COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF DIFFERENT VEDANTIC SCHOOLS
WITH REFERENCE TO THE VISHISHTADWAITA VADA
दासोऽहमिति मे बुद्धिः ददस्व दासवत्सलः। “दा”कार अवखण्डय दासमात्मीकुरुष्व ।
(Oh Savior of servitors! Please give me the sense of being your Servitor – Daasoham - दासोऽहम्. This will elevate me not only to Your Audience – सालोक्य, but also enable me to enjoy Your Effulgence – सार्ष्टि. I can also enjoy Your Presence – सामीप्य. Then remove the Daa – दा (from Daasoham - दासोऽहम्), so that all that remains is Soham - सोऽहम् – I art Thou. Thereby I become a part of Thou – सारूप्य and equate me with Thou – साम्य or सायुज्य, which ultimately leads me to dissolve my existence in Thou – लीनता.)
The Brahmasootram or Uttara Mimamsa – popularly called Vedanta – has two main schools: Non-Dual and Dual realities – each with several variations. Among them, the Visishtadwaita or qualified monism of Shri Ramanujacharya represents the older school of Bodhayana Vritti, written around 400 B.C. With time, the original concept has changed to Devotion or Bhakti cult, where the Vedic method of worship was replaced by the Pancharatra Agamas (as per जमदग्निः स्मृतिः). This was further strengthened in South India by the work of the twelve Alvar saints, who composed a series of four thousand poems called Nalayira-Prabandham. Following Natha Muni, Tanka, Dramida, Guhadeva, Kapardi, Bhaaroochi and Yamunacharya, Shri Ramanujacharya introduced knowledge (ज्ञानम्) and action (कर्म) concepts to the Devotion (भक्तिम्) cult. Son of Shri Keshavacharya and Kantimati, he was named Lakshmana because he showed unique characteristics (लक्षणम्) even in his childhood. After entering Sanyas, he became Ramanuja.
The first two main chapters of Brahmasootram are known as Synthesis (समन्वयः) and Harmony (अविरोधः). Vedanta harmonizes the apparent contradictions among Upanishads. There is a misconception that Vedanta is a separate school contradicting Sankhya, Yoga etc. This is wrong because the context of each Darshana is different. Sankhya (सांख्य) deals with the indiscernible and indivisible elements (भूत and तन्मात्र - एतेषां सूक्ष्मरूपं तु अनुद्भिन्नविभागकम्). Without coupling with each other (पञ्चीकरण), the elements cannot create. Vedanta deals with the discernible (जीवः and कर्म) and its relation (अंशाशिंभावसम्बन्धः) with the Absolute Indiscernible (परम्ब्रह्मः). Here Brahman (digital - व्यष्टिः) should be distinguished from Parambrahman (analog or समष्टिः). Brahman pervades everything externally and internally (बृहत्वात्, बृंहणत्वात्) giving base or position (ब्रह्म वै सर्वस्य प्रतिष्ठा) to the limited form including the Cosmic Egg (ब्रह्माण्डः), which is the universe (विश्वम्). The prefix Param means totality or best (प पूर्तौ+अम्, केवलम् – सर्वचरम् or परं उत्कृष्टम्). Though Brahman (digital – क्षेत्र-क्षेत्रज्ञ, पूरणात् पुरुषः) shows limited characteristics (पूर्णः संक्षिप्तशक्तिकः) of Parambrahman (analog - ज्ञः), the opposite is not true. Parambrahman is the Absolute Un-manifest and the repository of all powers (Brahmasootram 3-2-26, 3-3-15 to 18).
To understand this concept, let us take the example of Sat-Chit-Ananda. Chandogya Upanishad (8-3-5) defines Sat as the collective of Sa+tee+yam (तानि ह वा एतानि त्रीण्यक्षराणि सतीयमिति), which has been interpreted as representing Desire (इच्छा – कामस्तदग्रे समवर्तताधि – इच्छा तु तदुपाये स्यादिष्टोपायत्व धीः), Consciousness (ज्ञानम् – स्मृतिःपूर्वानुभूतार्थविषयज्ञानमुच्यते) and Action (क्रिया – ज्ञानजन्य भवेदिच्छा इच्छाजन्य कृतिभवेत्). The nature of Desire is ever and total affluence (नित्यप्राप्तिः). Limited in Jeeva, it becomes attachment (रागः – रञ्जनमिति, रज्यतेऽनेनेति वा, क्वचित् विषयेषु प्रीतिरूपिणी सा अतृप्तिः) that couples with others to evolve differently. The nature of Consciousness is Omniscience (सर्वज्ञता). Limited in Jeeva, it becomes knowledge/ignorance (विद्या/अविद्या – यथावस्तु हि या बुद्धिः सम्यग्ज्ञानं तदेव नः). The nature of Action is Omnipotence (सर्वकर्तृत्वः). Limited in Jeeva, it becomes limited potency (कला). The nature of Chit is Omnipresence (नित्यस्थितिः). Limited in Jeeva, it becomes time (कालः षड्भावयोगतः – जायते, अस्ति, वर्द्धते, विपरिणमते, अपक्षीयते, विनश्यति). The nature of Ananda is absolute freedom (सर्वस्वातन्त्र्यम्). Limited in Jeeva, it becomes determinism (नियतिः).
