[Advaita-l] 'VinAyaka' in ShAnkara GItA BhAShyam

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Jul 5 10:35:58 CDT 2011

On Tue, 5 Jul 2011, Satish Arigela wrote:

> It looks like shankara is of the opinion that 
> some forms of devata-s are tAmasika as opposed to criticizing tAmasika 
> worship in general.

I think you've made a convincing case that Shankaracharya totally rejected 
a particular tantrika cult based around saptamatrkas, chaturbhaginis, and

But does this generalize to all forms of worship of those devatas?  To 
Vinayaka in general?  To tantra in general?  To the panchayata devatas in 
general?  Here it gets murkier because Shankaracharya simply has not made 
definitive statements on the subject.  But I believe based on the other 
scraps of evidence scattered throughout his works that the current popular 
view is in fact the correct one.  Here is another example where he treats
Shiva-Shakti in a complimentary or at worst neutral way.

In the 3rd khaNDa of kenopaniShad Brahman in the form of a yaksha 
(noteworthy itself) confounds the Devas who cannot determine His true 
nature.  Eventually in 3.12 Indra learns it from bahushobhamAnAmumAM 
haimAvatIM "the most beautiful Uma Haimavati"

Shankaracharya has this to say about it.

bahushobhamAnAM sarveShAM hi shobhamAnAnAM shobhanatamA vidyA 
bahushobhamAneti visheShaNamupapannaM bhavati haimAvatIM 
hemakR^itAbharaNavatInivabahushobhamAnAmityarthaH | athavomaiva himavato 
duhitA haimavatI nityameva sarvaGYeneshvareNa saha vartata iti GYAtuM 
samartheti kR^itvA tAmupajagAma |

"bahushobhamAnAM - beautiful in all ways. [brahma]Vidya is the most 
beautiful in all ways so most beautiful is an appropriate term for it. 
haimAvatI - ornamented and dressed in gold therefore most beautiful.  Or 
the daughter of Himavan [Himalaya] is haimAvatI.  Because of Her constant 
accompaniment of the all-knowing Ishvara, He [Indra] thought She would 
know and approached Her [for instruction.]"

While the description doesn't reach the poetical heights the author of 
saundaryalahiri etc. could achieve, it is not uncomplimentary either. 
This devi svarUpa is not ignorance worshipped by the ignorant but jnAna 
itself worshipped by the highest of the Devas.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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