[Advaita-l] The Enlightened Eminently Engage in Empirical Endeavors - Part 2

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Mar 4 06:15:05 CST 2010

Dear Sir,

I am at a loss to understand how and why the idea of a personality of the
Shruti-based persons could be linked to apauruSheyatva or a beginning date
for the Shruti.  I certainly feel that this confusion is not at all
warranted.  Just because someone considers or concludes that the
Shruti-mentioned characters are 'certain' personalities, why should it lead
to the negation of apaurusheyatva of Shruti?  Take for instance the

For the very first mantra of this Upanishat

// Vajasravasa, desiring rewards, performed the Visvajit sacrifice, in which
he gave away all his property. He had a son named Nachiketa. //

the Acharya starts the commentary with the words:

//तत्राख्यायिका विद्यास्तुत्यर्था । // The *story* there is by way of
eulogizing the knowledge.//

Thus according to Shankara, this is a story.  This could lead us to conclude
that the characters in the Upanishad are 'not real', fictitious.  But quite
contrary to our misapprehensions, Shankara does not treat them as
fictitious.  He considers Nachiketas and Yama to be real, exalted
personalities worthy of the highest reverence.  So, at the beginning of the
Kathopanishad introduction, the Acharya dedicates a shloka in veneration:

ऒम् नमो भगवते वैवस्वताय मृत्यवे ब्रह्मविद्याचार्याय नचिकेतसे च ।

/Salutation to Bhagavan Yama, Death, son of of the Sun and the imparter of
the knowledge of Brahman, and salutation to Nachiketa./

Now, if Shankara's considering Y and N as venerable ones makes these
characters historical ones, will the Kathopanishat be rendered paurusheya,
with a date of composition?  Surely, it cannot be denied that to offer
namaskara, the object of veneration has to be considered a 'real' person,
with a name, a certain form, a set of characteristic features identifiable.
Shankara has taken into consideration all these aspects and offers His
namaskara to Y and N.

In the Jivan Mukti Viveka, Swami Vidyaranya analyses the character of Sage
Yajnavalkya.  He raises a question on the very jnAnitva of Yajnavalkya and
concludes that since the Upanishat portrays him as a Brahma vidya Acharya,
his Brahmavittva  should not be doubted.  Sw. Vidyaranya goes on to cite
instances of how Yajnavalkya was 'attached' to wealth in the form of cows
and gold and money and even gave room to anger when he cursed Shaakalya to
death in a debate, etc.  All this discussion comes in the Vasana kshaya
prakaraNam, if I am not mistaken.

Now, just because an Upanishadic character is analysed considering him as a
'real' person, can we implicate that Vidyaranya is rendering the
Briharadranyaka Upanishad paurusheya?

There are many  such instances.  While being taught the Bhashya, our own
Acharya, a Brahma jnani, used to cite us the case, the character of Maitreyi
and teach us how one should keep her as an ideal for a tattva jignaasu.
Nachiketas has always been the role model for all aspirants of Atma tattva.
Janaka, again, an ideal for his unquenchable thirst for Tattva vichara and
vivada.  By venerating Upanishadic personalities we are certainly not
rendering the Upanishads paurusheya.  All our pUrvaacharyas have shown
precedents in this.  To fault them would be our folly.  Certainly these are
not mere 'names' used to help us easily grasp the tattva being taught in the
Upanishads.  There is a lot to draw from these personalities and this is
what our Acharyas have done all along.

