5.26.2006

Dvaita verses Advaita philosophy

Ramanuja says that in the age of Kaliyuga, a person can get moksha or salvation from bondage and hence the cycle of rebirth if he/she simply utters the words "Om Namo Narayanan". He also says this can be done with one sitting right in the middle of samsara bandhana (or what we call ties with family life/ society so on).

I will flatly disagree with this theory in its literal sense. Lets take a good life today, a family with wife/hubby and children, a good income, a posh house, great friends without comparison and no rat race to prove self worth.
Its happiness all the way, but life will never have it so simple. There will be problems. And problems do not get dealt with without emotion and emotions bring with it unrest in the mind, fear and misery. Therefore is the recital of "Om namo Narayana" good enough to rid one self off that misery.

Ramanuja said this to those people who were illiterate and yes, you and I are largely illiterate in the field of spiritualism today.

These are some of Ramanuja's teachings:


1) You can follow spiritualism while following a life within the social network of your family and society.


My argument: Yes! With nagging parents talking investment in property, a spouse contemplating a brand new swanky car, a crying child going spoilt with added peer pressure, a servant mopping the house with her share of constant jabber, a cribbing sibling with clashing egos (am not referring to guns yet!), and not to forget your noisy neighbor playing Led Zeppelin (old fashioned?) right through Sunday morning while you are trying to concentrate on worship - "Om Namo Narayana" - Wow what peace! This is ignoring the calls to Allah, or Halleluja, or "Kaushalya supraja" blaring through loudspeakers at 5a.m. There is nothing wrong in recital of the mantra; there is every thing wrong with your environment. Where is the peace? Parents, spouse, children… When is this entire saga going to end, where is the silence and tranquility. Is this the life you chose for yourself or have you accepted that there is no escape. Or are there other ways of leading life, this being the most common and safe approach?

2) The second teaching is, after you have done your duty as householders you can retire to the forest and go into seclusion, but can always come to see the family. For e.g. meet your grand daughter on the day of her wedding or see her off to the US. Meaning you don’t entirely cut off from the family. But when you are involved in worship keep the family out of your mind.


My argument: How does this work. If my grand daughter is unwell, where will my mind be? Human bondage brings worry with it as much as it brings happiness. Both add to suffering from two ends of the same spectrum called Maya. If I continue to remain attached to the family I can quite forget my trip to realization for its completely impossible. Human bondage is a vicious cycle that one cannot get out of easily but has to put in complete effort to want to do so. Multi tasking of role-play and finding the self is completely impossible given our minds don’t even rest in one place in today's world.

3) The third teaching says that reciting "Om Namo Narayana" is all that it takes to attain salvation.


My argument: Maybe then, not now. If spiritualism was that simple we would all be saints by now, which of course as we can see is not the case. Happiness starts with the self. To exuberate happiness and goodness to all, the concentration should first be on the self. If I am not happy there is no way I am going to make you feel happy. Hence comfort with the self is far more important before one decides to look beyond his/herself.

My personal opinion on the teachings of Shankaracharya and Ramanuja is that both these saints were right in their approach, but with a difference. We need both approaches to be worldly wise and understand life and live through it. The philosophy of dvaita is required to understand the meaning of bondage, its character and hence its futility since it is Maya and only sucks you into its "Matrix". But it is needed nonetheless for the lack of that knowledge renders you completely ignorant for you will not understand peace if you don’t know what trouble is!

The philosophy of Advaita is needed to be brought in for it renders you compassionate and once all bondage is broken, the mind is set free, there is no pain nor love but pure goodness that flows from within to all creatures, to man, woman, mother, child, ant, cat or cockroach. There is no difference between the person in front of you defined by role-play as "mom/dad" or "daughter/son" or "wife/husband" or "stranger/thief" or "pet dog/cat Tommy”. Each is a life around you and detachment only leads to looking at all of them as one drop of a larger ocean of which you are also a part.
Hence finding yourself is most important for the truth you look for lies within.

Love of the Lord brings with it Bhakti which helps along the path of emotional spirituality while you apply human logic while living through life. Love can be for Lord Shiva (who helps you search for yourself) or Lord Vishnu (who helps you understand the world around you). The Mother Goddess...is for stronger willed people, for more potent experiences that might burn you out if you are not careful.


