Sankara SampradhAyam - 2 (Re-post)

Dr. S.R.Marur smarur at EASI.SOFT.NET
Mon Aug 9 04:15:09 CDT 1999

I'm sorry, the previous mail had had some formatting problem.
Here is the proper one.

Which religion or how many of them were there in this land,
before the advent of AchAryAl? It becomes known from the
'Shankara Vijaya' texts that there was the vEdic religion of
sanAdhana dharmA and there were other seventy-two heterodox
sects. But, among the non-vEdic faiths, the predominant one
was only Bhudhism. The majority of the general public and of
the intellectual class, which carried out the philosophical
research, have been either with the sanAdhana vaidhIka dharma
or with Bhudhism. Other faiths had only a small group of
following here and there. Though the small groups of followers
of these splinter faiths had very vigorously embraced and
followed their respective paths - Even now, are we not
witnessing the adherents of various 'isms' and 'schools'
following their ideologies rather vigorously though the size
of following in terms of numbers could rather be meager - in
general the religious scene then was such that it could be
divided into two big groups such as vaidhIka matham and Boudham.

Those who followed this sanAthana-dharma-vaidhIka-matham are
known by the name - 'SmArthAs'. [*The word*] SmArthAs means
those who follow smrithis. Smrithi means dharma shAsthrAs.
The work that properly collects, collates, classifies the
dharmAs enunciated at various places in vEdAs and cogently
presents them as a single source of information so as to guide
different sections of the society, regarding their code of
conduct - prescribing the dos and don'ts for a jIvan right from
its conception in the mother's womb to its birth, growth,
learning phase, marriage, procreation and finally till its
cremation after the death - through a set of rules is dharma
shAstra. They are also known as smrithis. Those who follow
them are SmArthAs.   The followers of vEdic religion, addressed
today as 'Hindus', were originally known only by this name

Neither the 'exclusive' upAsanA of Vishnu nor the 'exclusive'
upAsanA of Shiva had been advocated by dharma shAstras. All the
'vEda pradhipAdhya' deities (those mentioned in the vEdAs) are
considered to be equal here. There is nothing wrong in choosing
any one of them for upAsanA. It would be creditable, if the
upAsanA is carried out with the basic understanding that all the
deities are essentially one in nature. SmArthAs do pUjA for five
deities such as sUryan, ambAl, mahA Vishnu, PillayAr and
paramEswaran as indicated by the verse, 'Adhithyam-ambikAm-
vishnum-gananAtham- mahEshwaram'. As five deities are
worshipped, this is known as 'PanchAyathana pUjA'.   One can
have additional devotion (prIthi) towards one's favorite (ishta)
deity. In the same family, Parama Sivan could be the ishta
dEvathA for the elder brother while mahA Vishnu could be for the
younger one. They wouldn't get separated into two different
faiths such as Saiva - Vaishnava, because of this [*difference*].
Without getting split into two distinct sub sects, both Shiva
and Vishnu upAsakAs had even matrimonial alliances between them.
The common ground for all of them was - vEdAs. The
'karmAnushtAnAs', advocated therein were also the common basis
for them.

                                    .... to continue



Translated from,
HH Sri Chandhra sEkharEndhra Saraswathi Swamiji, 'Sankara
SampradhAyam'. Deivathin Kural (in Tamil), Vol. II, Second
Edition, ed. rA. Ganapathi, Vanathi padhippagam, Chennai,
pp: 119-157 (1980).

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