[Advaita-l] Re: Pa~nchapAdikAchArya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 26 07:28:48 CDT 2006

>>Especially the undue
>>emphasis on Yoga as a direct means to moksha.

Whatever else may be the philosophical issues created or left unsolved by 
the bhAmatI and vivaraNa lines of thinking, I don't think one can validly 
ascribe the above to either sub-school. Talk of samAdhi and the turIya 
avasthA is ancient, going back at least to bAdarAyaNa and gauDapAda. To my 
knowledge, no one among the major advaita vedAnta teachers and authors who 
lived and wrote between Sankara and say, two centuries ago, talked of yoga 
as a direct and independent means to moksha. Rather, yoga is always 
described as a prerequisite or as an accessory to vedAnta vijnAna. In this, 
they have the support of Sankara himself, who describes yoga practice as 
"jnAna-sahakAri-kAraNa" at numerous places in the gItAbhAshya.

In fact, an undue emphasis on Yoga, with its accompanying notion that a 
nirvikalpa samAdhi experience ratifies the vedAntic truth, goes hand in hand 
with much more modern constructions of vedAnta, from the 19th century 
onwards. It is usually seen in discussions of karma-yoga, bhakti-yoga, 
rAja-yoga and jnAna-yoga as distinct and parallel paths to moksha. This kind 
of thinking owes much more to political influences and the need to respond 
to missionary activity in colonial India, rather than to the advaita 
sampradAya. In this context, the period in which Sri Saccidanandendra 
Saraswati lived is pertinent. He brought a necessary corrective to the trend 
of thinking among educated Indian intellectuals of the times.

However, I cannot help but think that sampradAya has become an unwitting 
puppet in the entire process. All sides of these 19th-20th century 
developments criticize and dismiss some of the traditional authors and quote 
other traditional authors, as and when it suits their purposes. It continues 
to date, with followers of every new saint describing their chosen saint, 
including even Rajneesh (Osho), as an advaita vedAntin. All of this achieves 
nothing more than lending an aura of acceptability in the minds of urban 
educated professionals, but also threatens to destroy the wide variety of 
the traditional categories of Hindu religion and spirituality.


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