[Advaita-l] Question on Mayavada

Antharyami sathvatha at gmail.com
Wed Nov 24 14:55:12 CST 2010

Hari OM~


‘*athAtho saMpradAya parishudhyarthaM’ - *‘then and therefore for the sake
of purification of the tradition’

It is a scandal in attempting to attribute and import the label ‘mAyA vAda’
unto Advaita Vedanta and there exists this conspiracy in using the Padma
Purana reference as an auxiliary to this attempt. This should be dismantled
and hence this effort.

The controversial Padma purana reference cited is this: “bauddha shAstraM
asat proktaM nagna nIlapATAdikaM | mAyAvAdaM asac-chAstraM pracchannaM
bauddhaM ucyate || mayaiva kathitaM devi kalau brAhmaNa rUpiNA”. The verse
appears in the Uttara kANDa portion – 263. 70a-71a / Chp 236 – 3ab-7ab,
8ab-12ab. Now, the provisional prima facie that Advaitins confront here with
this controversial reference in Padma Purana, is 1) attribution of the label
mAyA vAda 2) Advaita Vedanta as promulgated by Sankara earns the name ‘asat
shAstraM 3) Sankara is directly referred to as ‘son of brAhmaNa – which
Puranic myth describes as incarnation of Shiva representing the aspect of
Kali 4) Advaita Vedanta is equaled with Buddhism earning the caption
‘pracchanna bauddhaM’. These are the observations extricated directly from
the cited textual portion.

It is important for us to know the textual layout / outlook in which the
controversial passage appears. The profile of Uttara kANDa. Uttara kANDa is
the chapter which takes the last place in the Padma purana as the name
“uttara” denotes. This uttara kANDa is the most volumninous portion in the
Padma Purana and deals widely with many themes. The textual section in which
the controversial text appears is particularly the most compelling textual
territory which is almost parallel to the II pada, of the AvirodAdhyAya of
Brahma sUtra-s. The controversial verses are the last few couplets in the
portion that deals with “heretics” and “characterization of various schools
/ doctrines”. Pivotal is the fact about Uttara kANDa that it is fused and
confused with many apocryphal elements which makes it spurious. There are
multiple ingredients that throw uttara kANDa in the garb of suspicion. Based
on the microscopic manuscriptological lower criticism reveals that there are
two distinct recensions viz., Bengali and the Devanagari (south Indian
recension). The Bengali recension highly polluted with the localized Bengali
phonetical accents, while it bears its unique and distinct phonetical
dialects that amounts to colloqualisation as process of localization of
redaction which is evident. For instance the vocatives and nominal
declensions of ‘Shiva’ are relected as ‘Shiba’ in many copious intra-textual
instances. Moreover, the conceptual ceramics, of the Uttara kANDa section
where the controversial verse “mAyA vAda asac chAstraM” appears is leery.
This isolated phenomena in chapter 236.f which is preceded by a portion
where it mentions Gautama – author of Nyaya Sutra-s, KaNAda – author of
Vaiseshika Sutra-s by name along with Brhaspati, Kapila as passing
references. But the ‘interpolator’ gives a special attention to the portion
that deals with the “mAyA vAda” module. We find a little description of the
doctrine, the propunder of the doctrine, which the text seemingly refers to
Sankara, and goes to the extent of marking the biographical details of
Sankara without mentioning the name directly. Why this special interest to
target Advaita Vedanta under the veil of diplomacy? We all know that the
title “pracchanna Bauddha” is attributed to Sankara’s philosophy by the
Ramanujites, as the title history is apparent and prevelant among the South
Indian Ramanujites.

The Bengali mss. are invariably in the Bengali script printed in multiple
editions. One of the early Bengali edition is editied by one Kedarnatha
Bhakti Vinoda, Calcutta. Earliest printed editions were based on the
Devanagari mss. which were published by Anandashrama Sanskrit Series,
Varanasi; Venkat Press, Bombay. Both these recensions include high degree
orthographical errors, multivariant calligraphical ambiguities, and chunks
of irregularities in the chapters and so on. Asoke Chatterjee (Calcutta,
1967) in his critical study of the Purana records that Uttara kANDa,
according to Aufrecht’s account in the Bodlien Cat the Devanagari recension
notices 174 chapters while the Bengali recension comprises of 282 chapters.
Asiatic society mss. assimilates 173 chapters, and the Dacca University mss.
shows 174 chapters. Some Devanagari recensions show up only variedly 17 to
61 chapters. R.C Hazra who assimilated the Puranic records records that the
contents of “uttara kANDa” is “superfluous” and suspects that the content is
not “originally” voluminous as it is handed down to us in the current form.
More particularly the controversial verses cited., are completely absent in
certain early Devanagari recensions while they are retained in the Bengali
recensions. Clearly, Uttara kANDa portion of Padma Purana is thus extremely
corrupted. There are several reasons behind the project of textual
corruption. Diagonizing the corruption in the text involves methodical
assessment of the geo-political movement of the ‘text’ = mapping of ‘textual
navigation’, archeological hermeneutics – including interpretation of
hydronomy, internal stratification of the text and so on. I shall be
considering some of these concerns here (not all).

