Love – Its Role In Nondual Vedanta

The teachings of Advaita (nondual) Vedanta can appear drab and unfeeling. Luckily, there’s more to the story…

Mandanamisra
Long back in the 8th century, there lived a teacher of Advaita Vedanta named Mandana Misra. He was a contemporary of Sankara, who is credited with reviving Hinduism in India. Mandana Misra taught that love, in the form of passionate affection, is a driving force that initially induces one to seek the higher reality.

Mandana Mimisra wrote a treatise called Brahma-siddhi (Realization of Brahman, or Ultimate Reality) which had a profound impact on the development of post-Sankara Advaita.

In Mandana Misra’s words, from his prosaic Brahma-siddhi (Realization of Brahman) we find:

“It is established that Brahman is essentially bliss, the higher self-luminosity of atman; the atman is essentially bliss, since it is attained through the higher passion.”

Passionate love (prema), preached by Mandana Misra, bears a strong resemblance not only to bhakti (literally: being a part of, hence — attachment, devotion), propounded by Ramanuja, a follower of Vishnu, but also to the ‘gentle tenderness’ (sneha), which is so important for the religious mysticism of Madhva and other Krishna devotees.

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