[Advaita-l] Modern science and Vedanta.

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 20 10:51:14 CDT 2011

> > >
> > > Why dont you please post with specific references why you say Madhusudana
> > > differs from Sankara?
> > >
> >
> > In response, let me quote from your post of June 14, 2011 (emphasis added),
> >
> > >A "traditional" advaitin would argue that atma jnana is the only path. All
> > >others, including bhakti, will lead to citta suddhi and culminate in
> > jnana.
> > >Madhusudana Saraswati argues that bhakti is an independent spiritual path
> >
> > --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >with no quest for liberation through jnana!
> > -------------------------------------------------
> >
> > I asked for references about this specific point, but haven't got one.
> RV: I responded on June 14 itself. Pl. note that I did not change my
> position (as yet) that Madhusudana does not deviate from Sankara though the
> reading is different (pata bhedha). That is why I put "traditional" within

My dear RV,
The term pATha bheda should be used in very specific ways, to refer to variant
versions of a received text. For example, "tvam eva pratyakshaM brahma
vadishyAmi" versus "tvAm eva pratykashaM brahma vadishyAmi" in the kRshNa
yajurveda recitation. The former, using tvam (nominative singular) is the so-
called Andhra pATha and the latter, using tvAm (accusative singular) is the so-
called drAviDa pATha. I say so-called because I know of Andhra-s who recite 
"tvAm" and of drAviDa-s who recite "tvam". This sort of variation in the reading
of a text is what is called pATha bheda. *Interpretations* of a source text that
may vary from each other are not describable as pATha bheda.

When two different authors interpret the same verse in two different ways, that
is NOT a pATha bheda, unless their corresponding source verses are pATha
bheda-s themselves, or unless they parse the same pATha of the source in two
different ways. I do not think you can pin down every instance of seeming (or
real) variation between the interpretations offered by Sankara and madhusUdana
to pATha bheda alone. 
Now, one can argue that the said two authors, although saying different things,
are overall consistent with each other, or one could argue that they are quite
different from one another. It stands to reason that madhusUdana's views would
be overall consistent with what Sankara said, but that does not take away from
the fact that coming centuries after Sankara, madhusUdana may have felt the
need to say certain things differently. Nothing wrong with that.
> quotes to emphasis that "traditionalists" who give a lower status to bhakti
> as some in this forum do may not be representing the tradition which
> Madhusudana does. I laboriously analyzed each of the "deviations" reported
> by academic scholars and am (so far) convinced that they either dont get
> Sankara or Madhusudana or both. It is not some vain statement because I
> cannot publish my research without either evolving a consensus with them or
> exhausting their arguments. I have heard very nice things about you but I
> disagree with the your act publishing on your website parrotting the views
> of academic scholars on this issue. It shows gross misunderstanding of
> Madhusudana whose syncretic mind reconciled bhamati, vivarana, abasa and
> other points of view. Coming from you, it will sound as if it is a
> well-considered position but as you admit yourself later in this mail, it is
> not. I am reposting from my post on Madhusudana in response to your question
> on 14 June itself.

As I said, I am open to being convinced otherwise. In any case, I would also be
the first to accept that the material on our website is in need of being updated.
Notwithstanding what you may have heard about me, I would caution against
considering me as a sort of "final authority" on anything. I am a student, like 
most others on this list.
> "Bhakti is a supreme independent goal but *mutually exclusive to jnana*
> because bhakti is Isvara svarUpa and so is jnAna. That moksha is
> paramapurushartha and Isvara is jnana svarupam is something we all agree.
> But it is the lower status of bhakti as only a means to citta suddhi or mere
> mano-vrtti not Isvara svarupa that I counter based on what Madhusudana says.

The above was not what I had in mind as a citation. There are many different
views and personal opinions about Sankara, madhusUdana and how they both
interpret the gItA. Being under the impression that you have been reading the
works of MS in some detail, I asked for citations in the original Skt, if possible.
What I meant was something like this. In gUDhArthadIpikA, chapter xyz, verse
abc, MS says "...." while Sankara's bhAshya says, "..." It would be most useful
if the portion in "..." is given in the original, not as a paraphrase or a translation.

In any case, I could not make sense of your assertions:
bhakti = ISvara svarUpa
jnAna = ISvara svarUpa
moksha = parama purushArtha
bhakti = supreme independent goal
bhakti = *mutually exclusive to jnAna*. 
I fail to see how bhakti and jnAna can both be described as ISvara svarUpa and 
also mutually exclusive of each other. I let it go at that point, because I could
sense that you are struggling to convey a sense of unease with what you see
as an "advaitin" attitude towards bhakti. And of course, you must have your 
own reasons...
Let me summarize succinctly a response to that one concern and move on. If
by the word bhakti you presume an attitude of bheda between jIva and ISvara,
then the general advaita position is that this kind of bhakti is at best a means
to citta-Suddhi and will hopefully lead one to a guru and thence to jnAna. If
by the word bhakti you mean something that is the same as jnAna, then there
is no room for argument, because that is what the general advaita position is
also. The progress of bhakti and the process of acquiring viveka and jnAna may
be different, but that is something that advaitins have accepted since time
immemorial. One person's mind is more oriented towards conventional bhakti,
another's is more oriented towards sharp logic, a third's is more oriented
towards scriptural interpretation, a fourth's is more oriented to dhyAna and
dhAraNA and so on. All of this is part of adhikAra-bheda and does not impinge
upon the ever established brahmAtmaikyatva that is to be realized.

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