[Advaita-l] Madhusudhana Saraswathi and Advaita.

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sun Feb 26 08:38:27 CST 2012

On 26 February 2012 16:22, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:

> << In other words the upAsanA of
> anything other than the Self, Brahman, is always as 'this' and not as 'I
> myself'.  So Shankara/and the Upanishad / seeks to characterize this upAsya
> as anAtman itself.  Note the word 'IshvarAdi' in Shankara's bhashyam.  This
> shows that by the term 'upAsanA' GaudapAda is not restricting the meaning
> to just Hiranyagarbha, it could be anything, an avatAra mUrti, like
> Krishna, Rama, Narasimha, etc. that could be meditated upon.  These also
> fall under the category of 'idam' and therefore anAtmA in Advaita.>>

Agree entirely with the above. However, upAsana is not necessarily
synonymous with bhakti. Of course, both are broad terms and are sometimes
used interchangeably, but technically they are not equivalent. An adept in
the shaiva mantra-shAstra, for example, is qualitatively different from a

bhakti, in the strictest sense of the term, is purely a bhAva; whereas
mantra-based upAsana is all about correct process.

<< In fact 'bhakti' itself is
> held to be the manifestation of icchA shakti which when taken to its
> ultimate is icchA, love, bhakti, for one's own Self (Atmanastu kAmAya
> sarvam priyam bhavati).  So even the 'wish', icchaa, that let there be loka
> kalyANam, is a manifestation of bhakti alone.>>

The point that all prema is a manifestation of Atma-prema, as implied by
"Atmanastu kAmAya sarvam priyam bhavati" is well-taken. I have myself
mentioned this earlier on the forum. However, if one looks at Rajaram's
questions on the list, they come from a totally different angle. His
questions show a heavy vaiShNava orientation, with an emphasis on bhakti as
a **personal relationship with the deity**. Moreover, he often presents
this as an indispensable sAdhana or even as a sAdhya.

My limited point is that while the idea of bhakti involving a personal
relationship with a deity is quite acceptable to most advaitins as a means
to chittashuddhi, the advaita saMpradAya in general would not regard it as
an indispensable sAdhana and certainly NOT as a sAdhya.

For example, practising karmayoga by offering one's actions to the
samaShTi, or emphasizing "process-oriented" mantra-based upAsana, are quite
different from the typical vaiShNava emphasis on the cultivation of an
intensely emotional personal relationship with viShNu or kR^iShNa. The
difference in outlook is quite obvious and stark. In vaiShNava traditions,
the tendency is to emphasize the latter (personal relationship with the
deity) as both sAdhana and sAdhya. In advaita-vedAnta, the latter is
definitely not a sAdhya and merely one (albeit fairly common) of several
possible sAdhana-s for chittashuddhi.

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