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Advaita and Its Fallacies

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Advaita is not intellectual exercise it is experience. Now matter how we all debate there is no point unless we experience the reality. second hand knowledge of the atman from even a guru does not help, then what about all the scriptures and religions, unless we arise and realize the atman no use of it,

Now very simple point refutes the whole website,

the webmaster talks about sankara's body is an illusion as well. well it is necessarily an illusion not for sankara but for the person who wrote it. sankara realized "brahma satyam jagat mithya" but the poor guy who wrote the article did not . so for sankara the whole world of creation is maya but for the poor guy and even including larger population like me, the creation exists because I have not realized the truth, sankara did not say you exist he said we do not exist when we realize the soul.

i think the guy who wrote the site should atleast throw his basics in learning from atleast sufi philosophy, i would probably ask him to check the history of Mansoor who said Anal-Haq, Anal-Haq (I am the Truth, I am the Truth). who was indicted and killed on charges of heresy by the so called islamists, even their own sufi guy says "Aham Brahmasmi" yet they claim it cannot exist foolishness nothing else to be said after all it is kaliyuga pakhandi's and mlechas need to grow :)
 

StudentofVihe

Active member
Shri Rakeshji,

Excellent Thought. Absolutely agree with You. Petty Knowledge of Scriptures, Grammar, command over Sanskrit yeilds nothing; Moreover, it leads to Ego/Arrogance, more and more futile discussions, debates. . . . finally made some of them Ego-maniacs, who ill-treated the illiterates like worms. Now they have become beggars inside the temples.

"Every Cause has its Effect." - Gautama Buddha/Adi Shankaracharya.

"Religion means Realization" says Swami Vivekananda. "First Realise God, then give lectures to your Heart content" says Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Let us put an end to this endless quarrels about the superiority of one philosophy/worship/God over other and strive to achieve God-Realisation/Self-Liberation; if one is really religious.

"God is one. As many Faiths, So many Paths." - Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

"There is no person on this Earth, who is praised by all or who is criticised by all." - Gautama Buddha.

With Respect, Love and Regards,
One more soul in God's Creation


Advaita is not intellectual exercise it is experience.
 
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Nara

Well-known member
While surfing I chanced upon the undernoted web-page which argues, somewhat persuasively, citing reliable sources, that the Advaita of Sankara is riddled with too many holes. I thought it will be useful to get the opinions of our learned members on whether the objections are valid or not:
.:: Welcome to Jamaat e Islami Kerala web site :: Malayalam ::.

Dear shri sangom, Since none of the learned members have ventured into this topic, I am taking the liberty to express an opinion -- perhaps this will get the ball rolling.

The objections to Advaitam raised in this site have been around for a long time. These people have done a good job of summarizing and organizing them (they could have formatted the content a little better for easier reading).

Adi Shankara tried to establish Advaitam on the strength of Vedas and Brahmma Sutra, otherwise, Advaitam would not be a Vaideeka Matham. Sankara also argued that Vedas are the only pramana as pratyaksham and anumanam are flawed. Here in lies the root problem. Since the "knowledge" contained in the Vedas can be understood only through pratyaksham and anumanam, and for Adi Shankara these two are fatally flawed, Vedas themselves will have to permanently remain outside the realm of true comprehension since we get caught in a vicious circular logic.

Further, under Advaitam, Bhagavat Geetha must be one of the most silly documents ever written. Lord Sri Krishna, being Para Brahman, must know this guy standing in front of him does not exist in reality, or, he is none other than himself in deluded state -- imagine that if you can get your head around it. So, what was he belaboring about for 18 chapters conveying great wisdom (a) to what he should surely know to be illusion, or (b) to himself. With Advaitam we get into these knots from which there is no logical or rational way out.

From what I have seen so far, it is impossible for me to have a rational exchange with our newcomer Rakesh who has expressed his opinion on this thread -- BTW, I find Rakesh's response quite unsatisfactory; just saying you don't understand, or you have to experience it, is, IMO, a cop out. Instead, I would like to hear your take on the objections raised in this web site.

Cheers!
 
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Hello All,

Now here comes the adhikara bedha nirnaya, for whom what was said. Nara I think we need to check the Krishna Gave it to arjuna, not to the general public, only for a person like arjuna geetha is useful otherwise it would be a mere spiritual adventure and intellectual exercise. Now with regards to advaita and vedanta concepts,

Upanishads which advocate vedanta and advaita are prescribed for a person who has the qualities of sama and yama. There are upanishad vidyas like Shandilya vidya as well. Once some one is trained and equipped he is considered eligible for Advaita. Its not that every common man is going to benefit from advaita, he will feel a bit excited but that is of no use except that excitement. Now upanishads are said to be the jnana kanda of the vedas. Vedas include karma kanda as well. So upanishads are suitable for a person who has gone through the karma kanda and has experienced life and becomes then eligible for going to the jnana kanda. Our ancient rishis never prescribed idleness neither overdoing stuff. So the issue is in this modern world since everyone has access to resources they think that they can learn it, its not going to work as advaita as well as any indian scriptures requires you to have a guru, unless you have a guru none of these things are going to work, this is the reason why some of the advatis are a complete failure in the material world. So any discussion of advaita in public is not going to do any good thing. so its better to confine this between a guru and his disciple.
 
OP
OP
sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Shri Nara,


I am not reproducing your post in order to reduce the length of this post.


I started this thread when I found, by mere chance, that an Islamic website, had ported it and whoever has presented it, whether it was a result of someone's erudition (there are quite a few Muslims in Kerala who have such scholarship) or mere copy-paste job, he has done a lot of work. My intention was to inform our TB friends how knowledge of our vedanta is being thoroughly studied by Muslims and Christians and wanted our members who must be more knowledgeable in advaita than those, to offer their comments on the various points raised in that web-page. But as you rightly say, none except Shri Rakeshinnovation, has given any views.

As for rakesh's views, I find advaita did not have an exclusive guru-Sishya transmission nor was such a thing intended even by Sankara himself and his worthy successors since his "adhyAsa bhAshya" was written down and not kept secret like tantra. (In this context I feel that Shri Rakesh tends to view most philosophy as tantric and veiled in secrecy, to be experienced and not to be discussed and debated. Sankara, rAmAnuja and others, who probably did not know this, tended to debate, convince or win their opponents and also kept records of the debates for future.) And, as I remarked in some other thread, Sankara's advaita would not have received so much publicity (and mostly, blind acceptance) if only rAmanuja had come into the world some 300 or 400 years early.

IMO, Sankara would have had a difficult task in his time, of presenting some philosophy which would simultaneously convince and appeal to the brahmin scholars who were then steeped in pUrvameemAmsa, and, to offer something which (or at least the outer shell of which) will be not alien to the common masses (and attract them)who were still not out of their allegience to Buddhistic notions. It is also held by some scholars that the mANDUkya kArika itself had some tinge of buddhistic metaphysics and that was why (gauDapAda and, after him) govinda bhagavatpAda were chary of making it public because they feared that its reception might not be good. I do not have the original book/s where I found this opinion but my memory is that the term "alAtacakra" used in the 'alAtaSAnti prakaraNa' is itself a typical buddhist idea.

Sankara was not challenged, during his lifetime, about the "adhyArOpa" concept he introduced in order to serve as the central pillar of advaita to explain how the nirguNa brahman came to manifest itself as the perceived cosmos (without which the advaita theory would collapse). After Sankara's time his disciples were compelled to spell out the various logical implications of the advaita doctrine (unfortunately they could not, or they did not have the wisdom to take the line adopted by Shri Rakeshinnovation and dismiss their opponents by merely saying, "advaita is not to be attained through intelligence but through an unexplained and secret method from guru to Sishya"). As a result, the bhAmati and vivaraNa schools of advaita came into being. The main obstacle for advaita has been the notion of "adhyArOpa", which subsequently came to be indicated as "avidyA", "mAyA", etc., and where it originates/is located. The debates on this are continuing even now between advaitins and viSishTAdvaitins.

The bhAmati school says the locus of avidyA is the jeeva itself. If so, we come to a situation in which the jeeva is the locus of and is, at the same time, a product of this avidyA. This will necessitate an infinite regress and, in order to avoid such a predicament, the bhAmati school postulates an infinite number (series) of jeevas and avidyas.

The vivaraNa school, probably in order to escape from the difficulty faced by bhAmati, postulates that since brahman is the sole existence, avidyA also should be located in brahman and the object of avidyA is also brahman. This meant, for the critics of advaita, that brahman which is pure consciousness, will lose its omniscience if it also is the locus of avidyA; brahman would, by deduction, then have knowledge and ignorance (avidyA), contradictory qualities. vivaraNa school tries to answer such criticism by saying that the pure, untarnished consciousness of brahman is “cit”, but cognition at the day-to-day level involves avidyA; the ultimate substratum of all cognition, and therefore also of this avidyA, is brahman.

ramAnuja primarily attacked the avidyA or mAyA concept and you are more knowledgeable of his objections in the form of the saptavidha anupapatti. I think the website lists those also without actually saying so. You may please clarify.

Since these objections appealed as correct, some brahmins joined rAmAnuja's group. But I do not know what were the actual reasons for rAmanuja not postulating the dvaita concept itself. To me it appears that perhaps both Sankara and rAmAnuja probably depended upon the "abhEda Srutis" whereas madhvAcArya based his arguments on the "bhEda Srutis".

As to my views you may be aware that I tend towards "agnosticism" but looking at today's stage I feel most Hindus subscribe to a dvaita world view with pan-en-theism embedded into it; a God in its many forms, all of which represent the ultimate One, different from the individual who prays to the former in ever so many modes.

Whether sankara himself was a true advaitin becomes doubtful when one sees the innumerable SlOkas attributed to him; the soundarya lahari is considered to be a core text of tantric worship and this raises the possibility of sankara having been a SreevidyA upAsaka, just like krishNa - as Rakesh certifies - and, if so, it is a question to be considered as to how far sankara himself put his advaitic doctrine into actual practice in his life. There is also the legendary sloka of Sankara at his last moment asking for forgiveness in having worshipped the brahman in so many forms.

(Curiously, SivAnanda lahari has not caught the same level of attention. May be because the tAntrikas were mostly fixed on to the female form and found the transformation of the male sexual energy as the means to "raise" the kuNDalini, etc. Incidentally, tantra is "vAmAcAra" and prohibited; then how has it become so popular even among brahmins? I can understand about the old "coli margis" and "sahajeeyas" but how venerable TBs have also taken to it? Is it true that SVs also practise tAntric modes of attaining salvation?)

Talking of tantra, kuNDalini, etc., a college mate of mine holds the view that dakshiNAmUrti - one facing the south, which is downwards in a map usually by convention - represents the lowest level of kuNDalini at the lowest end of the spine and he goes on to build up some more fanciful esotericism on these lines. I reminded him of an English lecturer we had in our intermediate, who was very very slow and boring, and enquired whether “gurOstu maunam vyAkhyAnam, SishyAstu cchinna samSayaH” did not remind him of those days - the students happier not to hear a boring lecture and the teacher just keeping quiet!!

As to bhagavadgeeta I will write later.
 
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Hello Sangom,

I do not understand your opposition to tantra, probably because you never tried to dwell in it, there is a book by shri goudapadar guru of shankara,
shubagodaya a classic text in sri vidya, Parasurama believed to be the avatar of vishnu wrote parasurama kalpasutra a text regarded as one of the authentic texts of Sri Vidya, now all the 4 maths established by Shankara today also do Sri Vidya in their daily rituals. Either you were taken away by just the wrong notions about vamachara, there are siddhantachara, kaulachara, samayachara and dakshinachara as well. Now with regards to Sri Vaishnavas there are tantra practices there also. Right from Meera Bhai till ramakrishna paramahamsa till vivekananda have practised tantra, Even krishna himself seems to have got sri Vidya which is covered under the ambit of tantras.

