Advaita and Vaishnavam

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Sun Aug 1 09:59:06 CDT 1999

Vivek Anand Ganesan <v_ganesan at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> 1. What is the place of Agama-s in Vedanta, esp. Advaita?
>   The reason for this question is that I am under the impression
that traditional
> instruction also includes the Agamas. If this is indeed the case, is
it only studied
> to be refuted as pUrvapaksha?

Agama-s, both shaivite and vaishhNavite are partially acceptable.
However, advaitins prefer the shrauta rituals compared to tha Agama-s,
although they may not really object to the latter. In fact H.H shrI
saccidAnanda shivAbhinava bhAratI Mahaswami (guru of chandrashekhara
bhAratI mahAswami) , who was an AchArya of the Sringeri Peetham,
started a movement to buidl temples along the shrauta lines rather
than the Agama lines. This is because the Agama-s themselves are only
partially reliable, better to stick to shrauta rituals.

> 2. Why is there an "Advaita vs. Vaishnavam" debate?
>   To the best of my knowledge, there are non-vaishnava sects that
also reject Advaita.
> I believe that there is atleast one school that has a philosophy
similar to VishishTadvaita,
> but is a Shaiva sect. Saiva Siddanta in the South, is also Dualistic
> So, why are Vaishnava sects singled out?

There are no non-advaitic, shaivite sects which also *claim* to be
based on the veda-s in existence now. The only susch school was the
shaivite Srikantha's and appayya dIxita's efforts subsumed the school
of Srikantha into advaita.

>   Another request for clarification. Atleast, in the South ( I hail
from TN ), Smarthas
> have a decidedly Shaiva slant. In TN, most Smarthas that I have seen
wear Shaiva sectarian
> marks on their foreheads. In fact, growing up, I was always told
that the primary difference
> between Iyers( Tamil Smarthas) and Iyengars( Tamil Sri Vaishnavas)
is that the former
> is Shaiva and the latter is Sri Vaishnava. Why is this so?

My mother's family wears tankalai style marks once a week and ashes
the rest of the days. When I went to Sringeri last time there was one
disciple who was wearing a vaishhnavite mark. All such things are
matters of family tradition and not anything do  with superiority or
inferiority of vishhNu. The Sringeri Acharys, although they wear ashes
themselves, advise people to follow family traditions, bhasma or
vaishhNava marks.

The vArttikakAra sureshvarAchArya has said in his
purushhavidhabrAhmaNa vArtika 377:

yaH prR^ithivAmitIsho.asAvantaryAmI jagadguruH |
harirbrahmA pinAkIti bahudhaiko.api gIyate |

The Lord of this earth, the one existing inside all that and the world
teacher, *is though one*,  sung variously as Hari , Brahma, Pinaki,
etc (a name for shiva commonly found in the mahAbhArata).


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