[Advaita-l] sapta-mAtR^ika-s in ShAnkara GItA BhAShyam

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Jul 5 10:36:19 CDT 2011

On Tue, 5 Jul 2011, Satish Arigela wrote:

> "yajante pUjayanti sAttvikAH sattvaniShThAH devAn, yakSha rakShAMsi rAjasAH,
> pretAn bhUtagaNAMshcha *saptamAtR^ikAdIMshcha* anye yajante tAmasAH janAH"
> The sAttvika janAH worship of-course the devata-s, those of rAjasic 
> nature the next set of semi divine beings i.e. yakSha-s along with the 
> rakSha-s, the third i.e. those of tAmasik nature worship the preta-s, 
> bhUta-s and the sapta mAtR^ika-s.
> Notice clearly what AchArya is saying: Those with sAttvik nature worship 
> the devata-s meaning the deva-s are not worshipped with preference by 
> the other two classes. Notice the gradation here deva-s, yakSha-s & 
> rakSha-s, pretas, bhUta-s & sapta-mAtR^ika-s.. So AchArya is basically 
> clubbing brAhmI, vaiShNavI, etc with preta-s, bhUtagaNa-s i.e. or in 
> other words he is saying they are not deva-s, neither do they belong to 
> type of yakSha-s, rakSha-s but even lower than them.
> Keep in mind this distinction: The statements are not talking about 
> sAttvika, rAjasa, tAmasa worship of devata-s. It is clearly saying those 
> with rAjasic nature worship yakSha, rakSha-s so on so forth.

But look at the next shloka:

ashAstravihitaM ghoraM tapyante ye tapo janAH |
dambhAhaMkArasaMyuktAH kAmarAgabalAnvitAH || 5 ||

"Those people who practice terrible practices contrary to the shastras 
because of hypocrisy and ego are filled with the power of lust and passion."

Shankaracharya explains "terrible practices" as:

ghoraM pIDAkaraM prANinAm AtmanaH cha tapaH

"terrible - causing suffering to animals and oneself - practices"

Although it is not explicitly said it seems what is the issue here is not 
the nature of the matR^ikas themselves but that they are worshipped with 
non-vegetarian sacrifices and contrary to Vedic methods.  In the 
digvijayas also we have stories of Shankaracharya "pacifying" a devi not 
by abolishing Her worship but by replacing animal sacrifices 
with vegetarian ones.

As today smArtas worship the saptamAtR^ikas in a sattvika way, there is 
no contradiction with the Acharyas prescriptions.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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