Another letter

Sankaran Kartik Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Tue Sep 25 12:21:37 CDT 2001

I had posted sometime ago a letter
( ) from a very learned
Vedic scholar who knows the entire Yajur Veda, and has extensively studied
advaita vedanta. I just wrote him again requesting clarification on some
discussions that had taken place on this list, and here is his reply. I
have only mildly edited the letter.

Dear Kartik (Jayanarayanan),

Thank you for your letter dated ...

One should know about his religion, at least the fundamentals. If the
fundamentals are clear, it becomes very easy to answer questions that crop
up now and then...please do not hesitate to ask any type of question. I
shall try to answer to the best of my knowledge and ability.


[This question arose from the previous letter, where it was claimed that
the "durgaa suuktam.h was not a prayer to durgaa, but only to agni."
Ramakrishnan B. responded by saying that one mantra was to durgaa and
suggested that it may refer to the commonly worshipped durgaa.]

No doubt, in the durgaa suuktam.h, which is familiar today, the presiding
deity is only agni. There are seven mantras in it and five of them refer
to agni. The last one refers to indra, and it is only in the second that
you find the words "durgaaM devIM". I feel that it is only an
interpolation. Even that mantra can be interpreted to be a prayer to
agnishikhaa (flame) as the previous and other mantras refer only to agni.
What I object to is to brand the set of mantras as "durgaa suuktam.h"
where only one mantra, as a freak, refers to durgaa.


[This is regarding the point that Vidya made about the mantra which goes
as "UrdhvaretaM virUpAkshaM vishvaruupaaya vai namaH", that the third word
is in the chaturthI vibhakti, vide :

"The more intriguing thing is the form vishvarUpAya, which is in the dative
case (caturthI vibhakti). I have ver obtained a satisfactory answer (to
myritical mind) as to why only this word is in a different case. For
example, vishvarUpAya vai namaH can be replaced with vishvarUpaM namAmy
aham, to satisfy both grammar and meter, but one can't take liberties with
the words of Vedic verses. Of course, one can't also expect Vedic language
to follow classical grammar rules, but I wonder if there is another reason
for the form of the verse as it stands." ]

namaH is always associated with chaturthI vibhakti. As a matter of fact
even UrdhvaretaM and virUpAkshaM should be Urdhvaretaaya and virUpAkshAya.
But in the Vedas one is asked to ignore the grammatical irregularities and
recite as they have been preserved. It is only to preserve the sanctity of
the Vedas.


[There was a thread about whether saguNa upAsana is different from
nirguNa upAsana]

There is absolutely no doubt that all our pUjaa etc. is only for the
saguNa aspect of Brahman. Even the saguNa aspect is only the creation of
our Maharshis for our own benefit. One should not stop at saguNa worship
but go on to nirguNa. VishNu sahasranaama only reminds us that ultimately
it is the nirguNa that you have to contemplate and not the saguNa. This is
found everywhere in our Vedas, sahasranaamas, upanishads, etc. They do
tell us about the saguNa rUpa and at the same time remind us once in a way
that reality is nirguNa, so that we can correct ourselves time and again.

upAsana is not the pUja that we practise. It is contemplation or
meditation. There is nothing wrong in saying nirguNopaasanam.h. The latter
is no doubt very difficult, but can be done and has to be done. One should
learn to see Brahma everywhere, in every individual, not as a form but as
a universal spirit. That is nirguNopaasana.


[This is about the sandhyaa worship]

You are correct that the arghyapradaanaM and the japaM are the important
parts of the sandhyaa worship. As a matter of fact, the Vedas prescribe
only the arghyapradaanaM and dhyaanaM reciting "asaavaadityo brahma" (2nd
anuvaaka of the 2nd prashna of taittirIya AraNyakaM). This is the basis
for sandhyaa vandanaM. Later, they have added japaM and upasthaanaM. Not
that you should not do all those things but it is enough if one does
arghyapradaanaM. Sandhyaa vandanaM is mainly a "thanks-giving ceremony" to
the deity Savitr (savitR^i). The Vedas have envisaged a kR^itaGYataakriyaa
in the form of arghyapradaanaM which is really soul-elevating when
performed at the time of sunrise and sunset. Along with this show of
gratitude to Sun-God, one should bow down to him with respect as he is the
visible form of the nirguNa Brahma. That is why the Vedas insist on
meditation of the term "asau aadiyaH Brahma" (This SUrya is the
paramAtman). Well! The upasthaanaM is also a way of showing our gratitude
to HIM. So whenever you find time, do it elaborately but in times of hurry
(which may be routine!) arghyapradaanaM and a minute-meditation on asau
aadityo Brahma is sufficient.


,I asked if the Shankara Mathas in the north and east were in ruins, as I
had heard that they were not functioning well.]

Your information is incorrect. All the maThAH at badarI (north), dvAraka
(west), pUrI (east) are functioning with a swamiji. They may not have the
same grandeur as you find in Sringeri. But they are definitely not in
ruins. They are functioning well.

(6) No doubt the sanctity with which the Vedas are being preserved is
declining. But we cannot say that there are none who can recite them
properly. There are no individuals who know all the four Vedas (I don't
think at any time we had many such people in our country) but there are
many who can recite properly the Vedas to which they belong hereditarily.
The recitation of atharva Veda is definitely declining.

...Our blessings are always there with you.


(signed) Guruji

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