[Advaita-l] Yoga and Advaita Vedanta - 8
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 19 12:29:03 CST 2006
In previous posts, we have looked at various references to samAdhi
(enstasis, as it is translated nowadays), yoga, Asana (posture), dhyAna
(contemplation), ekAgratA (one-pointed concentration) etc. in brahmasUtra
bhAshya (BSBh). I had planned to go through a systematic discussion of the
various other elements of yoga (Asana, prANAyAma, pratyAhAra, dhAraNa, yama
and niyama, in addition to dhyAna and samAdhi) in the bhagavad gItA bhAshya
(BGBh), before turning to the bhAshyas on the major upanishat texts.
However, given that other related discussions are going on in the list at
present, I will first turn to bRhadAraNyaka upanishad bhAshya (BUBh) and
muNDaka upanishad bhAshya (MUBh).
The yogasUtra defines yoga as citta-vRtti-nirodha (halting of the various
transformations of the mind). Within yoga discussions, nirodha can be seen
both as a process and as an end state. Within Sankara bhagavatpAda's texts,
there is one crucial place where the term citta-vRtti-nirodha is referred to
and addressed. This occurs in BUBh 1.4.7; the passage has been discussed
many times previously, so I will give a brief summary here.
The crux of the discussion here revolves around whether the statement
"AtmetyevopAsIta" (AtmA ity eva upAsIta - contemplate upon it (brahman) only
as the Self) is an injunction to meditate upon the Self. The word injunction
here is a translation of the technical term "vidhi" as used in pUrva
mImAMsA. To cut a long debate short, Sankara bhagavatpAda rejects the notion
that this is a primary injunction (apUrva vidhi) to meditate upon brahman as
one's own Self.
In the course of the discussion, he also rejects the notion that this is an
injunction to practise citta vRtti nirodha. This statement in BUBh has often
been misunderstood. What Sankara bhagavatpAda rejects here is the notion
that the upanishat contains an injunction. He does not reject citta vRtti
nirodha itself. This is made amply clear when he says that in fact, the only
means to achieve a halt to various mental transformations is the steady
recollection of Self-knowledge. In other words, it is not as if practising
yoga (separately from studying vedAnta) to achieve citta-vRtti-nirodha will
lead to Self-knowledge and thereby to liberation. Rather, it is
Self-knowledge, obtained through vedAnta, and its recollection that directly
leads to what the yoga school describes as its goal, namely
ananya sAdhanatvAc ca nirodhasya | na hy
Atma-vijnAna-tat-smRti-saMtAna-vyatirekeNa citta-vRtti-nirodhasya sAdhanam
asti | abhyupagamya idam uktam | na tu brahma-vijnAna-vyatirekeNa
anyan-moksha-sAdhanam avagamyate |
There is a remarkable conflunce of advaita vedAnta, yoga and pUrva mImAMsA
in this entire argument in BUBh. Sankara bhagavatpAda's rejection of the
mImAMsA notion of injunction is extremely strong, simply because
Self-knowledge is not an action that can be enjoined. However, he does not
reject citta-vRtti-nirodha itself. Far from it, indeed, he explains that
Self-knowledge itself leads to citta-vRtti-nirodha.
Now, the question arises, if Self-knowledge (Atma-vijnAna) or proper
knowledge (samyag jnAna) has already arisen, why is there any further talk
of steadily recollecting (smRti-saMtati) this knowledge and of citta vRtti
nirodha? The answer comes towards the end of this passage in BUBh - even
after the rise of proper knowledge of the Atman, the tendency to maintain
that knowledge (jnAna-pravRtti) may not be strong (daurbalya). The tendency
of speech, mind and body (vA^N-manaH-kAya) to keep indulging in action
(avaSyaM-bhAvinI-pravRtti) may be stronger (balIyastvAt), because of the
prior momentum of the action that has already begun to fructify.
To counter this, the Sruti teaches the recollection of Self-knowledge as a
niyama, accompanied by other means such as renunciation (tyAga), dispassion
(vairAgya). This knowledge has already been acquired (prApta-vijnAna)
through hearing the upanishat texts. Note here that the steady recollection
of Self-knowledge has already been acknowledged as the only means to achieve
citta vRtti nirodha.
niyantavyA bhavati, na tv apUrvA kartavyA, prAptatvAd ity avocAma | tasmAt
prApta-vijnAna-smRti-saMtAna-niyama-vidhy arthAni ...
This niyama vidhi is taught in Sruti through such sentences as vijnAya
prajnAM kurvIta (BU 4.4.21). If we turn to the commentary on that sentence,
Sankara bhagavatpAda says, one should develop the means to prajnA. These are
formal renunciation (saMnyAsa) accompanied by what is described as the
sAdhana-sampat in BSBh (prajnA-kAraNa-sAdhanAni
saMnyAsa-Sama-dama-uparama-titikshA-samAdhAnAni kuryAd ity arthaH). Now, who
is the person who should renounce and develop these qualities? One who has
already obtained the knowledge of the Self through the SAstra and through
the teaching of the AcArya - (IdRSam AtmAnam eva ... vijnAya upadeSataS
SAstrataS ca, prajnAM SAstra-AcArya-upadishTa-vishayAM
It is easy to see from this that the more detailed descriptions of
vidvat-saMnyAsa by vidyAraNya svAmin follow quite logically from what
Sankara bhagavatpAda says in BUBh.
I had mentioned in an earlier post that one should read the SAnkara bhAshyas
as if they are web pages, with the quotations acting as links that
interconnect them. It is interesting to note that in BUBh 4.4.21, he quotes
muNDaka "om ity evaM dhyAyatha AtmAnam ... anyA vAco vimuncatha". We had
already seen (Yoga and Advaita Vedanta - 5) that he quotes the same muNDaka
text in the context of samAdhi, in BSBh 2.3.39, along with the chAndogya
text "so 'nveshTavyas sa vijijnAsitavyaH"
I will take up a discussion of the muNDaka upanishat in the next post in
this series. To conclude this posting, it is interesting to note is what the
chAndogya upanishad bhAshya (CUBh) has to say about the statement quoted in
BSBh 2.3.39. In CUBh, Sankara bhagavatpAda says, "anveshTavyo vijijnAsitavya
iti ca esha niyama vidhir eva na apUrva vidhiH" - this statement "(it) is to
be investigated, to be known, is a restrictive injunction (niyama vidhi),
not an original injunction (apUrva vidhi). Note that in BSBh 2.3.39, he had
said that samAdhi is taught (upadishTa), while in BSBh 2.1.3 (see Yoga and
Advaita Vedanta - 3), he had used the word enjoined (vihita).
BUBh and CUBh make it clear that he views the upanishat texts as teaching a
restrictive injunction (niyama vidhi), but not a primary injunction (apUrva
vidhi). The content of this niyama, remarkably enough, is yoga or samAdhi,
taught as a means to know the Self (Atma-pratipatti-prayojana or
tattva-darSana-upAya). Once known (vijnAya), the knowledge is to be
consolidated (prajnAM kurvIta) and steadily recollected
(Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtAna). This is the only means (ananya sAdhana) to
citta vRtti nirodha and it also counters the momentum of prArabdha karma.
SrI gurubhyo namaH,
All-in-one security and maintenance for your PC. Get a free 90-day trial!
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list