[Advaita-l] [advaitin] Understanding Srimad Bhagavad Gita from the perspectives of Visishtadvaita and Advaita - an exposition

Vikram Jagannathan vikkyjagan at gmail.com
Tue Jan 23 11:00:35 EST 2024

Namaskaram Shri Bhaskar ji,

To clarify, my intent is not to strike a common ground between the two
schools. The sampradhayams are quite distinct, with distinct goals and
paths. One will not do justice to either sampradhayam by diluting them to
arrive at a common ground. My intent is to appreciate the sampradhayams as
what they are, and then more importantly, demonstrate that the other
sampradhayam too is valid in their own right. This is not meant as a
research work or for deeper seekers, but just meant to provide enough
information to keep the context accurate and clear for discussion amongst
common people on the two perspectives.

>    - Do you mean to say Sri rAmAnuja’s Sri bhAshya and vedAnta deshikar’s
>    shata dUshAni etc. don’t aware of this alignment, have this clarity and
>    hence taken Advaita as pUrvapaxi for refutation??
A discussion for another day.

>    - Don’t you think above are the basic tenets of any school of thought
>    to decide the very nature of respective siddhAnta?? If there is difference
>    of opinion with regard to knowledge and liberation what to talk about other
>    things!!??

Indeed. Hence my opinion that prior to any comparative discussion one has
to be clear about the fundamentals and context of each school. For
instance, Swami Sankaracharya teaches in SBG that jnana alone (without any
karma associated) is capable of overcoming ignorance. Swami Ramanujacharya,
on the other hand, teaches through SBG that jnana with karma (in the form
of upasana or prapatti) is essential for overcoming ignorance. When one
reads the SBG shlokas with both bhashyas, it is possible to view that the
teachings are at a direct conflict, and consequently conclude with the one
explanation that 'seems' more logical and relegate the other. But this is
not accurate and appropriate in a comparative study. A brief deeper
analysis will point out that the two distinct means (jnana alone or jnana
with karma) have been arrived at because of the difference in the
fundamental understanding of the nature of ignorance. Once the starting
point is understood, the respective directions will be clear. This firm
understanding of fundamentals & context is essential for any sampradhayam
study, more so for a comparative study. The same is applicable to all
scriptures, not just SBG.

Bhaskar ji, on a side note, as part of our earlier discussion, the reason I
shared fundamentals points on Advaita and the rope-snake analogy is
precisely for this - ensuring that we are clear and aligned on the
foundations before venturing deeper into the discussion. Otherwise we are
talking apples vs oranges.

> >  IMO it is better to get the opinion of traditional acharya-s from both
> schools of thought before trying to find any similarity between the
> schools.

True, it is always good to get the direct opinion of traditional acharyas
from both schools, but I do not yet have His blessings to seek acharyas'
guidance directly.

> I reckon Advaita is more flexible and could accommodate different
> doctrines based on adhikAra bedha and vyAvahArika satya and I really doubt
> other dualistic school acharya-s would agree to the contention that Advaita
> vedAnta is the parama siddhAnta of vedAnta.

To re-clarify, the intent is not to strike a common ground or to dilute the
sampradhayam standpoints or establish superiority of one over the other.
The intent is to clearly state the respective positions, as-is, prior to a
comparative study. Having done that, it is not hard to see that Advaita
does not actually stand in conflict (avirodha) against Visishtadvaita. One
doesn't have to switch schools to see that the other school too is valid.
One's nishta to their school (IMHO, based on one's temperament) can still
be retained.

Bhaskar ji, just curious, and not to be mistaken in any other sense, did
you read through this article? If so, I would appreciate your feedback on
the stated points.

with humble prostrations,

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