what Advaita calls mithyā (neither real, nor unreal).
  3. Jīva refers to ‘when' Brahman (consciousness) reflects on an individual mind (antaḥkaraṇa) — and the mind falsely assumes “I am the contents of this mind-body“.
    • In truth, jīva is not apart from Brahman. Just as wave is not apart from the water, which is the content of all waves in the ocean.

In Advaita, timeless classical examples are used by the ācārya to teach the śiṣya (student) the fundamentals, such as the rope-snake, dream and shell-silver example.

But we must note that all these examples are only means to demonstrate how world of duality/multiplicity is taken as Absolute.

Examples or metaphors are never complete explanations, because each is limited to itself and can be easily negated from a different angle. More importantly, metaphors are only effective when used in context.

For example, the best piece of advice is useless if it's not applied in context. One has to see how an example is relevant right now. That's why true Vedānta is taught in class between teacher-student(s) with rapport and trust. Only then the light of knowledge effectively removes avidyā.

What's more, Brahman is beyond mind and speech – therefore any explaining is an indirect pointer.

Finally before beginning the throughout analysis of rope-snake… there is a limitation of the example…

It presents a picture in the mind where the observer (you) is separate from the snake / rope. Therefore we will take it for granted and that this limitation won't hinder our understanding in this article.

Understanding Advaita using the rope-snake example

A metaphor is always dependent on the point of view – therefore it's one-sided.

This is why any metaphor/analogy will only help you if one allows the metaphor to stay within it's own limits. Meaning, don't try to destroy it by bringing in a competing point of view or example.

Ask yourself, “Am I interested in positive life transformation by inquiring further, OR proving how everything is flawed (implying my knowledge alone is flawless)?

Now that our attitude is in check, let's begin…

Seeing the rope as snake = Seeing the Brahman as world

  • Illusion / Mistake = Māyā.
  • Rope = Brahman.
  • Snake = World.
  • Light = Knowledge aligned with Absolute Reality; consciousness (Brahman). Meaning, clarity is complete.
  • Dim light = Partial Knowledge of what-is.
    • I don't know 100% what it is, therefore my mind choicelessly and innocently projects it's own conclusion.
  • Bright light = Self-Knowledge which removes ignorance (mind doesn't know clearly what it is) causing superimposition (…therefore the mind superimposes a false snake onto it).
    • Once false notions of reality are removed, one's understanding “Truth of self and world is Brahman” is actualized.

To understand the significance of this analogy and it's benefit in your self-inquiry — let's together analyze, one by one, observations about the example.

It will help us in discriminating real from unreal, and also understanding deeper point #2 above…


The rope is there: First of all, there is a rope there. If there is no rope there to begin with, the snake would not even appear. The existence of the rope is absolutely necessary for the appearance of the snake.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

Brahman IS.

That is why the world gets to appear. It's why any experience is possible.

Without the paper, can there be a world of words? No.

Similarly, the world being mithyā (dependent-reality), it depends on the substratum (Brahman) for it's appearance. While Brahman is independent of the world.



You see something: When you enter the room, you see something. It is not that you see nothing.

In order to see something, there must at least be a little light in the room. The room was dimly lit and that is why you could see something.

If there would be no light at all, you won't see anything at all.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

We are indeed seeing/knowing something, be it the extroverted world or the inner world of private thoughts.

Therefore we are not absolutely ignorant.

The reality is not completely covered to us. Only partially.

The partial covering makes any perception possible.

If reality would be totally covered, we wouldn't even have any perception of the world.



You really see a snake there: You really see a snake, when looking.

It is not that you are trying to see the rope as a snake. The snake is very real to you, so is the fear, as though there's an actual snake!

Another example is when someone moves the hands in front of a lamp, and a shadow is projected of an animal figure on the wall.

You are seeing the animal and calling it by it's right name. A child would even be scared. Yet we are fully aware that the animal is not real.

However above shadow example is NOT not the case of rope-snake. Because you are seeing a snake literally. There is no awareness that it's actually a rope.

