Bhakti and advaita

Anand Hudli ahudli at APPN.CI.IN.AMERITECH.COM
Mon Jan 27 10:04:33 CST 1997

         Giri wrote:
> If bhakti (attachment to Saguna brahman) is only slightly better than
> attachment to booze, naturally, Shankara must be a grand fool to have
> composed so many hymns in praise of Shiva, Vishnu and further saying that
> several pages in the brahma suutra bhashya on the attainment of Brahmaloka
> and thus, krama-mukti.
>         Further, what about Madhusudana sarasvati ? Does everyone on this
> list consider him to be an advaita vedantin ? If so, would Madhusudana
> Sarasvati just say that attachment to Saguna Brahman is only slightly
> better than attachment to senses ? Maybe knowledgable readers (who have
> posted previously on Madhusudana sarasvati) like Anand, Vidya and others
> can clarify.
>         Though it may be irrelevant to the few members of this list who
> don't consider Ramana Maharshi as an advaita vedantin (despite a head of
> the shankara math acknowledging him as such), I wish to point out that
> Ramana Maharshi also mentions that *complete unconditional surrender to
> Ishvara* is a valid path and such Bhakti is not diffferent from jnana.
> So, if Cameron and Egodust are erring, they are in good company.
> Namaste.

   Madhusudana Sarasvati does say that bhakti to Saguna Brahman will
   lead to mukti. Worshippers of the Saguna Brahman will reach Brahmaloka,
   where the truth of the upanishhad sayings such as, "tattvam asi", etc.,
   will automatically dawn on them. They will then attain moksha.
   So Madhusudana has reconciled his position with that of classical
   Shankaran advaita, which holds that moksha is through jnaana alone,
   obtained from the upanishhads.

   But bhakti is not an exceedingly easy path either. In particular,
   one can fall into the dvaita trap. If the devotee thinks that God
   is essentially different from himself/herself, there will be all
   kinds of problems. The dvaitic conception will lead to pitfalls
   such as treating God as a deal maker. Here the devotee thinks he/she
   will do such and such a thing for God and God must in return do such
   and such a thing.

   The jiiva-Ishvara unity (aikya) concept is misunderstood by even
   scholars of
   dvaita. Advaitins do not affirm the aikya at the vyaavahaarika level.
   After all, Ishvara is the Lord of the world, the controller of all.
   How can an individual soul be the same as Ishvara? If someone thinks,
   "God and I are the same, so I am the Lord of the world and I will do
   whatever I please", then he is a fool. Unfortunately, many people
   construe  the jiiva-Ishvara-aikya concept as advocating that devotee
   and God are equal in all respects.

   What is meant by jiiva-Ishvara aikya is that the essential nature of
   both is Brahman. It means jiiva and Ishvara with all their upaadhis
   (limiting factors) removed are the same. It does not mean that jiiva and
    Ishvara are the same when the upaadhis are present. So the correct
   way to conceive God is to think of Him as essentially nondifferent
   from oneself.


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