Generally the nature of nuclear text is subjected to constant shifts and is
subjected to interminable imbroglios of redaction. Redaction is one intense
process of textual transmission wherein the nuclear text acquires multi
dimensional variations. Redactive process, implies the fact that the text is
kept in constant movement that it covers a wide range of places in terms of
the geo-political territory in the period in which it is compiled. The
orally transmitted textual genres in such a process gets polluted by being
augmented with the political biases, vernacular dialects, fulcrum content,
oral histories, some hagiographical legends, sectarian discources,
liturgical units, phonetical perversions and historical narratives. These
multiple pollutants attribute to localization of texts, cosmopolitanism in
texts and the vernaculalizations upon textual nucleas. Deciphering such a
process of textual corruption is also known as ‘textual development’ –
analysis of which is textual archeology or stratiography. As far as Padma
Purana is concerned, Asoke Chaterjee observes that the very Puranic genre
suffers from intense corruption which is larger in magnitude. For instance,
the majority of the Purana-s speaks about the worship of Brahma involving
some Tantric practices. Asoke Chaterjee and Hazra contends the view that the
primal fulcrum of the Padma Purana is originally related to Brahma worship
as the term ‘PuSkara’ which refers to Brahma appears often in the SrSTi,
bhUmi, nirmANa, kriyA kANDa-s and other major portions of the text. This is
supported by the fact that its parallel an old Tamil lexicon Pingalandai
mentions that Brahma was the predominant deity of the Padma Purana just as
Skanda Purana refers. There are atleast 50 solid references within Padma
Purana that explicitly reveals that the original nucleus of the text
pertains to Brahma Worship alone. Parallels are found in Matsya Purana for
cross evidence. Stalwarts like Gopinath Kaviraj, Bhatt and others endorse
the fact that there has been “zealous and repeated interference of various
sectaries” predominantly “by the vaisnava-s with the text of Uttara kANDa of
Padma Purana” in different “climes and ages” throughout the early period of
its redaction.

Particularly pertaining to the issue of our concern here, the Uttara kANDa
is considered to be a substantial case of “vaiSNava underhands” in it. One
such instance as Chaterjee points out here is compelling, which is regarding
the theme of JAlaMdhara episode. The original Devanagari recension gives an
elaborate account of this episode which elaborately deals with glorification
of Siva, while there are explicit mentions regarding the account that Siva
alone succeded in killing of JalMdhara while all gods including ViSNu
restrained. Textual criticism reveals that this module is entirely being
replaced by the VaiSNava counter module that states the direct converse to
the legendary discourse as VaiSNAvas “could not tolerate the pre eminence of
Shiva” (p.88, Chaterjee). This Shorter module, according to Chaerjee and
Gopinath Kaviraj was added in the Uttara kANDa portion at a later date.

In the gulf of mss. variants between the Bengali recension and the
Devanagari recension, the Uttara kANDa is inflected with most compelling
spurious contents. For instance, Chapter 78.f verse 171.b goes like this:
“tathA bhaktaiH SoDashadhA kathitA yatnato mayA | shrImad rAmAnuja dIkSa
vidhAnaM vidhi pUrvakaM ||”. Here the uttara kANDa Bengali recension verse
clearly mentions familiarity of the Ramanuja sect directly by name –
“rAmAnuja dIkSa”. Thus we can infer the relative dating of the inflected
text to be of a later period. The direct reference to Ramanuja sect is to be
seriously noted and it precipitates much religio-political influence un to
the Uttara kANDa and is thus corrupted. We also have to note that these
verses are absent in the Devanagari mss. recensions. Not only this, the
Bengali recension is desperate enough to accommodate some Gaudiya VaiSNava
flavor which is explicit and glaring in few many portions is the Uttara
kANDa text. For instance chapter p99.f v. 224.b mentions “tad rAdhA
vallabhIyaM yad dhari pAdakRtaM samam – yad radhA vallabhIyaM yad dhari
mandiram … shrImad rAdhA vallabhIyaM kAryaM … srI mad rAdhA vallabhIyaM
tilakaM sumanoharam …” so on and so forth. These dialects gets reflected in
the chapter 106.f. 246a. where the expression “rAdhA vallabhIyaM” occurs in
copious repetitions. Further there are references to RadhaSTami vrata, an
orthopraxy which is patent to Gaudiya VaiSNavism alone, a ritual which
Smarta-s and other Vaidikas never practiced in their traditions. This proves
that there is unmistakably Gaudiya influence at this level in the textual

