[Advaita-l] SRI SUKTAM - Meaning

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 12 18:47:05 CST 2009

Dear Ramakrishnan Balasubramanianji,
Excuse for butting in the great discussions among you and Sundareshan ji and others and digressing a little from the main discussions. I felt very sad when I saw your following staement and felt like expressing my views.
The correct procedure is what is taught by the guru and not what is traced back to source texts. This procedure of tracing everything back to source texts is a Western notion - the Indian idea is quite different.
I could not quite agree that the Guru is always right. True that we must be respectful to the guru and talk to him with all humility yet if we find that the guru may not be correct we have to differ from him. The ancient tradition has been to accept only what you are convinced about. At the end of the discourse on the Bhagavad Gita the Lord gave that liberty to Arjuna to choose what the latter wanted to do. Lord Buddha learned Sankhya and Yoga from his guru Allara kalama but did not agree with his guru on the plurality of the souls. His next guru taught him Yoga but his doubts were still there. His gurus admitted that they had no answer to what Lord Buddha asked and advised him to seek the answers elsewhere. Then Lord Buddha found the solution through meditation. Shri Ramanujacharya also did not agree with his guru but never disrespected his guru. Similarly Madhvacharya also went ahead of his guru and his guru became his sishya. Now you may ask me
 as to why then nobody found fault with the logic of Adi Sankaracharya. It is because Adi Sankaracharya was way above the others and he was sound in his knowledge. This reminds me one episode from the Bollywood. Around the 80s or so someone asked the superstar Jitendra as to who was the number one superstar in the Hindi films. Jitendra replied unhesitatingly that it was Amitabh Bascchan at that time. Then to the next question as to who was the number two Jitendra said that there is no number two and in fact the next superstar is the eleventh.  Such has been the status of Adi sankarachaya. What I mean is that almost always the gururs are right but exceptions can occur and the vigilant disciple may sometimes disagree. In such a case the disciple can ask his guru, with utmost humility, about his doubts like Lord Buddha did. The broad-minded guru may send the disciple to someone else. Did not Ashtavakra's father himself send Ashtavakra to take
 additional lessons from king Janaka.
Secondly inspite of meeeting the prerequisites (ie. Vyakarana, Nirukta nd Chanda etc.) there could be variation in the oral transmission of the Samhitas. For these aspects one needs to consult the other scholars, who inspire one's confidence. In the Mahabharata Vaishampayana says that there are 745 verses in the Bhagavad Gita and Lord krishna spoke 620 verses but in the Sankarabhashya we find that there are only 700 verses and Lord Krishna spoke 574 verses. Why this discrepancy? We know that Adi Sankaracharya asked someone to fetch him the Lalita Trishati for writing a bhashya on it but the latter got him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita , which we now know had 700 verses. It could be that there might have been the other version with 745 verses, which that person could not find and thus was not available to Adi Sankaracharya at that point of time. Once Adi Sankaracharya wrote his bhashya the other version might have got obscurated.
Therefore I feel that we cannot say that the western way of seeking the source is entirely wrong.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya
--- On Thu, 2/12/09, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] SRI SUKTAM - Meaning
To: "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Thursday, February 12, 2009, 9:00 AM

On Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 10:43 AM, Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra,
Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com> wrote:

> Similarly, in the composite navagraha sUktaM, the last
> verse sacitra citraM ... is from Rgveda and should be
> chanted as candraM rayiM puruvIraM ... and NOT as
> candra(g) rayiM ...In this case, most people recite it
> correctly!

I would like to disagree here.

My book from Sringeri, compiled by Anantarama Dikshitar, former
AsthAna vidvAn of Sringeri gives this as chandraGm .. etc. I myself
chant chandragm rayim in private (as I was taught), but the other way
in public since most people have used mantra pushpam to learn the
sUktam. The correct procedure is what is taught by the guru and not
what is traced back to source texts. This procedure of tracing
everything back to source texts is a Western notion - the Indian idea
is quite different.

> As a last note, for Bhaskar, svara-s do not change, per
> se, between Rgveda and yajurveda. That is, an udAtta
> sound is udAtta in both, an anudAtta sound is anudAtta
> in both and a svarita is svarita in both vedas. What varies
> is only the style of reciting the svarita in special cases
> (with long vowels, or with visarga at the end of a sentence).
> These are codified in the respective prAtiSAkhya texts
> and maintained with fidelity by recitation experts.

As per pANini or any of the prAtishAkhyas, there is nothing called
dIrgha svarita. It is known purely from tradition. Not only that - the
definition of the svarita in these texts have no connection to how
they are chanted by the sampradAyavits even in the hrasva case. So
it's important to follow a guru who is a sampradAyavit. I am
submitting a paper to the next Vedanta conference on the dIrgha
svarita in which I compare the Tamil yajur and Rg traditions and a
preliminary comparison with the Nambudiri yajur style. The latter is
drastically different from the Tamil yajur tradition in terms of the
dIrgha svarita, apart from other things. I'll make the study available
when I get done with it.

BTW, apart from the case of the svarita, there are a whole number of
artifacts in traditional chanting either not found in the prAtishAkhya
texts, or are outright contradicted by them.

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