New member introduction: shrI Subhanu Saxena

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Aug 28 15:30:55 CDT 1998

On Thu, 13 Aug 1998, Shrisha Rao wrote:

> Surely that's a rather creative interpretation of that injunction, which
> prima facie is only saying, "do not neglect your self-study."  I seem to
> find no traces of that explanation in the commentarial writings of
> Shankara, Anandagiri, or Sureshvara.  The last says, for example:
>   agnihotrAdyanushhThAnaM dharmamAhurvipashchitaH  |
>   pramAdaM mA kR^ithAstadvatsvAdhyAyAmprati sarvadA  ||
>   The observance of rituals like agnihotra, etc., is noble, thus
>   say the wise; so too, [they say:] do not be negligent in pursuing
>   self-study always.

They may not have said that explicitly as "everyone knows" you are
supposed to study your own Shakha but there is no dout that was what
people believed.  For example in his Shankara digvijaya, Swami Vidyaranya
explains that Sureshvaracharya wrote vartikas on the
Brhadaranyakopanishad and Taittiriyopanishad bhashyas because his teacher
(i.e. Shankaracharya) belonged to Taittiriya Shakha of
Krishnayajuraveda and he belonged to Kanva Shakha of Shuklayajuraveda.

> > And that's only the tradition we have been following all this time also.
> > This tradition is not restricted to advaitins: all dvaitins,
> > vishishhTAdvaitins also follow it.
> I have no idea if there is in fact the tradition that _only_ "one's own
> Veda" should be studied,

no one is saying this.  The idea is the ancestral Shakha should be studied
*first*.  Ideally one should master all four.

>  and in fact, people in the past did study more
> than one, as attested to by the still-extant patronymics of Trivedi,
> Chaturvedi, etc.
> As such, one would doubt that such a tradition existed.
> Nowadays, when the tradition of studying the Vedas is nearly gone, it
> makes no sense to argue whether it exists or not.

As Ramakrishnan mentioned, my wifes maiden name was Dave which is a
prakrit version of Dvivedi so I am aware of this.  But I also discovered
in the process of arranging my marriage that many families who haven't
studied Vedas for several generations do have this notion of belonging to
a particular shakha.

> I'm not aware that a statement of injunction indicating a preferential
> order in which the Vedas are to be studied, exists either in the Vedas
> themselves, or in the writings of teachers of Vedanta.

For smartas at least, Shishtachara is just as valid a source of Dharma as
Shruti and Smrti.  And given that the practice of learning your own Shakha
is the accepted norm (Even amongst non-Smartas) it is as binding an
injunction as any.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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