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

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sat Jul 30 01:08:25 CDT 2011

2011/7/30 Ramanan Subramanian

> Not only Sridhara and Citsukha agree on this, but Shankara and Anandagiri
> also echo this

I will check with my AchArya-s on the interpretation(s) of such passages.
But on the face of it, my understanding is as follows:

1) If it is said that a bhakta "does not care" for mokSha, it is so because
he has already understood that he is nitya mukta and was therefore never
bound in the first place. This understanding has come about due to
destruction of avidyA, which in turn can happen through (mahAvAkya janita)
j~nAna only. Therefore, bhakti here is being used as synonymous with j~nAna
or vichAra.

2) If it is said that the bhakta no longer cares for mokSha as a "phala", it
could mean that he has understood that mokSha is eternal, and therefore it
is not something to be obtained as a phala, but something to be known. In
other words, he is no longer just a mumukShu but has moved one step ahead
and is specifically a jij~nAsu. At this stage, his mind is fit for j~nAna.

I am sure that no saMpradAyavid will consider specific actions such as
bhajana or saMkIrtana, or even devotion to a particular saguNa mUrti, as
pre-requisites for mokSha.

Of course, when it comes to performance of karma with dedication of the
phala to Ishvara, that is the most common explication of karmayoga. This
kind of bhakti bhAva leads to chittashuddhi as already explained.

One may argue as to what is meant by Ishvara here, which can become another
debate. All I will say is that such dedication of karmaphala need not
involve bhajana or even devotion to any particular devatA, although such
bhajana/devotion can be useful too.

For example, Swami Dayananda Sarasvati (of Arsha Vidya) normally explains
Ishvara in terms of the natural order of things (he talks of psychological
order, physiological order, biological order, etc), and living in conformity
with this order is bhakti. This may sound "modern" but not really so,
considering that Ishvara is abhinna nimittopAdAna kAraNa of the jagat. Even
here, the primacy of j~nAna as the sole direct means to mokSha is retained.

As far as the mukta's bhakti is concerned, if bhakti is defined as
j~nAnaniShThA then there is of course no issue. Even if one talks of bhakti
rasa, devotion to a particular saguNa devatA, etc, there is nothing
preventing a mukta from engaging in this type of bhakti, just as there is
nothing preventing a mukta from eating, walking or writing a grantha. Such
activities can continue in vyavahAra. After all, the AtmA is akartA but
anAtmA is kartA.

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