Great teachers have helped us re-look at our lives. Maybe its time now for us to unlearn...

24 comments:

Aswin said...

Hi Kavitha, well said!
But i tend to disagree on some points that you have mention
1) it is true that one can be a sanyasi even by living with his pfamily. Janaka Maharaja(Father of Sita) in Ramanayana was a perfect example, he was a king, but yet an ascetic. A true sanyasi can stay with his family and yet not be attached. Because once a person controls the five senses, nothing can stop him or distract him from attaining salvation.


2) You are right , just by saying "om Namo Narayana", one cannot get moksha, one has to fulfill his/her duties first and spent his days thinking about god and serving others.

3)Just by going to the forest and doing penance will not make you a great sage, you have to first renounce your worldlly belongings and realise the brahman(the supreme self).

4) The teachings of Madhavacharya and Ramanuja have deeper meaning than you and i think. When a person says "om Namo Narayana" then he/she must utter it by heart and think about the lord and nothing else.Even if you just plainly utter the lord's name , you get the positive vibrations and when you start repeating it, you focus on the lord.

You have a greater understanding of religion than me, it is just that you are looking at the teachings from a different perspective. Anyway great blog, bye:-)

kavitha said...

Hi Aswin,

I am trying to fit these great teachings into our lives today. Yes King Janaka was able to do it, be an ascetic and yet rule, but how many of us can life a lifestyle like that? Not of a king, but being an ascetic in society and all the chaos that surrounds it?

Yes, i agree with your logic of repetition of mantra conciously, but do our minds allow us that, in today's world.

Spiritualism has become far tougher than we thought, and getting back into it is not easy anymore, so people resort to convenience of life.

regds
Kavitha

Badhri said...

Well, may be the definition of an"ascetic" has itself gone through a transformation in Kaliyug. The core to being an ascetic is "not to be attached", right?

I just happenned to meet my CEO (Aart De Geus, Synopsys) today. He is as good a businessman can get. He sure is upto his neck with what would be "worries" others from all side. Customers, litigation from competition, future plans and all that. Yet, he hasn't lost the smile in his face while answering questions, happy and sad. How? As he himself unknowingly pointed out "I have experienced the energy that nothing is impossible". Positive attitude brings confidence to face and tackle difficult situations on a daily basis, and that experience only amplifies the confidence. I guess since he does it every day, he is "unattached" to the situation. Now may be he fits right into being an ascetic in the acharyas' terms. Of course, he is attached to making money and beating competition and all that. But that Bhagavat Gita says "Do your duty and leave the rest to God" explains it, doesn't it?

Aswin said...

HI Kavitha, a true ascetic never gets affected by anything, as for common people like me, it takes hell a lot of effort to gain spirituality, i agree that it is not easy , but neither is it impossible. All that we require is effort to succeed. I have seen many persons trying to concentrate on god and failing miserably due to their surroundings, their failures are mostly due to their own inabilities. Take me for example, i can never concentrate on god even for a one full hour, but i am trying and i am sure that one day i will succeed. All it takes is faith and resolve to keep going. Even spirituality follows Darwin's rule, "The fittest will survive". IN spirituality, "the persons with utmost faith and focus will succeed'.

Third Eye Closed said...

Hi,
Live life the way is most peaceful to you.
Each one of us have a path to contrive by, live by and even survive by...
But in the end where we all reach is inevitable.

Just a thought :) ... Just a thought :)

~fEelix

kavitha said...

Hi All,

I am still surprized with Joshi uncles absence from the scene. He would have a lot more to tell all of us.

I think all of us have hit it on the head conceptually, but there will be events/ situations in our lives where we will have to make life changing choices, and at that point the question will be for the self, or for the family/ society for they will never cease to intrude.

The last line was meant to wake all of us to the reality that we need to unlearn what ever we have been taught mechanically to even start asking questions, and that is a very difficult task ahead.

the examples stated were meant to bring to the table that both philosophies are required to get to equilibrium and that we cannot prove one to be greater than the other, as believed by most fanatics.

