[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Thu Aug 21 07:41:20 CDT 2003

praNAm Sri Vidya Shankar prabhuji
Hare Krishna

>  At the outset, kindly pardon me for the delay in response.  Due to virus
attack, in my office complete network was down for three days.  Even now
problem is not fixed completely.  I am sending this mail from my
colleague's desk.

>  Now coming back to the discussion, prabhuji, kindly accept my humble
prostrations for your indefatigable effort in clearing my mundane doubts.
The comprehensive reply from you helped me enormously in resolving some
typical issues involved in adv.ved.  But at the same time, the references
quoted by you forced me to intensify my studies towards understanding
shankara's core teaching (mUla siddhAnta) strictly in accordance with his
prasthAna trayi bhAshya. With your kind permission, I am continuing this
discussion to get the further clarity on some of the issues, on which I am
afraid my understanding may be flawed. My reply marked in '>' :

Yes, these should not be taken as "original injunctions" or apUrva vidhi in
the technical terms of mImAMsA.

>  Yes, prabhuji, shankara's main intention here was to refute the pUrva
mimAMsaka's view on karma pradhAna vEda portion.

Nevertheless, Sankara is the first to tell us that these are niyama vidhis
or restrictive injunctions. In bRhadAraNyaka commentary 1.4.7, he quotes
vijnAya prajnAM kurvIta (BU 4.4.21-22) and in the commentary on that
sentence, he says, after obtaining vijnAna, "prajnA kAraNa sAdhanAni
saMnyAsa Sama dama uparati titikShA samAdhAnAni kartavyAni". Note that the
word samAdhAna is a noun form that is very close in derivation and meaning
to samAdhi. Note also that in the same context, Sankara interprets the
upanishad word "pravrajanti" (simple present tense, plural) as
(injunctive mood) and also explicitly calls it a vidhi. In one place in the
brahmasUtra commentary, he quotes "tajjalAn iti SAnta upAsIta" and takes it
not as an injunction to do upAsana, but as an injunction to develop Sama or
SAnti (Sama-vidhi vivakShayA ... uktam).

>  Here it should be observed that shankara's intention here was to refute
the apUrva vidhi as propogated by pUrva mimAMsaka-s.  In this process he
might have introduced the new term called niyama vidhi (restrictive
injuction).  Shankara's goal here was to weaken the arguments built around
pUrva mimAMsaka's upholding theory of apUrva vidhi.  Hence niyama vidhi
should not be taken as an *injuction* per se since this injuction does not
feth us any unseen fruits of karma (adruShta phala).  This is what exactly
surEShwara tells us in his vArtika on Br.Bh.  He takes this sentence
(vijnAya prajnAM kurvIta) exclusively for discussion to bring within the
frame of shankara's mUla siddhAnta.  I will take up this in detail in
subsequent paras.

One may also look at taittirIya commentary, where yoga, the Atman of the
vijnAnamaya koSa, is defined by Sankara as "yogo yuktis samAdhAnam".

>  prabhuji it would be appropriate for us to look at shankara's bhAshya
before this in which he says *dhE* shakti is the katru (Atma chaitanya rUpA
dhE kartryAtma na dhruvatvataH)  here it is said that dhE shakti
encompassed in Atma chaitanya is kartru since Atman is dhruva (avikAri). In
this light we can take the next bhAShya portion that you have quoted
:yOgOyuktiH samAdhAnamAtmA syAttadupASrayAt! SraddhAdInI yathOktArth
pratipatti kshamANi cha!!  if you see surEshwara vArtika on this upanishad
bhAshya, he says yOga=Atman.

In brahmasUtra commentary, 2.3.39, he tells us that presuming the sAdhaka's
sense of oneself as a doer, samAdhi is taught as the means to know the real
Self, and quotes chAndogya sentence, "sa anveShTavyas sa vijijnAsitavyaH"
along with muNDaka and bRhadAraNyaka quotations. In the relevant commentary
on chAndogya upanishad itself, he says, "anveShTavya vijijnAsitavya iti ca
niyama vidhir eva." Again, as one can see, he does have room for
injunctions, specifically the niyama variety.

