[Advaita-l] Bhakti, Bhagavata Purana & Sankara

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jun 26 22:38:43 CDT 2003

On Thu, 26 Jun 2003, Nagarjuna Siddhartha wrote:

> Interesting that you say this. It seems Madhusudhana Saraswati considerd
> bhakti to be a primary way to achieve non-dualistic liberation.

That was bad phrasing on my part.  The Advaita view is that the highest
form of Bhakti is to know ones true Self which is jnana.  But my point was
jnana is the ultimate goal of any spiritual practice, they cannot be split
off into seperate compartments.

> There
> seems to have been a strong influence of the Bhagavata Purana on him.

Interestingly, A commentary on the Bhagavata Purana is also ascribed to
Chitsukhacharya though it has not yet been recovered to my knowledge.

> Sankara also considers bhakti as a primary way, but for him bhakti is a
> completely different term. In vivekachudamani he defines it roughly as
> the sincere quest to know one's true nature(Atman), which makes bhakti
> synonymous with jnana.


> This idea is radically different from the idea of
> bhakti in the Bhagavata Purana which seems to have been adopted by
> Madhusudhana.

I beg to differ.  The Bhagavata Purana also teaches an Advaitic message.
Swami MS also teaches that the highest Bhakti is jnana.

> Also, I know of no place where Sankara quotes the
> Bhagavata Purana in his works.

He has however quoted the Vishnu Purana.

> Again, I remember no place where Sankara
> mentions the names of Siva, Devi or Ganesh in his upanishad
> commentaries. But the name of Vishnu as Ishwara, appears at some places.
> This surprises me because my mother tells me that Sankara was a devotee
> of Devi and an incarnation of Siva. Did Sankara ever claim himself to be
> an incarnation
>  of Siva?

No he didn't.  There is a tradition that Bhagavan Lakshmi-Nrsimha were his
ishtadevatas.  He did however establish sphatika-linga and Shrichakra in
his Mathas and various other places.  And he did also start the practice
of panchayata puja in which all the major Vedic Gods are worshipped.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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