[Advaita-l] Structured approach in studying Advaita.
shyam_md at yahoo.com
Fri May 27 20:45:39 CDT 2011
While certainly every one is entitled to his or her own formula for what a
structured approach to advaita is, IMHO one thing that is best avoided is
starting with the Brahmasutra - it is a very lengthy and terse text with nuanced
subteleties best reserved for handling, if one so desires, once a thorough
grounding in advaita is already accomplished.
With regards to the original question, my advice would be - do not really treat
this, in the beginning, and as a metter of fact even sunsequently, as an
approach to advaita per se - but rather structure it as an approach to a
spiritual way of life itself.
A "dry" consumption of advaita-related material may prove to be non-beneficial,
and even potentially harmful, unless it is ensconced in a framework of spiritual
living, however rudimentary the latter may be or may seem initially.
And from this standpoint, I dont think there would be any difference of
opinion amongst any astika that the Bhagwad Gita is the best place to start, and
(in my opinion) can well be the only place to end.
Starting from an understanding of how to approach one's life and in what spirit
to understand one's duties and place in society, performance of nitya karmas,
developing an attitude of reverential devotion to the Supreme Purusha,
graduating on to an awe-inspiring appreciation of the Supreme not only as the
Creator but as verily the Creation itself, with every part and parcel of the
sarvam being His Vibhuti Alone, being Vasudeva Himself, and finally culminating
in the advaita jnAna then - that in the Brahmic explanse of this sarvam is
annihilated my phantom sense of separation and individuality - thereby paving
the way for the final surrender of the now-ripened tremulos ego - this type opf
a progressive step-by-step journey is made magically simple by the mellifluous
words of Bhagwan Krishna as relayed to us by Bhagwan Vyasa. It is a complete
shastra, and the perfect guide as it were for any aspirant of spiritual bent.
Once a thorough, and preferably repetetive, study of this text is exhaustively
complete, hopefully under the guidance of a traditional Guru, all that remains
is to enable the knowledge undoubtedly already gained, to be steadied akin to
steadying a capricious flame into a flickerless luminescence. That is achieved
by repeated process of manana and nidhidhyasana which is where, now, a thorough
study of all the Upanishads, and other prakarana granthas plays an important
role. In agreeing with Acharya Sada-ji, I would say that if one wants some
roadmap in this regard - I would consider 2 choices - a short initiation can be
the tattvabodha - a much longer and more thorough initiation would be the
And subsequent to that one can take up one Upanishad at a time, perhaps
interspersed with other prakarna granthas. Any Upanishad is best approached as
Shri Ramesh-ji suggested by a continuous and uninterrupted series of classes
from one's Guru. I dont think there is much to choose in terms of which
Upanishad to start with or any order to follow - my personal recommendation for
a beginner might be the Kathopanishad - but as long as one is in the safe hands
of the Guru any one may be taken-up - the only exception being the Mandukya
which is one Upanishad I would certainly NOT recommend as the very first
Upanishad for study.
I humbly disagree with those friends who well-meaningly insist on a thorough
grounding in Sanskrit upfront - I do not consider it indispensible or even vital
to gaining knowledge of advaita. If the goal is to become a teacher, or a
well-versed scholar, or perhaps enjoy reading rare texts of Masters which have
yet to be translated or even enjoy the beauty of the original prose - it is
certainly useful, but if self-knowledge is the only goal for study - as it
should be - I dont see any need whatsoever for a thorough study of Sanskrit.
Also if I may sound a humble word of caution it would be to not get caught up -
any more than out of an cursory and peripheral interest - in the various
arguments of other schools of Vedanta or even other (purvapaksha) philosophies
such as Buddhism, or even the different schools of advaita itself such as
Vivarna/Bhamati, etc until and unless one really feels an enormous comfort level
with the siddhanta, the subject matter, which of course, can only accrue after
years of study of the vedanta - when premature it taxes the brain needlessly in
entanglements that are ultimately of little benefit for a seeker's academic and
more importantly spiritual growth.
----- Original Message ----
From: Srikanta Narayanaswami <srikanta.narayanaswami at yahoo.com>
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Sent: Fri, May 27, 2011 7:36:35 AM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Structured approach in studying Advaita.
I think the best structured approach is outlined in Shankara's Brahma sutra
Bhashya.Starting with the 'Adhyasa Bhashya"Shankara has raised the
"Purvapaksha',thye objections from various schools of thought like
Mimamsa,Bhedhabhedha vadins,parinamavadins,Jnana-karma samuchaya vadins,the
Nyaya,Vaisheshika,Sankhya,yoga,the various types of Buddhism has been clearly
outlined in the bhashya on Brahmasutra bhashya of Shankara.One can get
counterreferences from the books of these schools of philosophy for clarity.I
think this is the best approach for studying the Advaita Vedanta,which is the
only structured approach.
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