[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 22 14:24:47 CDT 2003

> >  At the outset, kindly pardon me for the delay in response.  Due to 
>attack, in my office complete network was down for three days.  Even now

Yes, there have been severe virus attacks here too, so I'm taking my time 
answering emails.

> >  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

niyama vidhi and sureSvara's reference to parisaMkhyA vidhi are not new 
terms introduced by the advaita vedAntins. They are recognized categories of 
vidhi within pUrva mImAMsA itself. Briefly, if there are multiple ways of 
doing a particular thing, the niyama vidhi specifies the subset of ways in 
which the said thing may be done. Thus, the niyama vidhi restricts the 
possibilities and is therefore translated as "restrictive injunction". The 
parisaMkhyA vidhi lists the ways out of the many possible ways, in which the 
said thing may NOT be done. Therefore, it is an "excluding injunction".

>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

It is precisely as Sankara and sureSvara say. AtmetyevopAsIta and vijnAya 
prajnAM kurvIta are not original injunctions (apUrva vidhi), but they are 
restrictive injunctions (niyama vidhi) or excluding injunctions (parisaMkhyA 

>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.

All this is well and good, but the only thing I am pointing out is that yoga 
is samAdhAna in TU commentary, and samAdhAna is something that needs to be 
done (kartavya) in BU commentary. Obviously, this presumes kartRtva which is 
dependent on dhI or buddhi or antaHkaraNa.

> > 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

The only problem is, the jIva doesn't realize that the very jIvatva is 
notional, till jnAna dawns. We can talk around jIva and avidyA a whole lot, 
but all of us, including you and I, take ourselves to be kartA-s (doers of 
actions) and bhoktA-s (enjoying or suffering the fruits of our actions), 
right? The teaching of samAdhi in vedAnta (samAdhir upadiShTo vedAnteshu as 
Sankara says) is for such people. In my reading, Sankara takes a very 
practical approach to the whole question of samAdhi, which gets lost in all 
the academic analyses of advaita vedAnta.

>prabhuji.  Here jIva has been accepted as kartru just to complete the
>formalities in karma vidhi is it not prabhuji??  It is highly impossible

Also to complete the niyama vidhis relating to jnAna. In the very next 
sUtra, yathA ca takShobhayathA, Sankara clarifies this. It is not the 
purpose of the teaching (SAstra) to teach that the jIva is a doer. On the 
other hand, given that the jIva presumes itself to be a doer (kartA), SAstra 
teaches the jIva how to realize that is in fact not a doer. Part of this 
teaching includes that of samAdhi.

>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.

Not "the" but "a" valid means. This goes back to the basic question in 
vedAnta. The nature of the Self being self-established, the entire system of 
vedAnta may itself be unnecessary. Nevertheless, the ignorance of the nature 
of the Self has to be removed. And as I see it, Sankara does endorse samAdhi 
as one of the ways in which to remove this ignorance. He is also very 
detailed and specific in his descriptions of what is involved in this 
samAdhi. Of course, it may not be exactly the same as pAtanjala yoga, but it 
is nevertheless very close.

> >  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

Does Sankara tell us that the niyama vidhi is not to be taken literally? No. 
He concludes with this statement and lets it go. What he means is that 
sentences like prajnAM kurvIta are not to be taken literally as apUrva 
vidhi-s, but he himself tells us that these are niyama vidhi-s. I don't see 
why there should be any more second-guessing on our part about this.

>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

There is an effect on vAk, manas and kAya, as described in BU commentary. 
There is no direct effect on the jnAnI who does not at all identify with 
these. On the other hand, if there is some person who does continue to 
identify with these even after SravaNa, then there is an effect on that 
person and it is to that person and those like him that the niyama vidhi is 

>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 is the object of the verb form, abhyupagamya? It is that Atma vijnAna 
tat smRti saMtAna (remembrance of Self-knowledge) is the only means (ananya 
sAdhana) to citta vRtti nirodha (cessation of mental transformations). The 
thrust of this argument is that citta vRtti nirodha is not enjoined, but 
Sankara accepts that having gained Self-knowledge, its steady recollection 
results in citta vRtti nirodha. Before we jump at the statement that citta 
vRtti nirodha is not enjoined, we have to remember that even Self-knowledge 
is not enjoined. Nevertheless, Self-knowledge is something to be gained. The 
Self-knowledge itself is something that is obtained from the upanishads, but 
once this is obtained, it leads to citta vRtti nirodha.

