Lokāyata (Cārvāka) school of philosophy

March 4, 2014

The Cārvāka school of philosophy had a variety of atheistic and materialistic beliefs. They held perception to be the only valid source of knowledge.[21] and rejection of inference as a means to establish metaphysical truths.[8][9].

In syllogism, the middle term, which is found in both the subject (minor term) and is invariably connected with the predicate (major term), is seen as the cause of knowledge. This invariable connection between middle term and predicate is unconditional and causes inference not by virtue of its existence, like the existence of the eye is the cause of perception, but by virtue of it being known. To the Cārvākas there were no reliable means by which this connection could be known and therefore the efficacy of inference as a means of knowledge could not be established.[8]
To prove that inference was not a reliable means of knowledge Cārvākas examined and refuted each of the various means of knowing the connection between the middle term and the predicate individually:
External perception, or perception which involves the use of the senses, could not be the required means because although it is possible that the actual contact of the senses and the object could produce the knowledge of the particular object, there can never be such contact in the case of the past or the future. Therefore if external perception were the means on knowing the connection then inference related to objects of the past and future could not happen.
Internal perception, or perception which involves the mind, could not be the required means either because one cannot establish that the mind has any power to act independently towards an external object and is thought to be dependent on the external senses.
Nor could inference be the means since if inference were the proof of inference, one would also require another inference to establish this inference, and so on, leading to the fallacy of an Ad infinitum regression.
Nor could testimony be the means since testimony can be classified as a type of inference. Moreover, there is no reason for one to believe the word of another. Besides, if testimony were to be accepted as the only means of the knowledge of the invariable connection between middle term and predicate, then in the case of a man to whom the fact of the connection had not been pointed out by another person, there could be no inference.
Comparison (Upamana) could also be rejected as the means of the knowledge of the connection since the objective of using Upamana is to establish a different kind of knowledge than is being sought here, the relation of a name to something so named.
Absence of a condition (Upadhi), which is given as the definition of an invariable connection to restrict too general a middle term, could itself not be used to establish inference because it is impossible to establish that all conditions required to restrict the middle term are known without recourse to inference and inference, as has been proven earlier, cannot establish itself.[22]

Since none of the means of knowing were found to be worthy to establish the invariable connection between middle term and predicate, Cārvākas concluded that the inference could not be used to ascertain metaphysical truths. Thus, to Cārvākas, the step which the mind takes from the knowledge of something to infer the knowledge of something else could be accounted for by its being based on a former perception or by its being in error. Cases where inference was justified by the result were seen only to be mere coincidences.[23]
Therefore, Cārvākas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, extracorporeal soul, efficacy of religious rites, other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions.[18] Cārvākas also rejected the use of supernatural causes to describe natural phenomena. To them all natural phenomena was produced spontaneously from the inherent nature of things.[24] “ The fire is hot, the water cold, refreshing cool the breeze of morn; By whom came this variety ? from their own nature was it born.[24]”

Consciousness and Afterlife
Carvakas thought that body was formed out of four elements (instead of five) and that consciousness was an outcome of the mixture of these elements. Therefore, Carvakas did not believe in an afterlife. To them, all attributes that represented a person, such a thinness, fatness etc., resided in the body. To support the proposition of non-existence of any soul or consciousness in the afterlife Carvakas often quoted from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.[21][25] “ Springing forth from these elements itself
solid knowledge is destroyed
when they are destroyed—after death no intelligence remains.[21]”

Cārvāka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Cārvāka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Cārvāka did not believe in austerities or rejecting pleasure out of fear of pain and held such reasoning to be foolish.[21]
“ The berries of paddy, rich with the finest white grains, What man, seeking his true interest, would fling away because covered with husk and dust?[26]”

Cārvākas rejected religious conceptions like afterlife, reincarnation, religious rites etc. They were extremely critical of the Vedas and thought that Vedas suffered from three faults – untruth, self-contradiction and tautology. To them, Vedas were just incoherent rhapsodies. They also held the belief that such texts were invented and made up by men and had no divine authority.[24]
“ The Agnihotra, the three Vedas, the ascetic’s three staves, and smearing one’s self with ashes, Were made by Nature as the livelihood of those destitute of knowledge and manliness.[24]”

No independent works on Cārvāka philosophy can be found except for a few sūtras composed by Brihaspati. The 8th century Tattvopaplavasimha of Jayarashi Bhatta (ca. 8th century) is often cited as the only extant authentic Cārvāka text, but which also shows Madhyamaka influence. Shatdarshan Samuchay and Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha of Vidyaranya are a few other works which elucidate Cārvāka thought.[27]
One of the most important references to the Cārvāka philosophy is the Sarva-darśana-sangraha (etymologically all-philosophy-collection), a famous work of 14th century Advaita Vedanta philosopher Mādhava Vidyāraṇya from South India, which starts with a chapter on the Cārvāka system. After invoking, in the Prologue of the book, the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu (“by whom the earth and rest were produced”), Vidyāraṇya asks, in the first chapter:[28]“…but how can we attribute to the Divine Being the giving of supreme felicity, when such a notion has been utterly abolished by Charvaka, the crest-gem of the atheistic school, the follower of the doctrine of Brihaspati? The efforts of Charvaka are indeed hard to be eradicated, for the majority of living beings hold by the current refrain:
While life is yours, live joyously; None can escape Death’s searching eye: When once this frame of ours they burn, How shall it e’er again return?[28]”

Ain-i-Akbari, written by Abul Fazl, the famous historian of Akbar’s court, mentions a symposium of philosophers of all faiths held in 1578 at Akbar’s insistence. Some of the beliefs of Cārvāka are recorded from this symposium, in which, some Cārvāka philosophers are said to have participated.[29] Sanskrit poems and plays like the Naiadha-carita, Prabodha-candrodaya, Āgama-dambara, Vidvanmoda-taraṅgiṇī and Kādambarī contain representations of the Cārvāka thought. However, the authors of these works were thoroughly opposed to materialism and tried to portray the Cārvāka in unfavourable light. Therefore, their works should only be accepted critically.[18]

There was no continuity in the Cārvāka tradition after the 12th century. Whatever is written on Cārvāka post this is based on second-hand knowledge, learned from preceptors to disciples and no independent works on Cārvāka philosophy can be found.[18] Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Cārvāka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of its ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:
“ “Though materialism in some form or other has always been present in India, and occasional references are found in the Vedas, the Buddhistic literature, the Epics, as well as in the later philosophical works we do not find any systematic work on materialism, nor any organised school of followers as the other philosophical schools possess. But almost every work of the other schools states, for refutation, the materialistic views. Our knowledge of Indian materialism is chiefly based on these.”[30]

Representation of Cārvāka in Āstika, Buddhist and Jain literature
Buddhists, Jains, Advaita Vedantins and Nyāya philosophers considered the Cārvākas as one of their opponents and tried to refute their views. These refutations are sources of Cārvāka philosophy since they continued to be made even after all the authentic Cārvāka/Lokāyata texts had been lost. However, the representation of the Cārvāka thought in these works is not always firmly grounded in first-hand knowledge of Cārvāka texts and should be viewed critically.[18]
Though Cārvākas accepted direct perception as the surest method to prove the truth of anything, they might also have accepted a limited usage of inference. The perception that Cārvākas had a rigid stance against the application of inference might have been a result of caricaturing of their arguments by their opponents. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya quotes S. N. Dasgupta:
“ “Purandara (a Lokāyata philosopher) […] admits the usefulness of inference in determining the nature of all worldly things where perceptual experience is available; but inference cannot be employed for establishing any dogma regarding the transcendental world, or life after death or the law of karma which cannot be available to ordinary perceptual experience.”[31]”
Likewise, the charge of hedonism against Cārvāka might have been exaggerated.[16] Countering the argument that the Cārvākas opposed all that was good in the Vedic tradition, Dale Riepe says, “It may be said from the available material that Cārvākas hold truth, integrity, consistency, and freedom of thought in the highest esteem.”[32]

‪1.‬ Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press; 1957. Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989. ISBN 0-691-01958-4. p. 227.
2.‬ “Philosophical & Socio” by M.h.Siddiqui, p. 63|quote=”Carvaka is classified as a “heterodox” (nastika) system”, “part of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism” 3.‬^ Radhakrishnan and Moore, “Contents”.
‪4.‬ p. 224. Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
‪5.‬ Though this school of thought is not commonly considered as a part of six orthodox schools of Indian Philosophy, Haribhadra Suri, a Jain mendicant from c. seventh century, considers this school as a part of those six in his book ShaDdarshan Samucchaya. Potter, Karl H. (2007). The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Buddhist philosophy from 350 to 600 A.D. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publications. pp. 435–436. ISBN 978-81-208-1968-9.
6.‬ Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore. A Source book in Indian Philosophy. (Princeton University Press: 1957, Twelfth Princeton Paperback printing 1989) pp. 227–49. ISBN 0-691-01958-4.
‪7.‬ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 9.
‪8.‬ a b Cowell and Gough, p. 5.
‪9.‬ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 58.
‪10.‬ Richard King (1999). Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought. Edinburgh University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-7486-0954-3.
11. N. V. Isaeva (1 January 1993). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. SUNY Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
12.‬ Monier-Williams (1899); the name literally means “speaking nicely”, from cāru “agreeable” and vāk “speech”
13.‬ Cowell and Gough, p. 2; Lokāyata may be etymologically analysed as “prevalent in the world ” (loka and āyata)
‪14.‬ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 27.
15.‬ Bhattacarya 2002, p. 6.
16.‬ a b c d Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna. History of Indian Materialism. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
17.‬ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 29.
18.‬ a b c d e Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna. Materialism in India: A Synoptic View. Retrieved 27 July 2012. ‪19.‬ a b see Schermerhorn (1930).
20.‬ Rangacharya, M. Sarva Siddhanta Sangraha of Sankaracarya: Text with English Translation, Introduction, Notes and Glossary. Eastern Book Linkers (2006). Ch. 1. ISBN 8178541084.
21.‬ a b c d Cowell and Gough. p. 3
22.‬ Cowell and Gough, p. 6-9.
23.‬ Cowell and Gough, p. 9.
‪24.‬ a b c d Cowell and Gough. p. 10
‪25.‬ Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Translated by Swami Madhavananda. Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta. Verse II-iv-13 states: “After attaining (this oneness) it has no more consciousness.’l
26.‬ Cowell and Gough, p. 4.
‪27.‬ Joshi, Dinkar. Glimpses of Indian Culture. Star Publications (P) Ltd, Delhi. P. 37. ISBN 81-7650-190-5.
28.‬ a b Cowell and Gough, p. 2.
29.‬ Ain-i-Akbari, Vol. III, translated by H. S. Barrett, pp 217–218 (also see Amartya Sen [2005], pp 288–289)
‪30.‬ Satischandra Chatterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Eighth Reprint Edition. (University of Calcutta: 1984). p. 55.
31.‬ Indian Philosophy, p. 188
‪32.‬ Riepe, Dale. The Naturalistic Tradition of Indian Thought (Motilal Banarasidas, Varanasi) p.75

Bhatta, Jayarashi. Tattvopapalavasimha (Charvaka Philosophy).
Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna. Cārvāka Fragments: A New Collection, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Volume 30, Number 6, December 2002, pp. 597–640.
Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna. Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata (Cultural, Historical and Textual Studies of Religions). Anthem Press; Bilingual edition (December 15, 2011). ISBN 0857284339.
Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1959). Lokāyata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism. New Delhi: People’s Pub. House.
Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1964). Indian Philosophy: A Popular Introduction. New Delhi: People’s Pub. House.
Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1969). Indian Atheism: A Marxist Analysis. Kolkata: Manisha.
Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1976). What Is Living and What Is Dead in Indian Philosophy. New Delhi: People’s Pub. House.
Cowell, E. B.; Gough, A. E. (2001). The Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha or Review of the Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy: Trubner’s Oriental Series. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-24517-3.
Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gokhale, Pradeep P. The Cārvāka Theory of Pramānas: A Restatement, Philosophy East and West (1993).
Koller, John M. Skepticism in Early Indian Thought, Philosophy East and West (1977).
Nambiar, Sita Krishna (1971). Prabodhacandrodaya of Krsna Misra. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass.
Phillott, D. C. (ed.) (1989) [1927]. The Ain-i Akbari. by Abu l-Fazl Allami, trans. Heinrich Blochmann (3 vols. ed.). Delhi: Low Price Publications. ISBN 81-85395-19-5.
Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press; 1957. Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989. ISBN 0-691-01958-4.
Riepe, Dale (1964). The Naturalistic Tradition of Indian Thought (2nd ed. ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Salunkhe, A. H.. Aastikashiromani Chaarvaaka (in Marathi).
Schermerhorn, R. A. When Did Indian Materialism Get Its Distinctive Titles?, Journal of the American Oriental Society (1930).
Sen, Amartya (2005). The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9687-0.

