[Advaita-l] The Mundakopanishat and Madhusudana Saraswati

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jun 5 23:29:18 EDT 2018

The Mundakopanishat and Madhusudana Saraswati

Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.3 and 4 there is the teaching of meditating on the
Omkara as the means to gain the liberating knowledge of identity of the
jiva with Brahman:

धनुर्गृहीत्वौपनिषदं महास्त्रं शरं ह्युपासानिशितं सन्दधीत । आयम्य तद्भावगतेन
चेतसा लक्ष्यं तदेवाक्षरं सोम्य विद्धि ॥ ३ ॥
The imagery of aiming and shooting the arrow ending up with the striking of
the target, thereby uniting the arrow with the target is employed here.
प्रणवो धनुः शरो ह्यात्मा ब्रह्म तल्लक्ष्यमुच्यते । अप्रमत्तेन वेद्धव्यं
शरवत्तन्मयो भवेत् ॥ ४ ॥ Shankara says here for the 4th mantra:  तत्रैवं सति
अप्रमत्तेन बाह्यविषयोपलब्धितृष्णाप्रमादवर्जितेन सर्वतो विरक्तेन
जितेन्द्रियेणैकाग्रचित्तेन वेद्धव्यं ब्रह्म लक्ष्यम् । ततस्तद्वेधनादूर्ध्वं
शरवत् तन्मयः भवेत् ; यथा शरस्य लक्ष्यैकात्मत्वं फलं भवति, तथा
देहाद्यात्मताप्रत्ययतिरस्करणेनाक्षरैकात्मत्वं फलमापादयेदित्यर्थः ॥  By
carefully avoiding distraction from the worldly snares, one should engage
in deep concentration giving up the body-mind-organs identification and
realize the Aksharam, Brahman, as one's true self.
This whole process involves the aspirant constantly delving on his goal,
lakshya, and finally becoming one with it, tanmaya. This word 'tanmaya'
finds its consummation in Madhusudana Saraswati's verse in the Bh.Gita 15th
chapter commentary:
शैवाः सौराश्च गाणेशा वैष्णवाः शक्तिपूजकाः। भवन्ति यन्मयाः सर्वे सोहमस्मि
परः शिवः।।3।

'I am that Supreme Śiva which is what the Śaivas, Sauras, Gāṇeśas,
Vaiśṇavas, Śāktas meditate upon.'
Whichever devataa one chooses, as per his inclinations developed over
several births, one attaches himself with it, to the exclusion of all else
in creation. This is ekabhakti. When he does that he looks upon his
Ishtadevataa as not any paricchinna, limited, entity but the Supreme
Brahman that encompasses everything in creation consisting of sura, nara,
deva, gandharva, chara, achara, chit, jaDa constituents. Thus, for example,
a Shiva bhakta would hold his Shiva to be the Supreme Brahman, the
jagatkaaranam, as both upadana and nimitta. All other deities like Vishnu,
Ganapati, Surya and Devi are manifestations of Shiva for that aspirant. His
meditation on Shiva with this bhAva culminates in his becoming one with the
Shiva tattva. This is called 'tanmayatvam.'  This is exactly what the
Mundakopanishat cited above speaks of. Madhusudana Saraswati says that the
devotees of any of the devataa-s take their saadhana to the logical end of
becoming one with their Ishtadevataa, Brahman. That Brahman, the Supreme
Shiva, of the Mandukya 7th mantra 'shaantam, shivam, advaitam' the Turiya,
am I. The 'tanmaya' of Mundaka upanishat corresponds with 'yanmaya' of
Madhusudana's verse.
Thus, whichever devataa a devotee takes up with one-pointed devotion, he
reaches the same Brahman which is what is manifesting as various devataas.
Shankara says this in his Sutra bhashya:
स्यात्परमेश्वरस्यापि इच्छावशात् मायामयं रूपं साधकानुग्रहार्थम् ।
(1.1.vii.20) (Ishwara, out of compassion, takes on, *by His Maya*, a form
to grace the spiritual aspirant.)

[The context in the BSB is that Brahman is devoid of any form but takes up
forms to help the aspirant.  In the Kenopanishad bhashya too Shankara lists
several deities Vishnu, Ishvara, Indra, Prana, etc. as upasya as Brahman]

There is no bigotry in Vedanta. Only Advaitins like Veda Vyasa, Gaudapada,
Shankara, Sureshwara, of the earliest period, Amalananda, Sridhara Swamin,
etc. of the medieval period and Madhusudana, Appayya Dikshita, etc. up to
the present day Advaitins can have this Shaastra Drishti sans bigotry.  For
non-advaitins this is unvedantic and blasphemy since it cuts at the roots
of their narrow view of deities.

Om Tat Sat.

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