[Advaita-l] Was Madhusudana Sarswati influenced by Gaudiya Vaishnavas and position of bhakti in advaita

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 14 21:30:23 CDT 2011

Madhusudana has clearly outlined the stages of bhakti in his commentary on
Gita 8.66. As per the commentary, "tasyAham.h", "mamaivAsau", and "sa
evAham.h" iti tridhA, are the three stages. In the first stage the bhakta
feels "I am His", in the second stage he feels "He is mine", and in the
third "I am He". The third stage is the culmination of bhakti where the
bhakta experiences the total nondifference from God. Furthermore, commenting
on Gita 12.5, he agrees that those who do saguNabrahmopAsanA and who have
lost all obstacles, have the vedAnta vAkyas automatically revealed to them,
through the grace of Ishvara, and there is the cessation of avidyA and its
effects (avidyatatkAryanivR^itti). They experience the Brahmaloka and
finally, they too attain the fruit of nirguNa brahma vidyA, the Parama
Kaivalya or liberation, (saguNabrahmavidAmIshvaraprasAdena
nirguNabrahmavidyAphalaprApti). Note that Madhusudana does not deny but
acknowledges, without compromise, the principle that Parama Kaivalya is
through jnAna of vedAnta vAkyas alone. He has reconciled the fact that
Kaivalya is through JnAna alone with the path of bhakti by pointing out that
even a bhakta achieves "krama mukti", where the dawn of Jnana happens on its
own. Note also that he does not deny that there is avidyA even up to the
point of revelation of the VedAnta vAkyas and the dawn of jnAna.

What is quite likely is that Madhusudana was influenced by the Bhakti
movement in a general sense, but his philosophical views were clearly in
line with the other AchAryas of the advaita school.


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