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

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Fri Jul 29 16:18:55 CDT 2011

On Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 5:46 AM, Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com>wrote:
Thanks for your post and agree with most of the points except these two.

> g) Actions commonly associated with bhakti, such as nAmasa~NkIrtana,
> bhajana, etc are also useful for chittashuddhi, but are no different from
> any other actions in terms of their (in)ability to produce mokSha. In this
> sense, they cannot be regarded as essential or compulsory, although they
> are
> useful for people of certain temperaments.

RV: Devotion and Service to Guru and Vasudeva are ESSENTIAL pre-conditions
to even learn Vedanta. It can be taught to one who is unintelligent or not
austere but not to one who lacks devotion and service. Pl. see Sankara's
commentary to BG 18.67.

In other words, all the AchArya-s are well aware that as avidyA is the
problem, j~nAna alone leads to mokSha. However, not every sAdhaka is in a
position to accept this, in particular when they are immersed in other
frameworks. So when madhusUdana eulogizes bhakti and interprets it as
j~nAnaniShTha etc, he does so because the people around him were so devoted
to a particular saguNa mUrti that the very idea of j~nAna that was
nirvikalpa/nirvisheSha did not appeal to them. They were not only in love
with kRShNa, but in love with the idea of being in love with kRShNa. Hence,
out of concern for their mokSha, he presented j~nAna to them using terms
which were meaningful to them, i.e. in terms of bhakti.

RV: They use bhakti unterchangeably with jnana but do not use karma in such
a way to appeal to audience. Madusudana, following Bhagavatam, says that
bhakti is the cause of jnana but does not say karma is the cause of jnana.
More importantly, it is not only bhakti that is defined as jnana eulogized
but Madhusudana says that even jivan muktas glorify Hari attracted to His
super-excellent qualities.  His position on bhagavat bhakti is based on
Bhagavatam's atmarama verse and hence has basis in smrti. It cannot be said
to be a just a way of communicating. Bhagavatam accepted by Madusudana,
Sridhara and Citsuka (as pointed out by Sri Jaladhar) repeatedly says that a
bhakta does not care for liberation. To gove bhagavat bhakti, so glorified
in smrti, a status of being non-essential means to citta suddhi does not
seem correct.

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