There are two aspects to Sankara's thought-process here. One is the 
rejection of mImAMsA principle of apUrva vidhi with respect to AtmavidyA. 
The other is the relationship of the goal of yoga to AtmavidyA. He strongly 
rejects the mImAMsA principle of apUrva vidhi. However, he accepts that 
citta vRtti nirodha, the goal of yoga, is closely related to AtmavidyA, so 
much so that the recollection of Self-knowledge itself automatically results 
in citta vRtti nirodha.

> >  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.

As I see it, there is no option but to take Sankara's interpretation of the 
niyama vidhi at its face value. Granted it is a weak injunction, as compared 
to the strong injunction of the apUrva variety. Nevertheless, a niyama vidhi 
is accepted by Sankara. Even if one is uncomfortable with calling it a 
vidhi, we still have to pay attention to what the content of this niyama 
vidhi is, namely AtmavijnAna smRti saMtAna, which admittedly is the ONLY 
means to citta vRtti nirodha.

> >  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.

If we do not second-guess Sankara, then even the feeling of the minor 
discrepancy disappears. I don't think Sankara thought in terms of "this much 
is my mUla siddhAnta, I will accept other things that hardly do harm to it, 
although they may be minorly discrepant." I rather think Sankara thought of 
his siddhAnta as a whole, that is entirely internally consistent. And within 
this whole, there is a place for jnAna-niShThA and for niyama vidhis and for 

>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?

Again and again we come back to two things - samyagjnAna and the person who 
realizes. We are not talking of the one who realizes even from hearing 
tattvamasi spoken once. We are talking of the others. Given what Sankara 
says in BU commentary 1.4.7, it can only mean that he is prepared to accept 
that these others have achieved samyag-jnAna although they still need the 
niyama vidhi. The problem vanishes if we give a more elastic meaning to the 
term samyag-jnAna as used by Sankara. It need not refer to the knowledge of 
the privileged few for whom a single SravaNa suffices. samyag-jnAna can also 
refer to the knowledge obtained by the vast majority of people who need to 
go through the process of further perfecting it.

>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

The two anya pakSha-s being refuted are 1. the brahma-Atma identity is one 
of bhAvanA, a feeling, induced by meditation on brahman, and 2. meditation 
results in a new kind of knowledge that is different from the meaning of the 
vedAnta vAkya (a-vAkyArtha-AtmakaM vijnAnam). On the other hand, what 
Sankara and sureSvara are saying is that the knowledge gained after 
meditating on tattvamasi is the same as the knowledge contained in the 
statement tattvamasi. This does not mean that meditation is unnecessary. In 
fact, for the vast majority, the full knowledge reveals itself only after 
the meditation. Which is why sureSvara says, "saMnyAsas tato yogAbhyAsas, 
... tatas tattvamasyAdi vAkyArtha parijnAnam." It is still the same jnAna of 
the vAkyArtha, not something else altogether. Nevertheless, the yogAbhyAsa 
is an acknowledged step after saMnyAsa. And may I reiterate, it has always 
been the case that SravaNa of the mahAvAkya is a necessary part of taking 
saMnyAsa, except in the case of those who renounce without a guru.

>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

The point I am making is that even in sureSvara's scheme, the yogAbhyAsa 
comes after saMnyAsa, i.e. SravaNa. And yes, nobody claims that it is an end 
to itself, but Sankara accepts (abhyupagamya idam) that the goal of yoga, 
namely citta vRtti nirodha, is the natural end of Self-knowledge and its 

> >  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

Well, even hearing and understanding the meaning of tat tvam asi are mental 
actions, are they not? They involve the sense organ of the ear, and the 
internal organ which grasps meaning. So long as this remains as relational 
knowledge, it is also mental action and dependent upon the will of the 

And we must distinguish between meditating on an object and meditating on 
the Self. As sureSvara says, anAtmA-adarSanenaiva parAtmAnam upAsmahe. The 
meditation on the Self is the same as not seeing anything that is not-Self. 
If one thinks, "I must still the mind by force, thereby I will see the Self" 
that is wrong. Practices to still the mind will not necessarily reveal the 
Self taught in vedAnta. And this is not taught in any of the prakaraNa 
granthas either. On the other hand, if one gains some knowledge from the 
vedAnta and then steadily recollects Self-knowledge, the mind will get 
automatically stilled. That is what Sankara is saying in BU commentary 

Best regards,

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