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Advaitin's Bhakti (Was Re:addr: M.S.Hari)

From: Anand Karalapakkam (
Date: Sat Jul 29 2000 - 20:22:09 PDT

SrI Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
SrI Lakshminrusimha divya pAdukA sEvaka SrIvaN -
SaThakOpa SrI nArAyaNa Yateenda mahAdESiKAya namaha

 namO nArAyaNa!

 Dear SrI Narasimhan,

 Thanks for voicing your views.

  As clarified by SrI Hari, he never questioned the efficacy of
  nAdOpAsana as a very good means to achieve the performance
  of either bhakti Or Prapatti. He only ascertained from SAstras
  that only bhakti and prapatti are the direct means (sAdhyOpAya)
  to attain SrIman nArAyaNa, which is what the teaching of
  SrI VaishNava AchAryas. It would have been better to get it
  clarified from him on his views. Please go through his mails

> where is it stated in the srutis. well, saint
> tyagarajA, UthukkAdu venkatasubbier and the likes were
> born in advaiti families, but they were as much
> srivaishnavites as anyone of us can ever be. casting
> aspersions on their nAdOpAsanA is blasphemy to my
> mind. it is something even sriman nArAyaNA will not
> forgive and certainly tantamounts to bhAgavatha
> apachAram of the highest order. if somebody were to
> say that nAdOpAsanA will not lead to prapatti, adiyEn
> does not want that kind of prapatti. if someone were
> to say that tyAgarAjA or UthukkAdu or purandaradAsA's
> nAdOpAsanA will not lead to mOkshA, adiyEn does not
> aspire that kind of mOkshA.

 First of all, none of the members to my knowledge have
 cast aspersions on the nAdOpAsana of SrI TyAgarAja and
 others. By the way, as you have written, SrI TyAgarAja
 and many other such music-saints were advaitins, as far
 as their philosophical conviction and practise is concerned.
 They were very much immersed in the anubhava of  the
 SaguNa Brahman, as per their siddhAnta. This is the concept
 of "bhakti" for advaitins. SrI Purandarar was a Dwaitin and
 for that great music-saint, Lord NArAyaNa is certainly the
 ultimate reality, unlike the advaitins.

 In short, according to advaita,  SaguNa Brahman viz.
 SrIman nArAyaNa with all kalyANa guNas, knowledge etc is only
 unreal ultimately and only the mere jn~yAna without any
 attributes viz. the nirguNa Brahman is the *only*  reality. All
 other entities are actually unreal. Their concept of  moksham is
 the complete realization of oneself as that of "nirguNa Brahman"
 with disappearene of dualities ( other entity is being
 perceived). The means to achieve it is through the "avidhEya
 jn~yAnam" born out of understanding the profound meaning of the
 statement "Tat-tvam-asi" in vEdas. "avidhEya jn~yAnam" implies
 that, the moksham (nirguNa Brahma realization) is obtained through
 the jn~yAnam obtained by understanding  the meaning of
 "Tat-tvam-asi" which is as though as a pratyaksha jn~yAna and
 there is no "vidhi" Or injunction to do something more than that
 as a means. But, advaitins do caution that "Only male SanyAsis
 of BrAhmana caste" shall attain such "avidhEya jn~yAnam" (AJ).
 To attain the "state" in which one becomes qualified for
 receiving the meanings of Tat-tvam-asi and thereby attain AJ,
 there are many rigorous practises that are stipulated to be
 followed. Here comes the role of karma anushThAna, bhakti etc
 as per vEdas and Smrutis. Specifically, extreme bhakti
 towards "SaguNa Brahman" ie. "God" is a must for those who see
 dualities and are aspiring for moksham, which is through AJ.
 Once one is totally immersed in such contemplation on God, a
 suitable state (pakkuvam) is attained so that one is fit to
 learn advaita vEdAnta and the mysteries of mahAvAkyAs like
 Tat-tvam-asi. If one is not a BrAhmana etc, by following the
 SAstric injunctions according to one's VarNAshramadharma and
 deeply immersed in God, they will attain the Male BrAhmana body
 in their future births. They will then reach that pakkuvam/state
 to hear on nirguNa-Brahman through the imports of mahAvAkyas and
 attain AJ. Thus, bhakti is very very important for an advaitin,
 since it is a must to achieve his goal viz. moksham.

 All the great philosophers of advaita like SrI Adi Sankara
 Bhagavad pAdAL, SrI MadhusUdana Saraswati and others were
 great propagators of devotion to their concept of SaguNa
 Brahman, which in general is known as "God". It is well
 known as to how much they were well immersed in their
 contemplation on SaguNa-Brahman, to attain the "pakkuvam"
 for the birth of AJ. Many advaitins like SrI Sadguru SwAmigaL,
 SrI BOdEndrAL and others spent all their lives spreading the
 message of Bhagavan nAma sankeertanam and contemplation
 on God (ie. SaguNa-Brahman for them). There is a large
 following of SrI Sadguru SwAmigaL even to this day, who was
 the champion-establisher of the "Bhajana sampradAyam" to
 contemplate on God as an anga to advaita vEdAnta jn~yAna.
 SrI KrishNa PrEmi, a great upanyAsakar, is a well known
 follower of this bhajana sampradAyam. Since according to
 advaita vEdAnta, lot of qualification is needed for the study of
 their philosophy, only the aspects of  devotion to God and other
 related issues of SaguNa-Brahman are told for the general public.
 SrI KrishNa PrEmi has explained in his books on this bhajana
 sampradAya SrI KAnchi SankarAchArya in his article (as published
 in SrI KrishNa Premi's book on Bhagavan/rAma nAma mahimai)
 explains the origin of this bhajana sampradAya stressing upon
 nAma sankeertana etc as an anga (accessory) to advaita vEdAnta.
 There are also many other advaitins like SrI NArAyaNa BhattAdri
 of NArAyaneeyam fame who were immersed in the contemplation
 of their SaguNa-Brahman.

 Few SrI VaishNavas well interested in Carnatic Music wish that
 SrI TyAgaraja be a SrI VaishNava Or Prapanna. But, SrI TyAgarAja
 is well recognized by all scholars (including SrI VaishNava
 scholars) as a great music-saint who used nAdOpAsana in a very
 effective manner as an anga to advaita vEdAnta. In the flag end
 of his life, he took sanyAsa (ofcourse as per the advaita
 sampradAya) in the hope of attaining AJ ie.moksham. The sishya 
 parampara of SrI TyAgarAja is also very much present and they 
 do not adhere to the doctrines of ViSishtAdvaita and SrI -
 VaishNava practises.

 According to SAstras Or SrI VaishNava AchAryas, advaitins
 do not attain moksham directly, since they haven't exercised
 either the "Bhakti-YOga in its completion, as per its actual
 nature" Or "Prapatti" as sAdhyOpAyas. But, those advaitins
 who were steeped in contemplating upon SaguNa-Brahman will
 soon get a birth (Or a realization in that very birth itself)
 with the obstacles being removed by SrIman nArAyaNa for their
 actual understanding of Tatva-hita-purushArtha and practise
 of either bhakti-yOga Or Prapatti in its actual nature. They
 in due course of time will certainly attain SrI VaikuNTham.

 For more info on Bhakti and Prapatti, kindly visit the archives
 and the article in SrI Ahobila Mutt's Homepage in the link "About SrI VaishNavam".

  To be cont ....

 aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,

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           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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