My whole point above is just that anything which is their in Indian literature needs to be learned from a guru, its not just tantra any other vidya as well. Sri vidya or tantra for that matter advocates advaita principle just that in the initial stages there is a slight difference. Finally at the end of the day there is famous quote in kalpasutra, never deny any sastra because all sastras have their own place in this world, probably tantra is something which is not liked by sangom, but i do not see a reason why you need to oppose it. represents the lowest level of kundalini that was i think a very vague comment
below is the excerpt from wikipedia seems like wiki has a better understanding than your friend about dakshinamoorthi.


Indian tradition accords a special reverence to the Guru or the teacher. Dakshinamurthy, in the Saivite system of beliefs is regarded as the ultimate Guru - the embodiment of knowledge and the destroyer of ignorance (as represented by the demon being crushed under the feet of the deity). The Jnana Mudra is interpreted in this way:- The thumb denotes the God and the index finger denotes the man. The other three fingers stand for the three congenital impurities of man viz. arrogance, illusion and bad deeds of the past births. When man detaches himself from these impurities, he reaches God. The Abhaya Mudra, a gesture with the hand lifted above thigh with palm facing out, fingers pointing, is interpreted as His grace upon His students. The rosary or the snake signifies Tantric knowledge. The fire represents illumination, removing the darkness of ignorance.

The great seer Ramana Maharshi, has interpreted the name as "Dakshina-amurty", meaning one who is capable but without form.


Now with regards to secrecy the one who practices knows that advaita can be read as mere intellectual excrcise but it does not bring any good other than that, if you want to experience you need to find a guru there is no other way, even sankara himself described the guru sishya relationship in vivekachoodamani, probably sangom should read that to find a bit more vivekam to start experiencing god and advaita rather than just some intellectual exercises and debates.

Below is an article about tantra and sri vidya in detail with quite ample example of what happens when advaita is practised without experience.



A devotee visited the Sringeri Acharya's abode and stayed there for three days. At the end of his sojourn, the Acharya asked him how he enjoyed his stay there. Prompt came the reply that it was `Brahmananda'. Then the Acharya quizzed him as to how he knew Brahmananda and whether he had experienced it before and if he had not, how he could recognize it. The message is that there is a natural state of pleasure, which is the real nature of the atman and when that is felt, the one who experiences it recognizes it as his natural state. All other pleasures that are acquired through the worldly experiences are artificial or Kritrima. These are temporary and ephemeral and so do not last. The end of every such experience is pain causing. In his brilliant introduction to the Brahma sutra Bhashyas edited by Mahamahopadhyaya Anantakrishna Shastrigal, the Shankaracharya of Govardhana Peetham of Puri establishes Sat, chit, ananda, Moksha and Ishana (suzerainty) as the natural state of the soul in every human being.

The absolute and eternal pleasure – Brahmananda, is something, which is natural and is referred to as Moksha. This is generally translated as liberation. To attain Kama, one needs Artha or wealth. That wealth must be acquired by dharma, another difficult but frequently and commonly used word. The connotation of this word is – `acting always in a manner consistent with the inherent nature of the experience-r and experienced. This, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are referred to as the goals of human life. The understanding of these four terms will give one a broad indication of the purpose of all philosophical and material pursuits. This being so, it becomes the religious duty of every individual to practice Dharma in its proper spirit, acquire wealth and apply that for attaining the last two.

Hindu scriptures prescribe three different but intertwining paths to attain liberation and these are: karma, Bhakti and Jnana. Of these, karma directs the individual to perform faithfully all the duties, actions and procedures prescribed by the Vedas and Shastras as befitting a man's Varna and Ashrama. The Bhakti path is where the individual is given the choice of a form of the Divine Entity to contemplate, worship, meditate, and perform Pooja etc. The Absolute that is formless, is allowed to be conceived of as having a form to enable the human mind to hold on to something and make progress in the Bhakti route. This Bhakti also consists of three distinct groups of activities:


Continuing the article as the post size is limited.
 
a. Activities by the mind like Japa and Dhyana;

b. Activities of the organs like Pooja

c. Activities of the word of mouth like chanting prayers.

Depending on one's preference or inclination, one can stick to only one of the three or more of one and less of the others.

The practice of Bhakti in all its three forms constitutes Upasana. There the form to be adopted as the object of devotion is also a matter of choice. Indeed, Bhagavan Krishna assures us that he confers on the sincere devotee, unwavering devotion to the chosen form. There are six Upasana paths known as the Shanmatas, properly codified and defined by the great Acharya, Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada. They are: Ganapatya, Saura, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta and Kaumara. As the name of each indicates, each one has a different form of deity as the object of worship; the other paths of Japa, Dhyana and the ritual of puja are all the same. Of these, Shakta is the one where the form of Shakti is worshipped as Mother. Interestingly, of the six, this is the only Upasana (i.e. Srividya Upasana) that is always reverentially referred to with the attribute `Sri'. The principal form of worship here is that of Shakti or energy. That way, this can also be viewed as worship of the energy aspect of the remaining five forms and therefore, this integrates al the six methods into one. While for the sake of conceptualizing, the power or energy is viewed as a distinct entity, it is needless to say that it cannot be physically separated from that of which this is the power. Hence the dictum, `ShaktiH shaktimatorabhedaH'. The substratum on which this Shakti inheres is referred to as `Shaktiman', which is Shiva or Kameshwara himself. In other words, we try to conceive of the single entity Shiva as basic or residual Shiva and its Shakti separately. It is only logical that if one can conceive of such a dichotomy of a single individual being, when Shakti is taken out, what remains must be something inert (jaDa). That is the profound principle with which Acharya's Saundaryalahari starts.

Consistent with the physical science, this Shakti can be of two forms again: potential and kinetic. In this system, the potential form is refereed to as Prakasha (effulgence) and the kinetic as Vimarsha (illuminating). The effulgence is the inherent characteristic of the first by which the seen world is illuminated, enabling us to see. This is the explanation of the Shakta system for the universe and the power that makes it to be seen by all of us. In a higher plane, the concept of Guru also is conceived as made up of the same principles of Prakasha and Vimarsha. The Guru as the torch, remains the source of light and simultaneously the seen world. Guru Padukas are always referred to as Prakasha and Vimarsha. Another way of explaining this is by saying Prakasha is the absolute Brahman and Vimarsha is the individual Jivatman, the guru representing the state of Advaita, where the distinction of Jiva and Brahman ceases to exist.

As mentioned earlier, there are three paths to liberation. However, these are not mutually exclusive but have among themselves some amount of overlapping. Interestingly, in the path of Jnana itself, Adi Shankara stresses the Bhakti aspect. Acharya has cleverly reconciled these two in his Vedantic definition of Bhakti as the individual meditating upon or worshipping himself. Bhakti or Upasana is of two kinds: Gowni and Para. This first is also known as Sagunopasana. The human mind which finds it impossible to visualize the Absolute, is provided with a form of deity with face, hands, legs etc., so that the mind has something to hold on to, rather than a formless Brahman. All worships generally are with respect to a form of the Absolute. This form would be of individual's choice or as indicated to him by his Guru. The fundamental principle here is one of visualizing or conceptualizing, which is called Bhavana. From this point of view, it would appear that Bhakti is a process of reducing the adult mind to that of a child. For example, if a child gets a doll, then it sees that as a real baby in flesh and blood and tries to do all acts of affection and love to that doll, adopting the role of a mother. This means that an imaginary baby wholly replaces the concept of the doll. A serious bhakta never perceives the idol or the picture or a Chakra that he worships as anything different from the Divine form of God. This is the essential requirement for Bhakti. Having started to believe that the form he worships is his beloved deity, the other activities or rituals cover the various tasks to be performed such as seating, bathing etc. This whole process is commonly referred to as performing a Pooja. Physically, there are sixteen such acts known as Upacharas.

1. Asana – offering a seat to the deity

2. Padya – offering water for washing the feet

3. Arghya – offering water for internal purification

4. Achamana - offering water to be taken in

5. Snana – offering a bath

6. Vastra – offering a dress

7. Abharana – offering ornaments

8. Gandha – offering sandal paste

9. Pushpa – offering flowers

10. Dhoopa – offering incense

11. Deepa – offering light

12. Naivedya – offering eatables

13. Tamboola – offering betel leaves and nut

14. Stotra – offering prayers

15. Pradakshina – going round the deity

16. Pranama – prostrating before the deity

These sixteen are the commonly offered Upacharas in any from of Pooja, always firmly believing in the form that is being worshipped.

These very sixteen Upacharas also have a deeper or inner significance, which could be related as the offerings to the Absolute without any form. Another method of offering these rites reckons these as a group of five and not sixteen. These are Gandha, Pushpa, Dhoopa, Deepa and Naivedya. This is called the Pancha Upachara Pooja. the basic objective is bringing out the Divine principle that inheres in every one of us out and visualizing it in the external picture, idol etc., and carrying the above mentioned sixteen or five Upacharas as one would do unto himself.

Performing these very rituals as part of the Pooja or Upasana in the Srividya sampradaaya is a little more elaborate with a number of special sets of tasks peculiar to this cult. To begin with, we have to understand the actual form that is accepted for worship in this Pooja. The generally accepted form for worship as Devi is an idol and a Chakra. Srichakra represents the creation and dissolution of the universe starting from the Brahman, which itself is depicted as the Bindu in the center of the Chakra.

The second requisite is what is known as a mantra. Any mantra is considered as a zealously guarded secret. A mantra is a collection of letters, which on its face may not convey any meaning. By definition, mantra means that by repeatedly meditating upon which one is saved. It is the duty of every devotee of Srividya to constantly meditate upon his mantra and chant it repeatedly so that there result repeated vibrations in the astral centers of the individual. These are never to be uttered aloud and therefore even the Vedas hint at these mantras in a coded language only. The prescribed mantra for Srividya worship is what is known as the Panchadashi. Literally translated, it means a fifteen-lettered mantra. Different seers have explained the meaning of this mantra in different ways. Nitya Shodashikarnava gives six different interpretations. Sri Bhaskararaya, in his magnum opus VarivasyaRahasya, gives fifteen interpretations. A Keralite scholar of this century, Perunkulam Veeraraghava Shastrigal has given more than 60 interpretations, which have received the approval of Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamigal, the 33^rd distinguished occupant of the Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Sarada Peetham, who was universally recognized as the foremost scholar of his times. In essence, this mantra is considered as equal to the Vedic Mahavakyas, which clearly indicate the true nature of Brahman and the true nature of the individual self.

The first qualification for a Upasaka to perform Pooja is obtaining Diksha from a competent Guru. the rite called Diksha is supposed to be destroying all the limiting factors of the individual self and facilitate his union with Shiva.

aIyate shivasAyujyaM kShIyate pAshabandhanam |
atha dIkSheti kathitaM budhaiH sacChAstravedibhiH ||

It is the Guru who, after testing the disciple's competence, initiates him into the Upasana by teaching him the mantra, the Devata Swaroopa and the methods of performing the rituals. Though the Sadhaka begins initially with external rituals, he should rise to the level of performing Antaryaga as set out in Bhavanopanishad. The first step in Bahiryaga is the method of entering the room of worship. Next follows Tatva Achamana. This is a cleansing process carried out by ingesting drops of water four times or seven times, praying each time for the cleansing of the Anava, Mayika and Karmika Malas, which is accomplished by the usage of Bija mantras. This prepares the Sadhaka's mental frame and sets it ready for the Jnana swaroopa to shine.

The next and the most important step is performing GuruPaduka Vandana. This involves paying one's respect to the lotus feet of the Guru. There is a special prescribed procedure for performing this. Guru's feet are supposed to be on the head of the Upasaka. Therefore, he has to worship with his hands locked in Mrigi Mudra, the sandals of the preceptor. This procedure calls for worshipping his own master (Guru), the Guru's Guru (Parama Guru) and his Guru (Parameshthi Guru). There are three separate mantras for each of these. The GuruPaduka mantras collectively connote the same concept as that of the Mahavakya – Tatvamasi. Actually, these syllables are represented one each by the three Paduka mantras.

