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

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 13 14:35:40 CDT 2008

--- On Thu, 6/12/08, Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com> wrote:

> 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,
> shrOtavyo
> >maNtavyo, nidhidhyAsitavyaH, which shankara quotes in a
> sUtra bhAshya
> on
> >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.

Of course, the Bhamati's statements are perfectly in line with Sankara's BSB, and never contradicts it!


> 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!

The above verse, Sankara's BSB 1.3.33, is translated by Swami Gambhirananda as:

"Besides, the Smriti declares: 'From the repetition of the Mantra follows proximity to (and conversation with) one's chosen deity' (Yoga-Sutra 2.44). Besides, since Yoga is spoken of in the Smriti as leading to the attainment of such mystic powers as becoming minute, it cannot be denied by a mere bold assertion. The Vedas also declare the glory of Yoga: 'When the five elements - earth, water, fire, air, space - have been conquered, and when the yogic powers (of becoming minute, etc.) have started functioning, then for the aspirant, who has acquired a body constituted by the fire of Yoga, there is no disease, no decripitude, no death.' (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 2.12). The power of the seers (Rishis) who visualize the Mantra and Brahmana portions of the Vedas are not to be measured in terms of our power."

There are some important things to be noted here:

1) Sankara quotes the Yoga Sutra as an authoritative Smriti to demolish the opponent's argument. In case someone doesn't understand what this means - the Smriti is considered authoritative unless it explicitly contradicts the Shruti. Therefore, Sankara implicitly takes the Yoga Sutra to be an authoritative Smriti in the Vedic tradition.
2) Sankara also quotes the shruti, Shvetashvatara Upanishad, to drive home the point of Yoga as explained in the Yoga Sutras. Evidently, the "Yoga" of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad is the same "Yoga" of the Yoga Sutras.
3) The power of the Rishis is clubbed along with the "Yoga" in the discussions, indicating that the power of the Rishis is derived from Yoga.

Given the above, there is little doubt that the "Yoga" that Sankara refers to is in the same sense as in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras!

How then do we reconcile it with the fact that Sankara also refutes the doctrine of Yoga in BSB 2.1.3? Simple - the *doctrine* of Yoga that presume duality is refuted, not a wholesale rejection of the practice of Yoga (as per the Yoga Sutras).

An example may help. Suppose someone argues:

1) Sankara refutes the doctrine of Shaivism in his BSB.
2) He also never says explicitly advocates the worship of Shiva in the temples in his BSB.
3) Conclusion: Worship of Shiva in the temple is not in line with Sankara's teachings.

The conclusion is so far off the mark that it is needless to point out the flaw in the argument!

To make the point clear:

* Advaitins refute the doctrine of Shaivism on various points, but join the Shaivites in their worship of Shiva.
* Advaitins reject large parts of the Mimamsa doctrine (the strongest Purvapaksha in Vedanta comes from Mimamsa), but firmly adhere to the dharma taught by the Mimamsakas.
* Advaitins do not accept the doctrine of Yoga wholesale, but diligently practice Yoga for liberation.

Mighty strange - since Shaivism, Mimamsa, Yoga are all dualistic!

All of the above "contradictions" disappear if we realize that advaitins engage in the various disciplines to:


> Vidyasankar


PS: In case someone is still wondering about Vachaspati Mishra's insistence on the word "Samadhi" - it is evident that the sub-commentary only clarifies and enforces the point that the practice of Yoga is not to be abandoned, and that the refutation is only of the doctrine of yoga that does not agree with the Vedas.

FYI: Sankara says in his BSB 2.1.3 (translation by Swami Gambhirananda):

"For the Samkhya and Yoga are well recognized in the world as a means for the achievement of the highest human goal (liberation), and they are accepted by the good people and are supported by Vedic indicatory marks, 'One becomes freed from all the bondages after realizing the Deity that is the source of desires and is attained through Samkhya and Yoga.' Their refutation centers round only this false claim that liberation can be attained through the Samkhya knowledge or the path of Yoga independently of the Vedas."


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