[Advaita-l] 'Ishwaro'ham' and 'IshwarabhAvaH'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Sep 1 13:43:41 CDT 2013

On Sun, Sep 1, 2013 at 2:01 PM, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> wrote:

> The problem is when you dont understand Bhakti and think it is only a
> means for citta suddhi rather than the goal itself as per Advaita.

No Advaitin Acharya will teach that bhakti is the goal.  Moksha is the goal
and that is defined as svAtmanyavasthAnam - remaining as one's self. That
self is not termed bhakti.  In the Vivekachudamani Shankara defines bhakti
as 'svasvarUpAnusandhAnam'.  It is contemplation of one's Atma svarUpam is
called bhakti.  MDS told me during a conversation: muktiyil bhakt kiDayAdu.
jIvanmukti paryantam irukkalAm, avvaLavuthAn. [There is NO bhakti IN videha

> Shri V. Rajagopalan captures the common misunderstanding among Advaitins
> about Bhagavad Bhakti in his article about Madhusudana Saraswati in the
> book "Preceptors of Advaita".
> <quote> How can an ardent follower of *Sankaracharya* who believed and
> proclaimed that there is only one ultimate reality, that is, the nirguna *
> Brahman*, which is devoid of any attribute, be also an ardent devotee of *
> Sri* *Krishna*?

There is no misunderstanding among advaitins.  It is the misunderstanding
of the author to think so.

> To many, it is a wonder as to how the learned monk, * Madhusudana*
> *Sarasvati*, who established the supremacy of the *Advaita*school of
> *Sankara* by writing one of the accepted masterpieces of the
> *Vedanta*philosophy, the *Advaita*-*siddhi*, for refuting the objections
> raised against *Advaita* by *Vyasatirtha*, a follower of the dualistic
> school of *Madhva*, can proclaim
> Lord *Krishna* as the ultimate reality, or in other words, that there is no
> other ultimate reality except *Sri* *Krishna*.

Madhusudana has proclaimed Krishna as only his upAsya devatA:

In the introduction to his gudarthadipika of the 13th ch. of the gita:

ध्यानाभ्यासवशीकृतेन मनसा तन्निर्गुणं निष्क्रियं
ज्योतिः किञ्चन योगिनो यदि परं पश्यन्ति पश्यन्तु ते ।
अस्माकं तु तदेव लोचनचमत्काराय भूयाच्चिरं
कालिन्दीपुलिनोदरे किमपि यन्नीलं महो धावति ॥

// By means of the mind brought under control by the practice of
meditation, Yogis behold the Supreme Light that is free from attributes and
activity.  Let them do so.
But I am quite contented with the vision of the luminous blue deity,
Krishna, who wanders about the banks of the river KaalindI. //

By saying this he has not denounced or condemned the method/goal of the
yogis.  He is only showing where his mind finds joy.  That is not any
disagreement with Advaitin's thinking.  If one bears in mind that
'pUjArtham kalpitam dvaitam advaitAdapi sundaram' one will not get into
such misconceived ideas as the author has.  To see what Madhusudana holds
as the Supreme look at his invocatory verse to the Advaita siddhi:

सत्यज्ञानसुखात्मकः श्रुतिशिखोत्थाखण्डधीगोचरः ।
मिथ्याबन्धविधूननेन परमानन्दैकतानात्मकं
*मोक्षं प्राप्त इव स्वयं विजयते* विष्णुर्विकल्पोज्झितः ॥

The verse says 'VishNu (Brahman) who is innately satya, jnana and sukha, is
the abode of the universe consisting of the unreal dvaita of knower,
knowing and known conjured up by mAyA, and owing to the
akhaNDAkAravRtti-based realization of His native Ananda svarUpa, being
freed from the apparent bondage shines as though liberated, free from all
the vikalpa-s.'

Thus there is no room for a theism in absolute Advaita.  Even the 'Vishnu'
is none other than the one appearing as jiva in avidyA.  When all the
vikalpa-s go, there remains no duality whatsoever.

