[Advaita-l] bhAgavata purANa

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Mon Aug 21 20:24:45 CDT 2006

praNAm.h all,
        Thanks Jaldharji, Krishnamurthyji, and Devanathanji for your
responses on the bhAgavata purANa.

-- Jaldharji, if we accept Wendy Doniger's dates, many of the purANas were
penned down later to shaN^kara, and hence their number could not have been
18 during shaN^kara's time. Please note though that this does not mean that
the stories/ideas themselves were not known.

I have a few further questions on vyAsa, bhAgavata purANa vis-a-vis advaita

-- Is vyAsa considered to be an incarnation of nArAyaNa in advaita vEdAnta?
Is it more like a later-day belief like shaN^kara being an incarnation of
shiva, or is it justified on the basis of shAstra pramANa like the purANas?

-- What is the status of purANas in advaita vEdAnta? Do they form part of
the shabda pramANa? If so, why haven't they been used much in the
commentaries of shaN^kara? For example, in the bhAgavata purANa, the
"AtmAvasyamidaM" verse occurs while detailing how the IshAvAsya has been
revealed. Thus, in the interpretation of the IshAvAsya upaniShat.h, the
relevant context in the bhAgavata would have been immensely useful. How come
shaN^kara never chooses to use such context at all?

-- Right from the times of rAmAnuja, it seems the purANas have been
classified into sAttvika, rAjasika and tAmasika. And when two purANas
conflict, the sAttvika purANa prevails over the other etc. Is this
acceptable to the advaitins? What is also the opinion of shaivite advaitic
commentators like srIkanTha, appaya dIkShita etc. on this issue?

-- Is there any difference between uttara mImAMsa and vEdAnta? It seems that
uttara mImAMsa concerns itself mostly with the appropriate interpretation of
the upaniShats, while vEdAnta also admits other shAstras like the
mahAbhArata, the purANas etc. Is this a correct distinction to maintain?

-- Irrespective of whether vyAsa is considered an incarnation of nArAyaNa or
not, given that vyAsa is included in the guru paraMpara, his other writings
like the mahAbhArata and the purANas should have been given special
attention to understand what he is trying to convey. But there doesn't seem
to be any authoritative commentary on the mahAbhArata, for example, from the
advaita vEdAnta school (or are there some standard commentaries?). Any
particular reason for this?

-- svAmi sachchidAnEndra sarasvati in his vEdAnta prakriya pratyAbhiGYa
mentioned that shaN^kara refers to the author of vEdAnta sUtras as
bAdarAyaNa, while the identification of bAdarAyaNa with vyAsa was done by
vAchaspati mishra. It seemed to me he didn't care which way the
identification went. Is there any reason for the traditional circles to
insist on the identification (if at all they do)?

-- In general, is there any reason why the dates assigned by the historians
to the purANas are not acceptable to tradition? Taking the above example of
vEdAnta sUtras, one would think that it should not matter from a
philosophical perspective if bAdarAyaNa and vyAsa were different, as long as
vEdAnta sUtras as admitted as shAstra pramANa.



Sorry for the late reply.
> On Sat, 29 Jul 2006, Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy wrote:
> > praNAm.h all,
> >       Could someone clarify what the traditional advaita vEdAntic
> > position on the purANas is, vis-a-vis the following questions:
> >
> > -- Is there any agreement on the date of the bhAgavata purANa in
> > traditional schools/academia?
> As far as Advaitins are concerned, the puranas including the Bhagavata are
> the compositions of Veda Vyasa at the beginning of the Kali yuga from
> older material.
> Historians are divided on the matter.  I believe the consensus is that in
> the form we have them now, they were redacted between 2nd-7th centuries
> AD (but again incorporating much older material) with accretions upto as
> far as the 18th century.
> H.H Wilson in the introduction to his translation of Vishnupurana makes
> some historical speculations which are obsolete but tells an interesting
> account of some controversy amongst Pandits in medieval times concerning
> the date of the Bhagavata.  Apparently some believed that the "Bhagavata"
> in the list of Puranas should refer to the Devibhagavata not the
> Krshnabhagavata which was acutally written by Vopadeva (the 12th or 13th
> century author of the grammatical work Mugdabodha.) Various scholars
> jumped into the fray to defend one view or the other.  However, mostly
> the Devibhagavata theory  seems to have been part of the sectarian
> infighting between Smartas and Vaishnavas in Kashi in those days.  Most
> Advaitins accept the authenticity of the Krshnabhagavata.
> > -- It seems like the bhAgavata purANa was known by the time of
> > shaN^kara. Is this correct btw?
> Yes.  It is supposedly quoted in Vishnusahasranama bhashya and a
> prakarana called sarvavedantasiddhantasarasangrah.  Not in the prasthana
> trayi bhashyas though.  Also according to Wilson, in the controversy
> mentioned above, one of the arguments made in favor of the Krshnabhagavata
> was that Shankaracharya commented on it.  Though if this commentary ever
> existed it has been completely lost now.
> If true, is there a reason shaN^kara
> > doesn't quote it in his BGB? Could it be because the bhAgavata isn't
> > in line with advaita vEdAnta?
> Not only is an Advaita interpretation of the Bhagavata possible, it has a
> long history. The foremost commentator on the Krshnabhagavata, Shridhar
> Swami is an Advaitin (though for some reason Gaudiyas claim him as their
> own.)  In his commentary he quotes an earlier commentary by Chitsukha Muni
> who wrote the celebrated Advaita work Tattvapradipa or Chitsukhi.  There
> have been other Advaitin commentators ancient and modern too.
> > -- Wendy Doniger seems to date many of the purANas later to shaN^kara.
> > Is there any consensus on this? At least, what is the opinion of the
> > tradition on this issue?
> See above.  Even where he does not quote directly from them,
> Shankaracharya is clearly familiar with stories from the Puranas and
> Mahabharata.
> > Are the purANas always treated to be 18 in
> > number (not possible in shaN^kara's times if Wendy were to be
> > believed)?
> I have no idea how she could have come to this bizarre conclusion.  The
> puranas have always been considered to be 18 in number.
> --
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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