> samAdhya bhavAchha,  as we very well know, jIva is only notional, if the
jIva concept itself avidyAkrutam where is the question of his sAdhanA-s
prabhuji.  Here jIva has been accepted as kartru just to complete the
formalities in karma vidhi is it not prabhuji??  It is highly impossible
for us even at any stretch of imagination shankara endorsing that samAdhi
is the valid means to realise our true nature since it is self-established.

Taking the above references into consideration, what exactly is Sankara's
mUla siddhAnta? It is that the vedAnta does contain restrictive injunctions
(niyama vidhi-s) in the context of Self-knowledge. This is at a pedantic
level of interpreting scripture. Practically speaking, what does this mean?
The one who seeks to know has to work on the sAdhana-s. Sankara says as
much, explicitly, in taittirIya commentary (samAdhAna lakShaNaM ... tapas
sAdhanam anuShTheyaM) and in gItA commentary 18.50, where he says yatna
(effort) is necessary not to reveal the light of Atman, but to remove the
superimposition of anAtman through avidyA. It is quite clear that in
Sankara's mind, this effort is dhyAna yoga, for in numerous places in the
gItA commentary, he says that dhyAna yoga is an integral part (antaranga)
the right vision (samyag-darSana), while those who maintain the right
(samyag-darSana-niShThA) are immediately liberated (sadyomuktAH).
yoga, dhyAna, samAdhi and the niShThA of jnAna precede sadyomukti.

>  Again prabhuji, what is dhyAna & what is yOga according to shankara?? He
himself clears this in commentary to 18-51 to 53: dhyAnam Atma swarUpa
chiNtanaM, yOgaH Atma viShaye Eva EkAgrikaraNaM.  But obviously, it is not
patanjalis ashtANga yOga & dhyAna coz. shankara further clarifies this tau
dhyAna yOgou paratvEna kartayvaU yasya saH dhyAnayOgaparaH! nityam!
nityagrahaNaM maNtra japAdyanya kartavya abhAva pradarShanArthaM!
vairAgyam virAgbhAvaH druShtAdruShtEShu viShayEShu vaitruShNyAm
samupASritaH samyak upASritaH nityaM Eva  ityarthaH!!  it is self
explanatory prabhuji, shankara's mind was not in patanjali's yOga sUtra
zone. (for the sake of brevity, I've not translated the sanskrit commentary
prabhuji, hope you bear with me).

For him who has this remembrance automatically, no restrictions really
apply. However, the discussion in bRhadAraNyaka bhAShya 1.4.7 is primarily
for those who have a strong tendency towards further action (karmaNo
balIyastvAt) and for whom the newly acquired tendency towards knowledge is
weaker (prApta jnAna-pravRtti daurbalya), even after the rise of right
knowledge (samyag-jnAna prAptAv api). Now, either Sankara is contradicting
himself with respect to samyag-jnAna, or we have to conclude that this is
meant not for the perfect brahmajnAnI, but for those of manda-madhyama
qualifications. Nevertheless, Sankara allows that samyag jnAna may have
already arisen, and then a niyama vidhi comes into operation. For such a
person, it is necessary to specify a process (niyantavyA bhavati) in which
the constant remembrance of Self-knowledge (Atma vijnAna smRti saMtati) is
emphasized. I submit that this is exactly what comes to be called
vAsanAkShaya in other texts.

