[Advaita-l] Discussion on the role of Yoga in Adwaita

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Tue May 27 15:17:30 CDT 2008

On Tue May 6 05:44:42 CDT 2008, Bhaskar YR wrote:

>... Sankara bhagavatpAda did
>speak a lot about dhyAna as well as samAdhi in all through his
>trayi bhAshya (especially in geeta & sUtra bhAshya) from purely
>perspective without mixing it with pAtanjala yOga shAstra's dhyAna &
>samAdhi ( last two steps of ashtAnga yOga)...yOga shAstra (which is
>shAstra in essence) advocates *purusha taNtra* dhyAna which is
>on will & wish of the doer...He may do it, he may stop it or he may opt
>some other ways to do it. It is *mAnasa kriya* of the doer where he can
>modify its end result..(dhyAnaM chintanaM yadyapi mAnasaM taThApi
>kartuM, akartuM anyaThA vA kartuM shkyaM purushatantratvAt says Sankara
>sUtra bhAshya)..So, this type of dhyAna may lead one to *mindless*
state of
>nirvikalpa or asamprajnAtha samAdhi (pAtanjala explains this as
>shUnya* state)..whereas vEdAntic effortless natural dhyAna leads one to
>realize sarvabhUtasThaM AtmAnaM sarvabhUtAnicha Atmani....sarvatra
>samadarshanaH...This is not svarUpa shUnya state, it is *svarUpa
>state...This is the subtle difference between pAtanjala's purusha
>dhyAna and vEdAntic *vastu taNtra* dhyAna. 

I was planning on adding some detailed comments to the above, but don't
seem to
have found the time to do it. So here are a few short comments:

1. The distinction between yogic dhyAna and vedAntic dhyAna is more
than one of practice.

2. Sankara bhagavatpAda himself accepts and subsumes yogic techniques
teachings inasmuch as they serve as a means to Atma-darSana. By his own
description, this is because the yoga darSana is close to the
upanishadic darSana
(pratyAsatteH - sUtrabhAshya 2.1.3). It is accepted where it is not in
direct conflict
in vedAnta (yena tv aMSena na virudhyete tena .... sAMkhya-yoga-smRtyoH
sAvakASatvam - sUtrabhAshya 2.1.3).

3. Therefore, it follows that yoga can lend itself to vastu-tantra
AtmadarSana also.
However, being an action, the doer cannot really modify its end result.
The choice
of the doer relates only to the action, not to its result. Having chosen
to act or not
act or to act otherwise, the doer cannot simply choose to modify the end
result at
a later stage. 

4. From the perspective of the sincere mumukshu, the question of kartum
akartum anyathA kartuM resolves itself quite easily. Any intellectual
activity is a
mAnasa kriyA, including that of analyzing upanishad sentences. dhyAna is
not a
special mental action in this respect. There is therefore no need to
specially reject
yoga in this context. Throughout the gItAbhAshya, we are taught that the
of the sthitaprajna are to be emulated by the seeker. What is at first a
of practice and takes some will on the part of the mumukshu becomes a
characteristic of the state of the sthitaprajna. A study of the bhAshya
on the verses
dealing with the sthitaprajna shows that bhagavatpAda describes *dhyAna*
*samAdhi* per se, without necessarily distinguishing between "yogic" and
"vedAntic" versions.

5. What bhagavatpAda's own attitude towards yoga was can be gauged from
words of his direct disciple, sureSvarAcArya, who puts yogAbhyAsa at an
intermediate stage between sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana-saMnyAsa and
Adi vAkyArtha parijnAnam. As such, the sannyAsi in the advaita vedAnta
from the earliest days in known history, has incorporated a vast amount
of yoga
practice and experience in his life.

This is an important point to be noted by those who instinctively reject
any usage
of the words, yoga or dhyAna or samAdhi, in a generic sense by later
advaitins. If
one has an open mind, one will realize that the traditional keepers of
the advaita
tradition have been quite true to Sankara bhagavatpAda's teachings. 


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