Karma, Bhakti and advaita

Dr. M. Giridhar giridhar at CHEMENG.IISC.ERNET.IN
Thu Apr 23 23:15:57 CDT 1998

> And reading standard texts of Advaitam leaves one with little doubt that
>from the standpoint of Advaita Vedanta tYhe other two paths, bhakti and
>karma, as they're commonly interpreted, are lesser forms of sadhana.

        Maybe you should re-read some of the advaitic texts, read works by
Madhusudhana Saraswati and works of the present Shankara-acharayas before
making such statements. I would recommend 'The voice of God' by Kanch
periyava, who will explain to you why karma yoga and bhakti yoga are
essential and integral parts of ones sadhana. In jivanmuktiviveka,
the author says that upasana should not be neglected until one has taken

        While karma-yoga leads to chitta shuddhi, bhakti and jnana both
lead to mukti. The former (bhakti), if practiced properly culminating in
sharangati, leads the aspirant to Brahmaloka. See Anand's posts on this

        Even Ramana Maharshi often used to emphasize that the path of atma
vichara is for "ripe" people, and practices like pranayama, japa etc. are
all essentially initially.

        It should be clear that practice of karma yoga is essential and is
a pre-requisite, while both bhakti and jnana marga will lead to mukti. So,
the question of something being a "lesser" form of sadhana never arises.
Any form, if practiced *properly*, will lead the aspirant towards jnana.

        I think you are confused by statements like 'No form of karma,
rituals will lead to jnana ..' etc. by Shankara. If you really want to
understand these texts correctly, ask yourself whether you satisfy the
criteria for learning these texts, as specified by Shankara itself. It is
not easy to understand texts like vivekachudamani by skimming over it,
especially for people like us who do not have the qualifications as
prescribed by Shankara. So we should spend more time and ponder on the
truths expounded by Shankara.

        Karma does not lead to jnana. But this does not mean karma should
be ignored by everyone. Why do Shankara-acharyas place so much importance
on rituals and upasana ? All of us are not born like Ramana Maharshi. We
need to "cultivate" chitta shuddhi. Without karma-yoga and bhakti, ths is
almost impossible and one may tend to get confused and make statements
like 'If the jagat is illusory and my sadhana is illusonary, why do
anything ?' One has to carefully differentiate between the vyahavarika and
paramarthika levels and not get confused.

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