[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 12 16:42:36 CDT 2003

--- Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:


> Sankara is the first to argue that nothing 
> needs to be done once jnAna has fully dawned.

"A BrahmaGYAnI who has attained to his state by infirm qualifications
and past merits (pUrva-puNya) ought to practise samAdhi for elimination
of vAsanas", Vide HH Chandrashekhara Bharati's commentary on VC verse
267 (268 in his numbering). 

If there is any doubt that the author of the VC is recommending
vAsanAkshaya for a BrahmaGYAnI, HH's commentary removes it. 

> This verse is unambiguous about equating moksha and jnAna. 

According to strict advaita VedAnta, mukti cannot be equated with GYAna
(even perfect BrahmaGYAna). In his jIvanmuktiviveka, Swami Vidyaranya
says that YAGYavalkya of the BR^ihadaaraNyaka upanishhad was a perfect
BrahmaGYAnI, but not a mukta! 

The way Vidyaranya proves this, explaining the difference between
BrahmaGYAna ("fully dawned and perfect BrahmaGYAna of YAGYavalkya") and
mukti, without ever contradicting Shankara's BhAshhyas (where
BrahmaGYAna and mukti are taken to be the same), is one of the most
amazing pieces of reasoning in advaita VedAnta after Shankara's works. 

Here's Vidyaranya's masterly proof in his JMV:

Vidyaranya initially quotes several passages from scripture to show
that BrahmaGYAna, vAsnAkshaya, manonAsha and jIvanmukti are all
identical. He even points to passages in the upadeshasAhasrI and
naishhkarmya siddhi which take the terms to be synonymous. 

This leaves the opponent wondering, "You have shown how BrahmaGYAna and
jIvanmukti are identical, yet you say that they are different! What is
this tANDava (dancing)?" 

Vidyaranya then explains his view:

It is easy to see that YAGYavalkya was a perfect BrahmaGYAnI, since
everyone (including Shankara, Sureshvara etc.) realizes Brahman only
through YAGYavalkya's dialog in the BU. If YAGYavalkya's BrahmaGYAna
was imperfect, even Shankara and Sureshvara who attained BrahmaGYAna
from the BU would have imperfections in their BrahmaGYAna, which is
absurd. Therefore, YAGYavalkya was a perfect BrahmaGYAnI. 

But YAGYavalkya, in his debate with ushhasta in the BU, comes across as
being desirous of victory in debate, which indicates an impure desire
that cannot exist in a mukta. 

Therefore, YAGYavalkya was a perfect brahmaGYAnI but not a jIvanmukta!

But does this not contradict Shankara and Sureshvara who say that
BrahmaGYAna and mukti are identical? So how can we reconcile this
so-called "new view" of Swami Vidyaranya regarding BrahmaGYAna and
jIvanmukti with those of Shankara and Sureshvara? 

According to the Vidyaranya, the "well-known mArga" (i.e. Shankara's)
is the "rAja mArga" (Royal Road):

sAdhanachatushhTaya -> mahAvAkya -> BrahmaGYAna  = vAsanAkshaya 
                                                 = manonAsha
                                                 = mukti

There are several examples of people who travel on this Royal Road,
e.g. shrI rAma who had perfect sAdhanachatushhTaya acquired BrahmaGYAna
with a single instruction ("You are not a man, you are VishhNu"). 

But some souls that haven't acquired perfection in sAdhana chatushhTaya
may still obtain BrahmaGYAna due to their pUrva-puNya (past merits) and
sAdhana. It is these BrahmaGYAnIs that have to strive for vAsanAkshaya
and manonAsha to attain mukti. Swami Vidyaranya gives examples from the
scriptures to prove his point: YAGYavalkya, Janaka, durvAsa, etc. 

So the JMV says essentially that:

"Perfect BrahmaGYAna eventually leads to mukti". 

> I do not think that JMV of Vidyaranya is all that far from Sankara's
> intent 
> (as set out in the commentaries) either.

I must sincerely apologize if I have given the false impression that
I'm trying to show some "deviation from Shankara's teachings by later
advaitins". That would be sacrilegious, and I'm certainly not saying
that JMV is espousing doctrines contradictory to Shankara. 

But terms like "shAstra-vAsana" (attachment to scripture) are to be
found only in the JMV and VC (not in Shankara-BhAshhyas), which is
definitely revealing. Note also HH's commentary on the above VC verse
is close to the JMV in its purport (as HH takes a BrahmaGYAnI to
practise vAsanAkshaya).


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