[Advaita-l] The Highest Path

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Dec 1 22:50:31 CST 2010

On Wed, 1 Dec 2010, Rajaram Venkataramani wrote:

> In the chapter on Bhakti Yoga, Arjuna asks Krishna who is the best yogi -
> the one who worships you the personal form of Ishwara or the akshara
> brahman.
> *evam satata-yukta ye*
> *bhaktas tvam paryupasate*
> *ye capy aksaram avyaktam*
> *tesam ke yoga-vittamah*
> **
> Lord Krishna categorically asserts that one who worships Him is higher than
> one who is speculating about akshara brahman, who is not manifest.

Actually what he is that one who worships Him with devotion is more 
accomplished in Yoga than one who worships (the word speculating is 
entirely inappropriate) the imperishable unmanifest form of Brahman. 
Bhakta, upasaka, yogi, are terms that could be applied to either.  Why are 
the former superior?

klesho.adhikatarasteShAmavyaktAsaktachetasAm |
avyaktA hi gatirdu.hkhaM dehavadbhiravApyate || 12.5 ||

"Those who meditate on the Unmanifest have greater trouble because their 
goal, the Unmanifest, is very hard to reach for the embodied."

> *mayy avesya mano ye mam*
> *nitya-yukta upasate*
> *sraddhaya parayopetas*
> *te me yuktatama matah*
> **
> Adi Sankara also agrees that a bhakta is the highest among the yogis though
> he says that a self realized jnani is not under question here. I would like
> to know that is the opinion of the scholars on this forum or based on a
> wider knowledge they think that bhakti to Ishwara in divya rupam is not
> considered the highest by advaita tradition.

It is simply practical advice.  The problem of ignorance is due to 
embodiment and the resulting sense of aham, "I".  It is very difficult for 
those who are wrapped up in ahamkara to understand an abstraction.  But 
understanding a form to which one can relate is easier.

Lately my wife has been singing a bhajan by the famous Gujarati saint 
Narsinha Mehta called "jal kamal channi jane bala".  It tells the story of 
how Krishna Bhagavan went to fight Kaliya Nag from the perspective of the 
Naganis or wives of Kaliya Nag.  They try to convince Him to go home 
because He is just a child and He will surely get killed by the big bad 
snake.  The theme is that they are ideal Bhaktas because their love for 
Krishna Bhagavan is so pure despite not knowing His true nature.  Of 
course by the end of the story Kaliya and his wives do know who they are 
dealing with.

The function of Advaita Vedanta is to take us from asat to sat.  If Bhakti 
can do this then by all means let it be considered the best.  But if 
someone should take the longer, more difficult road and succeed then there 
is nothing "lower" about it.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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