[Advaita-l] ’upAsana' and 'bhakti'

Satish Arigela satisharigela at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 29 08:23:27 CST 2012

>However, I would ask: what is  purpose of these Yantras, tantras, and
>mantras? They serve the purpose of, again, making similar ideas flow

The purpose of the mantra is to know the devata . The purpose of the yantra can be manifold depending upon whether it is pUja yantra, sthApana yantra or whether it is dhAraNa yantra etc etc. As for the tantra associated with mantra and yantra, the purpose is again manifold depending on the situation.

>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.

These kind of things happen only in stories not in reality :)  The results achieved by a technical upAsana are repeatable to a great extent, like a Scientific Experiment unlike bhakti mArga.

>The mantraa-is-deity is a pUrvamimamsa concept which has been rejected in
>the Vedanta.  In fact it is dubious too.

The mantra being the deity is not some concept/theory written in an ivory tower. mantravAdin-s and scores of upAsaka-s realize this and experience this.
Think about what is a~Nga nyAsa or kara-nyAsa? Think about why mantrins perform this nyAsa?

It is sheer stupidity for anyone to reject this.. just as it is utterly foolish to say I do not believe that things thrown in the air fall down due to gravity.
The question of rejecting this does not arise in the first place just as one does not debate whether it is a paurNamAsya or amAvAsya after the bright 14th.

To add, it is just not the pUrvamImAnsaka-s who hold this view. Though separated from distance and time, several tAntrika-s belonging to various AstIka traditions as well as nAstIka traditions experience this... and supposedly even spiritual traditions of the West unrelated to Indic ones also hold similar views.

>  They avoided accepting a sentient
>entity called Ishwara but ended up designating a 'deity' in/for/as the
>mantra itself.  The word 'deity', 'devatA' stems from the root 'div',
>light, which is a, nay, the characteristic of a conscious entity. Vedanta
>insists on an Ishwara as the karma-phala giver.

Your argument is utterly flawed. 

In the usage "knowledge shines forth", does knowledge become a conscious entity too?  Please see below explanation extracted from elsewhere. It appears dubious to you because you haven't understood the actual position. See below

"The nature of this distinction is suggested by the tradition of mImAmasa in sutra 9.1.9:
” api vA shabda-pUrvatvAdyaGYana-karma pradhAnaM syAd-guNatve devatA-shrutiH “ 
The great ritualist-scholar shabara svamin explains this sUtra:
 deity and the offering are both accomplished entities, while the act of
 ritual is what is to be accomplished. The deity, therefore, cannot be 
the prompter…The view of the opponent makes it necessary to admit of 
deities having material bodies and actually eating and drinking the 
substances offered; and this idea is utterly repugnant to the shrutI, 
which does not lend support to any such idea regarding deities.
The text quoted by the opponent regarding the right hand of the great god indra(“we have taken hold of what is indra’s right hand”) does not 
mean that indra possesses a right hand. Moreover, even if he did, it 
would be impossible for any human to ‘take hold’ of it… The texts that 
speak of the “arms” of indra being hairy or his “eyes” as tawny-all the 
are purely eulogistic. Nor is there actual feedng or eating at rituals; 
in fact, the deity never eats …”
[this is based on the Sanskrit text, translation and summary of shabara svamin's mImAmsa bhAShya by Ganganatha Jha]Furthermore, the mImAmsakas, who are in continuity with the tradition of the brAhmaNa texts clarify that the mantras and gAnaMs recited in 
the vedic ritual are themselves the embodiment of the deity. This 
remarkable concept, not easily grasped by outsiders to the mantra 
tradition, is actually also at the heart of the tantric rites. These 
despite their superficial differences from the vedic rite are based on 
the same principle of the mantra embodying the deity."

So anyone who holds that deities really possess hands and limbs or real forms should be considered as shruti bAhya or veda bAhya.

>  I have not seen any upAsaka giving
>initiation to another into the mantra without the exhortation to cultivate
>bhakti too to the deity of the mantra. 

That is because your interaction as I suspected and pointed out earlier is limited to people belonging to only one tradition or traditions based on bhakti.
These people that you have seen are not true representatives of mantra shAstra.  It is as simple as that.

See this: The following post holds an answer as to why you speak like this: Read the last 10 to 15 lines of the third para. Please do it.

It will surely make you realize the reason and origin of your statements.


 >For the adepts have realized that the mantra siddhi, in terms of Vedantic sadhana,
>can come about, can be quickened even, by the bhakti included into it; the
>more the merrier.

Wrong again. bhakti does not quicken mantra siddhi. In some sAdhaka-s bhakti can play the role of stabilizing the mind, in some other sAdhaka-s elements of bhakti can be an a bit de-stabilizing to the sAdhaka and hence an impediment to mantra siddhi. Even in the former case, where bhakti could stabilize the sAdhaka, it does only that, and does it in anyway quicken mantra siddhi.

An expert mantra shAstra teacher will be able to judge this in a student. Additionally in cases where elements of bhakti or emotional outpouring becomes an impediment to mantra siddhi, the teacher will suggest a special sAdhana or a certain correct deployment of a process involving mantra-s to stabilize the student.
The teacher might even suggest practice of specific Asana-s to counter the destabilizing effects and vighna-s caused by elements of bhakti to attaining mantra siddhi.

I would go the extent of saying that it is highly inaccurate to say bhakti quickens mantra siddhi. You could find a text or two which actually says this but on the field it simply does not happen.

mantra siddhi in terms of vedAntic sAdhana? This is absolutely funny. Nothing like that exists.

>This bhaava that it comes from a place like Sringeri,
>from the hands of the Jagadguru, is what is bhakti.  Most times the mutt
>gives instructions also as to the mode of performing puja or japa with
>that.  Thus the element of bhava cannot escape even the mantra/yantra at
>some or the other stage, in some or the other degree. 

You seem to be talking about sankalpa. Yes of -course there is a sankalpa involved and some bhAvana involved but that is not bhakti as understood by the word bhakti. In bhakti there is the essential element of rasa, while in a sankalpa it may or may not be there,

Furthermore, the bhAva that it is coming from Sringeri, from the hands of the jagadguru is not required for a mantra prayoga or a dhAraNa yantra to work properly.
What you are doing here is, you are mixing up the psychological elements of bhakti with mantra prayoga, and you are imagining that they are essential...a bad mix up. When a mantra prayoga is properly performed it does not depend on bhakti or belief/faith for the prayoga to work. It depends on the mantra siddhi and the correct procedure and of-course there is a sankalpa. You need to understand this important distinction.

To elaborate, if a mantrin gives you a dhAraNa yantra, its efficacy to protect you does not depend on your belief in it. Going to a temple and praying to a deity as a bhakta would involve element of faith. After all, unlike the mantra shAstra the effects of bhakti are to a large part purely psychological.

To summarize your response: It is simply an UN-necessary mix up of issues arising from an improper understanding of the position of veda on deities and rituals and also due to limited or lack of exposure to any genuine mantra shAstra traditions. These lead you to to the improper and false equation.

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