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

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 02:07:33 CDT 2011

On Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 3:30 AM, Anand Hudli <anandhudli at hotmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

RV: yes. madhusudana defines highest bhakti in non-dual and vedantic.  he
refers to his own work bhaktirasayana to get more details. he also says that
bhakti is the fruit of both jnana and karma. he is not deviating from the
tradition because he says that as his statement is based on nyaya. please
refer my other post or better bhaktirasayana directly to understand why he
says that. *

> 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.
RV: madhusudana, a traditionalist, does not deny that there is krama mukti
or that there is moksha through atma jnana.  in 12.5 that you quoted, he
says that a devotee attains brahma jnanam even without the instruction of
the teacher and  sravana, nidhidhyasa etc. by the grace of the lord.  this
may seem to be at war with  the commonly held opinion but that does not mean
he differs from what sankara said. but you may say that jivan mukti is not
possible through bhakti because krama mukti means going to another realm of
existence and experiencing a particula kind of glory (a golden cage). does
it have to happen only in a different world or can a devotee experience
brahma-jnanam here itself? madhusudana's answer is in the next verse. he
says that those who total devotion, I become ***in that very life itself***
the agent holding them up with ease in the pure brahman. this is the result
for one who worships Lord Vasudeva, the repository of the essence of all
beauties, the embodiment of absolute bliss, as having two arms or four arms
or as filling the flute that captivates the minds of all people with the
seven enthralling musical scales or as one whose lotus like palms are
adorned with a conch, a lotus, the mace Kaumodaki and a chakra or as having
the form of a man-lion or of Raghava (Rama) or of others or as having the
cosmic form as already revealed. through the yoga of absolute devotion.

> 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.
*RV: madhusudana does not talk about any influence by vaishnava acharyas.
without positive evidence, there is no basis to such statements. in fact, I
increasingly tend to think that he was a south Indian and hence spent a lot
of time in polemics with Madhwas. *

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