[Advaita-l] Questions on Mayavada

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 27 09:50:56 CDT 2010

> *Jaladhar is of the opinion that only duality has to be crossed not abheda
> bhakti. You think that bhakti itself should be transcended. What is the
> opinion of the sampradaya acharya (s)? *

I am pointing out the logical position, not an opinion. When all duality is transcended,
the distinction between bhakta and bhagavAn is also transcended, both for bhagavAn
and the erstwhile bhakta. This jnAna of non-duality is affirmed by bhagavAn directly -
Atmaiva me matam (gItA 7.18). There is a sense in which jnAna is the highest bhakti
and in this sense, the common-sense view of bhakti, which presupposed duality, is
clearly transcended. It is the inability to let go of the presupposition of duality that 
leads to a lot of confusion.
> 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?
> *I suppose it is for sastras to decide. All are considered glorious but
> Bhagavatam also says that gopis love for Krishna is paramount. This is the
> opinion of Narada, Uddhava, Suka etc. *
> 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?
> *It is not for ordinary human being to act like gopis. Complete renunciation
> of advaita tradition is not for ordinary human beings either. *

I grant that the saMnyAsi in advaita tradition is not an ordinary human being at
all. However, among the billions of human beings on earth, there are clearly at
least some extraordinary ones who live that ideal and they represent an ideal
that ordinary human beings can aspire to.

If you hold that the gOpI-s were extraordinary too and it is not for ordinary human
beings to behave like them, would you also hold that they represent an ideal that
one should aspire to?
> 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.
> * Madhusudana Saraswati, a sankaracharya, differentiates bhakti from
> karma. *

You were talking of devotional "activities" and exempting such "activity" from what
needs to be renounced by the saMnyAsin, as opposed to the ritual activity that is
prescribed in the karma kANDa. This is what I object to. Please show us where SrI
madhusUdana sarasvatI exempts any kind of *activity*, devotional or otherwise,
from renunciation.
A thousand years ago, the strong "ritualists" held that ritual action should never
be renounced. In today's world, the strong "devotionalists" seem to hold that
devotional action should never be renounced. The answer in both cases is the
same - the rigorous advaita vedAntic stance on action and its renunciation that
was set out by Sankara bhagavatpAda.
> *If one wants to cheat or in illusion, it is a different matter. We are
> talking about those who directly perceive the Lord and also guided within
> his heart by the Lord. Even if such devotees act contrary to sastras, then
> sastras will explain it. For example, Bhagavatam explains the apparently
> adharmic actions of Krishna and gopis. Even in advaita tradition, the
> actions of avadhuta sannyasis such as Sadasiva Brahmendral is explained
> by those with intution to understand.*

My point is that if there is someone performing an action contrary to SAstra that
is explained in the SAstra, then you and I, as onlookers, need that SAstra first,
to understand what is what. And that SAstra has to be learned and understood
in its entirety, not by picking and choosing and privileging whatever is convenient
to one's own preconceptions.

> *According to Subrahmanyan, sannyasis in advaita tradition do not renounce
> totally as there are mandatory observances. Please read his argument to say
> that "mayavadam asat sastram" verse is an interpolation because the verse
> says advaitam teaches total renunciation. What is the position of sampradaya
> on level renunciation? *

There has been a lot of discussion on the list regarding vividishA saMnyAsa and
vidvat saMnyAsa - formal renunciation of action as a preparatory step towards
jnAna and the natural renunciation of action of the jnAnI. Mandatory observances
pertain to the former, not to the latter.

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