>  prabhuji, in addition to what has been already explained above in this
context, it is also necessary to note that on the face of it it appears
that shankara endorsing niyama vidhi (restrictive injuction) after the dawn
of samyak jnAna, BUT through this niyama vidhi a jnAni will not get any
adventitious new knowledge ( na tva pUrva kartavyA prAptatvAt - tasmAt
prApta vijnAna smruti saNtAna niyama vidyarthAni) Though niyama vidhi
prescribed as said earlier, it should not be taken literally.  Moreover, in
sUtra bhAshya (4-1-15) shankara says Absolute knowledge will eradicate all
the traces of mithyAjnAna as well as karma.  In upadEsha sAhasri-poem
(padya) (4-4) it is said there is no *direct effect* on jnAnis from Arabda
karma.  Further, prabhuji, if we see the dawn of samyak jnAna & after that
niyama vidhi etc. are also in the realm of avidyA is it not??  GK & sUtra
bhAshya says sarva pramANa pramEya vyavahAra is avidyAkruta, so, we can
easily say that this samyaK jnAna does not bring any changes in jnAnanishta
& insist him to maintain that from the strokes of prarabda karma is it
not?? this is what shankara clarifies in sUtra bhAshya (1-4-10) by saying
viparIta pratyaya utpadyatE .......EtEna samyakjnanAnantaram Eva
SarIrapAtAbhAvaH etc. etc.  So, we can not claim niyama vidhi has the
potent existence & asking jnAnanishta to observe it in the real sense.

I would also like to point out that earlier in the same commentary passage
that Sankara has already anticipated that this is the same as citta vRtti
nirodha. For, just two or three paragraphs before the conclusion, he says
"ananya sAdhanatvAc ca nirodhasya. na hy Atma vijnAna tat smRty saMtAna
vyatirekeNa citta vRtti nirodhasya sAdhanam asti".

>  But in continuation he concludes that abyupagamyEdamuktaM! * na tu
brahma vijnAnavyatirEkENa anyanmOkSha sAdhanaM avagamyatE!!*  what is your
opinion on it prabhuji??

What does all this mean? Firstly, note that one cannot recollect or
what one does not already know. It is only the known entity that can be
remembered. Therefore, the true Self has to be already known, before it can
be recollected. The steady recollection of Self-knowledge is acknowledged
be the only means to achieve the Yogic goal of citta vRtti nirodha. The
steady recollection of Self-knowledge is taken as a niyama vidhi, a
restrictive injunction, AFTER the rise of samyag jnAna. And all of this
comes from the bRhadAraNyaka commentary, a primary and important text that
defines Sankara's thought.

>  Yes, I agree with you prabhuji. the problem lies here is our
understanding of *niyama vidhi* at its face value.  Hope shankara clarified
this in Br.Up. Bha.1-4-10 & Br.Su Bh.4-1-15.

Either we have to revisit our view of what exactly is Sankara's mUla
siddhAnta or we have to wonder if Sankara is contradicting himself, or else
we have to wonder if the author of bRhadAraNyaka commentary is different
from the author of brahmasUtra commentary. I opt for the first alternative,
because as far as I can see, there is no contradiction between these two
texts. The contradiction lies in our own notions of what exactly is
Sankara's basic teaching and what lies outside of it.

>  From the above it is clear that shankara atleast in the above two texts
(br.up. & BSB) not contradicting himself though some minor discrepancy
accounted in this regard.  But it hardly do any harm to his mUla siddhAnta.
In this context we can see shankara's BSB 4-1-2 also wherein he clearly
says repeated resort to hearing, pondering & sustained meditation would
indeed be *USELESS* in the case of the person who gained immediate
realisation of the fact that his true self was the *absolute* merely from
hearing the text - *that thou art* spoken once.  But it is appropriate in
the case of the person who cannot do so.  Tell me prabhuji, where is
shankara here advocating sustained effort or niyama vidhi to a jnAni after
samyak jnAna?

