Bhakti yoga

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Jun 21 04:57:01 CDT 2002

Stephanie Stean wrote:

> My teacher does not follow any path or doctrine.  He seems to follow more
> the literal translation of the text.  He is a German Sanskrit Scholar and
> Linguist.
> He also sees moksha as being like something like the Christian concept of
> heaven, a state "out there" or "up there" as he described it.

Moksha or mukti both primararily liberation--specifically from samsara
(the cycle of birth and death.)  So much most of the Indian religions
agree on.  What happens next is where they differ.  for the Buddhists it
was simply lights out (Nirvana.)  For Jains, Samkhya, Vaisheshikas etc.
the liberated soul just kind of floats there.  For the theistic schools of
Vedanta it is indeed a kind of heaven where the souls are at various
distances from God.

> I understand or see Moksha  (of the Gita) as being as described in part 11,
> where Krishna gives Arjuna divine eyes to see his true form.  To me, that
> was "a fleeting taste" of the pramA or jnana of mukti.

This illustrates a fundamental difference between the advaita theory of
moksha and all the other schools.  For Advaita Vedanta, mukti is possible
even while alive (Jivanamukti)  For us the key to breaking through samsara
is the full knowledge of the unity of all things.  Arjuna did indeed have
a glimpse of this knowledge but was mentally unprepared for it and freaked
out.  But a true jnani is fully established in this knowledge and is
considered liberated while still alive.

A problem for the Advaita theory is that in some places in the upanishads
the idea of Mukti as travel to a place os there.  For instance in
Brhadaranyakoanishad 6.2.15., "He leads them to the worlds of Brahman; in
these worlds of Brahman they live for ever and ever."  Shankaracharya
explains (Bhashya on Brahmasutra 4.3.10) that what was refered to there
is another type of mukti, krama or stepwise mukti.  Those who tried but
failed to get liberated in their lifetimes are born in higher worlds where
they presumably face less obstacles and can continue their quest for
knowledge.  At the pralaya (dissolution of the universe) these worlds
along with their rulers (I.e. Gods) are merged into Brahman.  So while
jnanayoga is the direct route to moksha, this will also get you there
albeit more slowly.  Interestingly Shankaracharya in that passage refers
to moksha as "Vishnoh parama padam" (The highest place of Vishnu

> I understand Iswara to be a manifestation of Brahman. Is this true?

Ishwara is saguna (with qualities) Brahman.  TRuly Brahman is nirguna
(without qualities) so where did those qualities come from?  The answer is
they are superimpositions projected by the ignorant jiva.

> Also, that bhakti, before Jnanam, is directed towards a personal god, which
> Iswara is.

"personal" or abstract doesn't enter into it.  The key feature of the
lower kind of Bhakti is that the Lord is seperate from ones own self.
This can be cured by the higher kind of Bhakti.

> But that jnana yoga, is worship and knowledgeJ of the abstract form (Brahman).

When one is convinced of the all-pervading nature of Brahman, why make
distinctions between abstract and concrete?  What is different between the
liberated and non-liberated person is the attitude not the specific
actions.  The jnani knows the real nature of what he is worshipping.  The
ajnani does not.  We have seen that Shankaracharya doesn't mind refering
to the ultimate as Vishnu.  In fact he acknowledges all the Gods of the
Vedic pantheon.

> Also, when one knows the real nature of and between Iswara and the jiva, one
> Knows Brahman, which is not a personal god or God at all.  Any comments?

There is nothing that Brahman is not.

> When I read about "the concept of" Brahman and what others have said about
> Knowing Brahman, I see not a personal god or a God at all.  I see A something
> different.  Is this not in line with the Advaitin philosophy?  Comments
> please.

It's a matter of semantics really isn't it.  What do you expect God to

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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