The second sootram of Brahmasootram is जन्माद्यस्य यतः. Because Brahma (ब्रह्म) is described as eternal (अजः) and the sootram contains the word creation etc. (जन्मादिः), commentators, ignoring Sootram 3-2-34 & 38 ibid, have interpreted ‘Asya’ (अस्य) to mean the creation (विश्वम्) by assuming that जन्मः stands for something created from a cause (जायते, उत्पत्तिः, जननं, उद्भवः etc). The context (पूर्वापर सङ्गति) shows that the word ‘Asya’ doesn’t imply the physical Universe (विश्वम्). The subject here is Brahman, which is unitary (मौलिकः) and fundamentally different from the Universe, which is compounded (यौगिकः). All perceptions (प्रत्ययः) are action based (रजसा उद्घाटितम्). Action (क्रिया) involves operation (व्यापारः). Operation (व्यापारः) transforms one into various forms (स्फूरणम्) in a sequence (क्रमः). Such transformations (स्फूरता) are of two types: as Self (अहम्) and as Nature (इदम्). The first is conscious (चेतनः) and is related to Brahma (चिद्रूपंहि सदा सत्यं नाचिद्रूपं कदाचन), as all observations end with unchanging (अक्रमदर्शिः) universal Self as “I know (जानाम्यहम्). The observed इदम् is related to विश्वम् (जगन्न भावो नाभावो भावाभाव विलक्षण) and inert (जडः), as it evolves in time (क्रमदर्शिः). Without any reference to the later, अस्य in the सूत्रम् can only mean Brahman - the subject (चेतन अहम्); and not the creation (जड इदम्). According to गणार्थकल्पद्रुमः, the root जन् also means प्रादुर्भावः. In that case, creation refers to an act of Brahman.
The interpretation (समन्वयः – ब्रह्मसूत्र 1-1-4) of Bodhayana Vritti to Ramanujacharya and of the Mayavadins from Ashtavakra to Bhartrhprapancha to Shankara Bhagavatpada, is derived from:
यस्मान्न जातः परो अन्यो अस्ति य आविवेश भूवनानि विश्वा.
प्रजापतिः प्रजया संरराणस्त्रीणि ज्योतीँषि सचते स षोडशी. - Shukla Yajurveda 8-36.
This has been indicated in Brahmasootram 3-3-35 to 37, 38, 33 &34. The above Veda mantra literally means: There is nothing that has not been created out of It (सृष्टब्रह्मः). It posits inside of everything (प्रविष्टब्रह्मः – तैत्तिरीयौपनिषद – 2-6). The sixteen-fold (षोडशी) creator Prajaapati, after inherently (सचते – सच् समवाये) engaging everything, regulates with Its three-fold splendor (त्रीणि ज्योतीँषि). Like all Mantras, this one also abounds in intrinsic meanings. In the Vedas, we find at least 12 different descriptions of Prajaapati. But the common description that fits all is, It is three-fold: a conglomerate of Atma, Praana and Pashu. Of these, Atma with reference to something (यस्य यदुक्थं ब्रह्मं च साम तत् तस्यात्मा) is that, which is the base or ground providing position for its existence (उक्थः – यतो उत्तिष्ठन्ति सर्वाणि भूतानि), is spread out everywhere in it externally and internally (ब्रह्मः - बृहत्वात्, बृंहणत्वात्), and is equally spread out everywhere (साम – समं इति मेने - आलोमेभ्यः आनखाग्रेभ्यः). Shatapatha Braahmanam 3-1-4-9 defines Pashu as synthesis (पशवो हि यज्ञः – यज सङ्गतिकरणे). Synthesis requires two objects and some binding energy (प्राणः) to synthesize something. In the Vedas, we find at least 18 different descriptions of Praana. However, the description of Chhandogya Upanishad 2-21-3 (यानि पञ्चधा त्रीणि त्रीणि तेभ्यो न ज्यायः परमन्यदस्ति) is applicable here as it also defines the sixteen-fold creator (षोडशी प्रजापतिः). This is also consistent with Prashnopanishad 2-6 & 3-3 and Mundakopanishad 3-1-4.