Origin and History of Lokayata (Charvaka) philosophy

March 4, 2014

The branch of Indian philosophy is today not considered to be part of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, Cārvāka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक), also known as Lokāyata, is a system of Indian philosophy that assumes various forms of materialism, philosophical skepticism and religious indifference.[1]it is classified as a heterodox Hindu (Nāstika) system.[2][3][4] characterized as a materialistic and atheistic school of thought. Cārvāka emerged as an alternative to the orthodox Hindu pro-Vedic Āstika schools, as well as a philosophical predecessor to subsequent or contemporaneous nāstika philosophies such as Ājīvika, Jainism and Buddhism, the latter two spinning off into separate religions in the classical period of Indian philosophy.[7]
As opposed to other schools, the first principle of Cārvāka philosophy was the rejection of inference as a means to establish metaphysical truths.[8][9]
Etymologically, Cārvāka means “agreeable speech” or “sweet talkers” (cāru – agreeable, pleasant or sweet and vāk – speech) and Lokāyata signifies “prevalence in the world” (loka – world and āyata – prevalent).[10][11][12][13] The name Lokāyata can be traced to Kautilya’s Arthashastra, which refers to three ānvīkshikīs (logical philosophies) — Yoga, Samkhya and Lokāyata. However, Lokāyata in Arthashastra, does not stand for materialism because the Arthashastra refers to Lokāyata as a part of Vedic lore. Lokāyata here probably refers to logic or science of debate (disputatio, “criticism”) and not to the materialist doctrine.[14] Similarly, Saddaniti and Buddhaghosa in the 5th century connect the “Lokāyata” with the Vitandas (sophists). It is only from about the 6th century that the term Lokāyata was restricted to the school of the materialists or Lokyātikas. The name Cārvāka was first used in the 7th century by the philosopher Purandara, who referred to his fellow materialists as “the Cārvākas”, and it was used by the 8th century philosophers Kamalaśīla and Haribhadra. Adi Shankara, on the other hand, always used Lokāyata, not Cārvāka.[15] By the 8th century, the terms Cārvāka, Lokāyata, and Bārhaspatya were used interchangeably to signify materialism.[16]
Ajita Kesakambali, a senior contemporary of the Buddha (sixth/fifth century BCE), is earliest documented materialist in India.[16] He probably inspired the basic tenets of Cārvāka philosophy i.e. of no soul and existence of four (not five) elements[17] Although materialist schools existed before, Cārvāka was the only school which systematized materialist philosophy by setting them down in the form of aphorisms in the 6th century. There was a base text, a collection sūtras or aphorisms and several commentaries were written to explicate the aphorisms.[18] E. W. Hopkins, in his ‘The Ethics of India (1924)’ claims that Cārvāka philosophy was contemporaneous to Jainism and Buddhism, mentioning “the old Cārvāka or materialist of the 6th century BC”. Rhys Davids assumes that lokāyata in ca. 500 BC came to mean “skepticism” in general without yet being organized as a philosophical school, and that the name of a villain in the epic Mahabharata, Cārvāka, was attached to the position in order to disparage it. The earliest positive statement of skepticism is preserved from the epic period, in the Ramayana, Ayodhya kanda, chapter 108, where Jabāli tries to persuade Rāma to accept the kingdom by using nāstika arguments (but Rāma then refutes him in chapter 109):[19]
“ O, the highly wise! Arrive at a conclusion, therefore, that there is nothing beyond this Universe. Give precedence to that which meets the eye and turn your back on what is beyond our knowledge. (2.108.17)”
The Cārvāka school thus appears to have gradually grown out of generic skepticism in the Mauryan period, but its existence as an organized body cannot be ascertained for times predating the 6th century. The Barhaspatya sutras were likely also composed in Mauryan times, predating 150 BC, based on a reference in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali (7.3.45).[19] Cārvāka was a living philosophy up to the 12th century AD after which this system seems to have disappeared without leaving any trace. The reason for this sudden disappearance is not known.[16]Brihaspati is sometimes referred to as the founder of Cārvāka or Lokāyata philosophy. The earliest direct quote from Brihaspati’s lost writings is found in the text Sarvasiddhantasamgraha, which is sometimes controversially attributed to Shankara. In the Sarvasiddhantasamgraha, the author quotes Brihaspati as follows:“Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings; gifts of gold and land, the pleasure of invitations to dinner, are devised by indigent people with stomachs lean with hunger. The building of temples, houses for water-supply, tanks, wells, resting places, and the like, please only travelers, not others. The Agnihotra ritual, the three Vedas, the triple staff, the ash-smearing, are the ways of gaining a livelihood for those who are lacking in intellect and energy. The wise should enjoy the pleasures of this world through the more appropriate available means of agriculture, tending cattle, trade, political administration, etc.[20]” Notes
‪1.‬^ Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; and Moore, Charles A. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press; 1957. Princeton paperback 12th edition, 1989. ISBN 0-691-01958-4. p. 227.

2.‬^ “Philosophical & Socio” by M.h.Siddiqui, p. 63|quote=”Carvaka is classified as a “heterodox” (nastika) system”, “part of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism” ‪3.‬^ Radhakrishnan and Moore, “Contents”.
‪4.‬^ p. 224. Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
‪5.‬^ Though this school of thought is not commonly considered as a part of six orthodox schools of Indian Philosophy, Haribhadra Suri, a Jain mendicant from c. seventh century, considers this school as a part of those six in his book ShaDdarshan Samucchaya. Potter, Karl H. (2007). The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Buddhist philosophy from 350 to 600 A.D. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publications. pp. 435–436. ISBN 978-81-208-1968-9.

6.‬^ Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore. A Source book in Indian Philosophy. (Princeton University Press: 1957, Twelfth Princeton Paperback printing 1989) pp. 227–49. ISBN 0-691-01958-4. ‪7.‬^ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 9.
‪8.‬^ a b Cowell and Gough, p. 5.
‪9.‬^ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 58.
‪10.‬^ Richard King (1999). Indian Philosophy: An Introduction to Hindu and Buddhist Thought. Edinburgh University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-7486-0954-3.
‪11.‬^ N. V. Isaeva (1 January 1993). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. SUNY Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7. Retrieved 31 December 2013.

12.‬^ Monier-Williams (1899); the name literally means “speaking nicely”, from cāru “agreeable” and vāk “speech”
‪13.‬^ Cowell and Gough, p. 2; Lokāyata may be etymologically analysed as “prevalent in the world ” (loka and āyata)

14.‬^ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 27.
‪15.‬^ Bhattacarya 2002, p. 6.
‪16.‬^ a b c d Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna. History of Indian Materialism. Retrieved 27 July 2012. ‪17.‬^ Bhattacharya 2011, p. 29.
‪18.‬^ a b c d e Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna. Materialism in India: A Synoptic View. Retrieved 27 July 2012. ‪19.‬^ a b see Schermerhorn (1930).
‪20.‬^ Rangacharya, M. Sarva Siddhanta Sangraha of Sankaracarya: Text with English Translation, Introduction, Notes and Glossary. Eastern Book Linkers (2006). Ch. 1. ISBN 8178541084.

Development of Buddhist epistemology and logic

February 24, 2014

“In the non-Buddhist traditions of Indian philosophical thought, and perhaps also in early Buddhist thought, there appears to be a tacit acceptance of the possibility of acquiring knowledge of reality. However, Nâgârjuna (about AD 250), a later Buddhist dialectical thinker, raised serious doubts about the possibility of acquiring knowledge by pointing out the self-contradictory character of all means of acquiring knowledge, Nâgârjuna’s objections stimulated and compelled all subsequent philosophers to provide a solid foundation to epistemology and logic before proceeding with the formulations of their philosophical positions.
In Buddhist circles Asanga (about AD 405) and Vasubandhu (about AD 410) made pioneering attempts to construct epistemology and logic on the Buddhist pattern. However it was Dignâga (about AD 450) who put Buddhist epistemology and logic on a solid footing and gave them a distinctive character. He is, therefore, rightly regarded as the father of Buddhist epistemology and logic, and also of medieval Indian epistemology and logic in general, for he not only gave a precise formulation to Buddhist epistemology and logic but also imparted a new direction to Indian epistemology and logic by way of composing independent treatises on these two interspersing the treatment of metaphysical problems within them, a style which was later on followed by Gangesa (about the twelfth century AD), the founder of the school of Navya-Nyaya. Buddhist literature prior to Dignaga deals with the problem of knowledge and the means of knowing either very casually or not at all. There seems to be no work devoted to the problem. But Dignaga felt the necessity for a distinct treatise on epistemology and logic to establish the Buddhist doctrines in a logical manner. He explicitly mentions in the Pramâna-samuccaya that its composition was led by the need to establish the means of valid cognition.
The task initiated by Dignaga was brilliantly continued by Dharmakirti (about 635), a doyen of Buddhist epistemology and logic. His Pramâna-vârtika, Pramânaviniscaya and Nyaya-bindu are masterpieces of Buddhist epistemology and logic. When Dignaga undertook an examination of the logical tenets of other philosophical schools in his treatise there were reactions from the latter. For instance, Uddyotakara and Kumarila (about AD 500) tried to controvert the views of Dignaga. Dharmakirti therefore defended and modified the views of Dignaga, thereby strengthening the foundations of Buddhist epistemology and logic. However, his exposition, which was ended to explain and defend the views of Dignaga, superseded and eclipsed the original by its superior merit. This tradition of Dharmakirti was carried forward by Darmottara (about AD 847) and subsequently by, amongst others, Jnanasrimitra about AD 1040.”
From: S. R. Bhatt – Logic and language in Buddhism in: Brian Carr, Indira Mahalingam (eds.) – Companion Encyclopedia of Asian philosophy – London, Routledge, 1997, pp. 414-415.

Theory of causation in Indian Vedic philosophies

December 16, 2013

The basic question involved in any theory of causation is: “Does the effect pre-exist in its material cause?” Those who answer this question negatively are called Astkaryavadins (Nyaya, Vaisesika, Buddhism and some followers of Mimansa) while those answering it in positive are called Satkaryavadins (Samkhya, Yoga, Mimansa and Advait).

Nyaya (and Vaisheshik) theory of causation
They believe in Asatkaryavada i. e. the effect does not pre-exist in its material cause but is a new creation, a real beginning. They said, if the cloth already exists in the threads, then why should not the threads serve the purpose of the cloth?

A cause is defined as an unconditional and invariable consequent of a cause. The same cause produce the same effect and the same effect is produced by the same cause. Plurality of causes is ruled out. The essential characteristics of a cause are its
1. antecedence: the fact that it should precede the effect,
2. invariability: it must invariably precede the effect and
3. unconditionality

Antecedence is immediate and direct antecedence and excludes the fallacy or remote cause.
Thus, the Nyaya definition of a cause appears to be the same as that in western inductive logic. Hume defines a cause as an invariable antecedent. Carveth Read points out that unconditionally includes immediacy. A cause, therefore, is an unconditional, immediate and invariable antecedent of an effect. Nyaya recognizes five kinds of accidental antecedents which are not real causes.

