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Re: Vibhava lokas

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Tue Sep 07 1999 - 12:07:37 PDT

Sri Venkatesh wrote:
> Many of our poorvaachaaryas, such as Sri Pillai Lokacharya, Sri 
> Koorathaazhvaan (in his Vaikuntastavam) and Sri Ramanuja (in his Vaikuntha 
> gadyam) all address vaikuntha as a place (desam). There is no where in their 
> works or the commentaries on these texts, Vaikuntha is refred to as a state 
> of moksha. 

Dear Venkatesh,

Please be very careful before you make statements like the one above.
I feel you are being overly aggressive when you write that "*nowhere*
in their works or ... commentaries ... Vaikuntha is referred to as a
state ...".  Such a statement is not borne out by even a casual reading of
our predecessors' writings.

Please peruse Sribhashya and other works of our pUrvAcharyas,
where in many places the state of liberation is referred to as
moksha-avasthA, or moksha-daSA. Both avasthA and daSA only mean
"conditions" or "states". No acharya worth his salt would deny 
that Vaikuntha is a *state* of consciousness (they have to be
faithful to the teachings of the Mandukya Upanishad, for example).  

Now, you are correct when you write that Vaikuntha is described as 
a "desam" or "place".  I am certainly not denying this, as the
Brahma-Sutras themselves provide picturesque descriptions of the
jIva leaving the earthly body and travelling to Vaikuntha. Even
Sankaracharya accepts this, as this is a doctrine taken straight
from the Upanishads (see Kausitaki).

However, please understand that Vaikuntha is not a place or planet
like Venus or the moon.  It is a place because it is *not here*.
It represents a condition where the jIva is completely free of
all association with karma and is completely under the sway of
the grace of God. (See Desika's Vaikuntha Gadya bhAshya for 
such an etymological understanding of the word "Vaikuntha"). 
In such a circumstance, what does it really mean for it to be
a "place"? I leave it for you to explain.

> I believe that the d-b-jnana of the soul merges with Bhagavan ...

Can you explain this statement? What kind of "merging" happens?
As far as I know, this statement is not an accurate reflection
of any philosophical tenet of Visishtadvaita. It makes no sense
for dharma-bhUta-jnAna (knowledge which functions as an attribute
of the jIva) to merge with anything. 

Thanks,
Mani