Anand_Hudli at BMC.BOEHRINGER-MANNHEIM.COM
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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