  1. The qualities of a cause are mere accidental antecedents. The color of a potter’s staff is not the cause of a pot.
  2. The cause of a cause or a remote cause is not unconditional. The potter’s father is not the cause of a pot.
  3. The co-effect of a cause are themselves not causally related. The sound produced by the potter’s staff is not the cause of a pot, though if may invariably precede the pot. Night and day are not causally related.
  4. Unnecessary things like the potter’s ass are not unconditional antecedents; though the potter’s ass may be invariably present when the potter is making a pot, yet it is not the cause of the pot. A cause must be an unconditional and necessary antecedent. Nyaya emphasizes the sequence view of causality. Cause and effect are never simultaneous.
  5. Plurality of causes is also wrong because causal relation is reciprocal. The same effect cannot be produced by the other cause. Each effect has its distinctive features and has only one specific cause.

Like Western logic, the Nyaya regards a cause as the sum-total of the conditions, positive and negative, taken together. The cause is an aggregate of the unconditional or necessary and in variable antecedent conditions which are called karanasamagri. The absence of negative counteracting conditions is called pratibandhaka bhava. An effect is defined as the counter-entity of its own prior non-existence. It is the negation of its own prior-negation. It comes into being and destroys its prior non-existence. It was non-existent before its production. It did not pre-exist in its cause. It is a fresh beginning, a new creation.

Thus, Nyaya-Vaishesika view of causation is directly opposed to the Samkhya-Yoga and Vedanta view of Satkaryavada. It is called asatkaryavada or arambhavada. The effect is non-existent before its creation and is a new beginning (arambha), a fresh creation, an epigenesis. It is distinct from its cause and can never be identical with it. It is neither an appearance nor a transformation of the cause. It is newly brought into existence by the operation of the cause. There are three kinds of causes – samavayi, asamavayyi and nimitta.

1. Samavayi or the inherent cause: It is also called as the. It is the substance out of which the effect is produced. For example, the threads are the inherent cause of the cloth and the clay is the inherent cause of a pot. The effect inheres in its material cause. The cloth inheres in the threads. The effect cannot exist separately from its material cause, though the cause can exist independently of its effect. The material cause is always a substance. upadana or the material cause.
2. Asamavayi or non-inherent cause:. It inheres in the material cause and helps the production of the effect. The conjunction of the threads which inheres in the threads is the non-inherent cause of the cloth of which the threads are the material or the inherent cause. The color of the threads is the non-inherent cause both co-inhere in the material cause. The non-inherent cause is always a quality or an action.
3. Nimitta of efficient cause: It is the power which helps the material cause is nimitta of efficient. It is the power which helps the material cause to produce the effect. The weaver is the efficient cause of the cloth. The efficient cause includes the accessories, e.g., the loom and shuttle of the weaver or the staff and wheel of the potter. The efficient cause may be a substance, a quality or an action.

Sometimes a distinction is made between a general or an ordinary and a peculiar or an extraordinary cause.
Eight general causes are space, time, God’s knowledge, God’s will, merit, demerit, prior non-existence and absence of counteracting factors.
The extraordinary cause is called the Karma or the instrumental cause and is included in the efficient cause. It is the motive power which immediately produces the effect, e.g., the staff of the potter. The modern Nyaya ( Navya-Nyaya) regards the efficiency itself which inheres in this cause as the real instrumental cause.

The inherent cause, the non-inherent cause, the efficient cause and the purpose seem to correspond to Aristotle’s material, formal, efficient and final causes.

“Causes” or “karanas” are divided into two categories by all: “nimitta” and “upadana“. You need earth or clay as a material to make a pot. So earth is the upadana for the pot. But how does it become a pot? Does it become a pot by itself? It has to be shaped by a potter. So the potter is the cause- he is the nimitta.

The Ishvar in views of Nayaya and Samkhya
Nyaya and Vaisesika believe that Isvara created the universe with the ultimate particles called “anu-s (atoms)”. Here Isvara is considered as the nimitta-karana and the “anus” are the upadana-karana. To shape the clay into a pot a potter is needed. Without him there is no earthen pot, or in other words, the pot without the potter is non-existent. So when he shapes it out of clay he is the cause and the pot the effect. This is called “arambha-vada” or “asat-karya-vada”. “Sat” means that which exists (the real) and “asat” that which does not. There is no pot in mere clay. The non-existent pot is produced from the clay. It is in similar fashion that Isvara created the universe with the “anu-s” – what he created did not exist in the particles. This is the doctrine of Nyaya.

Samkhya does not believe in an Isvara. According to them Prakrti itself exfoliated into the universe. Such a belief is not to be mistaken for the contemporary athestic view because Samkhya also postulates a Purusa who is jnana, similar to the Nirguna-Brahman. According to it the inert Prakrti can function in such an orderly fashion only in the presence of Purusa. The presence of Purusa is the cause but he is not directly involved in creation. Crops grow on their own in the sunshine. Water dries up, clothes become dry and it is all because of the sun. Does the sun worry about which crop is to be grown or which pond is to be dried up? Your hand becomes numb when you hold a lump of ice in it. Is it right to reason that it is the intention of ice to benumb your hand? Similar is the case with Purusa for he is not attached to creation. But with the power received from him, Prakrti creates the world out of itself. There is no Isvara as a nimitta-karana. According to Samkhya, Prakrti has transformed itself as the created world. This is called “parinama-vada”.

Creation in views of Nayaya, Samkhya and Advaita
While asat-karya-vada is the principle on which the naiyayikas base their view of creation, supporters of Sankhya base their theory on sat-karya-vada.

Nyaya-Vaisheshik argues that the clay is the upadana (material cause) for the making of the non-existent pot while the potter is the nimitta or efficient cause.

Samkhya sat-karya-vadins argue thus: “The pot was there in the clay in the beggining itself. The oil-monger presses the sesame seeds to extract the oil that is already present in them. Similarly, the pot concealed in the clay emerged as a result of the work of the potter. It is only by using the clay that you can make the pot. You cannot make a pot with sesame seeds nor do you get oil by pressing the clay. To this Nyaya points out that the pots are all anu-s of the clay; they came into existence by the anu-s being shaped. ”

Advait-vadin sat-karya-vadins says: “There is neither arambha-vada nor parinama-vada here. It is the Brahman, with its power of Maya, that appears in the disguise of creation. For the potter who is the Paramatman there is no other entity other than himself called clay. So the arambha-vada is not right. To say that Paramatman transformed himself into the cosmos is like saying that the milk turns into curd. The curd is not the same as the milk. Would it not be wrong to state that the Paramatman became non-existent after becoming the cosmos? So the parinama-vada is also not valid. On the one hand, the Paramatman remains pure jnana, as nothing but awareness, and, on the other, he shows himself through the power of his Maya as all this universe with its living-beings and its inert objects. It is all the appearence of the same Reality, the Reality in various disguises. If a man dons a disguise he does not become another man. Similar is the case with all these disguises, all this jugglary of the universe, with all the apparent diversity, the one Reality remains unchanged.” This argument is known as “vivarta-vada”. There is vivarta in the phenomenon of a rope appearing to be a snake. The upadana-karana (material cause) that is the rope does not change into a snake by nimitta-karana (efficient cause). So the arambha-vada does not apply here. The rope does not transform itself into a snake; but on account of our nescience (avidya) it seems to us to be a snake. Similarly, on account of our ajnana or avidya the Brahman too seems to us as this world and such a vast plurality of entities.

Contribution of Nyaya
Nyaya lays the steps by which we may go further to realize the truth on which our Acarya has shed light. Nyaya and Vaisesika teach us how we may become aware of padarthas (categories) through reasoning and become detatched from them to realise “apavarga” in which there is neither sorrow nor joy. But they do not take us to a higher realm. Dualism also has it’s limitations thus. To grasp the One Reality that is non-dual and realise inwardly that we too are that Reality is to experience absolute liberation. It must be said as one of the distinctive features of Nyaya that it inspires us to go in quest of apavarga by creating discontent in in our worldly existence. Another of its distinguishing features is that it employs all its resources of reasoning to contend against the doctrines of the Buddhists, the Sankhyas and Carvakas to establish the principle of Isvara as Karta (Creator).

Pratityasmutpaad (dependent origination) and modern perspectives

November 14, 2013

Quantum mechanics
The Mahayana presentation of pratītyasamutpāda (and shunyata) has been compared to the scientific theory of quantum mechanics (also known as quantum physics)—the contemporary branch of physics that examines matter on atomic and subatomic levels. For example, contemporary Tibetan Buddhist teacher Mingyur Rinpoche states:[1]
In my conversations with modern scientists, I’ve been struck by a number of similarities between the principles of quantum mechanics and the Buddhist understanding of the relationship between emptiness and appearance. Because the words we used were different, it took me quite a while to recognize that we were talking about the same thing—phenomena unfolding moment by moment, caused and conditioned by an almost infinite number and variety of events.
Contemporary Western philosopher Christian Thomas Kohl (in Biddhism and Quantum Physics) states:
There is a surprising parallelism between the philosophical concept of reality articulated by Nagarjuna and the physical concept of reality implied by quantum physics. For neither is there a fundamental core to reality, rather reality consists of systems of interacting objects. Such concepts of reality cannot be reconciled with the substantial, subjective, holistic or instrumentalistic concepts of reality which underlie modern modes of thought. Systems theory
The doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda has been compared to modern systems theory. For example, in her text Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory, contemporary scholar Joanna Macy states:[2]
The systems view of reality as process, its perception of self-organizing patterns of physical and mental events, and the principals it discerned in the dynamics of these natural systems struck me as remarkably consonant with the Buddha’s teachings. Like the doctrine of paticca samuppāda, systems theory sees causality as reciprocal, arising from interweaving circuits of contingency. […] Despite the obvious contrasts in their origins and purposes, each of them—early Buddhism and contemporary systems theory—can clarify what the other is saying. Western theories of the origin of the universe
The principle of pratītyasamutpāda is the basis for the Buddhist view that it is not possible to identify a beginning or origin of the world or universe. According to the Buddhist view, since all phenomena are dependent upon multiple causes and conditions, it can not be said that there was a first cause or event that sparked the creation of the universe. Thus Buddhist philosophy refutes the concepts of either a creator god or an initial event as posited in the “big bang theory”. Dhammananda Maha Thera explains:[3]
Modern science says that some millions of years ago, the newly cooled earth was lifeless and that life originated in the ocean. Buddhism never claimed that the world, sun, moon, stars, wind, water, days and nights were created by a powerful god or by a Buddha. Buddhists believe that the world was not created once upon a time, but that the world has been created millions of times every second and will continue to do so by itself and will break away by itself. According to Buddhism, world systems always appear and disappear in the universe. Western philosophy
Jay Garfield points out the similarities between pratītyasamutpāda and the philosophies of Hume, Kant, and others. Garfield states:[4]
The analysis of causation can often look like a highly technical aside in philosophy. It might not seem at first glance to be one of the really “big” questions, like those concerning what entities there are, what the nature of mind is, what the highest good is. By contrast, causation often appears to the outsider or to the beginner like one of those recherche corners of philosophy that one has to work one’s way into. But of course even in the history of Western metaphysics and epistemology it has always been central. One has only to think of the role of a theory of causation for Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, or Wittgenstein to see this. This study of the Mulamadhyamikakarika shows why: a clear understanding of the nature of the causal relation is the key to understanding the nature of reality itself and of our relation to it. For causation is, as Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer as well as Nagarjuna emphasize, at the heart of our individuation of objects, of our ordering of our experience of the world, and of our understanding of our own agency in the world. Without a clear view of causation, we can have no clear view of anything. Relation to metaphysics.
The concept of pratītyasamutpāda has also been compared to the Western philosophy of metaphysics (the study of the nature of being and the world). Bhikkhu Thanissaro explains that the Buddha did not intend to put forth a system of metaphysics:[5]
The Buddha was very clear on the point that he did not mean for his teachings to become a metaphysical system or for them to be adhered to simply for the sake of their truth value. He discussed metaphysical topics only when they could play a role in skillful behavior. Many metaphysical questions—such as whether or not there is a soul or self, whether or not the world is eternal, whether or not it is infinite, etc.—he refused to answer, on the grounds that they were either counterproductive or irrelevant to the task at hand: that of gaining escape from the stress and suffering inherent in time and the present
However, scholars have noted the similarities between pratītyasamutpāda and metaphysics.[6] One source (Hoffman, 1996) asserts that pratītyasamutpāda should not be considered a metaphysical doctrine in the strictest sense, since it does confirm or deny specific entities or realities.[6][7] Noa Ronkin notes that while the Buddha suspends all views regarding certain metaphysical questions, he does not deny the significance of the questions.[8] Radical phenomenology
Bhikkhu Thanissaro relates the Buddhist concept of karma to the modern philosophy of radical phenomenology; he sates:[9]
To avoid the drawbacks of the narrative and cosmological mind-sets, the Buddha pursued an entirely different tack—what he called “entry into emptiness,” and what modern philosophy calls radical phenomenology: a focus on the events of present consciousness, in and of themselves, without reference to questions of whether there are any entities underlying those events. In the Buddha’s case, he focused simply on the process of kammic cause and result as it played itself out in the immediate present, in the process of developing the skillfulness of the mind, without reference to who or what lay behind those processes. On the most basic level of this mode of awareness, there was no sense even of “existence” or “nonexistence”…, but simply the events of stress, its origination, its cessation, and the path to its cessation, arising and passing away. References:
1. Mingyur Rinpoche (2007), The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, Harmony Kindle Edition, p. 67.
2.‬ Macy, Joanna (1991), Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Natural Systems, SUNY, p. xii.
‪3.‬ Dhammananda Maha Thera (2010), “The Origin of the World”, What Buddhists Believe (Buddhatnet.net), retrieved July 24, 2010.
4.‬ Garfield, Jay L. (1994), Dependent Arising and the Emptiness of Emptiness: Why did Nagarjuna start with Causation?, Philosophy East and West, Volume 44, Number 2 April 1994
‪5.‬ Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2010), Wings to Awakening: Part I, Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA, p. 29.
‪6.‬ Schilbrack, Kevin (2002), Thinking through Myths: Philosophical Perspectives, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-25461-2. 7.‬ Hoffman, Frank J., et al (1996), Pāli Buddhism, Routledge, p. 177.
‪8.‬ Ronkin, Noa (2009), “Theravada Metaphysics and Ontology”, Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (Edelglass, et al, editors)[1] (Oxford University Press), ISBN 978-0-19-532817-2.
9.‬ Bhikkhu Thanissaro (2010), Wings to Awakening: Part I, Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA, p. 45.

