[Advaita-l] Bhakti and Jnana

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 12 13:09:27 CST 2012

Does it mean that the pre-advaita scholars, including Adi Sankara, did not understand the real advaita?

Sunil KB

 From: Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> 
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2012 10:18 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Bhakti and Jnana
On Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 7:55 AM, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>wrote:

> On Sat, 11 Feb 2012, Rajaram Venkataramani wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 12:23 PM, V Subrahmanian
>> <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>**wrote:
>>>  And by 'limitation as to body and sense organs' MS  means those
>>> situations in a Bhakta's life where the body is not enjoying good health
>>> and the sense organs are not functioning well as for example a person who
>>> has lost his eye sight can perfectly be a bhakta.  Someone who is hard of
>>> hearing can surely contemplate on God.  And most importantly MS, as far
>>> as
>>> I see from the presented portions of his book, is NOT saying that bhakti
>>> is
>>> something that will continue in the videha kaivalya state.
>> Rajaram: A body whether healthy or not will perish. If bhakti is dependent
>> on the body and mind for its existence, it will perish. Here Madhusudana
>> is
>> saying that bhakti does not perish.
> No I think Shri Subrahmanian has it right.
> The point MS is making is that karma is limited by the circumstances of
> the karta.  If one is not a dwija one cannot learn Vedic mantras.  If one
> is a dwija but never learned one cannot recite them.  Even if one is a
> dwija who has learned the Vedas, if one is blind, deaf or impotent etc. one
> cannot perform the yajnas.  Even if one is a dwija who is learned and
> physically fit, one may not have the financial resources to perform a
> yajna.  And without performance there is no result.  For Bhakti, the only
> limitation is shraddha just as for mukti the only limitation is jnana.

Rajaram: With due respects, I disagree. If you re-read the quote posted
earlier, the key point is bhakti rasa is *eternal* and
*imperishable* like brahmavidya phala and not limited to body-mind as well
as time-space limitations. It is not possible if it is dependent on the
body-mind complex and time-space as Sri Subrahmanian says because then it
will be perishable on death and cannot be called eternal. Also, the
comparison of bhakti rasa with brahma-vidya phala will pose challenge.
Also, Madhusudana has stated why it is eternal as I said in my quote
earlier that it is because bhakti rasa is non-different from bhagavat being
His reflection in the druta mana (melted mind).  So we cannot give an
alternate explanation. Also, just as Sri Subrahmanian stated that if
continuance of bhakti rasa after death is what Madhusudana meant, then it
is a definite deviation from Advaita, Prof. Lance Nelson concluded that he
has not successfully reconciled his position of bhakti with orthodox
Advaita because he has asserted contunuance of bhakti rasa post death. Even
Prof. Sanjukta is of the opinion that he added Bhakti Rasa to the Advaita
literature by leveraging Bhakti in the previous writings and Upasana in the
upanishads. According to her, he is orthodox in his philosophical
affiliation to Advaita and heterodox in theology, thanks to the liberal
atmosphere under Emperor Akbar. Not only academic scholars, one of the
post-Madhusudana sanakracharyas is said to have ruthlessly critcized
Madhusudana without naming him. Even Swami Gambhirananda in his
introduction lists places where he differs from Sankara.  All these show
that Madhusudana's conclusions such as eternal bhakti rasa, bhakti is
the means and end of jnana (Gud. Dip. 18.66) etc. make many scholars
believe that his views are not orthodox.  Long story short, Madhusudana is
definitely at the centre of a controversy for saying that bhakti rasa is
eternal, bhakti is an indpendent path to moksha without need for even a
guru, jnana culminates in bhakti etc.

On eternal bhakti rasa, I think the clue to the problem is in Madhusudana's
support of eka-jiva-vada where the videha-mukti of even Suka etc. is an
eulogy and not a fact. Nara Narayana rishis who were paramahamsa sannyasis
did re-appear as KrishnArjuna as per smrti sastras. It is perhaps the
classification of bhakti rasas according to Madhusudana, Sridhara, Hemadri,
Jnaneshwar etc. and the origin of rasa theory perhaps in Hari Vamsa. The
key to the problem of bhakti over jnana is in tracing the traditional
scholars who link back to Madhusudana and have studied his works and that
of his commentators such as Narayana Tirtha, author of Bhakti Chandrika. It
would be a great find.
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