Is Mukti A Myth? in Spiritual Discussions Posted August 15, 2008 · Report reply I am under time constraints, so I will make this short. Mukti - or its equivalent - in Vaishnava terms is relying more on Pancharatra and Purana concepts and less on Upanishads. The Prashtana Trayi (PT) does not talk about Vaikunta or Lakshmi. But if you take the two out, what is left in the concept of Vaishnava liberation? Almost nothing. Um, isn't Bhagavad Gita part of Prasthna Trayam? And apparently, you are defining a concept of Vaishanavism I have never even heard of. Who told you that we think mukti is more in Pancharatra? For the record, the Chandogya and Kaushitaki Upanishads give a pretty detailed account of the Archiradi Marga, which is the Vaishnava concept of mukti. We are not fools to claim a Vedantic backing without Upanishadic knowledge, you know. Just honest Vaidikas who have many decent commentaries on the Upanishads. As usual, you are making assumptions without understanding the facts. Can you please tell me exactly how Vaishnavas rely too much on Puranas and Pancharatra? We use them as ancillory texts and not as primary texts. Dude, we accept texts ONLY if they do not contradict the Veda. The Pancharatra does not contain anything that is absent in Vedas. The Vyuha theory is accepted by even Adi Sankara. And there is no concept of Vaishnava liberation in PT? You have gotta be kidding!! 'Om Tad Vishnoh Parama Padam Sada Pashyanti Suriyah' is indeed implying that there is an abode of Vishnu that is to be achieved. Purusha Suktam calls the Purusha as the Husband of Lakshmi. Bhagavad Gita clearly mentions an abode to be achieved, as Lord Krishna mentions that His abode is not lighted by fire, sun or stars, etc. Even according to Advaita, the abode of Vishnu exists and is conveyed by Veda. Adi Sankara however, thinks that all this is just vyavaharika, and that Nirguna Brahman is the ultimate reality. The next point is this - What makes you think the Puranas and Pancharatra are unvedic? Because a bunch of indologist nerds in the 19th century came and dated these scriptures? If you must know, I have read some of the works of Max Muller, Gavin Flood and Friedhelm Hardy on dating of scripture. However, Indology is not the subject of the thread. Vedantins have always accepted Puranas as Vedic. Chandogya Upanishad calls them 5th Veda. Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja show a great reverance for Vishnu Purana, and Sri Madhva has proven the authenticity of Bhagavata Purana. If you are of the opinion that the Puranas contain mundane, fantastical stories, please read the commentaries given by Sri Krishna Suri or Sri Madhva. Every word of Vishnu and Bhagavata Purana has a deep meaning. Pancharatra is also mentioned by Satapatha Brahmana. Sankara rejects it based on his interpretation. He accepts the philosophy propounded by Pancharatra, but thinks the text adds some material that isn't in Veda. Your bias against Puranas is your own business. I have no problems with it. However, no Vedantin harbors the view that Vishnu Purana is unvedic, or that Bhagavad Gita is composed by some 'Krishna cult follower'. While you can express your views (and I respect them), please don't cite them as reasons for criticising Sri Ramanuja or Sri Madhva. If it is so obvious that Krishna is a nonvedic god and that the Puranas are unvedic, I do not know why every Vedantin (including Sankara) hails Brahman as the Son of Devaki. The crux of the discussion comes down to this - does Brahman/Narayana have a permanent form or not? If the answer is yes, then there is a foundation for the Vaishnava concept of liberation, if not, then the answer is Advaita. There are clear pramanas in veda that says that the form of Brahman is eternal. Want to see? yat te rUpaM kalyANAtamaM tat te pashyAmi ~ IshAvAsya Upanishad yadi manyase suvedeti daharamevaapi nuunaM tvaM vettha brahmaNo ruupam ~ Kena Upanishad. Chandogya also says the eyes of Brahman are like two lotuses blossomed by the sun. Rig Veda makes a reference to the navel of the unborn. In my first post itself, the vakya 'Yada Yada Pashyate Rukmavarnam' from Mundaka Up. conveys my point, which says that Brahman is golden (luminiscent). This signifies a rupa. Once again, Advaita relies on its own assumptions and relegates this to 'Saguna Brahman' category. However, the Shrutis are clear that the world is real on all counts. Does it make sense to say that all 32 Brahma Vidyas of the Upanishads are unimportant because they are also ultimately unreal? Your belief that Sankara interpreted things well is indeed an 'illusion'. Anybody can write a commentary based on his own imagination. Sankara struggles with the Isa Upanishad, Gita and Brahma Sutras, which all emphasise on Savisesha Brahman and reality of the world. Everything I have read and understood makes it clear (to me) that the ultimate truth cannot have a Homo Sapiens, North Indian, 5 foot, 8 inches dhoti wearing, male form. It makes no sense at all and like I said I have not seen such a concept presented anywhere in the PT. Nice sarcasm. Can you give me a reason why the omnipotent Brahman CANNOT have a dhoti or, take an avatar in Bharatavarsha for no reason at all? Have you actually read the Bhagavad Gita, part