Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 20 11:35:37 CDT 2000

I respectfully disagree with the following--
----Original Message Follows----
From: nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM>
Whatever might be their errors atleast all the
schools - nAstika or Astika - before RAmAnuja agreed that reality can be
attained only through knowledge.

VA: The view that Visishtadvaita espouses Karma as a direct cause of
salvation in conjunction with Jnana is an error, the misconception most
probably being spread by the works of J A B van Buitenen. When
Visishtadvaita says that Karma should not be abandoned, it means that only
that by doing so, we will be violating scriptural injunctions by ignoring
the obligatory karmas of varna and ashrama. Jnana/Bhakti (which is defined
in a particular manner in the works of Sri Ramanuja like the
Vedarthasamgraha, the Shri Bhashya) is still the means of Salvation.
His view is nothing new. Sri Ramanuja has quoted PRE- Shankaracharya auhtors
like Tanka, Dramida etc. to this effect. He has appealed to the authority of
Bharuchi but has never quoted him (not has any other Vishistadvaitin) and so
let me quote Bharuchi's commentary on Manusmriti where he advocates a
non-abandonment of Karma:

On verse 6.74 of Manusmrti, he says – “As the sense requires, he (Manu) is
about to teach in a later verse that there is a combination of knowledge and
works. That is why he goes on- ‘But one who is deficient in vision’, i.e.,
one who confines himself to action (or ritual), re-enters samsara, through
the medium of the abode of manes. There is therefore commendation either of
the combination of knowledge and action or of discrimination alone.” (pg.
23)  In the next verse, Bharuchi continues- “Consequently, in all the stages
of life, combination of knowledge and action is to be known as the cause of
attaining Brahmaloka...”. Again, on verse 6.82 he states: “Therefore the
sense  itself requires us to understand that just as a renunciate must
meditate on the Self for his elevation, so Vedic study also is required of
him.” On verse 6.86, commenting on the term ‘Veda-samnyasa’, Bharuchi says:
“This is not a renunciation of obligatory duties such as the agnihotra since
these are perpetual and it would be repugnant to the Shastra and, as I have
said, it is not the renunciation of the Veda.”

Bharuchi also considers meditation as an injunction (which contradicts the
Advaita notions): On verse 6.82, he states: “According to the context, this
is either the action called ‘renunciation’ or the actions of all the stages
of life, because the object is the same. What is indicated by ‘meditation’
(dhyana) is all whatever is stated by the word ‘vision’ of the highest good
here or in the Shastra’s chapter on renunciation (Chapter 6). Whatever
action occurs in the course of that meditation, during the vision of the
highest good, is related to meditation. Therefore this is a commendation of
the vision of the highest good or of the combination of knowledge and

This last quotation from the Rijuvimala of Bharuchi actually gives the Jnana
Karma samucchaya as an optional way to Salvation! Bharuchi is an ancient
pre-Shankaracharya commentator on Manu, and is quoted by Medhatithi also
with reverence.

Best regards,


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