[Advaita-l] Bh.Gita verse 18.73 - Was Arjuna an 'aparoksha Jnani'? - Part 4

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Jul 17 01:07:20 CDT 2010

In my previous post I criticized the view that women and dwijetara could 
learn and practice the Vedas.  Such laxity is a distortion of our 

But by the same stroke, too much severity is also a distortion of our 
philosophy and equally deserves to be criticized.

On Thu, 1 Jul 2010, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> Puranas give a chance for the women and non brahmins to understand the
> vedanta. But purana knowledge is not same as vedanta knowledge.

Why not? jnana is jnana is jnana.  Puranas and other smrtis derive their 
authority from being the essence of Shruti.  If Shruti can provide 
knowledge (or more accurately destroy the ignorance that veils 
self-knowledge) then so can the puranas.  If the brahmasutras can destroy 
ignorance then so can the puranas which have the same author. And this is 
the conclusion of shruti itself.  See Chhandogyopanishad 7.1.2 where 
Narada in ennumerating to Sanatkumara the fields of knowledge he has 
learned mentions

R^igvedaM bhagavo.adhyAmi yajurvedaM sAmavedamAtharvaNaM chaturthamitihAsa 
purANAM pa~nchamaM

"Rigveda, Sir I have learned, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, the atharvana 
as the fourth, as the fifth the itihasa-purana."  Elsewhere as well we see 
the Mahabharata or the Bhagavata or itihasa-purana in general referred to 
as the "fifth veda"  Why?  They are the veda of those who do not have 
access to the other four vedas.

For the karmakanda different adhikaras are laid down for different varnas, 
ashramas, genders etc. and this is right and proper for they are based on 
bodies which differ widely.  But Brahman pervades all whether moving or 
still.  A tree or a rock is just as much Brahman as Shankaracharya but it 
lacks the chetana or mental insight to realize this or the viveka to 
discriminate between real and unreal.  But can you seriously argue a human 
female or a shudra is not capable of chetana and viveka?  Shankaracharya 
does not think so.  He mentions Sulabha a female jnani in the bhashya on 3.3.32.
Vidura and Dharmavyadha are mentioned as jnanis who were Shudras in the 
bhashya on 1.3.38.

But if such people cannot study the Vedas including upanishads, then this 
ability to get jnana would seem to be only theoretical.  This is where 
itihasa-purana comes in.  By reading the vedantic portions therein such as 
Gita, mokshadharma, yogavasishta etc. which contain the essence of shruti 
and are based upon them, those who are not dvija can also learn the truths 
of vedanta and achieve moksha which is the ultimate purport of all the 
shastras.  Thus they truly are the panchama Veda.

> Arjuna was a warrior not a brahmin Only sannyasi can get vedanta
> knowledge.  Krishna cannot give vedanta knowledge to non sannyasi. He
> gave purana type of knowledge for non sannyasi Arjuna.  His doubts got
> cleared. He fought and won the war.
> Purana  type knowledge is also good. Dont misunderstand. It leads to
> vedanta knowledge as listener is born as brahmin in next janma.

Advaita Vedanta allows for jivanmukti i.e. mukti in this lifetime.  That 
mukti is caused by jnAna and jnAna can arise in any ashrama or even no 
ashrama.  (See brahmasutra 3.4.36 antarA chApi tu taddaShTe)

A jnani will always be a sannyasi even if he starts in another ashrama 
because jnana necessarily implies vairagya and distaste for material 
posessions etc.  He may not have danda or kamandalu etc.  These things are 
governed by shastras so there may well be restrictions of various kinds 
but the core values of sannyasa are capable of being practised by anyone 
with the right qualifications.  Even in the case of institutional sannyasa 
it is not always so cut and dry.  In a thread on this same topic we had 
some months ago, several modern and historical examples of female and 
non-Brahmana sannyasis sanctioned by the most traditional authorities were 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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