[Advaita-l] ’upAsana' and 'bhakti'

Satish Arigela satisharigela at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 9 05:52:24 CST 2012

>From: ShankaraBharadwaj Khandavalli
<shankarabharadwaj at yahoo.com>
>upAsana=mantra mArga is also not very
accurate. Mantra-devata-upAsana is one form of upAsana, though perhaps >most
common. Any systematic pursuit is usually called an upAsana - for instance
nAdopAsana, nirguNopAsana etc. 
This is certainly a valid view. But the context
of our discussion.. or the general point I was trying to make is to show the
difference between  a generic bhakta's
approach towards deities is vastly different from that of a mantrin's. More
details will follow on this as a response to other postings. 
One of the reasons for bringing the example of
brahmacharya is this. One can also think of the word pankaja - means mud born.
You can take anything arising from mud & call it mud born i.e. pankaja...
though that is justified, the word in general refers to a lotus. Like that. 

To Ravi and others who said quite a few things on upAsana. If your teacher asks you to get 9 pankaja-s in the context of a shrIchakra pUja, one does not enter in to an inquiry of what is pankaja and asking the teacher what exactly he means..since the word could mean anything mud-born. It is understood that he means a lotus looking at the context.

In our case, the context is very clear...especially since we are comparing and contrasting with bhakti. You and every traditional person knows very well what it means when they say " somebody is a great upAsaka"..or when someone is referred to a nR^siMhopAsaka.

So while your statements and definitions on upAsana are not incorrect, they are not very relevant to the discussion.

shrI Anand:

>I am not sure if I exactly get the point
here. Are you saying one can be
>just be devoted to some "force"
(for lack of a better word) such as "giving
>results quickly", "saving one when
in trouble" and not conceive an actual
>devatA with those characteristics? So one
can practice the japa, homa,
>tarpaNa, and brAhmaNa bhojana to
"harness" the force.
Harness can be a good word in this context.
Modern Buddhists use the word cultivate.
Above understanding is partially correct, though there is
more to this.
Regarding: "not conceive an actual
devatA" - "That" "is" the devatA. Do I sense here, a notion that devatA is something that exists independently in this world or something outside of the upAsaka.. Like for
example in the sky or in some place/loka?

>This may be an approach for beginners and
those who have no interest in
What is meant by beginners.. I am not sure.Those are relative terms and are tradition specific. Not absolute.

A shaiva might call some one who studies vedAnta a pashu and vedAnta itself as pashu shAstra and may have many reasons to justify it. That remains their opinion. 

>So what I am trying to say is that whether
one likes it or not, whether one
>knows it or not, whether one cares to know
it or not, results of all
>upAsana come from the same Ishvara.
That is an interesting theory/belief..and I am
quite familiar with it since one of my teachers is a traditional vedAntin. :-)

Now I like to draw some lines so that the discussion does not keep on turning different directions:

The initial statement of mine as well as that of shrI Ramesh was that, upAsana and bhakti are different traditions.

Both of us agree that there are some places where these two intersect...this is not being denied. But in spite of the few common elements, there exists a thick line between these two. Of the possible scores or hundreds of points of difference that these paths have, a few technical details are already listed here and may be referred to again till it "sinks in" 

http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2012-March/031000.html   -- This one is certainly  not for quick reading. It will take time to see the implications of some of the things mentioned here.

The discussion about Ishvara etc are interesting side tracks.. but I will not get into it in detail.

Consider another example: If one takes up a mantra of a deity which is not compatible, the results could be disastrous. Having love for the particular deity does not matter. And mantra shAstra has detailed rituals on how to get rid of the negative effects of such and how to give up such an ari-mantra. Whatever happens to the so called love here?

What happened after this: There was a tendency after the initial arguments, to fit-in these mAntric traditions into the advaita-vedAnta. The line of argument that shrI Subramanian adopts and to an extent shrI Anand's post show this. The goal seems to be to show that advaita-vedAnta can be inclusive of such mAntric traditions. Why is such an attempt made? While I will not guess too much, the objective seems to be, to show that the advaita tradition can be all-inclusive and hence somehow superior?

Be that as it may, the basic tenets along with the practices of mantra-shAstra as also the traditions from which these mantra-s originate have a structure which is incompatible with the formulations or beliefs of advaita-vedAnta. The details of this I will get into at some point. but not immediately.

But one can argue, there have been people who were successful mantrin-s but they did subscribe to advaita-vedAnta. We do agree that there are AchArya-s like that. Just as one can be a good Physics teacher and also be a good vedAntin, something like the above is possible. But there remain some incompatible elements between these two.

See next mail...

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list