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CHAPTER VI : BONDAGE AND LIBERATION

CH A PT ER - V I

BONDAGE AND LIBERATION

1. Nature of Liberation :

T he con cept o f bondage and liberation o ccu p ies the position . I

suprem e im portance in different branches o f Indian philosophy as well o

literature. T h e vast m ass o f literature com prising the V e d ic , the Purame

together w ith different system s o f philosophy has em barked upon the ta^u

o f elucidating the nature o f liberation. A m o n g the four values o f life. \ i •

Dharma , Arlha , Kama and Moksa , the last one in regarded as the supreme

value by m ost o f the Indian philosophers. Moksa or liberation is the liigheM

goal o f human life. T he thinkers o f ancient India d evo ted their intellectual

resources to d isco v er the path leading to this ultimate goal o f human lif e

T he U panisad ic seers have pointed to this ultimate goal o f hum, !

life in so m any passages. But as it is not p ossible to describe the A bsoluu

R eality from the human point o f v ie w , so U panisads do not alwa;

describe p recisely the condition o f the ultimate liberation. G en erally m ti c

U panisads this ultim ate freedom is described as a state o f oneness wi I

Brahman or as the attainment o f Brahman (Brahmaprapti). Surendranam

D asgupta opines “ Em ancipation or Mukti m eans in the U panisads the stam

155
o f infiniteness that a man attains when he knows his own self and tmw

becomes Brahman.

In the Mundakopanisad it is said that the self becomes one will)

Brahman. The Sruti describes this with the example o f the bow and arrow

The Mundaka says, “ The Pranava or Omkara is the bow, the Atman is die

arrow and Brahman is said to be its mark. One should hit that mark be:mu

self-collected. And then one should become one with the mark (i e

Brahman) like the arrow.” Again it is said that all these become one in die
*1

highest imperishable Brahman. Just as the rivers entering into the sea

becomes one with the sea, similarly the self having attained Brahman

becomes one with it.*234 The Prashopanisad also says, “ He becomes merged

in the supreme un-decaying Atman. " 5 And again it is said, “ He becomes

omniscient and becomes all.” 6 He enters into all.7 This means that rw

liberated self becomes all things and enters into all things. This is possible

because the self is in reality, one with Brahman, the Absolute. In the

1. S.N. Dasgupta, A History o f Indian Philosophy, Vol. I, P. 58


2 pranavo dhanuh saro hyatma brahma tallaksyamucyate /
apramattena veddhavyam saravattanmayo bhavet // MU, 2.2.4
3 pare’vyaye sarva ekibhavanti // Ibid, 3.2.7 (b)
4 Ibid, 3.2.8 and PU, 6.5.
5 sa pare’ksara atmani sampratisthate // PU, 4.9
6 Ibid, 4.10
7 Ibid, 4.11

156
B r h a d a r a n y a k o p a n i s a d a ls o Y a jn a v a lk y a d e s c r ib e s th e sta te o l lib e r a * ;on.

a s th a t w h e r e n o d u a lity c a n r e m a in , e v e r y t h in g b e c o m e s A tm a n *

T h e U p a n is a d s a ls o a s se rts th a t th e k n o w le d g e o f th e s e lf le a o s

lib e r a tio n . B o n d a g e o r c e a s e le s s s e r ie s o f tr a n s m ig r a tio n is fo r o n e w l .< > :

ig n o r a n t. “ T h e w is e m a n h o w e v e r w h o h a s d iv e s te d h im s e lf o f a ll p a ss on>

a n d k n o w s h im s e lf to b e B r a h m a n , a t o n c e b e c o m e s B r a h m a n a n o no

b o n d a g e o f a n y k in d c a n e v e r a ffe c t h im . ” 9 T h e s e lf is id e n tic a l nh

B r a h m a n a y a m a t m a b r a h m a ' . 1 0 A ll s u ffe r in g s a re d u e to th e fa c t th a t the

in d iv id u a l s e lf d o e s n o t a p p re h e n d th is tru e n a tu re o f th e s e lf a s id e m ic a i

w ith B r a h m a n . O n ly th e tru e k n o w le d g e o f th e s e lf c a n d e s tr o y ignorance

a n d s a v e o n e fro m b o n d a g e . B u t fro m th e n u m e ro u s p a s s a g e s of the

U p a n is a d s it is c le a r th a t th e k n o w le d g e o f th e s e lf d o e s n o t p ro d u ct or

g e n e ra te lib e r a tio n ; it is lib e r a tio n its e lf. “ b r a h m a v e d a b r a h n u a v a

b h a v a t i ” u - O n e w h o k n o w s B r a h m a n b e c o m e s B r a h m a n . It is tne

r e a liz a tio n o f o n c e o w n n a tu r e th a t is c a lle d lib e r a tio n . T h e B r h a d a r a n w


m * - u s a

U p a n i s a d s a y s , “ T h e r e fo r e , h e w h o k n o w s it a s s u c h b e c o m e s s c i!

p o s s e s s e d , c a lm , w ith d r a w n in to h im s e lf, e n d u r in g a n d c o n c e n tra te d , and

8. s a y o ’ y a m a tm e d a m a m r ta m id a m b rah m ed am s a r v a m . B U , 2 .5 .1

9 . S .N . D a s g u p t a , A History of India Philosophy, V o l ., I, P . 5 8

1 0 . B U , 2 .5 .1 9

1 1 . M U , 3 .2 .9

1 5 7
12
s e e s th e s e l f in h is o w n s e lf (th e b o d y ); h e s e e s a ll a s th e s e lf.” L i b e r a l v r

is th e s la te o f u n lim ite d jo y , d e v o id o f a ll p a in s a n d s u ffe r in g s , " lie \ m

k n o w s th e s e lf o v e r c o m e s s o r r o w . ” 13 In th e U p a n is a d s , lib e r a tio n i s ; o t

re g a rd e d a s s o m e th in g n e w , w h ic h is to b e a tta in e d . It is n o t a rov

a c q u is itio n o r a n e w p ro d u c t. “ F o r e v e r y th in g th a t c o m e s to b e is t r a n s i e n t ;

th a t w h ic h fro m n o th in g n e s s b e c a m e s o m e th in g m a y a ls o re tu rn b a c k f r o m

b e in g s o m e th in g in to its n o th in g n e s s . ” 14 M u k t i is th e re fo re , n o t a n e w

b e g in n in g b u t th e p e r c e p tio n o f th a t w h ic h e x is te d fro m e te r n ity .

A lm o s t a ll th e s y s te m s o f I n d ia n P h ilo s o p h y e x c e p t C a r v a i m s

d is c u s s a b o u t th e sta te o f b o n d a g e a n d lib e r a tio n . A c c o r d in g to them,

ig n o r a n c e o f r e a lity is th e ro o t c a u s e o f o u r b o n d a g e a n d s u f f e r i n g s

B o n d a g e m e a n s th e p ro c e s s o f b ir th a n d r e b ir th a n d th e c o n s e q u e n t

s u ffe r in g s o f in d iv id u a ls . L ib e r a tio n o n th e o th e r h a n d m e a n s a c o m p le te

c e s s a tio n o f th is w o r ld p ro c e s s . A c c o r d in g to a ll th e s y s te m s o f I n d i a n

p h ilo s o p h y , e x c e p t C a r v a k a , lib e r a tio n is th e s u p re m e e n d o f h u m a n l ie

B u t th o u g h th e p h ilo s o p h e r s h a v e a c c e p te d lib e r a tio n a s th e s u p re m e aim

o f h u m a n life , y e t r e g a r d in g th e n a tu re o f th is lib e r a tio n th e y d iffe r a m o n g

th e m s e lv e s . C a r v a k a s d o n o t a c c e p t lib e r a tio n . A c c o r d in g to th e m t h e r e is

12. BU, 4.4.23.


13. tarati sokamatmaviditi // CU, 7.1.3
14 Paul Deussen, The philosophy of the Upanisads, P.344
158
no meaning of the term liberation, liberation is nothing but the death oi die

physical body - dehasya nas'o muktih, 15 They believe that the maximum o'

pleasure with minimum of pain is the highest good. Wealth and pleasure

are the summum bonum of life. 16

According to the Jainas, the root cause of bondage is k a r m a n I he

karmans obstruct the various capacities of the self and keep it tied to die

wheel of worldly existence. However, in Jainism the concept of karman is

somewhat different from that of other systems of Indian philosopii>

According to the Jainas, karman is material. Karmans are the sumle

particles of matter {pudgala)}%The Jainas maintain that the intermixt ure

of the karmans with the self is at the root of all evil. In the state of

bondage, the intrinsically pure and perfect self becomes impure and

imperfect and its many capacities like consciousness, vision, knowledge

energy, bliss etc. are obstructed by different types of karman. As the sell

comes under bondage because of its contact with karman, it is inevitable

that the self attains liberation as a result of its dissociation from it. Hie

Jainas prescribe right attitude, right knowledge and right conduct as he

15. Sarvadarsana Samgraha, P. 7


16. Ibid, P.2
17. Studies in Jaina Philosophy, T. Nathmal, P. 221
18. Ibid, 226

159
path to liberation. 19 According to the Jainas, all these three mu .1 k

combined to produce liberation. Samyagdarsana means sincere belief 11

the doctrines propagated by the Jaina sages. Samyagjndna is the conec

knowledge o f all the categories spoken o f by the Jaina s;'lies.

