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

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Mon Jul 4 08:49:30 CDT 2011

On 3 July 2011 11:12, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

> For your kind information, this is not a gaudiya question at all! Instead
> of
> questioning my sincerity or knowledge, why don't you engage in a scholarly
> discussion that will enrich everyone's understanding please? That is the
> purpose of this forum. Thanks.

Questions are rarely standalone, they are almost always asked from within a
certain framework (i.e. certain background assumptions, often implicit).
Without the framework, the said questions will not arise.

A scholarly discussion (which enriches everyone's understanding) sometimes
needs to point out that the problem is with the framework, instead of trying
to answer the questions that arise from that framework. Needless to say, it
is usually a futile exercise to try to answer questions that arise from a
problematic framework.

A person who is explicitly or implicitly committed to certain frameworks
(such as gauDiya, sometimes even naiyyAyika, and certain others)  is
unlikely to be able to appreciate advaita-vedAnta. Such a person's mind will
keep coming up with questions that are actually tangential / irrelevant to
advaita-vedAnta. You may of course disagree with this, but this is not just
my opinion. Several respected advaita AchArya-s hold such an opinion. I know
this from having attended their classes/debates, and from the advice they
provided to some of my fellow sAdhaka-s. Thankfully, I did not come to
vedAnta with the baggage of any such framework.

The entire history of the questions you have put to this list, and your
responses on various threads, are indicative of the framework(s) inherent in
your questions. The questions would not have arisen without those
frameworks. I have only pointed this out.

Perhaps I went a little overboard by talking about sincerity etc, but I hope
you will understand what I am trying to say, even if you disagree.

On the issue of bhakti vs. j~nAna, it is very clear that j~nAna alone is the
key to mokSha. As far as bhakti is concerned, there are different views on
it within the tradition. There are occasions when bhakti is equated to
vichAra (as in the vivekachUDAmaNi verse quoted by Smt. Sumitha
Ramachandran), but such an equation would effectively render your question
redundant. If we use the term "bhakti" in a more conventional sense, it is
clear that such bhakti is not the proximate cause of mokSha, although it is
admitted as a means for chitta-shuddhi.

BG shlokas 9.13-9.15 should be understood with this broader picture in mind.
It is not at all necessary for an advaitin, whether mukta or sAdhaka, to
either glorify or offer obeisances in a literal sense. A sAdhaka may do so
for chitta-shuddhi. For the mukta, there are no rules and, in any case, he
sees everyone and everything as himself. Some may refer to this (the mukta's
advaita bhAva) as bhakti, which is again a case of unconventional usage.


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