[Advaita-l] Bhakti and Jnana

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 16:34:50 CST 2012

On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 4:50 AM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:

>  On Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 3:01 AM, <rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I hear para bhakti being equated to jnana. I would like to know how
>> otherwise they can be equated. They are two different words with distinctly
>> different meanings.
> Shankara has equated only parAbhakti and parAjnAnaniShThA.  The point to
> be noted is, for this person the commitment, the adoration, etc. for the
> Self (Brahman) is so high that nothing else in the world takes its place.
>  The word 'niShThA' is crucial.  Again, any equation of bhakti and jnana is
> in the plane where the body-mind apparatus is still alive.  It is only in
> this state and this state alone that it is possible to talk of any
> 'nishThA' and 'bhakti'.
> The word 'bhakti' is often said to be arising from the root 'bhaj' meaning
> 'sevAyAm' where one commits himself to something that is other than him.
>  Even when Shankara equates parAbhakti with parAjnAnaniShThA it is only the
> jiva, the holder of the mind-body apparatus, that commits himself to the
> Self/Brahman.  The 'sevanam' by the jiva of the Self/Brahman affords
> occasion for the use of the term bhakti or niShThA.  Having said this, it
> is needless to reiterate that this 'niShThA' or 'sevanam' is impossible in
> the videha kaivalya where the sine qua non for bhakti / niShThA /sevanam
> which is the body-mind apparatus is no longer available.  There is no way
> Advaita Acharyas can talk of 'a Jnani post-death having supreme nishTha in
> Atman/Brahman or bhakti / sevanam for Atman/Brahman'.
> Even the definitions of the VC quoted by Sada ji are expressions possible
> ONLY when the body-mind apparatus is available, for no 'sva
> svarUpAnusandhAnam' or 'svAtmatattvAnusandhAnam' can take place post-death,
> for anusandhAnam requires the mind.
>> Madhusudana treats them as distinct entities but equates them on the
>> basis that they are ultimate goal, which is bliss. That sounds logical but
>> not equating bhakti to jnana. Any explanation please?
> Even when Madhusudana might equate bhakti with jnana and specify them as
> the ultimate goal, bliss, it is possible only in the pre-death stage and
> never post-death.  For nowhere in the Advaitic lore have we found any
> Acharya saying 'this Jnani is experiencing the highest bliss in videha
> kaivalya'.  To say that the Jnani (who was so when alive) is non different
> from Ananda or Chit that is Brahman is not incorrect but to say that the
> Jnani is experiencing / doing bhakti post-death is an impossibility.  In
> other words in Advaita the term 'bhakti' ceases to have any operation in
> the post-death scenario.

Rajaram: Shouln't any opinion on Madhusudana be based on a traditional
study or an academic study? This is what Madhusudana says (translation by
Prof. Lance Nelson) in response to the objection that bhakti is perishable
due to death, ""Heaven and other goals cannot be enjoyed forever. They can
only be experienced at certain limited times and places through certain
specific bodies and sense organs and moreover they are pervaded by the
two-fold pain of perishability and contingency. So, they are certainly not
ultimate. The uninterrupted flow of the bliss of devotion, however, is
ultimate because it can be enjoyed equally in all times and places *without
limitation as to body and sense organs*, like the fruit of knowledge of
Brahman, and because it does not have the two-fold pain of perishability
and contingency."

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