[Advaita-l] Did Madhusudana Saraswati Reconcile Bhakti and Advaita?

श्रीमल्ललितालालितः lalitaalaalitah at gmail.com
Sat Feb 4 09:15:37 CST 2012

श्रीमल्ललितालालितः <http://www.lalitaalaalitah.com/>
lalitAlAlitaH <http://about.me/lalitaalaalitah/bio>*

2012/2/4 Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>

> Rajaram: This view is based on ignorance of the works of Madhusudana. This
> is exactly the view that the opponent gives and Madhusudana Saraswati
> crushes it in his inimitable style. The opponent in BhR says "Devotion to
> the Lord is merely knowledge of Brahman by another name... hence the
> undertaking of this enquiry is useless" (nAmAntarena brahmavidyaiva
> bhagavad bhakti: ... vyartho 'yam vicarArambha:). But Madhusudana says that
> "Devotion and Knowledge have distinct natures, means, ends and
> qualifications for eligibility" (svarUpasAdhanaphalAdhikArivailakshanyAt)
> (BR 1.11).

My view is based on study of advaita, sha~Nkara, madhusUdana and logic.
madhusUdana is not talking about the rebranded bhakti there. He is talking
of the type of bhakti which is a result of shravaNa, kIrttana, etc. as I
said. In other words it is avara-bhakti which is within sphere of dvaita.
No one relishing dvaita is a adhikArI of GYAnam. So, it's avara.
So, your this statement is not able to prove me ignorant.

Madhusudana demonstrate his knowledge of the homology between bhaktivrtti
> and akhandAkAravrtti and the conceptual similarity between devotion as the
> reflection of bhagavat and knowledge as the reflection of brahman. But he
> also highlights the difference.

True. Ishvara with nAma-rUpa is subject of bhakti and it is not the case of

> Madhsudana explains,"Devotion is a deteminate mental modification, the
> mind's taking the form of the Bhagavat after becoming melted (cittdruti).
> Knowledge of Brahman is an indeterminate mental modification whose object
> is the secondless Self only, and it is not preceded by melting of the
> mind".

So, bhakti and GYAnam have different shape and both are mental states.
No problem created for me yet.

Please note that melting of the mind happens after its purification
> (cittasuddhi) through naishkamya karma.

Yes. bhakti needs a certain amount of purity to grow. But, it is itself a
means of purification of mind needed for GYAnam. पूर्वभूमौ कृता
भक्तिरुत्तरां भूमिमानयेत् । - says madhusUdana in gItA-TIkA.
It's clear that he is saying that bhakti is a means to trade different
levels of saMyama. samAdhi together with dhAraNA and dhyAna comprises
saMyama. saMyama is needed to control vAsanA by a GYAnI in order to
experience jIvanmukti, i.e to avoid vixepa of vyavahAra.
Clearly bhakti is not needed to bring mukti to a person. It is useful for
sAdhaka for it dissipates vighna-s of GYAna. GYAnI-s use it to acquire
saMyama to remove vixepa-s.
You can check upodhAta-shloka-s of madhusUdanI of gItA.
So, I don't see anything unusual to advaita-saMpradAyam.

"The hearing of the compositions that bring together the exalted qualities
> of the Bhagavat  is the means to devotion, while the means to knowledge of
> Brahman is the great sayings of the Upanishads such as Thou are That".

So, means of bhakti and GYAnam are different. Hence GYAnam and bhakti,both
are not same. Hence this is the second type of bhakti. I said it, so no
lack of knowledge is proved yet.

> In terms of qualification Madhusudana says, "While all living beings are
> qualified for devotion, only the renunciates of the highest degree who are
> possessed of the four fold means are eligible for knowledge of brahman".

OK. adhikArIbhedaH.

> The result of devotion is "abundance of love for the Bhagavat" and the
> result of knowledge of Brahman is "cessation of ignorance".

OK. phalabhedaH.

> Those whose mind is conditioned to think that according to advaitam bhakti
> is merely a means to citta suddhi will think that liberation does not come
> through devotion which is reserved for renunciates who can meditate deeply
> on tat tvam asi etc. But Madhusudana clarifies that "a devotee does not
> desire devotion but the Lord gives it anyway".

First of all conditioning to a correct and logical path is not something to
be shameful of. We are proud to be like that. It is far better than
following blindly and becoming illogical.

I think by "a devotee does not desire devotion but the Lord gives it
anyway"- this you mean that they do not desire GYana or moxa. It's a typo.
My reply follows this line of thinking from here :
That 'giving of GYAna/moxa' is not possible without mahAvAkyam, etc. So,
when you have to go to emancipation anyway, why not try it here with help
of direct means. Hence, those practicing GYAnam are on a way which is
direct to emancipation. It is obviously preferred.
Again, if a bhakta doesn't want GYAnam and hence moxa, then it is clear
that he is on a lower level. Relishing bondage is not something good.

> One may say that he attains liberation at the end of the kalpa through
> jnanopadesam but Madhusudana says that "he attains in this life itself even
> without the need for a guru!" (Gudartha Dipika).

Point out exactly where it occurs.

> One may argue that a devotee does not experience nirvikalpa samadhi
> because he is attached to the form and qualities of the Lord. But
> Madhusudana says that the devotee attains that also (too big an analysis to
> quote here).

First of all, nirvikalpa-samAdhI is not an essential thing for
emancipation. It is not a means of moxa, hence not needed by advaitin-s.
So, getting it or not is trivial.

> The opponent argues that Bhakti has to end but Madhusudana says it is
> eternal and identical to nirupadhika Ishwara - so no end.

First, you said that it is a mental state. Now, you are saying that it is
identical to nirupAdhika brahma. This is against your own view.

> The best spin or the curve ball as they call it in the US comes here.
> "Real devotion starts after realization of the essential nature of the Lord
> (svarupAdhigati) or jivan mukti".

Real devotion = without any result, then OK. But, it should be noted that
even bhakti is useless after GYAnam. Hence it is said that it is without
any result. See upodghAta of gUDhArthadIpikA :
जीवन्मुक्तिदशायां तु न भक्तेः फलकल्पना ।

> He lists five advanced stages that a bhakta, who is an atma rama or a
> jivan mukta, experiences after realizing Brahman. This high place for
> bhakti is not unique to Bhaktirasayana but also Gudartha Dipika and other
> works.

Those are stazes of saMyam which are said in gItA-TIkA-upodhAta. Have a
clear watch at it to understand.

Thanks for writing these things.
It was already stated that eulogizing bhakti in bhakti-rasAyanam doesn't
prove madhusUdana opposed to advaita-view. Because that is a text dedicated
to bhakti. One can not show the main subject of a text lower than others in
the same text. So everything related to bhakti-rasAyanam gets out of way.
Now if you want me to test validity of these views, we can do that in
another thread. But for that you must quote original words of AchArya.

Now, let us not talk vaguely. Be clear about bhagavadgItA and quote exact
words of madhusUdana with number of shloka where he said such and such.
That will help us to find conflict or it's lack in views of AchArya-s.

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