[Advaita-l] 'Ishwaro'ham' and 'IshwarabhAvaH'

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 1 08:58:43 CDT 2013

Dear friends,

It is not that what one scholar says is only important. It is also equally important to see how one interprets the words and sentences for his own consumption. It seems Shri Rajaram had not noticed the  bhakti slokas of Adi Shankara. Even it is explained to him why Adi Shankara being an advaitin wrote the bhakti slokas one can be certain that he will not understand until he really tries to understand that by doing manana himself. No amount of external input is going to help him.

Sunil KB

 From: Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> 
Sent: Sunday, September 1, 2013 1:31 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] 'Ishwaro'ham' and 'IshwarabhAvaH'

>  As I have stated before too, in the 'syllabus' of Advaita, the above
> work/s have no place.  There is enough material within the prasthAnatraya
> bhAShya for knowing the correct view of bhakti in advaita. And none of the
> bhashya-s arrive at a conclusion that involves a nitya bhakti in videha
> mukti. As I have mentioned before, for bhakti to operate there have to be
> minimum two entities, which is not admissible in advaita.  Bhakti
> culminates in realizing that one's svarupa is jnana or jnapti where there
> is no subject-object division.
RV: I dont know if "Sankara University" prescribes a particular syllabus
for advaita  :)  The cause of rise of knowledge (Ishwaranugraha) is
inscrutable. Anyway, I asked Shri Mani Dravid Sastrigal about the general
prescribed syllabus for studying Advaita Vedanta. He said that one should
have studied dharma and niti sastras, puranas, itihasas, nyaya and mimamsa,
perfected the art of performing nishkama karma yoga and / or sadhana
bhakti. There is no reason to say that onee can ignore bhakti sastras. If
they are to be ignored, Narada, Sandilya, Sridhara, Madhusudana and Appayya
dont have to write them in the first place. If one is able to understand
Bhakti Tattva from the works of Sankara, then there is no need for one to
read Madhusudana or Sridhara. The problem is when you dont understand
Bhakti and think it is only a means for citta suddhi rather than the goal
itself as per Advaita.  Shri V. Rajagopalan captures the common
misunderstanding among Advaitins about Bhagavad Bhakti in his article about
Madhusudana Saraswati in the book "Preceptors of Advaita".

<quote> How can an ardent follower of *Sankaracharya* who believed and
proclaimed that there is only one ultimate reality, that is, the nirguna *
Brahman*, which is devoid of any attribute, be also an ardent devotee of *
Sri* *Krishna*? To many, it is a wonder as to how the learned monk, *
Madhusudana* *Sarasvati*, who established the supremacy of the
*Advaita*school of
*Sankara* by writing one of the accepted masterpieces of the
*Vedanta*philosophy, the
*Advaita*-*siddhi*, for refuting the objections raised against *Advaita* by
*Vyasatirtha*, a follower of the dualistic school of *Madhva*, can proclaim
Lord *Krishna* as the ultimate reality, or in other words, that there is no
other ultimate reality except *Sri* *Krishna*. A number of such doubts may
arise in the minds of the readers of *Madhusudana* *Sarasvati’s* works. The
path of knowledge or *jnanamarga* has been accepted to be the only direct
path leading to salvation by the sage *Badarayana* and his large followers
of the *Advaita* school beginning with *Acharya* *Sankara*, who revealed
the identity of the individual soul with the supreme Self by properly
explaining the correct meaning of the scriptural texts which appear to be
mutually contradictory. All the *Advaitins* have accepted that the ultimate
Reality is nirguna or attributeless. But *Madhusudana* considered *Sri* *
Krishna* as the Ultimate Reality and as the incarnation of the nirguna *
Brahman*. Can anyone by any stretch of imagination consider *Sri*
*Krishna*to be nirguna or attributeless? Has
*Madhusudana* given up the path of knowledge and become the advocate or the
follower of the *bhaktimarga* or the path of devotion? </quote>

Few of the scholars here called me silly to propose bhakti and advaita was
reconciled by Madhusudana though it is the opinion of well read scholars
such as Modi and Swami Gambhirananda. Shri V. Rajagopalan also says this.