Even though the snake is not real (apparent), the experience of fear and appropriate response is genuine and even justified.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

When we are seeing the world, we are indeed seeing a world “out there” – functioning by it's assigned laws and orders.

Our reactions to that experience is authentic. For example, our worries, sufferings, enjoyments, likes-dislikes… are all justified and genuine.

For some it's so real, that it produces life-long psychological obstructions like “fear of heights”.



The rope is absolutely real: The rope is absolutely real.

Absolutely real means always real. Real before the mistake. Real during the mistake. Real when the mistake ends.

Before you have entered the room, the rope (or belt) is there.

During the mistake, the rope appears as a snake to you.

However, the rope has not really become the snake. The rope is still the rope.

At every moment of one's mistaken perception, it is still a rope.

And once you realize the mistake, you wouldn't think that the rope temporarily turned itself into a snake – and then turned back into rope.

Instead, you would realize that the rope was always the rope. And this recognition would never go back to it's mistaken mode.

Hence the rope retains its rope-ness at all time.

Your mistaken snake perception does not change the rope-ness of the rope in any way.

Rope remains unaffected, untouched, unsullied by your or anyone's mistake about it – in the past, present and future.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

Even though we mistake unchanging, imperishable Brahman as the changing, perishable world – Brahman remains untouched and never takes on the attributes of the world.

Brahman appears as the world because of it's 3 guṇa śakti called māyā.

However, māyā does not sully Brahman in any way.



The snake is apparently real: The snake is not absolutely real, but apparently real or conditionally real. The condition is the sustenance of the mistake.

We cannot say that the snake is absolutely unreal – because during the mistake, what you are seeing is very much a snake. It has has some kind of reality.

But we also cannot say that the snake is absolutely real – because at that very place where the error took place – there is no snake, only a rope!

Also when the mistake is gone, we no longer see the snake. In fact, we don't see any of the snake anymore. It's projected sight, sound, touch, smell is completely gone.

Hence the snake is neither absolutely real, nor absolutely unreal.

This means the status of the snake cannot be expressed in absolute terms.

However using relational terms – it is said the snake is conditionally real. Whereas the rope is Absolutely real.

In other word, the reality of the snake is conditional on bases of the mistake.

Also note the status of rope-snake realities is completely different. For example…

When mistake ends – the (apparent) reality of the snake ends too. But when mistake starts – the (absolute) reality of the rope does not end.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

The world has no absolute reality, but it is apparently real under the condition of māyā.

The world is real for the time being, but disappears when self-knowledge dawns.



Mutual superimposition: The existence of the rope proxies the existence of the (appearing) snake. Then the qualities of the snake are (seemingly) superimposed on that existence (sat).

So the appearance is a combination of the existence of the rope and the qualities of the snake.

If the rope were not there – the snake would not appear.

The appearance of the snake is possible only because there is something to begin with.

That something is appearing as a snake.

So the existence of the snake is, in actuality, the existence of the rope.

There is no existence of snake at that place of error. Hence ultimately there is only existence of the rope.

However one does see a snake, which means, the essence of the rope is covered. Hence giving way for qualities of snake to be assumed.

Therefore the qualities of the snake is being superimposed on the existence of the rope – which makes the illusion possible.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

The existence of the world is a borrowed existence, and is of Brahman.

The qualities of the world (world-ness, cloud-ness, tree-ness, stone-ness, rain-ness, mitochondria-ness, thought-ness, etc-ness) is superimposed on existence of Brahman.

This superimposition brings about the apparent reality of the world which we transact in.



Reaction is inevitable until mistake ends: As long as you are seeing a snake, one is going to react in some way.

Whatever you do – grope, shout or stay alert – all action imply acknowledgement of snake's presence.

If one is snake-charmer, then by virtue of familiarity with snakes, one will react via indifference to that sight.

But even the indifference is a reaction of a genuine acknowledgement of the snake.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

As long as we perceive the world, we are going to react in worldly ways.

Our reactions to different things, of course, may evolve with familiarity.

