[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 18 16:31:49 CDT 2003
> > prabhuji, IMHO the shankara bhashya on Br.Up. 1.4.7 requires rather a
>careful study. The vidhi or we can say sustained effort to *maintain*
>muktihood should not be taken literally. This duty is not to be taken as
>resting on an original injuction (vidhi), coz. this duty can be considered
>as a duty without *doer* as vidya prabhuji rightly pointed out above.
Yes, these should not be taken as "original injunctions" or apUrva vidhi in
the technical terms of mImAMsA.
Nevertheless, Sankara is the first to tell us that these are niyama vidhis
or restrictive injunctions. In bRhadAraNyaka commentary 1.4.7, he quotes
vijnAya prajnAM kurvIta (BU 4.4.21-22) and in the commentary on that
sentence, he says, after obtaining vijnAna, "prajnA kAraNa sAdhanAni
saMnyAsa Sama dama uparati titikShA samAdhAnAni kartavyAni". Note that the
word samAdhAna is a noun form that is very close in derivation and meaning
to samAdhi. Note also that in the same context, Sankara interprets the
upanishad word "pravrajanti" (simple present tense, plural) as "pravrajeyuH"
(injunctive mood) and also explicitly calls it a vidhi. In one place in the
brahmasUtra commentary, he quotes "tajjalAn iti SAnta upAsIta" and takes it
not as an injunction to do upAsana, but as an injunction to develop Sama or
SAnti (Sama-vidhi vivakShayA ... uktam). One may also look at taittirIya
commentary, where yoga, the Atman of the vijnAnamaya koSa, is defined by
Sankara as "yogo yuktis samAdhAnam".
In brahmasUtra commentary, 2.3.39, he tells us that presuming the sAdhaka's
sense of oneself as a doer, samAdhi is taught as the means to know the real
Self, and quotes chAndogya sentence, "sa anveShTavyas sa vijijnAsitavyaH"
along with muNDaka and bRhadAraNyaka quotations. In the relevant commentary
on chAndogya upanishad itself, he says, "anveShTavya vijijnAsitavya iti ca
niyama vidhir eva." Again, as one can see, he does have room for
injunctions, specifically the niyama variety.
>Hence, commentaries like above should be understood without disturbing the
>shankara's mUla siddhAnta. So, texts like, a jnAni who has acquired
Taking the above references into consideration, what exactly is Sankara's
mUla siddhAnta? It is that the vedAnta does contain restrictive injunctions
(niyama vidhi-s) in the context of Self-knowledge. This is at a pedantic
level of interpreting scripture. Practically speaking, what does this mean?
The one who seeks to know has to work on the sAdhana-s. Sankara says as
much, explicitly, in taittirIya commentary (samAdhAna lakShaNaM ... tapas
sAdhanam anuShTheyaM) and in gItA commentary 18.50, where he says yatna
(effort) is necessary not to reveal the light of Atman, but to remove the
superimposition of anAtman through avidyA. It is quite clear that in
Sankara's mind, this effort is dhyAna yoga, for in numerous places in the
gItA commentary, he says that dhyAna yoga is an integral part (antaranga) of
the right vision (samyag-darSana), while those who maintain the right vision
(samyag-darSana-niShThA) are immediately liberated (sadyomuktAH). Obviously,
yoga, dhyAna, samAdhi and the niShThA of jnAna precede sadyomukti. It is the
jnAna-niShThA of vedAnta that gets to be termed nirvikalpa samAdhi in texts
>knowledge of the self alone, he should practise repeated affirmation
>(Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati), must be contextually understood as
>restrictive injuction, prompting one to adhere strictly to remember the
>knowledge of the self, this remembrance happens automatically for him as
>this is state is pramAtru, pramANAtIta. Who will be there to put efforts
For him who has this remembrance automatically, no restrictions really
apply. However, the discussion in bRhadAraNyaka bhAShya 1.4.7 is primarily
for those who have a strong tendency towards further action (karmaNo
balIyastvAt) and for whom the newly acquired tendency towards knowledge is
weaker (prApta jnAna-pravRtti daurbalya), even after the rise of right
knowledge (samyag-jnAna prAptAv api). Now, either Sankara is contradicting
himself with respect to samyag-jnAna, or we have to conclude that this is
meant not for the perfect brahmajnAnI, but for those of manda-madhyama
qualifications. Nevertheless, Sankara allows that samyag jnAna may have
already arisen, and then a niyama vidhi comes into operation. For such a
person, it is necessary to specify a process (niyantavyA bhavati) in which
the constant remembrance of Self-knowledge (Atma vijnAna smRti saMtati) is
emphasized. I submit that this is exactly what comes to be called
vAsanAkShaya in other texts.
