Preliminary qualifications

Tue Aug 19 16:30:34 CDT 1997

  Some people seem to think that just about everybody is qualified to
  practise advaita. Strange as it may seem, the fact is otherwise.
  While I do agree that everybody is qualified to read, discuss, or think
  about advaita, the actual practice of advaita (Shankara's type) requires
  that one should have the four fold qualifications that Vidya and also
  Sadananda mentioned, namely viveka (discrimination), vairaagya
  (dispassion), Shamaadi-shhaTka (the six virtues beginning with restraint
  of the mind) and mumukshhutva (desire for liberation).

  Now, how are these four qualifications obtained in the first place? From
  the dictum, "Ishvara-anugrahaadeva advaita-vaasana", we can infer
  that by the grace of God alone these are obtained.  How do we obtain the
  grace of God? This is by practising what is dealt with in detail in the
  Giitaa. If you study the Giitaa, you will observe that Krishna deals with
  jnaana yoga, karma yoga, and bhakti yoga mainly. For the practice of
  karma yoga (doing your duty without desire for fruits thereof, or
  equivalently, dedicating your works to God) and bhakti yoga (devotional
  service to God), jnaana yoga is essential. Here jnaana yoga is the
  "theoretical" knowledge of advaita. That is why although Krishna tells
  Arjuna about advaita, He still insists that Arjuna practice karma yoga
  and bhakti yoga. Here teachers like Madhusuudana Sarasvatii are of the
  opinion that bhakti yoga in
  itself is sufficient to win the grace of God. Bhakti yoga will itself
  induce karma yoga automatically and will even lead to true jnaana.
  So the conclusion is that if one wants to succeed in advaita, one must
  take up bhakti yoga first. Of course, there are exceptional people who
  are born with four qualifications, and are immediately eligible for the
  practice of advaita. But even these saints sometimes
  express great devotion to their chosen deity. For example, I have heard
  that Shri Abhinava Vidya Tirtha, when he was a small boy,  was much
  devoted to Ganesha.  Madhusuudana himself was a staunch devotee
  of Krishna and we all know that Ramana Maharshi was a devotee of Shiva.
  Still others may be devotees of devii.

  In order to take up study in a field, say college physics, one must
  have knowledge of physics taught at school. Most people, I presume,
  have no problem accepting this. Is it not strange that people simply
  dont understand that the case of advaita is similar?

  Arguments such as " I am already liberated" are self defeating, because
  they are in direct conflict with mumukshhutva.


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