Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at
Fri Jul 7 15:04:08 CDT 2006

The brahma-vaadina.h does not have to do with nirguNa brahman, but it
has everything to do with saguNa brahman, and hence the name. In the
suutra bhaaShya, Sankara asks if there are two brahmans. He answers,
that indeed there are - one is the nirguNa brahman and the other is
the saguNa brahman. Note that the division is from the point of view
of the saadhaka. For the advanced saadhaka, the nirguNa brahman, where
the limiting adjuncts are denied is taught - neti, neti. For the
others the saguNa brahman - to be approached with rituals and
meditation is taught. The final fruit of  this is brahma loka which is
"almost" the advaitic mukti.

Again, the division of brahman is only from the standpoint of
ignorance. Brahman itself is not undergoing any change (nirvikaara.h).
That's important to understand.

Leaving aside the "usual" upanishadic-advaitic arguments, let's take a
look at ritual and meditation. In many places, details of ritual and
meditation are discussed and the answer is provided by brahmavaadina.h
- brahmavaadino vadanti. It's a good question why the word
brahma-vaadina.h is used.

First take the mantras asscoiated with rituals. In the taittiriiya
aaraNyaka 2nd chapter, we have yaM yaM kratum adhiite, tena-tena-asya
iShTam bhavati. Whoever recites the mantas, get the fruit of doing the
ritual. The shatapatha braahmaNa also says whoever merely *meditates*
on the details behind rituals will get the same benefit as doing them
(see 'The Artful Universe' by Richard Mahoney for more references).
The third chapter of the taittiriiya aaraNyaka also provides
meditative meanings for ritual acts - citti sruk | cittamaajyam | vaag
vedi.h | etc. So mediiative acts can give the same fruit as ritual. Is
ritual then obviated?

The answer is no, except for a select few. For most of us doing
something with our gross organs, as compared to the subtle organ mind,
makes us concentrate better. For example, when we work we often can
concentrate more than sitting and meditating. Similarly, the ritual
acts make one concentrate on something better. Note that the mantra or
the ritual has a power which is objective or ontic. However, the
results of a ritual or meditation accrue to one/many subject(s). So
the Chaandogya upanishad says that karma and upaasana will have fruit
even if done purfunctorily (the mantra having an ontic power), but
give full results when done with faith and concentration (the
subjective part is due to the result being subjective). The next step
is to understand the meaning behind the rituals. That's where the
braahmaNa passages prove useful. Understanding the symbolism behind
ritual acts can only help us concentrate better.

So we may learn the kUShmANDa homa mantras from the taittiriiya
aaraNyakam (2nd chapter), recite them and get the benefits of
performing the homa. However, more maturity is required to be able to
concentrate, which will give the *full* benefit of the homa. That's
where the actual ritual becomes useful. It helps us concentrate, so
that the full benefit of the mantras is obtained. Of course doing a
home doesn't mean you can definitely concentrate more than just
reciting the mantra, it just makes it *easier* for most of us. We can
still do rituals with a wandering mind!

So we have the brahmavaadina.h discussing details behind the ritual or
meditations associated with it. It should be clear that to both
understand the mantras and know what symbolic acts correspond to the
mantras in the physical domain, we can consult only the
brahma-vaadina.h! Just to make sure that there is no confusion, I'll
emphasize that these symbolic acts are not inventions of the R^ishis,
they have an ontological reality. These rituals and meditations are no
less important than the advaitic passages from upanishads. In fact not
only are many upanishads filled with the meditations or symbolic
meanings of rituals (e.g, bR^ihadaaraNyaka discusses the ashvamedha in
great detail), the brahma suutra itself spends a lot of effort in this
direction.  For the rare few who can directly grasp the supreme
advaitic truth, this is not of much importance. Of course we can
safely forget about the crooks who pretend to be realized and claim to
follow "direct-path" advaita or whatever nonsense they call it in this

J~naana alone grants kaivalyam, but rituals and meditation are
indispensable for most, if not all of us. Rituals and meditation thus
form a continuous link with j~naana, and who else but brahma-vaadina.h
can expound the subtlities of these rituals?!


On 7/7/06, Abhishek RK <rkabhi at> wrote:
> I agree that brahmavada mentioned here doesn't have anything to do with
> "brahman" as such. But I would be interested to know what brahmavada means
> in this context (viz, that of karmas).
> Regards,
> Abhishek
> On 7/3/06, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at>
> wrote:
> I think I have mentioned, even very recently about karmas and how it
> can be viewed as forming a continuous link with j~naana, with
> quotations from Sureshvara. But the bottom-line is that those passages
> you quote would be interpreted more or less exactly the same way by an
> advaitin and the old bhedaabhedavaadins like Bhaskara. So, there is no
> justification in calling advaita brahma-vaada, based on those
> passages. That's all I was trying to say.
> Rama

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