So, the Krishna that Madhusudana might have declared as Supreme is to be
understood as the Vishnu who he says is the one that is freed, as it were,
from unreal bondage.  No  bhaktishastra will admit of the Bhagavan to be of
this characterization: someone who has freed himself from bondage.

Bhakti can happen ONLY in duality, either wrongly conceived to be real or
conceived with full knowledge, for the purpose of engaging in a sport
called devotion by an Advaita jnani.  In either case bhakti can never
happen, in the sense the bhakti shastra people talk about, without that
duality.  Advaita, like in the vivekachudamani, sees bhakti as only
contemplation of one's true nature; no bhagavan-bhakta relationship is
involved here.  If Sri Rajagopalan had known these facts he would not have
indulged in such a discourse.

> A number of such doubts may arise in the minds of the readers of
> *Madhusudana* *Sarasvati’s* works. The path of knowledge or *jnanamarga*
> has been accepted to be the only direct
> path leading to salvation by the sage *Badarayana* and his large followers
> of the *Advaita* school beginning with *Acharya* *Sankara*, who revealed
> the identity of the individual soul with the supreme Self by properly
> explaining the correct meaning of the scriptural texts which appear to be
> mutually contradictory. All the *Advaitins* have accepted that the ultimate
> Reality is nirguna or attributeless. But *Madhusudana* considered *Sri* *
> Krishna* as the Ultimate Reality and as the incarnation of the nirguna *
> Brahman*. Can anyone by any stretch of imagination consider *Sri*
> *Krishna*to be nirguna or attributeless? Has *Madhusudana* given up the
> path of knowledge and become the advocate or the follower of the
> *bhaktimarga* or the path of devotion? </quote>

One can see the confusion the author has got into.  First he said //
'Madhusudana proclaimed
Lord *Krishna* as the ultimate reality, or in other words, that there is no
other ultimate reality except *Sri* *Krishna*.//  Now he says, rather
dilutes that statement, by averring  //Krishna is the incarnation of the
nirguna *// An incarnation is only a representation of the NirguNa tattvam,
making itself an aid to comprehend the nirguNa tattvam.  In other words, an
incarnation is a means and the nirguna tattvam is the end.  The very term
nirguNa means that it is free of guNas of any kind and an incarnation comes
ONLY with guNa-s.  That is why it is called saguNa brahman.  That can never
be the advaitic ultimate reality.

> Few of the scholars here called me silly to propose bhakti and advaita was
> reconciled by Madhusudana though it is the opinion of well read scholars
> such as Modi and Swami Gambhirananda. Shri V. Rajagopalan also says this.
> <quote> He has *synthesized* the *bhakti* school and the path of knowledge
> and thus inculcated a new line of thought or approach in the
> *Advaita*school.   ... In the *synthesis* of *bhaktimarga* and the path of
> knowledge he followed the famous *Sarvajnatmamuni*, the author of
> *Samkshepasariraka* who has offered
> salutation to *nirguna* *Brahman* called *Murari* in the very first verse
> of his work which is a summary, in verses, of *Sankara*’s
> Brahmasutra-bhashya3.

Since it is not possible to offer namaskara to nirguna brahman, one does it
through the medium of a saguna murti/vyakti.  Moreover, even the word
'nArAyaNa' is taken as Advaita jnanam by Shankara in the Vivekachudamani

In the Vivekachudamani we have a verse  नारायणोऽहं नरकान्तकोऽहम्....[I am
nArAyaNa, the slayer of the asura called naraka.  The reference is to
Jnanam the Lord dispelling ajnAnam the asura.]  where it would hardly be
correct to think the name 'nAraayaNa' means the Lord who is the consort of
Lakshmi.  In Advaita expressions like  नारायणोऽहं , शिवोऽहम् do not refer
to the personal God.