Samyagcaritra implies the observance o f the five vows, viz., ahimsa or

non-violence, sunrta or truthfulness, asteya or non- stealing, brahmac.vr</

or celibacy and aparigraha or non-possion.20 After the absolute separai on

of karmart from the soul the jiv a attains liberation. Jainas recognize "<uu

infinites’ , viz., infinite knowledge, infinite vision, infinite bliss and infinite

power. According to them, liberation is a state o f perfection md

attainment o f these four infinites by the self. When the self is freed l t >m

the karma it moves upward and reaches the summit o f the mundane

space. It resides there forever.

The Buddhists, though uphold the theory of not sail

(nairatmyavada) also believe in liberation. The Buddhists use the term

1nirvana'

to mean liberation. The term nirvana

means extinction. Hem <,

nirvana is described negatively in the Buddhists works. According;

nirvana is the end o f suffering, the extinction o f desire, destruction of

✓ ~ - / . *■
19. samyag darsana jnana caritrani moksamargah. Sarbadarsana Samgrali, P. 68
20. Cf. Ibid, P.71
21. Cf. Ibid, P. 88
22. Ibid

160
greed, hate, delusion etc. All possibilities o f rebirth in any form m

stopped in nirvana. Nirvana is declared in the Buddhist scriptures is

changeless, eternal, immutable and a state o f immortality.2' 1k

Dhammapada states that one who attains Nirvana, attains immortality

The Buddhists also say that nirvana is a state o f bliss. Thus Buddhists co

not always describe nirvana as a negative state, rather, in their view, it is a

positive state. The Buddha has declared it as a state o f highest frecdem.


Oft
bliss, great peace, immortality and moral perfection.

Leaving aside the Nastika systems, we now propose to discuss vvrv


briefly the concept o f liberation in six Astika systems. Liberation in ail

these systems means the realization o f the real nature o f the self. But .is

different philosophers conceive the nature o f the self differently, so the


nature o f liberation also differs from system to system. Generally the state
o f liberation is conceived as a state free from suffering, a state where on
can realize ones true nature.

Among the orthodox philosophers the Nyaya-Vaisesika maintain

that liberation is freedom from pain. In their view, liberation is complex

23. Buddhist Philosophy in India and Ceylon, A.B. Keith, P.61


24. Dhammapada, Verse, 114
25. Ibid, 203
26. Early Monistic Buddhism, N. Datta, P. 280
27. Nyaya Bhdsya, 1.1.9

161
c e s s a t i o n o f e f f o r t , a c t i v i t y a n d c o n s c i o u s n e s s . I n l i b e r a t i o n , t h e s e l f o n l y

e x i s t s b e i n g d e v o i d o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s a n d b l i s s . A c c o r d i n g t o t h e N y h \ a

V a i s e s i k a , c o n s c i o u s n e s s i s a q u a l i t y ( g u n a ) o f t h e s e l f a n d i s p r o d u c e d b \

t h e r e a c t i o n o f t h e s e l f t o o r g a n i c n a t u r e . A n d w h a t e v e r i s c a u s e d c a n n o t b e

e t e r n a l . H e n c e , c o n s c i o u s n e s s c a n n o t r e m a i n i n t h e l i b e r a t e d s c i '

L i b e r a t i o n i s a l s o n o t a s t a t e o f p l e a s u r e o r j o y . P l e a s u r e i s a l w a y s

a s s o c i a t e d w i t h p a i n . M o r e o v e r , i f i t i s s a i d t h a t t h e l i b e r a t e d s e l f e m o s s

e v e r l a s t i n g p l e a s u r e , t h e n i t m u s t a l s o b e s a i d t h a t t h e s e l f s h o u l d h a v e a n

e v e r l a s t i n g b o d y , s i n c e e x p e r i e n c i n g i s n o t p o s s i b l e w i t h o u t t h e boJih

m e c h a n i s m .30 T h e N y a y a - V a i s e s i k a s c o m p a r e t h e s t a t e o f p u r e e x i s t e n c e

a t t a i n e d b y t h e l i b e r a t e d s e l f t o t h e s t a t e o f d e e p d r e a m l e s s s l e e p .31

I n t h e v i e w o f t h e S a r h k h y a - Y o g a t h e s e l f o r P u r u s a i s c o n s c i o u s

a n d p u r e .32 B o n d a g e d o e s n o t b e l o n g t o P u r u s a a s i t i s e v e r f r e e . T h e r e is

o n l y a f a l s e s e n s e o f b o n d a g e d u e t o n o n - d i s c r i m i n a t i o n b e t w e e n P u r u s a

a n d P r a k r t i . T h e S a m k h y a s s a y t h a t b o n d a g e i s n o t h i n g b u t t h e f a l s e s e n s e

o f i d e n t i t y o f t h e s e l f w i t h t h e m o d e o f b u d d h i .33 B u d d h i t h e f i r s t e v o l u t e o !

2 8 . N y a y a M d h ja r i, P . 7 7

2 9 . C f. N y a y a s u tr a , 3 .2 . 7 3 - 7 8

3 0 . N y a y a v a r tik a , 1 .1 .2 2

3 1 . s u s u p ta s y a s v a p n a d a r s a n e k le s a b h a v a d a p a v a r g a h // Ib id , 4 .1 .6 3

3 2 . S K , 1 9 ,2 0 ; C f. S a m k h y a ta ttv a k a u m u d i o n it.

3 3 . Ib id , 6 2 ; S a m k h y a ta ttv a k a u m u d i o n it.

162
Prakrti and the Purusa are different, but because of ignorance a seeming

unity between the two is wrongly established and consequently, sorrow-

and sufferings, pain and misery, which really belong to buddhi, appea: to

follow Purusa from birth to birth. Hence, ignorance is the cause ol

bondage and removal of ignorance will lead one to freedom.31 '! he

Samkhyas describe three kinds of bondage, (i) Natural (ii) Evolutional and

(iii) Personal.35 Complete isolation of the Purusa from Prakrti is the stale

of liberation. Classical Samkhya says that liberation is attainable only after

passing beyond the range of three gunas. A.K. Lad remarks that “ 1he

original Samkhya view, viz, the increase of sattvaguna is the liberation

viewed from the standpoint of morality and the classical Samkhya view

viz., to pass beyond the range of three gunas, is the liberation viewed from

the angle of metaphysics.”36

The Samkhyists maintain that only discriminative knowledge can

lead one to liberation. Mukti, in this view also means escape from

suffering or the removal of various kinds of sufferings, which afflict a

person. Discriminative knowledge again is attained through tattvabhyasa

34. Ibid, 44
35. Gaudapada Bhasya on Ibid.
36. A.K. Lad, A comparative study o f the concept o f Liberation in Indian Philosophy
P. 104
37. Cf. vyaktavyaktajnavijnanat. SK, 2

163
Dr. Anima Sengupta points out, “It is necessary, therefore, that through

tattvabhyasa, we should form in buddhi, the true conception of the nature

of Purusa and then with the help of this saving knowledge, we shall lie

able to attain liberation from the sorrows and sufferings of this world."'

Regarding liberation the Samkhya view is also supported by Yoga

system. Rechard Grabe observes that “The ultimate goal of human

aspiration according to that text book (referring to the Yoga Sutras) is -ml

union with or absorption in God, but exactly what it is in the Samkhva

philosophy, the absolute isolation (Kaivalya) of the sole from matter.”' 9 As

a practical means of liberation the Yoga system prescribes eight limbs,

viz., yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, dharand and

samadhi40 The Samkhya Philosophers also accept these yogic practices for

attaining immediate knowledge of the self

According to the Samkhya-Yoga the self in liberation possesses

consciousness but it is devoid of bliss or happiness. As Purusa is free fn >m

all attributes, so bliss or ananda cannot also remain in liberated selves.4

38. Classical Samkhya: A Critical Study, Dr. Anima Sengupta, P. 166


39. Rachard Grabe, The Philosophy o f Ancient India, P. 15
40. yamaniyamasana pranayama pratyahara dharana dhyana samadhaya’stavangani i<

YS, 2.29
41. Sdmkhyapravacanasulra, 5. 82

164
In the view of the Advaita Vedantins, liberation means k

realization of the true nature of the individual self as absolutely identic-:.!

with Brahman. This is of the nature of unsurpassable bliss, since i e

essence of Brahman is bliss.42 The negative interpretation of liberation pais

it as the complete cessation of all pains and sorrows.43 Avidya, which

conceals the true nature of Brahman, is the cause of all pains and sorrow-.

