Advaita Bhakti thro. Contemplative Practice of Narayaniyam (ABCPN - 7)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at YAHOO.COM
Tue Dec 3 09:40:31 CST 2002

This entire series is a reposting of postings done on the advaitin list

Note: Please read the Introduction
 (ABCPN – 0) if you have not already read it


Sloka No. 19 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 98 - 5):
shabda-brahmeti karmety-aNuriti bhagavan kAla ityAlapanti
tvAmekaM vishvahetuM sakala-mayatayA sarvathA kalpyamAnaM /
vedAntair-yattu gItaM puruSha-para-cidAtmAbhidhaM tattu tattvaM
prekshA-mAtreNa mUla-prakR^iti-vikR^iti-kR^it kR^iShNa tasmai namaste  //

Tr. Oh Lord! Being the One that has become the many and therefore
conceivable in any form,  You, the Cause of all the universe, are being
identified by different names, such as, the Primeval Sound, Karma, Atom,
Time,  and Atman. Oh  Krishna,  salutations to that Supreme Truth also
described in the Vedantic scriptures as Purusha (Indwelling Spirit), Para
(Supreme Being), Pure Consciousness and so on, who by a mere glance have
set the mUla-prakR^iti in motion to diversify itself into its various
evolutes that form the manifested universe.

Comment. The Transcendence and Immanence of the Absolute, are the two
foundational concepts on which the entire Vedanta rests secure. Without
this philosophical understanding given to us by the Upanishads, as
capsuled here by Bhattatiri, in beautiful poetry, a devotional attitude
may degenerate into a narrow cult and fanaticism. An intellectual
understanding of the Upanishadic doctrine of the Absolute Brahman with a
concurrent identification with that Absolute  of one’s Personal God,
worshipped and loved, is what saves one from a limited understanding to
which some devotees succumb, when they try to rationalize their devotion
to their Personal God.  However, thanks to  the Hindu tradition, even the
ordinary man has, in spite of his illiteracy, the necessary trace of this
philosophical understanding passed on to  him through osmosis by  the very
atmosphere in which he lives.
Note the words ‘prekshA-mAtreNa’ (by a mere glance) in the fourth quarter.
The cosmic process of manifestation into a multiplicity from
the ‘original’ single entity may cause a certain amount of confusion in
our ‘rational’ thinking. Because it is difficult to coordinate this idea
of creation, which has obviously a built-in duality in it, with the
concept of non-duality of the Self  irrespective of the so-called  space,
time,  and causation – or, using Sadaji’s (post #15255) pregnant
phrase, ‘in spite of duality’. There are several passages in the
Upanishads which inspire Sankara to pour forth  his thoughts on this
subject  in his commentaries. Let us quote  one such passage, from his
bhAshya on Aitareya Upanishad, where he meets the objection: Did the Self
cease to be one? Why is the past tense used, in stories of creation, where
it is said: ‘In the beginning this was but the absolute Self alone 
thought (sa IkShata)  
“Though even now that very same single entity (the Self) endures, still
there is some distinction. The distinction is this: The universe in which
the differences of name and form were not manifest before creation, which
was then one with the Self and which was denotable by the single word and
idea ‘Self’ has now become denotable by many words and concepts as well as
by the single word and concept ‘Self’, because of its diversification
through the  multiplicity of names and forms. Foam is denoted by the
single word and concept ‘water’, before the manifestation of names and
forms distinct from water; but when that foam becomes manifested (as an
entity) distinct from water, owing to the difference of name and form,
then the very same foam becomes denotable by many words and concepts,
viz., foam and water, as well as by only one word and one concept, viz.,
water. The same is the case here”.

Sloka No. 20 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 1 - 3):

sattvaM yat-tat-parAbhyAm-aparikalanato nirmalaM tena tAvat
bhUtair-bhUtendriyais-te vapuriti bahushaH shrUyate vyAsa-vAkyaM /
tat svacchatvAd-yad-acchAdita-parasukha-cid-garbha-nirbhAsa-rUpaM
tasmin dhanyA ramante shruti-mati-madhure sugrahe vigrahe te //

Tr. Sage Vyasa has repeatedly declared that Thy form along with its
accessories is constituted of pure sattva, without any admixture of the
others (rajas and tamas). Because of this absolute purity, Thy form gives
an unobstructed revelation of its underlying essence of Consciousness-
Bliss. Enlightened men delight to contemplate on this, Thy Divine formful
manifestation, which is easy to grasp and which is all sweetness to those
who think or hear about it.

Comment. Here Bhattatiri probably differs from advaita regarding the
nature of  the Ultimate Reality. Bhattatiri displays two different minds
in his rendering of nArAyaNIyaM. Sometimes he talks as if he is an
advaitin to the core (as in our sloka No.18). But some other times he
talks, as in this sloka 20, as if he is identifying Brahman with God, that
is, Ishvara. In other words, the saguNa Brahman (Brahman with attributes)
is the Absolute Brahman, for him in this and many other slokas of his.
Since the advaita view anyway is that  saguNa Brahman is a means to the
ultimate goal of nirguNa Brahman (attributeless Brahman), this sloka fits
into our selection for contemplative practice.

Sloka No. 21 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 1 - 5):

nirvyAporo’pi niShkAraNam-aja bhajase yat-kriyAm-IkShaNAkhyAM
tenaivodeti lInA prakR^itir-asatikalpA’pi kalpA’’di-kAle /
tasyaH samshuddham-amshaM kamapi tam-atirodhAyakaM sattva-rUpaM
sa tvaM dhR^itvA dadhAsi sva-mahima-vibhavAkunTha vaikunTha rUpaM //

Tr. Oh Birthless One! Even Though You are without any activity by nature,
You do activate spontaneously by just a glance, the prakR^iti, at the
beginning of every new cycle of creation – the prakR^iti that is latently
abiding in You, without anyway affecting You, as if it were a non-existent
entity. Oh Lord of VaikunTha, assuming the pure sattva aspect of the
PrakR^iti, which because of its purity does not in the least hide your
glories and majesties, You have manifested Yourself as this divine form.

Comment. Pure sattva is used in contrast to material sattva, which along
with rajas and tamas  becomes the source of all matter creation. Pure
sattva, according to Vaishnava philosophy, is self-luminous, of the nature
of cit (intelligence) and Ananda (bliss). The Divine Form is constituted
of this pure sattva. This fact is agreed to by advaita philosophy also.
But  the Vaishnava philosophy holds that it is in fact identical with the
Absolute. In advaita philosophy, the Absolute transcends the three guNas.
This is a substantial difference between the non-dualist philosophy and
the qualified-non-dualist philosophy.

 (To be continued)
praNAms to all seekers of spirituality.

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