[Advaita-l] Question on Mayavada

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 2 10:50:08 CDT 2010

> Vidyasankar: Please show us where SrI madhusUdana sarasvatI exempts any kind
> of *activity*, devotional or otherwise, from renunciation.
> RV: Please read introduction to gudartha dipika. After stating the
> importance of devotion to progress *from* sannyasa to a state free
> from scriptural injunctions, Madhusudana Saraswati talks about persistence
> of bhakti in the case of jivan mukta. His words: "But in the state of

I think you have to make up your mind what your point is. All this while, you
were saying that in advaita there can be no bhakti after videhamukti. You were
contrasting this with vaishNava traditions where the jIva remains eternally
different and yearns to eternally provide service to bhagavAn after the death
of the earthly body. 

Now, you are pointing to a passage where bhakti is discussed by a key advaita
AcArya, in the context of jIvanmukti. I'm sure you know what jIvanmukti and
videhamukti refer to in advaita tradition.
Those who find fault with advaita with the notion that it has little place for
bhakti do not know the texts of advaita tradition at all. Prior to SrI madhusUdana
sarasvatI, Sri vidyAraNya had already discussed bhagavad-bhakti in the context
of jIvanmukti, in the jIvanmukti-viveka. And I have pointed out a couple of times
on this forum that even in the brahmasUtra bhAshya, there is a reference to bhakti
along with dhyAna and praNidhAna as a means to Atma-darSana. It is that Atma-
darSana that takes one to a state free of scriptural injunctions, but note that this
Atma-darSana happens while in the earthly body; it does not have to wait for the
death of the body. The loss of distinction of bhagavAn and bhakta and therefore
the non-application of dualistic bhakti is also after such Atma-darSana, not
before. Abiding in the state of Atma-darSana IS what is called "abheda bhakti".

Moreover, the quotation you give is about how a vividishA saMnyAsin can progress
to being a vidvat saMnyAsin. A vividishA saMnyAsin is one who renounces karmA
because he is desirous of Atma-darSana and he has faith in the scripture that tells
him that finally, Atma-darSana is not to be had by clinging to the performance of
karmA. Devotion or bhakti has an important role for the vividishA saMnyAsiin, but 
if a vividishA saMnyasin clings to *activity* of the devotional kind as opposed to the
ritual kind, he can never get to the state of vidvat saMnyAsa. The vidvat saMnyAsin
is the renouncer who has had Atma-darSana and is truly the only one who is totally
free from scriptural injunctions.

These scriptural injunctions pertain to both ritual *activity* (Srauta) and devotional
*activity* (smArta). That SrI madhusUdana sarasvatI talks of the state of being free
from scriptural injunctions means that he does not completely separate devotional
*activity* from the ritual prescribed in karma kANDa here. This is quite unlike your
earlier post where you distinguished devotional activity from the ritual activity of the
karma kANDa and sought to restrict saMnyAsa to the renunciation of ritual activity
and to exempt devotional activity from its purview. Please note that I am talking of
*activity* here, whether ritual or devotional. In vidvat saMnyAsa, which is the
mukhya meaning of the word saMnyAsa, any such distinction of one kind of action
from another is impossible. True, vidvat saMnyAsa is for the rare person, but that
is completely besides the point for the philosophical argument being made. We hold
that such a rare person, the uttamAdhikArI can exist, whereas traditions that want
to find fault with advaita will say that such a person is an impossibility. There is an
impasse there and at that point, you have to choose what you want to hold on to.

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