[Advaita-l] Kanchi Maha-swamigal's Discourses on Advaita Saadhanaa (KDAS-68)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 22 09:19:28 CDT 2006


For a Table of Contents of these Discourses, see
For the previous post, see

Tamil Original: http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/dk6-125.htm

In the path of jnAna the direct sAdhanA that finally takes you to the
destination is called 'nidhidhyAsanaM'.  It is also considered as belonging
to dhyAna-yoga. When considered like that, it is thought of as continuous
reflection on the tattvaM, without the notions of life, relationship, etc.
But it is not so. It has to be practised only as dhyAna-yoga in which the
bhakti yoga of self-surrender through a relationship with the Universal Life
is imbedded. In Vivekachudamani itself the Acharya has made this explicit in
another place.  He doesn't talk of it as his opinion alone.  He says the
commandment of the Veda itself is this: (Shloka 46/48)
*shraddhA-bhakti-dhyAna-yogAn mumukShoH
mukter-hetUn vakti sAkShAt shruter-gIH /* 

A basic shraddhA, over and above it   a mix of Bhakti yoga and dhyAna-yoga -
which means dhyAna yoga in which the Bhakti attitude is imbedded --  this is
what leads to mukti for a mumukShu. Thus says the Veda itself. *shruteH gIH*
means "the word of the Veda".

"Is that so? Does the Veda itself say that in the path of jnAna there is
also bhakti? Where does it say so?  In Kaivalya Upanishad. It occurs in
Krishna Yajur Veda.  The beginning itself of its teaching says 
meaning, By shraddhA, bhakti and dhyAna-yoga (reach brahman).
It is these words of Upanishad that formed the basis of the Acharya's own

Tamil Original : http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/dk6-126.htm

It is not  only in Vivekachudamani  that the Acharya has talked about Bhakti
as an 'antaranga sAdhanA' of jnAna.  Even in (Brahma-)Sutra-Bhashya he has
said the same thing.  Why did I say "Even in"? Among the various Bhashyas,
expository works and stotras in the name of  the authorship of Acharya,
there are many questions raised about whether it was he who wrote it. Though
people ask such questions of one another, one thing that all of them
unanimously agree about is his authorship of Brahma-Sutra Bhashya. Further,
among all his works on advaita shAstra, it stands at the peak. So whatever
is said there has a high value. 

In Brahma-sUtra, the  means of achieving Brahman-experience is called
*samrAdhanaM* . (III -2-24). The word gives the same meaning as 'ArAdhanaM'
or 'samArAdhanaM'.  The worship through bhakti is called 'ArAdhanA' in
general.  Here, worship through jnAna is called 'samrAdhanaM'. When the
Acharya elaborates on the word in his Bhashya, he says 
*bhakti-dhyAna-praNidhAnAdi anushhTAnaM*. 
*praNidhAnaM* is a word synonymous with  'samAdhi' or 'samAdhAnaM' ; it
means a complete one-pointed unification. Whenever we think of jnAna-sAdhanA
for the purpose of Brahman-experience, we always think, in line with the
Acharya's teachings, that it is a discipline of meditation by making the
antaHkaraNaM totally one-pointed. But the same Acharya here gives priority
to bhakti and then only mentions dhyAna and recommends a praNidhAna
(profound meditation) in both cases and by both means. 

Like ArAdhanA, upAsanA also  generally refers to worship of something with
attributes. Not just 'generally'. In Vedas and Vedanta ShAstras it is so
referred. Instead of Karma-Bhakti - JnAna, the Vedic scholars call it Karma-
UpAsanA - JnAna.  

In Brahma Sutra (IV - 1 - 1) it says, one has to repeatedly recall (mananaM)
the teaching that was learnt - in other words, one has to think about it,
analyse it and confirm it . Here in the original sutra there is no mention
of  upAsanA done with bhakti, or the jnAna-sAdhanA based on the intellect.
It is just a general mention of necessity for mental repetition.  But it is
clear from the organization of the Sutras that go before and after that the
repetition recommended in the context  is for a mumukShu who has formally
obtained the MahAvakya teaching. 

The Acharya has clearly emphasized this point in his commentary.

But when he finishes the commentary on this particular sutra, he himself
takes up the matter of the upAsanA path and demonstrates how the Upanishads
talk about both the process of upAsanA and the process of knowing as the
same without any distinction between them. 

DhyAna is the continuous dwelling mentally on the meaning of something which
has been repeatedly already  analysed (manana) by the mind after hearing it
(shravaNa) as taught; in the same way if a disciple dwells his mind without
break on his guru we call it guru-upAsanA;  if a subject does the same thing
to his Lord the King, we call it upAsanA of the King; a chaste wife does the
same thing to her husband and we call it 'pati (husband) upAsanA'  -- thus
demonstrates the Acharya. Thus he delineates the highest bhAvas among all
bhakti-bhAvas  -- AtmanivedanaM (offering up of one's self), dAsyaM
(servitude), mAdhuryaM (Love) . Only after doing all this, he comes to the
Upanishad matter of knowing and worshipping and says they have been spoken
of as the same and also offers two examples in this context (ChandogyaM
IV-1-4 and IV-2-2 for the first example; ChandogyaM III - 18-1 and III - 18
- 3 for the second example).

Of the two, the first example is a great support to what we have been
talking all along. Instead of keeping the goal as just an abstraction, it
should be figured as a living entity and it should be contemplated on with
love and devotion. Let me tell you what it is.  One hamsa bird, as it flies
along in the sky, tells another hamsa bird about a jnAni named Raikva in a
most complimentary manner: "Whatever every one knows is all subsumed by
what he knows". This shows that he should be a brahma-jnAni.  A King by name
Janashruti, who was relaxing in the balcony of his house heard this
statement of the bird and sets out to find this jnAni. And here comes our
topic. He goes to request that jnAni  to teach him that Knowledge which he
knows. But when he goes there, he does not say: "Please teach me the
Knowledge of Wisdom that you know".  Instead he says: "Please teach me about
the Deity that you worship (do upAsanA)"! in other words,  it is very clear
that what we call Philosophical enquiry, research or contemplation, in
Vedanta tradition  is to be done with the attitude(bhAva) of a worship of a
living mUrti (icon, deity). This is of great significance, since it is
straight from the Upanishads, and our own Acharya has specifically quoted
it, in almost what looks as an out-of-context mention.

The Acharya, though he writes elaborately in his commentaries, usually makes
all that elaboration only to explain what is there in the original; he never
goes about in a roun-about way or take unnecessary digressions. Even Vinobha
has said: "The commentaries that he makes for the sUtras are themselves
crisp like the sutras themselves. *vyartha-vistAr kahIm nahIm karte* (he
nowhere does unnecessary elaborations)". If such is the nature of our
Acharya and here he appears to be drawing something out from a total
out-of-context source, it only means it is of great significance.

At the same time he is a great supporter of Tradition. So probably he
thought it not fit to explicitly mention and elaborate bhakti in  his
advaita shAstras and create confusion in the minds of unknowing people. So
he might have left it for disciples to learn from their respective gurus at
the appropriate time.  However, when it comes to Viveka Chudamani in which
he  condescends to explain as if this is his final upadesha (teaching), in
the manner of *eshha AdeshaH, eshha upadeshaH, etad-anushAsanaM* (This is
the commandment, this is the teaching, this is the order), he talks about
bhakti and mentions it as the most important of  all the accessories to

(To be Continued)
PraNAms to all students of advaita.
PraNAms to the Maha-Swamigal.

Latest on my website is an article on Kanchi Mahaswamigal. Go to 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list