[Advaita-l] Re: Questions on Isavasya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 7 22:24:06 CDT 2006

My sincere thanks to everyone who responded appreciatively to the ISAvAsya 
posts. In re: the question about who taught me Sanskrit, it was Pandit 
Nagaratna Sarma of Trichy, who moved to Bombay in the mid-70s, and taught 
Sanskrit to a group of devotees of the Sringeri Matha. I was fortunate 
enough to have been the only child in the classes he used to teach for 
adults and learn Sanskrit under him for ten years from the age of seven.

Anything that is of value in these posts is by the blessings of my gurus, 
but there are still a few mistakes in my posts. I will send a mail with 
consolidated corrections shortly.

Sri Lakshminarayana wrote:
> > The worlds that are said to be andhaM tamas are
> > attained as a result of
> > performing karma-s. On the other hand, amRta refers
> > not to the devaloka-s,
> > but to attaining brahmaloka in stages (krama-mukti),
> > as a result of
> > following the upAsana-s leading to brahmaloka.
>I am not sure I understand this. Swami Gambhirananda's
>translation says  "amRtam : immortality,
>identification with the deities - that very fact of
>becoming one with the gods being called immortality."
>How does krama-mukti come into the picture here?

In the bhAshya on this verse, Sankara bhagavatpAda refers to the one who 
combines karma, which is avidyA (even though it includes agnihotra and other 
Vedic karma-s) and devatA-jnAna, which is vidyA, i.e. upAsana-s, in stages 
(krameNa) in one lifetime. Here, the identification with the deity 
(devatAtma-bhAva) is itself called amRta or immortality.

When one takes all the upanishad texts into account, one frequently comes 
across the devayAna and the pitRyAna, the former leading by stages to 
liberation (krama-mukti) and the latter leading to repeated cycles of birth 
and death. The devayAna is reached via following the upAsana-s taught in the 
upanishads, guided by the various deities along the path. Although it is not 
immediate liberation, this path of liberation in stages is still called 
"immortality" as it leads one eventually to that state.

>Can you also tell me what is the difference between a
>vArtika, vRtti and TIka? Are there any translations of

Translations, unfortunately, are not very accessible for all the 
sub-commentaries in the advaita tradition. However, the original texts have 
been published by numerous scholars, typically under the auspices of 
prominent maThas or with such publishers as Motilal Banarsidass, Munshiram 
Manoharlal, Nirnayasagar, Anandasrama, Gita Press Gorakhpur etc.

A bhAshya is a commentary, typically upon a primary source text like an 
upanishad or a sUtra text.

A vRtti is also a commentary, whether upon an original sUtra or upon a 

A TIkA is always a sub-commentary upon a bhAshya or a vRtti, and is 
typically in the form of annotations to the text.

A vArttika is a different kind of sub-commentary, in that it examines the 
commentary in a more critical fashion. Traditionally, its purpose is to 
explain not only that which is well-said (sUktaM), but also to correct that 
which is ill put (duruktaM) and also to explain what was left unsaid 

>these available? Is it possible to learn sanskrit and
>advaita-vedAnta (in its original language)
>simultaneously? Thanks.

It helps to have some basic Sanskrit knowledge, but I don't see why not. 
e.g. when one sees the sentence "vedo nityam adhIyatAM" (example from the 
upadeSa pancaka, which Sri Abhishek posted recently), it helps if one knows 
that the word vedaH gets transformed to vedo when followed by specific kinds 
of consonants.

If I may suggest a strategy, please start with the shorter prakaraNa texts, 
have Monier Williams or Apte (Sanskrit dictionaries) handy as also a good 
grammar text. For every word in the text, look up the meanings in the 
dictionary and the noun declensions and verb conjugations in the grammar 
text. Be prepared not to find a word directly in the dictionary, because it 
could be a compound word (samAsa) or a phonetically combined word (sandhi). 
So, you could take up such a project by yourself, but a few initial sessions 
in the company of someone who already knows the language will help 

Best regards,

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