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

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Apr 29 01:32:58 CDT 2011

On Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 5:39 AM, Krishnadas <krishnadas135 at gmail.com> wrote:

> V Subrahmanian wrote:
> > In Vedanta, worship of saguNa Brahman, considered relatively easier,
> [and] is aimed at training one to eventually graduate to take up the sadhana
> of nirguNa Brahman which alone can confer liberation.
> Please advise the scriptural reinforcements for this statement?
> Krishnadas


Sri Appayya DikShita, the author of 'Kalpataru' on the BhAmati says:

निर्विशेषं परं ब्रह्म साक्षात्कर्तुमनीश्वराः ।
ये मन्दास्तेऽनुकम्प्यन्ते सविशेषनिरूपणैः ॥
वशीकृते मनस्तेषां सगुणब्रह्मशीलनात् ।
तदेवाविर्भवेत्साक्षादपेतोपाधिकल्पनम् ॥

The meaning is:

It is beyond the ken of many to realize the Supreme Brahman that is without
any attributes.  The scripture talks about Brahman with attributes with a
view to help these people, out of compassion.  Once their mind becomes
attenuated by practicing saguNabrahma disciplines, with not much effort the
upAdhi-free Brahman realization comes about.

This is the admitted view of the Advaita Vedanta tradition.  Shankaracharya
has said a lot about this across the bhAshyam literature.  One such
statement of His isthe Sutra bhashyam:

स्यात्परमेश्वरस्यापि इच्छावशात् मायामयं रूपं साधकानुग्रहार्थम् ।

(Ishwara, out of compassion, takes on, by His Maya, a form to grace the
spiritual aspirant.)

Says the Sarva-vedanta-siddhAnta-sAra-sangraha:

जन्मानेकशतै:  सदादरयुजा भक्त्या समाराधितो

भक्तैर्वैदिकलक्षणेन विधिना सन्तुष्ट ईश: स्वयम् ।

साक्षात् श्रीगुरुरूपमेत्य कृपया द्रूग्गोचरस्सन् प्रभु:

तत्त्वं साधु विशोध्य तारयति तान् संसारदु:खार्णवात् ॥ (225)

[The Lord, being pleased with the constant and unflinching devotion and
worship in the prescribed manner, extending over many lives on the part of
the seeker, manifests Himself, in His infinite mercy in the human form of
the Guru, thereby becoming accessible to the shishya for shushrUshA and
vichara which culminate in his crossing over the perilous ocean of samsara.]

The reference provided by another member from the KUrma purANa is also in
the same vein.

It is to be carefully noted that Shankaracharya in particular or Advaita
Vedanta ShAstra in general never underplays the importance of saguNa brahman
and its powers and utility.  The devatAnugraha and its importance in a
sadhaka's spiritual journey is greatly talked about by Shankara in the
Br.Up.1.4.10 bhashyam where the question of 'devata-s hindering the
sadhaka's journey in the moksha marga' is very elaborately discussed.  The
very ability of the sadhaka to take up the nirguNa sadhana is due to the
prasada of the saguNa brahman.  It is needless to say that devatopasana is
also the means to secure the fulfillment of desires, this and other
worldly.  The Gita 8th chapter talks about the upasana of 'other' devata-s
aimed at this.  Shankara repeatedly says in the GitAbhAshya
'jnAnasahitena/jnAnalakShaNena bhaktyA' to emphasize that bhakti will confer
liberation ONLY through jnAnam and it is needless to say that such jnAnam is
only brahmAtmaikya jnanam which is nirvishesha/nirupAdhika.



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