[Advaita-l] Is this list's position on bhakti correct?

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Mon Jun 13 16:33:00 CDT 2011

According to the forum rules, "moksha is parama-purushartha and is attained
only through atma-jnana but as advaitins have traditionally given a lot of
stress to bhakti as a means of attaining citta suddhi, we are allowed to
discuss bhakti within the advaita framework". Traditionally, bhakti in
advaita framework is a modification of the mind (mano-vrtti). On realization
of the self, the objectless consciousness, a jivan mukta may due to the
impulse of past vasanas absorb in sadhya-bhakti, non-different from jnanam.
But on videha mukti, only that exists and there is no question of
bhakti-rasa. I question this because it is the position of the advaita forum
and not an individual. And it is a position that differs from Madhusudana
Saraswati, who is a stalwart advaitn and considered Sankara his venerable
acharya. In that sense, he is more traditional than all of us.

A "traditional" advaitin would argue that as even brahma-loka(s) are
temporary, bhakti-rasa is not permanent - only jnanam is ever-existent.
Afterall, bhakti-rasa is a mano-vritti that will exist only as long as one
lives in the phenomenal world. But Madhusudana Saraswati says that bhakti
rasa is the supreme reality, the very Self! It is distinct from the vrtti
that manifests it.

A "traditional" advaitin may (though some would not if they understand
visuddha sattvam) argue that bhakti rasa is limited ananda but brahmananda
is unlimited. But Madhusudana Saraswati says that bhakti rasa is infinite
supreme bliss untainted by sorrow!

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!

A "traditional" advaitin would argue that jivan mukti is the highest stage
attainable before videha mukti but for Madhusudana Saraswati there are
stages of bhakti rasa after attaining jivan mukti!

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