[Advaita-l] ’upAsana' and 'bhakti'

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 28 10:19:07 CST 2012

Vidyasankar wrote:

>It seems to me that everyone on this thread associates different meanings
>with the words upAsana and bhakti. When talking of how upAsana = bhakti
>in a generic sense in advaita literature and how bhakti = jnAna in a specific
>author's works, it would be best to clarify what one means by these terms
>and what influences one's understanding of these terms.

This is exactly my thought too. Let us start with Shankara's definition of

"upAsanaM nAma samAnapratyayapravAhakaraNam" (sUtra bhAShya 4.1.7)

Making similar ideas flow continuously is called upAsana.

Bhakti also involves this "making similar ideas flow continuously",
where the bhakta is thinking of God and is making thoughts of God flow
continuously. He does not think of anything else, so dissimilar ideas
are kept out. One may object and say that upAsana can involve
technical things such as Yantra, tantra, and mantra, while Bhakti to a
personal God may not involve these. For example, there is the shrI
Yantra, there is a
particular procedure of worshipping it, and there is a specific
mantra, the ShoDashAkSharI or the PanchadashAkSharI. But Bhakti to a
personal God is just emotional outbursts and lot of singing and
However, I would ask: what is  purpose of these Yantras, tantras, and
mantras? They serve the purpose of, again, making similar ideas flow

The main argument for differentiating upAsana and bhakti seems to be,
if I am interpreting it correctly, that upAsana is a more formal,
technical discipline, while bhakti is informal and perhaps for the lay
person. The
bhakti of even seemingly lay persons achieves great results that the
technical upAsana does. We hear of how KanakadAsa was able to make the
image of Krishna turn towards him, despite being kept out of
the temple by priests who were well versed in "formal" worship.

Actually, instead of reproducing what I wrote in more detail earlier,
let me give the reference to the earlier message of mine.



More information about the Advaita-l mailing list