[Advaita-l] Bhakthi - Jnana Advaita Parisuddhi

Antharyami sathvatha at gmail.com
Sat May 26 11:43:46 CDT 2007

Sarvesam namaskarah,
The most misconceived concept, next to mithyAtva is the concept of Bhakthi
in Advaita Vedanta. It is a usual idea that Advaita denies Bhakthi to be the
means for liberation. Further, it is generally felt that Advaita alienated
Bhakthi from jnāna. More, on general opinion Bhakthi to Advaita is popularly
regarded as a karma. In my observation, I perceive that Advaita, led by
Shankara had a much different stand with regard to the controversial triad,
Bhakthi, Jnana and Karma. The primary inquiry that one must field, is to
know whether Bhakthi is divorced from jnana. Subsequently we must also
investigate on whether Bhakthi is an element on karma. As far as Advaita is
concerned, we have enough material from shruthi and smrthi with ācārya's
prasthana traya commentaries, throughout all these commentaries ācārya
clearly established jnāna- Knowledge as the only means for liberation. The
problem lies as whether we have any instance where acarya makes a distinct
demarcation between jnana and Bhakthi. Taking Bhagawad Gita for example,
Sankarācārya throughout his commentaries as we may simply observe, has never
regarded jnana and bhakthi to be different. Let me give an example. Acarya
says, 'mad bhaktha ca uttamām paramārta laksanam bhakthi asthithah tē ativa
mē priyāh' Here for the word priya acarya explains 'priyo hi jnāninotyartam'
Bhakthi by this opinion clearly explains the fact that Bhakthi and jnana are
one and the same aspects. A bhaktha is no different from jnāni is what
ācārya intends. More, for Advaita, one who realizes the real real, is one
who is known as a jnāni. Ananda giri makes a very important note where he
defines who a Bhaktha is. He says, Bhaktha is one who realizes the parama
artha. – 'punah punah Bhakthēh grahanam apavarga mērgasya paramārta jnānasya
upāyatvārtam'. Importantly the sub-sub commentary known as 'bāsyotkarsa
Dipika' the author frames these two views to his premesis to derive the
conclusion, to re –emphasize the identity of Bhakthi and jnāna to say,
'tēsām jnāni nityuktah ēkabhakthir visisyatē' Further is there raises an
objection to say 'as renunciation alone gives the mood for jnāna – sarva
karma samnyāsa purvakāt ātma jnānam' which inturn is Moksa, what role has
Bhakthi got to play between samnyāsa and Moksa ? since jnāna is the direct
cause for Moksa, and they are synchronous by nature. Ācārya precisely
answers to this objection, but before that we must again carefully note the
distinction that is arbitrarily made between jnāna and Bhakthi. Ācārya
promptly equates Bhakthi as a state which is neither different from samnyasa
nor from jnana. Since both according to Advaita are sunchronous, ācārya
re-iterates the fact that the final culmination is achieved by Bhakthi which
is non different from jnāna. In the voice of Lord ācārya says,
'sarvārambaparityāgi yah mad bhaktha' and who is a samnyāsi? Ācārya says
karuna krpa dukkhitēsu daya,tadvān karunah sarvabuta baya pradah samnyāsi'
Sankarācārya fashions his argument in such a away that he clearly places
karma on a separate plane and puts jnana and Bhakthi on the other. He even
goes to the extant saying that 'if at all a karma can exist it can be that
act whence all the fruits are submitted unto Lord, realizing his sole
refuge'. More, ācārya classifies two types of Bhakthi. Saguna and Nirguna.
He says both these groups are equally integrated giving no room for
gradation. To mark that saguna Bhakthi to be no lesser than the other,
ācārya says 'those devotees who take the sole refuge of the Lord Vāsudēva,
by his grace will be relieved from samsāra. Thus Bhakthi may be discerned as
the direct and immediate means for liberation. Bāshyam mentions, 'ksipramēva
Pārta' Samsaya atra na Kartvayah' – do not have any doubt about this. From
the above instances we may glaringly resolve the problem of jnana Bakthi and
Karma – and affirm the identity of jnana and Bhakthi. What is the nature of
Bhakthi? Is it apposed to the nature of jnāna?  In ācāryas opinion Bhakthi
is a means to attain the oneness with Visnu. 'Iswarasya prasādāt avāpnoti
sāswatham nityan vaisnavam padam avyayam'. Above all, there persists a wide
spread mis-conception in Advaita Vedanta that it is often said kirthana,
arca and bagavad nāma smarana are futile means to reach the ultimate goal.
This is utterly against the view of ācārya's opinion. Gita bashya mentions
Bhakthi laksana. They are as follows.

1.      Manmana bava maccittha bava

2.      mad bhaktha bava mad bajana bava

3.      madyāji madyajanasilah bava

4.      mām namakuru namaskāran - api mamaiva kuru.

Set your mind on me, Love me, and devote yourself unto me. Sacrifice unto me
habitually. Prostrate before me (Vāsudēva) – here ācārya  supplies 'he
alone' indicating the mahāvisvāsa and ēka bhakthi. It is crystal clear that
ācārya by his opinion preaches the non-difference of jnāna and Bhakthi. In
his words 'Baktheh punargrahanāt Bakthi mātrēna kāvalēna sāstra sampradānē
pātram bavati iti gamyatē' – this alone is the quitessence of all Sāstras.
Thus exclusive attachment and love towards supreme God – Visnu by the
singular devotion non different from jnāna alone is the means for Moksa.

With Narayana Smrthi,

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