[Advaita-l] (Advaita) Bhakti vs. Jnana

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Aug 4 05:13:53 CDT 2011

In the 13th Chapter of the Bhagavadgita the Lord specifies certain jnana
sadhanas.  By the word 'sadhana' here it is meant the 'means' as in the word
'sAdhana-chatuShTayam'.  Among these is this:

*मयि चानन्ययोगेन* भक्तिरव्यभिचारिणी । विविक्तदेशसेवित्वमरतिर्जनसंसदि ॥ १० ॥

Here the Lord says that for the Jnana to culminate in giving one liberation,
of the various requirements, the practice of one-pointed devotion to the
Lord is essential.  One can see that in the 18th chapter too, while
concluding and summarizing the discourse of the entire Gita, the Lord
specifies:   इदं ते नापस्काय *नाभक्ताय* कदाचन |. न चाशुश्रषवे वाच्यं न च माम
योअभ्यसूयति || (गीता --१८-६७ )

So, it is only a restatement of what He said earlier on the need for bhakti.
These verses are of the nature of the word 'atha' in the first Brahmasutra:
athAto bahma-jijnAsA.  The sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti is what is spoken of
here in a different mode.

Now, a question arises as to why is this made a requirement in the Advaita
sadhana.  In reply we have to remember that in Vedanta, the sadhana for
liberation, the realization of the Tattva and moksha are all admitted in the
plane of vyavahara, that is, in the realm of maya.  Thus, moksha is relative
to bandha.  Since moksha sadhana implies bandha which itself is mAyika,
aavidyaka, apAramArthika, the sadhana for it and the siddhi are within the
gamut of maya, ignorance.  We have the Ishwaratattva, the category called
Ishwara as the governing principle in the / for the realm of maya.  मायां तु
प्रकृतिं विद्धि मायिनं तु महेश्वरम् says the shvetashvataropanishat.  This
is the scriptural proof for the vedantic position that Ishwara and
everything concerned with Him is maayika; maaya-related.  Since the entire
realm of jiva's bandha vyvahara is managed by Ishwara by way of srishti,
karma phala daana, etc. the moksha vyavahara of the jiva too is not outside
this realm of Ishwara.  Thus. even the moksha sadhana and its siddhi is
Ishwara-managed/dependent.  Without Ishwara's intervention in one or the
other way nothing in the bandha-moksha vyavahara takes place.  Hence the
grace of Ishwara is immensely required for the chaturvidha-purushartha
sadhana and siddhi.

One strong evidence for the fact that moksha siddhi too is dependent on the
Ishwara-managed vyavasthA is the Brahmasutra: 3.4.50
तद्दर्शनात्   In this sutra it is said that the sadhana performed by the
jiva will deliver its fruit of liberating the jiva through atmajnanam ONLY
if there are no obstacles for that to happen.  Owing to past karma that has
begun to yield its fruit there will be no way the sadhana fructifies to give
the fruit of liberation.  In such a case, one will have to 'wait' till that
obstacle/s are worked out and the gateway is free for jnana to arise and
liberate the jiva.  This means, even though jnana is NOT karma phala, yet
for jnana to arise there has to be an obstacle-free condition; the obstacle
being the pendency of a past-kArmic fruit.  Shankara while explaining that
sutra quotes the Bh.Gita verses 'न हि कल्याणकृत् कश्चित् दुर्गतिं तात
गच्छति’ (6. 40) of bhagavan's reply and the earlier verse coming as a
question from Arjuna.  The other significant verse from the Gita quoted
there is: अनेकजन्मसंसिद्धस्ततो याति परां गतिम्’ 6,45). That shows that  this
field of atmasadhana-siddhi is very much within the range of Ishwara.
Wherever janma, maraNa, punarjanma, lokAntara, dhrma-adharma, bandha,
mokSha, karma phala, etc. are involved there is the hand of Ishwara's
governance. That is the reason why vedanta holds that the Atmajnana is
bestowed by Ishwara.  This only means that the management of samsara being
under Ishwara's supervision, moksha from bandha is within that jurisdiction
of Ishwara's governance.  Within this wide range come all aspects required
for /involved in sadhana like Ishwara, His cosmic 'body/form', His
particular forms of avatara, etc.

