Vedic Religion

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Thu Jul 29 21:56:48 CDT 1999

Ravi <miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> I some very basic questions. Kindly address it.
> 1) What makes a religion vedic?
>         It was mentioned twice in the recent past that few vaishNava
> traditions pay mere lip service to veda-s. Then how can one honestly
> call it vedic? Please explain.

I have been receiving many complaints that I have been "dogmatic" and
"misrepresenting Vedas" by personal mail as well as on the list. Since
I am too dogmatic to change myself, I have come up with another
solution which I believe has no loopholes. I am going to  post the
following alert on all my messages which might be perceived as

***Dogmatic Views Alert***

People who suffer great mental agony on seeing dogmatic views can push
the delete button as soon as they see this warning :->. So, to set the
ball rolling:

***Dogmatic Views Alert***

The question you ask above is very important for vedAbhimAni-s. Yes,
we cannot really call these traditions completely  vedic. Anand really
hit the nail on the head with his observation that it has to do with
only partial acceptance of the veda. I'll take the case of the
pA.ncarAtra. In section 2.2 of the brahmasUtras bhagavAn bAdarAyaNa
has taken up refutation of rival views which includes the bhAgavatas.
In the commentary to 2.2.14 he makes the very clear remark that the
pA.ncarAtra casts a slur on the vedas and quotes (trans by Swami
Gambhirananda) "Not finding the highest good in the four vedas,
Sandilya studied this scripture". Sha.nkara says *because of this*,
their beliefs are concluded to be illogical. Now this is a very strong
denunciation of the pA.ncarAtra by sha.nkara.

Let us take the case of VishishhTadvaita. Suryanarayana Sastri has
aptly noted that Ramanuja begins the explanation of section of 2.2
remarking that this section is for refuting non-vedic views and then
suddenly claims on the sUtra-s on the bhAgavata-s that bAdarAyaNa does
not intend to refute the bhAgavata system. Now, it is obvious from the
previous statement of Ramanuja that he himself knew quite well that
this section is for refuting non-vedic views, which includes the
bhAgavata view.  But tries to explain away the refutation of
bhAgavatas since he finds it inconvenient.

A subcommentator of Ramanuja quotes passages from two bhAshhyas where
these sUtras are interpreted as refuting bhAgavatas. One of them seems
to be sha.nkaras and the other is unknown. Oberhammer suggests the
hypothesis that this might be Dramidacharyas commentary, which has
unfortunately not survived.  I am too lazy to search for Oberhammers
paper now. If anyone wants the reference send me mail.  Anyway, the
subcommentator is unable to produce a single previous bhAshhyakAra who
says that the bhAgavata view is *not* refuted.

Even before Ramanuja,  Yamuna quotes some bhAshhya on these sUtra-s
and plaintively remarks how that bhAshhyakAra (not Sha.nkara) can say
that the pA.ncarAtra is unvedic? Then, as Oberhammer says, he consoles
himself that the bhAshhyakAra does not want to confuse persons of low
intelligence and hence made this statement!!! Note that YamunachArya
preceded Ramanuja and even he is unable to produce a *single*
bhAshhyakAra who says that the bhAgavata view is not refuted.

There is an even bigger problem. Sri Satchidanandendra Saraswati
Swaminah makes the following remarks. The doctrine of the pA.ncarAtras
presented by sha.nkara is completely different from Ramanujas views.
Sha.nkara says that the bhAgavatas say that the soul is produced from
Narayana (in a real sense) and then at liberation lose any distinction
and become one with Narayana. There is no mention of souls being
servants of Vishhnu in vishhNu loka or any such thing. Not to mention
eternal kai.nkarya (service), etc.

Vacaspati mishra quotes a verse:

Amukterbheda eva syAjjIvasya cha parasya cha |
muktasya tu na bhedo.asti bhedaretorabhAvataH ||

[The panacaratras  also declare that there is distinction and
difference between the jiba and supreme self till the state of
release. For the released soul, however there is no distinction
whatever for the cause of distinction is absent] trans by Swami

One could say that Vacaspati and Sha.nkara are engaged in a
conspiracy, however bhAskara (who came just after sha.nkara nad
preceded Ramanuja) quotes the exact same verse above. He also
maintains that the pA.ncarAtra is unvedic. Now bhAskara is a
bhedAbhedavAdin and has no love lost for sha.nkara and crticizes him
in a caustic manner in many places. So the theory that sha.nkara and
Vacaspati are engaged in a conspiracy holds no water.

>From the above we can gauge two things. All bhAshyakaras till Ramanuja
maintained that the pA.ncarAtra was unvedic. Not only that, even that
pA.ncarAtra philosophy has no connection with the vishishhTAdvaitic
view of eternal distinctions. So we can very well say that
vishishhTAdvaita is not entirely vedic since it argues strongly in
favor of the pA.ncarAtra. Not only that they don't even follow the
original pA.ncarAtra texts! Ditto for all other vaishhNava schools.
The only traditions which can be called 100% vedic are the mImA.nsA
and advaita.

So my conclusion is that we cannot call all these schools as entirely
vedic. They are only partially so, and hence full of contradictions.
Jaldhars explanation for this is usually adopted by the apologists of
particular schools of vaishhNavism. The veda should produce
enlightenment irrespective of place or time. Otherwise how can it be a
pramANa? So there is no question of jettisoning the veda for patently
anti-vedic texts like the pA.ncarAtra.


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