When avidya is destroyed by right knowledge, all pains and sorrows cat-

destroyed.44 According to the Advaita Vedantins, the self is eternally f - e

and bondage of the self is not real. It is ignorance that conceals the r vl

nature of the self as eternally free, as a result of which the individual s - l

thinks itself to be bound. Liberation consists in the removal of this ajhan i

and revelation is the re-affirmation (praptaprapti) of the truth that exi u

from beginning less time, it is not anything new.45

2. Liberation in the Puranas :

Like most of the systems of India philosophy the Puranas especial K

the Vaisnavite ones maintain that avidya or ignorance is the cause of

42. anadatmakabralimavaptisca moksah. Vedantaparibhasa, PP. 292-293


43. sokanivrttisca. Ibid

44. avidyastamayo moksa sa ca bandhah udahrtah, Brahmasiddhi, Mandana Misra.P. i ’


45. evam praptasyapyanandasya praptih parihrtasya pyanarthasya nivrttirmoksa.

Vedantaparibhasa, P. 294

165
bondage of the jiva (individual sell). Avidya causes difference uul

transmigration.46 Hence, liberation consists in the destruction of m

ignorance. Ignorance can be destroyed by right knowledge only. With fie

destruction of ignorance the true nature of the self is revealed. ' lie

realization of the jiva's true nature is liberation.47 The Bhdgavata Purana

also describes liberation as the realization of the real nature of the sell tnd

discarding the false nature.48

In the Bhagavata Purana five types of liberation are e n u m e ia o <i

These are: sdlokya , sarsti, sdmipya, sarupya and sayujya.w Sd/okya me.ms

residing in the same loka with the supreme lord in all divine attribuvv

Sarsti means attainment of the divine powers equal to the Lord. Sami;” a

implies proximity to God and sarupya means attaining the same form a

Isvara. Sdyujya is the highest form of liberation and means the attainn mu

of unity with God. The Purana also propounds that the world i a

production of maya and is not real. The jiva thinks himself to be the d >a

of all actions, which are actually done by Prakrti. The wise jiva does ■»

identify with the objects of senses. Avidya or ignorance causes bond; ee

46. BP. 3.25.15 and NP, 1.47.4


47. NP. 1.33.31

48. niuktirhilvanyatharupam svarupena vyavasthitih // BP. 2.10.6


49. salokyasarstisamipyasarupyaikatvamapyiita /
divamanaiii na urhnanti vina matsevanam janah // Ibid. 3.29.13

166
while vic/yci or knowledge leads to liberation.50 Hence, the jiv a shornd

acquire knowledge of discrimination. The supreme knowledge remo

ignorance together with its products, viz., the physical body, mind and Ik

like. As a result the self realizes its true nature as everlasting bliss."

3. Liberation in the Visnu


• •
Purana

:

As regards the problem of bondage and liberation the Visnu Parana

agrees with the Advaitic concept. In the sixth part of the Visnu Purana m

the narrative of Khandikya and Kesidhvaja we find elaborate d is c u s s io n s

of bondage and liberation. According to this Purana, bondage consists m

the wrong perception of the not self as the self. The cause of bondage and

transmigration is nothing but avidyd or ignorance. The nature of a n a a

consists in the cognition that the not self is the self (anatm ani atmaman)

and in the notion of property in what is not one’s own (asve svam iti man i

These are the two seeds of the tree of ignorance.' The body is composed

of five elements, viz., ether, air fire, water and earth. The self is distinei

from these five elements. Even then the embodied person being bewildered

by the darkness of delusion (moha ) asserts that “This is I” thinking th<

50 Ibid, 11.11.4
51 NP, 1.45.75
52. anatmanyatmabuddhirya asve svamiti ya matih /
avidyatarusambhuterbijametad dvidha sthitaiii // VP. 6.7.11

167
body as the self.53 Man performs all actions for the purpose of bod k
fruition and the consequence of such acts is another body. Agem
enjoyership etc. are all effects of avidya. The self is not the doer, nor 'k-
enjoyer. Even then performance of actions by the self entail
transmigration and bondage.34
According to the Visnu Parana the self is always free, bondage s
not natural to the self. The self is pure in nature and is composed >1
happiness and wisdom. The properties of pain, ignorance and implicit >
actually belong to Prakrti, not to the self.55 When the self is associated
with Prakrti it is vitiated by ahaihkara etc. and it assumes the nature t

Prakrti.56There is no affinity between lire and water, but when water i,


placed on water in a cauldron, it boils and exhibits the properties of fire
such as heat etc.57 Similar is the case with the self. The cause of sir 1
association of the self with Prakrti is aviciva, which is the root cause of el !

53. pancabhulatmake dehe delii mohatamovrtah /

atmanyatmamayam bliavam kali karoti kalevare // Ibid. 6.7.12-13


, / -
54. deliasca yada....................... bandliayaiva syat // Sridhara's Comm, on Ibid. 6 7 1 ■
55. nirvanamaya evayamatma jnanamayo'malah /
duhkhajnanamala dhannah prakrteste to natmanah // Ibid, 6.7.22
56. lathatma prakrteh san gadahammanadidusitah /
bhajate prakrtan dharmanabhyastebhyo hi so'vyayah // Ibid, 6.7.24
57. jalasya nagnisamsargah stluilisaiigaltalhapi hi /
sabdodrekadikan dharmaiii stat karoti yatlia mune // Ibid, 6.7.23

1 6 8
a f f l i c t i o n s o f t h e s e l l '.58 lienee, when a v i d y d is d e s t r o y e d t h e s e l f r e a l e v .

it s r e a l n a t u r e , w h i c h i s a l w a y s f r e e a n d l i b e r a t e d .

T h e V i s m t P a r a n a a l s o m a i n t a i n s t h a t l i b e r a t i o n is o f t h e n a t t ir
• * •

B r a h m a n ( b r a h m a p a r a ) f 9 T h i s is f i n a l l i b e r a t i o n w h e n t h e j i v a p a c e a

t h a t a l l t h i n g s a r e n o n - d i f f e r e n t f r o m t h e s e l f . I n t h e s t o r y o f R b h u n u l

N i d a g h a it is c l e a r l y s a i d t h a t N i d a g h a a t t a i n e d f i n a l e m a n c i p a i i o n

r e a l i z i n g t h a t t h e s e l f is o n e ; e v e r y t h i n g e l s e is n o n - d i f f e r e n t f r o m t h e e l!

a n d t h e s e l f is B r a h m a n M )

f o l l o w i n g t h e S a m k h y a s y s t e m t h e V i s n u P a r a n a a l s o d i s e i r e s

t h r e e t y p e s s u f f e r i n g s , v i z . , a d h y d t m i k a , d d h i d a i v i k a a n d a d h i b h a u t i k -

T h e j i v a is a l w a y s i m m e r s e d in t h e s e a f f l i c t i o n s . H e c a n g e t s o l a c e f m m

t h e s e a f f l i c t i o n s o n l y in l i b e r a t i o n .62 L i b e r a t i o n is d e s c r i b e d a s me

a t t a i n m e n t o f d i v i n e b e i n g ( B h a g a v a t ) w h i c h is o f t h e n a t u r e o f u n l i m i t e d

b l i s s a n d h a p p i n e s s . T h i s t y p e o f l i b e r a t i o n is a b s o l u t e a n d f i n a l . 61 I ; u r t " a

5 8 . ta d e ta t k a tiiita m b ija m a v id y a y a s t a v a p r a b h o / Ib id . 6 .7 .2 5

5 9 . sa rv a b h u ta n y a b h e d e n a d a d rse sa ta d a tm a n a h /

y a th a b ra h m a p a ro m u k tim a v a p a p a r a m a ih d v ija h // Ib id , 2 .1 6 .2 0

6 0. Cf. Ib id , 2 .1 6 .2 4

6 1 . a d liy a tm ik a d i m a itr e y a jn a t v a ta p a lr a y a in b u d lia h /

u tp a n n a jn a n a v a ir a g y a h p r a p n o t y a t y a n t ik a n ’i la v a n i // I b id , 6 .5 .1

6 2 . ili s a m s a r a d u h k h a i 'k a t a p a t a p i l a c e t a s a i h /

v im u k tip a d a p a c c h a y a m r te k u lr a s u k lia n i n rn a n i // Ib id , 6 .5 .5 7

6 3 . n ir a sta tisa y a h iu d a s u k lu ib h a v a ik a lu k s^ ia /

b h a is a j\a m b h a g a \a t p r a p t ir e k a n la t \a iilik i m a l a / / Ib id . 6 .5 .5 9

169
of the three types of dissolution discussed in this Purana, the third one. i e

the dtyanfika (absolute) dissolution is m oksaM From the other two type oi

dissolution there is re-emergence of the world process. But after me

absolute dissolution, there is no return to empirical life. When this absolve

dissolution is obtained through knowledge, all sorrows and suHerinus

cease.

