[Advaita-l] Status of Purana

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu May 26 10:41:48 CDT 2011

Dear Sriram, 

It seems you have taken the meaning of the verses (quoted by you) in a negative sense. Let us not consider only the case of the inborn jnanis. Not so fortunate ones, who are in the majority, have to start from the scratch and do need the Puranas. Such people should not jump straight to the Vedanta even by reading only the prakarana granthas. I am sure the jnanis in four mathas know the importance of the fifth veda. Of course once they become jnanis they do not need them. For a Jivanmukta even reading the Veda and the Vedanta is not needed.

Purana itself tells us that all the four vedas and the fifth Veda together were one Veda called Yajurveda till Vedavyasa made into the four vedas and the fifth veda. The Puranas and the Itihasas are the primary literature one should read  to start with if not all of the puranas. I mentioned the Bhagavata purana as the Padma purana calls it the highest of the puranas.


--- On Thu, 5/26/11, Venkata sriram P <venkatasriramp at yahoo.in> wrote:

From: Venkata sriram P <venkatasriramp at yahoo.in>
Subject: [Advaita-l] Status of Purana
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Date: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 6:37 AM

Dear Sunil,
Yes the prakarana granthas are to be studied before going to the Vedantic  Prasthanatraya, which includes the Sruti and Smriti in it. In fact the study of Vedanta comes after the study of Veda. Now the Mahabharata says that the vedas should be read after reading the Puranas and the Itihasas (ie. the fifth-Veda). So one has raelly to start with the puranas and the Itihasas. May be for an absolute beginner a study of the Bhagavatam might do to start with if one does not have the time to study all the Puranas and the Itihasas before studying  the Prakarqana granthas and the Prasthanatraya.. 
Some of the scholars have a negative opinion about the status of puranas 
who are of the notion that puranas are meant for dullards & less intelligent people.
See how they say:
pANDityahInAH kavayO bhavanti / kavitvahInA schapurANabhaTTAH
purANahInAH kriShimAshrayantE bhagnAH kriShErbhAgavatA bhavanti //
The translation :
Those devoid of intelligence, become poets; those who can't study poetry, 
study puranas; those who cannot study puranas, take to the occupation of 
agriculture and plough fields; those who can't plough fields, become 
haridAsa and beg for food

There is another derogatory sloka against the purana from Atri Smriti:
vEdEna hInashcha paThanti shAstraM shAstrEna hInascha purANapAThAH
purANahInAH kriShiNO bhavanti bhraShTAstatO bhAgavatA bhavanti //
The translation:
Those who can't study vedas, study the sastra; those who can't understand 
sastra, study puranas; those who can't understand puranas, take to agriculture;
those who can't do agriculture, take to bhAgavata dharma and do bhikshatana 
Though, i don't agree with the above statements (thanks to my gurunatha), 
the above seems to be the paNDita abhiprAya as far as the status of purANAs 
are concerned.  
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