The next step is ringing the bell. This is symbolic of referring to the evolution of the universe from Nada. By ringing the bell, the Devas are invited to the Pooja simultaneously warding off the evil thoughts and forces present in the vicinity. The actual part of the Pooja starts now with a declaration i.e. Sankalpa. This is done by doing Pranayama – breathing in, holding the breath and breathing out, using the Panchadashi or Shodashi mantra, as taught by the Guru. Then, the time and place in which the Upasaka is performing the Pooja are narrated with the prescribed necessary time and space components. Accomplished Upasakas traditionally adopt the Ashtanga method of narrating the time, which is distinctive and unique to Srividya Upasana. Next in the order comes the seat on which one should sit and perform the Pooja. The directions pronounced by Lord Krishna in Gita – `Having firmly fixed in a clean place, his seat, neither too high nor too low, and having spread over it the Kusha grass, a deer skin and a cloth one over the other', is adopted. One addition to this is the repetition of a certain mantra along with which water is sprinkled on the seat before being seated. Then follows a procedure for guarding oneself against external influences by a process known as Deharaksha. Then follows a Pushpanjali collectively to all the Devatas in the Srichakra and also obtaining from Sri Dakshinamurthy, the foremost guru in Dakshinachara and Samayachara, permission to proceed with Srichakra Navavarana Pooja.
 
Before actually invoking Sri Lalita Mahatripurasundari into the Srichakra, a minor rite called Prana Pratishtha is performed. This is actually fixing firmly the Yantra or Meru and energizing it before inviting the Devata to come and occupy it. The purport is an expression of the fact that the power that is present in our heart is brought out and conceived to be installed in the Chakra. Now, a series of small tasks, which are intended to bring into the Chakra the complete abode of Devi with all its components by naming each one and imagining its being made to be present in its appropriate position in the Srichakra. In reality, Sridevi's abode which is called as Srinagara contains a large number of oceans, islands, copses, gardens, surrounding spaces, moats and a central splendorous palace, as set out in sage Durvasa's Arya Dwishati. All these are, item by item, visualized in the Srichakra by referring to their individual names. Thus, in effect, we have kind of reconstructed mentally the Srinagara before us to worship the occupant thereof. We then have to light and install two lamps on either side of the Pooja mandala.

Next step is to get the individual ready to stand before this divine presence and perform the Pooja. This in turn involves five tasks:

1. Bhuta Shuddhi which is a process of cleansing all the effects of the physical elements of the individual's body by a series of Pranayama steps, chanting special Bija mantras simultaneously.

2. The way we fix firmly the deity being worshipped by a prana Pratishtha, the individual must also fix himself firmly by performing Atma Prana Pratishtha.

3. The next step is to perform Pranayama to ensure concentration.

4. The fourth ingredient is a ritual to ward off all evil tendencies around us by a process called Vighnotsarana.

5. The last in this category is known as the Shikha Bandha, which tying up one's hair into a knot to take care to prevent the hair from getting loose frequently and interfering with the rituals connected with the Pooja. Today it is indeed rare to find a male individual with uncropped hair; hence the ritual, though a real one, has become imaginary.

The second major part of the Pooja rituals is what is known as Nyasa. In Upasana, Nyasa refers to touching the various parts of our body, chanting a mantra and visualizing the presiding Shakti of that mantra to be present in that part of the body being touched. There is a whole lot of different Nyasas with different mantras being used in varying orders.

In the Navavarana Pooja, the following main Nyasas are generally performed:

1. Matrika Nyasa (Antarmatrika and Bahirmatrika Nyasa). Actually there are 14 types of Matrika Nyasas prescribed namely, Bindumatrika, Visargamatrika, Binduvisargamatrika, Hrillekhadimatrika, Bijadimatrika, Kamadimatrika, Tribijadimatrika, Balasamputitamatrika, Parasamputitamatrika, Srividyayuktamatrika, Hamsamatrika, Paramahamsamatrika, Pranavakalamatrika and Ashtatrimshatkala Matrika Nyasas. In addition to these, if the Sadhaka is also initiated into the Vaishnava angas of Srividya, he should perform Keshava Matrika Nyasa, Srikantha Matrika Nyasa if initiated into the Shaiva angas and Prapanchayaga Matrika Nyasa if initiated into Maha Ganapathi mantra. Bhutilipi Nyasa gives raip Siddhi of the mantra.

2. Karashuddhi Nyasa

3. Atmaraksha and Balashadanga Nyasa

4. Chaturasana (or Shadasana) Nyasa

5. Antashchakra and Bahishchakra Nyasas

6. Mahakameshwaryadi Nyasa

7. Moola Vidya Varna Nyasa

8. Laghu Shoda Nyasa (which involves Ganesha, Graha, Nakshatra, Yogini, Rashi and Pitha Nyasas)

9. Maha Shodha Nyasa (which involves Prapancha, Bhuvana, Murti, Mantra, Daivata and Matrika Bhairava Nyasas)

10. Srichakra Nyasa (again of three types: Srishti, Sthiti and Samhara)

Only Upasakas who have been initiated into Maha Shodashi mantra can perform Maha shodha Nyasa. Special Nyasas like Kama Rati Nyasa, MathaNyasa, Shodashakshari Nyasa, NavasanaNyasa etc. are to be performed only by people having Poorna Diksha. Certain Nyasas like Navayoni Nyasa, Yogapitha Nyasa etc are optional. There are also Nyasas like Guhya Shodha Nyasa, Para Shodha Nyasa, Kamakala Maha Nyasa (involving Paramparya, AntarbahiH, Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama, Vaikhari, Ayudha and Bhushana Nyasas), Mahashakti Nyasa, NavakashaNyasa, Shambhvadi Charana Nyasa, Urdhwamnaya Nyasas, Aghorika, Panchavaktra, Pancharatna, Divyaughadi, Shabdarshi etc, and Shadanvaya Mahashambhava Nyasa (Rashmi ShaTka Nyasa), MahaPaduka Nyasa, Maha Maha Paduka Ashtottarashata Kala Maha Nyasa - which require various higher initiations (even after the Poorna Diksha) like Diksha of Para Shodashi, Para Paduka, Guhya Shodashi, Guhya Paduka, the five Padukas and Maha Shambhava Diksha.

Before moving on to the next set of rites in this Pooja procedure, one will have to study and understand the implications of these various Nyasas, which are very important. Some similar kinds of Nyasas are also performed even when one is not performing Pooja but only does Japa. Every mantra to be chanted will have to be along with some elements of the Japa process and these are Rishi, Chandas, Devata, Karanyasa and Anganyasa.

We now move on to the fourth part of the Pooja procedure which is known as Patrasadanam, which literally means spreading out vessels between the devotee and the Srichakra in a prescribed manner and a ceremonious manner. The following vessels are recognized as obligatory in this regard:

1. Kalasha or Vardhani for keeping water for various sundry purposes.

2. Shankha or conch also known as Samanya Arghya Patra to contain water for certain special uses.

3. Vishesha Arghya Patra to contain a special liquid prepared for the Pooja.

4. Shuddhi Patra

5. Guru Patra

6. Atma Patra

7. Bali patra intended for offering Bali to the forces present around us as a reward for not interfering with the Pooja.

For each one of these Patras, there are fixed positions in the layout, a mandala of a particular design, a method of filling the patra with the appropriate content and a sequence of performing certain rites on each of them, chanting the relevant mantras. This part of the Pooja is a very elaborate one. There is a set of apparent and esoteric meanings for each of these, which have to be fully understood. The contents of each of these vessels have specific application and disposal in the Pooja process. Yet another aspect of this is that these vessels and their contents symbolically represent the very same type of corresponding vessels with connected rituals in performing a Yagna or a sacrifice. It is this aspect that establishes a connection between this particular Pooja with the rituals connected with a Yagna, thereby bringing about integration etween the karma and Bhakti paths. This is a very important and special feature of Srividya. Hence Srichakra Navavarana Pooja is also referred to as Yagna. At the end of the Pooja, there is a prayer, which says, "Jagat Yagnena Tripyatu".

At the end of these rites, the Kundalini Shakti, which is supposed to be Sridevi herself, is addressed with certain mantras and offerings. Ultimately to a person who keeps on performing this Pooja with great care and attention, the Kundalini which is normally dormant, gets kindled and starts moving upward along the Sushumna path towards the upper part of the head which houses the Sahasrara. After this commences the Pooja to all the deities who reside in the Srichakra. Another difference to be recognized at this stage is that while other Poojas are done with flower alone, in this Pooja, offerings are made by both hands – flowers in the right and a piece of ginger held in a clasp in the left which is dipped in Vishesha Arghya and droplets thereof being offered simultaneously with the flowers. The utterance is thus `Pujayami and Tarpayami'.

The Pooja in this part begins with requesting Sridevi to present Herself in the Srichakra to enable us to perform the Pooja. This is called Avahana. The concept is to bring out the Devi present in your heart and install her in the Srichakra before you. This is not only done mentally but also physically using a mantra and Trikhanda Mudra. Now, we have the divine element present in us installed securely in the external Srichakra. Then the 64 Upacharas are offered to Devi to please her and make her extremely happy. The detailed Aavarana Pooja starts with worshipping the Chaturayatana deities. These are Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu and Shiva. These four occupy the four corners of the square, which contains the Srichakra.

First, the fifteen Nitya Devis are worshipped as the powers that rule the fifteen days in a fortnight. In the bright half of the fortnight, they are worshipped starting from Kameshwari whereas the Pooja begins with Chitra Nitya in the dark half. There is a sixteenth Nitya known as Maha Nitya, who is none other than Sridevi herself from whom these fifteen emerge. The purpose of this part of the Pooja is to comprehend that time itself has emanated from, and is subordinate to Sridevi. Then Pooja is offered to the Guru Parampara or the lineage of gurus. The Gurus are conceived as belonging to four separate groups: first is Paraugha and the rest are Divya, Siddha and Manavaugha. The first offering is to the highest Guru ruling over the present cycle of time known as Sri Charyanandanatha. Next in priority is Sri Dakshinamurthy. After that, the full lineage of Gurus is offered Pooja. Thirty-one Gurus are mentioned by name with Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada's as the thirty-second. These are then followed by the devotee's Parameshti, Parama and Swagurus.
 
The Pooja then moves over to the worship of the deities in the nine enclosures of Srichakra. Pooja is offered next to five groups of Devis who are conceived to be located over the Bindu in Srichakra in a five-fold Peetha. These goddesses represent the stages through which the Sadhaka has to pass, in moving from Savikalpa Samadhi to Nirvikalpa state. After this, Pooja is offered to the deities of the Shanmatas and six Chakras. There are four amnayas (six for Maha Shodashi Upasakas), each one containing a sizable number of individual Devatas. These can be offered Pooja and Tarpana individually or in groups. After this, depending on the availability of time, archana is performed with Sahasranama, Trishati or Ashtottara. Trishati archana is always performed with Kumkuma. The concluding part of the Pooja includes Dhoopa, Deepa, Naivedya, Tamboola, Karpura Nirajana and Mantra Pushpa. At this point, it becomes necessary to mention two additional features, which are peculiar to Srividya Upasana. They are the Arartikam and Kuladipam. These are one set of nine lamps and a single lamp made out of wheat flour, sugar and ghee and lit. After this, Suvasini Pooja and Tatvashodhana are performed. Yet another special feature of this Pooja is that it is not only the main devotee who performs the Pooja but after he has finished, others also partake in the ritual by each one performing what is known as Samayika Pooja. it is practically a very short form of the principal Pooja so that everybody present also gets the satisfaction of having himself performed the Pooja. it is also a means of training the aspirant to acquire the competence to himself perform the Pooja in due course.

