[Advaita-l] ’upAsana' and 'bhakti'

Satish Arigela satisharigela at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 6 01:35:23 CST 2012


>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

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".

To this, I will start with the example of brahmacharya:

The word brahmacharya if one were to take the literal meaning, it means something like "living in brahman" or something similar.

But the usual meaning that one understands when one says brahmacharya is actually celibacy.

So upAsana may have a technical definition, under which many things can be fitted.

But what is understood when one uses this in common parlance. a great mahApuruSha a brAhmaNa mantravAdin passed away recently and he is referred to as a great sharabha-upAsaka. So what does this term mean and what does it refer to?

In common usage, it means a person who has proper upadesha of the sharabha mantra, does japa, homa, tarpana, mArjana, brAhmaNa bhojana to attain siddhi of the same.. and as part of the same one who possibly mastered the great art of constructing a sharabha yantra , perform pUja to it as also one who has the capacity to effect nigraha and anugraha of beings around them as it deems fit. Even if the later part of nigrahAnugraha dakShata is not acheived, they are still referred to as upAsaka-s.

>>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.

Very valid observation. And it is for this reason when asked to define bhakti, I briefly stated, the nArada bhakti sUtra may be referred to for definition in the following post. Where it gives these nine ways. also in the same post, I did identify that elements of bhakti are to be found in all upAsaka-s.

However we can also quote the shiva purANa and elsewhere where it is specified that pUja/archana can be done either with or without mantra-s. So to perform archana one does not strictly require mantra-s. One may use mantra-s if learnt to perform archana and this is highly recommended.

However, we should also consider this: Let us take the example of the devatA tvaritA or ApaduddharaNa.
here tvaritA simply means one who gives results quick, and ApaduddharaNa means one who saves from dire straits.
Remember in some texts it is  "ApaduddharaNo devatA" instead of "vaTuka bhairavo devata".
Now having bhakti to these two devata-s would mean, being devoted to "quick result giving" or being devoted to "thing which saves from dire straits". I am sure you see this as being vastly different from the kind of attitude where one loves the supreme lord, thinks if the ananta kalyANa guNa-s etc etc. 

Question: Why did you bring this up? Above exaplanation on tvarita etc seems unrelated to the point/observation raised above. Answer: I am aware that it will look un-related. However I intentionally leave it to those who can grasp why this seemingly unrelated example is being given here.

Additionally one important point to note is that, there is no need for the belief of an Ishvara when it comes to practice of mantra-s. A belief or the lack of the same in an Ishvara does not have any effect on the results that mantra-a give.
This is the reason why a bauddha or a jaina or a shaiva or a vaiShNava mantrin achieves same or similar results with the same mantra.


Some generic note on above post:  This is quite a long post and one has to scroll all the way to be bottom to completely understand its spirit. Somethings are better appreciated when they are thought out by oneself as opposed to someone logically explaining each and every detail. This is the reason I had questions.. asking "What does this imply?" "Why did I bring this scenario?". Additionally, it will save me some time, so that I do not have to type too much.

>3. Learning ritualistic worship necessarily entails formal training under a
>suitable Guru. The ritualistic worship of shrIcakra is also an example of
>this. However, it is also to be considered to be Bhakti.

On this I would refer back to comments on point two.

>4. Mantra Prayoga is also a ritual and whatever is said about Karma in
>general applies here too. This means Mantras have to be practiced with a
>sense of dedication of its results to Ishvara.

Same comment as for 2. The practice of mantra-s and the ability to get mantra-s to work does not require any belief in an Ishvara. But if one subscribes to a particular darshana then there comes an interpretation or one goes though thought process as to who gives the phala of mantra-s. Is it Ishvara or is it something else etc etc. This mImAmsa and the conlcusion coming from such an enquiry does not effect how or when a mantra gives results.

It is keeping in mind this fact that I said mantra-s/deities are what they are and they do not become something else based on one's tradition.

This is why people subscribing to different darshana-s get the same or atleast similar results from the mantra.

>4. In the introduction to the great work on Mantra shAstra called
>Mantramahodadhi (Kannada script, published by Srinidhi Publications,
>Bangalore), shrI raghunAtha Kulkarni states that for a person who practices
>kAmya prayoga of a mantra, the mantra itself becomes a "shatru", an enemy.

It is indeed stated so. This caution is both for a novice and an adept.
Why does this happen.. I do have info explaining the possible reasons.. but from the kind of response I have seen I doubt if people will have the patience to read through that and even if read, the info may not "sink in" at all.

