Vedic Religion

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Mon Aug 2 19:29:11 CDT 1999

Shrisha Rao <shrao at NYX.NET> wrote:

> utpattyadhikaraNa, and I fail to see where from you derive your
> points.  Neither Shankara nor his commentators make the claim that
> 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.

Thanks for the summary of the commentators views on the
pA.ncarAtra.Although, I think it is not entirely relevant to my point.
Anyway, please read Oberhammers paper on Sha.nkaras refutation of the
pA.ncarAtra in the ABORI , "An unknown source in the refutation of the
pA.ncarAtra," ABORI Vol LVIII-LIX, pp 221-223. Oberhammers comments on
sha.nkaras commentary are quite interesting. Sha.nkara makes his point
very clear that he regards the pA.ncarAtra as casting a slur on the
veda. BTW, there are a few other places where he ridicules the
pA.ncarAtra doctrine, though not naming it. Even Gaudapada refers to

Again, my point was this: From various works (not sha.nkaras alone),
bhAskaras commentary, yAmunas reply to someone he calls "revered
commentator", vAcaspati and sha.nkara, it is clear that all four
commentators (not yAmuna) held that the pA.ncarAtra scriptures talked
about creation of jIvas. Ramanuja was the first commentator (known)
who thinks otherwise. So, it is quite likely that this was a later
evolution of the pA.ncarAtra, or a doctrine of a minor pA.ncarAtra
text. A further evidence in this regard is that yAmuna is not able to
produce any bhAshhyakAra who thinks that the pA.ncarAtra is vedic.
Even the commentator he reveres is against the pA.ncarAtra!

> 1> The Pancharatra texts may be entirely the creation of Narayana,
> this by itself is no guarantee for their validity, as even the
> texts are acknowledged to be Narayana's creation (bhAmatI).
> 2> Let it be that the the "creation of jIva-s" theory can be
> 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
> purpose is not right. (kalpataru-parimaLa)
> Btw, I'm not sure who among the Vishishtadvaitins is being refuted
> Appayya in point 2, but it may be Vedanta Desika, who is said to
> written a work defending the Pancharatra.

All these post Ramanuja works are of  near-zero use in judging
historical evolution upto the point of Ramanuja.

> > The ahirbudhnya sa.nhitA is not a very old text, at least there
> > various layers to it. Schraeders works is somewhat antiquated
> > now. Prof Rafaelle Torella (an authority on Agamic traditions from
> > Kashmir) says that there are parts very much influenced by the
> > system.
> Or vice versa.  In any event, this discussion is not about the
> validity of the ahirbudhnya-samhitA, which we can safely dismiss.

Prof. Torellas textual study shows otherwise.

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

Should have been obvious. Since textual comparisons have shown that
Kashmir Shaivism influenced the ahirbudhnya, the latter has layers
which are as recent as 10th century or later. So studies on the
ahirbudhnya alone cannot reveal how the pA.ncarAtra doctrine evolved.
Further textual comparisons are required. Right?

> > However, as I mentioned all bhAshhyakara-s previous
> > to rAmanuja and even yAmuna have refuted the pA.ncarAtra as
> The evidence for this is not particularly strong --

Strong enough for me to suggest a strong possibility.

> > This includes bhAskara and an unknown commentator, postulated to
> -- 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.

Mere speculation, since yAmuna himself did not know of any commentator
who supported his views on the pA.ncarAtra.

> > BTW, you don't seem to have read my mail. I said other
> > like bhAskara and the unknown commentator have also interpreted
> > 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
> > 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.

vAcaspati who was a sarvatantrasvatantra? :-). The same vAcaspati who
defends nyAya and sA.nkhya vigorously against advaita in his other
texts? I doon't think soo :-). And were you watching over Bhaskara's
shoulder? :-). I'd think when Bhaskara refutes a doctrine that he must
have studied it and *since* he wasn't satisfied with it, he disliked
it. Why put the cart before the horse? Can we take it then that since
Madhva does not trust advaita, he did not study it carefully then?

> > Either that, or
> > those texts were not considered mainstream texts by the
> > themselves. That is rather obvious. Non-advaitins cannot wish it
> > as an advaita conspiracy, it has bhAskaras support (as also
> > commentator X most probably a non advaitin since yAmuna has
> > for him). In any case, the import of pA.ncarAtra doctrines into
> > vedic school seems to have started with yAmuna only. yAmnuna gives
> > ad-hoc explanation. It's obvious since he can't explain the
> > of the unknown bhAshhyakara, who he respectfully calls the
> > 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
> Shankara's dismissal of prakR^iti, which however is an eternal
> category of Vishishtadvaita).

This has nothing to do with my point, which was a historical analysis.

> > As a side note, it would be interesting to see which pA.ncarAtra
> > actually support Ramnujas view of souls being servants of vishhNu
> > vaikuNTha. Any one know? As far as pre-yAmuna brahmasUtra
> > bhashhyakAra-s, *everyone* has noted that the pA.ncarAtrins claim
> > there is no distinction in the state of release.
> On the basis of *one* verse which may have been from some
> text?  And on the basis of *two* bhAshhyakAra-s, one of whose
> commentaries is not available?  I doubt it.  Besides, it would
> 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.

Sure, in a historical analysis fragments of bhAshhyas have to be
relied on. The end result is that we cannot be 100% sure (as in any
historical analysis), but can get strong pointers on the evolution of
various doctrines. of course, even if we had the full bhAshhya, people
may speculate (like you did) that there may have been other unknown
bhAshhyas. That is useful for pA.ncarAtra apologists, but not in a
historical analysis.

However, luckily the entire argument of commentator X on the
pA.ncarAtra is reproduced by sudarshanasUri, a subcommentator of
Ramanuja. Bhaskaras bhAshhya is available in its entirety. Yamunas
AgamaprAmANyam is also available. My mail was a historical analysis
and unfortunately you have misunderstood my intentions (as seen from
quoting from kalpataru and other late texts). Oberhammer also gives
the relevant extracts from the unknown bhAshhyakAra reproduced by
sudarshanasUri. My mistake,  if I had given the full reference to
Oberhammers paper and if you had read it this confusion might not have
arisen. Oberhammers paper is key in my analysis. Let me know if you
can't get this easily. I owe you one for the paper of Ramachandra
Dikshitar you sent me.


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