Kundalini yoga

November 11, 2013

Kundalini yoga, also known as laya yoga, is a school of yoga. Based on a 1935 treatise by Sivananda Saraswati, kundalini yoga was influenced by the tantra and shakta schools of Hinduism. It focuses on awakening kundalini energy through regular practice of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra and yoga asana.[1] Called by practitioners “the yoga of awareness”, it aims “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.”[2]

What has become known as “Kundalini yoga” in the 20th century has traditionally been known as laya yoga, from the Sanskrit term laya “dissolution, extinction”. The Sanskrit adjective kundalin means “circular, annular”. It does occur as a noun for “a snake” (in the sense “coiled”, as in “forming ringlets”) in the 12th-century Rajatarangini chronicle (I.2). Kunda, a noun with the meaning “bowl, water-pot” is found as the name of a Naga in Mahabharata 1.4828. The feminine kundali has the meaning of “ring, bracelet, coil (of a rope)” in Classical Sanskrit, and is used as the name of a “serpent-like” Shakti in Tantrism as early as c. the 11th century, in the Saradatilaka.[3] This concept is adopted as kundalnii as a technical term into Hatha yoga in the 15th century and becomes widely used in the Yoga Upanishads by the 16th century.
The Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad is listed in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads. Since this canon was fixed in the year 1656, it is known that the Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad was compiled in the first half of the 17th century at the latest. The Upanishad more likely dates to the 16th century, as do other Sanskrit texts which treat kundalini as a technical term in tantric yoga, such as the ?a?-cakra-nirupana and the Paduka-pañcaka. These latter texts were translated in 1919 by John Woodroffe as The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga In this book, he was the first to identify “Kundalini yoga” as a particular form of Tantrik Yoga, also known as Laya Yoga.
The Yoga-Kundalini and the Yogatattva are closely related texts from the school of Hatha yoga. They both draw heavily on the Yoga Yajnavalkya (c. 13th century),[4] as does the foundational Hatha Yoga Pradipika. They are part of a tendency of syncretism combining the tradition of yoga with other schools of Hindu philosophy during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Yoga-Kundalini Upanishad itself consists of three short chapters; it begins by stating that Chitta (consciousness) is controlled by Vayu (Prana), and Prana is controlled by moderate food, postures and Shakti-Chala (I.1-2). Verses I.3-6 explain the concepts of moderate food and concept, and verse I.7 introduces Kundalini as the name of the Shakti under discussion:I.7. The Sakti (mentioned above) is only Kundalini. A wise man should take it up from its place (Viz., the navel, upwards) to the middle of the eyebrows. This is called Sakti-Chala.I.8. In practising it, two things are necessary, Sarasvati-Chalana and the restraint of Prana (breath). Then through practice, Kundalini (which is spiral) becomes straightened.”[5]
Swami Nigamananda (d. 1935) taught a form of laya yoga which he insisted was not part of Hatha yoga, paving the way of the emergence of “Kundalini yoga” as a distinct school of yoga. “Kundalini Yoga” as it is taught today is based on the treatise ‘Kundalini Yoga’ by Sivananda Saraswati, published in 1935. Swami Sivananda (1935) introduced “Kundalini yoga” as a part of Laya yoga.[6] Together with other currents of Hindu revivalism and Neo-Hinduism, Kundalini Yoga became popular in 1960s to 1980s western counterculture. It was popularized by Harbhajan Singh Yogi who founded the “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO) in 1969. Singh launched a pilot program with two longtime heroin addicts in Washington, D.C. in 1972,[7] and opened a drug-treatment center under the name of “3HO SuperHealth” was launched in Tucson, Arizona in 1973.

Principles and methodology
Kundalini is the term for “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine”, conceptualized as a coiled-up serpent. The practice of Kundalini yoga is supposed to arouse the sleeping Kundalini Shakti from its coiled base through the 6 chakras, and penetrate the 7th chakra, or crown. This energy is said to travel along the ida (left), pingala (right) and central, or sushumna nadi – the main channels of pranic energy in the body.[8] Kundalini energy is technically explained as being sparked during yogic breathing when prana and apana blends at the 3rd chakra (naval center) at which point it initially drops down to the 1st and 2nd chakras before traveling up to the spine to the higher centers of the brain to activate the golden cord – the connection between the pituitary and pineal glands – and penetrate the 7 chakras.[9] Borrowing and integrating the highest forms from many different approaches, Kundalini Yoga can be understood as a tri-fold approach of Bhakti yoga for devotion, Shakti yoga for power, and Raja yoga for mental power and control. Its purpose through the daily practice of kriyas and meditation in sadhana are described a practical technology of human consciousness for humans to achieve their total creative potential.[10]

The practice of kriyas and meditations in Kundalini Yoga are designed to raise complete body awareness to prepare the body, nervous system, and mind to handle the energy of Kundalini rising. The majority of the physical postures focus on navel activity, activity of the spine, and selective pressurization of body points and meridians. Breath work and the application of bandhas(3 yogic locks) aid to release, direct and control the flow of Kundalini energy from the lower centers to the higher energetic centers.[11] Along with the many kriyas, meditations and practices of Kundalini Yoga, a simple breathing technique of alternate nostril breathing (left nostril, right nostril) is taught as a method to cleanse the nadis, or subtle channels and pathways, to help awaken Kundalini energy.[12]
Sovatsky (1998) adapts a developmental and evolutionary perspective in his interpretation of Kundalini Yoga. He interprets Kundalini Yoga as a catalyst for psycho-spiritual growth and bodily maturation. According to this interpretation of yoga, the body bows itself into greater maturation […], none of which should be considered mere stretching exercises.[13]

Medical research
Psychiatric literature notes that “Since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or spontaneously”.[14] Some of the psychological difficulties associated with intensive spiritual practice are claimed to be “kundalini awakening”, “a complex physio-psychospiritual transformative process described in the yogic tradition”. Writers in the fields of near-death studies and of “transpersonal psychology” have described a “kundalini syndrome”.[15] Venkatesh et al. (1997)[16] studied twelve kundalini (chakra) meditators, using the Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory. They found that the practice of meditation “appears to produce structural as well as intensity changes in phenomenological experiences of consciousness”. Lazar et al. (2000)[17] observed the brains of subjects performing, “a simple form of Kundalini Yoga meditation in which they passively observed their breathing and silently repeated the phrase ‘sat nam’ during inhalations and ‘wahe guru’ during exhalations,” and found that multiple regions of brain were involved especially those involved in relaxation and maintaining attention.

1. “Spotlight on Kundalini Yoga”. Yoga Journal. Retrieved 8 October 2013.

2. Swami Sivananda Radha, 2004, pp. 13, 15

3. André Padoux, Vac: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras, SUNY Press, 1990, 124-136.
4. Larson, Gerald James (2008). The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Yoga: India’s philosophy of meditation. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-3349-4, p. 476.
5. trans. K. Narayanasvami Aiyar Astrojyoti.com, based on a translation first published in 1891 in The Theosophist, Volume 12.

6. Swami Sivananda (4th ed. 2007), page 32
7. William L. Claiborne, “Heroin Treatment: Garlic Juice, Yoga,” The Washington Post, March 22, 1972

8. Swami Sivananda (4th ed. 2007) page 12
9. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, pages 176-179
10. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 20
11. Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007, page 177

12. Swami Sivananda (4th ed. 2007) page 23
13. Sovatsky, Stuart (1998) Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative, Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, New York: State University of New York Press, p. 142
14. Turner et al.,pg. 440
15. Kason, Yvonne (2000) Farther Shores: Exploring How Near-Death, Kundalini and Mystical Experiences Can Transform Ordinary Lives. Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, Revised edition, ISBN 0-00-638624-5. Greyson, Bruce (2000) Some Neuropsychological Correlates Of The Physio-Kundalini Syndrome. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol.32, No. 2. Scotton, Bruce (1996) The phenomenology and treatment of kundalini, in Chinen, Scotton and Battista (Editors) (1996) Textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology. (pp. 261-270). New York: Basic Books, Inc. Sovatsky, Stuart (1998) Words from the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative, Suny Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, New York: State University of New York Press.
16. Venkatesh S, Raju TR, Shivani Y, Tompkins G, Meti BL. (1997) A Study of Structure of Phenomenology of Consciousness in Meditative and Non-Meditative States. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol, Apr 1997; 41(2): 149 – 53. PubMed Abstract PMID 9142560.
17. * Lazar, Sara W.; Bush, George; Gollub, Randy L.; Fricchione, Gregory L.; Khalsa, Gurucharan; Benson, Herbert (2000) Functional Brain Mapping of the Relaxation Response and Meditation, [Autonomic Nervous System] NeuroReport, Vol. 11(7) May 15, 2000, p 1581 – 1585, PubMed Abstract PMID 10841380 [1] 18.? The Aquarian Teacher 4th ed. 2007, pp. 176-179.
Secondary literature
Laue, Thorsten: Tantra im Westen. Eine religionswissenschaftliche Studie über “Weißes Tantra Yoga”, “Kundalini Yoga” und “Sikh Dharma” in Yogi Bhajans “Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization” (3HO) unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der “3H Organisation Deutschland e. V.”, Münster: LIT, 2012, zugl.: Tübingen, Univ., Diss., 2011, ISBN 978-3-643-11447-1 [in German]
Laue, Thorsten: Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter. Bibliografische Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan. Tübingen: 2008. Online at “TOBIAS-lib – Zugang zum Dokument – Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter: Bibliografische Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan – Laue, Thorsten”. Tobias-lib.ub.uni-tuebingen.de. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2011-01-02. [in German]
Laue, Thorsten: Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Tee und das Wassermannzeitalter. Religionswissenschaftliche Einblicke in die Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) des Yogi Bhajan, Münster: LIT, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8258-0140-3 [in German] Medical and psychiatric literature
Arambula P, Peper E, Kawakami M, Gibney KH. (2001) The Physiological Correlates of Kundalini Yoga Meditation: A Study of a Yoga Master, Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback, Jun 2001; 26(2): 147 – 53, PubMed Abstract PMID 11480165.
Cromie, William J. (2002) Research: Meditation Changes Temperatures: Mind Controls Body in Extreme Experiments. Harvard University Gazette, April 18, 2002
Narayan R, Kamat A, Khanolkar M, Kamat S, Desai SR, Dhume RA. (1990) Quantitative Evaluation of Muscle Relaxation Induced by Kundalini Yoga with the Help of EMG Integrator. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. Oct 1990; 34(4): 279 – 81, PubMed Abstract PMID 2100290.
Peng CK, Mietus JE, Liu Y, Khalsa G, Douglas PS, Benson H, Goldberger AL. (1999) Exaggerated Heart Rate Oscillations During Two Meditation Techniques. Int J Cardiol, Jul 31, 1999; 70(2): 101 – 7, PubMed Abstract PMID 10454297.
Turner, Robert P.; Lukoff, David; Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany & Lu, Francis G. (1995) Religious or Spiritual Problem. A Culturally Sensitive Diagnostic Category in the DSM-IV. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,Vol.183, No. 7 435-444

