[Advaita-l] Yoga and Advaita Vedanta - 10

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 9 08:22:10 CST 2007

In the last post in this series 
we touched a few salient points from muNDaka upanishat (MU) and its bhAshya 
(MUBh). I had left off at this upanishat's reference to the most eminent of 
those who know brahman (brahma-vidAM varishThaH) -

prANo hy esha yas sarva-bhUtair vibhAti vijAnan.h vidvAn bhavate nAtivAdI |
AtmakrIDa AtmaratiH kriyAvAn eshha brahmavidAM varishThaH || - MU 3.1.4

Let us see what Sankara bhagavatpAda says in the commentary on this verse. 
The knower (vidvAn), one who knows his own Self as the Self of all beings 
(sarva-bhUta-stha), does not speak anything else. For, knowing that all this 
is indeed nothing but the Self (sarvaM ... Atmaiva na anyad asti iti 
dRshTaM), what will he talk of? Only one who sees an object distinct from 
himself will have something to talk about. The knower sees nothing other 
than the Self (na Atmano anyat paSyati), hears nothing else (na anyac 
chRNoti), knows nothing else (na anyad vijAnAti).

Moreover, such a knower delights in only the Self. Sankara bhagavatpAda 
distinguishes between krIDA (play) and ratiH (pleasure) in the sense that 
one plays with something external (krIDA bAhya sAdhana sApekshA), whereas 
one feels pleasure purely internally (ratis tu sAdhana nirapekshA 
bAhya-vishaya-prIti-matram iti). However, the true knower sees no external 
objects, to play with or to derive pleasure from them. Rather, his delight 
is in his own Self.

How does one delight in one's own Self? Through knowledge, meditation, 
dispassion etc. (jnAna-dhyAna-vairAya-Adi). Sankara bhagavatpAda 
specifically says here that the usage of the word "kriyAvAn" should not lead 
to a confusion of combining knowledge and action (jnAna karma samuccaya). 
This is because the upanishad talks only of AtmakrIda and Atmarati (play and 
delight in the Self). As such there is no expectation of any external 
action. Such a knower gives up other words as unnecessary (anyA vAco 
vimuncatha), renounces everything (saMnyAsI) and is absorbed only in 
consolidating the knowledge and contemplation (jnAna-dhyAnAdi-kriyAvAn). He 
is established in brahman (brahmanishTha) and is foremost (varishThaH 
pradhAnaH) among all those who know brahman (sarveshAM brahmavidAm).

We must pay particular attention to the quotation anyA vAco vimuncatha - MU 
2.2.5 (leave aside all other words), for it makes sense only when taken 
together with the teaching in the next verse, Om ity evaM dhyAyatha AtmAnam 
- MU 2.2.6 (meditate on the Self as the praNava). As already seen in earlier 
posts, Sankara bhagavatpAda quotes these together in BSBh and BUBh. We have 
also seen in the earlier discussions of BUBh 1.4.7 and 4.4.21, that Sankara 
bhagavatpAda had talked of tyAga (renunciation) and vairAgya (dispassion) as 
the niyama to be followed by one who has had the vision of the Self, instead 
of giving in to the momentum of prior action. Here, in MUBh, we see that he 
takes the most superior of those who know brahman to be the jnAni who is 
established in brahman (brahmanishTha), one who is absorbed in brahman 
through dhyAna and vairAgya.

In MUBh, the key that holds the entire discussion together is the meditation 
on Om-kAra. Sankara bhagavatpAda refers to this at the beginning of the 
commentary on the third chapter of MU and describes this meditation as 
"yoga". We may also note that meditation on Om is described in bhagavadgItA 
(BG) and its bhAshya (BGBh), mANDUkya upanishad (MaU) and its kArikAs and 
bhAshya, etc.

We will examine the BG and BGBh references in subsequent posts. At this 
juncture, I  will conclude this post with a return to BUBh 4.4.2, where the 
discussion is of the fear arising out of repeated births and deaths. To gain 
independence from this cycle, Sankara bhagavatpAda says, one should practice 
yoga and parisaMkhyA meditation (svAtantryArthaM ... yoga-dharma-anusevanaM 
parisaMkhyA-abhyAsaS ca ... kartavya iti). Note that he teaches 
parisaMkhyAna in the third prose chapter of upadeSasAhasrI, his premier 
independent treatise (prakaraNa grantha).

SrI gurubhyo namaH,

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