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

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jul 7 11:41:00 CDT 2011

On Thu, 7 Jul 2011, Satish Arigela wrote:

> Adi shankara is free to have a personal opinion on things outside the vedic
> arena...but of-course they remain his personal choices and they could be wrong
> or right.

On this list Shankaracharyas personal opinions outrank yours.

> The tantra-s have an independant authority and in a different sphere and 
> a smArta might follow them to the extent that it does not transgress his 
> normal vaidika AchAra. See the statement that shruti is two fold vaidikI 
> & tAntrikI...in the bhAgavata The purANa seem to have no issues with 
> performing an animal sacrifice in a tAntrIka mode for some devata-s.

The term Tantra covers a wide range of different religious ideologies and 
practices.  Some of these may well be compatible with smarta views (this 
was never in dispute) but others are not.

> Similarly worshipping the devata-s with blood and flesh for the purpose of
> mokSha is acceptable to some purANa-s and assure that mokSha can be achieved
> through such kind of worship, though it is never mentioned as a strict
> requirement. So here again shankArachArya's views are more of a personal choice
> and are not entirely supported by the purANa.

The puranas say a lot of things.  It is the task of a sampradaya to 
interpret them and place all those things in proper perspective, accepting 
some and, yes, rejecting others.

> There is quite some evidence to show that there has been a change in the 
> traditional stand over the centuries... so the so called tradition is 
> not set in stone and not necessarily constant. So resorting to 
> "tradition" to explain away a glaring inconsistency is like escaping and 
> running back with cowardice. People are free to do this but atleats be 
> aware that is what it is.

Alternatively there simply isn't any glaring inconsistency.  Or if there 
is, you have failed to show it.  We have seen that Shankaracharya does not 
object to the worship of Devi in general.  This is what his followers 
believe now.  We have seen that Shankaracharya objects to tantric animal 
sacrifices.  It is an indisputable historical fact that many shakti pithas 
which previously had blood offerings now have vegetarian ones and if not 
Shankaracharya himself, his followers are responsible for the change.  We 
have seen that Smartas do pray to saptamatrkas and Vinayaka but they do so 
according to sattvika ways only.  We have seen that the views of one of 
the foremost Advaitins of modern times on the subject of Vedic sacrifice 
is in perfect accord with that expressed by Shankaracharya in his 

> This is very similar to the Christian/Islamic fundamentalist replying to the
> pointing out of an inconsistency in the bible saying "What you say is not
> inconsistent because the bible says so or that you have to read it with the holy
> spirit or that the biblical tradition has a different opinion" As I said that is
> a very good escape strategy and is of no use to anyone except for people who
> like to day dream about an consistent tradition and pat each other's back.

So what?  I for one don't waste a second comparing myself to Muslims and 
Christians or worrying about similarities or differences to them. 
Smartism is what it is.  I do find it ironic that you are unfavorably 
comparing it to fundamentalism when you are the textual literalist in this 
conversation.  We are not "people of the book."

> Anyway the viShNudharmottara purANa clearly describes the worship of
> chaturbhagini-s along with tumburu. And there is nothing unsAttvic mentioned
> about their worship in the viShNudharmottara purANa. Since we have a purANic
> reference to the system which is not particularly unsAttvic, once again AchArya
> clubbing the chaturbhagini system as completely tAmasika seems to be personal
> choice and need not be true always.

There are also puranas which call Kapila an omniescent divine sage but 
that didn't stop Advaita Vedanta from attacking Samkhya or co-opting it 
for its own purposes.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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