<quote> He has *synthesized* the *bhakti* school and the path of knowledge
and thus inculcated a new line of thought or approach in the
*Advaita*school.   ... In the
*synthesis* of *bhaktimarga* and the path of knowledge he followed the
famous *Sarvajnatmamuni*, the author of *Samkshepasariraka* who has offered
salutation to *nirguna* *Brahman* called *Murari* in the very first verse
of his work which is a summary, in verses, of *Sankara*’s
Brahmasutra-bhashya3. So *nirguna*-*bhaktimarga* cannot be called a new
innovation of *Madhusudana*.  There seems to be some apparent contradiction
in his works about the path of devotion and the path of knowledge as means
to *moksha*. In his *Gudarthadipika*, a commentary on *Sankara*’*s* *bhashya
* on the *Bhagavadgita*, he believes the main teaching of the *Gita* to be
that *nirguna* *Brahman* could also be attained through loving devotion to
the *Lord*. It is also supported by his *Bhaktirasayana* which propounds
that both *bhakti* and *jnana* are the means to *moksha*, but both differ
as regards their nature, their means, their goal and the persons entitled
to both (*adhikarins*). ..... To *Madhusudana*, all beings including beast
and birds are entitled to *bhakti*, but only the *sannyasins* having the
four-fold aid are fit for *jnanamarga*. He also considered *bhakti* as one
of the aims of life, *bhakti for bhakti’s sake which is identical with
Brahmananda*. In his *Bhaktirasayana* he quotes the sloka from the *
Bhagavatapurana* that even sages who enjoy *Brahmananda* and who are far
from the shackles of *samsara* dedicate themselves spontaneously to
*Vishnu*without any aim or purpose. Or in other words even
*jivanmuktas* are devoted to *God*. *He thus establishes bhakti as the
highest goal of human life.* </quote>

Ra. Ganapathy writes in his introduction to "KatrinilE varum gItam" (the
song that comes with the breeze), a bography of Meera, "Kanchi Mahaperiyava
was observing silence in Kalahasti and asked him permission to write his
biography. He wrote down on a piece of paper that I should instead write
the biography of Meera, a great devotee, who is greater than a thousand
sanyasis". If you dont understand that bhakti is the highest goal and
bhakta is highly accomplished, you will tend to place a bhakta one step
below a jnani. This is exactly the position that Swami Paramarthananda
takes when he says that gopis are not jnanis directly contracticting
Bhagavatha Purana which says that are sAkshAt Hari and Madhusudana who says
that they are the examples of highest jnAnis.

> I had already hinted at this: ananda could be equated to jnana, if it is
> intended to be eternal.
RV: You got the basics of it because of your training in prasthana traya
bhashyas but it is more detailed than that which cannot be understood
without studying bhakti literature.

> All this will give room to the fallacy of the liberated coming back to
> samsara.  It is alright to say that the gopis are all liberates souls, only
> enacting the lila to enjoy the company of the Lord, in order to enthuse a
> sadhaka to cultivate devotion.  To proffer it as the siddhanta would be
> wrong and therefore unacceptable. Also, what is the use of talking of those
> constructs which are only in the vyvahara? We want a construct that will
> free us from the vyavahara while the construct itself gets dissolved.  The
> construct of adhyaropa-apavada taught in the shankara bhashya is the best,
> unmatched one.   It has enough room for bhakti that is necessary for
> advaita sadhana/realization.  All other constructs are of no consequence in
> the light of the shankara bhashya.  It  pays a lot to correctly understand
> the paramarthika stand when/where all that is stated above as
> mirror/reflections/ishwara/maya/lila etc. will be nullified in one go.  If
> this is not understood, there is no point in going over the same things
> endlessly.
RV: Thank you for your concession to call Gopis liberated. However, they
have already got it from Bhagavatham, Sridhara and Madhusudana. Our
acharyas have established them as the ideal to follow and there is a living
tradition of advaitins even today vibrating Gopika Jivana Smaranam Govinda
Govinda,  Govinda Nama Sankirtanam Govinda Govinda etc. There are advaitins
who are bhagavathas who teach ashtapadhi and have Sri Krishna as the
supreme goal. Even Muralidhara Swamigal, who Mani Dravid Sastrigal
reverently calls as guruji, considers Sri Krishna as the goal.

This sthula and sukshuma sarira will not return. So, there is no
contingency of returning of liberated souls. However, the same names and
forms will re-appear which is consistent with the eternality of vedas and
sabdArtha nityatva.  The vyavahara will not be negated until mukhya jIvA
does it. jIva bhAsas may have akhandakara vrttti and may get liberated but
the vyavahara will continue to exist for other jIva bhAsas. If you dont
agree with this, you have to tell the reason thereof.
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