In the context of Srividya Upasana, two more aspects remain to be explained. One of them is what is collectively known as Pancha Makara. These are five things representing the five physical elements, which are denoted through Madya, Mamsa, Matsya, Mudra and Maithuna. Of these, Madya refers to the principle of fire, Matsya to water, Mamsa to earth, Mudra to Vayu and Maithuna to ether. The use of these five in their real physical forms, though used by certain cults, is not prescribed for a Satvika Upasaka. Adi Shankara has actually condemned the use of these and has practically banned Pooja performance with these things in their normal form. These articles are to be used by those at the lowest level of evolution. The intention is to curb and channel their natural propensity to use these, by prescribing elaborate rituals and procedures and sanctifying them. For the evolved Sadhakas, these five connote the five Tanmatras, which are the five arrow of Mahatripurasundari. Madya is the ambrosia flowing from the Chit Chandra mandala, Mamsa means the control of tongue, the two Matsyas are the Ida and Pingala, Mudra refers to the center of Sahasrara and Maithuna is the union of Jivatman and Paramatman. The Shastras have pointed out that the use of these articles in their literal form is like walking on the edge of a sword, embracing a tiger and wearing a snake.

As referred to earlier, every area of Srichakra contains a variety of Devatas. There are separately described procedures for performing Pooja for each of them. Each of these Devis is ruling over one or the other aspects of secular life like health, wealth, happiness, education, winning over rivals or competitors, achieving particular special powers etc. While the total worship pf Sri Lalita Mahatripurasundari through the Aavarana Pooja will grant everything in this world and the other and lead one to total liberation at the end, these particular literally lesser powers have the way of granting whatever is specifically asked for separately. Besides, there are separate Aavarana Pooja procedures in regard to some of the Anga Devatas of Devi in Srichakra such as Maha Ganesha, Varahi, Shyamala, Chandi, Subrahmanya, Dakshinamurthy, and Swarnakarshana Bhairava etc. In addition, there is one Pooja addressed to a particular form known as Shadanvaya Shambhavi which is in fact, a Pooja addressed to Devi in her form completely one with Kameshwara. This worship is considered to be ultimate because it even transcends the gender and takes one on to a single principle. A complete description of this together with all the necessary concepts is provided in the fourteenth Shloka of Saundaryalahari and in the detailed commentary thereon by several learned commentators. The six principles referred to in these are of the five gross, physical elements, earth, water etc., together with the mind as the sixth element. Hence this is considered to be the ultimate to be pursued by the devotee who aspires for liberation from all the worldly attractions. Although the detailed procedures are set out in this compendium, only the Adhikari should undertake this form of worship for this. The prerequisite is not only poorna Diksha with initiation into Maha Shodashi but also the higher initiation of Maha Shaambhava Diksha and the initiation into Shaambhava Maha Padukas and other secret mantras. The three higher Saparyas – Shadanvaya Shambhavi, Dakshinamurthy Aavarana or Brahmavidya Mandala Pooja and the Guru mandala Pooja, these have to be performed only on Pancha Parvas by the above said Adhikari. These five occasions are the birthday of Guru, Diksha day of Guru, Chitra Pournami, Guru Pournami and the Guru Kaivalya parva. Without complete guidance from the Guru, these procedures bring grave results to the Sadhaka. Saubhagya Hridaya Stava gives more details about these procedures.

Independent of all the above, there is in practice a procedure called Chandi or Durga paddhati. This is also considered as one of the Devi's forms that inhere in the Srichakra. However, there is not much mentioned about this in the popular Srichakra Pooja procedures. There is a Smriti which says: Kalau chaNDI vinAyakau. This means in the age of kali, the two Devatas to be worshipped are Chandi and Ganapathi. The worship of these two will itself give the benefit of other forms of worship. The basis for this Chandi Upasana is found in Devi Bhagavata as well as the Markandeya Purana, which contains the well-known Saptashati. This narrates the three tales of Sridevi fighting and destroying the evil forces in the forms of Madhu, Kaithabha, Mahishasura and Shumbha – Nishumbha. These stories are narrated in thirteen chapters in the form of seven hundred stanzas or half stanzas. Each of these is considered as an independent mantra by repeating which one attains profound benefits. In addition, the mantra prescribed for this is what is known as Navakshari, the nine-lettered mantra that has its basis in the Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, known as the Devi Upanishad.
 
The reader who has read so far would have got an idea of the fundamental concepts of Srividya and the external Navavarana Pooja. The oft-quoted saying -

YatrAsti bhogo na tatra mokShaH yatrAsti mokShaH na tu tatra bhogaH |
ShrIsundarI sAdhakapuMgavAnAM bhogashcha mokshashcha karastha eva ||

`Where there is worldly enjoyment, there is no salvation; where there is salvation, there is no worldly enjoyment. For the great worshippers of Sri Sundari, both worldly enjoyment and salvation are at hand' – will come alive with a new significance.

Nowadays, most of the Brahmanas do not study the Vedas, but still respect them. There is a firmly entrenched conviction, arising from centuries of Samskara, that anything commended by the Vedas must be for our good. Hence, an intending Shakti Upasaka would like to know whether there is Vedic authority for this Upasana. In today's aggressively materialistic environment, we have got conditioned to look for user testimonials and customer lists while acquiring even mundane articles. It is understandable that this approach is applied to the Upasana marga as well.

The foremost of Srividya Upasakas have been Vasishta, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Shuka, who wrote the manuals of Samayachara known as the Shubhagama Panchaka. Sage Durvasas, also known as Krodha Bhattaraka, who Lalita Stavaratna or Arya Dwishati and Shakti Mahimna Stotra are read with devotion by pious people even today, formulated the Chintamani Pooja Kalpa, which is observed at the Sri Kamakshi temple at Kanchipuram. Sage Agastya, to whom Lord Maha Vishnu appearing as Hayagriva, taught Srividya including the Sahasranamas of Shyamala, Varahi and Sri Lalita, as well as the esoteric Trishati, is a well known Srividya Upasaka. Lopamudra, the wife of Agastya is the Rishi of the Hadi Vidya. Kalidasa, who's Chidgagana Chandrika contains the esoteric subtleties of this Upasana, is known as Laghu Bhattaraka or Sringara Bhattaraka. Sri Gaudapaadaachaarya, who is famously known as the author of Mandukya Karika, Subhagodaya Stuti and Srividya Ratna sutra, and as the guru of Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada, is the foremost of the gurus of Srividya Samayachara sampradaaya. Sri Adi Shankaracharya is widely regarded as the Avatara of Lord Mahadeva Dakshinamurthy himself and is famous for his Bhashya on the Prasthana Trayas, various Prakarana Granthas and Stotras, including the Saundaryalahari, the first 41 verses of which are a treasure house of mantra Shastra. His Prapanchasara is a compendium of the Upasana procedures of different deities. In all the monasteries established by Acharyal, the worship of Lord Chandramouleshwara and Sri Mahatripurasundari continues even today. Lakshmidhara, also known as Lolla, is a great Upasaka of incomparable brilliance, whose commentary on Saundaryalahari is the best of the various versions available today. Sri Bhaskaracharya is an outstanding Upasaka and scholar of Srividya who has written definitive commentaries on Lalita Sahasranama, Saptashati, and Nityashodashikarnava etc. He has also written extensively on Srividya, the notable work being his Varivasya Rahasya. Sri Appayya Dikshita, well known as the author of Parimala, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras, and over 100 other works, has contributed to the world, the Ratnatraya Pariksha and Durga Chandrakalastuti dealing with Devi Upasana. Even Bhaskaracharya refers to Dikshita in the honorific plural. Other well known Upasakas include Muttuswamy Dikshitar and Sri Shyama Shastry, two of the trinity of Carnatic classical music. Their lyrics disclose an intimate and deep knowledge of the Upasana Krama.

The famous and great personalities mentioned above would not have followed the Srividya path if it were contrary to the Vedas. This thought itself would be of comfort, but some readers may still wish to have some reassurance by way of references to relevant Vedic texts. Some such proofs are given below:

1. The srisukta, as its very name indicates, hymns the Goddess, invoking her as Sri. The Kamakala Bija is explicitly stated in this Sukta. Other texts also describe the great Bija as follows: YaH praNIti ya IM shruNoti yadIM shruNotyakalaM shruNoti etc.

2. The Durga Sukta hymns the Goddess as Sri Durga.

3. The Kenopanishad states that Uma revealed herself to Indra and dispelled his vanity and ignorance.

4. Parameshwara is worshipped as Ambikapati and Umapati in the Rigveda – namo hiraNyabAhave hiraNyavarNAya hiraNyarUpAya hiraNyapataye ambikApataye umApataye pashupataye namo namaH.

5. The presiding deity to whom oblations are offered in the Avahanti Homa is Sri Annapurana, a manifestation of Sri Mahatripurasundari.

6. There are also the following Upanishads dealing with Srividya – Sundari Tapini Pancjakam, Bhavanopanishad, Ratrisukta, Devisukta, Devyupanishad, Tripuropanishad, Bahvrchopanishad, Kaulopanishad, Guhyopanishad, Mahopanishad, Saraswati Rahasyopanishad, Saubhagya Lakshmi Upanishad, Srichakropanishad etc.

A modern writer Sri Panchanana Tarkaratna Bhattacharya has written a commentary on the Brahma sutras interpreting them from the standpoint of Shakta philosophy. The same author appears to have interpreted the Bhagavad Gita similarly.

There are three interesting thoughts while observing the India map, which appears approximately as a triangle. Hence the country itself is of the form of Kamakala. From Kanyakumari at the tip of the peninsula, where there is a shrine for Bala Tripurasundari, right up to the Himalayas, there are many holy shrines where Devi is worshipped in different forms, providing a unifying thread. At the Vaishnavi shrine in Jammu, we see only three stones representing the three Bindus of Kamakala. The Tamil script contains a vowel of the three Bindu form. Sage Agastya is a well-known Srividya Upasaka. Lord Subrahmanya is the son of Shiva and Shakti, sprung to annihilate evil or Avidya and is represented by two intersecting triangles, signifying the concept of Kamakala. All these add credence to the traditional belief that Lord Subrahmanya gifted the Tamil language to the southerners, through sage Agastya.

The Shabda Brahman, an aspect of chit, is the Kundalini Shakti. The Shakti is subtle and in the form of mere light and not audible. From Moolaadhaara, her breath goes upward and becomes Pashyanti (associated with Manas), Madhyama (associated with Buddhi) and Vaikhari. Thence it is generated as the letters a to ksha. These letters combine to form words and mantras. The Sadhaka has to realize that the Devata is not merely a syllable or a word and its meaning, but as a great power of which the mantra is a notation. The letters have specific meanings in the mantra Shastra and hence a mantra can be viewed as a coded form of conveying a long message or prayer. The Sadhaka must realize that he, his Guru, the mantra, the Chakra and the Devata are all one. here is the advaita made practical they are realized as one the devata and the sadhak as well.
 
The Kundalini Shakti is coiled like a serpent around a Karnika in the Moolaadhaara and is normally dormant, with its head on top of the Karnika. The Sadhaka's aim is to awaken the Kundalini, lead her through the six Chakras, and unite her with Sadashiva in the Sahasrara. Nectar flows from such union and drenches all the Nadis, and the Sadhaka experiences great bliss. Kundalini at first does not stay very long in the Sahasrara. The length of the stay depends on the strength of the Sadhaka's practice. There is a natural tendency to return to Moolaadhaara but the Sadhaka will use his efforts to retain her at the Sahasrara. Liberation is got only when she takes up her permanent abode at the Sahasrara. The unknown can be explained only through the known. An example that readily comes to mind is the Ananda Mimamsa in the Taittariya Upanishad. Arousing the Kundalini can be done through either Hatha Yoga or through meditation and Japa, done over many years. This should not be forced or hurried. The grace of the Guru is absolutely necessary. The latter method i.e. by meditation and Japa is safer. While taking Kundalini through the Chakras, the Sadhaka should mentally offer worship at each of the Chakras.