The Vismi Purana also declares that the mind of the


* • •
indi vidual

selves is the cause of its bondage and liberation. When the mind is attached

to the objects of enjoyment, it bitids the self in bondage. Pleasure and pam

pertain to the mind only. There is nothing, which is painful, or pleasurable,

pain and pleasure are just the resultant of the mind only. When the mind is

detached from these objects and is concentrated on God, the sell e

liberated. 65

4. Means of Liberation :

In the S ruti it is said that “alma va 're drastavyah srotavyo mantaw *

nididhyasitavvah"M> It means sravana,


* • • •
manana and nididhvdsana are lie

means of Brahman realization. The G ita recognizes different ways of

64. atyantikasca moksakhyah prakrto dvipararddhikah // Ibid, 6.3.1-2


65. Ibid, 6.7.28-29
66. BU, 2.4.5

170
liberation, viz., jnana (knowledge), kanncm (action), bhakti (devotion) wd

yoga (concentration). The Puranas also prescribe different paths i ><

attaining liberation such as knowledge, action, yoga, and devotion.

Visnu Purana also prescribes these means for the attainment of liberals a

Jnana :

The Visnu Purana gives much stress on the path of knowledge,

because ajnana is the main cause of one's bondage and sufferings. A/nkuu,

again can be removed by jnana or knowledge only. Parasara said that he

Atyantika Pralaya is caused by knowledge. When the yogins become

united with Paramatman, then that is called absolute dissolution/’' Ann i

has already been mentioned that absolute dissolution is actually liberal! n

Prahlada also said that those who realize the truth through knowledge

meditation and concentration obtain liberation having their bondage

destroyed.68

Parasara again declares that the means of attaining liberation is belli

knowledge and action.69 It is said that men are afflicted by three- fold i !

67. jnanadatyantikah prokto yoginah paratnatmani /

nityali sadaiva jatanain yo vinaso divanisam // VP, 1.7.40

68. tattattvavedino bhutva jnanadhyanasaniadhibhih/


avapurniuktimapare purusa dhvastabandhanah // Ibid, 1.18.23
69. tasmat tatpraptave yatnali karttavy ah panditaimaiaih /
tatpraptiheturjiiananca karma coktam mahamune // Ibid. 6.5.60

171
Attainment of liberation is considered to be only remedy of these threeh>ld

class of sufferings. Knowledge, on the other hand, is of two kinds. \ .

scriptural knowledge and reflective knowledge. Scriptural knowledge c

derived from scriptures while reflective knowledge is attained through sc l

realization. By scriptural knowledge one attains Sabda Brahman and v

reflective knowledge one attains Para Brahman™ Parasara refers to Mann

who said that there are two forms of Brahman - one is Sabda Brahman. f i e

other is Para Brahman. After being well versed in Sabda Brahman, fie

spiritual aspirant attains Para Brahman.1' Ignorance is like utter tlarkne

In order to destroy the darkness of ignorance, the scriptural knowledge at. ts

as a lamp while knowledge that is derived from reflection acts like t he

sun. This implies that just as the light of a lamp cam remove darkness ■>>

some extent; in the same way scriptural knowledge destroys ignorance <

some extent. But when one attains Brahman through reflective knowledge

then all his ignorance is completely removed just as the sun destro

70. agamottham vivekottham dvidha jiianam tathocyate /


sabdabrahmagamamayam paraih brahma vivekajam // Ibid. 6.5.61
71. dve brahmaiii veditavye sabdabrahma paraiTca yat /
sabdabrahmani nisnatah param brahmadhigaccliati // Ibid, 6.5.64
72. andhaiii tama ivajnanam dipavaccendrivodbhavafn /
yatha silryastatha jiianam yad viprarse vi\ ekajam // Ibid, 6.5.62

172
darkness totally. Parasara also alludes to the reference of Atharvavec/a. 1«

the Mundaka Upanisad belonging to the Athcirvaveda knowledge ^

divided into two types: para (supreme) and apara (inferior)74 B\ p o J

vidya Supreme God is attained; while apara consists of the karma kdnJa

of the Vedas. Thus apara vidya indicates the necessity of performing

action (karman) prior to attaining knowledge.75

K a rm a n :

The Vim u Pin ana accepts karman or action as a necessary means m

the path of liberation. There are two types of action, pravrtti (active) and

nivrtti (quiescent).76 Actually the pravrtti nidrga means the path of action.

Meditation (ttpasand) and concentration [}’oga) etc. are the quiescent fonn

of action.77 It is also believed that by doing karman without any desire un­

its fruit leads to liberation. This is the view propagated in the Gita.'* 1 m

words of Jada Bharata in the Visnu Pin ana imply that action from win h

73. dve vidye veditavye vai iti catharvani srutih /


paraya tvaksarapraptirrgvedadimayapara // Ibid. 6.5.65
74. dve vidye veditavye iti ha sma yadbrahmavido badanti-para caivaparii ca 7
MU, 1.1.4
75. H.H. Wilson, The Vishnu Parana. P. 503n
76. pravrttanca nivrttanca dvividhaiii karma vaidikani /
tabhyamubhabhyam purusaih sarvamurttih sa ijyate // VP. 6.4.41
77. Cf. 6.4.43
78. karmajaih buddhiyukta hi phalaiii tyaktva manisinah /
janmabandhavinirmuktah padaiii gacchantya namayam // BG. 2.51

173
no recompense is sought is a means o f liberation.^ K an n aii itself is not me

ultimate truth; it is only a means towards this truth. K arm a helps in

attaining liberation through the purification o f mind.

The necessity oi'karm an in the path o f liberation is underlined in the

6lhpart o f the Visntt P u ran a in the story o f Kesidhvaja and Khandikya. It is

stated in the ls o p a n is a d that a spiritual practitioner well versed in both

viciya or knowledge and avidya or action goes beyond death by followme

the path o f action and attains immortality by following the path i

knowledge (v id y a ) m Vidyd here stands for knowledge and avidya Mr

karm an. Thus action and knowledge are both necessary. By action one can

cross death meaning the defilements like kd m a etc. Kesidhvaja performed

many sacrifices being endowed with spiritual knowledge in order to g<>

beyond death. This means that performance o f actions is recommended

as introductory to the acquirement o f knowledge, but it s ignorance ■<>

consider them final.

79. tadevapbaladam karma Paramaribo malaslava /


mukti sadhanabhutatvat Paramaribo na sadbanam// VP, 2.14.25
80. vidyam cavidyam ca yastadvedobbayaiii salia /
avidyaya mrtyum tirtva vidyaya'mrtamasnute // lsopanisad. 11
81. iyaja so’pi subabun yajfian jnanavyapasrayah /
bramavidyamadhisthaya larltuiii mrtyumavidyaya// VP. 6.6.12
174
Yoga :

The Visnu Parana assigns an important position to yoga in the path

of liberation. It propagates that the afflictions caused by ignorance can *v


over come by the practice of yoga. In the 6lh part of the Visnu Parana.

Kesidhvaja gives instruction about this yoga. Kesidhvaja said that the seif
in itself is pure and immutable. The cause of misunderstanding this real

nature of the self is avidvd, which can be removed, according

Kesidhvaja, only by yoga.82

It has already been mentioned that according to the Visnu Parana

the mind of man is the cause of his bondage and liberation. Yogic practice

make the mind prepared for receiving the true knowledge of the self. logs.-

is defined in the Visnu Parana as the conjunction of the mind wiT


81
Brahman. The spiritual aspirant must restrain his mind from all the

objects of senses and mediate upon the Supreme Being in order to atta i

liberation. Just as the magnet attracts iron, so also the Supreme Being

attracts to Himself the aspirant who meditates on Him. The term rm

literally means ‘union’ or ‘to join’. It is derived from the rooty*//'. Actuali\

there are three different meaning of the root ‘y«/’: (1) yujiryoge meaning

join (2)yuj samadhau i.e., in the sense of concentration (3) yuj samyamanc

82. Ibid, 6.7.25


83. Ibid. 6.7.31

175
i.e,, in the sense of controlling. Hence, the term yoga may mean
Spiritual unification i.e., the union of the individual self with the supreme
self, (2) concentration of the mind, (3) complete control of the memal
modes. In the Yoga system of Patanjali the word ‘yoga' is used in the thud
sense i.e., the full restraint of the states of citta, i.e., the mind
yogascittavrttinirodhah ,84
The states of mind comprise our inner experience. This ciua
sometimes tends towards good and sometimes towards bad. In the Vyiisa
bhasya it is said that the mind is like a river, which Hows both wa s.
towards sin and towards the good. When the modes of the mind lead a ;
towards passions and their satisfaction, they are called klista. These klisui
modes are the cause of saihsara. Therefore, the purpose of yoga is to
steady the mind so that the vicious tendencies may gradually be more a id
more weakened and at last disappear altogether. For this purpose the yoga
system prescribes eightfold method consisting of yama (abstention).
niyama (observance), asana (posture), pranayama (regulation of breath j.
pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dhyana (meditation), dharana
(contemplation) and samadhi (concentration).85 Of these the first five a i e

84, YS, 1.2


85. Ibid, 2.29
176
called hahirangd or external aids while the last three are the antarahga

internal means.

