[Advaita-l] Vikalpa, Savikalpa, and Nirvikalpa

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 23 15:21:49 CDT 2012

Sri Lalitaalaalita wrote:
> > Furthermore, the mere usage of
> > the term "nirvikalpa samAdhi" does not a neo-vedAntin make,
> I didn't expect it from you at least.

I said so deliberately, in order that a subtle point should not be missed. 
> This is what I said :
> *I don't say that nirvikalpaka-samAdhi is never talked in vedAnta-books. It
> is actually helpful means to control viparIta-bhAvanA and hence is
> practiced by all.
> I just mean to say that the knowledge which is termed nirvikalpaka and
> means of moxa is not same as the nirvikalpaka-samAdhi or the Atman shining
> in that state.
> I'll also like to add that such nirvikalpaka-GYAnam of brahma actually
> doesn't need nirvikalpaka-samAdhi to gain birth.*

The crux of the matter is the following. The vedAnta vAkya janita jnAna, "brahman
is nirvikalpaka" takes place in the antaHkaraNa. It may not need a prior experience 
of nirvikalpa samAdhi via yogAbhyAsa in order to take birth, agreed. However, what
needs to be understood is that when it is born in an antaHkaraNa that has not been
trained in control through prior yogAbhyAsa, then it is still a jnAna that has brahman
as vishaya and the jnAna-jneya-jnAtR distinction is not yet dissolved. Sure, one can
argue that the mithyAtva of the distinction has been understood at this stage. But it
is still possible for an antaHkaraNa to intellectually understand "brahma nirvikalpakam"
and it is possible for that same antaHkaraNa to intellectually understand the vedAnta
vAkya "ayam AtmA brahma", but the antaHkaraNa still remains, establishing its own
subject-hood for itself and objectifying brahma vishaya jnAna. After such jnAna has
taken birth, does the antaHkaraNa in which this jnAna was born vanish as it were, in
an infinite ocean of non-duality? Or does it persist, trying to "finiticize" the infinite? If
the former, then this is Atma-saMsthiti, which I submit, is really nothing other than
what is called nirvikalpa samAdhi by those who take a more yogic flavour in their
personal approach to sAdhana. If the latter, I submit that such a person in whose
antaHkaraNa the jnAna has taken birth still only understands the nirvikalpatva of
brahman as a vikalpa; s/he only understands the nirguNatva of brahman as a guNa;
s/he has still not grasped that s/he IS brahman; it is not yet kara-tala-Amalaka-vat.

It is for such cases that Sankara advises tyAga-vairAgyAdi-sAdhana balAvalambena
Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtati in Br. Up bhAshya 1.4.7, immediately after the passage
that you just quoted in another response. And please also note that the same Sankara
also further goes on to say that this smRti-saMtati is ananya sAdhana towards citta
vRtti nirodha. sureSvara adds in the vArttika, pratyag-jnAne nirudhyante cittas tad
vRttayaH. Sure, one can say, this is only abhyupagama vAda, but note that this is not
a provisional abhyupagamana that is later set aside in favor of an altered view in the 
siddhAnta. Rather, this is an abhyupagamana that is made AFTER the siddhAnta has
been set forth, namely that citta vRtti nirodha in itself, divorced from vedAnta SravaNa-
manana-nididhyAsana, is not moksha sAdhana and is not enjoined. I have made an 
extensive set of citations from numerous places in the prasthAna traya bhAshyas 
on this list in the past (see links below), discussing these issues in quite some detail.

Suffice it to say that I do not think it is so easy to say that sureSvarAcArya's crucial
positioning of yogAbhyAsa post-saMnyAsa has no connection whatsoever with what is
traditionally understood as the practice of yoga and that it is nothing but the process
of SravaNa_manana_nididhyAsana. Why, even the brahmasUtra has an adhikaraNa
that begins, AsInas saMbhavAt, in the conclusion to which, Sankara bhagavatpAda
unambiguously states that padmAsana and other postures are taught in the yoga
SAstra as aids in the process of vicAra. And it is not just Asana there; dhyAna is also
given its due place. In its own way, a large amount of teaching from the yogasUtra
and its bhAshya are thereby eased away from dualistic sAMkhya and adopted into
non-dualistic vedAnta, by the very hands of Sankara bhagavatpAda himself.
I submit that the state of moksha that is desired by the jijnAsu is one that is beyond
words, all words, even the words that constitute the vedAnta vAkya. As such, I
find it amusingly surprising that many among those who say they understand this 
seem to have such an anathema for the terms samAdhi and nirvikalpa put together.

ps. The last link above is, if I remember right, the last post I made at the time in
that thread. 
pps. It would help list members if responses to multiple related points in the same
thread can be consolidated into one or two posts, rather than spread around in
multiple posts. 		 	   		  

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