doubt on the role of shruti vAkyAs ( was Re: [Advaita-l] advaita and vedas)

Amuthan aparyap at
Wed May 10 13:59:13 CDT 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear list members,

--- Aditya Varun Chadha <> wrote:
> For example, I think Sankara would say that a person
> cannot attain
> jIvanmuktI unless in the final stage he does not
> hear Sruti vAkya ... 
> ... but I think that would be
> stretching what Sankara
> might hold.

this is one of the areas that has been troubling me
often in the recent past. to set the background, let
us first compare the teachings of bhagavatpAda and
ramaNa maharShi. both bhagavatpAda and ramaNa maharShi
agree on the fact that liberation can be achieved only
by Atma j~nAna. both agree that a guru is necessary
for gaining Atma j~nAna. both agree that Atma j~nAna
is essentially a modification of the intellect (=
akhaNDAkAra vRtti) of the form 'ahaM brahmAsmi'. both
agree that a steady recollection of Atma j~nAna or
equivalently a firm abidance in Atma j~nAna destroys
all vAsanAs and leads to (permanent) chitta vRtti
nirodha, which *in the present context* is the same as
mano nAsha and mukti. 

thus, it seems as if there is a complete identity
between the teachings of bhagavatpAda and ramaNa
mahaRShi. but they (apparently) diverge on the means
by which Atma j~nAna is attained. according to
bhagavatpAda, Atma j~nAna can arise *only* because of
vedAnta shravaNa from a guru who is both a shrotriya
and a brahmaniShTha whereas according to ramaNa
maharShi, a constant enquiry into the source of the
ego leads to the manifestation of an ahaM sphuraNa
which is the same as akhaNDAkAra vRtti or Atma j~nAna.
from whatever ramaNa maharShi has taught, it seems
clear that the rise of the ahaM sphuraNa is not
necessarily contingent upon hearing shruti vAkyAs
though it is necessarily due to the 'grace' of a guru
(read AtmA).
while there is no doubt that mahavAkya shravaNa can
lead to Atma j~nAna, is it the only way? bhagavatpAda
would say yes and ramaNa maharShi would say no. 

one possible way to reconcile the difference is to
understand a guru's upadesha as being equivalent to
shruti vAkyAs. but anyone who has read bhagavatpAda's
works will immediately say that this is not exactly
the case. 

i don't see any other way of reconciling this apparent
difference of opinion between bhagavatpAda and ramaNa
maharShi. hence, i humbly request the learned members
of the list to clarify this issue. 

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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