Hence the post :)

Badhri, your ceo has indeed learnt the art of detachment to a certain extent at work.. he still has to take the same approach to life and family.

BTW, I believe my sister works in the same firm. Badhri, mail me to my id, and we can take this part forward.

Regds
Kavitha

JC Joshi said...

Hi kavitha,

I had thought I had already said a lot, repeated also many a times, and all therefore might feel bored hearing the same things again and again…

In the present, because of quick over exposure to the ‘opposites’ in life, through the various ‘media’ within a short duration, due to inherent characteristic property of 'apparent time', the youth is more confused and therefore more rebellious – particularly as we approach the ‘starting line’ from where the perfect ‘spiritual’ Creator had at some stage in the ‘apparent time’ started to gain perfection in the ‘material’ field also by converting part of the energy to ‘material’…

The ultimate essence, communicated through the apparent ‘wise’ ancients at some stage, appears to be that today there is one and only one formless (‘Naadbindu’ or a point source of super gravity) unborn and unending Creator (‘adwait’) who actually exists… And, although all other physical forms are illusory, (like dreams within one’s head), with the apparent hierarchy they are serving some useful purpose to it - perhaps as records of its advancement from ‘nothing’ to ‘infinity’ in infinite fields of activity in its past, for its reference at any point of ‘apparent time’…

This, however, apparently ever continues to elude any one particular individual in the ‘present’ – although each is its own ‘image’ or ‘model’ and could reflect all aspects of the unseen infinite at any given time and at any place, the real time/ space being zero. However, a ‘mature’ individual, who has had sufficient experience (through records of its performance during innumerable 'life forms' a particular soul, as a part of the supreme one, had had to pass through), needs to consider various Truths’ together to reach at the essential truth or ‘Absolute Truth’, as Earth was understood by the ‘wise’ ancients to be, as per statement, “Satyam Shivam Sunderam” as one’s ‘role model’ in life…

Kavitha, I don’t know how clearly I have been able to express the thoughts, and whether it is to the reader’s satisfaction or not… But, in my mind I am quite clear...I will be glad if I could be of help in understanding of the 'Truth'...

Badhri said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

You can see how Shri Badhri has at this stage referred ‘Synopsys’, which apparently looks unrelated to the subject, unless you learn that Synopsys deals with (digital) computer logic, an extension of the logic related with that of the human brain, a (perfect) analogous computer that believably is assisted by seven others within the human structure to hold the entire information related with the design of the universe, and hence the importance of ‘Yoga’ or integrated knowledge or ‘Siddhi’...

I give below some extracts from the ‘Google search’ for the background information, including that on an 'Indian'...

“Since co-founding Synopsys in 1986, Dr. Aart de Geus has expanded Synopsys from a start-up synthesis enterprise to a world leader in electronic design automation (EDA)… As one of the leading experts on logic simulation and logic synthesis, Dr. de Geus was made a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in January 1999… He is also heavily involved in education for the next generation, having created in 1999 the Synopsys Outreach Foundation, which promotes project-based science and math learning throughout Silicon Valley…”

Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Verification Group,
Manoj Gandhi joined Synopsys with the company's merger with Viewlogic in December 1997. In his current position, Mr. Gandhi and his organization are responsible for Synopsys' verification solutions, including simulation, testbench automation, hybrid formal verification, and system level design. Mr. Gandhi has over 15 years of HDL simulation and verification experience having begun his EDA career at Gateway Design Automation in 1986. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst…”

Aswin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aswin said...

Hi Kavitha, you have got a fantastic group of people to answer your queries, it seems that i will get lost in this spiritual bandwagin, anyway i think Joshi UUncle, Felix and Badhri will answer your queries better. Although i still believe in what mr Felix said," Each of us have our own path, , although our paths are different,we all reach the same destination called GOD".
I Just hope i dont get lost in the sea called spirituality, OK bye:-)(keep up the good work , people)

JC Joshi said...

Hi Aswin,

You needn’t feel disheartened. The gist of ‘Hindu Philosophy’ is that a ‘devotee’ must have unshakable faith that he/ she has originated from the omnipotent and omnipresent God, as one of its/ His/ Her ‘images’ or ‘models’ to start with billions of years ago, and that one ever continues to be under its/ His/ Her control despite the soul having had to pass through various innumerable forms. There is, therefore, no apparent cause to worry!

