Is the state of impersonal merging higher that personal devotion?
From Mithilesh Mishra P
1.Vivekanandji talks about SUPERCONSCIOUS state and says that this very
state is achieved by all i.e. through highest knowledge or nirvikalpa
samadhi(jnana yogi),Nirbeej Samadhi(raja yogi)and pure love of God(bhakta)
.He further adds about the state which can’t be conceived through mind
because the knower and the known become one. Here those who want to keep
their minds (specially bhaktas) come back on the Bhav Samadhi stage and
serve God or Ishvar (which is shuddha sattva).
He says that bhakta becomes one with Brahman in pure stage of love (beyond
Bhav Samadhi) and again he comes on the platform of name and form and he
describes the things according to stages he passed through using his mind.
Even srutis tell in this connection “avadmansagocharam”.
Hare Krishna Prabhuji
Personal devotion to lord is higher than impersonal merging .I would like to quote the statement of some great advaitins ,who even appreciated the devotion to be higher than simply merging in brahman .They are as follows:
Prominent advaitist Madhusudana Sarasvati (see B.P. Kesava Maharaja’s book Vaisnava Vijaya on the history of mayavada) got a glimpse of Krishna as it’s obvious from his mangalacarana at the beginning of Advaita siddhi sara samgraha (compiled by V. Swaminathan and published by Sankara Nilayam, Chennai, 2001):
vamsi vibhusita karan nava niradabhat
pItambarad aruna bimba phaladharostat
purnendu sundara mukhad aravinda netrat
krsnat param kim api tattvam aham na jane 750
I do not know of Truth other than Krsna, whose hand is adorned with the flute, who shines like the fresh clouds, who wears the yellow cloth, whose lips are red as the bimba fruit, whose face is attractive as that of the full moon and whose eyes are like that of the lotus.
He further states :
dvaitam bandhaya moksat prak prapte bodhe manIsaya
bhaktyarthaM kalpitam dvaitam advaitad api sundaram
“Duality is bondage before moksa but wisdom after realization. The duality accepted for the purpose of bhakti is even more sweeter than non-duality.”
Sankaracarya wrote in his commentary on Nrsimha TapanI Upanishad 2.4:
muktapi lilaya vigraham krtva tvam bhajanti
“Even the liberated souls in the pastimes taking forms worship You.”
Even (padma purana Uttara Khanda 131.104,105) says as follows:
sakaro hi sukhe naiva nirakro na drsyate
sevarasas ca sakare nirakare na vai rasaa
sakarena nirkro jayate svayam eva hi
hari smrti prasadena romancita tanur yada
“Due to the happiness (sukha) derived by serving the form of the Supreme Lord (sakaro), one forgets the impersonal feature of the Lord (nirakare) because the pleasure (rasa) derived by serving the personal form of the Lord cannot be derived by the impersonal feature. If by serving the form of the Supreme Lord and remembering Him, hairs of the body stand on end, then this personal feature of the Lord automatically gives an understanding of the impersonal feature ”
Thus in Srimad Bhagavatam (S.B.3.29.13) : Lord Kapila glorifies the position of personal devotion (devotees) ,as superior to all other means for liberation (including impersonal merging )
sarupyaikatvam apy uta
diyamanam na grhnanti
vina mat-sevanam janah
A pure devotee does not accept any kind of liberation–salokya, sarsti, samipya, sarupya or ekatva(oneness)–even though they are offered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (S.B.3.29.13)
Thus pure devotion to lord is superior to all other pathways for liberation ,and Bhakti yoga is one of the most easiest way , yet most fulfilling for the individual soul ,for it is much sweeter than the happiness derived from impersonal merging .Thus even the liberated souls worship the form of supreme Lord Krishna
Srila Bhaktivnoda thakura explains in his tattva sutra about the personal and impersonal aspects of the Lord ,by quoting from various pancharatras.It is as follows:
In the Hayashirsha-pancaratra it is said:
anando dvi-vidhah prokto
murtanando ‘cyuto matah
“The Supreme Lord’s transcendental bliss is said to be of two kinds: 1. that of His form, and 2. that of His formless aspect. The form of the Lord is the shelter of His formless aspect. Therefore it is the bliss of the Lord’s aspect with form that is really eternal and imperishable.”
This above verse is in agreement of the teachings of lord krishna in gita which states “brahmano hi pratisthaham”
Further, one should also understand that there is no real difference between the impersonal and impersonal aspects of the lord ,as described in the following verse
bhedas tu kalpito vedair
“In truth, there is no real difference between the Lord’s form and His formless aspect. The difference is only an imagination of the Vedas. The two are like a jewel and its splendor.”
Just as lord krishna and its potencies are considered to be non-different ,similarly,the impersonal and personal aspects of lord are non-different, in a sense, that they don’t belong to some distinct independent and separate category.