The mantra speaks about three-fold splendor (त्रीणि ज्योतीँषि), but describes only two (सृष्टब्रह्मः or क्षरः, the physical aspect and प्रविष्टब्रह्मः or अक्षरः, the energy or quantum aspect) leaving out the third (प्रविविक्तब्रह्मः – विविक्त असंपृक्तः, प्रविविक्तः विविक्तमुखी or अव्ययः, the Conscious aspect) because It is indescribable (शास्त्रानधिकृतः) in speech or thought (यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्यमनसा सह). It is eternal, omnipresent, immobile in parts (स्थाणुः), immobile as a whole (अचलः) and ever-lasting (Gita 2-24). According to the nature of perception, every description has three aspects: Adhyaatma, Adhibhoota and Adhidaiva or Adhiyagnya (Gita 8-3&4). Shankara Bhagavatpada calls these the Absolute (पारमार्थिकः), Superposition (प्रातिभाषिकः) and Operational (व्यवहारिकः) description (दृष्टिः). These are the Conscious, material and energy aspects. The प्रविविक्तः ब्रह्मः reflects the Conscious aspect, the सृष्टब्रह्मः reflects the material aspect and the प्रविष्टब्रह्मः reflects the energy or quantum aspects of everything. Shri Ramanujacharya calls these eternal (नित्यः), bound (बद्धः) and free (मुक्तः) Atma. This is explained in Brahmasootram 3-2-25, 28, 31, 32 & 34 and 2-3-43 (प्रकाशादिवत्…., प्रकाशाश्रयवद्वा…, परमतः....., सामान्यात्तु, स्थानविशेषात्.....अंशोनाना...).
Only such a threefold structure can become Prajapati (प्रजापतिः). The material interpretation is related to the common Self (आधिभौतिक भूतात्मा). Since it is related to created objects, it is called विकृतिः and कार्यः. Since in combination with elements it is morphed into various life forms, it is called शुक्रम् (शुच क्लेदे). Then there are the quantum or energy interpretation (अधिदैविक देवात्मा or नैगमिक आत्मा – वाङ्मयप्राणाङ्गीप्राण समवाये यो अयम् अङ्गीप्राणः स इतरेषां प्राणानां आत्मा) and the Sentient interpretation (आध्यात्मिक ब्रह्मात्मा or औपनिषद आत्मा – अव्ययपुरुषालम्वनः क्षरपुरुषसाधकोsक्षरपुरुषः). Though all these can be differentiated from each other, they are basically same – hence तदेव शुक्रं तद् ब्रह्मः तदेवामृतमुच्यते. Further, in relation to evolutionary states, there are अव्यक्तात्मा, महानात्मा, विज्ञानात्मा, प्रज्ञानात्मा, भूतात्मा etc. Thus, there are various types of Atma (आत्मा). But at the ultimate level, all coincide (परेऽव्यये सर्व एकीभवन्ति – मुण्डकउपनिषद–3-2-7).
The secret of deciphering ‘The Sixteen’ (षोडशी) is in Aitareya Aranyaka 2-3-8-20 (यदक्षरं पञ्चविधं समेति युजो युक्ता अभियत् संवहन्ति). The same text (2-2-2-10, also Gita 8-3) defines Aksharam as the mobilizing aspect of energy, which does not over-mobilize (एष ह्येभ्यः सर्वेभ्यो भूतेभ्यः क्षरति न चैनमतिक्षरन्ति), which defines the formula for coupling (पञ्चीकरणम्). According to Shwetashwetara Upanishad 1-8, Aksharam is always with Ksharam – the constituent or material part, as energy cannot exist without mass. According to Gita 3-15, Brahmaa is a derivative of Ksharam and He gives rise to action (कर्म) through Aksharam. According to Mundakopanishad 3-2-7, their combined state is Conserved (अव्ययः) – the Imperishable Continuum (Brahmasootram 1-1-31). Thus, the creation process is described in three different ways: starting from the non-physical Consciousness (अव्ययदृष्ट्या or स्वयम्भूमूला or ऊर्द्ध्वमूला अश्वत्थविद्या), to energy or quantum interpretation related (अक्षरदृष्ट्या or सूर्यमूला or हृदयमूला हिरण्यगर्भविद्या) and finally, material interpretation (क्षरदृष्ट्या or पृथिवीमूला or अधोमूला भूतभावनविद्या). The Mayavadins starting from Ashtavakra to Bhartrhprapancha to Shankara Bhagavatpada follow the highly technical first path (Brahmasootram-4-1-4). Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advises the third path because it is easy to understand by laymen (Brahmasootram-3-4-38). Bodhayana Vritti followed by Ramanujacharya uses the middle path by worshiping (Brahmasootram-3-4-34 to 37) the “Non-duality of Reality as characterized by attributes”.
In Vedartha-sangraha, Ramanujacharya states that the Upanishads, which lay down the desirable principles to be followed by mankind, advocate three fundamental notions:
- A seeker must acquire valid knowledge (आध्यानाय) of the Jeeva and the Paramatman;
- The Jeeva must try to cut off Its bondage by devoting Itself to meditation, worship and the adoration of the Paramatman (उपासना), which is easier than other paths.
- Such knowledge (ज्ञानम्) with discipline (क्रिया) lead to the realization of Paramatman.
