[Advaita-l] ’upAsana' and 'bhakti'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Mar 5 13:30:49 CST 2012

On Mon, Mar 5, 2012 at 10:29 PM, Anand Hudli <anandhudli at hotmail.com> wrote:

> There seem to be two extreme views which have come under criticism. First
> is the view that bhakti is expressing faith in God and love for God. There
> is nothing wrong in this view provided the person is sincere about his/her
> love for God. The second view is that a mantra of a deity can be practiced
> even without a feeling of acknowledgement of the greatness, etc. of the
> devatA, or simply in a mechanical fashion and the result will automatically
> follow, if the correct procedure is followed. Please see points 4 and 5
> below.
> I have the following questions and points to make.
> 1. What is a crisp definiton of upAsana, if there is one? The one given by
> Shankara is "making similar ideas flow continuously".
> 2. Arguably the best source book of Bhakti, the bhAgavata mentions nine
> kinds of bhakti, namely, "shravaNaM kIrtanaM viShNoH smaraNaM pAdasevanaM|
> arcanaM vandanaM dAsyaM sakhyamAtmanivedanam||" shrIdhara svAmI's
> commentary holds that "arcana", one of the kinds of bhakti, is pUjA. By
> this definition, even the ritualistic worship of a devatA must be
> considered bhakti aimed at that devatA. Taken with a broad meaning, any
> ritual  related to any devatA is "arcana" or worship of that devatA.

There is the 'smaraNam' element in the above.  I think when one tries to
define 'upAsana' it is impossible to leave out 'bhakti' in its several
aspects.  And it becomes impossible to define 'bhakti' without the
'upAsana' or contemplation/smaraNam/dhyanam aspect.  Perhaps the best
composite definition is found in this bhashyam of the Brahmasutra 3.2.24
(which BhaaskararAya quotes) :

[I am giving the original alone; kindly see the translation for more
clarity, if required.]

*अपि च संराधने प्रत्यक्षानुमानाभ्याम्  । ब्रह्मसूत्र ३,२.२४  ।*

अपि चैनमात्मानं निरस्तसमस्तप्रपञ्चमव्यक्तं संराधनकाले पश्यन्ति योगिनः   ।

*संराधनं च भक्तिध्यानप्रणिधानाद्यनुष्ठानम्  ।*

कथं पुनरवगम्यते संराधनकाले पश्यन्तीति   ।

प्रत्यक्षानुमानाभ्यां श्रुतिस्मृतिभ्यामित्यर्थः   ।

तथाहि श्रुतिः 'पराञ्चि खानि व्यतृणत्स्वयं भूतस्मात्पराङ्पश्यति नान्तरात्मन्

कश्चिद्धीरः प्रत्यगात्मानमैक्षदावृत्तचक्षुरमृतत्वमिच्छन्' (क. ४.१) इति   ।

'ज्ञानप्रसादेन विशुद्धसत्त्वस्ततस्तु तं पश्यते निष्कलं ध्यायमानः' (मु.
३.१.८) इति चैवमाद्या  ।

स्मृतिरपि 'यं विनिद्रा जितश्वासाः संतुष्टाः संयतेन्द्रियाः   ।

ज्योतिः पश्यन्ति युञ्जानास्तस्मै योगात्मने नमः  । ।

योगिनस्तं प्रपश्यन्ति भगवन्तं सनातनम्ऽ इति चैवमाद्या    । । २४  । ।

And how it is consistent with what Shankara says in BSB 2.2.42:

*उत्पत्त्यसंभवात् । ब्रह्मसूत्र २,२.४२  ।*

*यदपि तस्य भगवतोऽभिगमनादिलक्षणमाराधनमजस्रमनन्यचित्ततयाभिप्रेयते,

*तदपि न प्रतिषिध्यते   । श्रुतिस्मृत्योरीश्वरप्रणिधानस्य प्रसिद्धत्वात् ।*

So, under 'IshwarapraNidhAna' Shankara includes devotional activities like
'going to the temple (etc.), worship (ArAdhanam - which includes invariable
archanam, etc.)  continuous contemplation of the Lord with the 'ananya

Thus from the two Bhashya quotes cited above we can conclude that 'upAsana'
as a 'process' of continuous flow of thought is not without the attendant
devotional practices. In effect, it is impossible to separate 'upAsana' as
a 'process' from the bhakti which is so many things including the upAsana
as a process.  In Advaita I find that the two are not really two but one
concept alone going with the various names of upAsana, bhakti, Ishwara
praNidhAna and perhaps something else that we have not considered in this
discussion.  In the first cited quote we find Shankara clubbing 'bhakti,
dhyAna and praNidhAna, etc.' in a wholesome practice.  And He takes this
practice to culminate in samadhi.  In the second quoted 'Ishwara
praNidhAnam' Shankara includes all the things He said in the earlier
sentence.  Thus we see that all these terms are not without the other
elements included in them thereby making it impossible to put 'upAsana' and
'bhakti' into watertight compartments.  The Lalitha sahasranama too
supports this conclusion.



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