Moving further, chap. 250.1b of uttara kANDa also 15.f 28.b, refers to the
DrAviDa king Citrasena found in the Bengali recension, who according to
archeological evidences is well known Cola King who succeeded regions of
Cola dynasty after Kulotunga Cola in the 1133 AD. There is a popular
historical note that Kulotunga caused a spasmodic outburst of “anti vaiSNava
feelings” and Ramanuja's subsequent 12-year exile in
in Karnataka <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karnataka>. Uttara kANDa section
makes clear reference to Cola King Citra Sena who came after the Kulatunga
regim and gives fairly a detail account of his Saiva bias, a narrative
characterized in an anti-saiva offensive, which clearly goes to speak of the
vaiSNava hands in the redaction of the Uttara kANDa portions. From this we
can infer that the corruption of the text begins during early 13th c.e , a
period immediate to Ramanuja’s times and extends to a period to interpolate
expressions of “radha vallabhIyam” of the Gaudiya-s who have extra-marital
commitment to their beloved Ramanujaites whom the former calls “Sri
SampradAya” – an expression which the latter themselves are not aware of.
There is also all possibility to assume that huge VaiSNava population
migrated to the north during the Citrasena period, post Kulotunga, alongside
of Ramanuja exile to Mysore. There migrants travelled all along the east
coast, via Godavari to the regions of Bengal. Due to the fanatic
affiliations to Ramanuja, the migrants could have joined hands with already
strong holds of GauDiya VaiSNava-s in Bengal and profitably engaged in the
activities to interpolate the Uttara kANDa, thus contributed to this great
scandal and conspiracy at various levels targeting all the
non-sectarian-vaisnava religions domains.

The textual genography of Padma PuraNa, especially the uttara kANDa is
important to be mapped here. There are copious references to the rich
cultural heritage of the people of kAma rUpa(ref. chp. 17.f SrSTi kANDa)
Bengali recension 176-178a.  and other PuSkara sections of the Padma Purana
also refers to the high stature of the Kama Rupa Brahmins and their close
ties with the people of Mithila. Now the region-political legacy of Kama
rupa, an ancient city in todays Assam is of much significance at this
juncture. K. L. Barua makes a detailed study of the History of Kamarupa,  and
Makumdar N.G Inscriptions of Bengal reflect the fact that Kamarupa during
the 12CE was under the hands of VaiSNava regim. Studies also reveal that
after a period of reign of Dharmapala fall of Buddhist and Saiva influence
of Kamarupa takes place during early 11th C.E and from the beginning of the
“12th CE Vaisnavism gradually began to spread its influence. “History of
Bengal” by Majumdar insists that based on the Sena inscriptions , copper
plates and prasasti-s reflect the expressions of King LakSmaNa sena who
calls himself “parama VaisNava” of Kamarupa. Prasasti-s evidently reflect
that from LakSmaNa sena’s time VaiSNavism began to rceive state wide support
in Bengal, while Chaterjee mentions that “it may not be altogether
improbable that this influx of VaiSNavism came from Kamarupa with which
Bengal had its unique cultural correlations with”, which categorically
stands to give the scope to strongly assume that there are bardial
contributions of VaiSNava-s to the Uttara KANDa that inflects the Padma
Purana in a whole some manner and eventually led to the notorious
interpolations that led to this scandal.

The Padma Purana refers to the following places repeatedly – such as – lake
of Agastya, which is the region around melkote, predominantly ruled by the
badami-s and known for their vaisnava influences in the eary 12th CE.
Mentions GokarNa – Karnataka region, River Carmanvati – todays Cambhal river
– offshoot of Yamuna in Uttarpradesh, - mention to Godavari – Upper Andhra ,
mention to Kalpana river in Bhuvaneswar known for Gaudiya influences,
mention to kalanjara in uttarpradesh.  It is now evident that the
controversial portions of Uttara kANDa of Padma Purana is shuttled between
the Kamarupa, with its upper extensions to regions in uttar pradesh and the
DrAviDa desha during the immediate 12-13th C. period. A period flagged by
the growth of Ramanuja and the Gaudiya-s in the east coastal belt. The
movement of the uttara kANDa text back and forth along the eastern belt
between kamarupa and the Cola bent into the regions of Karnataka causes the
influx of strong pro-vaiSNava interpolations unto the text. This inflection
is politically motivated by the Ramanujites and the Gaudiya-s and they
sponsored the interpolations while they engaged in this scandal.

‘athaiha AdunikeSu manda-madhISu nirAsanaM’ – ‘hence the dull-witted of the
modern days are expelled here’

With Narayana Smrti,
Doctoral Student,
Centre for the Study of Religion,
Jackman Humanities Building,
170 St. George Street, floor 3,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8.

29 Doddington Dr
Toronto, ON
M8Y 1S3
Phone - 416-543-4585

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