The first condition affirms the nature of Reality (तत्त्वम् – आप्रलयं यत्तिष्ठति सर्वेषां भोगदायि भूतानाम्. तत्तत्त्वमिति प्रोक्तं न शरीरघटादि तत्त्वमतः) discussed in the first two chapters of Brahmasootram (नानारूपाणां वाक्यानाम् अविरोधः), the second condition declares the means (हितम् or साधनम्) discussed in the third chapter, and the last states the four essential goals of all living beings (पुरुषार्थः or साध्यः or फलम्) described in the last chapter. An analysis of the views of all schools of Vedanta shows that they are describing the same thing differently – not like the description of the elephant by the six blind men, but like teachers teaching students of different classes on the same subject. The starting point and end points of their description and emphasis on certain aspects are different. But all are guiding in the same direction (भिन्न-प्रवृत्ति-निमित्तानां शब्दानाम् एकस्मिन्नर्थे वृत्तिः सामानाधिकरण्यम् - पतञ्जलि. Also ब्रह्मसूत्रम् 3-3-1). Ramanujacharya advocated meditation, worship and the adoration (उपासना) of Parambrahman, because we cannot remain without action (Gita 3-5), and it is difficult for logical minds to be blindly devoted to Krishna. But if we make Purushottama Narayana (a derivative of Vishnu or Krishna) as a medium for achieving the goal - engaging the mind selflessly – it becomes easier. The other schools posit themselves in between these. The synthesis of all approaches can be proved by a comparative analysis of their views on different aspects.
REGARDING THE ABSOLUTE UN-MANIFEST CONCEPT (परतत्त्वम्):
A1. Shankara Bhagavatpada says; the only (एकम्) indistinguishable (अद्वितीयम्), without any attributes (निर्विशेषः), immutable (निर्गुणः), inactive (निष्क्रियः) Satchidananda Brahman is the Absolute Un-manifest Concept. Though in Absolute interpretation It appears as without any attributes (निर्गुणः), in the Operational interpretation, It appears as with all attributes (सगुणः).
A2. Ramanujacharya describes It as the only cause (एकमात्रहेतुभूतः) for the creation-sustenance-annihilation chain (जन्म-स्थिति-भङ्ग संसारनिवर्त्तनम्); devoid of deficiency or negligence (हेयताशून्यः); eternally blissful (अनन्त कल्याणष्पदम्); infinitely essential (अशेष उपादेयतायुक्तम्); reflecting all features except Itself (स्वेतर समस्त वस्तुविलक्षणस्वरूपम्); possessing unparallel utmost infinite blissful and constructive attributes (असमोर्द्ध्व-अतिशयित-असंख्य-कल्याणगुणविशिष्टः). It is the Ultimate cause of all (सर्वात्मा) and the ultimate source of all (परमात्मा), causing everything perceptible (परतत्त्वम्) in Its reflection (परज्योतिः). It is the Purushottama Narayana propagated by the Vedas (सदादि-शब्दभेद द्वारा निखिलवेदान्तैकप्रतिपाद्यम्).
A3. Madhwaachaarya says; Vishnu alone is the Unmanifest Concept. He is Absolute (सर्वतन्त्रस्वतन्त्रतत्त्वम्), without deficient attributes (अनन्त निर्दोषगुणवान्), and the repository of all positive attributes (अनन्त-निर्दोष-कल्याणगुणैकनिलयः). He is Omnipotent (सर्वशक्तिमान्), Self-radiating (स्वराट्), controller of the sentient-inert universe (नियामकः), and spread out everywhere and in everything in His own Unmanifest Self (आनखकेशाग्रस्वरूपज्ञानात्मकः). He is Satchidananda and without any differentiation (स्वगतभेदरहितम्). He is eternal, Lord of all other Lords (ईश्वरतमः).
A4. Vishnuswamy says: the Satchidananda form embracing Its enchanting (ह्लादिनी) and Omniscience nature (संविच्छक्तिः), is the Unmanifest. He is eternally free (नित्यमुक्तः), not associated with any adjectives or qualifications (उपाधिरहितम्), natural (अप्राकृतगुणविशिष्टः), Omniscient, controller of the universe (नियामकः), praised by all (सर्वोपास्य), regulator of all effects (सर्वनियन्ता), and the repository of all positive attributes (अनन्त-कल्याणगुणनिलयः).
A5. Nimbaaditya says: It is faultless (निर्दोषः), devoid of illusion (मोहः), lassitude (तन्द्रा), perplexity (भ्रमः), etc. Repository of Infinite benevolence (अशेषकल्याणराशिः), Krishna is the Parambrahman. It is the repository of all beauty (सौन्दर्यम्) and pleasantry (माधुर्यम्). It is the totality (अङ्गी) of the four radiating arrays (गोलोकचतुर्ब्यूहः – planets, stars, galaxies and universe), their corresponding four extensions (परव्योमचतुर्ब्यूहः – magnetosphere, heliosphere etc), and all other quadrilateral arrays (चतुष्टयं वा इदं सर्वम् - शान्ख्यायनब्राह्मणम्). It is inseparably coupled with the Energy personified (स्वरूपशक्तिः) offspring of a million incoming radiations (वृषभानुजा) and Its infinite derivatives (सहस्र कायाब्यूहस्वरूपा) to continue the eternal flow (नित्यधारा) of creation. Since It is devoid of physical forms, It appears as formless. But since It has unphysical forms, It appears like that to the Siddhas (सिद्धः). It is boundless, Omnipotent, Lord of all other Lords.