But as long as our perception of sight, sound, smell, touch, taste is functioning – there will be a certain spell of worldliness / māyā.

For example, one may have full knowledge that body is a superimposition. But it won't stop one from not feeding an illusionary hungry body.



The rope is not doing anything for or against the mistake: Note that the rope is not doing anything to make the mistake occur.

The rope is just being the rope. It's existing in it's original glory.

However the rope's being is absolutely necessary to bring about the mistake of seeing a snake.

The rope is the cause of the snake illusion – just by virtue of its existence, but not in any other way.

The rope is not doing anything to remove the mistake either.

When the bright light comes, you see the rope. But the rope does not give you any hint.

It is you who discovers the rope in the presence of bright light.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

Brahman does not ‘do' anything to make the world appear.

Neither does Brahman interfere in any way with the world with its goods and bads.

Neither does Brahman help to remove māyā.

Brahman is just Brahman. Nothing else.

But without that being, māyā won't take place.

Brahman can be called the cause of the world only because of Its existence, and not in any other way.



To end the mistake, only seeing clearly is necessary, doing anything else specifically is unnecessary: The mistake arises because of lack of clarity in seeing.

Hence the only factor necessary to remove the mistake is to see clearly.

Doing anything else, is only effective if that doing somehow aids to see more clearly. For example, breathing deeply to relax and think more rationally. Then using one's calm body-mind to question the reality of the snake.

However any other action, like groping in the wall, shouting at the snake to make it go away, or leaving the room – as long as action does not help to see more clearly, it is ultimately useless. But it will surely feel like progress is being made.

Therefore no creative action is necessary. No special self-help seminars are needed. No special “breath-of-fire” is required.

Only knowledge which brings about clarity of vision will work.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

To remove maya, no action, whatsoever is necessary.

Action is not the last word to remove the false conclusion of the world, and self.

Dawn of self-knowledge has the last word.

Thus any action that helps to fructify that knowledge (so it doesn't remain intellectual/philosophical) will work.



When mistake starts, all of the snake comes at once, and when mistake breaks, all of the snake goes at once:

When the mistake starts, you see a snake at once.

It is not like different properties of the snake appear gradually – and then one connects individual properties to see the full snake.

All of the defining qualities of the snake, the whole snake with all appropriate properties – appear all at once, for which you innocently see a snake.

Similarly, when you realize the mistake, at once you “capture” the rope.

Meaning, it's not that one's mistakes associated with different parts/properties of the snake go one-by-one.

The whole of the snake (with its infinite qualities) goes away at once.

Snake was the unit of illusion as it appeared, and the same unit disappears at once.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

At dawn of maya – the whole universe with all it's worlds and beings, along with their individual infinite properties – appear all at once.

One might say, first came time-space. Followed by 5 remaining elements. Then nebulae, then stars, then planets, etc.

However that's only to help limited mind capture the vastness beyond human mind.

In reality, all appears at once. It may not come as manifest. Instead it remains in potential/umanifest. Through course of time it turns to manifest.

So whether it's manifest or unmanifest, point is, from the beginingless beginning, it all appeared at once.

When māyā breaks through dawn of self-knowledge – all of it's multitude of creations disappears at once.

For a jivanmukta (liberated person) – world does not physically disappear of course. Appearance of duality still continues. However world is firmly and doubtlessly understood to be the one Brahman.



Once snake is dissolved, there's no other problem to solve.

When the bright light turns on, it is not that your fear-experience of seeing the snake goes away immediately.

In fact the fear will linger on for some time – because of body's chemicals and intense thoughts tend to leave fading trails in the mind.

For example, even after turning off the fan, it continues spinning for some time from it's own momentum.

Therefore when the bright light turns on – one realizes there never was a snake present. A welcoming relief indeed.

Meaning the snake gets dissolved.

Thereafter, there is no need to solve any other problem because the snake (which was giving birth to multitudes of physiological-psychological problems) is now completely gone.

Thereafter any remnants of adrenaline, fear and agitation in the body-mind, is actually NOT a problem that needs to be solved. It's simple the momentum of body-mind response to the snake.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

In the same way, when spiritual ignorance is destroyed upon moksha (liberation) – the problem of worldliness is not solved as such.

