[Advaita-l] Yoga and Advaita Vedanta - 3
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 8 19:29:03 CDT 2006
BS 2.1.3 says, "etena yogaH pratyuktaH" - by this, yoga is addressed.
The clear reference here is to the preceding discussion of the sAMkhya
philosophy. According to Sankara bhagavatpAda, from sUtra 1.1.5 (Ikshater
nASabdam) onwards, the thrust of the brahmasUtra is to refute the sAMkhya
a. there exists a completely material, non-conscious, entity called
pradhAna, the original prakRti,
b. there exist many distinct, conscious entities called purusha-s, different
c. the manifestation of the universe is due to the interplay of purusha(s)
As such, the yoga school, exemplified by yogasUtra (YS) and its bhAshya
(YSBh), largely relies on this sAMkhya reasoning. There are a few points on
which yoga takes different positions from sAMkhya, but they are not
immediately relevant to this discussion.
Sankara bhagavatpAda's commentary on BS 2.1.3 is a short passage, but it is
masterly and it is worth the effort to discuss this passage in minute
detail. He begins by noting the above relationship between the sAMkhya and
yoga schools and proceeds to explain why an explicit reiteration with
respect to yoga is necessary when setting out the vedAnta philosophy.
Even though the refutation of various sAMkhya positions can be taken as
automatic refutation of the corresponding issues in yoga also, there is a
need to set apart vedAnta from yoga. This is because doubts can arise from
various references in the upanishad texts themselves. The vedas enjoin yoga
practices only as a means (upAya) to the true vision (samyag-darSana) of the
Self. The SvetASvataropanishat teaches yogavidhAna in detail. Thousands
(sahasraSaH) of other indications (lingAni) pertaining to yoga
(yoga-vishayAni) are seen in the kaThopanishat.
The relevant quotations made in BSBh 2.1.3 in this regard are:
Srotavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyaH - bRhadAraNyaka 2.4.5, 4.5.6.
trirunnataM sthApya samaM SarIram - SvetASvatara 2.8 and following verses
tAM yogam iti manyante sthirAm indriya-dhAraNAm - kaTha 6.11 up to
vidyAm etaM yogavidhiM ca kRtsnam - kaTha 6.18.
tat kAraNaM sAMkhya-yogAbhipannaM jnAtvA devaM mucyate sarvapASaiH -
Thus, we see that Sankara bhagavatpAda acknowledges that kaTha and
SvetASvatara upanishads contain many details of yoga practice. We have
already seen in the earlier discussion of BSBh 1.3.33 that he says
SvetASvatara 2.12 praises yoga. More importantly, we must note that here he
also points to the most well-known triad of SravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana
as being associated with yoga.  He then quotes a yogaSAstra text as
saying "atha tattva-darSanopAyo yogaH". This likes the first sUtra of a text
pertaining to yoga. This yogaSAstra text quoted in BSBh is now most probably
lost , as the pAtanjala YS begins, "atha yogAnuSAsanam".
To sum up, these references in the upanishad texts may lead one to believe
that all of the yoga texts are to be taken as smRti that is not in conflict
with vedAnta. Moreover, although there are many traditional smRti-s
pertaining to AtmavidyA, only sAMkhya and yoga are most prevalent in the
world, followed by learned men and referred to in the Sruti also.
Although these schools agree partly with what is taught in vedAnta (artha
ekadeSa saMpratipatti), they also differ partly from vedAnta (artha ekadeSa
vipratipatti). It is precisely for this reason that so much effort is
expended in BS and BSBh, to address the sAMkhya and yoga schools of thought.
The close relation that sAMkhya and yoga have to upanishadic teachings
should not lead to the mistaken idea that the upanishads teach only sAMkhya
and yoga. Most importantly, these schools are dualistic, holding to two
ultimately opposed realities, a material and non-conscious prakRti
(pradhAna) vis a vis a conscious and non-material purusha. They do not
accept the upanishadic teaching of the ultimate reality of the One Atman.
The same upanishad texts that talk of sAMkhya and yoga also teach nothing
other than the knowledge (vijnAna) of the oneness of the Atman as the means
to the highest good. For example, in SvetASvatara itself, we see "tam eva
viditvA atimRtyum eti nAnyaH panthA vidyate 'yanAya (3.8) - knowing him
alone one goes beyond death, no other path is seen for this." It is in this
key point that we need to understand the words sAMkhya and yoga properly.
What is taught as sAMkhya and yoga in the vedas are in fact the same as
jnAna and dhyAna respectively. Therefore, sAMkhya and yoga, as taught in the
schools of thought known by those names, are accepted only partialy, namely
where they do not conflict with what is taught in the veda - e.g. the
sAMkhya teaching of the alone-ness of the purusha is parallel to
bRhadAraNyaka 4.3.16 "asango hyayaM purushaH" while the yoga teaching of
withdrawal (nivRtti) from the world is parallel to jAbAla 5 "atha parivrAD
vivarNavAsA muNDo 'parigrahaH." Everything else, which conflicts with the
vedic teaching, is rejected.
Sankara bhagavatpAda concludes this passage with an extension of this logic
to all other smRti traditions too. If it is said that the kinds of reasoning
taught in various traditions help (upakurvanti) in gaining the ultimate
knowledge, vedAnta says, well, let them help. Ultimately, Self-knowledge is
rooted only in the statements of the upanishads (vedAnta-vAkya).
 In the next post, we will see that Sankara bhagavatpAda refers to the
same bRhadAraNyaka statement about SravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana, in the
context of samAdhi, elsewhere in BSBh.
 If any reader has seen or heard about a text that has this quotation,
"atha tattva-darSanopAyo yogaH," please let me know. It has so far remained
untraced to an original yoga text.
SrI gurubhyo namaH,
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