[Advaita-l] Is Brahman saguNa or nirguNa or aguNa?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Apr 28 12:30:00 CDT 2011

On Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 3:31 PM, Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste
> BG Chapter 12
> http://www.asitis.com/12/1.html
> 'Arjuna inquired: Which is considered to be more perfect, those who
> are properly engaged in Your devotional service, or those who worship
> the impersonal Brahman, the unmanifested?
> The Blessed Lord said: He whose mind is fixed on My personal form,
> always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith,
> is considered by Me to be most perfect.
> But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which lies beyond
> the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, fixed
> and immovable--the impersonal conception of the Absolute Truth--by
> controlling the various senses and being equally disposed to everyone,
> such persons, engaged in the welfare of all, at last achieve Me.
> For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal
> feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make
> progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are
> embodied.'
> Question- If Akshara Nirguna Brahman is so difficult to worship and
> full of troubles it is easy to worship Saguna Brahman and get the same
> Moksha. If there are two paths one difficult and one easy what is the
> use of the difficult path?


Every path is 'easy' for the one who is adequately prepared for treading
it.  Every path is 'difficult' for the one who is not adequately trained to
take it up.  In Vedanta worship of saguNa Brahman, considered relatively
easier, is aimed at training one to eventually graduate to take up the
sadhana of nirguNa Brahman which alone can confer liberation. Where here or
by going to Brahmaloka, this nirguNa vidyA is indispensable for moksha.
Moksha through saguNa Brahma sadhana is not denied but what is reminded is
that it leads to moksha 'through' nirguNa sadhana and never otherwise.  The
use of the difficult path is to eventually take one to liberation.  One
reaches that difficult path only through walking the earlier relatively
easier path.  It should also not be wrongly thought that saguNa brahma
upAsana is all that easy.  Enormous difficulty is faced by those who do not
have the adequate love, bhakti, for the upaasya and where there is not
adequate vairagya for upAsyaanya prApanchika vastu.

> It looks like Advaitis choose the difficult path of Nirguna Brahma.
> Why struggle in that path? Seeing this also why Adi Sankara did not
> propagate a Saguna Brahman Philosophy like Ramanuja and Madhva after
> him? Why did he want us to follow the difficult path?

This is a real misconception.  Shankarabhagavatpada never forced the
'difficult' nirguNa brahman down the aspirants' throats.  One who
methodically studies the vedanta shastra under a proper sampradaya will
never hold views as stated above.  The emphasis Shankara puts on karma yoga
in the early chapters of the Bh.Gita will reveal to one how careful the
Acharya is in seeing that one does not rush to nirguNa Brahma sadhana
without adequately preparing oneself in the karma yoga/bhakti sadhanas. In
fact even in the 12 chapter there is a clear 'sopAna' krama where the
easiest sadhana comes first and gradually through tougher and tougher ones
culminates in the toughest, nirguNa sadhana.

> Question- If women and others can get the same benefit from easily
> reading Puranas  why Brahmins have to study Vedas and Vedanta? They
> can also read Puranas and be happy. Why additional burden?

The making available the Tattva through purANas has been possible ONLY
because there is a tradition that protects and nurtures the study of
Veda/Vedanta.  It is not that brahmins should not study the puranas or that
they will not benefit from such study.  It is for the preservation of the
mUla-jnAna-Akara, the treasure of the original source of Vidyaa that this
section of the society is charged with this responsibility of adhyayanam and
adhyApanam. स्वाध्यायप्रवचनाभ्यां न प्रमदितव्यम्. It is not an additional
burden; it is his duty, kartavya.  स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरतः संसिद्धिं लभते



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