[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 26 16:43:57 CDT 2003

> >  sureshwava in his vArtika on Br.Up.bhAshya on 1.4.20-21 makes it
>explicitly clear that niyama vidhi should not be treated as an additional
>*injuction* to a brahma jnAni.

Yes, agreed. But let us step back a bit and decouple the injunction from the 
content of what it is that is supposed to be enjoined. Sankara's opponent 
first says Self-knowledge is enjoined and Sankara says no, Self-knowledge 
cannot be enjoined, in principle, because knowledge is different from 
action, and only actions may be enjoined. Then, the opponent says meditation 
on Brahman is enjoined, and Sankara says no, meditation on Brahman is not 
enjoined. The oppoent then says citta vRtti nirodha may be enjoined, and 
Sankara says no, citta vRtti nirodha is not enjoined.

Now, Self-knowledge is not enjoined, but is something that still remains to 
be grasped by him who is ignorant. Meditation on Brahman or on symbols may 
serve as a discipline or as a guide in the process of gaining 
Self-knowledge. Finally, the Self-knowledge obtained from scripture, when 
steadily recollected, ends in citta vRtti nirodha, while the steady 
recollection of Self-knowledge, along with renuncation and dispassion, 
serves to counter the residual effects of prior karma. The characterization 
of this as a niyama vidhi is a very weak one, as Sankara has outright 
rejected the strong interpretation of an apUrva vidhi. Thus, as I read it, 
Sankara is not talking of additional injunctions on the brahmajnAnI, but he 
is recommending a particular course to be followed. It is in that 
perspective that we must view both his comments in BU 1.4.7 and sureSvara's 
comments in the naiShkarmyasiddhi verses that I quoted earlier.

Moreover, as I mentioned in the earlier post, the term samyag-jnAna 
necessarily has a more elastic meaning in Sankara's texts. It refers not 
only to the final realization, but can also refer to the partial glimpse of 
knowledge that needs strengthening.

> >  Yes prabhuji, to perform kartavya, katrutvabhAva lies in dhi shakti, 
>once the ultimate knowledge is gained through shAstra vAkya shravaNa by
>eligible candidate, his katrutva bhava which has locus on dhI or

It is a question of eligibility, is it not? There are many who do not gain 
ultimate knowledge even after SravaNa. Sankara argues so strongly that 
ultimate knowledge can be gained by mere SravaNa because he is refuting the 
views of prior thinkers which held that it is impossible to gain ultimate 
knowledge through mere SravaNa. To this, Sankara replies, no, it is not 
impossible, as there are people who have gained knowledge through a single 
SravaNa. However, he also accounts for the other case, when he allows the 
need for repetition, manana and nididhyAsana, Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati 

>antaHkaraNa will be completely eradicated.  What I am trying to say here
>the *pramAtrutva* or katrutva bhAva in a jnAni is conspicuous by its
>absence.  This is purely subjective experience hence cannot be deduced by
>any logic or inference.  Hence sureshwara says : amum prASnikamuuddiShya
>tarkajvarabhruSAturAH! We assume that a jnAni has katrutva bhAva &
>bhOktrutva bhAva & therefore, though we agree a jnAni is dehAtIta, we tend
>to stipulate some restrictive injuctions if not apUrva vidhi to already
>self-established (svayam siddha) Atma jnAni .  This clearly shows that

I do not think Sankara means this in his commentary on BU 1.4.7. When he 
says, "avaSyaM-bhAvinI-pravRttiH" he is talking of the one who has already 
obtained some jnAna (samyag-jnAna-prAptAv api). As I said before, if there 
is any residual identification with vAk, manas and kAya, even after 
vedAnta-vAkya-janita-jnAna, only then does the niyama vidhi come into 
operation. This identification is not on somebody else's part, but on the 
part of the one who already has the vAkya-janita-jnAna.

> >  I agree with you prabhuji, but one point should be noted here that we
>are not talking about ajnAni-s like me prabhuji, we are talking about
>niyama vidhi-s prescribed to jnAni who has realised his swarUpa through
>shruti vAkya (shruti vAkya janya jnAna).  For that matter, if I am not
>wrong, ajnAni-s have to observe upto some extent even apUrva vidhi also in
>the process of their mental purification. Is it not??  But, whereas, if we
>take the case of a jnAni who knows in *absolute* terms that dehAdhi
>karaNa-s mere notional, how can it be possible even for shrutis to impose

We are not talking of jnAnins who know in absolute terms. No vidhis 
whatsoever applies to them, as they are sadyo-mukta.

We are talking of those for whom there is need for strengthening their 
jnAna. niyama vidhi and parisaMkhyA vidhi apply to these only, and we call 
them jIvan-mukta. That is why there is an entire history of literature in 
post-Sankaran advaita, which talks of residual avidyA or the impressions of 
avidyA with respect to jIvanmukti. No such thing is valid for one who is 

>consciousness alone.  Prabhuji, is it not clear that shruti is teaching us
>the effacement of the idea of one's identity with body after the
>realisation of one's identity with absolute??  It is clear that when we say
>a jnAni has a body with remaining traces of prarabda karma it is nothing
>but only through *ignorance*, since the intrinsic nature of bodylessness
>has already been revealed as soon as enlightenment dawns.

