Bhakti in VedAntic sAdhanA

ken knight hilken_98 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Mar 14 04:18:53 CST 2002

--- Hemant <reachhemant at ETH.NET> wrote:
> Namaste Hemantji,
>           So you are an Englishman after all.

I am afraid that the stork who was delivering me as a
baby lost his way and I ended up in England. As soon
as I travelled to the Arab world and then to India I
felt at home. Here I am a stranger in a strange land.

>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 same section of the Gospel of Swami Ramdas has
this little anecdote:
'When Ramdas was once at Mount Abu, he was taken to a
Mahatma known as Swami Kaivalyananda. Going near to
him Ramdas prostrated before him. The latter sprang up
and asked Ramdas, 'To whom are you prostrating?'
Ramdas replied,' Ramdas is prostrating to Ram.'  he
asked again,'Are you not the same Ram?' Ramdas
replied, 'Yes, Ram is in Ramdas also. He knows he is
one with Ram, but at the same time, he wants to be His
child and prostrate to Him as a child does to it
mother.' Swami Kaivalyananda said, 'Oh that is all
false. The whole universe is an illusion. There is
only one, no two.'

This little story illustrates your point I think.
When we put it alongside the verse of Sankara it
illustrates the fineness of this veil in our whole
understanding. Again, veils are there to reveal and in
the moment of revelation they disappear. So in the
Lord's grace may we proceed with our enquiry.

>           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.

In the digvijaya of Shankara we can read of the
meeting of Shankara with the hunter in Varanasi. After
the hunter has rebuked the entourage for rejecting him
as an outcaste and pointed their minds to the Atman in
all we then read:
'Shankara then replied with love,
‘Many in the world hear about the truths of the
Vedanta; many contemplate on them; and many meditate
on the Atman. But few indeed are those who succeed in
giving up the sense of difference! A person who sees
the whole world as Atman only, whose mind is
unshakeably established in that conviction, is worthy
of worship, irrespective of whether he is a Brahmana
or an outcaste by birth……All objects presented to
Consciousness are false and, therefore, unreal; what
is left after this elimination is Pure Consciousness
alone; and that Pure Consciousness is the “I”. A man
established in such an awareness is, indeed, a Guru to

For whose benefit is this event. For Shankara? Surely
not for he has already made it clear when at the feet
of Govindapada he has acknowledged that he is Siva.
For the purpose of teaching?  I think so.  Not because
Shankara sees his followers as separate from himself
but because they still do in spite of their high
status spiritually.  Could this be an example of jnana
nourished in the heart of bhakti?  As in the Zen
pictures the seeker , after the emptiness/fullness of
realisation, 'Returns to the market place with bliss
bestowing hands.'

>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!

In my role as a teacher of mathematics may I take a
metaphor for the process.
'The lesson can be on fractions. We start from a
duality of teacher and pupil and at the 'thickest
level' a set of attitudes. I may have some idea about
the pupil's ability and the pupil will be thinking 'I
like/ do not like the teacher/mathematics.' We move
out of that stage and from knowledge, and from out of
the love that is in a teacher, I teach the pupil
through the stages of learning.    Some pupils will
understand and be able to carry out the skill for
examination purposes but in a special case there will
be a transformation literally 'in light'.  It is the
'wow' moment of understanding. With that flash comes a
welling up of love which in due course may be
translated as 'I love fractions' but at first it is
totally non-dual. The knowledge and love are indeed
One and all sense of duality has disappeared. As the
pupil is still embodied and prarabhda dregs remain
then his/her life will proceed.
Could this be a useful image?
We have all had such a moment and if we allow it to do
so  then the 'knowledge' acts through us without
qualification because we have lost our individuality
in that moment of insight.  'What is left after this
elimination is pure consciousness alone; and that Pure
Consciousness is the 'I'.
>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!

Maybe we can pick this one up later because I would
like to give some more thought to this while out
walking the dog...again.

>           Lastly, head vs. heart and the state of
> advAita in UK.

Is not Arjuna's problem that he is caught in a
head/heart divide. Both are working well in him but
they are separated by his ahankaara. Once he has
prostrated before the Lord as befits this 'lower'
level of devotion and become silent then he is able to
receive the teaching. Finally he is able to
acknowledge what he has heard, the delusory division
of head/heart transcended.

Thanking you for guiding me along with your words, I
will come back to this later if you do not mind me
pestering you with such questioning,

Om shanti

Ken Knight
 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
>                       Hemant

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Sports - live college hoops coverage

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list