On Brahmasutras and VisishtAdvaita

sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Wed Oct 1 11:44:45 CDT 1997

>I've got a couple of questions on the Brahmasutras.
>1. Are the Brahmasutras, a properly sorted and organised form and
>explanation on the Upanishads?
>2. The book which I have on the subject, which is based on Shankara's
>commentary, states that most scholars consider Shankara's commentary
>as 'far fetched' and not faithful to Bhadarayana's original thought. So is it
>the proper book to read?
>A question on a different subject.
>Last weekend I met an Iyengar who follows VisishtAdvaita. He said that
>the main purport of that scool of thought is Karma Yoga. But again I read
>in the above mentioned book on the Brahmasutras that both
>Madavacharya and Ramanuja considered Bhakti as the only means to
>realize Brahman. Can somebody knowledgable clarify?

VishishhTaadvaita emphasizes the Bhakti or sharaNaagati or complete
surrender with the main teaching from what they call as charma sloka of
Lord Krishna- Sarvadharmaan parityajya ....
The emphasis is on Lord Narayana since he is the only one who can give
mOksha (He is considered as parabrahma ) and take Krishna's teaching in
Bhagawad Geeta as the final say:

 dwaivee hyeshhaa guNamayee mama maayaa duratyayaa|
 maamevaye prapadyante maayaametaam tarantite||     7-14

This maya of mine is of divine origin and is impossible to cross,
 Only surrendering to me (meaning to Krishna or Lord Narayana) one can
cross this maaya.

  I am not sure if Brahmasuutra came before B. Geeta or not since the
reference of sutra is mostly from the Upanishads.

There is a reference to brahmasutra in Geeta in sloka 13-5

Shankara appears to deviate quite a lot from the import of Brahmasutra in
order to fit into the adviatic tenants. He may be justified from the
advaitic theory but not from the direct word by word meaning of the sutras.

Ramanuja's criticism of Shankara's appears to be valid.  I recommend every
advaitic seeker to read the criticism of Sri Ramanuja particularly on
avidya.  Ramanuja's model has to be taken as granted whether logically
sound or not since scripture says so.  But shaastra pramana implies that
too.  Here I do have big problem as shaastra pramana and I am still
thinking on this to resolve in my own mind before I respond to Anand and
Vidyas' ascertains about shaastra as pramana.

Some of the Ramaanuja's criticism of Shankara is invalid since at some
other contexts while refuting other nyaayas he uses the similar type of
logic that he objected in the first place with respect to Shankara

I am slowly studying Ramanujas' Sribhaashya as presented by Krishnamachar
but motivation goes down when logic is pushed aside at the expense of
scriptural statement as pramaana which itself is interpreted to suite the
authors argument.  I find selective statements of the Upanishads to suite
the arguments while providing a circular arguments to others when the
direct meaning does not agree.

This is why I have deeper questions about shaastra as pramana without yukti
or Logic. Logic is given a secondary role or dismissed all together
particularly in VishishhTaadvaita.  I cannot say much about dvaita since I
have not studied Madhava philosophy. But I do not think they differ much in
their criticism of Shankara Bhaashya.

Coming back to your question, veda vihita karma in terms of
sandhyaavandanam and puja and other rituals are prescribed as serving the
Lord - as his seva.
Both dvaita and vishishhTaadvaita tradition, the devotee takes the emblem
of Lord Narayana (shanku and chakra on his shoulders) as symbolic of
surrendering the body, mind and intellect to Lord Narayana.

There are two subsects in the VishishTaadviata - Maarjaala and markataka
Nyaayam -cat and monkey philosophy-  Vadahalai and Tengalai in Tamil - in
terms of surrenderence.

Vedanta Desika was the proponent of Marjaala nyaaya -  that one should
surrender to the Lord like the kitten to its mother.  Once surrendered, it
becomes Lord's responsibility to take care of the child. These subsect put
U-shaped marks on the face.

The other is surrender like Markataka - baby monkey where the baby's
responsibility is to hold on to the mother and not mother's responsibility.
They use  Y-shaped marks on their face.

Hence, essence is Bhakti - Actually there is no difference between Karma
yoga and Bhakti yoga as yoga - but Bhakti can lead to complete
surrenderence since every action is done to please the Lord and only those
actions that pleases the Lord are taken - as prescribed by Vedas as
Niyamita karma - that one has to do for a given ashram - gRihasta or
sanyaasa etc.

Lord is the essence of Bhakti and Lard has to be brought in Karma to turn
into a yoga.

Hari Om!

K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

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