Rather the world itself is no longer seen as just a world of different sentient/insentient objects.

The world is dissolved in terms of false vision. Hence no more need to solve any problem, because all problems stem of taking world to be absolutely real.

Hence it's not that there is a real problem which is solved upon enlightenment of reality.

Instead the liberated one understands there never was any problem to begin with.

In fact, according to Advaita Vedanta, if there is any real problem, it can never go away.

However the problem of worldliness goes away upon liberation, which shows that the problem is not real to begin with.

Thus no real solution takes place upon moksha. Only the appearance of the problem gets dissolved, that's all.



You can never see the snake and the rope together: Either we see the snake, or we see the rope.

We can never see them as equally real.

Once the mistake is gone, the reality of the snake is gone too.

One can still attempt to see how the rope, kind of looks like a snake.

For example, one can still curiously inquire how the hand shadow, kind of, looks like a dog on the wall. However the inquiry makes no difference. Because the knowledge is absolute.

Applying analysis to Advaita Vedanta:

In the same way, Brahman and the world can never be equally real at the same time.

As long as the worldview seems real, Brahman can not be real – hence one is not truly liberated; only intellectually.

For an enlightened one (jivamukti), Brahman is real and the convincing reality of the world, is gone forever.



Points above are a means for self-inquiry. Not for intellectual, scholarly discussion.

It is a personal self-inquiry. Use it as such in light of the world perceived.

Again, we already know rope-snake example, like any, has limited scope and is subject to questioning. For example one might ask…

“When you see the rope, how can you say that the rope is actually not an illusion?

Maybe the snake is actually real.

You were seeing the real and suddenly you started to see the illusion of rope.

Your fear disappeared but rather mistakenly. How can you refute this way of thinking?”

Above doubt demonstrates how every example can be negated.

That's why a qualified student knows the subtle difference between inquiring about the metaphor to help him-her understand reality further, verses questioning the metaphor's validity.

I urge readers to contemplate on this topic and suggest any other points of intuition they may come up. Let me know in comments below…


Finished Reading? Test Your Knowledge

  1. What is the rope-snake analogy in Advaita Vedanta used for?
  2. Why is the existence of the rope necessary for the appearance of the snake in the rope-snake example?
  3. What is the purpose of the rope-snake analogy in everyday life?
  4. According to Advaita Vedanta, what gives rise to projection/superimposition?
  5. Can Brahman be known as a separate object?
  6. What is the best conceptual/verbal approximation of Brahman?
  7. What is the difference between absolutely real, absolutely unreal, and apparently real?
  8. What is the purpose of using examples or metaphors in Advaita?
  9. Does the mistaken perception of the snake change the reality of the rope?
  10. What is the cause of the snake illusion?
  11. What is necessary to remove the mistake of seeing a snake?
  12. Does the rope do anything to make the mistake of seeing a snake occur?
  13. What happens when a mistake starts?
  14. What happens when a mistake breaks?
  15. What happens when spiritual ignorance is destroyed upon moksha?
  16. According to Advaita Vedanta, can Brahman and the world be equally real at the same time?
  17. What is the difference between being intellectually liberated and truly liberated according to Advaita Vedanta?


  1. Hi Andre,

    “Also, the above points are by no means exhaustive.”

    Well, I was amazed at how many points (observations) you could extract from this one simple analogy. It’s simply brilliant!

    And, it might just be exhaustive. I tried for ages to try to come up with more points (observing the rajasic intellectual achiever in me) and nearly gave up. Here’s one perhaps.

    Once you know it’s a rope, you can’t un-know it.
    Even if we returned the conditions of the environment back to how it was when the mistake was made, i.e. to low light, and we later go back to the same dimly lit bedroom, we are not going to make the same mistake again. We can’t un-see or un-know the rope.

    In the same way, in Advaita Vedanta, once you have firm self-knowledge, that the world is only Brahman (snake is only a rope) then you will not make the mistake again, even if the same maya conditions return. So moksa is permanent.