Arousing the Kundalini by mantra Japa should be done only in the Shukla paksha. It cannot be sufficiently emphasized that arousing the Kundalini should be attempted only by a person with total self-control, through sincere and constant Japa done with devotion over many years and with the specific approval of the Guru. to do otherwise may cause dangerous consequences and lead to several physical and mental ailments. The advice of the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham should be carefully heeded in this respect.

As this Vidya is the means of both Bhoga and Moksha, it is taught secretly only to eligible persons. The practitioner is also enjoined to keep this Upasana secret. The Sruti says:

AntaH shAktaH bahiH shaivaH loke vaiShNavaH.

The Shakti Upasana should be known only to the mind and not broadcast. Even while wearing on the forehead the Sindura Prasadam of Devi, the Upasaka should cover it with bhasma. As Shiva and Shakti are one, this can be done. Likewise, in view of statements such as `mAmeva paurushaM rUpaM gopikAnayanAmR^itam', `kadAchit laliteshAnI pumrUpA kR^iShNavigrahA' etc., indicating Abheda between Ambika and Narayana, discoursing at gatherings on Bhagavan's greatness amounts to discoursing on Devi's greatness. So if you think tantra and female energy is not right, probably even vishnu may not be for you, Devi Bhagavata mentions who thinks that hara and hari are different and Devi and Vishnu are different are child they have not grown yet to realize they all are one and the same,

It has been said that all Dvijas are Shaktas since they chant the Gayathri mantra. So if you chant gayatri you are already in to tantra, if you do not want to be into tantra probably you might have to throw gayatri away. The Tripura Tapini Upanishad establishes the equivalence of each Koota of Panchadashi mantra with the Gayathri mantra. Upanishad is Sruthi pramana so there is no argument above sruthi as per Indian traditions. Chanting the Panchadashi mantra once is equivalent to chanting the Gayathri mantra thrice. The aspirant who decides to take up this Upasana must be sincere, devoted, of good character, hailing from a good family, pure in mind, keen on attaining the Purusharthas. A good shishya is one who has studied the Vedas and the Upanishads, but is unable to retain their true import in this mind, and wishes to practice this Upasana as a means of attaining Brahma Jnana. Such a shishya must seek a Guru. The importance of Guru has been stressed in all Shastras. Upadesha becomes effective only if it is learnt from a Guru; merely reading from books will be unproductive, and will even cause misery. The shishya should surrender to a Guru and pray for enlightenment. The relationship between the Guru and the shishya is a sacred one. The Guru will also test the shishya, put him through a probationary period, and if he is convinced that the shishya is a fit and proper person, will instruct him. Unfortunately, nowadays we find that imparting Srividya mantra Upadesha has become a matter of commerce. Srividya is being taught as a year's crash course! This is to be deplored. In fact, the learned commentator Rameshwara Suri, in the course of his commentary on the Parashurama Kalpasutras, quotes this verse:

guravo bahavaH santi shishyavittApahArakAH |
durlabhoyaM gurudevi shishyasantApahArakaH ||

One should look for Guru who rids shishya of his ignorance, not wealth. Due to the grace of a proper Guru, all the obstacles and inconveniences of the shishya in acquiring Brahma Jnana are destroyed. By constantly chanting the mantra taught to him, the shishya overcomes all misery and enjoys supreme bliss. The Shishya's duties include serving the Guru to the best of his ability, having total faith in the Guru and chanting the mantra taught to him constantly. In Srividya, the guru shishya lineage has come as an unbroken chain, starting from the first guru, Paramashiva. At the time of Diksha, the Guru will teach the Guru Paduka mantra. The shishya is taught about his immediate Guru, his Guru's Guru and his Guru. The Shishya should develop the attitude that the Guru's feet rest on his head, the Paramaguru's feet on the Guru's head and so on. The Guru Paduka mantra contains the letters Ham saH, which represents the breathing in and breathing out, happening subconsciously all the time. This is known as the Ajapa Gayathri. Ha denotes Paramashiva and sa denotes Parashakti. This mantra therefore teaches the identity of Shiva and Shakti. The Paduka mantra also has the words ShivaH and Soham. It will be readily seen that Soham is the same as HamsaH, read in reverse order. These three words occur in all the three Guru Paduka mantras, in different permutations and serve to confirm the identity of Shiva and Shakti. Further, their relevance as regarding the Mahavakyas has been already explained. The mantras also include Tritari or the Vimarsha Pranava, Bala, and 12 Bijas in two groups of four and eight. The four are known as Khechari and the eight as Ananda Bhairava or Navanatha Bijas. Their meanings are highly esoteric and should be learnt from a Guru. The two other Rahasya Bijas in these mantras denote the Turiya Pranava, connoting the effulgence of the Supreme Being.

A very exacting daily routine has been prescribed for the sincere and committed Srividya Upasaka, covering all activities from the time of waking up early in the morning until retiring to bed at night. Their purpose is to make the Sadhaka constantly meditate on the Shiva swaroopa even while engaged in other actions. The routines prescribed for the Sadhaka include Dhyana of the Guru, Pranayama, Divyamangala Dhyana, Rashmi Mala, Ajapa Samarpanam, Ablutions, Sandhya Vandana and different kinds of Parayanams such as Natha, Ghatika, Tatva, Tithi Nitya, Nama and Mantra Parayanas. Devi Upasakas narrate the time according to the ashtanga system. As regards to Japa, it should be noted that the mantra of each Devata can be chanted only at the time prescribed for it. For example, the mantra of Maha Ganapathi has to be chanted early in the morning, that of Shyamala in the afternoon and that of Varahi at night.

A question may arise, why are there so many Devatas? These are only aspects of the Parashakti and, to adopt the contemporary management jargon, have jurisdiction over certain areas. Within these, the Devatas have been delegated authority and responsibility and have been empowered to deal with the prayers of the devotees. When the occasion arises, Parashakti can withdraw these aspects into Herself. The Sadhaka must also clearly appreciate that Japa corresponds to the Manana and Nidhidhyasana prescribed in regard to the Upanishads. While chanting Srividya Maha mantra, for greater efficacy, the Sadhaka should try to keep in mind the meanings of the mantra, and pronounce the letters in the manner explained by Sri Bhaskaracharya in Varivasya Rahasya. The Sadhaka may also contemplate on the Shakti in each of the Adharas while doing the Japa, and gradually move her upwards over a period of time.

The Sadhaka will experience, as his Japa and Upasana progress, that he is able to get some supernatural powers, Siddhis as they are known. His mind will also be distracted by various material pleasures thrusting themselves upon him. He must be careful, remembering parokShapriya hi devaH and these are directed at preventing him from attaining his goal of Brahma Jnana.

the Phala Sruti of Sri Lalita Sahasranama says, only the person who in crores of births and deaths has sung the names of other deities will develop sincerity and interest in singing the names of Mahatripurasundari. Only in the last Janma, one becomes a Srividya Upasaka. Those who have earned this through their Tapas in many Janmas, will enter this Upasana Marga.
 

vikrama

Active member
I am a small child before the erudition of Sarvasri Sangom, Nara and Rakesh. I have not studied advaita nor any other philosophy. But as a layman interested in Hinduism, I feel compelled to write this, not to exhibit my knowledge but to be corrected by my seniors.

Before starting the reply to the arguments against Advaita, let me make my position clear.

God is beyond religions and truth is not the prerogative of any particular sect. Religion is a matter of faith and experience; and truth can not be established by intellectual argument. Everyone is influenced by the principles/ prejudices he has inherited from his parents or society in the childhood and holds that his is the only true religion. The great religious teachers such as Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, Mohamed, Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhwa taught in such a way that would suit the social conditions of their respective times and the capacity of their respective followers. For today’s conditions none of the above can answer our queries fully and remove our miseries. Everyone has to fabricate his own philosophy and practice.

Jamait-i-Islami Hind Kerala quotes several Hindu scholars to prove that Advaita is fallacious. That Hindus themselves speak about the defects of their own religious principles and practices is ample proof of the freedom available here. Hinduism allows criticism and that results in evolution of religious thought. We have come far away from the Vedic concept of God and still hold the Vedas in high esteem because they mark the starting point of our enquiry into the unknown.

The arguments given in the Islami website are hair-splitting and will lead nowhere.

Sankaracharya’s words should be understood in their context. His argument runs thus:- Every object in our surrounding has a creator, just as a table has a carpenter and a pot has a potter. So this world must also have a creator. A carpenter uses a wood as the raw material to make a table and the potter uses clay to make a pot. So, what did the great creator, whom we call god, use as a raw material? If there is a raw material, then the question will arise as to who made this raw material and whether this creator is greater than that one. To circumvent this Sankara postulated that God did not make use of any external material but transformed himself as the universe. So whatever is, is nothing other than God. Only those who think deeply can realize this. Others are deluded by illusion and do not see the unity hidden in objects of various forms and names.

Just as the object seen in a dream vanishes when awake, so when the wisdom dawns, one understands the underlying godliness in all objects and his bedha-buddhi vanishes. The rope- serpent anecdote is also an example to illustrate this.

Sri Mahaperiaval has said that karma is essential for everybody to attain chitta suddhi and for one who has attained that, karma becomes superfluous.

Moreover, Sankara’s philosophy was meant for the intellectuals. For others, he showed the path of devotion and composed various stotras on various gods. As an advaitist, he did not find any difference between the path of devotion and that of intellect and said, “Accept whatever is suitable to you.”
 

Nara

Well-known member
Dear Shri. vikrama, Greetings!

.....Everyone is influenced by the principles/ prejudices he has inherited from his parents or society in the childhood and holds that his is the only true religion.
I agree with this 100%. Finding holes in a theory is very easy. Let me emphasize that there is no intention to diminish the greatness of early Acharyas, and further, my meager presentations cannot take away any of their greatness as well. Therefore, I fully concur with the sentiments you have expressed.

Cheers!
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
...Religion is a matter of faith and experience; and truth can not be established by intellectual argument.
Shri Vikrama,

I agree that religion is a matter of faith. But advaita is, strictly speaking, not a religion; it is a philosophy which was postulated within the Hindu religious fold. Since this advaita philosophy has somehow got entangled into the popular minds as religion, there is this confusionthat it is also a matter of faith and hence cannot and should not be questioned. If truth is not to be established by arguments, as you deem, do you think all the AcAryas and their worthy disciples would not have said so? They even went to argue with the buddhist scholars. So, I feel there is nothing wrong in discussing these matters at our very low standards also.

Everyone is influenced by the principles/ prejudices he has inherited from his parents or society in the childhood and holds that his is the only true religion. The great religious teachers such as Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, Mohamed, Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhwa taught in such a way that would suit the social conditions of their respective times and the capacity of their respective followers.
Here again, I think there is a bit of mix-up; while I agree that buddha, mahAveera, Jesus and muhammad preached entirely different religions, Sankara, rAmAnuja and mAdhva did not preach any new religion at all; if it were so they would not have accepted the vEdas and scriptures as authority, some of the various divinities which were within the hindu pantheon, etc. It is also not correct to say that these new religions/ new philosophical outlooks came about or were taught in order to suit the local conditions. Let us not take the case of the other religions here because it will be veering off from the subject of this thread; take the three cases of Sankara, rAmAnuja and mAdhva, what was the "local conditions" as far as Sankara or rAmAnuja or mAdhva was concerned? Were people dissatisfied with whatever philosophy they had at that time? Do we not say that Sankara was a reformer and established "shaNmata"? Was it because some king or people in general beseeched him to come and reform? Was it not his own urge to propagate "advaita" throughout the length and breadth of this country? Perhaps he might have felt that his philosophy would be beneficial to people but it was not to suit any "local conditions" IMO. The case is stronger when one considers rAmAnuja and mAdhva; they both differed from their predecessors and debated their way to propagate their philosophies. I do not think that we can say rAmAnuja thought that viSishTAdvaita will suit the local conditions of, say, Tamil Nadu and/or A.P., or that mAdhva felt similarly in respect of tuLunADu. Even if we accept your view for argument's sake, is it not then wrong for people of Tamil Nadu to stick to advaita?
If you look at the history of these branches of vEdAnta, it will be clear that they were clear efforts at some sort of "proselytization" within the hindu fold itself from one philosophical outlook to another.

