[Advaita-l] ’upAsana' and 'bhakti' part 1

Satish Arigela satisharigela at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 13 05:25:09 CDT 2012

Sent this last Friday, but did not make it through because of size. So splitting it into two on shrI Vidyasankar's suggestion.

shrI Subramanian:

>So also in the Vedic domain there are
saguNopAsakas who are engaged in the upAsana of the devatA with all the 
>attendant rituals.  There are Devi upAsaka-s, Anajaneya
upAsaka-s, subrahmanya upAsaka-s, Narasimha upAsakas >and so on. 
Not to be picky, but there is nothing vedic about
devI upAsana or Anjaneya upAsana. The current procedures are mostly 
but though adopted by purANa-s they are heavily influenced by tAntrika 
texts and they profusely borrow from the same. They redactors of these 
paurANika texts, did not feel ashamed about borrowing from tAntric texts wholesale unlike our many neo-traditional vedAntin-s who make a very 
stupid and annoying attempt to avoid reference to the term tantra. 
Somehow many modern traditionalists, seem to find it impossible to 
overcome the notion that calling some thing as tAntrika is somehow bad 
or something to be avoided. Let them come out of this small mAyA 
first... then perhaps they might have a chance of overcoming the mAyA so talked about in their darshana. :-))

मार्गनिर्देशः kind of expressions can be seen in the prasthAnatraya bhashyas
where the 
>mArga, route,
these upAsaka-s take to reach whatever loka-s stated in the Veda is laid
These things are
valid only for those who subscribe to vedAnta. The shaiva-s and vaiShNava-s
have different views on these.
>>So to
perform archana one does not strictly require mantra-s. One may use mantra-s if
learned to 
archana and this is highly recommended.
>This is also
found in the Veda-based systems.  For
example, in the BG we have the Lord saying 'पत्रं 
>पुष्पं फलं तोयम्...’
with regard to worshiping.  Also one can
worship with mantra or no mantra.  
Should we say,
instead of "also found", it is found in purANa-s. Because in
tAntrik/Agamic ritual systems, worship is always done with mantra-s. They are
so central that nothing is possible without mantra-s. To the point that when
the yogin feels the need to leave the body, he does so by uttering special
mantra-s which make the body drop dead.[This seems to the case or procedure in
both the Urdhva srotas i.e. saiddhAntika-s and for the trika mata as well]
>I am reminded of a
Vedic passage: वायुर्वै क्षेपिष्ठा देवता which means 'the devatA vAyu is very
quick in giving the fruits (what >one desires).'  Now this is called an arthavAda because in the vicinity of this mantra
there is a vidhi for performing the >vAyavIya yAga.  A person who hears that about the VAyu devatA
will be inclined, enthused, to perform the yAga.  This >general underlying principle can be seen
in all the devotional literature.  Shankara has said that the various guNa-s attributed to >Brahman are to
aid upAsana and in the pAramArthika view these guNa-s are not there in Brahman,
It being NirguNa.  [The >vAyu example
cited above is found in the Brahmasutrabhashya of the first four sutras' /  vyAkhyAna.]

I am not implying that there is no arthavAda in tantra, but we are 
talking about two completely different things here. Called tvaritA so, 
is not arthavAda. It is true. For example, when the tantra says saying 
khaDgamAla will make you king of three worlds or something similar. That is of-course arthavAda, but the above examples are not.

>For there is the maxim: प्रयोजनमनुद्दिश्य
न मन्दोऽपि प्रवर्तते’ - even a fool will not undertake a task unless he sees
some benefit >in it for himself.  So, the
upAsya-upAsaka-upAsana scheme works on this maxim.  Thus there is absolutely no difference in
>this respect between the devatA-attribute of the mantra shastra and the
Veda-based ones. 

