[Advaita-l] An interesting observation by a Vishishtādvaitin

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri Jul 14 02:07:44 EDT 2017

On Wed, 12 Jul 2017, Bhaskar YR via Advaita-l wrote:

> I always wonder whenever I hear this story.  How can mere calling his
> son 'nArAyaNa' at the death bed confused nArAyaNa, the lord's 'dUta-s'
> and mistook that he indeed chanted nArAyaNa nAma with all bhakti bhAva
> and took him to vaikunTa lOka??  No bhAva only nAma would grant us the
> sAlOkya / sAyujya mukti then ?  Or is this mere eulogy of power of
> nArAyaNa nAma??

Well, yes it is eulogy.  But it is also the philosophical position of the 
Bhagavata that it is the name itself that has power.

> But here also bhAva is
> aimed towards his ishta devata 'purandara vittala' unlike in this case
> of ajamila where he just remembered and called his mortal son's name
> nArAyaNa.

And this is not such a novel idea.  Think about Vedic mantras.  My son 
knows sandhyavandana and I am slowly teaching him other useful suktas but 
he doesn't know the literal meaning at all except what I have told him. In 
fact even in India even many purohits don't know.  Ideally, as taught in 
the Mimamsa shastra one should know the meaning but knowing the proper 
pronounciation, how and when the mantra should be employed, and the Rshi, 
Devata, and Chhanda are more important "meanings" then the literal 
meaning.  In the tantras it is even more extreme than this.  Something 
like the shrividya mantra has no grammatical meaning at all yet volumes 
have been written about it.  A mantra whether vedokta or tantrokta has 
power in its use not in the words it contains.

So words like Narayana have intrinsic power.  The power derives from being 
the description of divinity but even when the connection is not known it 
still has power.

Back to your question.  Does this mean that merely saying Narayana will 
give you moksha.  In principal, yes it will.  But in practice, only for 
the person who have achieved the right state to merit saying it after many 
lifetimes of good and bad karma.  It is the same reason merely hearing the 
mahavakyas can cause jnana for some and have no effect on others.

On Wed, 12 Jul 2017, Bhaskar YR via Advaita-l wrote:

>>  bhagavAn is sarva nAma vAchya.  And I read somewhere that each and
>>  every word in shruti and smruti denoting brahman only.  And vishNu is
>>  aNu, bruhat, krusha, sthoola etc. as well.  If that is the case,
>>  remembering any name or any object without bhAva ( or unconsciously)
>>  would give us the mOksha or nArAyaNa sAyujya !!  Is this not something
>>  a complicated approach in bhakti mArga??

The same problem arises in jnana marga.  A dog has as much Brahman-nature 
as the Shringeri acharya.  So why are the words of the latter listened to 
attentively while the barking of the former considered a nuisance?  The 
mimamsaka view which the Vedantins follow (See Brahmasutra 1.3.28 shabda 
iti chenna atah prabhavAtpratyakShAnumAnAbhyAm) is that a sound does not 
exist in isolation it's form and meaning are fixed at the beginning of the 
yuga-cycle when Brahma recollects the Vedas and speaks them anew and 
therefore also the laukika words that derive from them.  One who is 
shrotriya is best able to understand that primordial speech and one who is 
brahmanishta understands its implications.  Such a person is fit to be a 
guru and his words can influence and instruct others.  The lesser being 
may also have that same knowledge but they are not able to express it to 
themselves let alone others.  (the discussion about antahkarana that is 
going on is relevent here also.)

The same reasoning applies to bhakti except here it is emotional feeling 
(rasa) that gives words significance.  One who has a reaction to 
"Narayana" even if it is hate (but how much more so if the reaction is 
love) will see more results from saying it than one for whom it is just an 
entry in the dictionary.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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