Or somebody raises a stupid question constantly which goes like "If this is not in scriptures, it is all useless". It is good to ask for a scriptural reference on these matters. It is unfortunate to be able to not recognize when and for what things to ask for a quote from scriptures and when to infer something indirectly from scriptures. 

>What is probably meant is that a person who practices a mantra for
>satisfying a specific desire is likely to get caught in the trap of more
>and more desires, hence gets deeper and deeper into the trap of mAyA. 

The problem mentioned above when it comes to kAmya prayoga-s is completely eliminated by a proper deployment of protective mantra-s and vidhi-s which shield the mantrin from any back-firing. So there is no need for speculation here.

>is recommended is that the mantra has to be practiced with a "niShkAma
>bhAva" of doing upAsana of the devatA, rather than focusing on the results
>of the mantra.

This is what an advaitin would recommend and should be seen as valid only for those who subscribe to shankara vedAnta. No particular harm in doing as above. 

For a smArta mantravAdin, or for that matter for many shaiva-s and vaiShNava-s [not rAmAnujavAdin-s like normal shrI-vaiShNava-s - but proper vaiShNava-s, like pA~ncharAtrika-s i mean] it is not necessarily so.

For all of them, the mantra is the devata. What is nature of the devata? For this we may refer to the exalted work called mahArtha manjari of shrIman maheshvarAnanda - which says devatA lakShaNa is "Ipsita-prasAdaktvaM & anIpsita-niShedhakatvaM" "giving those things which the mantrin desires and avoiding those which the mantrin does noot like is the nature of the devata".
So why devata-s/mantra-s are resorted to is clear from above in these traditions. Some also hold moxa can come from some mantra-s. But of-course an advaitin will object to this. This will be another huge discussion which we will not get into at this time.

Having said all the above, in mantravAda, experienced teachers will confirm that, dwelling on the phala that a mantra gives will not achieve the result, because the mind is focused on the phala, when actually it should merge with the mantra. So this should act as a caution against the extreme position of performing a mantra only for some desired object.

>And of course, for many people, having a feeling of faith or
>love for the devatA while practicing the mantra is a joyful experience.

No disagreement. Many people find it so. 

This "love for the devata" again is specific for people influenced by bhakti traditions.

Because, this is not the spirit with which rituals were performed by the shrauti-s of yore. The concept of bhakti is unknown at that time. The word bhakti itself does not appear. Like I indicated before in the old shrauta traditions, bhakti means "manave aNavaH bhaktiH" The indivisible sound/word fragments of mantra-s are called bhakti-s... espceially so in the context of sAmaveda I think..I was told. This definition is also related to the usage in sanskrit grammar vi-bhakti.

Would also like to stress the fact that, i am not proposing or advising that a ritual is to be done heartlessly. I only stress the point that, that depending on the person, depending on the mantra/devata, such a feeling of love for the devata may or may not help in attaining mantra siddhi and hence not an essential component.

>Some people may practice upAsana of a deity as a duty to be done. For
>example, I know many people who do pUjA for their kula devatA as a matter
>of duty.

This is true. And the devata protects them as long as the pUja is done properly and with the correct intervals.

>5. Finally, in the viShNu sahasra nAma bhAShya, Shankara has quoted the Rg
>Veda mantra "Asya jAnanto nAma cidvivaktana mahaste viShNo sumatiM
>bhajAmahe" in support of chanting of the names of ViShNu. In fact, Shankara
>remarks that for attainment of correct jnana,  nAma sankIrtana, chanting of
>names of ViShNu is ordained. So it is not correct on our part to belittle
>the practice of nAma sankIrtana in various forms, such as singing.

Many mantra-s incorporate the names of the deities, and so nAma sankIrtana may produce comparable results over time when persisted. I alluded to this in an earlier posting where I said focusing on the names of shiva or viShNu leads one to sadgati and may depending on a 1000 factors also lead to union with the deity just like a mantrin attains it.

Since you brought the viShNu 1000 into the picture: for the pA~ncharAtrika-s, the 1000 names in the VS are the 1000 viShNu-s. Just like there are many rudra-s, there are 1000 viShNu-s and the vaiShNava/pA~ncharatrika mantrin deploys or calls upon each viShNu or few viShNu-s for specific kAmya purposes.

I specific points are unclear, one may respond here and to my personal mail.. mentioning such and such sentnces are unclear.. and I might try to re-phrase or provide more info for better understanding.


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