[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 20 16:01:08 CDT 2003

bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com wrote:

> >  But prabhuji, the above sUtras talk about preparation to do upAsana,
>shankara clarifies this in his commentary.  But we are not talking here
>about upasanAdhIna jnAna.

Agreed, but upAsana-s are important as preparatory to the ultimate jnAna, 
otherwise why should Sankara even talk about it? In brahmasUtra bhAShya, he 
says upAsana is dhyAna, which is "samAna pratyaya pravAha". He says the same 
in gItAbhAShya and he is also very explicit in repeatedly calling 
dhyAna-yoga an intrinsic part (antaranga) of the right knowledge. In 
numerous places in gItAbhAShya, he gives more details of yoga than the 
corresponding gItA verses themselves. All this indicates that he gives more 
importance to dhyAna-yoga than modern scholars care to admit.

So, assuming that Sankara wrote an independent text or two, in addition to 
commentaries, why should we presume that he would never have mentioned 
upAsana-s and/or yoga and things relevant to them? We are also assuming that 
for Sankara, knowledge of nirguNa brahman arises "akasmAt", suddenly and 
without preparation. This is not so. All the upAsanAdhIna jnAna is necessary 
in order to develop the qualifications before full realization dawns, or 
else Sankara would not have talked of the sAdhana catuShTaya right at the 
beginning of his brahmasUtra commentary.

>Before we discuss this, let us be very clear about two things. One, NOWHERE
>in patanjali's aShTAnga yoga do you find any mention of nirvikalpa samAdhi,
>NOR do you find it in the yogabhAShya of vyAsa.
> >  But we do have sUtras which says about saMpragnAta or sabIja &
>asaMpragnAta or nirbIja samAdhi.  Is there any difference between nirvikala
>& asaMpragnAta or nirbIja samAdhi prabhuji??  kindly clarify.

It is precisely because we have yogasUtra-s that distinguish between 
samprajnAta and asamprajnAta samAdhi that the absence of any mention of 
nirvikalpa samAdhi in the yogasUtra stands out.

In the yogasUtra, vikalpa is one of the transformations of the mind, the 
other four being pramANa, viparyaya, nidrA and smRti. Also, samprajnAta 
samAdhi is described as being characterized by vicAra, vitarka, Ananda and 
asmitA. The yogasUtra-s do talk of savicAra and nirviAcara, savitarka and 
nirvitarka samApatti (attainment), but not of sAnanda and nirAnanda (which 
would be impossible) samApatti/samAdhi. Of these, the savitarkA and savicAra 
attainments involve vikalpa (mental constructions) of words and their 
meanings, whereas the nirvitarkA and nirvicArA do not. To that extent, I 
think the knowledge of brahman that goes beyond words and their meanings has 
come to be styled nirvikalpa samAdhi, but this term is not used in the 
yogasUtra itself. As for whether there is a difference between nirvikalpa 
samAdhi in the vedAntic texts and nirbIja/asamprajnAta samAdhi in the yoga 
texts, various opinions exist but I am afraid that wanders into too much 
technical detail of yoga, so let's leave that for now. All I can say is that 
when Sankara says (in gItAbhAShya) that samAdhi is the Atman, in which the 
internal organ (antaHkaraNa) is to be kept still (acalA) and devoid of 
mental constructions (vikalpa-varjitA), he comes very very close to what has 
been seen as typically late post-Sankaran. There is hardly any difference 
between saying "vikalpa-varjitA" and saying "nirvikalpA" vis-a-vis samAdhi.

And who knows, perhaps there is a commentary by Sankara on a primary 
upanishad out there, where the word nirvikalpA is waiting to be discovered. 
How would we know without a thorough study of all these texts? In the 
meantime, as mentioned in another post, I suspend judgment on independent 
texts that use the word nirvikalpA in the context of samAdhi.

> >  The adhikaraNa here is *adityAdimatyadikaraNa* purely advocating 
>prabhuji.  Not about ultimate knowledge gained through samAdhi.AsInaH
>saMbhavAt, dhyAnAcca, achalatvaM chApEkshya, smaranti ca etc. are said in
>this context, but not sAdhana part to realise one true self which is

For this, see above.

>self-existant prabhuji. While on the subject, it would be better for us to
>see what shankara says on vasanAkshaya after brahma jnAna in 4-1-13.

Nothing here seems to be inconsistent with the Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtAna 
mentioned in bRhadAraNyaka bhAShya 1.4.7. The Brahman knower continues to 
remain embodied in this life. The teaching of brahmasUtra bhAShya 4.1.13 is 
that one should not mistakenly view the death of the body as liberation, as 
the one who knows Brahman is liberated even when alive. Now, what is it that 
allows this embodiment to continue? It is the fruits of the prArabdha karma, 
and Sankara recommends, in the other commentary, the means to mitigate the 
continued effects of this karma, which might even be stronger than the newly 
acquired knowledge, "The Self is not a doer at all". When Sankara himself is 
willing to say all this, why should we think that he shouldn't have?

>As far as I can make out from comparing yoga and vedAnta texts, the term
>nirvikalpa samAdhi has its origin in the advaita vedAnta tradition, not in
>the independent pAtanjala yoga tradition.
> >  But we cannot hold Sri Shankara responsible for this as his mUla
>siddhAnta says something else.  The *samAdhi* & *sustained effort* to
>maintain jnAna originates from post shankara schools such as bhAmati &
>paNchapAdika vivaraNa schools is it not prabhuji??