    1. “Once you know it’s a rope, you can’t un-know it.” > Very good.

      Just like father who scares son with mask. Son screams in fear by sight of stranger. Once father removes mask, son finds it amusing and is relieved. Son then wants daddy to put mask on again because it’s funny.

      In same way, once apparent veil is exposed, one finds the apparent veil amusing thereon. Thus world no longer has power to give such individual either joy nor sorrow.

      1. > “Once you know it’s a rope, you can’t un-know it.” > Very good.

        After a bit of time, if one who once knew it was rope, may still go back to illusion-based fear if he/she is not constantly alert to the light of awareness. I think it needs constant efforts to sustain the enlightenment once tasted.

        Excellent and Brilliant exposition. Thoroughly enjoyed your essay.

        1. Greetings Sir Ravi.

          I think it needs constant efforts to sustain the enlightenment once tasted.

          Not necessarily. Because jñāni has already worked on their mind for years. Purifying it. A pure mind is able to hold the knowledge effortlessly.

          However there is also truth in what you’re saying. That’s why last stage in Vedanta is nididhyāsana (purifying the mind even after clarity takes place).

          So this is really a journey until last breath, whether “liberated” or not. As long as person is breathing, there is duty to continue growing.

  2. Your explanation is simply outstanding. I have read and heard this famous analogy on various platforms in the past but none provided such a clear and thorough explanation. You have very nicely distilled the essence into a form which can be understood by novices. Many thanks for this.

  3. Andre,

    This has been one of the best explanations I have come across on this subject. Your understanding is lucid and explanation of it is equally accessible to everyone in a very simple manner.

    Thank you!


  4. Hi Andre,

    Excellent analysis of the rope and snake with the various observations that you went through. I have read several articles/books on this subject and the common statement I see is “What we see of our empirical world/reality through our mind is the reflection of brahman”. The mind acts like mirror. The word reflection bogs me down as I and can never get 100% clarity on how this word is being used to describe untruth.

    Hence, wouldn’t I be right if I say “What we see of our empirical world/reality through our mind is superimposed on the absolute reality Brahman”. Does this statement make perfect sense? I am replacing the word reflection with superimposed. Since all the creation in our empirical world (mithya) which has name and form the true cause is the substratum which is Brahman if we were to go down to molecular/atomic level.

    Best Regards
    Kish Ranai

    1. =======
      STATEMENT 1: What we see of our empirical world/reality through our mind is the reflection of brahman.

      Reflection teaching is effective when used in proper context.

      EG: Your external behavior is a reflection of your personality. So behavior is the EFFECT. Personality is the CAUSE. But it’s not like the behavior and personality are apart. Wherever there is behavior, there is personality.

      Therefore we use reflection-teaching to demonstrate cause-effect relationship.

      However I would not use it for explaining macrocosm; just produces confusion.

      Rather used in microcosm (applied to jīva’s psychology/emotions). EG: Today is a reflection of what you did yesterday.

      STATEMENT 2: What we see of our empirical world/reality through our mind is superimposed on the absolute reality Brahman.

      This is exactly how I’d explain it. It feels lighter on the mind and immediately clear.

  5. One thing. According to Ramana Maharshi, once you see the rope as a rope, the identification with the body and its 5 sheats is broken, and since you don’t take yourself as a body anymore, you don’t project a world with other bodies anymore, finding out all of it was a dream. In this explanation, I’m not sure if you pointed that out or you assume that the world is still perceived through the five senses once the rope is seen clearly for what it is. Thank you. It’s a brilliant explanation of the analogy.

    1. Everything is Brahman, even our gross existence. However when we realise snake is just rope and self knowledge dawns. The illusions of the world fade away. Once we develop inner tranquillity ; we don’t walk here and there in the world anxiously. Simply questioning who am I ; is good enough to settle the mind. However those who are by nature passionate continue to project the illusion of the world. Just like when there is greediness ; the mind tends towards wealth. Those whose intelligence is not bewildered remain equipoised. They live without reason like a child also.

