Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Fri Aug 21 17:01:12 CDT 1998

>   I have some basic doubts about a few topics that came up during a
> very interesting discussion last week. It has to do with the role of
> vidhi in Vedanta. It was my understanding(obviously erroneous) that
> the principal difference between the Vedanta and Mimamsa schools was
> with respect to Vidhis and that there was no place for vidhi in the
> Vedanata schools. However, I have learned otherwise from the members
> in this list. I would like to have some clarifications regarding the
> following questions :
>   a) What is the role of Vidhi in Advaita?

One can classify different kinds of vidhi, e.g.

1. apUrva vidhi (initial injunction) - this kind of vidhi enjoins an
action that brings a particular result into being. Most vidhis related to
yajnas are of this kind.

2. adhikAra vidhi (injunction of eligibility) - this determines the person
who is qualified for particular actions. Example, the rules determining
which priest is to do what, and what the patron has to do, in connection
with the elaborate Srauta yajnas. There are specific actions in every
yajna, that have to be done by specific persons.

3. niyama vidhi (restrictive injunction) - this kind of vidhi specifies
certain things in certain contexts. It may or may not overlap with 1 and 2
above. For example, the rule that the soma plant should be obtained from
the mountain mujAvant. (It is another matter that nobody probably knows
the exact location of this mountain today!)

4. parisaMkhyA vidhi (excluding injunction) - this kind of vidhi excludes
certain things in certain contexts. This is usually closely related to 3

Example, the rule that for specific yajnas, the rice should not be
threshed in one particular way, but in another particular way. Some
statements can therefore simultaneously restrict the available options to
one and exclude another, and would therefore be both niyama and
parisaMkhyA vidhis.

The parisaMkhyA vidhi is quite different from a prohibition (pratishedha).
A prohibited action should never be done, whereas the parisaMkhyA vidhi
excludes a particular way of doing something only in a particular context.
Thus, in the example above, if the rice is being used simply for cooking,
it may be threshed any which way, but it should not be used for the yajna.

According to Advaita Vedanta, there is no possibility of any apUrva vidhi
or adhikAra vidhi with regard to Self-knowledge, and the Vedas do not
enjoin any such vidhis either. This is because the AtmA always exists,
ruling out the apUrva option, and is present in every being, ruling out
the adhikAra option. In other schools of Vedanta, there is a wide variety
of interpretation regarding the enjoining or otherwise of AtmavidyA. In
particular, Ramanuja, Srikantha and Madhva would all view the statement,
"AtmA vA are drashTavyaH SrotavyaH mantavyaH nididhyAsitavyaH" as either
enjoining the knowledge of Atman, or deciding who is eligible for
AtmavidyA, or both. However, SankarAcArya and sureSvarAcArya say something
very different. While they rule out apUrva vidhi and adhikAra vidhi
interpretations, they give a qualified approval to interpreting the above
statement as a niyama vidhi (restricting the mumukshu to meditation on the
Atman) or as a parisaMkhyA vidhi (excluding the possibility of meditation
on anAtman, for the jIvanmukta). The most extensive discussion in this
context is to be found in SankarAcArya's bhAshya on bRhadAraNyaka
upanishad 1. 4. 7, and sureSvarAcArya's vArttika on it. Also see the
bhAshya and vArttika on the same upanishad, at 4. 4. 20-22.

By the way, for all such questions, it is absolutely necessary to
thoroughly study sureSvarAcArya's vArttikas on the bRhadAraNyaka and
taittirIya upanishads. There is a lot that is explicitly found in these
two texts, that are only implied or suggested in SankarAcArya's bhAshyas.
It should be remembered that sureSvarAcArya was a direct disciple of
SankarAcArya, although at one place, he respectfully disagrees with

>   b) What are the Vidhis enjoined for Smarthas?

Other than the basic nityakarmas, this can be variable, depending on the
sUtrakAra that one's family traditionally follows. For example, there are
Srauta, gRhya and dharma sUtras by ASvalAyana, Apastambha, baudhAyana,
kAtyAyana, gobhila, etc. Typically, these are distributed according to the
Vedas also.

>From ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU Mon Aug 24 08:17:13 1998
Message-Id: <MON.24.AUG.1998.081713.0500.ADVAITAL at TAMU.EDU>
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 08:17:13 -0500
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: "Ravisankar S. Mayavaram" <msr at ISC.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: 123. sarveshI
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123. sarveshI

SHE who is the ruler of all. As the inner ruler SHE directs all.

AUM sarveshyai namaH

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