And lastly Hayasirsa pancharatra states
ya ya shrutir jalpati nirvishesham
sa sabhidhatte sa-vishesham eva
vicara-yoge santi hanta tasam
prayo baliyah sa-vishesham eva
“Wherever the Vedas say that the Supreme has no qualities, they also say that He certainly does have qualities. By carefully considering all the statement of the Vedas, we have come to the conclusion that more weight should be given to the statements affirming the Lord’s possession of transcendental qualities.”
Thus the ultimate purpose of the vedas is not to focus on the impersonal aspects per se,but to know the personal Lord of our heart. Thus, it is better to meditate on personal aspects of lord ,than to meditate on something difficult to grasp and concentrate. Therefore ,the state of personal devotion to lord is higher than impersonal merging,and krishna especially loves such devotees ,who practices bhakti yoga, by meditating on his personal forms and pastimes.As lord says in the srimad bhagavatam “bhaktyaham ekaya grahyah ” .Only by devotional service ,I can be understood. This devotional service to lord is not the matter of impersonal merging ,but the personal reciprocation with the lord.
Thus the ultimate conclusion of all the sastras is to point towards personal devotion to lord ,and not impersonal merging.
The philosophy of impersonalism has adversely affected the current hinduism. Nowadays, there has been increasing rise towards cultivating spiritual life,even foreigners appreciates the yoga, and other aspects of hinduism, but knowingly or unknowingly, many are coming under the influence of mayavada. The concept of impersonalism ,which the vaishnava acharyas of the past like madhvacharya, ramanujacharya, etc have strongly been against for, are again building up in some way or other in the form of various ways. Some people dressing white robes preach mayavada,some others preaching various forms of concocted meditation techniques,vipassana and other,preach the mayavada.There are some others who say,that the greatest secret of all the religion is that we are god. Using various logic, they try to prove that when we reach the state of superconsciousness, we realize that I alone exist ,I,am that. They say that the entire universe is within me,by law of attraction, I can attract everything and rest everything is illusion,quantum physics proves it. It is very sad to see, how such mayavada have become so much deep rooted in the minds of many Indians today.
As a Vaishnava , it really hurts, for people even after reading gita many times,fails to realize its essence.Today,some object the lord krishna’s supremacy ,not because ,they think that lord shiva is supreme or durga is supreme,but because they think that no one else is supreme except me,for all others are just different manifestations of that impersonal divine light. All gods are in me, by all the vedas, my glories have to be searched,and by this knowledge,one understand that everything is in me “aham brahmasmi”. Some others in the covered form preach the mayavada, they say “God is Love”. Yes ,indeed its true that god is love personified, then why don’t they love god.Do they think that god gets transformed into love of our own selfish logic of impersonalism. Currently ,many modern day spiritual gurus preach impersonalism at various degrees,and many educated class of society also come under their sway,for their talks are very logical and convincing.People who call themselves spiritual but not religious are often impersonalist at their core, and such teachings are liked by them,for there is no restrictions and regulation in such kind of practice of spiritual life, no element of surrender.Yes god is love, but I,am God ,so I,am the only object of love for me,so enjoy the life,for that is the only reason of our creation.This mentality they gradually fall into, and consider the devotees to be less intelligent,for devotees consider themselves to be servant and god as their master.They think this difference to be an illusion.They say that our contaminated state of consciousness is like dirty mirror.We search for God in this state and someone says ,Hey this is god ,take it ,worship him,sastras say this.Some say,No this is God, take this ,worship it, my sastras says this,and some other come and say,you idiot clean up you dirty mirror,and now the one you see is god.You are god ,rest all are the part of illusion.All accepted beliefs,stories of scriptures are illusion,only when we realize by ourself ,we come to the understanding of our godlyhood, and attain peace. This is the conception of impersonalist,that is getting popped up nowadays in today’s society.Many may not be vocal on this matter and may not declare this, but that is the conception being created at the sub-concious level. This effect can be clearly seen in the spiritual transition period of current india,where some may feel awkward and ashamed to hold their traditional religious dogmas filled with many apparent mythological stories,and may become materialist, and some others may say,I,am spiritual but not religious,they say this because they don’t want to be get labelled as fanatic religionist and superstitious. This same impersonalism, then gradually starts spreading its roots in various aspects in the name of secularism, humanity ,nationality,etc.Amidst such environment of impersonalism, it is very important and challenging for the vaishnavas to pull the people back to the traditional teachings of the scriptures of loving surrender to god, to prove the eternity of the relationship between jivatma and paramatma. If this various elements of impersonalism are not uprooted ,then sooner or later, this will lead to atheism.
As a devotee, we should be be exuberant and be much more zealous to uproot this impersonalism ,and pave the way of pure spiritual teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of loving devotion to supreme Lord Krishna. Only then,the mission of all the great previous vaishnava acharyas will become successful ,and everyone will become happy.
Jivera nistara lagi sutra kaila vyas,Mayavadi bhasya sunile haya sarva nas…Tanra dosa nahi tenho ajnakari das,Ar yai sune tar hay sarva nas. From Caitanya Caritamrta