    2. Vaishnava Acarya’s also freely give the masses devotion to Krishna. Just intellectually understanding I am not this body does not liberate one from the manifold miseries of material existence. The spiritual aspirant should take shelter from a bona-fide guru and enquire the nature of spiritual activities and how to get elevated. As such one makes steady process to the destination which is back to Godhead. If one has a one pointed, burning desire for god ; then one is immediately granted his wish. If one desires worldly existence then one continues to live in the temporary material world which is full of anxiety.

  6. Thank you for this very well covered write up on Advaita..I am sure it will help the students to understand well the various aspects covered in Adaiya Vedanta.
    With kin d regards

  7. The snake superimposed on a rope, Easy to see. The mirage in the dessert, Easy to see. Both of these examples can be proven. Get closer to the rope and you will see it is a rope. Walk towards the Mirage and you will see it is just sand.
    Now, the body or the world superimposed on Brahman can be a bit difficult to see. Not so clear.
    I understand that the body ages, but the Atman/awareness/pure consciousness/Brahman remains the same. I understand that the thoughts come and go, but Atman just is.
    However, I am having a hard time seeing how the body or world is superimposed on Brahman.

    Can it be that every thought that one has, is happening in this void called awareness?
    Can it be that the feelings or sensations of the body, is happening in awareness? and therefore, when a sensation of (let’s say pain in the arm) comes about, it is just a reminder that the void of awareness is being filled by the sensation of the body which you are not.

    A lot of rambling here, but trying to make sense of things.


    1. Wonderful Peter…

      I am having a hard time seeing how the body or world is superimposed on Brahman.

      You are Brahman. Right now.

      In your experience, is anything stuck onto you 24/7? For example, do you constantly see some object in the waking, dream and even deep sleep?


      Meaning objects, body sensations, thoughts and emotions are AS THOUGH superimposed onto you (Brahman). Not actually superimposed.

      If world/body was ACTUALLY superimposed onto you (Brahman), then you couldn’t report any changes taking place. It’s only in presence of the unchanging, that the changing can be reported.

      And since you know there are changes in reference to universe, body-mind… means they are not ACTUALLY superimposed onto you.


  8. Thank you for your reply. No objections.
    Awareness/pure consciousness/Brahman comes first. Everything else, including body comes after. When everything else leaves, Awareness still remains.


  9. There are two issues here. If a claim is made that just as some have mistaken a rope for snake, a we all have mistaken Brahman for the world. Take another example that a person sees a pot as a pot and there is no mistake, same way, we are all seeing this world as the world and there is no mistake. How can a theory be proven by an example as any example can be given. For some one to mistake the rope for a (mithya) snake, that person must have the knowledge of real snake and real snake exists somewhere else (otherwise that can not happen). Similarly for someone to mistake the Braman for (mithya) world, that person must have the knowledge of real world and real world exists somewhere else (otherwise that can not happen).


    The snake in the spot of the rope was never a reality in the past, is not a reality now and will never e a reality in the future irrespective of how much fear the viewer has. One should not get confused between delusion and real state of reality (called Vastu sthiti). It is illogical to say that “something that was not there was removed”.


    If “99% of cases against Advaita go like this, “Advaita dismisses the world as unreal“”, then you will have to say that Gaudapada is against Advaita, as in Gaudapada karika, 2nd prakarana (vaitathya prakaraNa, he speaks about vaitathya of everything at length. vaithathya means unreality or falseness only.


    You all seem thought-loving people. There are many things to say. I do not want to flood it here. If you are all interested, we can completely analyze this rope-snake analogy threadbare and extract the real truthful information. Are you all interested?

    1. Hi. It’s clear these are objections of one from Dvaita Vedanta tradition (where difference between person/world/God is real; where goal of life is going to Heaven-Vaikuntha). Heard similar objections many times before. We don’t debate Dvaita Vedanta. Because you are already deeply established in the doctrine, and also a teacher of it. With respect to your path. May our life be blessed by the Lord.

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