Best regards,

On Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 1:30 PM, Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Sir
> The point I am trying to make is not that Sri Sankara himself mentions
> various j~nAnis; in fact, I anticipated that and gave the reply to that. The
> point is if we need Sruti praamaaNyataa for the statement that j~nAnis also
> have bodies, minds and intellect, the proper way would be quote any vakya
> which establishes that; that Sruti mentions ajAtaSatru, yaaj~navalkya,
> janaka, uddaalaka, Svetaketu, naarada, sanatkumaara, varuNa, bhrigu,
> nachiketa and others as j~naanis and since it is obvious that they have BMI,
> cannot be taken to prove that j~naanis have BMI. Why? Because ajAtaSatru to
> nachiketa and others are not to be taken as historical persons. The names
> are mentioned so that the subject being taught is easily grasped.
> Why cannot they be taken as historical persons? If we do take them as
> historical persons, the question arises as to whether the vedas were present
> or not, when YAj~navalkya declared his decision to renounce the world. If
> the Vedas were not present, there obviously is a beginning to them and then
> the question arises as to who wrote or recorded them. This is a
> contravention of the apaurusheyatva of Vedas. If we assume that Vedas were
> indeed present event as KAtyAyanI stays quiet and Maitreyi asks for the
> ultimate treasure, we have to perforce exclude the BrihadaaraNyaka portion
> from the corpus of Vedas available at that time. So the AraNyaka and
> Upanishad of one SAkha of SAmaveda have a definite beginning which is after
> the YAj~navalky-Maitreyi samvaada; similarly some part of the TaittirIya
> SAkha of yajurveda begins after the varuNa-bhrigu samvaada. By induction
> most of the Vedas would have an identifiable beginning, which is against the
> traditional view.
> Thus the proper Sruti support for the motion is not the reference to
> various persons as j~naanis. What is it,  then? The portion from
> srishTikrama which describes how Brahman became many is a better support.
> Best regards
> Senani
> ________________________________
> From: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
> To: Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>; A discussion group for
> Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
> Sent: Thu, March 4, 2010 12:57:06 PM
> Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] The Enlightened Eminently Engage in Empirical
> Endeavors - Part 2
> Namaste Dear Siva,
> The points you have made are quite interesting.
> In the Sutra bhashya we find sentences like these:
>  Shankara says in sUtra bhAshya that even anAshrami-s like raikva,
> vAchaknavi etc. have got that
> Atma vidyA.
> .anAshramitvena vartamAnOpi vidyAyAmadhikriyate, kutaH??
> taddrushteH, raikva, vAchaknavi prabhruteenAM, evaM bhutAnAmapi
> brahmavitva shrutyupalabdheH...
> While the exact reference of the Bhashya is not available now to me, here
> is another
> reference, with the key word 'prabhRti'which means 'etc.'.
> In the bhashya for sutra 1.3.38 we have:
> yeShAM punaH pUrvakRta-samskAravashaat vidura, dharmavyaadha prabhRteenAm
> jnAnotpattiH...
> On the strength of such statements where some Vedic and PurANic persons
> have been specifically
> named by Shankaracharya and the several unnamed are also indicated by the
> word 'etc'.
> there would be no defect in quoting from the Shruti or puraaNa-s persons
> whom we know
> for certain are Jnani-s.  There is no reason why only certain cases who
> have been specifically
> mentioned can be quoted by us and not the others.  I hope your concern on
> this subject
> has been addressed by me.  By this rule of 'etc.' I don't think that any
> transgression of
> the tradition is committed.
> Best regards,
> subrahmanian.v
> On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 11:20 PM, Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
> Dear Sri V Subrahmanian mahodaya
> >
> >While I don't contest your conclusion about jñAnis have a body, mind and
> intellect (BMI), I do want to question the Sruti examples quoted by you.
> >
> >There is a convention, carried over from pUrvamImAmsA that the persons
> mentioned in the Sruti are not historical persons and this convention is
> often invoked in discussions on whether women are eligible to study vedas.
> One possible answer to this is that Sri Sankara himself refers to some of
> these jñAnis; to that the reply would be that while the Bhagavadpada
> indeed refers to historical persons from Kapila (in the comment "we intend
> no disrespect to the great sage but Truth needs to be established") to
> Janaka (as a jñAni and in one rare case to himself as a brahmajñAni), the
> brahmajñAna of jnãnis among them is established through smriti granthas and
> the collective memory of the AchAryaparamparA not from a literal reading of
> Sruti. One example would be that of Trisanku who declares 'aham vrikshasya
> reriva ... vaajinIva svamritamasmi' but is not usually quoted as an example
> of a jñAni (at least to my knowledge); at the same time that he identified
> > himself with Brahman is agreed to by the AcharyapAda himself in
> earnestness without ridicule. So while referring to jñAnis based on the word
> of reverred predecessors in the paramparA is quite alright, a direct quote
> from Sruti as if it were a book of history is not correct, or at least not
> in line with the traditional thinking.
> >
> >jijñAsu
> >Senani
> >
> >
> >
> >
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