A6. Vallabhacharya says: The Absolute Un-manifest Concept is Shri Krishna, who is the repository of infinite virtues and was manifestly brought up by Yasoda as a child.
A7. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says; It is the eternal Absolute Un-manifest Concept, who locally manifests Itself as Krishna. It is foremost among all (सर्वादिः), the totality of all (सर्व अंशी), eternal existence and determinism personified (चिदानन्ददेहः), substratum of all (सर्वाश्रयः), Lord of all other Lords, who is also known as Govinda and who is eternally posited in Its own manifestation in the ever affluent and ever sovereign radiating sphere (सर्वैश्वर्य परिपूर्ण गोलोकः – गोभिस्तेजोभिरूपलक्षितो लोकः). He is none other than Vishnu – the Omniscience and absolutely free.
REGARDING THE CONCEPT OF INDIVIDUAL SOULS (जीवःतत्त्वम्);
B1. Shankara Bhagavatpada follows the Chhandogya Upanishad and Bhagavatam–11-28-21 (न यत् पुरस्तादुत यन्न पश्चान्मध्ये च तन्न व्यपदेशमात्रम्) and says; whatever did not exist before and will not exist afterwards, is merely a name in the interim. The golden necklace did not exist before the goldsmith created it. It will not exist for ever as such. But the gold existed before it and will remain after the necklace ceases to exist. Thus, necklace is only a name – a temporary adjective (उपाधिः) of gold - and Gold is the reality. Similarly, our body did not exist for ever or will not exist for ever. But our Soul (जीवः) will continue to exist. Hence, the body is a temporary adjective (उपाधिः) of the Soul giving misleading notions about it (भ्रान्तब्रह्मः). The Soul is a reflection of Parambrahman. As long as the Soul is coupled to the mind and intelligence, It is attached to the body. The perception of the body as the Soul is like treating the reflection as real – it is due to ignorance (अविद्या). In the operational sense, the Soul appears to be many (असंख्यत्व), limited in bodies (परिच्छिन्नत्व), is the doer (कर्तृत्व) and enjoyer (भोक्तृत्व), but in the absolute sense, It is Sat-chid-ananda, without any attributes (निर्गुणः), and immutable (निर्विकारः).
B2. Ramanujacharya describes It (जीवः) as the digital equivalent of analog Parambrahma. It is like an adjunct (विशेषणः) of the Parambrahman (विशेष्य). In spite of this, they are related like the part with the whole (अंशाशिंभावसम्बन्धः), showing different characteristics (स्वभाववैलक्षणम्). The Soul (जीवः) is eternal (नित्यः), without a beginning (अनादिः), is a transformation of Paramatma (ब्रह्मपरिणामः), is knowledge personified (ज्ञानस्वरूपम्), the knower (ज्ञाता), the doer (कर्ता), the enjoyer (भोक्ता), with indiscernible dimension (अणुः), but numerous (असंख्यः), infinite (अनन्तः), both confined (वद्धम्) and liberated (मुक्तः). In liberation, it has two divisions: liberated from bondage (वद्धात् मुक्तः) and eternally liberated (नित्यमुक्तः).
B3. Madhwaachaarya says the Souls are eternal consorts (नित्यसहचरः) of Shri Hari or Vishnu. Of the two types of subordination (परतन्त्रतत्त्वम्), the Soul (जीवः) is conscious (चेतनस्वरूपः). It is eternally different from Parambrahman, infinite (अनन्तः) with indiscernible dimension (अणुः). The confined Souls (वद्धजीवः) are of three types: knowledgeable (सात्विकः), active (राजसिकः) and inertial (तामसिकः). The liberated Soul (नित्यजीवः) is without adjuncts (निरुपाधिकः) and is like a reflection (प्रतिविम्बस्वरूपः) of Vishnu.
B4. Vishnuswamy says, the Soul (जीवः) is a part of Parambrahman. Due to the confinement induced by Maya, It becomes the repository of great sufferings (संक्लेशनिकराकरः). Even though It is Self-illuminating (स्वप्रकाशः), it becomes the base for sufferings. It has two divisions as confined (वद्धः) and liberated (मुक्तः). The liberated are many and serve the Parambrahman due to Its grace.