The word 'shivaH' of the DashashlokI (where the refrain occurs repeatedly:
shivaH kevalp'ham] has been commented as 'AnandasvarUpa' by Madhusudana and
not as the deity Shiva.

> So *nirguna*-*bhaktimarga* cannot be called a new innovation of
> *Madhusudana*.  There seems to be some apparent contradiction in his works
> about the path of devotion and the path of knowledge as means to *moksha*.
> In his *Gudarthadipika*, a commentary on *Sankara*’*s* *bhashya * on the
> *Bhagavadgita*, he believes the main teaching of the *Gita* to be
> that *nirguna* *Brahman* could also be attained through loving devotion to
> the *Lord*.

There is no contradiction/conflict between Advaita's Jnana marga and
the*bhakti as a means
*.  Even this bhakti has to culminate in mukti *only* through  nirguNa
svarUpa Jnanam.  The question that is being discussed/addressed in this
thread is: whether there is room for bhakti IN (videha) mukti or not.  The
answer of the Advaitin is NO.  MDS told me during a conversation: muktiyil
bhakt kiDayAdu. jIvanmukti paryantam irukkalAm, avvaLavuthAn.

> It is also supported by his *Bhaktirasayana* which propounds
> that both *bhakti* and *jnana* are the means to *moksha*, but both differ
> as regards their nature, their means, their goal and the persons entitled
> to both (*adhikarins*). .....

If the goal is also different, then there cannot be any Advaita in such a
conception.  Evidently the goal attained through jnana is the one superior
according to Advaita and the one attainable through bhakti (without advaita
(no bhagavan-bhakta duality) jnana) is the inferior.  Shankaracharya does
not approve of any such inferior mukti as mukti at all.  See an earlier
post on: Shankara on non-Advaitic moksha here:

To *Madhusudana*, all beings including beast and birds are entitled to
> *bhakti*, but only the *sannyasins* having the four-fold aid are fit for
> *jnanamarga*. He also considered *bhakti* as one
> of the aims of life, *bhakti for bhakti’s sake which is identical with
> Brahmananda*. In his *Bhaktirasayana* he quotes the sloka from the *
> Bhagavatapurana* that even sages who enjoy *Brahmananda* and who are far
> from the shackles of *samsara* dedicate themselves spontaneously to
> *Vishnu*without any aim or purpose. Or in other words even
> *jivanmuktas* are devoted to *God*. *He thus establishes bhakti as the
> highest goal of human life.* </quote>

Even the earlier Sringeri Jagadguru has cited the above verse.  He was a
bhakta to the core; with visions of Lord Narasimha or Sharadamba at will.
Yet He never diluted the shAnkaran - upanishadic teaching of the Advaitic
videha mukti.  Jivanmuktas' devotion to God is different from videha mukti
admitting bhakti.  That is the point of contention in this thread.  The
former is 'pUjArtham kalpitam dvaitam.'  The latter does not admit of any
bhakti.  This point is very repeatedly made but being ignored.

> Ra. Ganapathy writes in his introduction to "KatrinilE varum gItam" (the
> song that comes with the breeze), a bography of Meera, "Kanchi Mahaperiyava
> was observing silence in Kalahasti and asked him permission to write his
> biography. He wrote down on a piece of paper that I should instead write
> the biography of Meera, a great devotee, who is greater than a thousand
> sanyasis". If you dont understand that bhakti is the highest goal and
> bhakta is highly accomplished, you will tend to place a bhakta one step
> below a jnani. This is exactly the position that Swami Paramarthananda
> takes when he says that gopis are not jnanis directly contracticting
> Bhagavatha Purana which says that are sAkshAt Hari and Madhusudana who says
> that they are the examples of highest jnAnis.

How does all this help the core question here: Is there bhakti in videha
mukti?  The Kanchi Acharya or Madhusudana do not say this.

> >
> > I had already hinted at this: ananda could be equated to jnana, if it is
> > intended to be eternal.
> >
> RV: You got the basics of it because of your training in prasthana traya
> bhashyas but it is more detailed than that which cannot be understood
> without studying bhakti literature.

