Vedic Religion

Shrisha Rao shrao at NYX.NET
Mon Aug 2 12:30:08 CDT 1999

Ramakrishnan wrote:

> Shrisha Rao <shrao at NYX.NET> wrote:

> 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.

I don't know of any verse in the MB that lauds pAshupata, etc., as
well, but I do know there are several verses, including one
significant passage, that extol the Pancharatra.  However, I did check
the subcommentaries upon the shaN^kara-bhAshhya on the
utpattyadhikaraNa, and I fail to see where from you derive your
points.  Neither Shankara nor his commentators make the claim that all
bhAshhyakAra-s anterior to him hold the Pancharatra to be non-Vedic.
A brief summary (apologies for any inadvertent omissions or
misrepresentations) of the main points of the classical position of
the commentators is as follows.

1> The Pancharatra texts may be entirely the creation of Narayana, but
this by itself is no guarantee for their validity, as even the Bauddha
texts are acknowledged to be Narayana's creation (bhAmatI).

2> Let it be that the the "creation of jIva-s" theory can be explained
away; even so the Pancharatra remains non-Vedic only, because the
ekAyana-shAkhA, claimed to be the Vedic authority which supports
Pancharatric practices, is unavailable, and positing a khila for this
purpose is not right. (kalpataru-parimaLa)

Btw, I'm not sure who among the Vishishtadvaitins is being refuted by
Appayya in point 2, but it may be Vedanta Desika, who is said to have
written a work defending the Pancharatra.

> 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.

Or vice versa.  In any event, this discussion is not about the
validity of the ahirbudhnya-samhitA, which we can safely dismiss.

> The earliest texts of the latter school cannot be pre-date the
> 10th century CE.

The point being...?

> However, as I mentioned all bhAshhyakara-s previous
> to rAmanuja and even yAmuna have refuted the pA.ncarAtra as unvedic.

The evidence for this is not particularly strong --

> This includes bhAskara and an unknown commentator, postulated to be

-- two out of heaven knows how many ancient commentators that would
be.  Let's face it: we know little to nothing about pre-Shankara
Vedantic authors or commentators; we know they wrote commentaries on
the BG and on the major Upanishads, but not much more.

> 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.

I doubt that, since Yamuna and Vachaspati were approximately
contemporaries, and also because Bhaskara and Vachaspati would not
have bothered to study the Pancharatra in detail, given their avowed
lack of trust in it.

> 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
> advaitins.

Quite possible; note that I do not hold any brief for Yamuna or
Ramanuja in the main; I'm aware also that B.N.K. Sharma criticizes
Ramanuja for having been under Shankara's thrall to such an extent
that he follows the latter's lead even to the detriment of his own
beliefs (for instance in the utpattyadhikaraNa, and also in following
Shankara's dismissal of prakR^iti, which however is an eternal
category of Vishishtadvaita).

> 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.

On the basis of *one* verse which may have been from some Pancharatra
text?  And on the basis of *two* bhAshhyakAra-s, one of whose
commentaries is not available?  I doubt it.  Besides, it would surely
make little sense for Shankara to have rejected the Pancharatra and
for Yamuna and Ramanuja to have adopted it, in that case.  It should
have been the reverse.


Shrisha Rao

> Rama

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