Yoga literature
Swami Sivananda, Kundalini Yoga (1935).
Sivananda Radha Saraswati, Kundalini Yoga for the West (1979; 2nd ed. 1996)
The Aquarian Teacher, KRI International Teacher Training in Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Kundalini Research Institute, 4th Edition, 2007.
David T. Eastman, “Kundalini Demystified”, Yoga Journal, September 1985, pp. 37-43, California Yoga Teachers Association.

Features of Kashmir Monistic Shaivism

October 21, 2013

by Prof. M. L. Kokiloo

Shaivism of Kashmir has developed between the eight and the twelfth centuries of the Christian era. This comparatively younger philosophy has tried to explain all such ambiguities which the ancient philosophers have failed to resolve. Like Advaita vedanta it is monistic, like Vaishnavism it is theistic, like yoga it is practical, like Nayaya it is logical as also appeasing like Buddhism. Kashmir Shaivism is, therefore, idealistic and realistic in essence, strongly advocating a pragmatic approach to life.

Tantras have been revealed by Lord Shiva through his five mouths namely Ishana, Tatpurusha, Sadyojata, Vamadeva, and Aghora. These very five mouths represent his five energies namely Chitshakti (consciousness), Ananda shakti (Bliss), Ichhashakti (will) Jnanashakti (knowledge) and Kriyashakti (Action) respectively. When these aforesaid five energies of Lord Shiva unite with each other in such a way that each of these takes bold of the rest simultaneously, they reveal sixty four Bhairvatantras which are purely monistic. This very approach explained in these Tantras is called Kashmir Shaivism or Trika philosophy.

Veda, Shaiva, Vama, Dakshina, Kaula, Matta, and Trika are the seven Acharas (systems) recognised by Kashmir Shaivism. The most popular among the seven Acharas has been the Trika system. What does this Trika mean ? Trika means trinity of Nara, Shakti and Shiva as is given in Tantras. Nara means an individual, Shakti means the Universal Energy and Shiva means the Transcendental Being. Thus, a soul recognizes himself as Shiva by means of the realization of his Shakties – the powers of God-head. Therefore this Trika system advocates the practical path towards complete self-realization.

To make it more clear, this three fold science of spirit is based on the three energies of Lord Shiva namely Para, Parapara and Apara. Para energy is subjective energy of Lord Shiva and it is regarded as the supreme. Parapara energy is cognitive energy of Lord Shiva and is called as intermediate. Apara energy is objective energy of Lord Shiva and it is known as inferior energy.

Thus the Trika philosophy of Kashmir Shaivim advocates how a human being, engrossed in the inferior objective energy of Lord Shiva, can be taken upwards viz. towards the supreme energy of Lord Shiva through his cognitive energy. For this journey, undertaken to attain the real Transcendental state of self,

Trika philosophy has laid down three means within the ambit of cognitive energy. The first and the supreme expedient is called Shambbavopaya. The intermediate expedient is known as Shaktopaya and the third expedient is called Anvopaya.

Shambhavopaya: It is a unique way of yoga. All the mental activities cease to exist in it. In Shri Purva-Shastra the definition of Shambhavopaya is given. Shambavopaya is a path, shown by the supreme master, in which the knowledge of the ultimate reality comes through the practice of emptying one’s mind completely of all thoughts. Thus it is called as Nirvikalpayoga because no vikalpa i.e. a mental idea in name and form emerges in it. It is a way of keeping one’s mind completely motionless and calm, yet awake. It materialises by one’s strong will, therefore it is called as Ichhopaya or Ichha yoga by Shri Abhinavagupta in his ‘Tantrasara’ a book, in which the precise summary of 37 chapters of Tantraloka has been condensed in lucid style. By practising this yoga a ‘Sadhaka’ feels that sudden charge of supreme energy of Shaivahood which remains for a little while in the initial stage and automatically goes stronger and stronger day by day by constant Abhyasa-mental drill. In this way Shambavopaya is the direct means to absolute liberation. According to monistic theory of Kashmir Shaivism Shambavopaya is meant only for those great souls who have developed their awareness of Chit consciousness through the Anugraha of the master to get enthroned on this spiritual height, three ways have been advocated which are as under: 1. Vishwa chit pratibimbatvam
2. Paramarshodayakrama
3. Mantradhayabhinnatvam

By the first way a ‘sadhaka’ feels that the entire gamut of reciting an incantation, consists of six successive stages namely: varanadhva (syllabic) , Padaadhva (consisting of words) , Mantradhva ( incantative ), Kaladhva (Instantative), Tattvadha (contential), Bhavanadhva (peripheric) are reflected in the mirror of one’s own consciousness and by this awareness he enters the universal consciousness. After perceiving it, a seeker gets Shambava Samadhi (mental equipoise).

By the second way i.e. Paramarshodayakrama, a realizer understands that the entire field or sounds, words and sentences is nothing but the supreme self. By developing this attitude in his own mind, his innate faculties are focussed towards the Shambav Samadhi. By the third way i.e. Mantradhabhinatvam an aspirant practises the state at the universal ‘I’-consciousness.* By the Continuous awareness of upper consciousness, individual’s “I” consciousness automatically vanishes and it is united with God-consciousnes- where ‘sadhaka’ is one with subjective energy of Lord Shiva. Thus Shamabavopaya is that path where ‘sadhaka’ gets rid of the recitation of Mantras, of different types of ‘sadhana’ and concentration on particular deity.

anupaya: According to Kashmir Shaivism there is another higher method than Shambavopaya, which is known as Anupaya. In Shri Malinivijay Shaivagam, it is explained. In this context the three stages of a word coming to life-Jyeshtha, Raudri and Amba deserve also attention – Shivasutra, II. 3. Higher than Shambavopa, the Anupaya is effortless effort and method less method. It is named as Anandopaya also. The literal meaning of Anupaya is the means without any meansThe negative suffix in this word signifies complete minuteness and not total nothingness, just as in the word Anudara. Shri Abhinavagupta says in “Tantraloka” “atr anudara kanya itivat nanolparthatvam.” This Anupaya yoga is the highest, the final and the direct means to liberation. A mere touch or a mere glance of the one who is in the state of Anupaya makes one’s entrance pure to the kingdom of Transcendental Bliss. Just as a Poisonous snake emits the venomous effect to a person from a great distance, similarly a great yogi residing in Anupaya state sends the seeker, who has intense devotion for the Lord into the same state owned by him, by his mere glance or touch without making any difference between the master and the disciple. In Tantrasar Shri Abhinavgupta explains this Anupaya.

The supreme Lord, is self-effulgent, soul personified of the Real self. what can be the means to attain this supreme Bliss ? Godly unity is no means as Godly-unity is a momentary feature not a permanent one. Knowledge is no means as He is ever luminous. Unsheathing of various covers are no means as it is unthinkable for Him to don any cover. What can be the means to find Him? As the means also are devoid of self – entity without His existence. Therefore the entire ‘unique chit’ (consciousness) cannot be judged by the time factor, cannot be covered by the space, cannot be limited by names etc., cannot be controlled by the words, cannot be made clear by arguments. Thus from time factor to the field of arguments that Independent Supreme Bliss from ‘I’ consciousness, by its free will for attainment of godly unity merges into universal consciousness. When a seeker is firmly entrenched in this state be is in continuous harmony with the Godhead without any external means. So there is no need of chanting Mantras, performing various kinds of worship, doing austere penance, or undergoing any other form of meditation for him.
These various forms of means are not sufficient enough to throw light on that unlimited samvit. Can we see the bright sun by the limited ghata (clay po t)? When a seeker having an all-pervading outlook of this kind, contemplates constantly in this way, gets immersed in the Supreme self of Lord Shiva in no time.

Shaktopaya : It is a yogic practice of thought only. In this the seeker has to develop concentration upon God-consciousness by means of a special initiating thought unfolded by the master. The definition of Shaktopaya is given in Shri Malinivijaya Tantra.
When the aspirant concentrates on the particular thought of God-consciousness without the support of Pranayama and chanting of mantras etc, be develops that consciousness uninterruptedly. That state is called Shaktopaya.

The particular thought like ‘I am all consciousness’, ‘I am all’, or ‘I am Transcendental Bliss’, must be firmly adjusted in mind with such an awareness that no other thought comes to displace it. aspirant established in this state of awareness enters the state of Transcendental consciousness and passes from duality to unity.

Shaktopaya does not involve any objective ‘Dhyana’ intellectual meditation, or anything of that sort. It is an expedient of very high order and is meant for those who possess unflinching devotion and sharp intellectual acumen. It is solely meant for those who are not capable of undergoing Nirvikalpa yoga of Shambavopaya, because of the deep-rooted mental impressions of the impure vikalpa (thought-aberrations).

This Shaktopaya is call Jnanopaya also, because the mental activities of meditation are the most important factors in it. Thus it is an indirect means to complete liberation.

Anvopaya: Anvopaya is that expedient which is concerned with ‘anu’ a limited being, signifying his mental effort to get rid of the ignorance of his true nature. In this means all the faculties of understanding are to be concentrated upon particular objects other than the self, and the self is to be experienced with the help of those particular objective entities. Anavopoya is explained in Shri Purvashastra.

To understand this definition squarely we have got to explain it point wise. ‘Uchhaar’ connotes an awareness during inhalation or exhalation, when the consciousness of the realizer flows in between these two breaths in harmonious collusion. ‘Karan’ connotes that mental practice; which is developed through the grooming of organs of the senses and actions. It is conducted in the actual perception of one’s field of activities in daily life. ‘Dhyaan’ means the experience of one’s endless nominal and phenomenal nature through abstract meditation on one’s understanding. ‘Varna’ is the incessant practice based on Dhvani (sound) which comes to the aspirant within hearing at the time of meditation.

When a seeker plants his consciousness on the heart, navel or the space between the two eye-brows, simultaneously reciting the mantra through mind only, is known as the practice of ‘sthaankalpanaa’. The lowest types of this form are the as the practice Lingam, the altar and the image etc. This expedient is known as Kriyayoga or Kriyopaya, because concentration on object in this yoga involves sufficient mental effort. Thus action plays phenomenal part in reaching upto this mental stage.

In fact, a seeker with the help of inferior methods like Pranayama or chanting of Mantra etc. has to develop God-consciousness in this third path known as Anvopaya, because he is endowed with inferior capacity of mind and meditation. Thus this triple action, reaction and interaction of mind and perception with consequent follow-up mental drill in this system of Shaivism has given it the name of ‘Trika’.

