[Advaita-l] Definition of Bhakti in Advaita

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Sat Jul 23 17:20:32 CDT 2011

On Sat, Jul 23, 2011 at 6:52 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:

>  His fulfillment is supreme.  This jnanam which is the source of tRpti is
> what means total unflinching devotion, bhakti, to the Self. The Panchadashi
> of Vidyaranya has this mantra for its subject matter in the seventh chapter
> called 'तृप्तिदीपः’.  The whole chapter consisting of 298 verses is a
> commentary on this seminal mantra of the Upanishads.
>  These other mantras too of the Br.Up. are proof of the Jnani's attainment
> of the Supreme state where he has nothing else to seek; this is the
> characteristic of supreme bhakti, devotion to nothing else but the self.
>  It
> is that effortless flow of devotion to the Self which is  never an object
> but the very subject itself of the 'devotee':
> RV: If you collate your posts to this forum, it will be an anthology. It is
really good to have posts that have proper references. If I paraphrase the
logic, "As anything other than the Self is mortal, a devotee seeks the Self.
On attaining the Self, there is nothing else to seek. This advaya jnanam is
the characteristic of para bhakti". Right?

These above quotes are pertinent in the context of the Bh.G. 18.54 where the
प्रसन्नता, शोकमोहकाङ्क्षाराहित्यम्, सर्वभूतेषु समभावः and पराभक्ति: for the
Lord (Self) are the characteristics.  The tRpti aspect is very prominently
depicted in the above mantras. So, we see that the various terms 'artha',
'arthanam', prArthanaa, preetiH, priyaH, bhaktiH, bhajanam, sevanam, jnAnam,
Atman, Bhagavaan, AtmakAma, AptakAma, akAma, mokShakAma, etc are all
connected closely.  From the above we find that it is the Jnani who has/had
set the realization, jnanam, of the Self as his topmost priority: arthanam.
 He is called a bhakta and his, nay he himself, is called eka-bhaktiH. His
bhakti is not the sAdhana-bhakti but the sAdhya bhakti itself.

RV: This is very nicely put. It is not possible to be the supreme bhakta
without firm knowledge that there is nothing else to be "attained" but the
"object" of devotion. This object of devotion cannot be any thing but
the Self, the subject, ever present. If you have any article which denotes
the definitions and relationships between these terms, it will be useful.

 We may not find the exact term bhakti corresponding to Jnanam in the
Upanishads but the purport of the various quotes we have seen above show in
unmistakable terms that it is this supreme love, devotion, to one's Self
that is termed jnanam.  In fact it is the purpose of the smRti to bring out
in more explicit terms what is contained in implicit terms in theUpanishads.
That is the reason why Shankara says 'जानलक्षणया भक्त्या’ in several places
in the GitAbhAShyam.  The word 'lakShaNA' is crucial in the understanding of
the true purport of the various mantras quoted above, as a sample.  Jnanam
becomes the lakShaNA, the indicator, for the kind of bhakti that is spoken
of here. And the above quoted mantras give us a fairly good idea about what
that Jnanam is, why is it sought, what will be the characteristics of the
Jnani who possesses that Jnanam, etc.

RV: I think it is possible to establish through logic in line with the sruti
that a. jnanam is supreme b. supreme love is for the Self and c. supreme
love culminates in realization of the Self or in other words charaterized by
jnanam. Is there a way to establish only from sruti (without recourse smrti
or nyaya) that parabhakti is non-different from advaya jnanam? The
importance arises from the meaning of the term bhakti.

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