For today’s conditions none of the above can answer our queries fully and remove our miseries. Everyone has to fabricate his own philosophy and practice.
I fully agree with you in this. But does that mean any discussion on these matters will not be any use?

Jamait-i-Islami Hind Kerala quotes several Hindu scholars to prove that Advaita is fallacious. That Hindus themselves speak about the defects of their own religious principles and practices is ample proof of the freedom available here. Hinduism allows criticism and that results in evolution of religious thought. We have come far away from the Vedic concept of God and still hold the Vedas in high esteem because they mark the starting point of our enquiry into the unknown.
No comments.

The arguments given in the Islami website are hair-splitting and will lead nowhere.
Actually much of what is said in that website is part of the continuing debate between advaitins and viSishTAdvaitins through all these centuries. They may or may not lead anywhere but they reveal the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the two vEdAntic thought streams, if I may say so.

Sankaracharya’s words should be understood in their context. His argument runs thus:- Every object in our surrounding has a creator, just as a table has a carpenter and a pot has a potter. So this world must also have a creator. A carpenter uses a wood as the raw material to make a table and the potter uses clay to make a pot. So, what did the great creator, whom we call god, use as a raw material? If there is a raw material, then the question will arise as to who made this raw material and whether this creator is greater than that one. To circumvent this Sankara postulated that God did not make use of any external material but transformed himself as the universe.
This is in my humble view a misconception about advaita. If Sankara had as much as "God did not make use of any external material but transformed himself as the universe" there would have been a difficulty for the advaitic concept, because, the "brahman" the only reality as per advaita is not capable of "transforming himself" because that brahman is "nirguNa" as per Sankara's postulates and, being nirguNa, It cannot do anything of itself. So, in effect it would become viSishTAdvaita or at least very close to it (Shri Nara may be able to say authoritatively.)

So whatever is, is nothing other than God. Only those who think deeply can realize this. Others are deluded by illusion and do not see the unity hidden in objects of various forms and names.
Here also there is some doubt. You hold that "God did not make use of any external material but transformed himself as the universe"; if so whether God, who is the real one and is always existing, could transform into an unreal, make-believe world? Can a reality while itself existing become unreal also at the same time?

Just as the object seen in a dream vanishes when awake, so when the wisdom dawns, one understands the underlying godliness in all objects and his bedha-buddhi vanishes. The rope- serpent anecdote is also an example to illustrate this.
If the realization is through " wisdom" then it has to be thorugh the intellect and reading, debate, etc., will definitely help in attaining the goal. Even in the rope-serpent example, the perceiver has prior knowledge of the 'real' (I mean the day-to-day reality here) rope and the 'real' serpent. Suppose one does not know about serpent at all; then he will not mistake the rope for a serpent, but may feel it is, say, a rubber tube, if he has prior knowledge of a rubber tube. Thus it was (I think) rAmAnuja attacked advaita as one of its fallacies.

Sri Mahaperiaval has said that karma is essential for everybody to attain chitta suddhi and for one who has attained that, karma becomes superfluous.
With due respect to you I am unable to find out the relevance of this to the point/s under discussion.

Moreover, Sankara’s philosophy was meant for the intellectuals. For others, he showed the path of devotion and composed various stotras on various gods. As an advaitist, he did not find any difference between the path of devotion and that of intellect and said, “Accept whatever is suitable to you.”
This is not intelligible to me. If Sankara had really felt that advaita was something for the intellectuals to waste their idle time, why should he go throughout the land, argue and win over his opponents and establish maThams to propagate his advaitam? Was it purely to publicize his SlOkas andstOtras? can you tell me the source of the statement, "As an advaitist, he did not find any difference between the path of devotion and that of intellect and said, “Accept whatever is suitable to you.”
 

Nara

Well-known member
Dear Shri sangom, your detailed response to Shri vikrama is very lucid and informative, much appreciated.

.... If Sankara had as much as "God did not make use of any external material but transformed himself as the universe" there would have been a difficulty for the advaitic concept, [.....] So, in effect it would become viSishTAdvaita or at least very close to it (Shri Nara may be able to say authoritatively.)
Yes sir, indeed this is my understanding as well. SV texts say Iswara/Brahman is both Upadana karana (material cause, e.g. mud of a pot) as well as Nimitta Karana (instrumental cause, e.g. the potter). Bhagavat Ramanuja goes to great lengths to establish this from the three classes of Shruti vakyas, Bheda, Abeda, and Ghataka Shruti. These are found in Azhvar pasurams as well.

Cheers!
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Dear Shri sangom, your detailed response to Shri vikrama is very lucid and informative, much appreciated.

Yes sir, indeed this is my understanding as well. SV texts say Iswara/Brahman is both Upadana karana (material cause, e.g. mud of a pot) as well as Nimitta Kqarana (instrumental cause, e.g. the potter). Bhagavat Ramanuj goes to great lengths to establish this from the three classes of Shruti vakyas, Bheda, Abeda, and Ghataka Shruti. These are found in Azhvar pasurams as well.

Cheers!
Shri Nara,

I can imagine that the abhEda Srutis could have been adapted by rAmAnuja but I would like to know, in some detail as to how exactly the three types of Srutis were shown to portray the viSishTAdvaita view point.
 

Nara

Well-known member
... I would like to know, in some detail as to how exactly the three types of Srutis were shown to portray the viSishTAdvaita view point.
Shri sangom, I will write in more detail later today or tomorrow, but quickly, the following pithy phrase from Swami Nammazhvar's Thiruvaymozhi is how this is done.

உடல் மிசை உயிர் எனக் கரந்தெங்கும் பரந்துளன் (like the life in the body he pervades everything)

More later ....
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Hello Sangom,

I do not understand your opposition to tantra, probably because you never tried to dwell in it, there is a book by shri goudapadar guru of shankara, shubagodaya a classic text in sri vidya, Parasurama believed to be the avatar of vishnu wrote parasurama kalpasutra a text regarded as one of the authentic texts of Sri Vidya, now all the 4 maths established by Shankara today also do Sri Vidya in their daily rituals. Either you were taken away by just the wrong notions about vamachara, there are siddhantachara, kaulachara, samayachara and dakshinachara as well. Now with regards to Sri Vaishnavas there are tantra practices there also. Right from Meera Bhai till ramakrishna paramahamsa till vivekananda have practised tantra, Even krishna himself seems to have got sri Vidya which is covered under the ambit of tantras.

My whole point above is just that anything which is their in Indian literature needs to be learned from a guru, its not just tantra any other vidya as well. Sri vidya or tantra for that matter advocates advaita principle just that in the initial stages there is a slight difference. Finally at the end of the day there is famous quote in kalpasutra, never deny any sastra because all sastras have their own place in this world, probably tantra is something which is not liked by sangom, but i do not see a reason why you need to oppose it. represents the lowest level of kundalini that was i think a very vague comment below is the excerpt from wikipedia seems like wiki has a better understanding than your friend about dakshinamoorthi.
I do not have any opinion about anyone practising any of the tAntric methods. My objection is only to the opinion that "advaita" is not a subject for debate/discussion, but has to be learnt from a guru and that then only one can understand it. I have already explained that had Sankara been of the same opinion he would have specifically indicated it. Elders in my family and several other TB families used to discourage learning any of the tAntric practices even from gurus. I feel that they must have had the wisdom gained from their forefathersalso in saying so. There were TB purohits who refused to (learn&) perform the bhagavati sEva even.

The Sankara maThas practising Sreevidya, if you are right, shows, in my opinion that advaita is not practised even by those AcAryas and they are just following tantra only.

I had only remarked about people making up different stories according to their imagination and linking all such ideas to kuNDalini, yOga, tantra and all that and my comment was only to joke at my friend.


Now with regards to secrecy the one who practices knows that advaita can be read as mere intellectual excrcise but it does not bring any good other than that, if you want to experience you need to find a guru there is no other way, even sankara himself described the guru sishya relationship in vivekachoodamani, probably sangom should read that to find a bit more vivekam to start experiencing god and advaita rather than just some intellectual exercises and debates.
Branching into innuendos is indicative of a losing argument. vivEkacUDAmaNi (VC) also does not say that guru-Sishya for the intellectual exercise which you also permit. So why should there be any need for me to acquire more vivEkam? And, if, after all you feel that reading VC will bring more vivEkam etc., does it not mean that after all it is in the intellect to experience advaita?

Anyway, I do not think I need to 'experience god or advaita', but will be happy to discuss, ponder over and come to conclusions.

Below is an article about tantra and sri vidya in detail with quite ample example of what happens when advaita is practised without experience.
Now, what is meant by "practising advaitam"? Is it not that all smArta brahmins (may be some exceptions are there) subscribe to the advaita philosophy enunciated by Sankara and adhere to that branch of advaita? If you are equating tantra and Sree vidyA as advaitam, pl. cite the authority for that.


A devotee visited the Sringeri Acharya's abode and stayed there for three days. At the end of his sojourn, the Acharya asked him how he enjoyed his stay there. Prompt came the reply that it was `Brahmananda'. Then the Acharya quizzed him as to how he knew Brahmananda and whether he had experienced it before and if he had not, how he could recognize it. The message is that there is a natural state of pleasure, which is the real nature of the atman and when that is felt, the one who experiences it recognizes it as his natural state. All other pleasures that are acquired through the worldly experiences are artificial or Kritrima. These are temporary and ephemeral and so do not last. The end of every such experience is pain causing.
What happened then to the devotee? Since the devotee's answer to the ACArya's query is not given it does not convey any meaning.

In his brilliant introduction to the Brahma sutra Bhashyas edited by Mahamahopadhyaya Anantakrishna Shastrigal, the Shankaracharya of Govardhana Peetham of Puri establishes Sat, chit, ananda, Moksha and Ishana (suzerainty) as the natural state of the soul in every human being.

The absolute and eternal pleasure – Brahmananda, is something, which is natural and is referred to as Moksha. This is generally translated as liberation. To attain Kama, one needs Artha or wealth. That wealth must be acquired by dharma, another difficult but frequently and commonly used word. The connotation of this word is – `acting always in a manner consistent with the inherent nature of the experience-r and experienced. This, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are referred to as the goals of human life. The understanding of these four terms will give one a broad indication of the purpose of all philosophical and material pursuits. This being so, it becomes the religious duty of every individual to practice Dharma in its proper spirit, acquire wealth and apply that for attaining the last two.

Hindu scriptures prescribe three different but intertwining paths to attain liberation and these are: karma, Bhakti and Jnana. Of these, karma directs the individual to perform faithfully all the duties, actions and procedures prescribed by the Vedas and Shastras as befitting a man's Varna and Ashrama. The Bhakti path is where the individual is given the choice of a form of the Divine Entity to contemplate, worship, meditate, and perform Pooja etc. The Absolute that is formless, is allowed to be conceived of as having a form to enable the human mind to hold on to something and make progress in the Bhakti route. This Bhakti also consists of three distinct groups of activities:

Continuing the article as the post size is limited.
Most or all of the above has been read in several places on several occasions but the so-called gurus themselves do not show any sign of having been refined by their experience of advaita, brahmAnanda and all that.
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Indeed, Bhagavan Krishna assures us that he confers on the sincere devotee, unwavering devotion to the chosen form. There are six Upasana paths known as the Shanmatas, properly codified and defined by the great Acharya, Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada. They are: Ganapatya, Saura, Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta and Kaumara.
If "unwavering devotion to the chosen form" is required, how is it that "pancAyatana pUja" is prescribed and followed by smArtas? Will that not disturb attention?

