[Advaita-l] 'VinAyaka' in ShAnkara GItA BhAShyam

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jul 5 12:45:44 CDT 2011

On Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 9:05 PM, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>wrote:

> In the 3rd khaNDa of kenopaniShad Brahman in the form of a yaksha
> (noteworthy itself) confounds the Devas who cannot determine His true
> nature.  Eventually in 3.12 Indra learns it from bahushobhamAnAmumAM
> haimAvatIM "the most beautiful Uma Haimavati"
> Shankaracharya has this to say about it.
> bahushobhamAnAM sarveShAM hi shobhamAnAnAM shobhanatamA vidyA
> bahushobhamAneti visheShaNamupapannaM bhavati haimAvatIM hemakR^**
> itAbharaNavatInivabahushobhamA**nAmityarthaH | athavomaiva himavato duhitA
> haimavatI nityameva sarvaGYeneshvareNa saha vartata iti GYAtuM samartheti
> kR^itvA tAmupajagAma |
> "bahushobhamAnAM - beautiful in all ways. [brahma]Vidya is the most
> beautiful in all ways so most beautiful is an appropriate term for it.
> haimAvatI - ornamented and dressed in gold therefore most beautiful.  Or the
> daughter of Himavan [Himalaya] is haimAvatI.  Because of Her constant
> accompaniment of the all-knowing Ishvara, He [Indra] thought She would know
> and approached Her [for instruction.]"
> While the description doesn't reach the poetical heights the author of
> saundaryalahiri etc. could achieve, it is not uncomplimentary either. This
> devi svarUpa is not ignorance worshipped by the ignorant but jnAna itself
> worshipped by the highest of the Devas.

Here is what Shankara says in the 'vAkyabhAShya' for the above mantra:

अभिप्रायोद्बोधहेतुत्वात् रुद्रपत्नी उमा हैमवतीव सा शोभमाना विद्यैव ।...

Being the cause of generating the Supreme Knowledge
(in Indra) the consort of Rudra, UmA, just like the daughter of HImavAn she
shines, is verily vidyA. [we can take the other meaning for 'haimavatI' =
one  ornamented and dressed in gold therefore most beautiful.]

In the vAkyabhAShya commentary for the next mantra Shankara says:
अतः इन्द्रस्य बोधहेतुत्वात् विद्यैव उमा । विद्यासहायवानीश्वर इति स्मृतिः ।
Therefore, being the cause of generating Knowledge in Indra UmA is verily
vidyA. For, there is a smRti: 'The one who is instrumental in/ helps in
generating vidyA is verily Ishwara.'

Here we see Shankara equates UmA, the consort of Rudra,
with Ishwara.

Anandagiri, while commenting on the word 'vidyA' in the above bhAShya says:
विद्येति *सत्त्वप्रधाना शक्तिः*, चित्तादात्म्यापत्त्या *बोधहेतुः* ।

//It is shakti in its manifestation with predominantly sattva, owing to its
identification with Chit becomes the cause of generating (liberating)

Here we get a message: The female aspect of Brahman, the ShaktiH, the
consort, has, as implied in the above commentary, three aspects: sattva,
rajas and tamas.  The sattva-dominant aspect becomes the cause of generating
vidyA.  There should not be any bar in worshiping this (sattva) aspect of a
(any) devI.  What can be further concluded from the mention of certain forms
of devI in the GitA bhashya is that it is the worship of the rajas/tamo
aspects of the very same devI that is taamasic.

Viewed this way, the very saptamAtRka-s if worshiped in their sattva aspect,
there is no contradiction either in Shankara's own works (both the bhashya
and the stotra works) viz-a-viz the MArkandeya purANa.  This can be extended
to the chaturbhagini-s and the vinAyaka-s. And the Sringeri Acharya
presiding the function at a saptamAtRka temple also comes within this

Shankara's reference in the GitAbhashya to these deities/entities/powers in
connection with tAmasa worship is ONLY with reference to their non-sattva
aspects.  And His stotra compositions extolling these very deities/entities
therefore is in their sattva aspect.

उमा शैलेन्द्रतनया...(ललितासहस्रनाम) (LS)

It is noteworthy that the description Shankara gives in the upanishad
bhashya for umA, haimavatI, as the daughter of HimavAn, is depicted in the
above nAma of the LS.

मुदाकरात्तमोदकं *सदा विमुक्तिसाधकं*
कलाधरावतंसकं .....नमामि तं *विनायकम्*
उमासुतं शोकविनाशकारणं नमामि विध्नेश्वरपादपङ्कजम्



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