Bhakti in VedAntic sAdhanA

Hemant reachhemant at ETH.NET
Thu Mar 14 01:31:44 CST 2002

Dear Kenji,
          So you are an Englishman after all. I knew the etymological meaning of 'mere'  but did not write it to you because my Collins English Dictionary does not contain it! May the mere and perfect Spirit illumine us. It is interesting that the sanskrit word kevala is used in pretty much the same way --- a pejorative in common parlance but connoting the sublime philosophical sense of  unity otherwise such as in kevala Atman etc.
          The basic issue to me is still unresolved. It is a fact that in advaitic sAdhanA karma has to drop off as one embraces sannyAsa. But bhakti may remain. The question is does bhakti also drop off at a certain stage as the perception of an undifferentiated Oneness grows upon the sAdhaka. Consider the famous verse of Sankara (I write from memory). This verse is addressed to Siva.
         O Lord ! Forgive my three sins. Knowing that Thou art omnipresent I came to kAsI to see you. Knowing that Thou art formless I worshipped you. Knowing that Thou art beyond words I spoke of you. 
         It would seem that Sankara here is almost apologizing here for his Bhakti. To me it appears that a man with intellectual rectitude would would move towards ajAtivAda of GaudapAda which is the extreme monistic position. However Sri Mayavaram spoke of bhakti without bheda buddhi as a form of nididhyAsana. This concept is not absolutely clear to me. Then again comes parA bhakti suggesting that the universe is not after all an illusion but the leela of the Divine thereby implying that it is real! My dull intellect has not been able to sound these mysteries. 
          Then again comes the issue of grace. A verse from katha is often quoted in favour of the idea of grace. He attains the Self whom the Self chooses. But this Self is the summit of his own being!  Moreover the upanisad declares nAyamAtmA balahInena labhyah! 
          Lastly, head vs. heart and the state of advAita in UK. To my mind advaita is the same everywhere giving a small latitude to interpretation. A person may or may not be an adhikArI for it. Can a man retain his head after compromising it with his heart --- I don't know. 
          with best regards,
                   Alakha Niranjana

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