[Advaita-l] aruNa prashna for sUrya namaskaara - A Scholar's Opinion

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 7 14:55:00 CDT 2005

I had occassion to question Pandit Mallikarjuna Sharma
(mentioned in
) regarding the use of the aruNa prashna for sUrya namaskaara.
This was his opinion on the subject:

1) The aruNa prashnaH has mantras for several deities, including
ApaH, sUryaH, agniH, indraH, marutaH, parjanyaH, etc. It is
within the realm of possibility to interpret the main deity of
the prashnaH as sUryaH, with the other deities being invoked to
honor the presence of sUryaH. Therefore, to say that only ApaH
is the main deity of the aruNa prashnaH and that sUryaH cannot
be the main deity is not quite correct.

2) However, the objection to the use of the entire aruNa prashna
for sUrya namaskaara on account of there being vidhi sentences
(injunctions - one kind of brAhmaNa sentences) in the prashna is
cent percent correct! Vidhis are commands of the form "Do this
action", and should NEVER be recited during the performance of a
KriyA. This includes all vaidIka karmas such as homas and yaGYas
(including the rAjasUya yaGYa) - none of which contain recital
of vidhis.

The SOLE EXCEPTION to the above rule is the Brahma yaGYam, where
the recital of Vedic statements (including vidhis) constitutes
the kriyA. Barring this single exception, the rule of mImAmsA to
never recite vidhis during a kriyA stands.

Since the aruNa prashna abounds with dozens of vidhi statements,
performance of the sUrya namaskaara reciting the vidhis is a
violation of a fundamental rule of mImAmsA, and is definitely an
error in traditional practice.

3) More important is the question of whether this practice ought
to be stopped because it violates the rules of mImAmsA.

The fact is that in the world today, only a small percentage
perform vaidIka karmas. Among those who do so, only a fraction
know the meanings of the Vedic statements that are being used
for the karmas. Among these, a very small precentage know the
difference between mantras and vidhis. And a still smaller
fraction know that vidhis ought not be recited during a kriyA.
In fact, only a handful of Pandits in the world today are aware
that the sUrya namaskaara as practised in South India violates
the rules of mImAmsA.

Given that the ignorance of Vedic dharma is so prevalent, is it
really necessary to throw the BrahmAstra of mImAmsA analysis of
Vedic statements and destroy this practice? (Pandit MS noted
that even a great scholar like Anna Subramanian was unaware of
the mImAmsA rule of not using vidhis during a kriyA, and has
popularized the entire aruNa prashna for sUrya namaskaara
without realizing that it is error in the tradition.)

So the final conclusion on this subject is:

"Even though the performance of sUrya namaskaara reciting the
entire aruNa prashna is a violation of certain mImAmsA rules,
most scholars have permitted the practice to go on unhindered.
But it would definitely be a good thing for those who know
better to avoid reciting the vidhis when they perform the sUrya
namaskaara, and recite only the mantra portion of the aruNa
prashna instead."


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