[Advaita-l] Re: paJNchAyatana pUja

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Thu Sep 7 17:38:21 CDT 2006

praNAm.h Vishwanathanji, Bhaskarji, Ramaji, Shiva Senani gAru,
       Thanks for responding with your views. I am responding to all of your
points in this mail. Please see my comments below:

> So, would I be right in saying that advaita vEdAnta as a tradition does
> not
> uphold one view over the other; that all of these views are fine in as far
> as they make the sAdhaka realize the nirguNa nature of brahma?

Could you tell me if the above approach is sanctioned by the tradition of
advaita vEdAnta?

>   I felt that these puranas are told to just to drive / uphold some moral
> values and nothng more. The story tellers were different and were just using
> the same names/ charecters in thier stories without botheirng much about
> their role in earlier stories. So we need to see the final moral of the
> story rather than the charecters.

Viswanathanji, while the above is a position that could be taken, I am not
sure if the tradition holds the same view about the itihAsas (if not the
purANas). Given the importance of the rAmAyaNa and the mahAbhArata, it is
not easy to dismiss them. Though these itihAsas have been tampered with, the
basic stories seem to be accepted by all vEdAntic traditions.

Also, it raises questions about the bhagavad.h gIta. How could you accept
the bhagavad.h gIta as a pramANa without treating the mahAbhArata in which
it occurs to be so (at least in as far as the mahAbhArata does not go
against the vEdas)?

and in shruti itself there is a mention that Indra,
> agni, varuNa & vAyu suffered defeat in the hands of *yaksha rUpi
> Ishwara*....Here it is evident that Indra, varuNa, agni etc. are all
> *ahimAni dEvata-s* & they have some super natural powers when compared to

Bhaskarji, while that statement could be so interpreted literally, it could
also have been metaphorical. This concept of abhimAni dEvatas, is it
acceptable to advaita vEdAnta? And if the indra, varuNa referred to here are
subordinate to Ishvara, is the "ekaM sat.h" verse talking about the unity of
subordinate dEvatas?

> Re: Venkateshvara. Is he anything other than nArAyaNa himself? What is
> the need for a separate pramANa?

Ramaji, how do we know vEnkatEshvara svAmi is nArAyaNa Himself? It must have
been mentioned in some purANa. By the same yardstick, even the budhda is
treated as an incarnation of viShNu. But in the refutation of Buddhism in
the shArIraka bhAShya, shaN^kara criticizes the budhda in strong words
(accusing him either of being incoherent or down-right malevolent, modulo
translation artefacts by svAmi gambhIrAnandaji). Given this context, how
could we accept the purANa references to vEnkatEshvara svAmi? (Note that
there are references to shrI rAma and shrI kR^iShNa even in the vEda, so
this issue does not seem to be a problem in their case).

Re: indra. Who said he is lower than shiva or vishhNu? The yoga
> vasshiShTha clearly says that episodes involving brahma, etc are not
> to be interpreted as meaning that they are ignorant. Sankaraananda, a
> very early writer, says that Ishvara can be worshiped in any form
> "sivam vaa viShNum vaa api indram anyam vaa". That should be quite
> clear. Don't buy into amar chitra katha comic versions of indra,
> vaayu, etc., and think that they are just a bunch of ignorant jokers.

Ramaji, leave aside the Amar Chitra Katha stories, even in the rAmAyaNa,
there is this story of how shiva lost to viShNu when the dEvatas wanted to
test their strength, and in anger threw down his bow, which then came under
the charge of the janakas (as recounted by paraShurAma before challenging
shrI rAma). Or consider the episode of ahalya and indra.

Now there are a couple of positions one could take on this (amongst many
other pUrvapakShas, I guess):
-- Treat stories like ahalya's in the rAmAyaNa as mere arthavAda, only
taking the moral from the story and not treating it as a fact sanctioned by
the vEdas. Then, we could again treat indra as being without any sins.

-- Accept the story in the rAmAyaNa but treat indra(ship) as a position
which can be attained by a hundred ashvamEdha sacrifices (or some such
achievement begotten by karma). Then, we can blame that particular jIva who
happened to be in the position of indra for the wrongdoing. This raises the
question of who the indra was who was praised so effusively in the R^ik.h
vEda etc. We could say that Ishvara Himself took the position of indra in
some bygone kalpas (just like He took form as a man like shrI rAma etc.)
Now, this makes it seem that brahma, viShNu and shiva with their respective
functions are themselves positions that could be attained by jIvas.
This could also explain why shiva lost to viShNu in the episode in rAmAyaNa.

-- If the above positions are unacceptable (for whatever reasons), please
let me know a consistent position on the itihAsas from an advaita vEdAntic



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