Note on Vedic shAkhAs

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 20 15:44:00 CDT 1999

On Tue, 20 Jul 1999 19:43:23 +0530, B.S.S.Prasad <prasadb at GSSLCO.CO.IN>

>I thought that this list was supposed to propogate/share the 'advaita'
>philosophy as taught by Sri Shankaracharya...
>don't you think that we are deviating much from that focussed objective
>which we had in mind?

 Greetings and welcome to the list. Jaldhar has given good reasons for
 discussing vedas here. Besides, at least until relatively recently,
 advaitins used to say "vyavahAre tu bhATTanayaH" which means "advaitins
 follow the mImAMsakas in everyday matters." Advaita is primarily
 a exegetical system, an exegesis of the Vedas as a whole. It gives
 a consistent interpretation of the entire veda. The mImAMsakas (ritualists)
 interpret the Vedas as urging us to action. They extend the fact that the
 ritual portions, such as the brAhmaNas of the vedas, teach action (karma)
 to affirm that action is the primary import of the Vedas. But in doing so,
 they hold that the entire corpus of VedAnta, which teaches not karma
 (action) but jnAna (knowledge), as mere arthavAda (glorification of action)
 or enjoining more action like meditation, etc. This is opposed by the
 advaitins who hold that vedanta cannot enjoin more action which is the
 domain of the karma-kANDa, the ritual portions of the Vedas. But the
 advaitins are in general agreement with the mImAMsakas in the
 interpretation of the karma-kANDa, the ritual portions. It is only in the
 interpretation of vedAnta that advaitins sharply differ from the

 Also, others such as MadhusUdana sarasvatI find that the Vedas also
 teach upAsana, closely related to bhakti (devotion). There are many,
 many mantras, for example in the saMhitA portions, that are superb
 prayers to deities. So this is yet another objection to the view that
 karma alone is taught in the Vedas, as the mImAMsakas hold. Thus, one
 may say that aspects of karma, bhakti, and jnAna are found in the Vedas.

 And in the grand finale that is the bhagavadgItA, all these three -
 karma, bhakti, and jnAna - aspects of the vedas are treated in a
 systematic manner. Advaita then is the consistent interpretation
 of the whole of Veda in all its three aspects. Therefore, a study of
 the Vedas is justifiable by an advaitin.


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