Vedic Religion

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 3 12:22:43 CDT 1999

On Tue, 3 Aug 1999 09:58:29 -0600, Shrisha Rao <shrao at NYX.NET> wrote:

>> A crucial point that Shankara makes along with his refutation of the
>>  vyUha theory (vAsudeva-saMkarshhaNa-pradyumna-aniruddha) of creation
>>  of the pancharAtra's is that shANDilya was not satisfied by studying
>>  the vedas and so he resorted the pancharAtras. It is amazing how
>>  Ramanuja, Madhva, and other Vaishnava schools end up following
>>  ShANDilya's footsteps in spite of Shankara's warning!
>That by itself is no objection, though, is it?  After all we have
>Narada in the Chandogya saying `R^igvedaM bhagavo.adhyemi yajurvedaM
>sAmavedamAtharvaNam.h', etc., or that he has already studied all the
>four Vedas, and yet seeks Sanatkumara's advice!
  Note that Shankara too does not disagree with the bhakti aspect
  of the panchrAtras. He does agree that devotion to nArAyaNa/vAsudeva,
  going to temples, etc. is good. What he disagrees with are theories
  of creation of jIvas, etc. that are opposed to the Vedas. And he
  disagrees with the attitude of shANDilya. His point , as I see it, is
  that if you  take away the disagreeable aspects of pancharAtra, the
  rest is already supported in the shruti and smR^iti. So why should
  we elevate pancharAtras, when even smR^iti, including the 'bhArata
  and gItA, is subordinate to shruti?

  Contrast this with the highly elevated position accorded to the
  pancharAtras in Vaishnava schools. This highly elevated position
  does not come without a sacrifice. It comes by sacrificing the
 position of the vedas!

>I'm also not aware of any explanation for why the Mahabharata, the
>Bhagavata and other Puranas, and the shathapatha-brAhmaNa laud the
>Pancharatra, if the latter is so objectionable.

  Again, it is a matter of what position in the spectrum of scriptures
  do the pancharAtras deserve. Not a high one, as per any shruti.

>>  more pronounced. In GauDIyas, for example, the shift is so great that
>>  Vedas and their study becomes secondary or can even be viewed as
>>  unnecessary!
>However, they don't study the Pancharatra either, so the less said
>about them the better.
  Whether they study it I don't know but they do honor it as much as
  the shrivaishnavas and mAdhvas. My comment was in general about
  Agamas, and I am sure they study something like gautamI tantra,
  rAdhA tantra, etc.

  Summarizing, there are problems with the theories of pancharAtra and
  other Agamas, and there are problems with the practice too. Moreover, the
  practice of Agamas compromises the practice of Vedas at least in this
  day and age when one is hard pressed for time; it is difficult to
  find time to study both thoroughly. The Vaishnava
  schools that claim to be brahminical should show more allegiance to the
  Vedas than just a token of gratitude. Even in famous temples such as
  Tirupati, vaishnavas have instituted Agamic forms of worship such as
  the vaikhAnasa, pancharAtra, etc. I am not against such worship, but the
  primary duty of brAhmaNas is to the Vedas. If the brAhmaNas do not
  study and practice the Vedas, who will? That is why it is clear that
  the Vaishnava AchAryas within the brAhmaNa community made a big
  miscalculation in elevating the pancharAtras and other Agamas to a level
 (perhaps as high as the vedas!) that they don't really deserve.


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