The phenomenon can be understood from the relationship between the champion kite flier (supreme soul) and his invincible kite (each individual’s soul - that believably cannot be destroyed by any known means, although the material part of the form might return to the five elements)…

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

After having seen the ‘essence’, to elaborate it a bit, Iwould like to say that once your fundamentalals in any one subject (‘Art History’, say) are clear, it becomes easier to appreciate any thoughts expressed by others on that particular subject, though you might not fully agree with any particular thought... This applies to ‘spirituality’ also. However, apparently the ‘spirit’ or the ‘permanent essence’ gains priority over ‘temporary material’ at least in so far as the ‘super soul’ or the formless Creator is concerned… Stephen Hawking, the famous ‘Cosmologist’ from UK, also expressed the desire to ‘enter the mind of God’, when in 2001 he was asked if he believed in God …

One could appreciate this better if one was aware of the ‘Hindu Mythology’, which although comes ‘naturally’ to us ‘Born Hindus’, yet ‘brain washed’ by ‘false publicity’ via the ‘West’ for all those couple of thousand years in the past, which gave overriding priority to the visual ‘material’ part of apparent universe instead, we too are confused today and apparently ‘riding in two boats’…

One therefore needs to be conscious that the ‘wise’ ancients already had come to know about the existence of the ‘Absolute Truth’, as also the ‘Truths’ of the “Untruth’, i.e., ‘Maya’ of illusion of the ‘material’. That is, they have described apparent time’s movement backward and typically related human behaviours during long term periods, from Satyuga to Kaliyuga and back again to Satyuga, and so on…

One could therefore appreciate at any time how it gets reflected in human life also: a child is more at peace when it is in its mother’s womb - relatively happier if the mother herself is at peace. It is only after it is born, and grows up that its ‘sufferings’ keep on multiplying with the passage of time, perhaps to disturb more the one who is ignorant of the ‘Truth’... Hence, 4.6 billion years old and near permanent Earth, or Shiva (literally the one who is immortal or the opposite of 'Visha', that is poison) in Tretayuga/ Lakshamana (literally the one who always has the goal in his mind) in Dwaperyuga/ Yudhistir (literally the one who remains unmoved in a battle) in Kaliyuga, deserves to be one’s ‘role model’…

Third Eye Closed said...

Hi all,
Exciting turn of events... If they've said this blog is alive... it sure is.

Its good to have your voice again Uncle :)

~fEelix

JC Joshi said...

Hi Felix, Kavitha et al,

I don't know what the excitement is about :-)

Anyway, my purpose of the loud thinking, as you might already know, is to know why the Creator is viewing its past - in which the creation, including 'animal forms' too feature like 'flashes in the pan' for a negligible 'apparent time'- again and again... Maybe, as one finds that we apparently aren't able to control our thoughts, the phenomenon perhaps reflects its own inherent character, and it could be looking for its own origin as 'present day scientists' also apparently seek the origin of the universe...

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha, Felix, and others…

In view of the silence, I believe that maybe now you are trying to visualize deeply and perhaps realize why the ancients called the formless Shiva as ‘Bhootnath’, i.e., the communication intended in just one word they attempted as the ‘essence’ as a part of their character at a certain stage :-)

In Gita, Krishna is depicted as saying, to the effect, that although there doesn’t remain anything for Him to achieve, He works incessantly just to preserve what He has created…

The ancients reached towards the end of the Vedic Era (reflected in ‘Vedanta'), that Creator is alone, unborn and unending (‘adwait’). Maintenance of its own ‘illusory images’ can thus also be seen reflected in the maintenance of photo albums/ videos, and so on, related to an individual that help him/ her to live the ‘past’ in the ‘present’ and experience the related emotions in the ‘present’ - like the ones through viewing of drama/ cinema, rreading books, and so on. In fact, this characteristic property is reflected to a certain extent in each individual when just one word could take one to view/ narrate events related to the’past’ like one is viewing the video in one’s ‘mind’s eye’ (reached in reality by Yogis after 'tapasya'), a characteristic property believably related with Shiva :-)

Maybe it helps it to create an environment by virtue of which it is able to overcome the boredom/ fear that apparently one feels when one is alone, which anyway everyone in reality is despite the crowd :-)

Third Eye Closed said...

