[Advaita-l] the qualification to be an advaita guru

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 7 22:58:27 CDT 2011

Many of the Vedic Rishis like Pippalada etc of the Prasnopanishad would seem
to fulfill that high benchmark of "omniscience" for an advaita-Guru.
BhaShyakAra says in the sambandha bhashya to this upaniShat -
"vidyA....pippalAdivat-sarvajna-kalpair-AcAryair vaktavyA na sA yena-kenacit
iti..." (this BrahmavidyA can be expounded only by acharyas like Pippalada
who are almost omniscient, not by anyone or everyone.) The use of the
suffix 'kalpa' ("equal to/ resembling/ almost) in the
word "sarvajna-kalpaiH" might seem to detract from PippalAda's omniscience,
but the entire Upanishad shows Pippalada Maharshi to be practically
onmiscient and not merely a knower of jagat-mithyAtvam and vAkya-mimAmsA (to
deliver nice and useful lectures on Vedanta).

 I very much doubt if, many modern advaita Gurus can claim competence to
answer questions related to Apara-brahman and the adhidaivik-srishThi (the
Cosmic order governed by devatas) the way Pippalada confidently
answers questions like, "kuto ha vA imAH prajAH prajAyanta iti" etc ( from
where have all these living beings originated?). The reason is obvious. Most
modern advaita Gurus have no clue regarding aham-grahopAsanA or for that
matter samyama (of Yoga sUtrAs) and have no direct knowledge of truths about
other lokAs, the adhiSthAna devatAs, the operation of karma, how
reincarnation proceeds (as described in the pancAgni vidyA of ChAndogya

Mere shAbda-jnAna (textual study) of  the upAsanAs described in the
Upanishads does not amount to much.Traditionally (in Vedic times), a
brahmacArI would gain competence in upAsanA for a fairly long time before
being initiated into Brahma-vidyA. I am unable to recollect even one
Upanishadic sage or student who did not have competence in aham-grahopAsanA
of some type. When YAjnavalkya was challenged by other Rishis and asked
questions like "kenAkrameNa yajamAnaH svargam lokam Akramati" (By what means
does a yajamAna attain svargaloka). YAjnavalkya did not cop out and say
"Look, don;t ask me any extraneous questions beyond mahAvAkya vicAra
and bhAga-tyAga lakSaNA vRtti - I did not study all those things in my
vedanta syllabus.."!!)

If it is countered that proficiency in ahamgrahopAsanA is not required for
vedanta ; and sadhana-chatuSTaya-sampattiH (viveka, vbairagya etc) is
enough, it can be argued that one who has this viveka,
vairagya,.... samAdhAna.. etc. in sufficient measure can easily master
ahamgrahopasanA or samyama (of Yoga sUtrAs). Only when the
sadhana-chatuSTaya-sampattiH is very mediocre, a person may not be able to
master ahamgrahopAsana.

But he will still be able to deliver lectures on Vedanta. He may at best be
called a shrotriya but not a brahma-niShTha.

And he may rationalize that all such questions posed to PippalAda and
YAjnavalkya deal with the mithyA jagat and are unnecessary and he does not
need to answer them.. It may also be said that YAjnavalkya was not just a
knower of Brahman (..hmm..well.....), but a brahmiSTha, the best of
Brahma-jnAnis, so he had the competence to answer such questions. Or he can
make up another excuse..."the Rishis were special upAdhis and no
brahma-jnAnI today can ever be like that". Or he can blame the kali yuga
etc. There are many ways to cop out ! But I wonder...

Sri Madhusudana Sarasvati clearly seems to imply that the Advaita-guru
indeed had the omniscience and overlordship over all things etc at the
penultimate stage itself and subsequently renounced it as you have


On Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 2:00 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> wrote:

> It is possible for anyone to speak vedanta if he has the interest, reads
> and
> discusses. If one s genuine in terms of not having selfish desires, then he
> will attract admiration and dedication from others because these are rare
> qualities. Also, one who is not awayed by desires tends to be equanimous
> and
> hence blissful. In the presence of such a person, others also become
> peaceful. If one has unshakeable faith in the words of his guru, then his
> words carry strong conviction. This inspires others to listen to him. But
> all of the above can be attributed to neurology. Many people accept another
> person as a guru because they are convinced about the guru's mystic powers.
> However, even if the mystic power is genuine it does not mean that the
> concerned person has advaita siddhi. We hear about legends of mystic powers
> across traditions.
> Apart from the intellectual profundity, one thing that attracts me in
> advaita is the qualification of a guru. In his commentary to BG 7.2,
> Sankara
> says, "Thus, he who knows Me in reality becomes *omniscient*. This is the
> idea". This is brilliant because if I dont know anything in the empirical
> or
> transcendental realm, I will have fear of unknown. Madhsudana exposits, on
> this verse "Everything is known when One is known (Mu1.1.3 & Br. 2.4.5)".
> This is a pretty bold statement because if this is possible, then an
> advaita
> guru, *if willing*, can solve problems beyond current human knowledge. For
> example, he will be able to give solution for P vs. NP problem. One may say
> that it is not the case because one will know the essence of all things
> which is sat cit ananda brahman but not really become trikalajna or
> sarvajna
> as no object caused by upadhi exists. But in his commentary to BG 6.15,
> Madhusudana says,"To one who has only the realization of the difference
> between the intellect and the Person comes rulership over all things and
> knowledge of everything. From the renunciation of even that comes
> Liberation
> following the destruction of the seeds of evil (P.Y.Su <http://p.y.su/>.
> 3.51)".
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