B5. Nimbaaditya says: the Soul (जीवः) is related to the Parambrahman, like a part to the whole (अंशाशिभावसम्वन्धः or भेदाभेदसम्वन्धः). Though the Soul (जीवः) is Knowledge personified (ज्ञानस्वरूपम्), It is also the Knower (ज्ञातृस्वरूपम्). The Soul (जीवः) is limited Consciousness (अणुचैतन्यः), while the Parambrahman is Supreme Consciousness (वृहच्चैतन्यः). The Soul (जीवः) are many in number. They belong to three categories: Liberated (मुक्तः), Semi-Liberated (वद्धमुक्तः) and Confined (वद्धः). The liberated are those who serve Shri Hari as His attendants. They belong to several categories (पार्षदः and पार्षदानुगतः) each. Those who have got the right knowledge due to the grace of Saints belong to the middle category. They also belong to several categories (पार्षदः and साधकः) each. Those who indulge in enjoying the worldly comfort and consequently suffer belong to the last category. They have many categories (विषयी, विवेकी and मुमुक्षुः) each. Without the grace of Parambrahman, the Soul (जीवः) cannot be liberated, because It becomes confined by Maya only when the Parambrahman Observes outward (वर्हिमुखतावशतः).
B6. Vallabhacharya says: the Soul (जीवः) is a part of Parambrahman (चिदंशः), when His blissful aspect desires to spread out (वहुभवनेच्छुः). It is eternal, three-fold (सत्यम् - त्रिण्यक्षराणि सतीयमिति), have imperceptible dimension (अणुः), infinite (भूमा), having different states (उच्चनीचभावापन्नम्), the Doer (कर्ता), the Knower (ज्ञाता), limited by Maya due to locally diminishing freedom (आनन्दांशतिरोभावात्). Only when this freedom is regained due to His grace, the Soul can be liberated to become one with Parambrahman.
B7. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says; the nature of Soul (जीवः) is eternal devotee (नित्यदासः) of Krishna. His confining strength (तटस्था शक्तिः) creates the differentiation (भेदाभेद प्रकाशः). Such Soul (जीवः) are of two types: eternally free (नित्यमुक्तः) and eternally worldly (नित्य-संसारम्). The eternally free always tends to (उन्मुखः) unite with Krishna and as His Counsel (कृष्णपारिषदः), enjoys eternal bliss. The eternally confined world and the Souls confined in them (नित्यवद्धः) suffer because they look away from Krishna. The Soul (जीवः) is essentially not different from Parambrahman (ब्रह्मात्मकः), but it is a part (अंशः) of Him as its effective manifestation (शक्तिः).
REGARDING THE CONCEPT OF MAYA OR SHAKTI (शक्तितत्त्वम्):
C1. Shankara Bhagavatpada says; Maya is inexplicable (अनिर्वचनीयः). It is neither immutable (असत्) nor can be described as mutable (सत्). From the absolute point of view, it is insignificant (तुच्छः), but logically, it is inexplicable (अनिर्वचनीयः), though from the operational (व्यावहारिकः) point of view, it appears as real (वास्तवम्). It is the seed (वीजशक्तिः) that leads to the creation under Parambrahman. The manifest Brahman (सगुणब्रह्मः) or Ishwara is the repository of infinite powers (अनन्तशक्तिमान्), which are beyond contemplation (अतर्क्यः).
C2. Ramanujacharya describes It as that aspect of Parambrahman, which appears as the three-fold Nature (त्रिगुणात्मिका प्रकृतिः) and by which He creates the Universe. It can also be described as a special characteristic (धर्मविशेषः) or a type of operational aspect (वृत्तिविशेषः). The Parambrahman is the repository of all powers since eternity and this characteristic is His conforming regulator (स्वरूपानुवन्धिनी). In this process He measures (ईक्षतेः - from ई इयते) confined by the complimentary characteristics (ई अक्ष्णोतीति) of expansion (व्याप्तिः – अक्ष व्याप्तौ) and consolidation (संहतिः – अक्ष संहतौ).
C3. Madhwaachaarya differentiates Maya, which, according to him, is the main power (मुख्या) from Nature (प्रकृतिः), which is the inferior power (अमुख्या). Maya is three-fold (त्रिगुणात्मिका). Nature (प्रकृतिः), which is controlled by Vishnu, is the operational aspect (शक्तिः). At the beginning of creation, it reveals three aspects called Sattwa, Raja and Tama. The corresponding controllers of these aspects are Shree (श्रीः - सत्त्वगुणस्वरूपा), Bhuh (भूः – रञ्ज्नकारिणी रजगुणस्वरूपा), and Durga (दुर्गा – ग्लानिदायिनी तमः रूपा). Since the Soul (जीवः) are confined by these, they are not able to be liberated. Though all the above three aspects confine all, Shree specifically confines the Deities (देवगणाः), Bhuh specifically confines the humans (मानवगणाः) and Durga specifically confines the Demons (दैत्यगणाः).
C4. Vishnuswamy says Maya is controlled by the Parambrahman. Since it leads to sorrow, it is called ignorance (अविद्या). The Parambrahman is Sat-Chit-Ananda and embraces (आश्लिष्टः) the enchanting (ह्लादिनी) and Omniscience nature (संविच्छक्तिः).