Acharya Somananda (first half of the ninth century A. D.) has given a historical account about the origin of monistic Shaiva school of Kashmir in his monumental work “Shiva Drishti”. He says that in the age of ‘Kali’ when all the sages left this world and went to some place known as ‘kalaapigraam’, the teachings of the mysteries of Shaiva faith came to a stop. Then Lord Shri Kanthanatha advised His disciple sage Durvasa to start afresh the system of the practice of Shaivisim in the world. He in turn imparted essence of the monistic Shaiva faith to a disciple of his named ‘trambkaditya’. In this way fourteen generations passed and this knowledge was spelt out by the respective Gurus systematically. The fifteenth preceptor contrary to the faith in celibacy of previous teachers, married a Brahmin girl who gave birth to a male child namely ‘sangmaditya’ who was the sixteenth teacher in the line. While on pilgrimage, he came to Kashmir and settled here permanently. Various sages, seers, scholars and authors blossomed in this school after its advent to Kashmir valley. Sangamditya’s son and disciple was “Varshaditya” and his son and disciple was “Arunaditya” who carried on this system further. The nineteenth teacher was “Arunaditya’s son” ‘Ananda’ and his son and disciple was ‘Somananda’, who was the twentieth Acharya in this line. Shri Abhinavagupta also gives the historical account of monistic Kashmir Shaivism in his extra-ordinary work ‘Tantraloka’. He says that three Siddhas ( masters of perfection ) namely ‘tryambak’, ‘aamardak’ and ‘srinaath’ came to this mortal world under the control of ‘Srikanthnatha’. These three Siddhas, who were proficient in the monistic, the dualistic and the monistic cum dualistic Shaiva philosophy respectively established three separate schools of Shaivism; ‘tryambaknatha’ initiated another line through his will born daughter. This school of thought was known as Ardha-Tryambaka. Monistic system of Kashmir Shaivism is actually the school of Trayambakanatha. In fact Shaiva literature of Kashmir, available at present, belongs only to this very school of Trayambakanatha.

Many centuries after Trayambaknatha, the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism was taught by four great teachers namely Somananda, Erakanatha, Sumatinatha and Vasuguptanatha. These teachers have established four different schools which are as follows: 1. Pratyabhijna school,
2. Krama school,
3. Kula school,
4. Spanda school.

Pratyabhijna means recognizing one’s own self once again. This represents a mental act by which one realizes and reunites with the original state i.e. universal consciousness. In ‘Shivadrishti’ Acharya ‘Somananda’ explains this pratyabijna philosophy systematically. Shri Utpaladeva, the esteemed disciple of Acharya ‘Somananda’ presents vividly this very system in his famous book ‘Ishvarapratyabhijna’ and defines pratyabhijna.

just as a bride who has heard all about her bride-groom and even has seen him many a time, does not recognise him unless he is shown to her, similarly an individual who has read and heard much about his being, which is nothing but Shiva- the universal does not recognize himself unless he is guided by the Master. This sort of recognition is known as Pratyabbijna.

Krama school of Shaivism was expounded by Eraknatha. Its main purpose is to develop such strength of awareness that one transcends the circle of spaces time and form and finally raises himself to the state of universal consciousness. By realizing that state one enters the kingdom of Param-Shiva the Transcendental Being. The discipline of Anavopaya discussed earlier is concerned with this system of Kashmir Shaivism.

Kula school of Kashmir Shaivism was taught by Sumatinatha. The purpose of this doctrine is to rise above individual energy and assimilate the Blissful Energy of totality. Thus it is the highest thought which explains the state of universal Being; from which the whole universe emerges and then merges in it. All practices of “Shambhavopaya” discussed earlier are connected with this system of Kashmir Shaivism. Spanda school was heralded in Kashmir by Vasgupta natha. This system directs the seeker to concentrate on each and every moment in this world, even the Vibration of a blade of grass carries one to God consciousness. In Shri Vijnana Bhairava a traditional treatise of this school, one hundred and twelve ways are explained to attain the spanda state by meditating on the centre of mental or physical acts. All the practices of ‘Shaktopaya’ explained earlier, are connected with this system of Shaivism.

In fact these four schools are not different from each other, because all these systems take an aspirant to the universal God consciousness, the goal being the same, even when the ways are varied.

To sum up, the thought of Kashmir Shaivism is great, world affirming and universal. No Philosophic theory has so far presented complete view of the truth as is presented by the monistic Shaiva philosophy of Kashmir. The principle of Svatantrya (self-dependence) called as the principle of highest monism is the main doctrine of this philosophy. The arguments for accepting this mental discipline are so convincing, so satisfying and so appealing that once an aspirant tastes their nectar, naturally disdains other philosophic systems. This philosophy deals with the minutest and subtlest principles of life. It treats problems of man and the universe by the method of analysis and synthesis. The Shaivistc way of arguments is logical and psychological and is supported by all kinds of every day experiences. The greatest quality of Shaiva philosophers is that they invite criticism of opponents and after threadbare discussion they silence them with counter arguments. Like its theoretical side, the practical side of Shaivism is still more palatable, without inflicting any pain on his body, without suppressing the emotions and instincts, without controlling his breath and in that drill suppressing his mind in Dhyanayoga, a realizer has been enjoined to enjoy life within limits as per humanistic laws, and to replenish the taste of spiritual attainments by means of Shaivistic yoga which is simple and interesting. He has been exhorted to attend to worldly pursuits and simultaneously yoke himself to self-realization. Thus the Shaivistic path is a sure and a steady path with very little danger of degradation, because the conflict between matter and spirit his been avoided herein. The ultimate aim of Shaivism is self-dependence in each and every respect, which aim can be achieved in the realization of God-consciousness.

It is very unfortunate that such a complete and developed system of philosophy making a happy compromise between Immanence and Transcendence, Self and Super-self, Finite and Infinite, domain of man and kingdom of Heaven, has not so far become known to the whole of the world. Future shall have to make amends for this inexcusable lapse by propagating this school of thought with pronounced meaningfulness.

Sri Vaisnav philosophy

October 21, 2013

The philosophy of Sri Vaishnavism is known in Sanskrit as Visistadvaita. The term literally means “non-duality of Reality as characterized by attributes.” As a classical expression of Vedanta (the philosophical basis for much of Hinduism), the goal of Visistadvaita philosophy is to understand and experience Brahman, the One Blissful Reality who is the all-pervasive ground and sustenance of the universe — the string upon whom all pearls are threaded. The “pearls”, individual beings and matter, are inseparable attributes of the Supreme Person, modes of Its existence.

To the devout Sri Vaishnava, the religious concept of Brahman is best expressed by the term “God”. Brahman is Infinite, not just in physical terms, but in metaphysical and qualitative terms. Brahman is the absolutely real abode of all consciousness. He is infinitely auspicious, infinitely blissful, supremely gracious, infinitely merciful, infinitely beautiful — in fact, infinitely infinite. The relationship between God and the universe is one of love, as all this is but a conscious emanation from Him. We are to Him as a child is to a parent, as a friend is to a friend, and as a beloved is to a lover.

Brahman also stands in relation to the universe and the individual souls as the Self of each, providing the basis for their reality. As such, Brahman has matter and individual souls as His body, and is therefore the Supreme Being in whom all reality is comprehended. All that we see is but a spilling from the plenitude of His glorious, all-pervasive essence. This is why the favorite devotional name for God among Sri Vaishnavas is Narayana — He in whom all beings rest.

Sri Ramanuja wrote nine works 2 in Sanskrit on the philosophy of Visishtadvaita. Of these, the Vedartha-sangraha occupies a unique place inasmuch as this work takes the place of a commentary on the Upanishads, though not in a conventional sense or form. The work mirrors a total vision of the Upanishads, discussing all the controversial texts in a relevent, coherent manner. It is in fact an independent exposition of the philosophy of the Upanishads. Prof. M. Hiriyanna describes it as “an independent treatise explaining in a masterly way his philosophic position, and pointing out the basis for it in the Upanishads.”

Sudarsana Suri, the celebrated commentator on the Sri-bhashya and the Vedartha-sangraha, says that the work was expounded in the form of a lecture before Lord Srinivasa at Tirumalai

Thus it is his testament at the feet of the Lord whom he served throughout his life. Sri Ramanuja refers to this work more than once in his Sri-bhashya.

The Vedartha-sangraha is written in a lucid, vigorous prose without the usual divisions of chapters, but the structure of the thesis is developed in a scientific manner. Sri Ramanuja refers in this work to ancient teachers of theistic tradition, Bodhayana, Tanka, Dramida, Guhadeva, Kapardin and Bharuci, besides his own teacher, Sri Yamunacharya.

Tanka and Dramida are quoted profusely to support his interpretation. He takes abundant help from the Brahma-Sutras, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Vishnu Purana, the Manu Smrti and other genuine smrtis in the exposition of his philosophy.

At the outset Sri Ramanuja states that the Upanishads, which lay down the welfare of the whole world, move around three fundamental notions:
‪1.‬A seeker must acquire a true knowledge of the individual self and the Supreme;
‪2.‬he must devote himself to meditation, worship and the adoration of the Supreme; 3.‬this knowledge with discipline leads him to the realization of the Supreme.

To put it briefly, the first affirms the tattva or the nature of the Reality, the second declares the hita or the means, and the third states the purushartha or the ideal of human endeavour. A chief difficulty in understanding the meaning of the Upanishads arises in determining the relation of Brahman to the individual self on the one hand, and to the non-sentient world on the other. There are some texts which declare that the world is only an appearance in the ultimate analysis. There are other texts which affirm that the world is not an appearance, but real and distinct.

Bhartrprapanca, who was anterior to Sri Sankara, held that the self and the universe are identical with and different from Brahman, the triad constituting a unity in variety. That is to say that the reality is at once one as Brahman and many as the self and the world. For example, an ocean consists of water, foam, waves, etc. As the water is real, so also are the foam, waves, etc. The world, which is a part and parcel of Brahman, is necessarily real. The import of all this is that according to this view the Upanishads teach the eternal difference and identity between Brahman on the one hand, and the self and the world on the other
Sri Sankara rejects the view of Bhatrprapanca, because mutually contradictory attributes cannot be predicated of one and the same thing. According to Sri Sankara the passages which affirm manifoldness and reality of the world do not embody the essential teaching of the Upanishads. It is a concession made to the empirical view that demands a real world having causal connection with time-space. Since variety is but an appearance having no foundation in the ultimate Reality, the true essential doctrine of the Upanishads, according to him, is only pure unity. The individual self is nothing but Brahman itself appearing as finite due to limiting adjuncts which are superimposed on it.

Sri Ramanuja also attempts to systamatize the philosophy of the Upanishads, taking the cue from the ancient theistic philosophers. He recognises three lines of thought in the Upanishads concerning the relation between Brahman, the self and the world: 1.‬Passages which declare difference of nature between the world, the self and Brahman. Here the world is the non-sentient matter (acit) which is the object of experience, the self is the experiencing conscious subject (cit), and Brahman, the absolute ruling principle.These may be named analytical texts. 2.‬Passages which teach that Brahman is the inner self of all entities which constitute his body. For instance, “He who dwells in the earth and within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, and who rules the earth within, he is thy Self, the ruler within, the immortal” etc. (Br. III, vii, 3–23). These are called ghataka-srutis or mediating texts. ‪3.‬Passages which proclaim the unity of Brahman with the world in its causal as well as effected aspect. The famous text, ‘That thou art, O Svetaketu’ (Cha. VI 2–8) comes under this category. These may be termed as synthetic passages. Sri Ramanuja lays down that the interpretation of the various passages must be such that they are not made to contradict each other, and not a single passage should be so interpreted as to be divested of its primary significance.

The first group of texts distinguishes Brahman from the world and the individual selves. In a way it emphasizes the transcendent character of Brahman.

The second group of texts declares Brahman to be the inner self of all entities. Neither the individual self nor the world can exist by itself. They are inseparably connected with Brahman as his body, and thus are controlled by him. These texts teach duality in so far as distinction is made between body and self, and unity in so far as the self, the substantive element, predominates over and controls the body, its attribute.

