Vedic Religion

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Sun Aug 1 09:32:58 CDT 1999

Shrisha Rao <shrao at NYX.NET> wrote:

> > >From the above we can gauge two things. All bhAshyakaras till
> > maintained that the pA.ncarAtra was unvedic. Not only that, even
> > pA.ncarAtra philosophy has no connection with the
> I'm no authority on the Pancharatra, much less on Vishishtadvaita,
> just a couple of remarks here.  It seems unfair to accuse Ramanuja
> having elevated "unvedic" texts as part of an [allegedly] Vedic
> tradition, when said texts have been lauded greatly in the
> Mahabharata, and also in the Yajur Veda, which is the putative
> "earliest" source of the world `paJNcharAtrA' itself (cf. Schrader,
> F.O., `Introduction to Pancharatra and the Ahirbudhnya Samhita').
> accusation that the Pancharatra contains nonsense such as creation
> jIva-s, and also criticism of Vedas, has been dealt with by
> predecessor Yamuna (cf. Varadachari, V., `Agamas and South Indian
> Vaishnavism'), who observes that (i) the Pancharatra text where the
> "creation of jIva-s" theory is apparently found itself repudiates
> theory in another location, showing that such is not its intent; and
> (ii) _apparently_ nonsensical statements are not wanting in other
> accepted texts; and finally (iii) apparent criticism of the Vedas is
> also to be found in the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and in some
> cases in the Vedas themselves.  Of course, these arguments of Yamuna
> may have been refuted, but I'm not aware that they were.

The mahabhArata is smR^iti and is to be treated as such, it is
subordinate to shruti at least as far as advaita goes. Do note that
the same verse which talks about pA.ncarAtra (I don't have it at hand)
also lauds the pAshupata, yoga and sA.nkhyA religions. All 4 are _not_
acceptable in toto as far as advaita goes.

The ahirbudhnya sa.nhitA is not a very old text, at least there are
various layers to it. Schraeders works is somewhat antiquated right
now. Prof Rafaelle Torella (an authority on Agamic traditions from
Kashmir) says that there are parts very much influenced by the trika
system. The earliest texts of the latter school cannot be pre-date the
10th century CE. However, as I mentioned all bhAshhyakara-s previous
to rAmanuja and even yAmuna have refuted the pA.ncarAtra as unvedic.
This includes bhAskara and an unknown commentator, postulated to be
dramiDa by Oberhammer. BTW, the latter is commonly thought to be a
non-advaitic writer. My main point was that the pA.ncarAtra being
vedic had *no* support among the vedic tradition *which followed the
brahma sUtras*.  Ramnuja, and even yAmuna, are unable to find any
bhAshhyakara supporting their views. That's all. The apparent critcism
and contradictions within the veda has been satisfactorily explained
by the upanishhads themselves at various places and also by the brahma
sUtras. In fact, the sUtras seem to have been written for this very

BTW, you don't seem to have read my mail. I said other bhAshhyakara-s
like bhAskara and the unknown commentator have also interpreted the
pA.ncarAtra as talking about creation of jIva-s. If at all any
pA.ncarAtra text does NOT talk about creation of jIva-s, it must have
been written after both bhAskara and vAcaspati mishra. Either that, or
those texts were not considered mainstream texts by the pA.ncarAtrins
themselves. That is rather obvious. Non-advaitins cannot wish it away
as an advaita conspiracy, it has bhAskaras support (as also
commentator X most probably a non advaitin since yAmuna has respect
for him). In any case, the import of pA.ncarAtra doctrines into the
vedic school seems to have started with yAmuna only. yAmnuna gives an
ad-hoc explanation. It's obvious since he can't explain the criticism
of the unknown bhAshhyakara, who he respectfully calls the "revered
commentator"!  rAmanuja later tried (unsuccessfully IMO) to give a
more rigorous explanation. None of these things are of any use for

As a side note, it would be interesting to see which pA.ncarAtra texts
actually support Ramnujas view of souls being servants of vishhNu in
vaikuNTha. Any one know? As far as pre-yAmuna brahmasUtra
bhashhyakAra-s, *everyone* has noted that the pA.ncarAtrins claim that
there is no distinction in the state of release.


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