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

Ramanan Subramanian ramanan82 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 30 22:21:32 CDT 2011

Without discussing much further, I will just add the following observations
from my readings:

(1) Gita 5.10 and its commentary by Shankara is referrint to one who has NOT
yet attained the jivanmukta state. For such a person only is Shankara's
commentary recommending the master-servant bhAva, including the renunciation
of the expectation of mokSa.

(2) I do not see how actions can be dedicated to Ishvara without Ishvara
Bhakti. Though I understand that Ishvara Bhakti is a deep bhAva, and is not
confined to the acts of bhajana and nama sankirtanam.

(3) The summum bonum is pretty clear to me in 18.64-18.67 and the
corresponding commentary.

(4) The following portion of the Shankara's Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya is
also worth mentioning here.

वरं हुतवहज्वालापुञ्जस्यान्तर्व्यवस्थितिः।
न शौरिचिन्ताविमुखजनसंवासवैशसम्॥

इति कात्यायनवचनात् यत्र देशे वासुदेवनिन्दा तत्र वासो न कर्तव्यः। एतदुक्तं
भवति --

यस्य देवे परा भक्तिर्यथा देवे तथा गुरौ।
तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः॥

इति श्वेताश्वतरोपनिपन्मन्त्रवर्णात् हरौ गुरौ च परा भक्तिः कार्येति॥

From the above, it is pretty clear to me that Shankara is recommending
devotion to Ishvara as equally necessary as the devotion to a Guru.

(5) Isvara's grace is necessary for Brahma Jnana, as per Shankara's Brahma
Sutra Bhashya.

(6) Saguna Ishvara is very much real from the empirical (vyAvaharika) point
of view... it is not something fictitiously imagined by the human mind -
like a fictitious character in a novel - for the sake of convenience. In the
empirical viewpoint, Saguna Brahman is a supreme being that creates,
sustains, and dissolves the world, sarva-antaryami,
nitya-shuddha-buddha-mukta Atma, anapahatapApmA, endowed with limitless
Jnana, Bala, Aishvarya, Virya, Shakti, Tejas, connected with superior
upAdhis unlike a Jiva who is connected with inferior ones.

(7) On Naishkarmya Siddhi - The verse 76 in the 4th chapter where Sureshvara
praises Shankara mentions Brahma Jnana as something that follows from
Vishnu's feet.

(8) No investigation about the nature and role of bhakti to Ishvara in
Advaita Vedanta can sideline the role of Ishvara as the bestower of
knowledge leading to liberation. Ref: "dhvAntacchide namas tasmai haraye
buddhi-sAkShiNe" in Mangala verse of Naishkarmyasiddhi.

From all of these premises, as far as I see, Ishvara is not just an object
to be meditated upon for Chitta Suddhi and to be discarded later - like a
mop that is discarded to one corner after making use of it to clean the

If there is any other way of reconciling (1)-(8) above, it would be
interesting for the list members I guess.

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