[Advaita-l] Questions on Mayavada

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 25 12:33:46 CDT 2010

> RV: AFAIK, Madhusudana considers Krishna to be Brahman. Sankara does so
> too. Ananda Giri and Vishnu Purana consider Krishna to be an amsa of
> Narayana. Bhagavatham considers Krishna to be Brahman. I think Krishna is
> parabrahman because Bhagavad Gita says so and an impartite Brahman cannot
> have parts.

Read Sankara bhagavatpAda's gItAbhAshya introduction. Quoting from memory,
there is a phrase "vaishNavIM mAyAM vaSIkRtya ... aMSena kila saMbabhUva".
parabrahman is niravayava, impartite, cannot have parts, but once you admit
the functioning of mAyA, the really impartite can apparently have parts.
> RV: On liberation, there is no maya or its effects such as Isvara's form
> and activities
> Jaladhar: Yes.
> RV: no devotion (on liberation for advaitins).

Why is that necessarily a bad thing? If you want to cling on to duality because of
a desire to express devotion, what is the point of the deity telling you explicitly that
the reality is non-dual and that you are essentially non-different from the deity? Is
it true devotion to want to express devotion and therefore to disregard the direct
words of That to which the devotion is directed?
> RV: Could you please explain? I agree that a jivan mukta performs bhakti
> due past impulses though in reality there is no upadhi such as Bhakta or
> Ishvara. But on attaining videha mukti, how can there be bhakti for
> advaitins? This bhakti with desire for liberation is only an upaya not real
> love for Krishna as expressed by gopis who were not concerned about their
> liberation or even well being.

Who decides what is real love and what is not? Is the parakIya prema of the gopI-s
the only or the highest way a devotee can or should express love for bhagavAn?
What about the kinds of love that yaSoda, nanda, kuntI, bhIshma, yudhishThira and
arjuna exhibited? 
Let us further take the case of the gopI-s logically. Either they saw kRShNa as their
own Self or they did not. In the former case, theirs was simply an expression of love
for their own Self. In the latter case, why is a deliberate disregard of one's own well
being a role model worth emulating for the average human being?
> Subrahmanyan: Sankarites do not give up all karma.
> RV: What about paramahamsa sannyasis?
> Vidyasankar: Those sampradayas that accept sannyasa ashrama have an inherent
> contradiction if they dont accept total renunciation of actions.
> RV: Not if acts of devotional activites are distinguished from karma khanda.
> A paramahamsa sannyasi can perform actions by the will of the Lord but it
> will be inaction. Is it not?

Divorcing acts of devotional activity from the karma kANDa is fundamentally illicit and
illegitimate, arising from deficient understanding of both devotion and karma kANDa.
You can of course redefine the term paramahaMsa saMnyAsa to suit your purposes,
but that is neither here nor there.
How does any human being know whether or not the actions he or she performs is
by the will of the Lord? It is easy to get delusional on this score. Throughout history,
the world has seen numerous examples of people who have claimed to be acting
out the Lord's will and have only lead themselves and their believers to ruin. If anybody
comes up to you and says that what s/he does is devotional activity, apart from the
dictates of the karma kANDa, and that in any case s/he is only carrying out the will of
the Lord, and not really performing any action, so whatever s/he does is really inaction,
what are your criteria for believing him/her? Please don't go back to a "bona fide
sampradAya" argument in response.

By "total renunciation of all actions" in advaita, we mean indeed a TOTAL renunciation.
You cannot designate karma kANDa determined action alone as needing to be renounced.
If one is serious about renuncation, ALL karmA is to be renounced. Till such time as one
is ready for that stark and rigorous renunciation of all karmA, the vaidika karmA should
not be pooh-poohed. We advaitins also talk of a gradual approach towards this total giving
up of action, because we recognize that it takes millions of rebirths before one is ready for
TOTAL renunciation. That is what the SAstra teaches and that is what we uphold. We go
by Sruti and smRti, and we do not accept arbitrarily defined parameters of what constitutes
real love for bhagavAn. 


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