[Advaita-l] apaurusheyatva of veda-s

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Aug 24 02:11:48 CDT 2011

Namaste Dear Shyam ji,

Thank you for your detailed clarification.  Indeed the concept of
'celestial/exalted 'positions' being static/permanent and different jivas
coming to occupy them at various kalpas is a well-admitted one in the
scripture.  For example Shankara Bhagavatpada says in the Brahmasutra
bhashya 3.3.32.:

//apAntaratamo nAma muniH kali-dvAparasandhau vyAsatvena sambabhUva//

A muni named 'apAntaratamas' incarnated as vyAsa (in the position of vyAsa)
at the confluence of dvApara and kali yugas.

And the concept of 'AdhikArika puruShas', virtually jnAni-s with
extraordinary puNya (jnana and karma) being ordained by the Cosmic Manager
Ishwara to occupy positions such as Surya, Yama, etc. and attain videha
mukti once for all after the term of officiation ends is also admitted in
the scripture.

Thus we have, as you articulate, different jiva-s attaining to those static
positions, at the appropriate times.  Thereby we do not have the problem of
a jiva who has attained mukti once for all coming back to occupy any

In the  kathopanishat bhashya Shankara writes, at the beginning, for the
opening mantra:

// Vajasravasa, desiring rewards, performed the Visvajit sacrifice, in which
he gave away all his property.  He had a son named Nachiketa. //

the Acharya starts the commentary with the words:

//तत्राख्यायिका विद्यास्तुत्यर्था । // The *story* there is by way of
eulogizing the knowledge.//

It could be an account of an event that either actually happened or not.
Yet, Shankara sees the characters of the Vedic events as quite capable of
being 'related to/with' by those who study the Veda. There is a lot to learn
from their behaviour, etc.  For example in the ajAtashatru-bAlAki story of
the Br.Up., Shankara invokes a smRti to show how bAlAki's (a brAhmaNa)
discipleship with the former, a kShatriya, needs to  be viewed specially.
Thus we have the characters of the Upanishads being portrayed as 'real' ones
even though there is no historicity attached to them.

On another note I would like to point out what Swami Paramarthananda ji
said, out of genuine concern: 'more than the Veda, it is the puranas that
need to be studied under an expert teacher for they have a very special
language of imagery to convey the sublime truths of the Vedanta that could
be easily misunderstood.'  We have already seen the language in which the
LYV conveys the recurrence of the Mahabharata, etc. kalpa after kalpa.  I
think we should take the words such as 'You Rudra....', as being addressed
to the 'position' rather than the jiva/person involved. Looking at the
Bh.Gita dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna, we can still understand that
'Arjuna' is any seeker, positioned in the world, needing to be taught the
Truth step by step where the karma yoga is emphasized initially as the
pre-requisite for jnana yoga. That way there can be any number of Arjuna-s
and Krishna-s in eternity.  Indeed, that is the very purpose of the
scripture: to enable us to relate to/with the appropriate character
portrayed there.

Of course, keeping the 'larger picture' of Vedanta in mind, it could easily
be said that it is the One Brahman that dons all the roles in the cosmos, at
all kalpas.  It is the rishi, the deva, the asura, the aspirant, and the
knower.  That is Its mAyA.

An old post of mine (in two parts) could also be seen in this connection:



On Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 1:02 AM, Shyam <shyam_md at yahoo.com> wrote:

> PranAms dear Shri Subbuji
> Thank you for your interesting questions.
> Your observations are spot on. The very same will also apply to Arjuna who
> in kalpa after kalpa gets the acharyopadesha from no less than Lord Narayana
> Himself, exclaims "destroyed is my delusion" "nashto moha smrtilabdhA" only
> to find himself with the same overwhelming grief and pathos - "krupaya
> parayavishto vishidannida mabraveet" - precisely one kalpa later!
> This is how I humbly reconcile the issue. That in the vision of the vedAs
> there are different roles that need to be portrayed. And in each cycle of
> Creation it is a different actor who dons a particular role - (like the Don
> once played by Mr.Bachan is now played by Mr.Khan!)
> I recall reading somewhere in the LYV(?) that even the Rudra of one kalpa
> then assumes the role of Brahma in the next one or something to that effect
> (dont recall the exact section). And this would hold true not only for the
> DevAs such as Surya, YamA, etc but also for many exalted jivAs such as the
> SaptaRshis, among many others. So personalities like Aruni AUddalaka that we
> find referenced in the VedAs themselves may well be among a august group of
> personalities that in each kalpa are simulated by a new crop of jivAs whose
> apurvA has matured enough to enable them such exalted births. In the bhashya
> on the Taittiriya Upanishad, in the introduction to the Bhrigu valli
> Shankara refers to Bhrigu as a well-renowned person; of great fame. Of
> course this can also mean that as a "fictional" character, Sage Bhrigu is
> well-known in the vEdic lore, but to me, this, and other similar instances,
> seems to demonstrate a proclivity on the part of the revered
>  Bhagavatpada to appreciate those events as actual and not merely
> anecdotal.
> In any case, one way or the other, what is vital, imho, is the revelatory
> import of these stories, which really does not hinge on one's inclination
> towards whether to accept these accounts as fact or fiction.
> Hari OM
> Shri Gurubhyoh namah
> Shyam

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