Shrisha Rao shrao at NYX.NET
Thu Aug 12 13:32:25 CDT 1999

Ramakrishnan wrote:

> Ravi <miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
> > 1. Is there a vedic basis for hierarchy of devata-s as proposed by
> > dvaitin-s and other vaiShNava schools of thought? Is not vedic
> religion
> > comes under something like henotheism (I think vidya used this or a
> > word something like this sometime in the past)?
> It's all a question of interpretation. The dvaita school quotes some
> verse in the taittirIya to derive this heirarchy. I think it's the
> brahmAnandamImA.nsA section of AnandavallI. Shrisha Rao, please
> correct me if I'm mistaken.  We don't accept that interpretation.

I think you're referring to:

  bhIshhA.asmAd.h vAtaH pavate  |  bhIshhodeti sUryaH  |
  bhIshhA.asmAdagnishchendrashcha  |  mR^ityurdhAvati paJNchamaH  |

and the following:

  yuvA syAt.h sAdhu yuvA.adhyAyakaH ...

The former is understood to say that in fear of Brahman the nature
gods such as Vayu, Surya, Agni, and Indra perform their duties.  In
fact, while in the world Death is feared by all, and even a temporary
escape from it is looked upon with wonder, and `death-defying' feats
are held in awe, Death itself runs from Him (`mR^ityurdhAvati').
Brahman's prowess is thus not like anything in this world.

I don't think a detailed discussion of this matter is appropriate, but
here are a few pointers:

 1> The AA begins with the statement that the pantheon of deities starts
    with Agni and has Vishnu as the Supreme, with other deities in
    between: `agnirvai devAnAmavamo vishhNuH paramaH  |  tadantare
    sarvebhyo devebhyaH'.

 2> The mahopanishhat.h begins with the statement that at the beginning
    there was only Narayana, not Brahma, Rudra, or others: `eko nArAyaNa
    AsInna brahmA neshAno nAgnIshhomau neme dyAvApR^ithivI' (cf. `brahma
    vA idamagra Asti.h', `sadeva somyedamagra AsIt.h', etc.).

 3> RV X.125-5, et seq., has the speaker in that instance saying that
    she makes whomever she wishes a Rudra, a Brahma, a Rshi, or an
    accomplished person: `yaM kAmaye taM tamugraM kR^iNomi, taM
    brahmANaM tamR^ishhiM taM sumedhAm.h', and that she causes Rudra
    to chop off Brahma's head with bow and arrow: `ahaM rudrAya
    dhanurA tanomi brahmadvishhe sharave hanta vA u', and that her
    Source resides in the ocean: `mama yonirapsva.ntaH samudre' (one
    of the meanings of `nArAyaNa' is given as "resident of the ocean").

 4> BG XV-16, et seq., give the hierarchy
    xara-purushhAH < axara purushhaH < purushhottama (Krishna)
    where, in light of the sUkta cited, Brahma, Rudra, etc., are
    xara for being subject to Creation, the speaker Lakshmi is axara,
    and Krishna/Narayana is the purushhottama.


Shrisha Rao

> Rama

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