[Advaita-l] SSS: Anantanand Rambachans Study

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Wed May 9 16:29:45 CDT 2007

My first attempt at posting this does not seem to have made it.
Apologies if this post ends up being a duplicate.

> Kathirasan wrote:
> >The reason why modern scholars attributed the anubhava to a mystical
> experience could be due to a
> >subsequent development that took place after Vacaspati Mishra's
> Bhamati (9th century CE). In the
> >Bhamati one would find probably the first time in the Vedanta
> tradition the equation of 'anubhava' to
> >Patanjali Yoga's Samadhi. Subsequent authors who used the Bhamati as
> an authority could have
> I beg to differ. There are numerous places within the brahmasUtra and
> its bhAshya and also in the gItAbhAshya, where the word samAdhi
> directly means Atman, especially where Atman is described as pure
> consciousness (cit / bodha / anubhava). The words nirvikalpa and
> nirvikalpaka are also used to describe brahman and/or Atman, both by
> gauDapAda and by Sankara (same two bhAshya-s quoted above).
> Not having particularly studied the bhAmatI, I am not sure whether
> vAcaspati miSra does bring the discussion of anubhava in vedAnta close
> to pAtanjala yoga, but I can say this much - vAcaspati miSra was a
> prodigious scholar, who wrote on a wide variety of philosophical
> subjects, including nyAya-vaiSeshika, sAMkhya, yoga, mImAMsA and
> vedAnta. His works in each genre have been considered masterpieces and
> I have read numerous scholarly articles that reiterate that vAcaspati
> was particularly adept at keeping each of his works true to its
> particular philosophical system. In other words, he is a naiyyAyika
> when he writes about nyAya, a mImAMsaka when he writes about mImAMsA,
> and so on. As such, I find it extremely hard to believe that he would
> have conflated anubhava in Sankara's bhAshya with samAdhi in dualistic
> yoga. I also find it a tad too convenient, to hold vAcaspati miSra or
> padmapAda responsible for whatever seems to not fit with one's own
> reconstruction of Sankaran advaita vedAnta.
> I think what is happening is the following - 
> Those who have been steeped in the advaita vedAnta tradition, whether
> from the 8th century or the 20th century, find no problem with using
> terms like yoga, dhyAna and samAdhi, when they talk or write about
> vedAnta. There is obviously some overlap with pAtanjala yoga, but the
> points of departure from yoga are very clear in their writings. The
> very word yoga is used heavily, with a range of meanings, along with
> technical terms that are closely associated with yoga thought. Sankara
> bhagavatpAda himself says that yogins see brahman through bhakti,
> dhyAna and praNidhAna (under brahmasUtra 3.2.24 - api samrAdhane ...),
> while sureSvarAcArya talks about the need for yoga-abhyAsa after
> saMnyAsa and salutes Sankara as a yogin (yaS Sankaro 'vApa yogAt -
> naishkarmyasiddhi).
> Those who came to the advaita vedAnta tradition from the perspective
> of what is today called neo-Vedanta (e.g. Swami Vivekananda,
> Paramahamsa Yogananda etc) also find no problem with these terms, but
> they attach a different meaning to it. More particularly, they hold
> that the truth taught in Sruti needs verification through an
> experience of samAdhi.
> The difference between the above two groups is mainly one of their
> attitude towards Sruti and how they factor it into their philosophies.
> Members of the first group truly uphold that Sruti is svataH-pramANa,
> while members of the second group either assume that the prAmANya of
> Sruti gets bolstered by the yogic experience, or they subordinate
> Sruti to the yogic experience.
> A third group of people, who always look for support from Sankara's
> bhAshyas for every issue, over-react whenever they see the words
> yoga/dhyAna/samAdhi, and ignore or tend to "explain away" what Sankara
> himself says about it. Moreover, they uncritically conflate the above
> two groups of people. In their anxiety to save Sruti prAmANya from the
> neo-vedAntic construction of the verificatory nature of nirvikalpa
> samAdhi and in their attempt to purge advaita vedAnta of developments
> from the post-Sankaran vivaraNa and bhAmatI sub-schools, they assume
> that both the traditional vedAntin and the neo vedAntin thinks of yoga
> and vedAnta in the same way. The actual situation is far different.
> For whatever it is worth, I had tried to highlight several significant
> quotations about yoga, samAdhi etc. from Sankara's bhAshyas in the
> Yoga and Advaita Vedanta series that I posted a few months ago (Sep 06
> onwards). 
> >interpreted anubhava from this angle and developed further. This
> could have also given rise to the
> >Nirvikalpa and Savikalpa Samadhi teachings in Vedanta. So what is
> termed as modern interpretation
> >may not be that modern after all. In fact, the views of Sri Abhinava
> Vidya Teertha can be said to be
> >modern when compared with the Anubhava that Anantanand explains in
> this book with the necessary
> >support from Shankara's bhashyas. 
> I assume you are referring to such publications as "Yoga,
> enlightenment and perfection", containing accounts of the dialogues
> with a disciple of this Sringeri Acharya. I think you are ignoring the
> cautionary statement that Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha made, namely that
> ultimately nirvikalpa samAdhi is merely one yogic experience and that
> one should not mistake it for what vedAnta describes as being
> established in brahman. This is no doubt easy to miss, among the
> numerous pages describing the various yogic visions experienced by the
> Acharya, but it is extremely significant. His teaching is in no way
> "modern" as understood in this context.
> With all due respect to Anantanand Rambachan (and for the record, I
> like his book very much), the difference between one who does an
> academic study of Sankara's works and one who lives and breathes
> advaita vedAnta is the following. The former thinks that Sankara was
> like a university professor of philosophy and thinks that both the
> traditional and neo vedAntins have deviated from Sankara. The latter
> uses yoga as an upAya, in line with what Sankara describes as
> "upakurvantu" (sUtrabhAshya 2.1.3), "dhyAna-saMskRtena antaHkaraNena"
> (gItAbhAshya 13.24), following sureSvara's explicit teaching in
> naishkarmyasiddhi (sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana-saMnyAsas, tato
> yogAbhyAsas, tataS cittasya pratyak-pravaNatA, ...).
> Finally, those who defer to the vivaraNa and bhAmatI teachings also
> uphold the efficacy of Sabda pramANa, but I must point out that one
> cannot truly be both a follower of vivaraNa and a follower of bhAmatI.
> There is a mountain of difference between viewing the two sub-schools
> as *valid* developments or interpretations of Sankaran teaching and
> holding them to be *absolute*. One can disagree with a
> characterization of one or both of them as an andha-paramparA but
> simultaneously differ from either or both of them in one's own views.
> The only good way to do that is the traditional way - to view their
> interpretations and differences as being prakriyA bheda only. I am
> deliberately using non-English words here, to convey a point
> succinctly, without entering into another long fruitless debate.
> Best regards,
> Vidyasankar Sundaresan

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