The Place of Devotion/Bhakti in Shankara Advaita

Appendix: Dialogue Discussing Negation of God in Advaita

Friend: Still curious to know about the God thingy

Anurag: What about that?

Friend: The topic we covered yesterday

Friend: Why Bhakti when that’s an hindrance to realization

Friend: (Related to) The verse you shared yesterday (from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – 1.4.10, which is the verse I quote in the beginning of this article)

Anurag: God is macrscopic causal body. That is Brahma. Then there are gods at the Hiranyagarbha Level.

Friend: This is not the Brahman right

Anurag: Even Gita gets in the concept of God. It is to help seekers with support initially. He is the final conditioning that is to be transcended.

Anurag: Is the Causal Body Brahman ??!!! (Referring to my Friends question whether the Macroscopic Causal Body I mentioned earlier is Brahman)

Friend: Nope

Anurag: I guess you are confused about something. Ask me directly.

Friend: I got confused when you said Brahma ..

Friend: Brahman is beyond that causal body right?!

Anurag: Yes, Brahma is not Brahman. Brahma is the Creator. Brahma is the first superimposition on Brahman.

Friend: This is clear now and from there you were referring to the next level as Hiranyagarbha

Anurag: Hiranyagarbha is the macroscopic subtle body. It is lower than Brahma (the macroscopic Causal Body).

Friend: Ok .. different sheaths superimposed

Anurag: Yes. But are you feeling that there is a God who has omniscience and omnipresence, and we are negating that for a puny, powerless Brahman?

Friend: That God is also an object in you the awareness

Anurag: Yes, but you are such a powerless person who has petty emotions and feels thrown about here and there by the fortunes of samsara.

Friend: This is the Jiva ?

Anurag: Well I am asking you (the Jiva). Don’t you feel this way. Won’t you like to feel powerful like God?

Friend: The ego would want to .. the experiencer would want to, and I am not those (I am Self)

Anurag: True. Now in Brahman and as Brahman, there is no duality, no phenomena, no creator and creation. It is that which is the substrate of creator and creation and you are that. Your conditioning adjunct as Jiva is impure Sattva, while that of God is pure Sattva. Therefore, in Jainism and also in some streams of Buddhism which are yoga based dualist schools, the attempt is not just liberation but also further purification to achieve as much pure Sattva to achieve as much omniscience as possible. Though as Jiva you can never reach the omniscience of God. You can only approximate it more and more. They go for this because they see creation as real. Advaita does not bother about it because for it creation is an apparent reality, a superimposition over non-dual Brahman.

Friend: My doubt was from yesterday’s verse where God and animal comparison happened … so why introduce Bhakti in between if one will get sucked in there

Anurag: When you started off your inquiry, as a teacher I did not just tell you Abhilash you are Self and just understand this and you are done.

Anurag: What did I do? I first moved with your assumption that you are a thinker, doer, experiencer. You used to talk of oneness etc. I had to first accept your superimposition and then negate it. This whole process happened in gradual steps.

Anurag: In the same way, some people are very Bhakti oriented. Say a person like ‘A’ who had joined and later left our study group. He needed Karma Yoga which relies on the concept of God Krishna. He latched on to that. So I told him that if this is where he sees himself now that is fine. He could not see himself going further with self inquiry to negate the phenomenal world and God. So now as a Karma Yogi he will further purify his mind from vasanas and when and if he is ready, he shall come to Jnana Yoga.

Anurag: But there is a hitch here too. If he is not having an Advaitic inclination, he shall never come to non-duality and that is how we have schools of Duality and Qualified Non-Duality, who accept God and Jiva permanently separate realities.

Friend: Got it !

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