C5. Nimbaaditya says: Maya is known as Pradhana also and is three-fold. Of the infinite powers of Parambrahman, two powers are main: Consciousness (चित्) and Inertness (अचित्). He creates the Soul (जीवः) through the power of Consciousness (चित्) and the Universe through the power of Inertness (अचित्).
C6. Vallabhacharya says: The powers of the Parambrahman can be divided into two categories (द्विविधवृत्तिविशिष्टाः): the enchanting (मोहनकारिणी) of Soul (जीवः) and covering up of reality (स्वरूपआच्छादिका). It has 12 main forces namely: श्रीः, पुष्टिः, गीः, कान्तिः, कीर्त्तिः, तुष्टिः,ईला, ऊर्ज्जा, विद्या, अविद्या, ईच्छाशक्तिः, माया.
C7. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says: the inert Nature is not the cause of the Universe. Parambrahman creates the Universe through Maya. The “I” is different from Maya, which is the effect. Maya has two aspects: Maya, which is the causative aspect (निमित्तहेतुः) and Pradhan (प्रधानम्), which is the material aspect (उपादानहेतुः). Of the infinite powers of Krishna, three are important: Desire (इच्छाशक्तिः), Action (क्रियाशक्तिः) and Knowledge (ज्ञानशक्तिः). These are transformed to Sentiency (चिच्छक्तिः), Life force (जीवशक्तिः) and Maya (मायाशक्तिः).
Regarding the concept of the universe (जगत्तत्त्वम्):
D1. Shankara Bhagavatpada treats the Universe as a derivative (विवर्त्तः - अपवर्तनम्) of Brahman, which appears as समवायिकारणविसदृशकार्योत्पत्तिः - the inherent cause for creating something different. Brahman superposed with Maya (मायोपहितः), appears as the cause for the Universe. Operationally the Universe exists, but in the ultimate sense, it is Brahman only.
D2. Ramanujacharya describes the Universe as the physical aspect of Brahman. Though it has physical-energetic (क्षरः-अक्षरः) aspects inherent in It, in Its Conscious (अव्ययः) aspect explained earlier, it has no relation with causality (कार्यकारणभावः). All three aspects are inherent in Brahman. Before creation and after ultimate dissolution (प्रलयः – प्रलीयते क्षीयते जगदस्मिन्निति), the mutable physical-energetic (क्षरः-अक्षरः) aspects turn immutable – hence imperceptible (स्वाप्ययात्). During creation it becomes mutable to create everything as described in Gopatha Braahmanam. This transformation does not contradict Its nature, as these exhibit His excellence. Thus, Brahman is the constituent and effective cause of the Universe.
D3. Madhwaachaarya treats the Universe as real. Starting from creation till ultimate dissolution, the Nature (प्रकृतिः) mutates itself to create everything, after which it becomes immutable – hence imperceptible again. According to the destiny and possible talent (nature of the species), Vishnu creates the varieties in the Universe and after the cycle ends, makes all immutable again existing as the only Cause. The cycles continue unabated due to measurement (ईक्षतेः) confined by the complimentary characteristics of expansion and consolidation.
D4. Vishnuswamy says that the Universe is the creation of Brahman. The Universe, which is inherently constituted of Brahman (ब्रह्मसमवायी) and similar to Brahman (ब्रह्मस्वरूपः), is real. Since Brahman is real and eternal, so is the Universe. Just like a pot is inherent in clay awaiting the potter and his wheel to give it shape, similarly, the Universe awaits the act of God (ईक्षतेः) to materialize. The constituent aspect of Brahman is only one of Its evolutionary states.
D5. Nimbaaditya says: Brahman is the cause and the Universe is the effect. Brahman is Omnipotent. It’s potency (शक्तिः) is the Universe. Brahman is sentient and the Universe is inert. Thus, they are different. The Universe, as is perceived, is real during creation. Before and after that it is real also, but imperceptible.
D6. Vallabhacharya says: The Universe is created by Brahman through His Maya. Brahman is both the constituent and effective cause of the Universe as the physical-energetic (क्षरः-अक्षरः) aspects. Brahman is the cause of all causes (सर्वकारणकारणम्). Before and after creation, It remains in the Brahman and continues cyclically in It’s unmanifest and manifest aspects.
D7. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says Maya reveals itself in two ways: Pradhan (प्रधानम्) and Prakriti (प्रकृतिः). The inert Nature cannot be the cause of creation without the energy (शक्तिः) that, due to the grace of Krishna, initiates action. In this process Prakriti (प्रकृतिः) becomes a secondary cause like the iron welds due to the heat energy. The identification of the body with the Soul is wrong. The universe is not unreal, but only unstable (नश्वरः) – it continuously changes form. Shri Krishna has unimaginable powers (अविचिन्त्यशक्तिः). He transforms Himself into the Universe only due to his desire (इच्छाशक्तिः). Like a Chintamani (चिन्तामणिः) creates different jewels while retaining its own nature (स्वरूपम्), Krishna creates the Universe retaining His Self and Nature.