There are indeed some differences. While the purpose centric part for sme devata-s holds true. There is also a different aspect.
Foe example, some devata-s are associated with different chakra-s i.e. the 
ShaT chakra-s like mUlAdhAra etc. So gaNapati is also approached by a 
mantrin belonging to the shaiva or a shakta sAmpradAya to open up those 
respective chakra-s, nADi-s associated with them. This[kuNDalini , 6 
chakra-s] is something that is not found in the veda-s. Please do not 
come up with a quote from a very later day upaniShad. I am quite aware 
of them. When I say veda, I am specifically referring to those ancient brAhmaNa and saMhita texts etc.
>In the bhashya for
the sutra फलमत उपपत्तेः  3.2.38 Shankara
dealing with the question of 'who gives the phala of a karma?' >says in
conclusion: it has to be from Ishwara alone who has the knowledge of all the
jiva-s and their karma-s.  In another
>place Shankara categorically says: It is only Ishwara that is propitiated by
all karma.  (someone can give the exact
reference >pl.).  So, whether one believes
in an Ishwara or not it is immaterial as far as the phala of the karma comes
from Ishwara >alone.

As I remarked earlier, it is an interesting belief and am familiar with it.

>Also what
drives/motivates a person in the sadhana of a mantra is the knowledge that
'this mantra or procedure will help me >achieve my goal of procuring something
or avoiding some mishap.'  This is a
fundamental desire or attachment one has to >one's own desire that lies beneath
any karma of any school without exception.  It is this desire, love, teevra icchA that gets >the names bhakti,
shraddhaa, anurAga, anurakti and the like.  It is only his love for his own desire/goal that gets transferred to >the
Deity that he believes will make it possible.  It is then that it takes the name of bhakti for the deity. There is no
escape >from this.  Even in the case of a
mumukShu it is mokShecchA or AtmecchA as the Kathopanishat in that famous
mantra >says: parAnchi khAni.....amRtatvam icchan...

 = love = tIvra icchA? Maybe. But the love for the goal, get transferred
 to the deity? Phew! I am definitely seeing a tIvra icchA to equate many
 things here.
I see lots of speculation here and so I will not say much on above.


>It is Ishwara ArAdhanam that takes place
whenever one does anything: to acquire something or to avoid something.  Whether >one knows that it is Ishwara that is
propitiated or not or whether one knows or believes that it is Ishwara that
gives the phalam >or not, that it happens that way alone; an intervention of a
chetana entity is mandatory according to Shankara, in that sutra >bhashyam. 

pramaaNa no sensible enquiry takes place.  Shankara points to this often in the bhashyas.  He >does admit the >possibility and need to
do inference/arthApatti from scriptures.  But ultimately the basis 
>has to be
there in the scriptures. If we are able to point it out in black and
white the opponent's curiosity gets addressed.  

I was specifically referring to a person, who keeps asking for scriptural authority for things which are inferred.Typically, I base things on 
some text or in the minimum atleast a quote from the text if not 
completely availble.


 >>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. 

necessarily.  The whole of the Vedanta
and the Bhagavadgita teaching is on this niShkAma karma 
>alone.  All schools of Vedanta accept this.
Okay. Agreed. 

>This is exactly
the same with Vedic tradition too.  It is
only because of the above lakshana, I even pointed out to this in >different
terms in the foregoing, that anyone gets attracted to a devatA.  'इष्टं / सुखं मे भूयात्,  अनिष्टं / दुःखं मे मा भूत्’ [Let >desirable /
happiness be to me and never the opposite of these' ] is every being's
fundamental desire.  So, if a devatA is
>going to cater to this, one takes to it.

In the tAntrIka traditions, there are also other applications of mantra-s. For example, in kuNDalini yoga. mantra-s are also used for moxa in 
these traditions. like for example in the parA japa vidhi where it is 
confer moxa.

would agree to the above to the extent of saying: mantra will go a long way to
purify one's 
chitta shuddhi.  This removes obstacles
for proper vichara and the arising of clear jnana.  >That way Advaitins >believe any or many
mantras taken up by a mumukshu will benefit him. 

I am aware of the advaitin position on mantra-s. So here the shaiva-s and vaiShNava tAntrik traditions differ from advaita.
They are completely "mantra and yoga centric".

 Here not Atma-vichAra but the mantra along
with dIkSha are of primary importance. But we will not get into which is correct..
or which is acceptable to the shruti etc.. partly because I have no 
interest in
what shruti says on these matters. Or if one says shruti is the ultimate authority in these matters... that is nothing more than a belief. And 
of-course moxa or any discussion on moxa is not a property of those that follow the shruti. 

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