[Advaita-l] Devas Adhikara, Rama and Sambuka

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Tue May 16 06:25:37 CDT 2006

Siddhartha gaaru praNaamamulu.
  Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:
  > -- Just to make sure I understood it right -- Devas do not have the adhikara
> for the Karma kanda because they have nothing to gain from it. But they do
> have adhikara for the Jnana kanda
  Sri BAdarAyaNa's position, to my alpabuddhi, is that Devas have adhikaara for study of vedas. They may find some vidyas like Madhuvidya pointless, but that does not deny them adhikaara for studying vedas. However, it may be noted that Sri Sankara ends his discussion of this topic with the assertion that Devas have adhikaara for Brahma-Vidyaa.
> Could you say a bit more on the meaning of Devas being light, and hence adhikara > being denied. I did not understand the relationship between light and denial of 
  > adhikara.
  (Quotations are from George Thibaut's translation of Saa~Nkarabhaashyam)
  The purvapaxin first observes that devas are mere spheres of light, and so insentient and incapable of intelligence or understanding and then goes on to say "It will perhaps be said that our objection is not valid, because the personality of the devas is known from the mantras, arthavaadas, itihaasas, puraaNas, and from the conceptions of ordinary life; but we contest the relevancy of this remark." Mantras, it is said are only for performance of rituals; and the others are of human origin and hence cannot be accepted as pramANas. (1.3.32)
  The reply of the vedantin (1.3.33) is (after clarifying the part involving Madhuvidya) that though the word deva indeed refers to spheres of light often, devas do have forms and are capable of intelligence and understanding. Various passages supporting the same are quoted (Aditya came to Kunti in the form of a man - MB; "the waters spoke" etc.) In the case of Mantras, though the main objective is not to set forth the personality of devas, the Vedantin argues that such a presentation nevertheless happens and is valid, just like a wanderer sets out on a certain purpose, and while on the way forms the conviction of existence of grass etc. At this juncture is a long-winded syntactic discussion, which I omit. 
  With respect to the paurusheyatva of itihaas etc., the Vendantin says that they can be considered as based on pratyaxa "for what is not accessible to our perception may have been within the sphere of perception of people in ancient times. Smriti also declares that Vyasa and others conversed face to face with god.
  "The general result is that we have the right to conceive the gods as possessing personal existence, on the ground of mantras, arthavâdas, itihâsas, purânas, and ordinarily prevailing ideas. And as the gods may thus be in the condition of having desires and so on, they must be considered as qualified for the knowledge of Brahman."
  > Some inputs from my side on the other two issues:
> -- It's only the Gaudiyas who hold the Bhagavata Purana supreme. For the
> Dvaitins, the Prasthanatraya, Ithihasas, Pancharatra, Puranas are all
> equally considered supreme. And the challenge lies in interpreting the
> scriptures to provide samanvaya, i.e., they hold that none of these
> scriptures contradict one another. Thus, the case for elevation of Sruti
> over Smruti does not arise. Thus, a Smruti vakya can never contradict a
> Sruti vakya (or vice versa) in Dvaita, if only you were to interpret it
> rightly.

  You are right that only Gaudiyas hold the Bhagavata in the highest esteem. An advaitin would also reconcile smriti and Sruti, but not maybe paancharaatra.
> -- Regarding the story of Shri Rama and Sambhuka
  Your recollection is perfect. I had earlier not checked the uttara kaaNDa. This story occurs in the chapters 64 to 67 of uttarakaaNDa. The objectionable part was not that SambUka wanted to attain heaven with his bodily form but that he performed tapas, which SUdras were not supposed to do in tretaayuga.
  Tradition attributes authorship of uttarakaaNDa to sage vaalmiki. VaalmIki himself was supposed to be a forester / robber before becoming a sage and a poet. He got the name VaalmIki because of his severe tapas, and the ant-hills that grew around him (valmIkas). Why different treatments to VaalmIki and SambUka?
  (Maybe to correct this anamoly?) Adhyaatma RaamaayaNa says that though Valmiki was a brahmin by birth, he got associated with foresters and robbers; that he attacked the saptarshis, who taught him the mantra 'mara'.

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