Bhakti and advaita

Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Mon Jan 27 16:53:31 CST 1997

>The thread "Bhakti and advaita" is quite an interesting and a very useful
>one.  The following is my understanding and is not in response to any one
>particular posting.

>Is there a Brahmaloka or is there a swarga ?

>I submit: No, there isn't.

        Thank you for your views.

If you are saying that Brahmaloka and svarga do not exist *apart from
Brahman*, there is agreement.  If you are saying that Brahmaloka and
svarga are like horns on a hare, i strongly differ. Seers, like Shankara,
have written pages and pages on Brahmaloka. Further, there are detailed
descriptions of svargas and naraka-s in our purana-s. To dismiss them all
as non-existent as horns on a hare is not right, imho. I feel that if you
dismiss all the lokas and Ishvara as horns on a hare, then not many
vedantists will agree with you. Of course, knowledgeable readers of this
list can correct me.

>The concept of Ishwara is created by the great acaryas as an intermediate

        What exactly do you mean by 'concept' ? In a sense, everything
we talk about are concepts. However, Shiva and Vishnu are as real as
you or I. Ramana Maharshi also expresses the same view. If you need, i
will get you the exact quotations.

        If you are talking from the paramarthika position, you can
deny Ishvara, jagat, jiva and say everything is only Brahman. Which is
ok, provide you *acknowledge the existence*. Though you can deny the
snake, you should acknowledge the rope. You can deny the names and forms
imposed on the substratum, but not the underlying substratum as well.

> There is every danger with this
>intermediate step that we can consider this intermediate step to be the
>final destination, if we follow the Saguna Brahman route. Also, without
>jnana, we imagine powers to Ishwara. Once we fall into that trap, we may
>loose sight of our final destination.

        If that is so, why does Shankara say that one attains Brahmaloka
by following Saguna Brahman and is freed from the cycle of rebirths ? Why
does Madhusudana Sarasvati say that one can attain mukti by following
Saguna Brahman ? If your contention is correct (Brahmaloka etc are non-
existent) then they just should not say freedom from rebirths can be
attained from following Saguna Brahman. Don't you think so ? Further,
there are several vedic rites for the attainment of svarga. If you are
saying that svarga is non-existent, you have removed the use of these vedic
rites. Vedic rites can be performed with a motive (of course, that will only
keep you in samsara) or without motive (in which case, it will lead to
purification of the mind).

        If purification of the mind is the only use of devotion, and that
purification can result from worshipping non-existent people for
non-existent purposes (like attainment of svarga), then surely, you should
agree worshipping Shiva/Vishnu is same as worshipping unicorns.


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