As we had noted earlier there are only two entities, tattva-s, spoken of in
the Scripture: Brahman and the world.  In other words, it is Purusha and
PrakRti.  The scripture wants the sadhaka to separate the Purusha from the
admixture of Prakriti and become able to view these two as distinct
entities; one satya and the other mithya.  Thus, in this scheme of the
scripture, all that is not Purusha is prakRti.  The so-called forms/bodies
of Ishwara and His avataras too come to be negated along with the jiva's
body/mind, etc. which are all dRshya, witnessed, jaDa,  and only the Pure
Consciousness, shuddha Chit, is to be retained for Atma jnana and
liberation.  When such a negation is done, even the body/forms of
Ishwara/avataras stand within the gamut of Prakriti.  No matter what
distinctions are made between the bodies of jivas/jivanmuktas and the
body/ies of Ishwara, they all come under prakriti alone.  Thus what is now
and then stated as not-prakriti or apraakrtam is also essentially only
prakriti.  It is only a subsidiary distinction, avAntara bheda, that is done
between what is prAkRta and what is aprAkRta; both belonging to prakRti
alone.  The parama bheda is however only between Chit and achit or chit and
jaDa or Purusha and prakRti.  This alone finally matters and not the
internal distinction between prAkRta and aprAkRta.

While it is saadhana bhakti to be devoted to Ishwara, His guNas and forms,
it is sAdhya bhakti to be able to see that even these are not the true
Purusha/Brahman but only prakRti.  For the sadhana to proceed the sAdhya
bhakti is essential and for the siddhi to culminate the sAdhya bhakti is
essential.  In other words one graduates from the former to the latter.


On Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 11:04 PM, Shyam <shyam_md at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Pranams
> In the context of this discussion it may be useful to read just one (of
> many) excerpts from Deivathin Kural - wherein His Holiness Kanchi
> Mahaswamigal expounds about this precise subject at great length and with
> great clarity.
> (thanks to Prof Vk-ji for kindly providing the english translation online -
> the complete work can be found at
> www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/downloads/sadhana.pdf)
> Hari OM
> Shri Gurubhyoh namah
> Shyam
> _______________
> Bhakti of the path of JnAna, enunciated by the Veda itself
> In the path of jnAna the direct SAdhanA that finally takes you to the
> destination is called ‘nidhidhyAsanaM’. It is also considered as belonging
> to dhyAna-yoga. When considered like that, it is thought of as continuous
> reflection on the tattvaM, without the notions of life, relationship, etc.
> But it is not so. It has to be practised only as dhyAna-yoga in which the
> bhakti yoga of self-surrender through a relationship with the Universal Life
> is imbedded. In Vivekachudamani itself the Acharya has made this explicit in
> another place. He doesn’t talk of it as his opinion alone. He says the
> commandment of the Veda itself is this: (Shloka 46/48)
> *shraddhA-bhakti-dhyAna-yogAn mumukShoH
> mukter-hetUn vakti sAkShAt shruter-gIH /*
> A basic shraddhA, over and above it a mix of Bhakti yoga and dhyAna-yoga –
> which means dhyAna yoga in which the Bhakti attitude is imbedded -- this is
> what leads to mukti for a mumukShu. Thus says the Veda itself. *shruteH gIH*
> means “the word of the Veda”. “Is that so?  There is
>  also one shloka which describes devotees:
> Mac-cittA madgata-prANAH bodhayantaH parasparaM /
> Kathayantashca mAM nityaM tushhyanti ca ramanti ca // B.G. X – 9
> Those who have turned all their mind toward Me, who have reposed their very
> lives in Me, who are constantly enlightening each other and talking about Me
> and for whom that is the satisfaction and that is the delight! But note that
> this statement does not come in Bhakti Yoga or about those generally termed
> to be bhaktas. It comes under ‘ VibhUti Yoga’ where the Lord’s Glory and
> Power is declared to be manifested in the whole universe. In short He says
> those who see such Godly Power and Glory in everything repose their mind and
> life in the Lord and revel in thinking and talking about Him. However they
> are not dry philosophers, but ‘bhAva-samanvitAH’, that is, knowledgeable
> people (budhas) who are involved in God with Love. In other words they are
> like JnAnis as described by the Acharya. Further on when the Lord continues,
> He does not propose to give them Bhakti Yoga. He specifically promises to
> Grace them with the path of JnAna, that is, buddhi
>  yoga; and burn any remnants of darkness of ignorance in them by the Lamp
> of Wisdom (jnAna deepena).
> In the final chapter also He says “bhaktyA mAm abhijAnAti” – by bhakti one
> knows Me right; and thus emphasizes the jnAna angle. The root ‘jnA’ gives
> rise to both the words ‘jnAnaM’ as well as ‘jAnAti’. ‘Through Bhakti one
> knows Me as I am, thereby enters Me and by My Grace obtains the eternal
> Immortal position’ -- so ends His message in the advaita fashion. In
> pursuance of the same, while giving it to Arjuna, He says ‘Adopt Buddhi
> Yoga’ – not Bhakti Yoga!
> Thus there is no ringing of bells, no offering of flowers, no relationship
> in several moods. However it is the mood of Love with which one gives
> Himself up to the Universal Life-Source and this apex bhakti is what plays
> an important role in the path of jnAna.
> _____________

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