saguNa and nirguNa are the same

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Fri Dec 3 18:14:02 CST 1999

bhagavatpAda uses the same words in different senses in
different places. The differences in the shades of meaning of
a word should be clearly kept in mind, especially when reading
his bhAshhya-s on shruti and smR^iti. This is simply because
as an exegite bhagavatpAda has to give a consistent picture.
The consistency should be both "internal" and "external".

"Internal" consistency refers to the fact that *apparently*
contradictory shruti and smR^iti passages have to be
"reconciled". "External" consistency refers to agreement with
the personal experience of everyone. Note that "external"
consistency is usually demonstrated by the examination of the
three states. Because of this bhagavatpAda interprets the
_same word_ to mean different things in different passages (as
do all exegites).

This is nothing unusual, since in any language the same word
acquires various shades of meaning depending on the context!
Anyway, just as in the bhAshhya-s, this is the criteria used
in the upadeshasAhasrI and the gauDapAda kArika-s also. In
order to make sure that a) we do not misunderstand
sha.nkarAchArya and b) make sure that we are referring to the
same thing when using a particular word, I suggest that we
keep the following distinctions in mind:

1. GYAna*
2. GYAna
3. upAsana
4. upAsana$

Please note the * and $ signs at the end of the words above.

1. GYAna* = that which "produces" absolute state of freedom,
kaivalyam, just on hearing shruti vAkya for the most competent
and after shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana for the rest. This
is the sense in which it is used, for example, in naishhkarmya
siddhi 1.34. naishhkarmyasiddhi 2.103 and many other places. I
just got these by flipping through the naishhkarmyasiddhi.

2. GYAna = the process of shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana
itself. In the term GYAna-karma-samuchchaya, this is the sense
in which it is usually used.

3. upAsana = the process of A worshiping/meditating on B. "A"
refers to a jIva and "B" refers to one of the many forms of
brahman limited by adjuncts. Thus, B may be vishhNu, shiva,
indra, etc. This is the meaning of upAsana in the kena
upanishhad bhAshhya I quoted previously.

4. upAsana$ = Considering "Ishvara" as the self. An example is
the passage quoted from the BG bhAshhya by Anand:

<<<< From Anand's post:

Note how Shankara comments on the first line of the verse:

ananyAH apR^ithagbhUtAH paraM devaM nArAyaNaM Atmatvena gatAH
santaH chintayantaH mAM ye janAH sannyAsinaH paryupAsate ...
They are non-different (from Me) who consider the Supreme God
nArAyaNa as the Self. They, the sannyAsins, who meditate on Me
and worship Me in all ways...


In the above para, Atman refers to the inner-self and
obviously not the jIva, since nArAyaNa (be it the saguNa form
or the supreme brahman) cannot be the jIva! Only when the
adjuncts of the jIva (ego, intellect, etc) are removed can you
equate it with brahman. That should be quite clear. Further,
in the above paragraph, nArAyaNa does _not_ refer to the
four-armed God residing in Vaikuntha. Similarly, "shivoham"
does not refer to the blue-throated God. This is because the
inner self (AtmA in the above para) is obviously *devoid* of
all modifications. This fact is very obvious from the
examination of deep-sleep, where the unity of the self is
clearly seen (external consistency!). Refer the chapter 2 of
the naishhkarmya-siddhi, where Sri Sureshvara applies the
technique of anvaya-vyatireka in examining the three states.
That is why sha.nkara clearly says "those sannyAsi-s who
resort to nArAyaNa as their *self*". So, this does NOT refer
to vishhNu the saguNa form. This should be even more clear
when the bhAshhya to the next two verses are considered. Note
that other commentators interpret the "exclusive devotion" as
referring to worship of vishhNu and not shiva etc. Whereas,
bhagavatpAda interprets it as the realization that nArAyaNa is
non different from the self.

So, in the above "upAsana" is actually upAsana$. But clearly,
upAsana can lead to upAsana$ for a qualified person. In this
case, a person who does upAsana of "nArAyaNa"-the four-armed
God, progresses to upAsana$ of nArAyaNa (so to speak). The
relation between the meaning of the word nArAyaNa in upAsana
and upAsana$ is obtained by using jahad-ajahad-laxaNa, i.e.,
the original nArAyaNa, who was the object of upAsana
(four-armed, etc), loses the limiting adjuncts (of four-arms
etc) and retains only the substratum on which the limiting
adjuncts were imagined previously.

Note: laxaNa means secondary sense and jahad-ajahad means
partially inclusive and partially exclusive. This is a
standard technique in the grammar and its application to the
intepretation of tattvamasi and the reason for such an
application is summarized in the mAnasollAsa 2.13-25.

upAsana$ is thus, clearly nothing other than GYAna (note GYAna
and not GYAna*!). It is just stated in an *apparently*
different way.

[continued in next post]

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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