Hi all,

Thank you very much Aswin :)

Uncle, K, and all
All this makes me wonder... what is peace? I beleive it is relative. But is it a tense or a state of mind? Or is it a reward?

~fEelix

JC Joshi said...

HI Felix,

It is a state of Creator’s mind. Unlike the present day almost absolutely ‘imperfect man’ who remains disturbed even in sleep, there is no ‘war on its mind’ at least when it is asleep for believably almost 4.6 billion human years - as it is 'spiritually' perfect then a state which only a Yogi can experience for a short time at any time and place :-)

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sreekantha ramanuja dasan said...

sorry Srimathi Kavitha,
sorry to say i completly disagree with all your arguments.
first of all
neither ramanuja nor any of the acharyas, did not adviced to simply chant om namO nArAyaNAya, and get in to moksham. when you said this you have got zero understanding on the advaitha and vishishtadwaitha in particular.
i am not telling, that chanting om namO nArAyaNAya doesnt give, beacuse that manthra has the power to do anything leave that aside, because, bhishmacharya in reply to yudhishtira points out, sthuvan nAma sahashrENa purusha sathathOddhithaH....chant the 1000 names of the lord, the jivathma, himself will be rosen to the highest self. the 1000 name mentioned is equivalent to this one manthra as pointed out by all Acharyas. the reasons..well you should learn mumushupadi of pillai lokacharya being the very same subject is an esoteric subject.
the whole point of saranagathi, which can be an act, can be a word or it can be by thaught...or it can be all the three toghether. but this can be achived by any person, who has first of all the will to do so. if you dont have the will.....thats why pillai lokacharya quotted...jnjAnAn mOksam akayalE ithu mAnasikamAka kadavath...the thought process is important. i would say every one is living with those peculiarities you have mentioned...grandmothers, servents..kids..wifes....hubbys..car..house..etc etc...that doest mean that yu will not get one minute per day to concentrate your mind on the lordship, and try to understand the world through him.
then try to adopt a life upholded by the whole philosophy slowly change the habitat..so to say you will have to drive it to copup. that means, simply it isnt possible without a spiritual teacher, who can help to understand the things much better..if you dont want to do ...well it is up to you, ramanuja did not came to every house, and asked..do this that or something else. it is we who have to decide. if you disagree to the vedanthic pointof view, well then there is a point of arguement. simple telling, i have my own stuff to do so i disagree to the concept of chanting a manthra, proposed by ramanuja, does not make up an arguement at all.
chanting manthra is important, but to understand what is written in those alphabets is more important, which any one can understand irrespective of the cast and creed and sex. such an understanding slowly change the life pattern. always a good citizen make a good societly, and a good society will make a good country. these are one of the reason, ascetism is not much favored in ramanuja sampradaya. yu become an ascetic if you want, when you are finished your jobs as a family householder, thats all..no one press you....

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan

Pushpadanta said...

Good article! A good subject to pick up for a linghty discussion.

My view on this is as follows. We Hindus (of almost all denominations) believe in rebirth and the law of Karma.

As Patanjali Maharshi says in his sutras, every soul is on its way to liberation. This means that at any given point in time we find various souls in different stages of evolution. To put it in simple terms - one size will not fit all.

So at different points in time great teachers arise to push a few masses ahead - even if it were by just one step in one life time.

If we see things in this light there is no contradiction between what different teachers say.

In the meantime there is one more aspect - and that is life itself. There has to be something that sustains all the souls' smooth passage through all those millions of births - and this is Dharma.

As long as a soul is not ready for that last strech of effort required for Moksha it should smoothly co-exist with others even while continuing its journey upward - otherwise, if it gets entangled in clonflict and other negative qualities it might suffer a descent. It is for this reason that all saints - in general - advice every one not to just hurriedly sacrifice everything.

But one who is ready for that ultimate experience knows fully well that fact and the bonds of Maya do not fester him/her.

