[Advaita-l] Meditation according to advaita

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Mon Jun 2 13:43:06 CDT 2008

>Dear Sri Suresh,
>	In adavaita vedanta, if the word "meditation" is used in the
sense of
>vastutantrajnana, i.e. in the sense of cognizing one's own true nature
, then
>meditation is concerned about the meditator himself. It has to be noted
that the meditator should exist prior to the act of meditation. Then how
can the true nature of meditator can be known by doing meditation ?
Brihadaranyaka upanishad asks : " yEnEdagM sarvaM vijAnAti taM kEna
vijAniyAdvij~JAtAramarE kEna vijAnIyAditi ||" (Mantra 2-4-14).
>	If the word 'meditation' is used in the sense of "upAsane" then
it should be done according to the instructions of SAstra and AcArya.
This is kartRutantra.
>Which one is your requirement? please decide and act accordingly.

It seems to me that "meditation" and "vastu-tantra-jnAna"
are probably the most misunderstood and misused terms
in advaita today!

The reason I say this is as follows. Almost everything from
basic repetitive chanting to vedAntic AtmavicAra gets to be
called "meditation" by those who predominantly use the
English language. In turn, whenever someone asks a question
about meditation, it elicits two extremes of response from
those who use both Sanskrit and English.

One extreme kind of response endorses every possible
conception and misconception of "meditation" there can
be, using appropriate quotes from a variety of Sanskrit
texts. The other extreme kind of response latches on to
the kartR-tantra vs. vastu-tantra distinction and forgets
about everything else, including the original question.

That meditation *should* be carried out as taught in the
SAstra and upadeSa does not make it kartR-tantra.
Meditation is kartR-tantra by its very nature. One can
meditate (or not) even without studying any Sastra or
without going to an AcArya. On the flip side, the process
of manana and nididhyAsana on the Atman is also Sastra
-janita and AcAryopadishTa, but it is not kartR-tantra. 

By definition, jnAna of any kind is never kartR-tantra. And
anything that is kartR-tantra is never jnAna. In the standard
rope-snake analogy, there is initially an error "this is a
snake." Then arises the knowledge, "this is only a rope,
not a snake". This true knowledge of the rope is also 
vastu-tantra (of course, within the realm of vyavahAra). See
sUtrabhAshya 1.1.4. The "rope-ness" of the rope is not
dependent upon anything other than the rope itself,
therefore its rope-ness is vastu-tantra.

However, it is not as if the "snake-ness" of the rope,
pertaining to the initial erroneous cognition, is kartR-tantra
either. The person who erroneously perceived a snake had
no element of choice over his erroneous perception. It is not
as if he chose to see it as a snake or as a big, fat eel, or not
to see it at all. This error does not fit into the categories of
"kartum, na vA kartum, anyathA kartum". The error is only
error, i.e. avidyA.

What IS kartR-tantra is karma, of whatever kind. And what
has a causative relationship to karma is avidyA. The one who
erroneously perceived a snake can then go on to beat it with
a stick, or run away in fright or call in a snake-charmer. All
these actions, beating or running or getting help are kartR-
tantra. What underlies all these possible actions is the basic
ignorance of the true "rope-ness" of the rope. In a similar way,
the ignorance about the real nature of the Atman lies at the
very root of the impulse to act, because the Atman is a-kartR.

Now, what does all this imply for meditation? Sankara
bhagavatpAda gives a very short and meaning-laden answer
in sUtrabhAshya 1.1.4, which I will take up in a separate post.


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