As the name of each indicates, each one has a different form of deity as the object of worship; the other paths of Japa, Dhyana and the ritual of puja are all the same. Of these, Shakta is the one where the form of Shakti is worshipped as Mother.
The original "SAkta sect" believed in "yOni pUja" in privacy and the worship of Kali in public, panca makaras and a modified form of this type of SAktam still pervades Bengal and Assam (kALighat and kAmAkhya). So, how far is it correct to regard SreevidyA as SAktism?

Interestingly, of the six, this is the only Upasana (i.e. Srividya Upasana) that is always reverentially referred to with the attribute `Sri'.
It means that the other 5 are not desirable?

The principal form of worship here is that of Shakti or energy. That way, this can also be viewed as worship of the energy aspect of the remaining five forms and therefore, this integrates al the six methods into one. While for the sake of conceptualizing, the power or energy is viewed as a distinct entity, it is needless to say that it cannot be physically separated from that of which this is the power. Hence the dictum, `ShaktiH shaktimatorabhedaH'. The substratum on which this Shakti inheres is referred to as `Shaktiman', which is Shiva or Kameshwara himself. In other words, we try to conceive of the single entity Shiva as basic or residual Shiva and its Shakti separately. It is only logical that if one can conceive of such a dichotomy of a single individual being, when Shakti is taken out, what remains must be something inert (jaDa). That is the profound principle with which Acharya's Saundaryalahari starts.
To me it means that pure energy or Sakti cannot be visualized (you say viewed as a distinct entity) and hence the Saktimat is necessary for it to manifest; since this tAntric mode of worship is addressed to Sakti, the energy, it follows that Sakti is nowhere without Siva. The very fact that instead of restricting the name of the Saktimat to Siva but immediately giving the appellation "kAmESvara", lord of lust, (after all, Sankara chose to name his composition only as SivAnanda lahari, not kAmESvara lahari) the age-old links to yOni-pUja and all that is sought to be retained, although in a veiled fashion.

Consistent with the physical science, this Shakti can be of two forms again: potential and kinetic. In this system, the potential form is refereed to as Prakasha (effulgence) and the kinetic as Vimarsha (illuminating). The effulgence is the inherent characteristic of the first by which the seen world is illuminated, enabling us to see. This is the explanation of the Shakta system for the universe and the power that makes it to be seen by all of us. In a higher plane, the concept of Guru also is conceived as made up of the same principles of Prakasha and Vimarsha. The Guru as the torch, remains the source of light and simultaneously the seen world. Guru Padukas are always referred to as Prakasha and Vimarsha. Another way of explaining this is by saying Prakasha is the absolute Brahman and Vimarsha is the individual Jivatman, the guru representing the state of Advaita, where the distinction of Jiva and Brahman ceases to exist.
If as you say, the SreevidyA is a secret tantric mode of worship to be learnt from a guru, etc., why at all should you elaborate like this? It is the current fashion to link ancient beliefs and notions to latest science or existing religious/philosophical symbols such as jeeva-brahman, trimUrti, triguNa, chaturvEda, diks (cardinal directions), pancabhUta, shaDripu (shaDvairi), saptalOka/saptaswara, ashTa siddhi/ashTadik, navasiddhi/navanidhi/navagraha, etc. In short your elaborate description does not help in cogently arguing to show your point viz., advaita is Sreevidya, it is a secret vidyA to be learnt from a guru only, and, debates/discussions will not help (unless people with more "vivEkam" do it!)

As mentioned earlier, ... Interestingly, in the path of Jnana itself, Adi Shankara stresses the Bhakti aspect. Acharya has cleverly reconciled these two in his Vedantic definition of Bhakti as the individual meditating upon or worshipping himself.
i would like you to give me the relevant citations from sankara's work where these are stated by him.
 

Nara

Well-known member
I would like to know, in some detail as to how exactly the three types of Srutis were shown to portray the viSishTAdvaita view point.
Dear Shri sangom, Greetings!

I will try to give a synopsis of how Bhagavat Ramanuja reconciles the Bheda and Abheda shruti vakyas. I am given to understand that Advaitam says the bheda shruti are superseded by the Abheda shurti and therefore, only Abheda shrutis are valid. In the case of Dvaitees, I gather, they declare abhedha shruti don't even exist as it is a matter of how the words are split and so, Tatvamasi is really atatmvamasi, and so on.

The SVs claim that they are the only ones to do justice to Vedas as they don't reject bheda shruti as having been superseded and don't introduce extraneous syllables like "a" in front of Tatvamasi. This is what I understand and if I am open to corrections.

The way SVs reconcile Abheda and Bheda shrutis is mainly through the Antaryami Brahmana of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which Bhagavat Ramanuja calls ghaTaka (घटक) Shruti. These verses are supposed to connect the Abheda and Bheda verses. But before we get into that, the concept of what SVs call body/soul relationship must be explained.

Bhagavat Ramanuja in Sri Bhashyam explains that a a body/soul relationship exists between two entities using three concepts. These are referred to as ஆத்ம லக்ஷணம் and ச்ரீர லக்ஷணம்.

The three properties that constitute ஆத்ம லக்ஷணம் are dhaarakan, niyamakan, and seshi (supporter, master, and enjoyer) and the corresponding three ச்ரீர லக்ஷணம் are Adheyatvam, vidheyatvam, and seshatvam (supported, directed, and enjoyed). Bhagavat Ramanuja says, आधेय्त्व-विधेयत्व-शष्त्वानि शरीर लक्षणं. In other words, if these three corresponding qualities exist between two entities, then the one that is dhaarakan, niyamakan, and seshi (धारकन्, नियामकन् and शेषी) is Atma, and the one who is dhAryam, niyamyam, and seshan (धार्यं, नियांयं, शेषन्). What is unique to SV is, they claim this relationship need not exist only between cetanam and acetanam. If these three conditions hold between two cenatams, then one that is dhaarakan, niyamakan, and seshi is the soul and the one that is dhAryam, niyamyam, and seshan is body.

dhaarakan/dharyam refers to supporter and supported. Without the support of the supporter, the supported cannot exist. That is, in the case of living things, without the jeeva supporting it, the body cannot exist.

niyamyakan/niyamyam refers to controller and controlled. Jeeva controls the sarira. The body acts as willed by the jeeva.

seshi/sehan refers to the master and servant relationship. The body serves the soul, the body is the servant and the jeeva is the master.

SVs claim that this kind of three-fold relationship exists between Brahman on the one hand and jagat (jeeva + acetana) on the other.

One more concept that is relevant is the notion that while the body and soul exist together, due to limitation of language, references to the body often may seem like references to the soul and vice versa. For example when we say Rama is of blue complexion what we actually mean is Rama's body is blue is in complexion. The word Rama does not refer to the body itself, but it transcends the body and inheres in the Atman residing in that body.

Armed with these two concepts Bhagavat Ramanuja interprets the Antaryami Brahmana to mean jagat (jeeva + acetana) is body to Iswara, not like the body to a jeeva in a given birth, but one that is eternal, inseparable -- अपृदक्सिद्धि -- the reason this siddantam is called Visihta - advaitam.

Now, we get into Brihadâranyaka Upanishad III.7, where Brahman is described as, among other things, the body of earth,water,fire, air, sun, moon, stars, ether, light, speech, eye, ear, mind, skin, jeeva, intellect, matter, and he is the divine Lord Naryana, soul of all.

So, he is in-dweller of everything, cetanam and acetanam, and he is Iswara, who is Sriman Narayana.

Now, these Shruti vakhyas that connect the bheda shruti with abhetha shruti are the ones Bhagavat Ramanuja calls ghataka shruthi. So, when Shruti says Aham Brahmasi, it is like you and I saying I am Nara or I am sangom, the Nara and sangom do not refer to our individual body, but to the jeeva that ensouls the body in which we dwell. Similarly, Aham Brahmasi refers to the Parabrahman who ensolus our individual souls. Iswara is one who dwells inside all the jeevas as dhaarakan, niyamakan, and seshi. So, SVs say, interpreting Aham Brahmasi to mean each individual jeeva is Parabrahman is a gross misreading of the Shruti vakhyas. The jeeva is nothing more than mere dhAryam, niyamyam, and seshan to Sriman Narayana who is Parabrahmam, ensouling everything, cetana and acetana.

The case with tatvamasi is even simpler, it clearly indicates two entities, tat and tvam.

With this சரீரீ-சரீர relationship derived from the Antaryami Brahmana, both bheda and abheda shruti vakhyams neatly fall into place, at least for SVs.

Hope I made some sense, there is obviously lot more to this .....

with best regards ....
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Dear Shri sangom, Greetings!

I will try to give a synopsis of how Bhagavat Ramanuja reconciles the Bheda and Abheda shruti vakyas. I am given to understand that Advaitam says the bheda shruti are superseded by the Abheda shurti and therefore, only Abheda shrutis are valid. In the case of Dvaitees, I gather, they declare abhedha shruti don't even exist as it is a matter of how the words are split and so, Tatvamasi is really atatmvamasi, and so on.

...

Armed with these two concepts Bhagavat Ramanuja interprets the Antaryami Brahmana to mean jagat (jeeva + acetana) is body to Iswara, not like the body to a jeeva in a given birth, but one that is eternal, inseparable -- अपृदक्सिद्धि -- the reason this siddantam is called Visihta - advaitam.

...

Hope I made some sense, there is obviously lot more to this .....

with best regards ....
Shri Nara,

Thank you. Though by family heritage I should call myself and "advaitin" it looks to me as if viSishTAdvaita is a more logical construct; I would like to study more of va as well as dvaitam because, as I said earlier with my limited knowledge, most people seem to be observing dvaitam only.

One portion is not clear to me, viz., but one that is eternal, inseparable -- अपृदक्सिद्धि -- the reason this siddantam is called Visihta - advaitam. It looks as though some words are to be supplied/edited. Kindly see.
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Shri Rakesh,

If your extremely long posts are not copy-paste jobs, I admire your typing speed!

Your posts have taken the discussion far away from advaita and its flaws, which was the starting point, to a discourse on Sreevidya upAsana itself. So I do not think much of it is relevant and, obviously, there is not much to discuss. Still, I have gone through to the best ability of my "vivEkam" sans vivEkacUDAmaNi (!) and list out below some points which, I think, are of relevance.

1. In post # http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/philosophy-scriptures/4970-advaita-its-fallacies-new-post.html you had narrated, partly, the encounter of a devotee with the SankarAcArya of Sr^ngEri, etc. In that he reportedly uses the word 'brahmAnanda' and you have subsequently stated as under:

"...The message is that there is a natural state of pleasure, which is the real nature of the atman and when that is felt, the one who experiences it recognizes it as his natural state."

Elsewhere you state that The absolute and eternal pleasure – Brahmananda. Hence it seems that you use the word in the philosophical context also.

My question is, though the word 'brahmAnanadam' in day-to-day usage denotes a state of great physical comfort and mental happiness, how correct is it to equate it to 'the real nature of the Atman' and say further that 'and when that is felt, the one who experiences it recognizes it as his natural state' ? Since brahman is 'nirguNa' as per advaita, any realization (which again is dissolution -even if momentary - should not result in "Ananda" because a thing without any qualities cannot be experienced by the senses and happiness can be felt, at least when we are alive, only through the sense organs, mind and intellect put together. And since the word 'brahmAnandam" is used in SlOkas like "brahmAnandam parama sukhadam kEvalam jnAnamUrtim..." it seems the attainment of brahman experience which, if at all any of the great personages did achieve, was not truly the advaitic one. Or, it may also be that the advaitic ideal is not attainable.