According to the Visnu Purana also, the mind should be restrains* i

for the purpose of realizing Brahman. Here the word yoga means spiritual

unification, i.e., union of the individual self with the Supreme Self. Tins

unification is effected by that state of the mind which has attained

perfection through the practices like yama, niyama etc .86 The aspirant

whose yoga is characterized by the property of absolute perfection is called

a yogi and mumuksu (i.e., aspiring for liberation) . 87 Now, when the aspirant

begins the practice of yoga for the first time, he is said to be yoga-yuk (i.e

the practitioner). And when finally he attains spiritual union with

Brahman, he is known as vinispanna samadhi, i.e., the one who ha>

realized the truth within and experienced the inner bliss. Such a yogm

attains liberation in this very birth as his karmans are burnt by the fire >!

yoga. Just like the Yoga Sutra, the Visnu Parana also enumerates eight

practices for controlling the mind.

86. atmaprayatnasapeksa visista ya manogatih /

tasya brahmani samyogo yoga ityabliidhiyate // VP, 6.7.31; Sridhara's Comm, on ;

87. evamatyantavaisistyayukta karmopalaksanah /


yasya yogasya vai yogi mumuksurabhidhiyate // Ibid, 6.7.32
88. yogayuk prathamam yogi yuiijano hyabhidhiyate /
vinispannasamadhistu paraiii biahmopalabdliiman // Ibid. 6.7.33

177
A m o n g th e e ig h t fo ld m e th o d s o f y o g a th e fir s t o n e is y a m a , which

c o n s is ts o f a h i m s d ( n o n -v io le n c e ) , s a t y a ( tr u t h fu ln e s s ) , a s t e y a (non

s t e a lin g ) , b r a h m a c a r y a (s e x u a l r e s tr a in t) a n d a p a r i g r a h a (n o n -a c c e p ta n c e

o f g ifts ) V i s n u P u r a n a a ls o m e n tio n s th e se fiv e c o n s titu e n ts o f y a m a *1

T h e s e c o n d o n e is n i y a m a o r o b s e rv a n c e , w h ic h , a c c o r d in g to tic

V i s n u P u r a n a c o n s is ts o f s v a d h y a y a (s tu d y o f th e s c r ip tu r e s ), s t a r - a

( c le a n lin e s s ) , s a n t o s a (c o n te n tm e n t), t a p a s ( a u s te r ity ) amt

b r a h m a p r a v a n a t a (a w a r e n e s s o f B r a h m a n ).90 T h e Y o g a S u t r a ah<>

m e n tio n s th e se fiv e n i y a m a s ; th e o n ly d iffe r e n c e is th a t h e re th e la s t one i

s a id to b e i s v a r a p r a n i d h a n a ( m e d it a t io n o n Is v a r a ).91 O n e , w h o p r a c tis e

th e se fiv e y a m a s a n d fiv e n i y a m a s w ith s o m e d e s ir e in h is m in d , get

e x c e lle n t fr u its . A g a in th e se sa m e v ir tu e s w h e n p r a c tis e d w ith o u t an

d e s ir e le a d to fin a l e m a n c ip a tio n .92

T h e th ir d o n e is a s a n a o r b o d ily p o stu re , A s a n a is a p h y s ic a l h e lp to

c o n c e n tr a tio n . P a ta n ja fi s im p ly m e n tio n s th a t th e p o stu re m u st b e fir m .

8 9 . b ra h m a c a r y a m a h im sa c a sa ty a sle y a p a rig ra h a n /

se v a te y o g i n is k a m o y o g y a ta n i sa v in a n o n a y a n // Ib id , 6 .7 .3 6

9 0 . sv a d h y a y a s a u c a s a n to s a ta p a m si n iy a ta lm a v a il/

k u rv ita b r a h m a n i ta th a p a r a sin in p r a v a n a ih n ia n a h // Ib id , 6 .7 .3 7

9 1 . sa u c a sa n to sa ta p a h sv a d h y a y e s v a r a p r a n id h a n a n i n iy a m a h . Y S , 2 .3 2

9 2 . e le y a m a h sa n iy a m a h p a n c a p a ltc a p r a k ir ttita b /

v isista p h a la d a h k a m y a n isk a m a n a m v im u k tid a h // V P , 6 .7 .3 8

178
pleasant and easy.91 There are various postures in which a yogi is direct* 0

to sit when he is engaged in meditation, e.g., bhadrasana etc. In the I '/.o

Purana also it is said that a yogi should practise yama and niyama sittii :

on any of the postures such as bhadrasana etc.94 The commentati;

describes bhadrasana as that where one is to cross his legs underneath him

and hold his feet on each side with his hands.93

The fourth one is pranaydma or regulation of breath.96 The l is {

Purana also describes pranaydma as the regulation of breath {prana). Th

being done, mind control becomes easy. This prdndyama may be sah, ■

(with the pronunciation of mantra etc.) or nirbija (without any sir !

support).97 Pranaydma consists of three parts - recaka, puraka are

kumbhaka. When a yogi controls prana and apdna (i.e., expiration aid

inspiration) air with the help of each other then these are called recaka ai d

puraka. When both the modes of breathing are suppressed simultaneous:

93. sthirasukhamasanani. YS, 2.46


94. ekam bliadrasanadinam samasthaya gunairyutah/

yamakhyairniyaniakhyaisca yunjita niyato yatih// VP, 6.7.39


/-
95. Sridhara's Commentary on Ibid.
/mm /mm mm mm ^
96. tasminsati svasaprasvasayorgativicchedah pranayanah. YS, 2.49
97. pranakhyamanilam vasyamabhyasat kurule tu yat /
pranayamah sa vijneyah sabijo'bija eva ca // VP, 6.7.40

179
th e n th e re is kumbhaka.n A c tu a lly pranaycima c o n s is ts in ta k in g in b re a d

k e e p in g it fo r a w h ile a n d th e n g iv in g it u p . T h e g u id a n c e o f th e yum r

e s s e n tia l fo r th e r ig h t p e rfo rm a n c e o f pranaycima. 99

T h e fifth o n e is pratyahara. It in d ic a te s th e w ith d r a w a l o f sen -

o rg a n s fro m th e ir o b je c t s . 100 In th e Visnu Pm ana a ls o th e v e ry w o rd

pratyahara is d e s c r ib e d in th e sa m e m a n n e r. Pratyahara c o n s is ts m

r e s tr a in in g th e s e n s e o rg a n s fro m th e ir s u s c e p t ib ilit y to th e o u tw a rd o b je * . t

a n d m a k in g th e m s u b s e r v ie n t to th e m in d . W h e n b y pranaycima th e \ ii d

a ir s a re c o n tr o lle d a n d b y pratyahara th e s e n s e o rg a n s a re r e s tr a in e d , th en

o n ly th e yogi w ill b e a b le to k e e p h is m in d ste a d y in its p e rfe c t su p p o rt >i

a s y lu m ( subhasraya).m T h e b e st su p p o rt o f th e yogi is Brahman , the

su p re m e c o n s c io u s n e s s . 102

T h e s ix t h yogahga is dharana o r a tte n tio n to a p a r t ic u la r o b je c t . Tie

m a y b e e x tr a -o r g a n ic o r in tr a -o r g a n ic . F ix a tio n o f m in d in th e p a r tic u la i

o b je c t s fo r a lo n g tim e in d ic a te s th a t h e is fit fo r th e y o g a p r a c t i c e s . 1" ' The

9 8 . p a r a s p a r e n a b h i b h a v a m p r a n a p a n a u y a d a n i l a u /

k u r u t a h s a d v i d h a n e n a t r t i y a h s a m y a i n a t l a y o h // I b i d . 6 . 7 . 4 1

/ -

9 9 . S r i d h a r a 's C o m m e n t a r y o n I b id .

