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

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Feb 5 11:49:35 CST 2012

On Sun, Feb 5, 2012 at 3:56 AM, <rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

> Please tell me where Adi Sankara says this. It is commonly attributed to
> Madhusudana but never found it in his works. It does summarize the spirit
> of advaita tradition towards accept of dualism for bhakti. However, bhakti
> does not need two entities. Madhusudana says that the highest bhakti is
> with the conception "I am He". Radha and Krishna are one but they exchange
> the highest prema. It is the same with Siva and Vishnu, Nara and Narayana
> etc.
> Reply-To: Sunil Bhattacharjya <sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com>,
> Kindly permit me to say that too many words really do not help. Adi
> Sankaracharya could say the most complicated things in the simplest
> possible way. He said "Bhaktyarhta kalpitam Dvaita Advaitadapi sundaram".
> Bhaktri is only when the Bhakta and Bhagavan are two seaparate / different
> entities, though there is no denying that Bhakti is a very beautiful thing..

In Advaita the concept of Bhakti can be taken to mean devotion in several
levels depending on the aspirant's state of maturity.  The culmination
comes in 'JnAni tu Atmaiva' where the Lord says in the Bh.Gita : 'the Jnani
is verily My Self'.  However we must note that this description of the
supreme Bhakta (of the four types of bhaktas spoken of in that context)
holds in the plane of vyavahara, that is even when the Jnani is alive in
his physical body.  In Advaita, after death of the Jnani, there is no way
one can talk of Bhakti or a supreme bhakta/bhakti.  A Jnani, while alive
can very well think of the 'supreme bhakti' as stated above and also enjoy
the bhakti of the type:  pUjaartham kalpitam Dvaitam advaitaadapi sundaram"
where one can experience horripilation, shed  copious tears in ecstasy,
sing, dance, etc. as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa did.  Nevertheless there
is absolutely no room for either of these two broad types of bhakti (sAdhya
or sAdhana) after the Jnani has shed the physical body and mind apparatus.
 There is no way 'bhakti' however high it is, continuing in the post-death
state in the case of a Jnani. Nor is there any scope of saying 'Jnana is
the eternal condition' in the case of the Jnani post death.  For, while
being alive one can, if practiced adequately, engage oneself in Nirvikalpa
Samadhi and be in the bliss of the Self or be a subject of
'vedAnta-vAkyeShu sadA ramantaH' [have excursions into the woods of
Upanishadic utterances].  After death there is no  way any of these can
continue or be taken up at the will of the Jnani who is in body/mind case.
 Advaita does not accommodate these 'states' in the videha-kaivalya context.

Jnana or Bhakti can only be a means to liberation; jnAnAdeva kaivalyam.  If
someone says 'bhakti' is the means to kaivalyam, Shankara has explained it
as: 'jnAnalakShaNayA bhaktyA'.



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