Friday, January 11, 2019

The Objective of the Purana: Awakening Discrimination of Supreme Purusa

The microcosm operates through a harmonious working of the three entities of kala (time) [Siva], manas (brain) [Brahma] and purusa (spiritual personality) [Visnu]. But, for such harmony to occur out of such disparate-natured entities, there must be some master-mind to ‘string together the trinity,’ as Madhavadeva says in the Nama Ghosa. That master-entity, the lord of all the controlling entities (devas), is the supreme purusa, Lord Krsna himself.
It is to arouse discrimination of supreme purusa alone that the (anatomical) narrative of the Puranas is formulated in the first place. The entire Purana—its every chapter and verse—is designed with this ultimate objective of awakening discrimination in the mind of the (intelligent) reader.
The Puranic narrative is thus a strategy to make the reader realize the sole entity of worship, the sole object of refuge. The intelligent reader will not fail to observe that, among all the entities, it is only Hari that is emerging as supreme; and he will understand that this only is the most powerful entity, worthy of sole-refuge. It is this conclusion that is directly expressed by Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva, in their own works, in the form of upadesas and in chapters such as “The Determination of the Supreme Entity Worthy of Adoration” (Bhakti Ratnakara).
The objective of the author of the Bhagavata—and this ought also to be the objective of the inquisitive and critical reader—is to determine the supreme entity among all the entities, who alone is eligible for worship. In the Bhagavata, the reader has to know this entity by reading intelligently through the passages and piercing the dialogic strategy with the power of his intellect. But in Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva, this meaning is directly expressed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Discovery of God: The Intellectual Process

If we take the authors of the Puranas such as the Bhagavata as the intellectual heirs of the original Samkhya school, then we will be looking at one unbroken intellectual tradition.

The doing of pure devotion to 
God, then, would be the culmination of a long intellectual process, comprising, broadly, the following stages:

  1. The unconscious entityExamining and understanding prakrti, its evolutive nature, character and limitations.
  2. The conscious entityExamining and understanding the body of man and its various organs and systems. Understanding especially the nature of the neural entities and the brain. Are they of the same essential characteristics as the external (unconscious) matter? Can the brain give rise to consciousness?
  3. The pure personality: Understanding the nature of purusa, its interface with the brain (and, through it, the body), the capabilities of purusa.
  4. The supreme pure personality: Relook at the programmed nature of the entities of the body such as the brain. Is their evolving out of prakrti possible in the absence of initiation and control by a superior conscious personality? Comparison with instances from the external world. The discovery of God, the supreme purusa.
  5. The revelation of the highest philosophy: The reason behind purusa becoming endowed with a (prakrti-made) body. Motivations of the supreme purusa. Consideration and full accommodation of the higher aspects of consciousness like compassion, grace and joy. Devotion to God, the supreme purusa.
It perhaps needs no reiteration that each one of these stages is huge and could be broken up into several sub-stages and phases but this is only a general outline. The point sought to be made is this:
God may be discovered solely through a (long and exhaustive) intellectual investigation without there being any need of any external revelation.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Discovery of God through the Intellect of Man

It is possible to discover God solely through the power of intellect. The philosophers of the theistic Samkhya studied the evolutive nature of prakrti but, more importantly, recognized its limitations. In this manner, they worked their way up towards spiritual personality.
Similarly, love and pure devotion to God may not be something completely emotional or blind; it may also be the outcome of an epiphanic realization brought about solely through intellect--the culmination of a long and involved process of rational consideration and meditative contemplation
of hard material facts (such as ones pertaining to the nature of the body and so on). In fact, the "vedantic bhakti" contained in texts such as the Bhagavata, which consists in the singing of the glories of the immanent Lord, may not be something anti-intellectual but may instead have, as the bedrock of its philosophy, a sound and thorough distinction between the tattvas. This kind of a devotion then, in such (intellectual) light, would represent the acme of the process of reasoning and making sound inferences championed by the Samkhya.
For, if our philosophy has a conscious personality at its core, then it must also accord importance to conceptions and feelings such as compassion, empathy, joy and grace. After all, the consciousness of man is not the quiet whirring of a clock. It is alive and effervescent.
Therefore, if the conscious purusa is your core, then your philosophy must give full accommodation to these concepts. Consciousness is not bare thinking or merely the state of being alive (existing). It also means joy. Moreover, our human world also sways to aesthetic ideals.
These may also be regarded as yet another facet of consciousness. Civilization progresses through, nay is propelled by, such motivations as the urge to secure equality and dignity and not simply through calm, undisturbed consciousness. Therefore, a higher philosophy--one that proposes to recognize consciousness in all its aspects, must give recognition and room to these (higher) conceptions. It is not anti-intellectual and contrary to logic.
And this is precisely what the pure devotional philosophy of texts such as the Bhagavata is all about. 
Here, the doing of pure devotion to God is an expression of the highest level of the (intellectual) purusa-centred philosophy. And this joyous experience is the highest aspect of consciousness.

No Means apart from Bhakti for Purifying the Consciousness

According to the Bhagavata , for the purpose of purifying the consciousness, there is no means apart from devotion ( bhakti ): p. 148 ...