As mentioned before, it is hardly a stretch to go from "vikalpa-varjita" to 
"nirvikalpa". Note that gauDapAda had already talked of "manaso hy amanI 
bhAva" and "nirgRhItasya manaso nirvikalpasya dhImataH" just 3-4 verses 
before saying "supraSAntas sakRj jyotis samAdhir acalo 'bhayaH". Indeed, 
Sankara's acalA and vikalpa-varjitA in gItAbhAShya may be a reference to 
gauDapAda's acala and nirvikalpa. So, as you can see, it is not 
post-Sankaran, but pre-Sankaran in origin.

Also, it is wrong to view samAdhi as "sustained effort" to maintain jnAna. 
On the other hand, Sankara himself accepts the need for sustained effort to 
remove ajnAna (gItAbhAShya 18.50). And a lot of what is nowadays seen as 
post-Sankaran comes from pre-Sankaran times, in various forms, from the 
jnAna-karma-samuccaya-vAdin, from the prasaMkhyAna-vAdin and from 
gauDapAda's asparSa-yoga. With respect to the last, who is the one who 
abides in the turIya state? Is it the jnAnin or the ajnAnin? And might not 
the glimpse of the turIya be called samAdhi?

> >  prabhuji, I think we have discussed this when we discussed Br.Up. 
>After the dawn of kEvala jnAna a jnAni's doership /enjoyership
>(katrutva/bhOktrutva) will be completely eradicated since this state is
>sarva pramAtru, pramANAtIta vyavahAra.  This maintenance work will be taken
>care by itself *automatically* without any sustained effort
>(injuction/vidhi) from jnAni.

If this is the case, yes, no injunction is needed. On the other hand, what 
defines the dawn of kevala jnAna? It is not something magical that just 
happens. And I would draw attention to Sankara's own words in the 
commentary, where he allows the possibility of some kind of diluted 
injunction, even after the rise of knowledge (samyag-jnAna-prAptAv api)! 
When he says "avaSyam bhAvinI pravRtti vA^N-manaH-kAyAnAM" he allows for the 
possibility that the feeling of kartRtva and bhoktRtva may not be completely 
eradicated. That is exactly why he rejects the apUrva vidhi but accepts the 
niyama vidhi, while sureSvara accepts it as niyama or parisaMkhyA vidhi.

> >  IMHO, third alternative is more appropriate..but here samAdhi/AtmajnAna
>is not sitting inert & stilling mind (deliberate suppression / oppression

But Sankara himself is characterizing this samAdhi as acalA and vikalpa 
varjita, i.e. still and devoid of thoughts (mental constructions). In the 
commentary on the immediately following verses in gItA, chapter 2, he gives 
more details of what can only be called yoga. He further goes on to say that 
whatever are the characteristics of the perfected sage are themselves taught 
as the means to perfection. Now, if acalA and vikalpa-varjitA samAdhi is 
taught as the means, it follows that according to Sankara, acalA and 
vikalpa-varjitA samadhi is naturally an intrinsic characteristic of the 

>of thought flow), it is his own swarUpa realised by apt student through
>mere shravaNa of shruti vAkyA.

All the above discussion relates to the manana and nididhyAsana that come 
after SravaNa and that are necessary for other students. The guru does not 
withhold SravaNa till the student is judged to be fully apt. Oftentimes, 
initiation into saMnyAsa, which involves SravaNa of the mahAvAkya-s, is done 
beforehand and the jnAna arises later. That is why sureSvara also advises 
yogAbhyAsa after saMnyAsa and before the full knowledge (parijnAna) arises.

>And as far as doctrinal issues are concerned, does VC say anywhere that
>samAdhi is different from maintaining the state of AtmajnAna?
> >  prabhuji, we know, how VC emphasises on the importance of samAdhi &
>AtmajnAna which can be had ONLY in samAdhi.

But the concluding verses of VC indicate that the AtmajnAna continues after 
coming out of the nirvikalpa samAdhi too. It does not say that one has to 
spend the rest of life in a state of inertness.

> >  shankara's teaching is clear here prabhuji, meditation, upAsana etc. 
>prescribed for mandha & madhyama adhikAri-s, shankara makes his stand
>crystal clear in kArikA bhAshya 3-36 & 3-40 prabhuji.

That is indeed the case. But as far as VC is concerned, why do we have to 
assume that what is said there is for the uttama adhikArI? We can take it 
that, no matter who its author is, the text addresses the vast majority of 
seekers who are more likely to be madhyama and manda adhikArins rather than 
uttama ones.

I will discuss further textual questions re: prasthAna trayI commentaries in 
a separate mail in a couple of days.

> >  prabhuji its about VC verse 264 : jnyAte vastunyApi balavatI
>vAsanAdirEShA kartA bhOktApyahamiti ...munayO vAsanAtAnavaM yat...these two

Except for the usage of the word vAsanA, Sankara says something highly 
similar in bRhad commentary 1.4.7, does he not? Compare "jnAte vastuny api" 
to "samyag-jnAna-prAptAv api", "balavatI" to "karmaNo balIyastvAt" and 
"prAptaM jnAna-pravRtti daurbalyam".

>sUtras (1-1-4 & 1-4-1) talk about adhyAtma yOga as in kathOpanishad.  If
>you wish we can take this up separately for the discussion prabhuji. We can
>take up 2-1-3 also while discussing these sutras prabhuji.  If your time

Sure. I am still not sure how this affects a question of whether this or 
that text is Sankara's own writing or not, but inasmuch as they relate to 
yoga, they should be discussed. I might mention here that I have gone over 
much of this material in my chapter on Yoga and Advaita in the recently 
published book "Yoga: The Indian Tradition" (eds. Ian Whicher and David 
Carpenter, Routledge 2003). I can send it to you if you like.

Best regards,

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