Mantra vs Brahmana (was Re: [Advaita-l] Aruna Prashna)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at
Thu Jun 30 14:54:26 CDT 2005

I thought a little more about this and apologize for my mistake in
identifying the laghunyaasam as a mantra below.

In general mantra statements are addressed to a particular devata.
Example, rudram, etc. When the devata is not explicit, yAska in his
nirukta, says that bR^ihaspati is to be considered the devata.

Now braahmaNa statements can be of two kinds. The first being
descriptions of how to perform rituals and the second being
meditations. The meditations can be either associated with rituals or
not, as the brahma suutra makes clear. Sankara does point out many
meditations are indeed a) associated with rituals and b) can give the
same benefit as the ritual if properly performed. The reason, he says,
is that it is exceedingly difficult  to not perform actions/rituals.
The laghunyaasam seems to belong to the category of meditations not
associated with a particular ritual. It identifies various devatas as
guiding the various sense organs, agni - vaac, and that in the end all
are supported by brahman. In fact, yaaska mentions in one of his
adhyaatmic interpretations of a mantra that braahmaNa statements
identify various devatas with speech, breath, etc. I can get the
precise quotes if anyone is interested. So the laghunyaasam is indeed
a brAhmaNa describing meditation, but most likely not associated with
any particular ritual in the samhitaa.

Now the aruNa prashnam has brAhmaNa statements describing the
aruNaketukam, pu.skaraparNaih, etc. I was thinking about these when I
hastily identified the laghunyaasam as a mantra. The question is
whether such statements can be used as part of a ritual.

a) In the brahma yajna, ritual par excellence, one is supposed to
recite passages of the samhitaa, braahmaNa etc. Here recital of the
passages is itself the ritual. The second prashnam of the taittiriiya
aaraNyakam points out the importance of doing brahma yajnam.

b) In the mahaanyaasam described by bhagavaan bodhaayana, the
pratipUruSha section beginning with pratipUruSham eka kapaala, etc is
part of the raajasuuya mantras where rudra is described as being one
without a second (eko eva rudro na dvitiiya etc). After the samhitaa
passage, the braahmaNa passages are also recited which clearly
describe the ritual, sacrifice of an animal, etc. So bodhaayana seems
to think it's ok to use braahmaNa passages in a ritual (not merely for
understanding *how* to perform the ritual)

c) Sri Mahasannidhaanam, the previous head of the Sringeri Mutt, in
his Srimukham to the book, thinks suurya namaskaaram with aruNa
prashnam is an excellent way of worshiping suurya.

The point of all this is that rituals and the braahmaNa statements
have interpretations other than the merely obvious. Anyone can come up
with obvious meanings. Going to the proper sources, be it the ancient
nirukta and bodhaayana or the modern masters like Mahasannidhanam will
make adhyaatmic interretations clear. suurya namaskaaram is indeed a
great meditation, and this is seen only if the adhyaatmic meanings of
the passages are understood.


On 6/18/05, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at> wrote:
> Although the laghunyaasam is from the the kaaThakam, they are actually
> mantras. In the kR^iShNa yajur veda, mantras and brAhmaNa statements
> are mixed up in the sa.mhitaa and the braahmaNa, unlike the other
> vedas. In fact, some of the prashnas in the taittiriiya braahmaNam
> consist of mantras alone.
> Rama
> On 6/17/05, vishwanthan Krishnamoorthy <krishvishy at> wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > i read the explanation and provided in the link, there
> > is a mention that
> > "Moreover, there are so many BrAhmaNa sentences which
> > never should be utilized for a kriyaa"
> >
> > if so in laghunyasam we use portions from kaTakam what
> > is the justification there?

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