In this context, see sureSvara's naishkarmyasiddhi verse 1.88, which says,
"niyamaH parisaMkhyA vA vidhy artho 'pi bhaved yataH anAtmA-adarSanenaiva
parAtmAnam upAsmahe." - "Whether seen as a niyama injunction or a
parisaMkhyA injunction, we worship the highest Self only by not seeing the

>  prabhuji I humbly request you to see the same text 1-67 & sambandhOkti
to this verse where surEshwara clearly refutes both pakshas.
Interestingly, he has clearly sidelined the wrong interpretation of
*vijnAya pragnAm kurvIta*. He says : asya pakshadvayasya nivrutayE idam

As far as vidhis are concerned, see also verse 3.126 in naiShkarmyasiddhi,
where sureSvara says, "tvam arthasya avabodhAya vidhir apy ASrito yataH".
The injunction referred to here is exactly what Sankara refers as relating
to Sama and pravrajyA in brahmasUtra and bRhadAraNyaka commentaries. How
does one develop Sama and the other qualities without practising yoga?
sureSvara himself recognizes this. That is why, in naishkarmyasiddhi 1.52,
he says yogAbhyAsa should be done after renunciation
(sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana saMnyAsas, tato yogAbhyAsas, tataS cittasya
pratyak-pravaNatA, tatas tattvamasyAdi vAkyArtha parijnAnam ...).
Note that in the traditional setting, the moment of taking up saMnyAsa is
the moment
of SravaNa of the upanishad mahAvAkya-s. So, even sureSvara, Sankara's
direct disciple, recognizes the value of yoga practice (yukti/samAdhAna in
taittirIya commentary, AtmavijnAna smRti saMtAna in bRhadAraNyaka
commentary, which is the only means to stilling the mind, citta vRtti
nirodha, as explicitly mentioned by Sankara himself) AFTER taking up
saMnyAsa, which traditionally involves the SravaNa of tattvamasi from the
mouth of the guru. And he puts this yogAbhyAsa before the full meaning
(parijnAna) of the sentence tattvamasi manifests itself.

>  yes prabhuji, after yogAbhyAsa there is *tattvamasyAdi vAkyArtha
parijnAnam* is it not??  I hope there is no problem in accepting yOga
sAdhana towards *chitta shuddhi* but it is not an end itself.  In this
context it would be necessary to see Br. up. (1-3-9) it says about the
limitation of upAsana : meditation (upAsana) means, approaching the deity
mentally in the form in which it is described in the explanatory texts of
the veda which present deities as objects of meditation.  It implies
meditation on the deity in that form to the exclusion of all worldly
thoughts until there arises a conviction of one's identity with the true
form of that deity which is as powerful as one's previous conviction of
identity with one's body in worldly experience.  It is quite evident here
that shruti saying meditation & results obtained from that is *purusha

>  Yes, I do agree with you prabhuji, dhyAna yOga sAdhana is required for
manda & madhyama adhikari-s & is required for chitta shuddhi.  There ends
its role.  There we cannot drag this further & assume that it gives us
ultimate knowledge in samAdhi.  After all we know that meditation/upAsana
is mental action & obviously dependent on the efforts of a person who is
acting towards this endeavour  & it is on par with ritualistic action, can
only be known about through the vidhi portion of the veda.  But knowledge
properly so called is the result of the application of a means of valid
cognition.  It is desribed as a chitta vrutti that orginates in true
correspondence with the thing known.  Hence, meditation on the absolute is
some kind of action & depends on the factors and results of action, all of
which are no need to mention is mere false superimposition.  But paramArtha
jnAna can be explained as an intuitive knowledge in which all socalled
superimposition will get eradicated.

>  Finally I'd like to quote here what swamiji says on meditation &
intuitive knowledge :


Meditation is dwelling on something mentally though mental, it depends on
human will and can either be done or not done or done in a different way.
Knowledge on the other hand, is the result of the application of a means of
valid cognition and bears on the true nature of & already existent object.
Knowledge therefore, does not fall within the province of what can be done,
not done or done differently.  It is conditioned neither by a command nor
by the human will but by the nature of an already existent entity.  Thus
even when knowledge is mental, there is a very great difference between
absolute knowledge & a deliberate mental act like meditation & upAsana.


>  prabhuji, this is what I understood from my studies & personal
association with direct desciples swamiji.  Kindly correct me if my
understanding is anywhere contradicting to shankara's mUla siddhAnta.

>  Humble praNAms onceagain
>  Your humble servant
>  Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!
>  bhaskar

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