REGARDING THE CONCEPT OF DEVOTIONAL PRACTICE (साधनतत्त्वम्)
E1. Shankara Bhagavatpada says that only the knowledge of Brahman, i.e., the nature of permanence and impermanence of objects (नित्यानित्यविवेकः) leads to liberation. For this reason, the first precondition is detachment from objects (वैराग्यम्), followed by controlling the external senses (शम or वाह्येंद्रियसंयमः) and internal senses (दम or अन्तरिन्द्रियसंयमः), refraining from enjoyment of objects and using the bare minimum (उपरतिः), ignoring the external effects like heat, cold, pleasure or pain, etc (तितिक्षा), focusing on only one subject (समाधिः), faith in the teachings of the scriptures (श्रद्धा), and eagerness for emancipation (मुमुक्षुत्व). One must follow these in three steps: listen or learn (श्रवणम्), observe and analyze (मननम्), and repeat the effects in practice (निदिध्यासनम्), which will lead to concentration of mind in the conscious aspect only (समाधिः). Through adoration of the Brahman (उपासनम्), the consciousness becomes clear. The adoration can be of qualified Brahman or Unqualified Brahman.
E2. Ramanujacharya describes Devotion as the best and only requirement, which creates detachment from all other objects. Only a devotional mind will be blessed by the Brahman and can realize the nature of Brahman. Regular austere practice of knowledgeable devotional service will lead to the knowledge of Brahman. He advises to follow the practice of Parashara. He divides adoration into five categories: Purification of the place of worship (अभिगमनम्), Collecting the essential ingredients (उपादानम्), Worshiping Vishnu (ईज्या), Recitation of the scriptures with proper understanding of their intrinsic meaning (स्वाध्यायः) and Quest for Parambrahman (भगवदनुसन्धानम्).
E3. Madhwaachaarya says devotion can be of three types: general (साधारणीभक्तिः), absolute (परमाभक्तिः) and formal (स्वरूपभक्तिः). After realizing the Godhead, devoting oneself only to His service is called devotion. The general attachment before learning properly is called general devotion. When someone sincerely tries to get worldly objects through the prescribed practices, it is denounced. When someone realizes the absolute truth about everything after realizing the Godhead, it is absolute devotion (also अमलाभक्तिः). After liberation, the residual devotion of the Jeeva is called formal devotion (also साध्यभक्तिः). First one should have auspicious company and understanding the scriptures. This will lead to development of general devotion. Then the other devotions will follow through continued practice.
E4. Vishnuswamy says that devotion is the adoration of the three-fold (सत्स्वरूपः), Consciousness personified (चित्स्वरूपः), eternally present (नित्यस्वरूपः), full of eternal bliss and freedom (नित्य-अचिन्त्य-पूर्णमानन्दम्), who is personified as Shri Narasimha. He admits reality and eternity of the Adorable (उपास्य), the Adorer (उपासकः) and the adoration (उपासनम्). He says: मुक्ता अपि लीलया विग्रहं कृत्वा भगवन्तं भजन्ते.
E5. Nimbaaditya advocates devotion and sincerity. Devotion of Krishna only can be physical worship (साधनरूपी अपराभक्तिः) or mental (प्रेमलक्षणा उत्तमाभक्तिः).
E6. Vallabhacharya advocates devotion can be physical worship (साधनरूपा) or goal oriented (साध्यरूपा), which can come only through the grace of God. It has two divisions: morally bound (मर्यादा) through scriptures and advanced (पुष्टिः) due to grace of Krishna.
E7. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that devotion cannot be expressed by action-desire-knowledge (कर्म-योग-ज्ञानम्) without the grace of Krishna, because Jeeva is His eternal servant. Based on the level of devotion, such people can be best (उत्तमम्), medium (मध्यमम्) or junior (कनिष्ठः). The sequence of approach is following the noble persons and serving them, as a result of which one can difference between self and non-self and the relation between both leading to the nine-fold devotion (नवधाभक्तिः).
As we can see, all are describing the same Prambrahman from different perspectives for people with different levels of understanding. Yamunacharya, declares that Bhakti succeeds the twofold training of the mind by karma and jnanam. Further, according to Vedarthsangraha, आत्माभिमानो यादृशः तदनुगुणैव पुरुषार्थप्रतीतिः।. Also श्रद्धा is defined as: श्रत् (सत्यत्वं) दधाति विषयेषु यथा शक्त्या. Hence it has been said that: श्रद्धामयोsयं पुरुषो यो यत्श्रद्धः स एव सः – गीता 17-3 and तं यथा यथोपासते तदेव भवति – शतपथब्राह्मणम् 10-5-2-20. He, who follows something devotedly, becomes like that.
अपूर्वः कोऽपि कोशोऽयं विद्यते तव भारति |
व्ययतो वृद्धिम् आयाति क्षयम् आयाति संचयात् ||
व्ययतो वृद्धिम् आयाति क्षयम् आयाति संचयात् ||
हरि ॐ तत् सत्.
Author: Basudeba Mishra
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