1 0 0 . s a v i s a y a s a m p r a y o g e c i t t a s v a r u p a n u k a r a e v e n d r i y a n a m p r a t y a h a r a k .Y S , 2 . 5 4

1 0 1 . p r a n a y a m e n a p a v a n a i h p r a t y a h a r e n a c e n d r i y a i h /

v a s i k r t a i s t a t a h k u r y a t s t h i r a m c e l a h s u b l i a s r a y e // V P , 6 . 7 . 4 5

1 0 2 . a s r a y a s c e t a s o b r a h m a ............................................../ I b id . 6 . 7 . 4 7

1 0 3 . d e l i a b a n d h a s c i t t a s v a d h a r a n a . Y S . 3 .1

180
Visnu Purana defines dharana as the fixation of the mind on Visnu. 101 I ne
• • • * * •

whole universe is the expression of Visnu. Hence, it is natural that the

abode of this supreme truth is also situated in everyone’s mind (c/7/ .

sthita). As fire blazing in the wind bums dry grass, so Visnu, seated in tne

heart consumes all sins of the yogi. Visnu is the perfect asylum

(subhasraya) of even the all-pervading self. 105 Dharana is not possible

without any manifest from of the God. Hence, the Visnu Purdna describes

the manifest form of Visnu on which a yogi should fix his mind. 106

When the form of Visnu on which the yogi fixes the mind does not

disappear from his mind even when moving, or sitting, or doing anything

voluntarily, then one should gradually contemplate Him as having but one

single limb and then fix his whole thoughts upon the body to which tne

limbs belong. The Visnu Purana describes the continuous flow of

concentration on or awareness of the Lord without any attachment

whatsoever as dhyana. Dhyana is affected by the former six ahgas like


1D 7
yama etc. The definition of dhyana of the Visnu Purana corroborates to

104. tasmat samastasaktinamadhare tatra cetasah /


kurvita samsthitim sa tu vijneya suddhadharana // VP, 6.7.74
105. Ibid, 6.7.73-77

106. Cf. Ibid, 6.7.79-86


107. tadrupapratyayayaika santatiscanyanisprha /
taddhyanam prathamairajnaih sadbhirnispadyate nrpa // Ibid, 6.7.89

181
some extent to the view of Patanjali, but there is some difference also. 1K

Yogas utra defines dhyana as the resulting state ol an even current <!

thought. This is nothing but the continuous awareness of the object

meditation. This object can be external or internal.108 The Visnu Purdna or


the other hand, prescribes dhyana of Visnu only.

The last yogahga is samadhi “After sufficient practice of dhyana tin

mind attains the power of making itself steady; at this stage it becomes one

with its objects and there is no change or repetition. There is ih

consciousness of subject, object or thinking, but the mind becomes stead)

and one with the object of thought. This is called samadhi.” 109 Dhyana

culminates in samadhi. Patanjali says that the idea of identification with

the object of meditation which is as if devoid of any individual nature s

called samadhi.110 In the Visnu


••
Purdna

the idea of samadhi is somewhat

different from that of Patanjali. Here the object of meditation is Visnu

When an accurate knowledge of that Lord free from all imaginan

distinctions is attained by means of mental meditation, it is called

samadhi.m Man generally imagines a difference between the subject and

108. tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam. YS, 3.2


109. S.N. Dasgupta, A History o f Indian Philosophy, Vol. I, P. 272
110. tadekarthamatranirbhasam svarupasunyamiva samadhi. YS, 3 - 3 .
111. tasyaiva kalpanahinam svarupagrahanam hi yat /
manasa dhyananispadyah samadhih so’bhidhiyate // VP, 6.7.90

182
the object of meditation under the veiling power of ignorance, and when

such imagination disappears during meditation, the supreme self :

realized. This state of self-realization is known as samadhi in the Visnu


9 •

Purdna.

When ignorance, the cause of all distinctions and differences s

completely destroyed, it is not possible to think of the non-existent

difference between the Atman and Paramatman, i.e., the individual self

and Universal self. 112 Realizing such a supreme state of unity the sell

becomes liberated from this world. The state of samadhi or yoga is the

state of freedom from suffering. Hence, Khandikya in the Visnu Purdna

says this yoga as Vimuktiprada, i.e., bestowed of liberation. 113 Describing

this Brahma-yoga, the Visnu Purdna concludes that Khandikya attained

absorption into Visnu being engrossed upon Govinda. 114

5. Bhakti as a Means of Liberation :

The Puranas prescribe the path of devotion (bhaktiyoga) over and

above the path of action, yoga and knowledge. Actually, bhakti or devotion

112. vibhedajanake jnane nasamatyantikam gate /

Itmano brahmano bhedamasantam kah karisyati // Ibid, 6.7.94

113. tad gaccha sreyase sarvam mamaitadbhavata krtam /


/ y*-
yadvimuktiprado yogah proktah kesidhvajavya^ // Ibid, 6.7.99
114. tatraikantaratirbhutva yamadigunasodhitah /
visnvakhye nirmale brahinanyavapa nrpatirlayam // Ibid, 6.7.102
• • • ♦*

183
o c c u p i e s t h e p r e d o m i n a n t p o s i t i o n i n t h e V i s n u i t e P u r a n a s . A c c o r d i n g v

N a r a d i y a P u r a n a , t h e t r i p l e m e t h o d o f d e v o t i o n , a c t i o n a n d k n o w l e d g e o »

o p e r a t e w i t h o n e a n o t h e r i n t h e m a t t e r o f r e a c h i n g t h e h i g h e s t g o a l . I t s

s a i d t h a t l i b e r a t i o n i s a t t a i n a b l e b y k n o w l e d g e , w h i c h i s p u r e a n d f r e e o!

s i n s . S i n s a r e d e s t r o y e d b y s u p r e m e f a i t h o r d e v o t i o n . D e v o t i o n i s a g a i n

g e n e r a t e d b y a c t i o n s l i k e g i v i n g o f g i f t s ( d a n a ) , s a c r i f i c e , v i s i t i n g o f p l a c e s

o f p i l g r i m a g e e t c . 1 1 5 D e v o t i o n t o w a r d s H a r i y i e l d s a l l t h e d e s i r e d objects < I

w o r l d l y l i f e . T h e f r u i t s o f d e v o t i o n a r e d e s c r i b e d i n g r e a t l e n g t h i n t h e

P u r a n a s .

T h e V i s n u P u r a n a a l s o u p h o l d s t h e g l o r y o f t h e p a t h o f d e v o t i o n . I \

s t a t e s t h a t t h e o n l y r e m e d y o f t h e w o r l d l y e v i l s i s d e v o t i o n t o L o r d V i s n i

D e v o t i o n i s t h e q u i c k e s t m e a n s t o t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f s u f f e r i n g s . H o w e v e i ,

i t s e e m s t h a t t h e c o n c e p t o f b h a k t i , t h o u g h g i v e n a v e i y i m p o r t a n t p o s i t i o n

i n t h e c o u r s e o f t h e s p i r i t u a l j o u r n e y , i s n o t s o m u c h d e v e l o p e d h e r e a s w e

f i n d i n s o m e o t h e r P u r a n a s .

T h e t e r m b h a k t i i s d e r i v e d f r o m t h e r o o t b h a j m e a n i n g t o s e r v e , to

a d o r e , t o w o r s h i p , a n d t o b e a t t a c h e d t o . B h a k t i i n t h e P u r a n a s g e n e r a l 1 \

m e a n s s e r v i c e t o t h e L o r d o r w o r s h i p o f G o d . I t a l s o m e a n s a t t a c h m e n t t o

G o d . I n t h e G i t a b h a k t i i n d i c a t e s a n a t t i t u d e f u l l o f l o v e f o r g o d a r i s i n g

1 1 5 . N P , 1 . 3 3 . 2 7 - 3 1

184
fro m th e a w a r e n e s s th a t h e a lo n e is th e s o u rc e o f a ll . 116 T h is lo v e is s<

p o w e r fu l th a t it fills th e d e v o te e ’ s m in d w ith a c o n sta n t re m e m b ra n c e o

h is b e lo v e d L o r d . 117 S a n d i l y a in h is Bhaktisutra d e fin e s bhakti a s su p re m e

a tta c h m e n t to G o d .118 N a r a d a d e fin e s bhakti a s th e s u p re m e lo v e o f G o d .1

Bhakti in v o lv e s to ta l s u rre n d e r o f th e d e v o te e to w a rd s h is L o rd .

In th e Visnu Purana in s ta n c e s o f su c h g re a t d e v o te e s lik e D h ru v a

P r a h la d a a n d th e G o p is a re fo u n d . T h e Rsis a d v is e d D h r u v a to w o r s h ip

V is n u s in c e h e w h o a d o re s H a r i, th e s u p re m e s o u l, s u p re m e g lo r y an d

S u p re m e Brahman a tta in s w h a t is d iffic u lt o f a tta in m e n t. B \

w o r s h ip p in g G o d a d e v o te e c a n o b ta in e v e r y th in g . D h ru v a p e rfo rm e d

p e n a n c e c o n te m p la tin g o n V is n u , th e s o v e r e ig n o f a ll th e g o d s a s a b id in g

in h im . W h e n h is m in d is w h o lly a b s o rb e d in m e d ita tio n h e r e a liz e d G o d in

h is h e a rt. T h is is c o n te m p la tin g d e v o tio n ( bhaktiyoga ) b y w h ic h D h ru v a

116. aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate /


iti matva bhajante mam budha bhavasamanvital// BG, 10.8 &10
117. satatam kirtayanto mam yatantasca drdhavratah /
namasyantasca mam bhaktya nityayukta upasate // Ibid, 9.14.
118. atmaratyavirodheneti sandilya//NBS, 18
119. sa tasmin paramapremarupa// Ibid, 2
120. param brahma param dhama yo’sau brahma tatha param /
tamaradhya harim yati muktimapyatidurlabham // VP, 1.11.45
121. Cf. Ibid, 1.11.46,48
122. ananyacetasastasya dhayato bhagavan harih /
sarvabhutagato vipra sarvabhavagato’bhavat // Ibid, 1.12.7
185
attained the most exalted position. For Visnu Himself said to Dhruva th.u

the man who worships Visnu attains liberation. Not only liberation, ti <

Visnu Purana says that for attaining the four Purusarthas, viz., dharm t

artha, kama and moksa, one should propitiate Visnu . 124

The story o f Prahlada in the Visnu Purana also upholds tlin­

significance o f devotion. Prahlada was a great devotee o f Visnu. Prahlada

loved Visnu
• •
with all his heart. He wanted to love God with the sana

125
attachment as the worldly people feel for sensual pleasure. Knowing th;a

Visnu is all- pervasive and exists in all beings he loved all beings also. II

even prayed for the protection o f the wicked priests who wanted to bin

him by magic. He advised his father to love all creatures assiduously a>

Hari is all things. 126 Visnu is pleased with him who has faithful attachment

to Him. Prahlada also maintains that liberation is in his hand whose faith

123. Ibid, 1.12.89

124. dharmamarthanca kamanca moksancanvicchata


#
sada /

aradhaniyo bhagavan anadih purusottamah // Ibid, 1.14.16 ^

125. ya pritiravivekanam visayesvanapayini /

tvamanusmaratah sa me hrdayahmapasarpatu // Ibid, 1.20.19

126. evarh sarvesu bhutesu bhaktiravyabhicarini /

karttavya panditairjnatva sarvabhutamayam harim // Ibid, 1.19.9

127. Cf. kurvataste prasanno’ham bhaktimavyabhicarinim// Ibid. 1.20.17

186
is firm in Him who is the root of the universe. Visnu also bestow • •

liberation to him whose heart is filled with immovable devotion to Him.1*

In this way the Visnu Purana describes the importance of bhakti i>

the spiritual endeavour of man. But it must be admitted here that tin

concept of bhakti is not assigned such a position as we find in tin

Bhagavata Purana. It is true that there is a leaning towards bhakti in thi ■

Purana, though it is not fully developed. It is also not clearly mentionei

what is meant here by bhakti. From the aforementioned stories it seenv

that bhakti here means attachment to or love of God. In some place bhaki

also means yoga . 129 Singing (kirtana) the name of Hari is a form o

devotion. Vyasa in the Visnu Purana declares that the fruit which oik

achieves by meditation in the Satyayuga, by performing sacrifice in the

Tretayuga and by worshipping in the Dvapara, that very fruit can be

attained by kirtana only in the Kaliyuga.m


*■ i 'j »

In the Yamagita portion of the Visnu Purana a vivid description

of the salient features of a devotee of Visnu ( Visnubhakta) is given. Here

Yama, the God of Death advises his messenger to keep clear of the devotee

128. Cf. Ibid, 1.20.27; also see Ibid, 1.20.28


129. Ibid. 1.12.8
130. dhayan krte yajan yajnaistretayam dvapare’rccayan/

yadapnoti tadapnoti kalau samkirttya kes^avam// Ibid, 6.2.17


131. Ibid, 3.7

187
o f V i s n u , a s V a i s n a v a s a r e n o t u n d e r h i s r u l e . B e i n g a s k e d b y t! c

m e sse n g e r h e th e n d e s c r ib e s th e c h a r a c te r is tic s o f th e I'lsnublmkta.

d e v o t e e i s o n e w h o d o e s n e v e r d e v i a t e f r o m t h e d u t i e s p r e s c r i b e d to Iv s

c a s t e , w h o l o o k s w i t h e q u a l i t y t o a f r i e n d a n d a f o e ; w h o d o e s n o t ta W

a n y t h i n g w h i c h i s n o t h i s o w n , n o r i n j u r e s a n y b e i n g . 132 T h a t p e r s o n i s a

d e v o t e e w h o s e m i n d i s n o t d e f i l e d b y t h e b l e m i s h e s o f K a l i a g e a n d w h o s

a l w a y s t h i n k i n g o f J a n a r d a n a . 133 A b h a k t a n e v e r t a k e s a n o t h e r ’ s w e a l t r ,

e v e n s e c r e t l y . H e a l w a y s d e v o t e s h i s t h o u g h t s t o t h e l o r d . 134 H e i s p u r e a s a

m o u n t a i n o f c l e a r c r y s t a l . V a s u d e v a a b i d e s i n h i s h e a r t w h o i s p u r e , free

f r o m m a l i c e , c o n t e n t e d , l e a d i n g a h o l y l i f e , f r i e n d o f a l l b e i n g s , s p e a k s

w i s e l y a n d k i n d l y , i s h u m b l e a n d n o t d e c e i t f u l . 135 T h e p e r s o n i n w h o se

h e a r t t h e L o r d r e s i d e s i s v e r y p l e a s a n t t o l o o k a t . 136 A l l s i n s o f the

V i s n u b h a k t a a r e d i s p e r s e d b e c a u s e s i n c a n n o t r e m a i n i n t h e h e a r t of i

p e r s o n w h e r e t h e L o r d a b i d e s . A s d a r k n e s s c a n n o t s t a y w h e r e t h e sun

1 3 2 . n a c a la t i n ija v a r n a d h a r m a t o y a h s a m a m a t ir a t m a s u h r d v ip a k s a p a k s e /

n a h a ra ti n a c a h a n ti k in c id u c c a ih sita m a n a sa m ta m a v a ih i v isn u b h a k ta m //
• • *

Ib id , 3 .7 .2 0

1 3 3 . k a lik a lu s a m a le n a y a s y a n a tm a v im a la m a te r m a lin ik r to ’ sta m o h e /

m a n a s i k r ta ja n a r d a n a m m an u sy am sa ta ta m a v a ih i h a r e r a tiv a b h a k ta m // Ib id , 3 .7 .2

1 3 4 . Ib id , 3 .7 .2 2

1 3 5 . v im a la m a tiv im a ts a r a h p ra sa n ta h s u c ic a r ito ’ k h ila sa ttv a m itr a b h u ta h /

p r iy a h it a v a c a n o ’ s t a m a n a m a y o v a s a t i s a d a h rd i t a s y a v a s u d e v a V / Ib id , 3 .7 .2 4

1 3 6 . Ib id , 3 .7 .2 5

188
shines, similarly sin cannot remain where its destroyer, the God abides.

A Visnubhakta
• •
is one who has firm faith in Vasudeva and conceives th;

Purusottama as one with its votary and with this entire w o r ld .13h II

constantly invokes Visnu, the asylum of the world and the supporter o f th,

earth. 139

In this way the Visnu Purana describes the characteristics of

devotee, who is protected by Visnu against Yama also.

6. Bhakti in the Bhagavata Purana :


The most vivid description of the concept of bhakti is found in tin

Bhagavata Purana. Bhakti in this Purana is described as of tw o typ es

saguna and nirguna. Saguna bhakti is prompted by three g u n a s , v iz

sattva, rajas and tamas.m But the highest bhakti is nirguna bhakti, whies

is not prompted by any guna. In the Bhagavata Purana Kapila instructs hi

mother about the characteristic of this nirguna bhakti. He states that tin

137. hrdi yadi bhagavananadiraste harirasisankhagadadharo’vyayatma /


tadagliamagliaviglmtukurtrbliinnuih bliavati katluu'u sati candlmkarunuuke//
Ibid,3.7.27

138. sakalamidamahanca vasudevah paramapuman paramesvarh sa ekah //


Ibid, 3.7.32 (a)
139. Ibid, 3.7.33
140. bhaktiyogo bahuvidho margairbhamini bhavyate /
svabhava gunamargena pumsani bhavo vibhidyate // BP, 3.29.7

189
steadfast movement of the mind towards the Lord like the uninterrupted

How of the river Ganges to-wards the sea, inspired by the mere hearing

the qualities of Him, is considered to be the characteristic of m'rg/n

bhakti. This devotion to the Lord is disinterested and steadfast. 141 It is n >

motivated by any desire. Even liberation is not desirable to such

devotee. 142 The nirguna bhakta loves God only because He is the deare-

of all dear ones. 143 The Bhagavata Purana declares that nothing can h

greater than the selfless bhakti. A devotee does not desire to attain any

the five kinds of liberation such as salokya etc., rather he takes delight on. \

in the service of God. Liberation comes to him automatically. 144

According to the Bhagavata, bhakti is the highest Purusartha. >

India four Purusarthas, i.e., goals or ends of human existence are accepter

The four Purusarthas are, dharma, artha, kama and moksa. Just like tl .

Visnu Purana, the Bhagavata Purana also states that bhakti is the safe- 1

means to attain these Purusarthas. Thus it is said that the service of the

feet of Hari is the only means of attaining one’s good like dharma, art hi.

