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

Satish Arigela satisharigela at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 8 01:20:19 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.

Of-course I should not be complaining about this... and if I have a complaint 
about that I should not be here :-)) What I meant is that one can disagree with 
shankara on some matters and still be a traditional smArta. There are many who 
do actually.

>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.

It is indeed so. Nothing to disagree here.

>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.

However, there is not one sAmpradAya. There are quite a few and when the opinion 
of different sAmpradAya-s differ then of-course the thought of which 
sAmpradAya's position is closer to the purANa-s come. Clearly the devI 
bhAgavatha and the mArkanDeya purANa admit blood offerings and assure that 
mokSha can be achieved through such worship. Hence I was mentioning shankara's 
position is in conflict with these purANa-s.

Just like exception is made for some yAga-s when it comes to offering animals in 
different vedic sUtra-s, likewise the purANa makes clear and explicit exceptions 
when it comes of offering animals to devI which is done as described in the 
tantra-s. And it employs the same justification like the various vaidika sUtra-s 
employ for this purpose. So the opinion that animal sacrifice in tAntrIka mode 
coming under the general rule and hence to be avoided is flawed as per the 
auhority of the devI bhAgavata mahApurANa as also the kAlikA and other purANa-s.

If it is being said in shankara sAmpradAya we do not follow the purANa-s 
completely, that is okay....I am no one to say shankara maTha people should 
follow this or that ....I am only trying to show that wholesale rejection of 
some practice as tAmasika like shankara did is not supported by the purANa.

>Alternatively there simply isn't any glaring inconsistency.  Or if there is, you 
>have failed to show it. 

I have shown two instances. One is about the tumburu worship and other being the 
While every once in a while I try to show some new evidence, the other party 
from the beginning seems to repeat the same thing over and over. And when 
pressed, the escape route of sAmpradAya is used.

 So in essence, it gets reduced to this: If one says position X seems 
inconsistent because of reason Y & Z, I seem to be getting the response that: X 
is not really inconsistent because those hold position X say so. This is 
circular and not of any use. 

 >We have seen that >Shankaracharya does not object to the worship of Devi in 
general.  This is what his followers >
>believe now.  

This seems to be clear from the kenopaniShad bhAShya. No argument on that.

>We have >>seen that Shankaracharya objects to tantric animal sacrifices.  

And I have already shown that it is nothing more than a personal preference  and 
such objection is not in line with the shAstra.

>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 

Nothing to disagree. The point of contention is none of the above.

{{{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."}}}

:-)  The whole question came to me because I have known more than one smArta and 
atleast one shrIvaiShNava(yes!trust me!) brAhmaNa-s who worship tumburu along 
with the bhagini-s. So all this is not coming just from the book. I have known 
real people(all of them brAhmaNa-s) who practice this today and there is solid 
evidence of brAhmaNa-s practicing the same tumburu worship in ancient times. So 
as can you see I did not base all this on a few sentences from a couple of 
texts, but there is some field work involved and evidence spanning some 

By the way smArtism is not completely equal to shankara sAmpradAya. There are 
many independant smArta-s.

{{{> 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 
> 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 

Though people liked to think of kapila muni in ancient times as an incarnation 
of viShNu, in much ancient times, the great kapila avatAra is something 
different and has nothing much to do with sAmkhya system. That is a different 
multihanded form of viShNu. He is called ugra kapila mUrti and is a variant part 
of that geat vaiShNava chatur-vyUha.

Such an attack is okay but one should be well informed about what one is 
attacking. In our case it seems an attack was made based on perhaps incomplete 
understanding or due to lack of complete information on the subject.

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