Mahayana Buddhism and Early Advaita Vedanta (Study)

by Asokan N. | 2018 | 48,955 words

This thesis is called: Mahayana Buddhism And Early Advaita Vedanta A Critical Study. It shows how Buddhism (especially Mahayana) was assimilated into Vedantic theorisation in due course of time. Philosophical distance between Mahayana Buddhism and Advaita-Vedanta became minimal with the advent of Gaudapada and Shankaracharya, who were both harbinge...

Chapter 4.15 - Reality in Advaita (e): Asparshayoga (Asparsa-yoga)

Asparshayoga (Asparsa-yoga) is a new yogic technique introduced by Gaudapada, though not unknown to earlier schools.

Patanjali’s Yogasutra also recommends the goal of yoga viz.

“to stem the tide of the surging psychoses of mind and gradually attain thereby a state of mindlessness”.

In Asparshayoga (Asparsa-yoga) mind comes to a states of devoid of sparsha. It is non-dual experience. The contemplation of mind becomes distracted by various objects. The mind should be controlled by the different methods, what the yoga and meditative techniques stress as the practice.[1] The concentration of mind is not a simple task, it is very difficult, because mind is restless like a monkey. But it is possible for a constant practitioner. It is a task of laborious practice like emptying the ocean by the tip of a kusha grass, or the beak of the bird, which is narrated in the earlier works.[2] The constant practitioner can achieve the task by giving effort on the yogic path.

After the spiritual awakening the mind attains peace and achieves beatitude. Again the sadhaka entangles in four obstacles. They are; laya, which goes into sleep and slumber, vikshepa, which the mind is distracted from the real aim of the yoga, kaşaya, where mind is affected with the passions like, anger, and delusion. In this state, mind does not reach the real destination. And again in the process of mental region it comes to resasvada that is enjoying with the happiness in leaner regions.

By overcoming all these four states of stumbling the real sadhaka should climb the yogic path and reach the state of mindlessness. It is atmanibhava. Through the tough and rigid practices of mental and moral aptitudes, the mind of the sadhaka reaches a motionless state. So he is completely controlled the mind (Citta vritti nirodha). Then the mind becomes like a motionless lamp in the windless place, and achieves the nirvikalpa samadhi, which is non-dual Brahman. This Samadhi is the summum bonum in the yoga of Gaudapada, which is called Asparshayoga (Asparsa-yoga). Mandukya-karika in sutra 81 says, ‘The State of Supreme is birthless (Ajati) sleepless, dreamless and selfluminous. For this entity (the self) is ever luminous by its very nature. The enlightened one who has perceived the all-pervading supreme reality that is like Ether.

In this state of mind the self establishes ‘itself’ in the self.

“Gaudapada takes care to point out that the mind is to be made non-mind through the knowledge of the sole reality of the self (atma-satyanubodha).”[3]

“It is the Samadhi that is nature of the Supreme. The Self (Atman) rests in the Paramatman. It is the Absolute reality that one can achieve through the, right meditation and yoga. It is calm and eternal. It is the fearless and unshakeable mediation (Samadhi).”[4]

This Supreme state of Absolute bliss is narrated by Shankara in his Vivekacudamani as follows;

“The greatness of Parabrahman, like an ocean completely filled with the nectar of realized bliss, can neither be described by speech nor conceived by mind, but can be enjoyed. Just as a rain drop, falling in to the sea becomes dissolved therein. So my mind becomes merged in the least part of the Parabrahman. Now I am happy with spiritual bliss.”[5]

According TMP Mahadevan the state of Samadhi, is the destruction of duhkha, misery. It is Sarvajitatva, eternal peace. It is advaitopasana, where plurality disappears. This attainment of non-duality is moksha. This perfection of finitude is the brahmanya padam, Brahman State. The one who achieves this status of bliss being alive is called jivanmukta. He attains self-sovereignty (sarvajnata). His conduct never becomes immoral. His state of mind is deep and unfathomable. He sees truth everywhere and in everything, he delights in truth.[6] This knowledge of the self cannot be grasped by ordinary intellect. The knowledge existing in the birthless soul is regarded unborn and unrelated. As the knowledge has no relation with other objects it is declared to be unmatched.

Footnotes and references:


TMP Mahadevan,, p. 181.


This is an analogy based on the story of a bird. The story says, a bird embedded the eggs on the seashore. One day the ocean taken away the eggs. The angry bird decided to drain the ocean by its beak. After a long time Varuna, the Lord of Ocean, gave it back because of its hard labor and unwavering decision.


TMP Mahadevan, Gaudapada, A Study in Early Vedanta, p. 185.


Sharma, C.D, Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, MLBD, 2013, p. 250.


Vivekacudamani, Shloka 48, trans. from the original Sanskrit, Mohini Mohan Chatterjee, The Theosophical Publishers, Chennai,1968, p.139.


TMP Mahadevan,, p. 187.

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