I would also like to point out that earlier in the same commentary passage
that Sankara has already anticipated that this is the same as citta vRtti
nirodha. For, just two or three paragraphs before the conclusion, he says
"ananya sAdhanatvAc ca nirodhasya. na hy Atma vijnAna tat smRty saMtAna
vyatirekeNa citta vRtti nirodhasya sAdhanam asti".
What does all this mean? Firstly, note that one cannot recollect or remember
what one does not already know. It is only the known entity that can be
remembered. Therefore, the true Self has to be already known, before it can
be recollected. The steady recollection of Self-knowledge is acknowledged to
be the only means to achieve the Yogic goal of citta vRtti nirodha. The same
steady recollection of Self-knowledge is taken as a niyama vidhi, a
restrictive injunction, AFTER the rise of samyag jnAna. And all of this
comes from the bRhadAraNyaka commentary, a primary and important text that
defines Sankara's thought.
Either we have to revisit our view of what exactly is Sankara's mUla
siddhAnta or we have to wonder if Sankara is contradicting himself, or else
we have to wonder if the author of bRhadAraNyaka commentary is different
from the author of brahmasUtra commentary. I opt for the first alternative,
because as far as I can see, there is no contradiction between these two
texts. The contradiction lies in our own notions of what exactly is
Sankara's basic teaching and what lies outside of it.
>towards what?? This question may be asked here if the *human effort* is
>required to maintain jnAna . So, the knowledge (paramArtha jnAna) one has
It is not a question of human effort to maintain jnAna. Nor do I think that
VC says human effort is required to maintain jnAna. After all, it talks of
the non-apprehension (agrahaNa) of the anAtman (technically called dRSya).
And it talks of obtaining the glimpse of jnAna in samAdhi.
In this context, see sureSvara's naishkarmyasiddhi verse 1.88, which says,
"niyamaH parisaMkhyA vA vidhy artho 'pi bhaved yataH anAtmA-adarSanenaiva
parAtmAnam upAsmahe." - "Whether seen as a niyama injunction or a
parisaMkhyA injunction, we worship the highest Self only by not seeing the
As far as I can see, sureSvara's "not seeing the non-Self" (anAtmA-adarSana)
is synonymous with the VC author's "not apprehending the seen"
(dRSyasya-agrahaNa). I therefore see a much larger degree of continuity
between Sankara, sureSvara and the prakaraNa granthas which have generally
been seen as deviating from Sankara's mUla siddhAnta, his core teaching. I
rather think that Sankara's mUla siddhAnta has been often misunderstood in
As far as vidhis are concerned, see also verse 3.126 in naiShkarmyasiddhi,
where sureSvara says, "tvam arthasya avabodhAya vidhir apy ASrito yataH".
The injunction referred to here is exactly what Sankara refers as relating
to Sama and pravrajyA in brahmasUtra and bRhadAraNyaka commentaries. How
does one develop Sama and the other qualities without practising yoga?
sureSvara himself recognizes this. That is why, in naishkarmyasiddhi 1.52,
he says yogAbhyAsa should be done after renunciation
(sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana saMnyAsas, tato yogAbhyAsas, tataS cittasya
pratyak-pravaNatA, tatas tattvamasyAdi vAkyArtha parijnAnam ...). Note that
in the traditional setting, the moment of taking up saMnyAsa is the moment
of SravaNa of the upanishad mahAvAkya-s. So, even sureSvara, Sankara's
direct disciple, recognizes the value of yoga practice (yukti/samAdhAna in
taittirIya commentary, AtmavijnAna smRti saMtAna in bRhadAraNyaka
commentary, which is the only means to stilling the mind, citta vRtti
nirodha, as explicitly mentioned by Sankara himself) AFTER taking up
saMnyAsa, which traditionally involves the SravaNa of tattvamasi from the
mouth of the guru. And he puts this yogAbhyAsa before the full meaning
(parijnAna) of the sentence tattvamasi manifests itself.
Under the circumstances, why should we think that any prakaraNa text that
talks of yoga in one way or the other should automatically be non-genuine?
The new MSN 8: advanced junk mail protection and 2 months FREE*
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list