[Advaita-l] slesha

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Sep 4 05:11:49 CDT 2016

On Sun, Sep 4, 2016 at 1:57 PM, Jaldhar H. Vyas via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> On Sat, 3 Sep 2016, D Gayatri via Advaita-l wrote:
> This also shows that neither was Shankara considered an incarnation of
>> Shiva, nor did he smear himself with ashes.
> This is just silly.  Surely you are aware that Shiva Bhagavans body is
> completely covered in ashes (which is what bhasmabhuta means.) whereas we
> humans wear tripundra in certain specific locations on the body. Elementary
> logic tells you that ~∀(p) !-> ~p or in other words not bhasma everywhere
> does not imply bhasma nowhere.

Dear Sri Jaldhar,

This is exactly what I had written in a blog 'Vāchaspati Misra's Crime'
over a year ago.  I am reproducing that portion here.  Though a little
long, the material gives a lot of information and above all, a comparison
from the Sri Venkateswara Suprabhātam, to drive home the point that you
have made above:

//There is also absolutely no basis for their (narayanastra bloggers')
claim that ‘Śhankaracharya did not don the bhasma’.  They have relied on a
commentary that only alternatively gives the meaning to Padmapada’s word
‘nirasta bhūtim’ as ‘one without the vibhūti’ (contrasted with Lord Śiva)
to buttress this claim.  That such is not what that word means is easily
appreciated when one understands that: While Lord Śiva had the śmaśāna
bhasma (ashes of the crematorium) *all over his body*, from head to foot,
Shankarācharya in his human form, just as a vaidika, donned the vibhūti,
produced from the agnihotra ritual (shrouta) or by other prescribed
(smarta) means and that too in the particular places of the body. There is
bhasma dhāraṇa vidhi and mantras for it. The Bhasmajābāla Upaniṣad and
other upaniṣads and smṛiti texts are authority for the time-immemorial
practice of bhasma dhāraṇa by vaidikas.


This Upaniṣad teaches that Yati-s too have to don the bhasma:

मानस्तोकेन मन्त्रेण मन्त्रितं भस्म धारयेत् ।

ऊर्ध्वपुण्ड्रं भवेत्सामं मध्यपुण्ड्रं त्रियायुषम् ॥ १॥

त्रियायुषाणि कुरुते ललाटे च भुजद्वये ।

नाभौ शिरसि हृत्पार्श्वे ब्राह्मणाः क्षत्रियास्तथा ॥ २॥

त्रैवर्णिकानां सर्वेषामग्निहोत्रसमुद्भवम् ।

इदं मुख्यं गृहस्थानां विरजानलजं भवेत् ॥ ३॥

विरजानलजं चैव धार्यं प्रोक्तं महर्षिभिः ।

औपासनसमुत्पन्नं गृहस्थानां विशेषतः ॥ ४॥

समिदग्निसमुत्पन्नं धार्यं वै ब्रह्मचारिणा ।

शूद्राणां श्रोत्रियागारपचनाग्निसमुद्भवम् ॥ ५॥

अन्येषामपि सर्वेषां धार्यं चैवानलोद्भवम् ।

*यतीनां ज्ञानदं प्रोक्तं* वनस्थानां विरक्तिदम् ॥ ६॥

*अतिवर्णाश्रमाणां तु श्मशानाग्निसमुद्भवम् ।*

सर्वेषां देवालयस्थं भस्म शिवाग्निजं शिवयोगिनाम् ।

शिवालयस्थं तल्लिङ्गलिप्तं वा मन्त्रसंस्कारदग्धं वा ॥

The above verses stipulate the source of the bhasma for various
varṇa/aśrama-s. Since Shankaracharya was a Paramahamsa Parivrājaka,
and not an ativarṇāśramī, he donned the bhasma that has been produced
in the manner stated in the Upaniṣad. From Shankara’s bhāṣya one can
deduce the great importance Shankara gave to the observance of rules
and following the dharma of one’s āśrama and varṇa. In the Īśāvāsya
bhāṣya 8 he says: न हि शास्त्रविहितं किञ्चिदकर्तव्यतामियात् । [Nothing
that the scripture enjoins is unworthy of adherence.] There are
solutions to the problem of not being able to access the bhasma that
is produced as per the method stipulated.  A study of the commentary
by Upaniṣad Brahmayogin to this and several other upaniṣads will give
one the correct vaidika practice.  The last cited verse above also
says that for ativarṇaśramī the bhasma taken from the crematorium is
stipulated. Since Lord Śiva was such a one, he is resplendent with the
bhasma of the crematorium.  And since Shankara was a vaidika
sannyāsin, he is stated to be without that bhasma from the crematorium
– nirasta bhūti – like Śiva.   That is what the commentary to
Padmapāda’s verse means. Since Sri Rāma was a traivarṇika gṛhastha,
the bhasma prescribed for him and worn by him is the one produced from
the agnihotra or virajānala. This is what is stated in the Śivagītā of
the Padmapurāṇa.


While all those things Padmapāda lists in his verse, such as vibhūti
(whether it is bhasma or aiśvarya), Umā, snakes, ugratvam, Vināyaka, are
all inalienable attributes of Śiva, such is not the case with Shankara.  That
is what the verse means. One can definitely think of Shankara without the
bhasma on his forehead, etc, for instance, when he has just bathed. While
Shankara is famous as the Bhāṣyakāra, yet he was not that before writing
the bhāṣyas, when he was just a brahmachārin.  In the same way the bhasma
without which we cannot conceive of Lord Śiva, is not so in the case of
Shankara.  That is all one has to understand from the verse/interpretation.
A comparison will make the purport of the commentary clear: In the very
popular ‘Śrī Venkateśwara Suprabhātam’, in the mangaḷāśāsanam part occurs
this verse: ‘śrīvaikuṇṭha-viraktāya svāmi-puṣkariṇī taṭe. ramayā ramamāṇāya
venkatśāya mangalam.’ The gist is: ‘Glory to Venkateśa who having renounced
(virakta) śrīvaikuṇṭha has chosen to abide by the holy Tank at Tirumala.’
If the word ‘virakta’ in the verse is taken to mean literally, then the
consequence is that the Lord, no longer pleased to be in Vaikunṭha has
deserted it and come down to the Tirumala Hill. Such is certainly
undesirable and wrong since the vaiṣṇava’s most cherished goal is to go to
Vaikunṭham and be there forever. That is their mukti. So, the ‘viraktāya’
is to be figuratively taken to mean that the Lord has out of compassion
condescended to come down to bhūloka and make his presence available to the
people here. In the same way the ‘nirasta bhūtim’ word commented upon to
alternatively mean ‘bereft of bhasma’ will have to be taken as stated in
the foregoing and not literally and thereby avoid the contradiction with
the Śruti cited above. Even in the case of the aiśvarya such as aṇimā
siddhis, we do have instances where Shankara displayed them on particular
occasions such as traveling by the aerial route to certain places
(Viśvarūpa’s house in Māhiśmatī) where he later had that debate, para kāya
praveśa, etc.  Sureśvara in his Naiṣkarmyasiddhi says: Shankara obtained
the Knowledge of Brahmman through *yogabala.*    //


> --
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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