What is that 'extra' that you find which is not there in the prasthAna
traya?  If you say 'bhakti subsists in videha mukti', that is never
supported by the prasthana traya/bhashya; it is only contradicted there.

> >
> RV: Thank you for your concession to call Gopis liberated. However, they
> have already got it from Bhagavatham, Sridhara and Madhusudana. Our
> acharyas have established them as the ideal to follow and there is a living
> tradition of advaitins even today vibrating Gopika Jivana Smaranam Govinda
> Govinda,  Govinda Nama Sankirtanam Govinda Govinda etc. There are advaitins
> who are bhagavathas who teach ashtapadhi and have Sri Krishna as the
> supreme goal. Even Muralidhara Swamigal, who Mani Dravid Sastrigal
> reverently calls as guruji, considers Sri Krishna as the goal.

Sri Muralidhara swamigal talks of a goloka which is eternal.  No Advaitin
will approve of that.  MDS told me during a conversation: muktiyil bhakt
kiDayAdu. jIvanmukti paryantam irukkalAm, avvaLavuthAn. If one considers
'Krishna as the goal and that goal is 'being in the company/presence of
Krishna' such is not Advaita of Shankara sampradaya.

> This sthula and sukshuma sarira will not return. So, there is no
> contingency of returning of liberated souls. However, the same names and
> forms will re-appear which is consistent with the eternality of vedas and
> sabdArtha nityatva.

The Veda itself is admitted to be mithyA in Advaita on the basis of the
brihadaranyaka Shruti 'yatra vedA avedaaH.'  How can the 'eternality' of
such mithyA veda be deemed to be the condition of mukti/moksha?  Pl. think

> The vyavahara will not be negated until mukhya jIvA
> does it. jIva bhAsas may have akhandakara vrttti and may get liberated but
> the vyavahara will continue to exist for other jIva bhAsas. If you dont
> agree with this, you have to tell the reason thereof.

In fact there is no jIva at all as per advaita.  Where is the question of
mukhya jIva?  jIvatvam itself is kalpitam and the mahAvAkya comes to remove
that kalpana.  'sarvakalpanA-apanayanArtha-sAraparatvAt sarvopaniShadAm'
says Shankara in the Br.up. bhashya 2.1.20.  It means: All the Upanishads
have for their primary purport the annihilating of ALL concoctions.  The
concoctions are of two types: the jivas' concoctions that one is kartA,
bhoktA, samsarin.  And the shAstra's adhyAropa: the veda, ishwara, mAyA,
jnAna, mokSha.  The talk of bhakti/bhagavan/eternality/goal, etc. are
concoctions proffered by the shAstra. All these concoctions are removed
when the knowledge of nirguNa Brahman as one's true self is acquired.

To conclude: there is no problem in advaitins accepting bhagavad bhakti in
a jnani in jivanmukti for ONLY then there is room for even kalpita
dvaitam.  But by no stretch of imagination can there be bhakti in videha
mukti.  For the very name videha precludes any possibility of bhakti.  For
bhakti to be there there has to be sthula and sukshma deha.  sUkshma deha
to conceive of bhakti and sthula deha to give expression to it.  And there
has to be another, bhagavan, towards whom this bhakti can be directed.  All
this is precluded by the upanishad: na tasya prANaa utkrAmanti, na pretya
samjnA asti [the jnani's sukshma deha does not migrate, there is no
awareness of another in post-death for jnani.]  If these concepts are
correctly understood you will not be harping on the 'eternal bhakti'
concept which does not find a place in Advaita Vedanta, however much big
names like Madhusudana are invoked.  They are misunderstood, evidently,
when such names are invoked. I am not suggesting they have misunderstood.
Those who read them have formed funny ideas and try to see a non-existent
conflict between bhakti and jnana and propose a 'synthesis' and attribute
such an imaginary synthesis to those Acharyas.  Enough of all this.


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