[Advaita-l] Re: Devas Adhikara, Rama and Sambuka

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Mon May 22 02:34:08 CDT 2006

Shree Jaldharji,
      Namaste. Thanks for responding with your inputs. Please see my
interspersed with yours below.

> >
> > -- Jaldharji mentioned a while ago (with reference to a friend of his
> who
> > was a women) that she does not require the Vedas for spirituality, and
> that
> > the itihasas should do for that purpose. This question is regarding
> sudras
> > and women (and this question has risen while debating with a Dvaita
> friend
> > of mine). I do not necessarily see spirituality as the only reason for
> > studying the Vedas.
> No that's true. However it is the only reason where the idea of adhikara
> is relevent don't you think?

I guess you meant spirituality is the only context where the concept of
adhikara is
relevant, in the sense that since Veda adhikara is not a pre-requisite for
why does it even matter that the adhikara is only restricted to a few
people? To give
a crude analogy, no one would bother if carpentry was restricted only to the
varna of carpenters. But the analogy does not hold totally. The cultural and
social aspects
also have to be considered (apart from the philosophical aspect -- the
analogy of a sudra philosopher.
I will get to this in more detail below). Btw, this was not the main focus
of my question, but
I felt these are some issues that also need to be addressed.

-- Veda adhyayanam is accorded great respect (or at the very least was), and
these kinds of things have been used to assert the superiority of the
Brahmanas. For example,
Brahmanas coming from the head of Brahma, Sudras coming from the feet of
Brahma etc. You
are preventing a whole class of people (Sudras) from gaining this respect.
Had it
been said that carpentry and Veda adhyayanam were on par with each other,
people would not
probably have bothered much. But when it's said, Veda adhyayanam is
inherently good and great,
but some people are barred from it (not based on any qualification, but
based simply on birth. For example,
if someone was not good at carpentry, you can bar him from being a
carpenter. But saying that by being
born in a particular class, you can't be a carpenter seems a bit strange),
it's indeed strange. Of course,
please let me know if something's amiss in the analogy etc.

  Let's say a sudra belives in the infallibility of the
> > Vedas, and wants to establish his own philosophy a la Sankara.
> Shankaracharya does not claim to have established his own philosophy.

I intended it in the sense that this Sudra reads the Vedas, and say also,
Mandukya Karika, and feels that his philosophy more accurately conveys the
message of the
Vedas and the Gurus all the way till Gaudapada. This Sudra does not claim to
have a new
philosophy, but only claims to be the faithful representative of the big
people before him.

> He obviously
> > needs to study the Vedas to debate with others.
> Only for one kind of debate.  I don' see why he couldn't discuss any of
> the core concepts of Vedanta solely on the Smrti.

The Sudra could, if the Advaitin is willing to restrict himself to the
Smrutis, say
the Bhagavad Geeta. My question was, would an Advaitin be ok for such a
debate based solely on the Smruti, and become the Sudra's disciple if he
to lose the debate? That is, the Advaitin should not complain later that the
of the Sudra, though deducible from the Smrutis, could not have been deduced

from the Sruti. Note also that we are assuming that the Advaitin has no
unfair advantage over the Sudra from having access to the Vedas.

Although in theory smrti is based on shruti, in practice it is the other
> way around.  We approach Shruti through the prism of Smrti and even more
> importantly shishtachara.  For example my daily religious activities are
> based on what I learned from elders and gurus and from prayogas which are
> like "recipes" based on dharmashastras which are themselves a condensed
> edition of smrtis and kalpasutras which are based on the Vedas.
> So too a traditional Advaitin would probably spend more time with
> siddhantaleshasamgrah or panchadashi or brahmasutra commentaries than the
> "raw" upanishads themselves.

> But what would an Advaitin do, given that the
> > Sruti forms the authentic source for all debate on Atma-Vidya?
> It's a authentic source.  But so is the Gita and in fact the brahmasutras
> quote it many times and also other parts of the mahabharata and manusmrti.
> > Does he also agree to such a debate?
> >
> No I think not.  But it is a pretty contrived hypothetical.  For the
> reasons I mentioned above, someone who "belives in the infallibility of
> the Vedas" believes in a whole chain of interpretation and redaction of
> the Vedas.

Well, the situation is not really so far-fetched, I feel. For example, a
could retain most of Sankara's ideas, and leaving out others like the
Veda adhikara issues. A potential argument could be as follows.
Upanayana is prescribed by Satapatha Brahmana (apaurusheya), but
that Upanayana being necessary for Veda adhikara is mentioned only
in some Smruti (paurusheya, btw could you tell me which Smruti mentions
that). Hence, the author of the Smruti could have
made the rule about Veda adhikara based on the culture and society of his
day. Now that the times have changed, the rule no longer holds good.



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