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

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Sat Jun 14 15:20:41 CDT 2008

praNAm all,

I want to take a step back from the scholarly and beneficial discussion that
this has been and put some basic thoughts instead.

i) Dualistic ending:
We all know that Yoga is rejected by Shankara due to its dualistic ending.
Now, having said that, would it mean that if we follow Yoga, we will reach a
dualistic end?! The converse of every statement is not true in logic,
although it may be so in math. Philosophically, Yoga is taken hand-in-hand
with Sankhya as the latter is more theory and the former more practice.
There's no surprise to the fact that advaita vedanta (AV) itself builds over
Sankhya much, in many explanations, at least traditionally, while only
refuting its dualistic end. Even when our Bhagavatpada refutes Sankhya
purvapakshi's working on options such as "it may be like this.... " . I've
tried to find the exact phrase in vain (does anyone know this reference
please?), but from memory, he says something to the effect that "if that be
so, we've no arguments with you". Even without recollecting the details, the
point I'm trying to make is that as soon as the ending *seemed* right even
in arguments, our Acharya agrees to having no arguments with the darshana.
This is a very important point, IMO.

ii) Necessity:
Of course, then the reverse question that one may expect to be put is
whether following Yoga is necessary. If its not, still it doesn't mean that
we put all the yoga stuff, lock, stock, and barrel, in a duffle bag and
throw it away. There is a good reason why the parampara accepts it. Yoga
need not be understood only from Patanjali's interpreters of dvaita
following. Dvaitins use even Shankara's bhakti to feed their bhakti bhAva,
and it works. Similarly, Patanjali's Yoga can very well be interpreted in an
advaitic way and there are umpteen commentaries on it (for me, even
Shankara's). One beautiful explanation is given by Swami Venkatesananda
(disciple of Swami Sivananda) so: he says that what Yoga Sutras are can be
mentioned by putting only three sUtrAs in the following sequence:
yogaschitta vRtti nirodhaH --> tadA dRshTUH svarUpe avasthAnaM --> dRshTA
drishI mAtra! Interestingly, the whole meaning changes due to the last
clincher sUtrA, instead of being limited to just chitta vRtti nirodhaH.

iii) Shankara himself:
Swami Gambhirananda (SG) translates Shankara in BSB II.i.3, just before
saying what Kartik-ji quoted: "So a portion of the yoga smRti being
acceptable to either side, it *cannot be discarded* just as much as the
smRti about the aSTakA ceremony cannot be". To this, SG adds a footnote that
says that the aSTakA ceremony is found in the smRti and may be a part of
some lost Vedic text. Shankara himself says here later, quoting Sv. VI.13
about Sankhya and Yoga that "Vedic knowledge and meditation are there
referred to the words Samkhya and Yoga, for these latter have an affinity of
meaning to the former". Another footnote by SG here clarifies further:
"Derivatively Sankhya means full knowledge and Yoga means meditation of 'I
am Brahman', and not mere 'Stoppage of mental transformations' ".

iv) Samadhi experience:
Lastly, deep sleep state is a very strong example used to explain advaita
vedanta. Everyone has a deep sleep example and not even a small fractional
percentage of those feel inclined to strive for moksha (be it kartR tantrA
or not), even after knowing what that deep sleep means in the vedAntic
explanation! But yogic samAdhi experience can definitely add gatI to this,
even if it doesn't remove avidyA. HH Chandrashekara Bharati even goes on to
say that practice of samAdhi burns karmas too.

--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
[Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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