The last group of texts aim at proclaiming the non-dual character of Brahman who alone constitutes the ultimate Reality. The self and the world, though distinct from each other and real, have a different value. They only exist as a mode or attribute of Brahman. They are comprehended in the reality of Brahman. They exist because Brahman exists.

On this principle of interpretation, Sri Ramanuja recognizes that the passages declaring distinction between Brahman, the world and the self, and those affirming Brahman to be the same in the causal as well as effected aspects, do not in any way contradict the mediating passages which declare that the individual selves and the world form the body of Brahman, and they in their causal state do not admit the distinction of names and forms while in the effected state they possess distinct character. The notion of unity may be illustrated by the example, “A purple robe.” Here purpleness is quite different from robe. The latter is a substance while the former is an attribute. This integral and essential relation is not found in the case of a man wearing a wrist-watch. If the former relation is inseparable (apṛthaksiddhi), the latter is separable and external. A word signifying attribute does not stop after denoting the usual meaning, but extends till it reaches the substantive. This is the true significance of an attribute. The individual selves and the world constitute the body of Brahman who is their inner self. Brahman is the integral principle without whom neither the self nor the world can exist. Hence all names finally denote him.

The way in which Sri Ramanuja interprets the famous text, ‘That thou art’ (tat tvam asi) is unique. This is done by means of co-ordinate predication (sâmânâdhikâraṇya). In a co-ordinate predication the identity of the substantive should not be established through the rejection of the natural significance of co-ordinate terms. The identical import of terms taken in their natural signification should be brought out. The Mahabhashya of Patanjali defines co-ordinate predication thus: “The signification of an identical entity by several terms which are applied to that entity on different grounds is co-ordinate predication.”

In such a proposition the attributes not only should be distinct from each other but also different from the substance, though inseparable from it. In the illustration of a “purple robe”, the basic substance is one and the same, though “purpleness” and “robeness” are different from it as well as from each other. That is how the unity of a “purple robe” is established. In the co-ordinate predication asserting identity between “that” and “thou”, Brahman himself with the self as his mode, having the self as his body, is pointed out.

The term “thou” which usually stands for the self here stands for Brahman (“that”) who is the indweller of the self and of whom the self is the mode as a constituent of his body. The term “thou” does not mean the physical body or the individual self. Since Brahman has interpenetrated all matter and self, “thou” signifies Brahman in the ultimate analysis. The term “that” signifies Brahman himself as the ground of the universe and the soul of all individual selves. Hence in the identity of “that” and “thou” there is no rejection of the specific connotation of the co-ordinate terms. The upshot of the dictum is that the individual selves and the world, which are distinct and real attributes, are comprehended in Brahman. Brahman as the inner self of the jiva and Brahman as the ground of the universe are one. The central principle is that whatever exists as an attribute of a substance, that being inseparable from the substance is one with that substance.

Thus Sri Ramanuja upholds all the three streams of thoughts in the Upanishads, namely, unity, plurality and both. He himself clinches the argument:
We uphold unity because Brahman alone exists with all other entities as his modes. We uphold both unity and plurality, as the one Brahman himself has all the physical and spiritual entities as his modes and thus exists qualified by a plurality. We uphold plurality as the three entities — the individual selves, the world and the supreme Lord — are mutually distinct in their substantive nature and attributes and there is no mutual transposition of their characteristics.

The summum bonum is the vision of the supreme Person, known as Brahman or Sriman-Narayana. The chief obstacle in the path towards perfection is the accumulation of evil tendencies. These can be destroyed only by the cultivation of good tendencies. This is followed by self-surrender which generates an inclination towards life divine. Then one has to acquire the knowledge of the Reality from the scriptures aided by the holy teachers. Then the practice of virtues like the control of mind and sense, austerity, purity, non-violence, compassion, etc., becomes easy. Nitya and naimittika duties are to be performed, and prohibited actions are to be avoided, the whole conduct being conceived as the worship of God. God, the embodiment of love and compassion, showers his grace on the aspirant, which puts an end to all his obstacles. Finally bhakti rises which is an enjoyment of bliss in itself. Bhakti is but meditation which has assumed the character of the most vivid and direct perception of the Supreme.

Yamunacharya, declares that bhakti succeeds the twofold training of the mind by karma and jnana. Karma-yoga is performance of duties of one’s station in life with no thought of reaping any personal benefit in the spirit of the Gita’s teachings. Karma that is performed in this manner cleanses the heart. Jnana-yoga, which immediately follows the previous discipline, is meditation upon the individual self as distinct from matter like body, mind, etc., with which it is associated. It helps the aspirant to determine the true nature of one’s self in relation to the Supreme. He realizes that he is absolutely subservient to God.

The discipline does not stop with the knowledge of one’s self alone. It is incomplete without the knowledge of God.

Here the word bhakti does not connote the popular sense in which it is understood. Bhakti-yoga is loving meditation upon God. When the meditation attains the form of “firm remembrance” (dhruva-anusmriti) characterised by intense love, the vision of the Supreme is attained. It must be mentioned here that the final release is attained after the dissolution of the body. One endowed with such bhakti and self-surrender attains the fitness to earn the grace of the Lord. This bhakti itself is upasana or vidya mentioned in the Upanishads. It is same as knowledge spoken of in the srutis: “One who knows Brahman attains the Supreme,” (Tai. II.1), “He who knows him becomes immortal here,” (Pu. 20), and “He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman,” (Mu. 3.2.9). As the vision of the Supreme is not possible through ordinary means of perception, he can be seen only through bhakti, which is a unique form of knowledge. This is in consonance with the Gita declaration, “I am attainable only through undivided bhakti” (9.54).

It was already mentioned that the ideal to be realized is the vision of the Supreme. It is an experience of absolute peace, perfection, bliss and freedom, untouched by the cosmic limitations of space and time. Sri Ramanuja is accused of having given a “picturesque description” of the ideal realm. But a little insight into the spirit of his writings reveals that the ideal is not such a fairyland as it is made out to be. The domain, he points out, is of the nature of pure immutable sattva. It is transcendent without the taints of the material gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas. Similarly the individual self also, in the state of moksa, gives up its material body and assumes a transcendent form. The substance of suddha sattva is common to God, the self and the realm of the ideal known as nitya-vibhūti. The first chapter of the Kausitaki Upanishad gives a figurative account of the pilgrim’s progress till he reaches the feet of God.

The individual self is the essence of knowledge. This knowledge in its attributive aspect (dharma-bhuta-jnana) gets more or less contracted in samsara, but it expands infinitely in the state of moksa. It becomes all-knowing and enjoys perfect bliss and love in divine communion. In short it is an ineffable enjoyment. In this natural state it yields its spirit to the will, glory and adoration of God. Ramanuja characterises this state as ‘ananya-prayojana’, having no other end except itself. In this ideal place there is no break in the enjoyment of divine communion.

Sri Ramanuja is not unaware of the criticism that there is subservience to and dependence upon God in his conception of moksa, The critics say that subordination in any form cannot conduce to the joy of self. The divine fetters are not less strong to bind. Further Manu says that servitude is a dog’s life. Sri Ramanuja effectively meets this criticism in his characteristic way. He enunciates a principle “that what an individual pursues as a desirable end depends upon what he conceives himself to be.”

Different people pursue different and mutually conflicting values. Hence the notion that independence is happiness proceeds from the misconception that one is identical with the body, mind, etc. This attachment to the body is a sort of dependence itself. Instead of dependence on God, it is dependence on matter. The metaphysical fact is that he is not the body, and consequently there must be something else with which his self is related. There cannot be relation of the principal entity and the subsidiary (sesin and sesa) between any finite objects. The only object with which such a relation can exist is God. Hence dependence on anything other than God is painful andsubservience to God is joy and freedom. Similarly bondage is indeed a dog’s life when one serves those who are unworthy of service. The only entity which is worthy of love, adoration and service is God. Sri Ramanuja clinches the issue by quoting a text, “He is to be served by all.”13 The emancipation consists in service of God, and true bondage is independence of God and service of body.

(From Vedartha-sangraha of Sri Ramanujacarya, English translation by S.S. Raghavachar, Foreword by Swami Adidevananda, Mysore: Ramakrishna Ashrama, 1978.)

Gaudiya vaishnav philosophy

October 21, 2013

Living beings

According to Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, consciousness is not a product of matter, but is instead a symptom of the soul. All living beings (jivas), are distinct from their current body – the nature of the soul being eternal, immutable, and indestructible without any particular beginning or end. Souls which are captivated by the illusory nature of the world (Maya) are repeatedly reborn among the various (8 400 000 in number) species of life on this planet and on other worlds in accordance to the laws of karma and individual desire. This is consistent with the concept of samsara found throughout Hindu belief. Release from the process of samsara (known as moksha) is believed to be achievable through a variety of yoga processes. However, within Gaudiya Vaishnavism it is bhakti in its purest state (or “pure love of God”) which is given as the ultimate aim, rather than liberation from the cycle of rebirth.Supreme Person (God) Svayam Bhagavan

Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that God has many forms and names, but that the name “Krishna” is the ‘fullest’ description because it means “He who is all-attractive”, covering all of God’s aspects, such as being all-powerful, supremely merciful and all-loving. God is worshiped as the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful and all-attractive Supreme Person. Names of God from other religious traditions, such as Allah and Jehovah, are also accepted as bonafide titles of the same Supreme Person.
One of the defining aspects of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is that Krishna is worshiped specifically as the source of all Avataric incarnations of God. This is based on quotations from the Bhagavata Purana, such as “krsnas tu bhagavan svayam”, translated as “Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead” and from the Bhagavad Gita where Arjuna, when speaking to Krishna, states: “You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala and Vyasa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”
Krishna is described elsewhere as the “seed-giving father of all living beings” and is worshiped within the Gaudiya tradition literally, as such – Krishna being the “sustaining energy of the universe”.

Inconceivable oneness and difference Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, (Krishna), svayam bhagavan and also between God and his energies[4] within the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition. In Sanskrit achintya means ‘inconceivable’, bheda translates as ‘difference’, and abheda translates as ‘one-ness’. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement’s theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu[5](1486 – 1534) and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas. It can be best understood as integration of strict dualist (Dvaita) view of Madhvacharya and qualified monism Vishishtadvaita of Ramanujacharya while rejecting absolute monism Advaita of Adi Sankara. This philosophy is particularly distinct part of the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy espoused by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the context of the soul’s relationship with Krishna, and also Krishna’s relationship with his other energies (i.e. the material world). In quality, the soul (jiva) is described as being identical to God, but in terms of quantity individual jivas are said to be infinitesimal in comparison to the unlimited Supreme Being. The exact nature of this relationship (being simultaneously one and different with Krishna) is inconceivable to the human mind, but can be experienced through the process of Bhakti yoga.
This philosophy serves as a meeting of two opposing schools of Hindu philosophy, pure monism (God and the soul as one entity) and pure dualism (God and the soul as absolutely separate). In practice Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy has much more in common with the dualistic schools, as Krishna is worshiped as a Supreme person.
Caitanya’s philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva completed the progression to devotional theism. Rāmānuja had agreed with Śankara that the Absolute is one only, but he had disagreed by affirming individual variety within that oneness. Madhva had underscored the eternal duality of the Supreme and the Jīva: he had maintained that this duality endures even after liberation. Caitanya, in turn, specified that the Supreme and the jīvas are “inconceivably, simultaneously one and different” (acintya-bheda-abheda). He strongly opposed Śankara’s philosophy for its defiance of Vyāsadeva’s siddhānta.— (Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Readings in Vedic Literature: The Tradition Speaks for Itself, Chapter 5)

Theological tenet of achintya-bheda-abheda tattva reconciles the mystery that God is simultaneously “one with and different from His creation”. In this sense Vaishnava theology is not pantheistic as in no way does it deny the separate existence of God (Vishnu) in His own personal form. However, at the same time, creation (or what is termed in Vaishnava theology as the ‘cosmic manifestation’) is never separated from God. He always exercises supreme control over his creation. Sometimes directly, but most of the time indirectly through his different potencies or energies (Prakrti). Examples are given of a spider and its web; earth and plants that come forth and hair on the body of human being.
“One who knows God knows that the impersonal conception and personal conception are simultaneously present in everything and that there is no contradiction. Therefore Lord Caitanya established His sublime doctrine: acintya bheda-and-abheda-tattva — simultaneous oneness and difference.” (A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)
The analogy often used as an explanation in this context in the relationship between the Sun and the Sunshine. For example both the sun and sunshine are part of the same reality, but there is a great difference between having a beam of sunshine in your room, and being in close proximity to the sun itself. Qualitatively the Sun and the Sunshine are not different, but as quantities they are very different. This analogy is applied to the living beings and God – the Jiva being of a similar quality to the Supreme being, but not sharing the qualities to an infinite extent, as would the Personality of Godhead himself. Thus there is a difference between the souls and the Supreme Lord.

