[Advaita-l] RE: On the parakAyapraveSa legend about Sankara

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Tue Mar 27 14:42:57 CDT 2007

I have been keeping quiet on this thread. But it is a little
disappointing to me to see the post by Amuthan.

Perhaps the example chosen by Kartik wasn't exactly suitable, but his
points still remain valid.

How do you justify the behaviour of Lord Mahavishnu in tricking King
Bali, because he was too righteous (!), or the seduction of Tulasi?
Especially the latter, who was a devotee and who certainly did not
harbor any desire for the Lord, unlike Rukmani. As you may well know,
the Lord was cursed to become a stone (shAlagrAma) by TulasidevI,
after this.

In the midst of all this controversy, no one who is objecting seems to
have read the maadhavIyam, or what it tries to say (as usual), and
have formed some imaginary reconstruction of the episode, based on the
alleged sexuality in the episode.

The point is that the debate was conducted to establish the advaita
siddhaanta, since maNDana and the mImA.msakas had captured the
intellects of the people. Now the very avatara of Sankara was to
re-establish advaita, and so obviously he approached maNDana, right
after kumArila bhaTTa. The agreement was that whoever lost would
convert to the other persons Ashrama. Ubhayabhaarati skilfully
employed a loophole in the rules for debate to trap Shankara. You may
say these are not important topics (kAma-shAstra), but the technical
rules for debate are what they are, and not what you or I wish them to

After the parakAyapravesha, the queen realizes that there is something
fishy, since the king is very detached. Note that this shows that
shankara in the midst of the worldly happenings still retains his
detatched state, and that is very apparent to the queen. The same
shankara is so detached that when someone wants to sacrifice him, he
not only readily agrees, but suggests a suitable time when the
disciples will be away, so that he will not be attacked by any of his

This is just like the Lord, who decieved Tulasi for a greater cause
(so that the devas could kill her husband), and is equally unpreturbed
when Tulasi curses him. Or Lord Shiva who approached the wives of the
sages of daNDaka, who also drank the hAlAhAla viSha without any

The bottom-line is that you cannot always apply "rules of conduct".
Note this does not mean that one can give this as an excuse, and do
whatever one pleases. Does the person have the same detatchment when
someone is, or will be cutting off his head? That's the bottomline.

The mAdhavIyam was written by a disciple of Vidyasankara Tirtha, the
guru of Vidyaranya himself. The debate with maNDana itself is very
intricate, and requires an indepth knowledge of the mimA.msA to
understand it! Recently, Srisannidhaanam asked a disciple to republish
this work (see my mail about 2 years back), since it is not readily
available. The mAdhavIyam is considered to be a premier work in the
advaita sampradaaya. It satisfies the mImAmsA criteria for being a
pramANa, by this reason. Mere reasoning cannot make that go away,
especially when the moral of the episode(s) is obvious enough.

> (sense-object contact). knowing fully well the depth of AchArya's
> analysis in his bhAShya-s, it is beyond doubt that AchArya would be
> more interested in negating the fundamental error that there is
> happiness in external objects than wasting his time displaying his
> yogasiddhIs for such a trivial cause. instead, he would have

And how do you know this is the case, when the sampradaaya explicitly
believes otherwise? There is no connflict between what he wrote in the
bhAshya and mAdhavIyam. Also your comment is based on a
misunderstanding of the story, there was neither a waste of time nor
displaying his yogasiddhis for a "trivial" case. The author is trying
to show shankaras detatchment and not trying to make people in awe of
"yoga-siddhis". That's just a gross distortion of the mAdhavIyam. BTW,
the outcome of the "trivial" case would have been for shankara to
convert to gR^ihasthaashrama anyway.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list