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Madhusudana Sarasvati Thoughts On Bhakti And Advaita

The mystical experience of oneness of jnana and bhakti of the Gopikas of Vrindavan was given a firm philosophical foundation by Madhusudana Sarasvati, the great Advaita scholar.

Madhusudana Sarasvati opines that a higher form of bhakti will blossom only after the realisation of unitary consciousness. He says that in the initial stages, bhakti is vrtti-rupa, of the form of mental mode directed towards God. In the ultimate state, bhakti is rasa-rupa or bhagavat-rupa, where the mental mode takes the form of the essence of whole existence or the very form of the Bhagavan of the universe.

The concept of rasa is equivalent to the concept of Brahman as enumerated in Taittiriya Upanishad in the statement: ‘Raso vai sah; Brahman is of the nature of rasa.’ In its real form, according to Madhusudana, bhakti is the same as Bhagavan or God, since the whole mind takes His form. This is called advaita bhakti because it is similar to the ultimate state of advaita, where the mind fully takes akhandakara vrtti the unitary form of Brahman.

Madhusudana beautifully expresses his sentiment towards Bhagavan Sri Krishna as follows: ‘If the yogis, with their minds which have been brought under control through the practice of meditation, see some such transcendental light that is without qualities and action, let them see! But, for filling our eyes with astonishment, let there be forever that indescribable Blue (light) alone which runs about hither and thither on the sands of the Kalindi (Yamuna)!’