Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Tue Jun 9 21:33:44 CDT 1998

On Fri, 29 May 1998 Chelluri at AOL.COM wrote:

> Here is a passage from "The Age of Vidyaranya" written by K.R.Venkataraman
> etal.
> " Spiritual aspirants not capable of attaining the goal through vichara
> (cogitation), discrimination and meditation need a practical method of
> sadhanas or spiritual practices-  which the Agamas provide.  In the sadhanas
> are integrated karma in the form ritualistic practices, bhakti and yoga, all
> helping to reach the final goal of the identity of the individual self with
> the supreme self.  The fusion of  Agamic (Tantrika) sadhana with the Advaitic
> goal that had been superbly worked out by Sri Gaudapada and Sri Sankara,
> received a fillip from Sri Bharati Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya."

Namaste. This is a bit of delayed response to the passage quoted above. I
would like the first part of my post to be taken as a book review or a
passage review.

I must question the passage from K.R. Venkataraman et al. I realize that
the previous and the subsequent paragraphs (to the one quoted above)
in the book might be more revealing of what the authors mean, and hence
my comments may be unfair. With that introduction, let me comment:

Firstly, the authors of the passage say that the "Agamas" provide a
"practical" method of sadhana. I assume what they mean by AgamAs is the
vedas and specifically upanishhads. As I understand, there is only one
method which the upanishhads provide. That is jnAnam, brahma-vidya.
Upanishhads say that ritualistic practices lead to specific ends, but not
to brahma-vidya, similarly bhakti. The upanishhads and Shri Shankara say
that except jnAna-mArga, there is no other way to attain the knowledge
of the Self. Thus, Venkataraman et al's usage of the word "Agama" to
substantiate their own view, I think, is not correct.

[I recognize and respect Shri VidyAraNya's belief in bhakti mArga as an
equally valid route for moksha and also that this book is on VidyAraNya].

Secondly, Venkataraman et al say in the above passage ".... worked
out by Sri Gaudapada and Sri Sankara **received a fillip** from Sri
Bharati Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya." (GM's emphasis on *received fillip*).
This is, in my view, a poor choice of words by Venkataraman et al. The
"superbly worked out fusion" by Shri GauDapAda and Shri Shankara does not
require a "fillip" from any later source. The works of GauDapAda and
Shankara stand on their merits and require no substantiation. This is
like saying the upanishhads received a fillip and additional corroboration
from smritis. It is neither required nor necessary.

> [...]
> I am glad to know that I am going in the right direction.  Jnaana marga is
> difficult or impossible in kaliyuga.  My advise to all is to follow karma and
> bhakti yogas devoid of "I".
> sarvam parameswari arpanamastu                                   Nagy

I believe that every jeeva has a unique route assigned to him/her and the
jeeva follows that route. The route is various combinations of karma,
bhakti, and jnAna. I think there has to be a portion of jnAna-mArga in
any path for a jeeva to realize the Self. I wonder if karma yoga (or
bhakti yoga) alone lead to moksha as at some stage or other, we have to
follow jnAna-mArga. Let us analyze this a bit more.

A pure karma-yogi would not or need not have either God-realization
(bhakti) or Self-realization (jnAnam). He/she is expected to live a
life of work always performing his/her duties well, simply because
they happen to be his/her duties (kurvanneva iha karmANi: Isa
upanishhad, 2). In the performance of duty for its own sake, irrespective
of the consequences and results accruing therefrom to the worker, we can
observe a moral discipline, in which we can identify the ends and means.
A characteristic feature of karma-yoga is identification of the means
with the end. Such identification (of the sameness of the means and the
end) enables him/her to become free from worldly attachments. As Isha
upanishhad says, the karma-yogi, thus, gets out of the bondage of karma.
Also, let us note that such karma-yogi can be an agnostic or even an
atheist. If he/she such is a theist, duty acquires a new meaning.
Also, such a karma-yogi may not have knowledge of the Self. What
is moksha for this karma-yogi then ? Is the karma-yoga itself moksha
or is there something beyond karma-yoga for this jeeva ?

The discipline of jnAna-yoga is based on Self-realization, accomplished
through constant meditation and contemplation. (It is not what is obtained
through mental concentration, but, as Katha upanishhad says, is presented
to such jeeva as the Self chooses). The jnana-yogi uses viveka, that
unique sense of discrimination between the Self and the non-Self, rejects
the non-Self and gets immersed in the Self. The most notable
characteristic of jnAna-yoga is a life of absolute unselfishness.
That is seeing one self in all beings and all beings in the self. Such a
person cannot be selfish. Such a jeeva attains moksha here and now.
That is, jnAna-yoga is moksha.

The purpose of the last two paragraphs is to show that karma-yoga, by
itself, is not sufficient for the realization of the Self. At some stage,
jnAna-yoga, or the path of knowledge is to be followed. In Shri Nageswara
Rao's advice above ("My advice to all is to follow karma and bhakti
yogas devoid of "I""), there is implicit suggestion of jnAna yoga in
"the devoid of "I"". My apologies that I did not finish up the post
properly. It is already getting too long.

Gummuluru Murthy
sarvAgamAnA mAcArah prathamam parikalpate !

                                sage VyAsa in MahA bhArata

For all (incoming) knowledge, discipline is the most fundamental.

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