[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 5 23:24:06 CDT 2003

--- Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >... prabhuji emphasis
> >here on karmakanda.  Not veda as a whole including jnAna pradhAna
> >upanishads prabhuji.  This shankara clarifies in brahma sUtra
> bhAshya by
> >saying non existence of shruti can be accepted only in the state of
> >enlightenment.  So, vedAs or no vEdas only after the dawn of
> knowledge is
> >it not prabhuji??  kindly clarify.
> As far as the quoted verses of VC are concerned, the question is not
> about 
> the existence or otherwise of Sruti in the state of enlightenment.
> Rather, 
> it is purely functional, being about the use of scripture for jnAnI
> vs. 
> ajnAnI.
> Note that the gItA verses in chapter 2 themselves do not specify
> karmakANDa 
> vs. jnAnakANDa. 

The GItA verses 2.42-46 are bracketed by the fact that they are all in
continuity regarding their discussion about the Vedas. The verses
clearly specify that they are about Vaidika Karma. (translation by
A.G.Krishna Warrier):

They are unwise who utter flowery speeches, O Arjuna! They revel in the
letter of the Vedas and declare, "There is nothing else".
Desire-ridden, heaven-bent (svargaparA), they utter words which lead to
births (janma karmaphalapradAm.h) and actions replete with specific
rites (kriyAvisheshha bahulAM) that yield enjoyments and power.

But even considering the possibility that the above GItA verses can be
construed of as relating to scripture per se, Shankara's BhAshhya does
not make that assumption. He makes it crystal clear that the topic
under discussion is Vaidika Karma:

GitAbhAshhya 2.42,"...The unwise, men of feeble minds who lack in
discrimination (avivekinaH). They are addicted to Vedic words which
glorify or condemn and set forth works as well as modes of their
implementation. They maintain there is nothing in the Vedas other than
rites (na anyat.h karmabhyaH) which promise heaven (svarga), cattle,
wealth and the like." 

Shankara here does not propose the inefficacy of shAstra itself to an
aGYAnI. Rather, he carefully points out that the GItA verses are
belittling those (mImAmsakas) who believe that Vaidika Karma alone is
the way to go. Therefore, this cannot be taken as proof of the fact
that Shankara talks about the futility of shAstra, when he clearly
takes it to be futility of Vaidika Karma as leading to Wisdom. 

OTOH, coming to the VC:

> Likewise, the VC verses that apparently say that the
> vedas 
> are useless even for the ignorant one may also refer to the
> karmakANDa only. 

The verses 59-61 are bracketed as they all talk about scripture/words.
Here's a free-hand translation:

If the supreme Truth is unknown, study of the scriptures is fruitless.
If the supreme Truth is known also, study of scriptures is fruitless.
The jumble of words is a great forest (shabdajAlaM mahAraNyaM) which
will confound the mind (chittabhramaNakAraNaM). Therefore, by special
effort, one must learn the Truth about the Atman from those who have
known It (tattvaGYAt tattvamAtmanaH). To a person who is bitten by the
serpent of aGYAna, the only remedy is brahmaGYAna. To such a one, what
can the Vedas, shAstras, mantras and medicines avail?

Here, the author of the VC says to the effect that the *study of
shAstra* is practically useless to an aGYAnI. This verse is not related
to Karma at all. 

> After all, these VC verses say that brahmajnAna is the only medicine
> for 
> those suffering from ignorance and it is a fundamental given that
> this is 
> the upanishadic jnAna as imparted by the guru.
> Whether or not the author of VC is Sankara is a different question.
> I, for 
> one, do not think that this can be decided by deducing the attitude
> of the 
> text towards scripture.

I agree that this is by no means decisive. But IMHO, if the VC is a
genuine work of Shankara (which in all probability it is, considering
that both Ramana Maharshi and HH Chandrashekhara Bharati state it to be
so), it presents an outlook towards scripture slightly different from
what can be found in his BhAshhyas. 

> Vidyasankar


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