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Re: Jnana & Bhakti

From: MR MOHAN R SAGAR (LDVR31A_at_prodigy.com)
Date: Tue Nov 05 1996 - 00:09:16 PST

Martin Gansten writes:

The dual focus of this list (and of the beautiful Sri Vaishnava home 
page)
on devotional sentiment (as in Alvar poetry) and Upanishadic 
philosophy
strongly appeals to me. Now, I wonder to which extent this reflects 
a
conscious balancing of these two elements within Sri Vaishnava 
tradition
itself. To put it in other words, how is the relationship between the 
quest
for aatmavidyaa and the development of bhakti towards the Lord viewed?
 Is
gnosis of the Upanishadic kind a necessary prerequisite for truly
transcendental devotion (as could be argued from, say, Bhagavadgita 
18.54),
or is it possible to attain salvation even without gnosis, simply by
faithful worship (as could be argued from, say, 13.25 of the same 
text)? And
as an offshoot of this: if such a balancing does exist on the 
theological
level, is it matched on the practical level, e.g. by emphasis on 
both
yogic/meditative techniques *and* more devotional practices like 
arcanam,
chanting of stotrams, etc -- or is one element favoured over the 
other?

------------------------------

Welcome to the group Mr. Gansten.  Your question is essential to the 
understanding of SriVaishnavism, and probably varies slightly between 
the two schools of SriVaishnava thought that are propounded by the 
Kanchi and Srirangam Acharyas.  I will attempt to answer this 
question from one School's perspective, leaving further discussion to 
those in this group who are more familiarized with the other.

While not discounting the standardly accepted views of the soul as 
having knowledge, free will, and intelligence, the Srirangam Acharyas 
state that true atmavidya is in a sense synonymous with bhakti, as 
the true nature of the soul is Sesatva to the Lord.  Pillai 
Lokacharya says in his SriVacana Bhushanam (Verse 73):

------------------------------Begin Mumme's translation

The soul's very nature is to be a sesa, since it is a mode of the 
Lord's Svarupa....dasya distinguishes the soul from the Lord.  Jnana 
and Ananda distinguish it from insentient matter.  Even though both 
these descriptions are necessary for it, the soul gains its very 
existence by being a mode of the Lord; therefore subservience is said 
to be its internal characteristic...

------------------------------end quote

On practical levels, as sesatva is in keeping with the soul's true 
nature,  the expression of this through temple and home worship as 
kainkarya to the Lord is strongly favored over yoga and meditative 
practices.  Indeed, the attempt to undergo yoga and meditative 
practices as means to realization would be viewed by the Srirangam 
School as being counterproductive to its achievement. The way to 
realization is the same as the goal, the Lord Himself.

Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan