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Re:A ? On Contemplative Meditation In Visishtadvaita

From: bindinganavale suresh (suresh_b_n_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Sat Dec 01 2001 - 22:13:07 PST

Dear srinivasan,
           
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      You wrote :-

I wish to know, in good detail, about the tradition of
contemplative meditation and philosophical reflection
in the lineage of Visishtadvaita and Srivaishnavism.
Can someone help?

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The question is a Good one.I will try my best to
answer your question according to Visishtaadvaita
school of thought.

Acharya Sri.Ramaanujacharya,one of the greatest
exponent of Visishtaadvaita philosophy has answered
this question in his Vedarthasangraha and Sribhashya.

Sri.Ramanuja opts the view that knowledge is very
important,much more than mere work or karma to realise
Brahman.The Upanishadic statements to this effect are

1."Brahmavit Brahmiva bhavathi" i.e One who "Knows"
Brahman becomes brahman
2. One who is desirous of attaining the highest should
"know" Brahman.
Likewise there are many such statements stressing the
importance of "Knowing" Brahman.

Now,there are also statements which tell that Brahman
is to be "meditated upon and mere knowing or exercise
of intelligence is futile in realising brahman".

For example :-

He is to be meditated upon (Brihadaranyaka upanishad)
The atman is attained by the person whom the atman
chooses and is not attained by mere works,exercising
intelligence and too much study of the scriptures.
This is told in katha upanishad by yama to nachiketa.
Similar thoughts can be seen in Srimad Bhagavad geetha
11th and 18th chapter.

To reconcile such an issue,Sri Ramanuja is of the view

that "Knowing" means "Meditation of the form of
Bhakti" as this earns the "Grace" of the Lord or
Brahman which is the most important factor for
realisation of Brahman himself.
In other words to be choosen by the atman i.e
Brahman,the person desirous of attaining Brahman
should
have some special quality worthy of recognition and
consequent descent of Brahman's Grace on that
aspirant.
This special quality itself is the Bhakti of the
person
towards the lord.Bhakti in turn is a loving(i should 
say "adoration" as Sri S.S Raghavachar puts it
)contemplation(This includes theoritical knowledge of
Tattva trayas i.e Isvara,cit and acit and a sincere
attempt of the aspirant to live such an understanding)
on the supreme by the aspirant to such a degree that
the aspirant develops a state of mind that his mind
easily goes to thoughts of God and finds pleasure only
in such thoughts along with a intense longing to see
and be with god.

Such a state of mind wherein the aspirant cannot
sustain himself without god causes the descent of 
Grace of god which unites him with God or Brahman
himself.

In short mere meditation or continuous philosophical
reflection related only to intellect is futile in
knowing Brahman.It is meditation of the form of Bhakti
which involves both head and the heart that earns the
grace of Brahman that is rightly understood as
"Knowing".

With the above understanding if we analyse the life of
Sri Ramanuja,Sri Vedanta desika and other Bhagavathas
we will appreciate this meaning of meditation.

Any errors above are mine and comments are welcomed.

Sri Krishnaarpanamasthu
Suresh B.N.




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