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

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 6 13:59:44 CDT 2011

In all the discussion about vinAyaka and saptamAtRkA-s and mAtRgaNa-s,
I note that chapter 7 of the gItA and its bhAshya have not been cited yet. 
Verse 12 of chapter 7 has the first occurence of the word sAttvika with 
respect to a personal orientation and I suggest that the bhAshya on this
and the next few verses should be taken along with the references in
chapter 9 and 17. Especially note the similar comment "samAne apy
AyAse..." in the bhAshya on both 7.12 and 9.25.
I also find it curious that no one has yet addressed the reference to the
pitR-s. In all the research into the esoteric and secret world of Tantric
rituals and deities, it seems to me that the all too visible world of regular
Srauta-smArta ritual and deities is not appreciated well. The annual
pitR-SrAddha-s and other funeral rituals are given great importance
in every Hindu household, no matter whether the family is Brahmana
or not. There is a ritual danger associated with death and its attendant
ceremonies. The general attitude is therefore that lapses in the rituals
dedicated to the gods are less serious and more easily forgiven than
lapses in rituals meant for the ancestors. A much greater level of care
is typically taken for pitR karmA. The ancestors are considered closer
to the family than the gods, but also more dangerous because they are
also more difficult to please. And this is ultimately so only because the
ancestors were once living human beings and we human beings are
often dangerous creatures, to ourselves and to other beings! 

Coming to the deities, it is often seen that the same deity has both a
fierce aspect and a beneficial aspect. rudra is ugra, bhIma, agrevadha,
dUrevadha and hantA, but also Sambhu, mayobhu, Sankara, mayaskara,
Siva and Sivatara. There is (or should be) nothing new about all this.
That the vedic rudra is to be propitiated does not make us Saiva in the
popular sectarian sense of the term Saiva. The daily sandhyAvandana
ritual, in all its variants, begins with a set of the names of vishNu. This
doesn't make us vaishNava, in the popular sectarian sense of the term
vaishNava. Nor does the dhyAna visualization of gAyatrI as a Goddess
make us SAkta in the sectarian sense of the term SAkta.

In many family rituals of yajurvedins, we often recite a mantra for a
group of Goddesses - SrI lakshmI aupalA ambikA ... The very word
aupalA means "made of stone" and this group includes ShashThI and
indrasenA, who are not Goddesses of popular worship. All these names
are then associated with a single Goddess who is immediately equated
to vidyA and brahmayoni. This resonates with umA haimavatI being
described as brahmavidyA in the kena bhAshya. 
Any comments about the religious background of our bhagavatpAda,
what he may have taught or objected to, and whether later AcAryas in
our tradition have deviated or innovated, needs to clearly keep this much
larger picture in mind. Clearly, no AcArya is going to advise his laymen
followers that the annual pitR-SrAddha karmA is not sAttvika and should
be given up. Rather, if you go to them for advice, they will tell you to be
diligent in its performance, unless of course you are ready for saMnyAsa.
An obvious corollary exists for vinAyaka and the mAtRgaNa-s etc.

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