2. You have, while expatiating on SreevidyA upAsana, etc., referred to 'pancamakara' and given the explanation that they do not mean the use of the traditionally held items but (as I said in my previous post) represent the pancabhUta. But SreevidyA upAsakas of repute like abhirAmi Pattar, Elatoor rAmaswAmi SAstrigal, etc., are reported to have used the traditional methods only. (Though the TV programme on abhirAmi paTTar showed a slightly altered story, what I have read in the past is that paTTar was caught drunk, brought to the king's presence and then the rest of the story.) Some years (5 or 6) ago, one well-known Malayalam music personality told in a TV programme for Karnatik music that he was (is) a SreevidyA upAsaka and that over and above the navAvaraNa keertanas of mutuswAmi deekshitar, there is a tenth, to be sung only in secrecy to the goddess and that it involves "some" paraphernalia which are secret and all are passed on by upadEsam from the guru to Sishya only.

"In the context of Srividya Upasana, two more aspects remain to be explained. One of them is what is collectively known as Pancha Makara. These are five things representing the five physical elements, which are denoted through Madya, Mamsa, Matsya, Mudra and Maithuna. Of these, Madya refers to the principle of fire, Matsya to water, Mamsa to earth, Mudra to Vayu and Maithuna to ether. The use of these five in their real physical forms, though used by certain cults, is not prescribed for a Satvika Upasaka. Adi Shankara has actually condemned the use of these and has practically banned Pooja performance with these things in their normal form. These articles are to be used by those at the lowest level of evolution. The intention is to curb and channel their natural propensity to use these, by prescribing elaborate rituals and procedures and sanctifying them."
It is clear from reading the above that whatever prohibition is there, is just half-hearted, and when one takes into account the statements by living persons about some secret rituals, mantras and song, etc., the conclusion becomes inescapable that what goes under the label of SreevidyA is the traditional SAktam with all its paraphernalia and nothing else; the cult is projecting a side for public approval while keeping its original form intact, in secrecy. That perhaps is the reason for the orthodox brahmins' antipathy towards this practice.

3. "YatrAsti bhogo na tatra mokShaH yatrAsti mokShaH na tu tatra bhogaH |
ShrIsundarI sAdhakapuMgavAnAM bhogashcha mokshashcha karastha eva ||

`Where there is worldly enjoyment, there is no salvation; where there is salvation, there is no worldly enjoyment. For the great worshippers of Sri Sundari, both worldly enjoyment and salvation are at hand' – will come alive with a new significance."


This (your translation) looks like a contradiction. If the two statements in the first line are absolute truth, the claim in the second line should be impossible. And, if what is said in respect of the second line is true always, then it will not automatically follow that the claims in the first line are inviolable truths. Even if one considers the presence of the word "Eva", which is not reflected in the translation, I feel the objection will be relevant. After all, where is the question of worldly pleasures after mOksham? Is it that the SreevidyA people will get bhOgam after mOksham also? Does it conform to advaita?

4. You also referred to the Indian sub-continent having a triangular (inverted, with base on the top) shape and some other similar items to the relevance of "kAmakalA" to this country, I presume. But to me these appear simple childish arguments; what then should be the shape for SreevidyA worship in, say, Canada or USA or U.K. or Japan?

5. There is one pancadaSAksharee guptinartana leelAstuti which is recited ordinarily. Its final Sloka is as follows:

pancamukhESAdi dEva pratOshaka
pancadaSAkshara guptim imAm
pancAksharAdivad uccaratAm iha
pancatva sambhava bheetirnahi
kvApi pancatva sambhava bheetirnahi

Do you feel such Sloka can be recited in the course of normal prayers?

Regarding Sreevidya and Sankara/advaita, comments will follow.
 
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sangom

sangom

Well-known member
Before going to the consideration of whether Sankara would have advocated Sreevidya as the means (or one of the many possible means) for attaining liberation, it will be useful if we have a background of what Sankara's views about attaining liberation and related matters were, as reflected in his bhashyas of the Prasthanathrayee. I can give no better account of the topic than reproducing a few excerpts from the book, "Adi Sankara's Vision of Reality" by Vidyabhushanam, Vidyavachaspati, V. Panoli ( a Mathrubhumi Publication).

_____________________________

"सर्वेषाम् हि शोभमानानाम् शोभनतमा विद्या ।
(Of all that shines bright, knowledge is the most luminous.)
--Sankara (kEna-bhAshya, III-12)

Although a man may be knowing only little, if he be intelligent, (even) the learned hasten to hear him.
-- Sankara, chAndOgyabhAshya vii,5-2
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sri Sankara's rationalism is unsurpassed in human history. There is no superstition anywhere. There is no hypocrisy anywhere in the vast literature he has bequeathed to posterity...

You will certainly find it hard to believe that in the vast body of the bhashyas on the Prasthanatraya which alone are the authentic literature that can be undoubtedly ascribed to him, although they contain interpolations at several places, he has not given a hint anywhere that he hailed from Kalady nor shall we get a clue from any part of the bhashya that points to the fact that Aryamba, Sivaguru and Govindapada were his mother, father and teacher respectively, although there is the time-honoured adage * मातृमान् पितृमान् आचार्यवान् ब्रूयात् (One who has a mother, father and a teacher should say) which the Acharya himself has cited several times in the bhashyas. (There is a mention of Govindapada in Vivekachudamani which is evidently an interpolation. This topic is dealt with more fully in another chapter.) Even though the Acharya has cited in the bhashyas 20 times from the Mahabharata, (18 being from Santiparva alone) and 4 times from Vishnupurana etc. he has not cited a single stanza from the Bhagavta or any other Purana, Valmiki ramayana and Adhyatma Ramayana, in spite of the fact that these texts are acclaimed, accepted and read by hundreds and thousands of devotees throughout India and that our religion lives in the Epics and Puranas. It is surprising that there is not even a single mention of **Rama anywhere in the Bhashyas, but Krishna being the central Deity of the Gita, has been referred to in the Gita-bhashya and again in the Chhandogya-bhashya (111,17-6) in which he is dramatically presented as sitting at the feet of Ghora Angiras to quench his thirst for knowledge.
________________________________________________________________
* Brihadaranyaka Upanishad,IV,1-2
** In Upadesasahasri, however, there is a mention of Dasarathi (Rama) vide chapter XVII-100


@Vyasacharya is the only sage to whom the Acharya has paid tribute from the innermost shrine of his heart particularly mentioning his sacred name. One will be disappointed to hear that the word Devi or Devi pooja cannot be found in the bhashya. Reference to idol worship in one sentence is found in four different places, but it is too insufficient to decide what the outlook of the Acharya was towards idol worshipwhich is the assured medium for the majority of our race to feel the presence of God. He does not in any connection make mention of the great poets of this land, nor do there appear the names of notable places in India except Gangadvara (Haridvar), Sragna, Pataliputra, Kasi and Ayodhya. He seemed to have discarded all manner of worship except whole-hearted renunciation coupled with meditation on the Supreme, adhering strictly to viveka (discrimination), Vairagya (dispassion) which pave the path to the dawn of pure knowledge followed by an unfoldment and development leading to the Final Release.

Another peculiar characteristic of the bhashyas is that no where can one see a sentence in favout of the Bhakti Yoga (path of Devotion) in which again lies the solace of our race and in the Gita-bhashya alone he has, in two places, expressed as a key-note these words:

तस्मात् केवलाद् एव !जानाद् मोक्ष इति एषः अर्थो निश्चितो गीतासु सर्वोपनिषत्सु च ।
-Sambandha bhashya to Chapter II and to verse 11, chap.11
(Therefore it is through knowledge alone that liberation is attained which fact is settled in the Gita and all the Upanishads.)

The fact that Bhakti has not been recognised by him as a path to realisation will cause panic in the minds of all devotes without exception, for, according to them mukti (liberation) results from Bhakti.

The fact that Sri Ramanuja Acharya and others had advocated Bhakti may not help us here, for we are primarily concerned with the message of Sri Sankara Acharya. It is not Bhakti alone that the Acharya had refused to accept but he also relentlessly opposed Yoga, saying no means other than the knowledge of Brahman, the Self, will be able to lead one to the consummation of spiritual life viz. liberation.
________________________________________________________________
@ In the vast body of Sankara-bhashya we come across once-- and once only-- a statement of the Acharya paying homage to Vyasa Maharshi in such words as वेदव्यासः सर्वज्ञो भगवान् (Vedavyasa, the omniscient lord) - vide Gita-bhashya p.14 (Gorakhpur edition)
...To be continued
 

vikrama

Active member
Sri Sangom,
Thank you for enlightening me.
What I meant by Sankara taught to suit his times is this:-
During Sankara's period Buddhism with its insistence of intellectual enquiry was at its peak and his primary concern was to defeat them and bring the intellectuals into the path of theism. So he made use of intellectual reasoning to establish the existence of God.

Ramanuja had no such enemies to conquer. The philosophy taught by Sankara was too abstract for the masses (like me) and there was the danger of people getting disenchanted from Hinduism. So Ramanuja postulated the Visishtadvaita philosophy. However he could not totally break away from the Advaita which had held sway for more than two centuries before him. So he called it qualified monism.
For Madhwa, there was no need for compromising with Advaita. So he boldly declared that the Paramatma and Jeevatma are two different entities.

The line about karma was in reply to a point found in the Islami website.

"As an advaitist, he did not find any difference between the path of devotion and that of intellect and said, “Accept whatever is suitable to you.” This is not sourced from anywhere but from my own understanding or lack of it. What I meant was "just as he found no difference between God and the universe, So also he considered the path of devotion as having equal merit like that of Gnana.
Kindly enlighten me more. My knowledge of Advaita rests only on Bharati's words.
சொல்லடா ஹரி என்ற கடவுள் எங்கே
சொல்லென்று இரணியனும் உறுமிக் கேட்க
நல்லதொரு மகன் சொல்வான் தூணிலுள்ளான்
நாராயணன் துரும்பிலுள்ளான் என்றான்
வல்லமைசேர் கடவுளில்லாப் பொருளொன்றில்லை
மகாசக்தி இல்லாத வஸ்து இல்லை
அல்லலில்லை அல்லலில்லை அல்லலில்லை
அனைத்துமே தெய்வமென்றால் அல்லலுண்டோ

கேளப்பா சீடனே கழுதை ஒன்றை
கீழான பன்றியினைத் தேளைக் கண்டு
தாளைப் பார்த்திருகரமும் சிரமேற் கூப்பி
சங்கர சங்கர என்று பணிதல் வேண்டும்
கூளத்தினை மலத்தினையும் வணங்கல் வேண்டும்
கூடி நின்ற பொருனனைத்தின் கூட்டம் தெய்வம்
மீளத்தான் இதை மட்டும் விரித்துச் சொல்வேன்
விண் மட்டும் தெய்வமன்று மண்ணுமஃதே

சுத்த அறிவே சிவமென்றுரைத்தார் மேலோர்;
சுத்த மண்ணும் சிவமென்றே உரைக்கும் வேதம்;
வித்தகனாம் குரு சிவமென்றுரைத்தார் மேலோர்,
வித்தையிலாப் புலையனுமஃதென்னும் வேதம்;

பித்தரே அனைத்துயிருங் கடவுளென்று
பேசுவது மெய்யானால் பெண்டிரென்றும்
நித்த நுமதருகினிலே குழந்தை யென்றும்
நிற்பனவுந் தெய்வமன்றோ நிகழ்த்துவீரே?

உயிர்களெல்லாம் தெய்வமன்றிப் பிறவொன்றில்லை;
ஊர்வனவும் பறப்பனவும் நேரே தெய்வம்;
பயிலுமுயிர் வகைமட்டுமன்றி யிங்குப்
பார்க்கின்ற பொருளெல்லாம் தெய்வம் கண்டீர்;

வெயிலளிக்கும் இரவி, மதி, விண்மீன், மேகம்
மேலுமிங்குப் பலபலவாம் தோற்றங் கொண்டே
இயலுகின்ற ஜடப்பொருள்கள் அனைத்தும் தெய்வம்;
எழுதுகோல் தெய்வமிந்த எழுத்தும் தெய்வம்
[பாரதி அறுபத்தாறு]
 
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