It is not a question of what one says about another. It is a question of 
what one says about oneself. If he is a perfect jnAnI, then he is absolutely 
certain of the intrinsic nature of bodilessness himself and for him, 
Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtAna just is, effortlessly, and there is no more 
bhAvinI-pravRtti of vAk, manas or kAya. If he is not, then all the above 
discussion comes into operation.

> >  prabhuji, problem here is accepting the samAdhi according to 
>chitta vrutti nirOdha & ashtAnga yOga.  This problem gets resolved if it is
>understood within the parameters of vedAntic terminology. As you said
>below, shankara's use of the term samAdhi is not strictly in accordance
>with  patanjali's yOga sUtra.

Yes, but I also point out that Sankara himself agrees that the steady 
recollection of Self-knowledge naturally leads to citta vRtti nirodha. It is 
not as if there is an unbridgeable gulf between patanjali's yoga and 
Sankara's advaita vedAnta.

>Not "the" but "a" valid means.
> >  prabhuji I am not clear about this.  If samAdhi is also one of the 
>means of knowledge, then how many valid means are there??  then how can we
>treat only *shAstra pramANa* as ultimate??

No, no, I am not saying that Sankara accepts samAdhi as an independent 
pramANa, different from SAstra. I am talking of the samAdhi that is taught 
in the vedAnta (vide commentary on sUtra 2.3.39). If this is properly 
understood, all the doubts below should vanish. I have also addressed all of 
them in the article that I sent to you privately.

>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 I am really confused about your contention here.  Kindly
>clarify me the following :

I had in mind Sankara's commentary on gItA 13.24, where dhyAna yoga and 
sAMkhya yoga are alternative means. karma yoga is described as preparatory 

>Does Sankara tell us that the niyama vidhi is not to be taken literally?
> >  But Sureshwara, direct desciple of shankara, a true representative of
>shankara's tradition, says so on Br.Up. Bh. vArtika.  I can send you the
>relevant portion of if you are interested prabhuji.

Yes, I have read this portion of the vArttika (vidher daurbalya siddhyartham 
ato bhAShyakRd uktavA), but there are two different things here. One is the 
mImAMsA notion of injunction, the other is the content of the so-called 
injunction. As I noted earlier, a niyama vidhi is itself a weak kind of 
injunction, and the injunctive purport is rendered weaker by Sankara's 
strong arguments against the apUrva vidhi. So much for vidhi. How about the 
content of what Sankara is willing to see as a niyama vidhi? Namely, the 
Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati of Sankara or the 
anAtma-adarSanena-parAtmAnam-upAsanam of sureSvara ... I will reiterate that 
Sankara has already agreed that Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati is the only means 
to citta vRtti nirodha.

> >  It is clear that shankara was no more a friend of sAnkhya & yOga path
>followers.  In various places of sUtra bhAshya & kArika bhAshya he refutes
>this phil. Moreover the vedantic concept of yoga has been mis-interpreted &
>mistaken for practices advocated by yOga schools.  In addition, as we know

Actually, the vedAntic concept of yoga is not all that far from pAtanjala 
yoga as described in the yogasUtra-s and its bhAShya. If one talks of later 
practices in yoga which claim to hail from patanjali, that is a different 
matter altogether. Also, I would like to point to two places in sUtrabhAShya 
where Sankara quotes patanajali's yogasUtras with approval. One is under 
sUtra 1.3.33, where Sankara quotes patanjali's "svAdhyAyAd iShTa-devatA 
samprayogaH" and another is under sUtra 2.4.12, where he quotes patanjali's 
"pramANa viparyaya vikalpa nidrA smRtayaH".

I have discussed all this in more detail in the article I sent you 
privately. One drawback of writing an academic paper is that much material 
had to be sent to the footnotes, so these have to be read carefully in 
conjunction with the main text.

>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
> >  Not exactly prabhuji as per my understanding.  I have already quoted 
>the meditation & its result differ from shruti vAkya janita jnAna.  Swami

If meditation is on an object or a symbol, yes. What is one to call the 
process of cogitating upon the Sruti vAkya-s in an attempt to understand 
their meaning?

>Dayananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam takes this discusses this issue
>elaborately in Ramana's upadesha saaram talks, Lakshmana sharma's (pen name
>*Who*) Maha Yoga  & also Sri Swamiji of HN Pur in vedanta prakriya & brahma
>vidya rahasya vivruti.
> >  This is my humble presentation prabhuji.  I know my knowledge is very
>limited in advaita vedanta as I am a late starter in this direction.
>Kindly pardon me if I am out of track anywhere. Whatever you say in reply I
>humbly accept it prabhuji since my investigating mind wants rest on this
>issue :-)).

Not at all. There is absolutely no question of me having to pardon you! It 
is actually a delight to have discussed this with you. It is obvious that 
you are studying very seriously, and under advanced teachers. If you have 
more questions, do not hesitate to post them and I will try to answer to the 
best of my ability.

>I have taken the print of your article on Yoga in advaita vedanta.  I am
>discussing this personally with Sri Jayaram Ganapati Shastrigal & have
>written a detailed letter to Sri Chandramouli Avadhani of AP Karyalaya for
>his clarification.

Wonderful. Do let me know what they think of the article as a whole.


Get MSN 8 and enjoy automatic e-mail virus protection.  

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list