141. Ibid, 3.29.11-12


142. Ibid, 3.29.12(b)- 13
143. Cf. ahamatmatmanam dhatah presthah san preyasamapi /
ato mayi ratirh kuryaddehadiryatkrte priyah // BP, 3.9.42
144. Ibid, 3.29.13-14

190
K a m a a n d m o k s a . ]45 B u t th e B h a g a v a t a P u r a n a g o e s a ste p fu rth e r. B h a K

h e re is n o t m e r e ly th e m e a n s to a n e n d b u t it is th e e n d its e lf; it is both tl\

s a d h a n a a n d th e s a d h y a . It a lo n e c a n g iv e fu ll m e a n in g to m a n ’s life . It

n o t o n e o f th e a r t h a s , b u t it is th e h ig h e s t a r t h a , th e h ig h e s t purpose <

h u m a n life . O n e - p o in te d d e v o tio n to th e L o rd , w h ic h e x p r e s s e s its e lf i

s e e in g H im e v e r y w h e r e , is c o n s id e r e d to b e th e h ig h e s t g o o d o f m a n . 14 1’ S

K r s n a a ls o to ld U d d h a v a th a t fo r th e d e v o te e w h o s u rre n d e rs c o m p le te ly >

h im , th e re is n o o th e r a r t h a (g o a l) to b e a c h ie v e d . 147 A s h a s a lr e a d y bee-

m e n tio n e d , b h a k t i is s u p e r io r to m u k ti o r lib e r a tio n . T h e k in g P a r ik s i

e x c la im e d th a t a m o n g te n s o f m illio n s o f th o se w h o h a v e a tta in e ;

lib e r a tio n , it is v e r y d iffic u lt to fin d a p e r fe c tly se re n e p e rso n who


I JQ /

e x c lu s iv e ly d e v o te d to N a ra y a n a . C o n c lu d in g th e s to ry o f R s a b h a , S u k ;

d e c la r e d th a t th e d e v o te e s o f G o d e v e n d is r e g a r d th e fin a l e m a n c ip a tio i

w h ic h is th e h ig h e s t g o a l o f m a n , b e c a u s e a ll th e ir d e s ir e s a re fu lfille d

th ro u g h th e ir b e lo n g in g to th e G o d . 149 T h u s , a c c o r d in g to th e B h a g a v a t

145. d h a rm a rth a k a m a m o k sa k h y a m y a ic c h e c c h r e y a a tm a n a h /

ek am h y e v a h a re sta tra k a ra n a m p ad asev an am // I b id , 4 .8 .4 1

1 4 6 . Ib id , 7 .7 .5 5

1 4 7 . I b id , 1 1 .1 9 .2 4

1 4 8 . Ib id , 6 .1 4 .5

1 4 9 . Ib id , 5 .6 .1 7

191
Purana bhakti is not only the best means to fulfill the Purusarthas but

also the goal of all Purusarthas.

Devotion has nine constituent parts or nine successive stages, whi< I

are often regarded as nine kinds of devotion. A devotee proceeds tov\an,

supreme love or supreme devotion through these stages. The B hagavar

Purana enumerates these nine kinds of bhakti. These are sravana (listenii:.

to), kirtana (singing), smarana (remembrance), padasevana (propitiation >

arcana (adoration), vandana (salutation), dasya (offering service), sakln <

(friendship) and atmanivedana (self-surrender) . 150 These nine stages an.

regarded by the later votaries of devotion as sadhanabhakti (or bhakti as i

means). In this view, loveful devotion is the sadhyabhakti or phalarup .

bhakti. These nine types of bhaki yielded liberation to different bhakta.


/ /
Thus, Pariksit was liberated by listening to (sravana), Suka by kirtam .

Prahlada by remembering Him (smarana), Laksmi by serving to His fee t

(padasevana), Prthu by worshipping (arcana), Akiura by vandatu, ,

Hanumat by performing service, Arjuna by friendship, Bali by giving up

everything he possessed.

This type of bhakti cannot be attained by one’s own effort; it is

grace of God. The highest form of devotion is a gift of the lord. 151 Bhakt

150. Ibid, 7.5.23-24


151. Ibid, 6.14.2

192
in the Bhagavata is also conceived as a reciprocal relation between Cii-c

and the bhakta. A s the devotee loves god with all his heart, so also tk

bhakta is very dear to God.152

In this way the Bhagavata Purana delineates the concept o f bhak

very elaborately. The divine love proclaimed in the Bhagavata Purana

the purest and highest kind o f love when all duality is transcended; it is tf

enjoyment o f absolute bliss. Pure love naturally expresses itself in service

The selfless service o f the God is therefore, enjoined in the Bhagavai

Purana for total upliftment o f the devotee.

7. Bhakti intheNarada Bhaktisutra :


Narada in his Bhaktisutra defines bhakti as o f the nature o f suprem

love o f God - parama premarupa. This supreme love is not based upo 1

selfishness or egotism. There is no trace o f selfishness or any motive n

this love. Jadunath Sinha opines that the word parama in the definition

indicates three things : “(1) Devotion is undivided love for god, free fron

attachment for worldly objects. (2) It is not overshadowed by knowledge

and action. It is the highest end. (3) It is manifested in thought, word anc

152. na tatha me priyatama atmayonirna sankarah/


na ca sankarasano na srimaivatma ca yathi bhavanII Ibid, 11.14.15

193
deed.” 153 In its intrinsic nature, bhakti is nothing lees than the imniorm

bliss of freedom (amrtasvarupa) . 154 Attaining this supreme love m i

becomes perfect, immortal and fully contended. He has no more desire t■>

anything, he is free from grief and hatred. He does not rejoice in am

worldly things and does not exert himself in furtherance of self-interest.

According to Narada the essential characteristics of bhakti are tm

consecration of all activities through complete self-surrender to the Lon

and extreme anguish in the event of forgetting Him . 156

Narada divides bhakti into gauni (secondary) and mukhya (primal

Secondary devotion is of three kinds depending upon the gunas of tf

person or depending upon the devotees who are arta (distressed) etc.

Secondary devotion is bom of desire and is threefold as sattvika, rajasiki

and tamasika, depending on the predominance of the gunas like sattva et

in the character of the devotee. In another way Narada differentiate:

secondary devotion according to the types of devotee stated in the Gita

The Gita declares that the devotees are of four types, viz., arta (distressed

153. Cultural Heritage o f India, Vol. IV, P.148


154. NBS, 3
155. Ibid, 4-5
156. naradastu tadarpitakhilacarata tadvismarane paramavyakulateti // Ibid, 19

157. gauni tridha gunabhedadartadibhedadva// Ibid, 56

194
jijnasu (inquisitive) and artharthi (selfish) and jnani (w ise).158 According

devotion is o f three types. O f these three types o f devotion each precedii ;

one is superior to each succeeding one.159

Primary devotion is the one pointed love o f God for his own sake.

Narada also emphasizes that this love o f God is anirvacaniya, i.e., it delict

exact and precise definition or descriprion.161 But it is self-evident ai d

needs no external proof. It is like the dumb man’s joy, which he feels b a

cannot describe it in words.162 This supreme love is devoid o f all attribut

and free from all characteristic tendencies to selfish action. It is expandii c

every moment, is continuous and extremely subtle. This love is o f t u-

nature o f an inner experience. Attaining that one sees and hears only th; i

talks and thinks o f only that.163

Narada describes eleven forms o f devotion. Though devotion is oh

in kind, yet it manifests itself in eleven different forms. These are: (1) Lo c

o f the glorification o f the Lord’s divine qualities, (2) Love o f hi-

enchanting beauty, (3) Love o f his worship, (4) Love o f consta it

158. caturvidha bhajantc mam janah sukrtino’rjuna /


arto jinasurartharthi jnani ca bharatarsabha // BG, 7.16
159. uttarasmaduttarasmat purvapurva sreyaya bhavati. NBS, 57
160. Ibid, 67
161. anirvacaniyam premasvarupam / Ibid, 51
162. Ibid, 52-53
163.Ibid, 54-55

195
remembrance, (5) Love of service, (6) Love of Him as a friend, (7) Lo>e
ol him us a parent, ( 8 ) Love ol Hint us ihul oi u beloved wile, ( 0 ) L o v e I

self-surrender to Him, (10) Love of complete absorption in Him, (11) L.o.e


of the pain of separation from Him.164 These eleven kinds of devotion
correspond to the nine types of devotion described in the Bhagavuta
Purana except the last two.
Narada lays stress on the love of a servant (dasya bhakti) and love ol
a wife (kanta-prema) for the God. Constant servitude and un-swervme,
wifely love to God are the two most desired form of love.165 Narada further
holds that devotion is greater than action (karman), knowledge (jnana) and
yoga. It is higher than these means of liberation, because it is not a means
to any and, rather it is the end itself, the summum bonum of life.166 In this
regard also Narada’s view conforms to that o f the Bhagavata.

1 6 4 . Ib id , 8 2

1 6 5 . I b id , 6 6

1 6 6 . Ib id , 2 5 ,2 6

196