[Advaita-l] Meditation (dhyAna), knowledge (jnAna) etc. in Sankara's advaita

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Thu Jun 12 16:20:00 CDT 2008

Bhaskar quoted:
>Anyway, when we are rejecting the unjustifiable influence of PY on
>shankara's advaita, you can keep in mind that we are rejecting the
views of
>those who interpreted upanishad maNtra-s AtmA vA are drashtavyaH,
>maNtavyo, nidhidhyAsitavyaH, which shankara quotes in a sUtra bhAshya
>which they write commentary ...as :samAdhiH iti samyamaM upalakshayati,
>dhAraNa, dhyAna samAdhayO hi saMyama pada vedanIyAH, yaThahuH *trayaM
>ekatra saMyamaH* iti, atra nidhidhyAsitavyaH iti dhyAnOpadEshaH,
>*drashtavyaH* iti samAdheH, yathahuH tadeva dhyAnaM arthamAtra nibhAsaM
>*svarUpa shunyamiva* samadhiH iti...

For those who are wondering where this quotation is from, it is
the bhAmatI vyAkhyAna (by vAcaspati miSra) on Sankara's
bramasUtra bhAshya 2.3.39.

Bhaskar, I appreciate the idea that you want to go back to the
original bhAshya-s to understand advaita-tattva. However, I think
you are not reading the bhAshya-s in full. In your criticism of
those who say a samAdhi experience is indispensible for Atma
jnAna, you are going to the other extreme and denying that any
AtmajnAna is possible through the medium of a samAdhi
experience. You also seem to insinuate that anyone who talks
of yoga and samAdhi has misunderstood Sankara and that they
have deluded themselves if they think they have attained true
AtmajnAna thereby. And you claim to base this opinion on the
bhAshya, but I put to you that this is only through a selective
reading of the bhAshya.

For example, let us analyze the sUtra + bhAshya + vyAkhyAna
pertaining to your quotation..

The sUtra reads, "samAdhy abhAvAc ca". It occurs in the kartR
adhikaraNa, immediately followed by the taksha adhikaraNa.
Incidentally, Sri Sreenivasa Murthy, all your questions are
answered in the bhAshya on these two adhikaraNa-s. 

The first point to note is that the word samAdhi is used by the
sUtrakAra himself. You must ask yourselves, why should
bAdarAyaNa use such a loaded term in the sUtra? After all,
samAdhi has a long history in the yogaSAstra.

Going on to the bhAshya, what are the vishaya vAkya-s that
Sankara bhagavatpAda quotes here? They are,

AtmA vA are drashTavayaH
Om ity evaM dhyAyatha AtmAnaM
so 'nveshTavyas sa vijijnAsitavyaH 

Note, it is Sankara himself who refers to this upanishad
sentence where the sUtra refers to samAdhi. If you think what
he means here is only citta-samAdhAna and has nothing to
do with yoga, you are most certainly wrong. samAdhi is
described here as "Atma-pratipatti-prayojana". I would remind
you of another place where Sankara quotes "Srotavyo mantavyo
nididhyAsitavyaH". This is under sUtra 2.1.3 - etena yogaH
pratyuktaH. Here, the bhAshya says "yogo vede vihitaH ... ...
samyag-darSanAbhyupAyatvenaiva yogo 'ngIkriyate"

Before harping on the fact that the bhAshya 2.1.3 rejects yoga
as being dualistic, pay attention to what it is that Sankara
bhagavatpAda is describing as "yoga" and as "samAdhi". It is
the darSana, SravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana that is
taught in the bRhadAraNyaka upanishad. If according to your
reading, Sankara means something quite other than what is
popularly known in yoga SAstra, why does he even quote this
particular upanishad sentence as vishaya vAkya when the
sUtra refers to yoga and samAdhi? Moreover, when the sUtra
refers to samAdhi, the bhAshya also refers to an upanishad
sentence that talks of dhyAna. Do not take vacaspati miSra
for a fool. Nor is he devious. Perhaps he is stretching the point
a little bit, but he is not too far off the mark. You will realize this
if you read the Sankara bhAshya impartially and as a whole,
instead of picking and choosing from it.

It is not as if Sankara bhagavatpAda's works and teachings
were waiting to be rediscovered and interpreted "correctly" for
many centuries after him. You talk of the courage needed to
go against an entire galaxy of interpreters and retrieve the
original teachings from the bhAshya. Well, in that case, do
a thorough job of studying the bhAshya-s, and develop the
courage to come to your own conclusions, instead of merely
repeating the conclusions reached by others.

You emphasize how Sankara rejects yoga, while I keep
showing how his attitude towards and accommodation of yoga
are quite different from what you have been taught. You also
talk of "unjustifiable influence of PY" in vedAnta, ascribing this
supposed influence only to later, post-Sankaran authors.

What would you say then to the following?

api ca smaranti - "svAdhyAyAd ishTa-devatA samprayoga"
ityAdi. yogo 'py aNimAdy aiSvarya phalakas smaryamANo
na Sakyate sAhasa-mAtreNa pratyAkhyAtum. SrutiS ca
yoga-mAhAtmyaM prakhyApayati - "pRthiv-ap-tejo-'nila-khe
samutthite pancAtmake yogaguNe pravRtte ..."

Surely, you know where this quotation is from.

The author of the above passage is not interested in dismissing
a yogic experience as "mysterious". It seems to me that his
attitude towards pAtanjala yoga is markedly different from yours.
In fact, if you did not know who the author is, you might even
say that he is bringing in an "unjustified influence" of pAtanjala
yoga where it is unnecessary!


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