So adherence to ashrama dharma is not a rigorous must. It is not required for all souls to pass though vivaha into vanaprastha and sanyasa in all lives. If you had already done that in the past and are sufficiently advanced now, it natually drops away from you - Adi Sankara himself is an example for this.

And coming to the manthra part, it cannot be of much use to one who does not do any sadhana. Did not sages say - "Upasana vina siddhir naiva syat" - Siddhi does not happen without sadhana! Mere utterance of a manthra - say once in a week or month - does very little to uplift a soul. Manthra has to be put to use by japa/purascharana only that can clenase the subconscious part of the brain and destroy vrittis that are mere dead weight.

So the good old hindu custom of finding the right Guru based on our own assesment of our standing is all that matters. Where our friend or our sibling is going is entirely his business - it follows his level of existence.

Pushpadanta said...

Good discussion!

My view is as follows.

Patanjali Maharshi says that each soul is working its path to final liberation through samsara (the cycle of births and deaths). We can thus appreciate the fact that not all souls are at the same level of evolution at any given time.

It is thus clear that one size will not fit all. Its also very clear that not all contemporary souls will achieve Moksha in that very same life.

Hence, in India, apart from Moksha, there are three other Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha and Kama. Thus ashrama dharma comes to the aid of these souls.

It should be now easy to see that it is not necessary to go thourgh all the 4 ashmramas in given life - if a soul is sufficiently evolved it can skip the Grihasta ashrama in the last few janmas of its evolution!

It is in this respect that Sadhana is a very personal issue - we need to evaluate ourselves and find the right Guru who suits us.

Coming to manthra, it is a good instrument for sadhana. Saying it once or twice in a month will do no good. Manthra has to be followed up with Anusthana (Japa, Purascharana). Thus mantha is capable of going into the inner recesses of the mind and cleaning the pasu vrittis.

Best wishes..

Pushpadanta said...

Good discussion!

My view is as follows.

Patanjali Maharshi says that each soul is working its path to final liberation through samsara (the cycle of births and deaths). We can thus appreciate the fact that not all souls are at the same level of evolution at any given time.

It is thus clear that one size will not fit all. Its also very clear that not all contemporary souls will achieve Moksha in that very same life.

Hence, in India, apart from Moksha, there are three other Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha and Kama. Thus ashrama dharma comes to the aid of these souls.

It should be now easy to see that it is not necessary to go thourgh all the 4 ashmramas in given life - if a soul is sufficiently evolved it can skip the Grihasta ashrama in the last few janmas of its evolution!

It is in this respect that Sadhana is a very personal issue - we need to evaluate ourselves and find the right Guru who suits us.

Coming to manthra, it is a good instrument for sadhana. Saying it once or twice in a month will do no good. Manthra has to be followed up with Anusthana (Japa, Purascharana). Thus mantha is capable of going into the inner recesses of the mind and cleaning the pasu vrittis.

Best wishes..

Mahashakti dasa said...

Namaste,
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krsna says to Arjuna, " Whatever you do, whatever you eat, do as an offering unto Me. Then surely you will come to Me." Krsna is considered the greatest authority by all the great teachers of India including Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Nimbarka Swami, Sankaracharya and Sri Chaitanya. Krsna is also considered the greatest authority by all the prominent demigods such as Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, Lord Indra, Surya, Chandra and Sri Durga devi. If all these great teachers accept the authority of Lord Krsna, then what is our position? Therefore, it is Krsna's advice that every action should be performed for His pleasure. That alone will free one from bondage and allow the devotee to live happily in this life and return to Godhead after death. Lord Krsna is very direct with His advise to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. There is no need for alteration or interpretation. Just take Krsna's advice AS IT IS. His advice is good for all time and all places. Otherwise, why does Krsna tell Arjuna this very same Bhagavad Gita ( Song of God) was first spoken to the sun God ( Surya) 400 million years earlier? If you want the essence of all knowledge, this can be found in the last chapter of the Gita ( 18.44). " Surrender unto Me. Give up all material duties. I will protect you from any sinful reactions Do not fear." The highest purpose of human life is to become a devotee of God and learn to worship Him with love. Krsna is waiting with open arms to reciprocate that love and show us the transcendental kingdom that exists within our heart.

Hare Krsna