of the PT? Where Arjuna asks Krishna, show me your rupa with the conch, lotus, disc, etc. Sankara certainly accepts it. And Krishna was not 5 foot 8. In the Dwapara yuga, people were taller. He was probably 7 feet tall. And can you accuse the Lord of being partial to humans? He has not just come in a human like form. He has come as a fish, a boar, a horse, a tortoise, etc. Sounds silly to you? Well, to me, it verifies what He says in Gita, 'I am equal to all'. All would include animals, who are also jivatmas. Of course, I believe you maintain a unique stance that the Bhagavad Gita was written in 200 BC by some guy who invented a god....however, that isn't the opinion of even traditional advaitins. You are, of course, welcome to your opinions if you are an outsider/atheist. It makes no sense to say Brahman has a permanent form with eyes and nose which he/it does not really need! It would be a stronger argument, in my opinion, to state Brahman's permanent form is an indescribable shape or even a cube or a cone. At least, then the questions of redundant eyes, a redundant nose, etc., are eliminated. Can you fall in love with a cube or a cone? Don't you dress up, put on some scent, etc. to take a girl out on a date? Well, Narayana is the Purushottama who wishes to make Himself attractive to the Jivatma. It makes no sense because you do not understand why He assumes this form. Why does Bhakti Yoga sound inferior to you? It is the same meditation as prescribed by Yajnavalkya 'Meditate lovingly on Brahman' in the Brihadaranyaka. After all, an object of meditation is loved by the meditator and this is nothing but bhakti. First of all, the Svarupa of Brahman is formless. He is indescribable, except that He has the attributes of Satyam, Jnanam, Anantam, Anandam, etc. It is this Svarupa that pervades and is present in every living entity. At the same time, this Svarupa is present inside a divine body. This body is not made of material elements. This body is insentient, but completely divine. If you read the JitantE stotram of Rig Veda, it says 'Brahman's form is not for Himself, but for His devotees'. This piece explicitly says that Brahman does nt need eyes to see, or ears to hear. He merely manifests them for the pleasure of His devotees. Read the Ramayana. Lord Rama's wide lotus eyes were the object of much adoration. Who can resist them? Not even Arjuna. Can you meditate on a formless svarupa? Nope. But Brahman has enough jnanam to realise that His devotees need Him with a rupa. Both Rupa and Svarupa are nityam, because time is eternal and has no beginning. It is to look attractive to Jivas that Lord NarayaNa has donned this four armed form. As Arjuna says 'Padma Patra Vishalaksha...' which means 'Oh Lord with the wide lotus eyes, you make your devotees fall in love with you intensely'. This is the commentary of Adi Sankara himself (Vishnu Sahasranama) where he himself admits that the Lord's form (Saguna, according to him) is to please His devotees. This is the beauty of it - He does not need these Lotus Eyes. He does not need this flute, or these beautiful limbs. But who can't help falling in love with such a rupa? Even Adi Sankara, the great advaitin, shows much bhakti when he commentates on the Sahasranama. He has come in this form for us, and not because He needs them. This is why the Advaita concept of Mukti is less imaginative than the others and hence, relatively more acceptable. Of course, my skeptical mind see flaws in Advaita Mukti too, but the same flaws are also found in the other competing versions. The most major flaw I see is the concept of permanence or eternity. Anyway, that is a different topic. Cheers Nirguna Brahman is logically untenable. Brahman means 'to grow', 'pervade'. That means, beng Brahman itself implies that He has an attribute, eh? The Vishnu Sahasranama also has the words 'Nirguno Mahan'. This gives rise to two meanings, 'He who has no attributes' or 'He who is beyond all attributes'. The first meaning is illogical, as the Sahasranama describes Vishnu gloriously. Then, the second meaning is close to the Vaishnava definition of 'beyond sattva, rajas, tamas'!! Too bad Sankara does not think of using the same 2nd definition in the Veda as well. Read Sankara Bhashya for Vishnu Sahasranama. Shvu, I understand your atheistic stance. But first understand that Vaishnavas do not jump to Puranas without clarifying the Veda. We have no need to read the Veda or interpret it with Puranas by our bedside. The Veda itself houses the concept of an eternal form, gives a decent description of it, and provides means of meditation. Secondly, do not come to hasty conclusions about Vedanta just because Advaita is 'popular'. Bhagavad Gita condemns the theory of falsity of the world in one sloka. Advaitins dodge it by saying they believe in the reality of the world as long as they are not liberated. However, it is evident what the sloka addresses. Now, I really bow out of this thread. Mind, I don't care if people criticise Dvaita or VA. After all, Advaitins would never accept Dualism and hence, you can bash our philosophy all you want. I just don't want people making assumptions about Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhva without understanding the basics.