Difference in concept to Advaita Vedanta
It is clearly distinguished from the concept of anirvacaniya (inexpressible) of Advaita Vedanta. There is a clear difference between the two concepts as the two ideas arise for different reasons. Advaita concept is related to the ontological status of the world, whereas both Svayam bhagavan and his shaktis (in Lord himself and his powers) are fully real, and they are different from each other, but at the same time they are the same. But that does not negate the reality of both. Mayavadi concept is a direct opposite and a contradicting concept to an early Krishna-theism.
Exceptions: While it applied to relations between Purusha (the Lord) and Prakriti (be it material, marginal, or spiritual powers), in the theology of the concept there are areas of exceptions. Jiva Goswami also accepts that any object and its energy are non-different, such as fire and power of burning. While some maintain that its only a secondary extension of the principle that it is primarily applied to Svayam bhagavan and His energies. It does not, however, apply to differences between Avatars of Svayam bhagavan and Lord Himself, so the difference between Vishnu and His origin, is not covered by the concept of acintya bhedabheda, i.e. it cannot be applied in cases where different levels of Purusha are compared.

Vaishnavism: An overview

October 21, 2013

Vaishnavism (Sanskrit: वैष्णव धर्म, [Vəishnavə d̪hərma]) is one of the major branches of Hinduism along with Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism. It is focused on the veneration of Supreme Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavites, or the followers of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, lead a way of life promoting differentiated monotheism (henotheism), which gives importance to Lord Vishnu and his ten incarnations. The oldest religious Vedic text the Rigveda, describes Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Deity in Vishnu Sooktham (1.22.20):
“om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah— diviva caksur atatam” (“Just as the sun’s rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.”) “tad vipraso vipanyavo jagrvam sah samindhate
— visnor yat paramam padam” (“Because those highly praiseworthy and spiritually awake devotees are able to see the spiritual world, they are also able to reveal that supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.”)
In general, the Vaishnava Agamas describe Lord Vishnu as the “supreme being and the foundation of all existence.” This is explained in Katha Upanishad 2.2.13: nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam/ eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman, “the Supreme Being, the Personality of Godhead, is the chief living being amongst all living beings and grants the desires of all other eternal sentient beings”
Its beliefs and practices, especially the concepts of Bhakti and Bhakti Yoga, are based largely on the Upanishads, and associated with the Vedas and Puranic texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, and the Padma, Vishnu and Bhagavata Puranas.
Bhagavatism, early Ramaism and Krishnaism, merged in historical Vishnuism, a tradition of Historical Vedic religion, distinguished from other traditions by its primary worship of Vishnu.

Historical Vishnuism
The worship of Vishnu was already well developed in the period of the Itihasas. Vaishnavism is expounded in a part of the Mahabharata known as the Bhagavad Gita. Many of the ancient kings, beginning with Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) (375-413 CE) were known as Parama Bhagavatas, or Bhagavata Vaishnavas. Vaishnavism flourished in predominantly Shaivite South India during the seventh to tenth centuries CE, and is still commonplace, especially in Tamil Nadu, as a result of the twelve Alvars, saints who spread the sect to the common people with their devotional hymns. The temples which the Alvars visited or founded are now known as Divya Desams. Their poems in praise of Vishnu and Krishna in Tamil language are collectively known as Naalayira (Divya Prabandha). In later years Vaishnava practices increased in popularity due to the influence of sages like Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Vallabhacharya, Vedanta Desika, Manavala Mamunigal, Surdas, Tulsidas, eknath, Tyagaraja, and many others. In his The Religions of India, Edward Washburn Hopkins presents an accepted distinction as to the assumption that Vishnuism is associated with Vedic brahmanism, and was part of brahmanism. Krishnaism was adopted much later.Vaishnavism, is historically the first structured Vaishnava religion as “Vishnuism, in a word, is the only cultivated native sectarian native religion of India.”
Although it is usual to speak of Vishnu as the source of the Avatar, this is only one of the names by which the god of Vaishnavism is known. The other names include Narayana, Vasudeva and Krishna; each the name of a divine figure with attributed supremacy, which each associated tradition of Vaishnavism believes to be distinct. For example, in the Krishnaism branch of Vaishnavism, such as the Gaudiya Vaishnava, Nimbarka and Vallabhacharya traditions, devotees worship Krishna as the One Supreme form of God, and source of all avatars, Svayam Bhagavan, in contrast to the belief of the devotees of the Sri Sampradaya.

Principal beliefs

Supreme God
The principal belief of Vishnu-centered sects is the identification of Vishnu or Narayana as the one supreme God. This belief contrasts with the Krishna-centered traditions, such as Vallabha, Nimbaraka and Vallbha, in which Krishna is considered as the Supreme Lord Vishnu. The belief in the supremacy of Vishnu is based upon the many Avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu listed in the Puranic texts, which differs from other Hindu deities such as Ganesha, Surya or Durga. According to many Vaishnavites, the latter are instead classified as demi-gods or devas.
According to Ramayana, Rama, the seventh incarnation of God Vishnu, is believed to have prayed to Shiva in Rameshwaram. The primary deity of the temple is Ramanathaswamy (Shiva) in the form of lingam. However, Vaishnavites reject such claims quoting reasons from Valmiki Ramayan itself and also from other Vedic texts.
Lord Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan faith, differs with this view and holds that Vishnu and Shiva are different aspects of the same God.

Vaishnavas although follow a process of initiation (diksha), given by a guru, under whom they are trained to understand Vaishnava practices gives more importance to the acceptance of the Supremacy of Lord Vishnu by men and women. At the time of initiation, the disciple is traditionally given a specific mantra, which the disciple will repeat, either out loud or within the mind, as an act of worship to Vishnu or one of his avatars. The practice of repetitive prayer is known as japa. The system of receiving initiation and training from a guru is based on injunctions throughout the scriptures held as sacred within the Vaishnava traditions but is not mandatory:
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”(Bhagavad Gita)
“One who is initiated into the Vaishnava mantra and who is devoted to worshiping Lord Vishnu is a Vaishnava. One who is devoid of these practices is not a Vaishnava.”(Padma Purana)
The scriptures specific to the Gaudiya Vaishnava group also state that one who performs an act of worship as simple as chanting the name of Vishnu or Krishna can be considered a Vaishnava by practice: “Who chants the holy name of Krishna just once may be considered a Vaishnava. Such a person is worship-able and is the topmost human being.”(Chaitanya Charitamrita)

Attitude toward scriptures
Vaishnava traditions refer to the writings of previous acharyas in their respective lineage or sampradya (see below) as authoritative interpretations of scripture.
While many schools like Smartism and Advaitism encourage interpretation of scriptures philosophically and metaphorically and not too literally, Vaishnavism stresses the literal meaning (mukhya vritti) as primary and indirect meaning (gauda vritti) as secondary: sākshād upadesas tu shrutih – “The instructions of the shruti-shāstra should be accepted literally, without fanciful or allegorical interpretations.”

Vaishnava sampradayas (sects)
(Vaishnavite Brahmin students at a theological seminary in Tanjore. Source:The National Geographic Magazine, Nov 1909)
Within Vaishnavism there are four main disciplic lineages (sampradayas), each exemplified by a specific Vedic personality. The four sampradayas follow subtly different philosophical systems regarding the relationship between the soul (jiva) and God (Vishnu or Krishna), although the majority of other core beliefs are identical. 1. Lakshmi-sampradaya
Philosophy: Vishishtadvaita (“Qualified Monoism”), espoused by Chidachida Visishtam Ramanujacharya (See Sri Vaishnavism, Vaikhanasa, Ramanandi Sect, Swaminarayan. 2. Brahma sampradaya
Philosophies: Dvaita (“dualism”), espoused by Madhvacharya, and Achintya Bheda Abheda (literally “inconceivable difference and non-difference”). 3. Rudra sampradaya
Philosophy: Shuddhadvaita (“pure nondualism”), espoused by Vishnuswami and Vallabhacharya. 4. Kumara-sampradaya
Philosophy: Dvaitadvaita (“duality in unity”), espoused by Nimbarka.

Vaishnavism in South India
Broadly, Vaishnavas in South India can be classified as Brahmins and non-Brahmins.
Among the Brahmins the main groups are: 1.‬The Iyengars, who follow the Sri Vaishnava Vishistadvaita philosophy of Asuri Ramanujacharya. The Iyengars are further divided into the Vadakalai-i.e. the northern school, and Thenkalai or southern school. Both these sects adhere to the Pañcaratra agama, in temples. These two sects evolved about 200 years after Ramanuja and differ on 18 points of doctrine. The founder of the Vadagalai sect is Swami Vedanta Desika, and the Tengalai sect is Manavala Mamuni. But both schools have a common Guru Parampara prior to the division.
The Sri Vaishnavas use both the Sanskrit veda as well as the Tamil divyaprabandham in temple worship. ‪1.‬The Madhvas, who follow the Sadvaishnava Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya. ‪2.‬The Vaikhanasas, who are primarily an ancient community of temple priests, who use the Vaikhanasa Agama in temple worship. They use Sanskrit exclusively in temple worship.
Among the non-Brahmins, sections of various communities like the Chettiars and Mudaliars (Thuluva Vellalars)in Tamil Nadu and sections of the Kammas, Padmashalis, Reddys, Rajus and Haridasus in Andhra Pradesh and so on in other states are known as Vaishnavites. Some groups tend to be vegetarians like the Brahmins. In temple worship, a Vaikhanasa temple (like Tirumala), a Madhva temple (like Udupi), a Tengalai temple (like Melukote) and a Vadagalai temple (like Kanchipuram ) all have distinctly different rituals and customs with priests of that particular denomination who perform the worship. However all temples are popularly visited by all Vaishnavas as lay worshippers, as also members of various other denominations.
In Kerala, some communities call themselves Vaishnavas, especially the pisharodies and Gauda Saraswatha Brahmins and Embranthiries who settled in Kerala at a later phase of Brahmin Settlement. The Sagara Brahmins in and around Thiruvalla Sree Vallabha Vishnu Temple are also referred to as Vaisnavas accepting the Supremacy of Lord Vishnu.

Other branches and sects
Vaishnava Saint Kabir: On my tongue Vishnu, in my eyes Narayana, in my heart dwells Govinda.—Adi Granth, IV.XXV. Charan Dasi, founded by Charan Das a Dhusar of Dehra
Lalpanthi Sampradaya or Lal Dasi sect, founded by Laldas a Meo of Dhaoli Dub Madhwachari sect Mahapuruxiya Dharma, espoused by Sankardeva Mohan Panth
Nimbhawat sect
Pranami sect
The Ramanandi movement, begun by Ramananda
Ramawat sect
Vaisnava-Sahajiya, a tantric school

Tilaka styles
Vaishnavas mark their foreheads with tilaka, either as a daily ritual, or on special occasions. The different Vaishnava sampradayas each have their own distinctive style of tilaka, which depicts the siddhanta of their particular lineage. The general tilaka pattern is of a parabolic shape resembling the letter U or two or more connected vertical lines on and another optional line on the nose resembling the letter Y, which usually represents the foot of Vishnu and the lotus flower.


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