Bhakti and advaita

Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Tue Jan 28 14:00:10 CST 1997

On Tue, 28 Jan 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> > Brahman*, there is agreement.  If you are saying that Brahmaloka and
> > svarga are like horns on a hare, i strongly differ. Seers, like Shankara,

        See my sentences above, i only differ with you, if you say that
Brahmaloka and svarga are like horns on a hare.

> Swarga, Brahmaloka, the world all are as real or as unreal as we would
> like to see them to be. In my opinion, swarga and naraka are creations of
> the mind. Surely, there are descriptions in the ithihaasaas. But the
> feelings of swarga and naraka are all only in this world and are as real
> as this world and are as unreal as this world.

        I am not sure what you mean. The world is not unreal as the horns
of a hare. It is only unreal when you say it is apart from Brahman. The
world being a mere illusion and being like horns on a hare is not the view
of Advaita vedanta, or any vedanta, as far as I know. This may be the view
of certain sects within Buddhism.

        Further, non-duality has always been acknowledged in advaita on a
vyavahara level. To an ignorant person, the world is completely real. You
can never see this world to be unreal. Either you can see it as a snake or
a rope.

> What is the cycle of re-births ? Is that not the notion of the jeeva in
> its ajnanic thinking ?

        Yes. But most people *still think* they are different from Brahman.
What happens to the jiva after death in their case ? This question is
fundamental and cannot be dismissed by saying that we never die since we
are never born. Thus, Shankara and the brahma suutra and several other
documents discuss the path the soul takes.
        imho, so long as one is "ignorant," one should follow their dharma
and not live by saying 'I can and will do anything since the world is
unreal.' [I am sure Jaldhar will agree :-)

> things and look beyond the maaya. Following Saguna Brahman (with powers)
> is an easy first step for a mumukshu who is under the influence of maaya
> (both for the teacher to teach and the disciple to grasp).
> the notion of birth and re-births. That freedom from "re-births" can be
> obtained from jnanam.

        Following Saguna Brahman is not just the FIRST STEP since it leads
to freedom from rebirths. I, of course, agree that freedom from rebirths
can be obtained from jnana but it also can be obtained by sharangati to
and attainment of Saguna Brahman since jnana will *automatically dawn* on
that person (Whether it be in brahmaloka or this world).

        As Swami Vishvarupananda-ji mentioned 'the Saguna Brahman reacts
to the devotee and will doubtlessly lead him or her into the centre of its
true being, which is Nirguna Brahman.' And no, it is not a EASY first
step, since it is not easy, as Anand clearly pointed out.

        As Vidya mentioned, a large portion of this discussion of moksa
(as defined by advaita) and krama-mukti is pointless.  Madhusudana
Sarasvati, for example, says that the krama mukti attained by the bhakta
is also moksha in the sense that it is freedom from rebirths. Shankara
does not differ. [roughly paraphrasing Vidya's comments].


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