[Advaita-l] Chronology and Traceability

Anand N anand.natampalli at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 05:32:16 EDT 2021


Thank you Jaldharji for the interesting references, especially that of
Shiva and Garuda.
Those references to Shiva as a bowman helped a lot!

The way I am trying to see this, is like you pointed out very aptly to the
"Vision" being granted to a Rishi(Seer).
"For instance, the Greek
poet Homer does not begin his Illiad "now I'm going to sing about the
wrath of Achilles" but "Sing Muse of the wrath of Achilles"
Subbuji had made a point that Ayyapa though not part of the Vedic fold, was
later accepted
as per Shishtachaara.
So, that would imply that some Rishi had the vision of Ayyapa, through
which the tradition of
Ayyapa came along. This was then accepted into the vedic fold.
Raghav Kumar Ji had also pointed out that this acceptance to the vedic fold
is very conservative.

There is however one thing nagging me here. There are several Non Vedic
Gods in the Indian and
outside the Indian context. There is also a tendency to take the
"Gramadevata" and sanskritize
and vedicize him. So it's not very clear to me how this can be accounted

Om Namo Narayanaya,

On Fri, 11 Jun 2021 at 09:07, Jaldhar H. Vyas via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> I have been wanting to respond to this post for some time but it has taken
> me a long time to formulate my thoughts on this subject.
> On Sun, 18 Apr 2021, Anand N via Advaita-l wrote:
> > I was a little hesitant about posting this question in a Vedanta group,
> but
> > I am doing it anyway. Ishwara is Brahma Sahita Maya, and this question
> can
> > be ignored too :-)
> On the contrary this is a very good question and one more students should
> ask if they wish to increase their understanding.
> >
> > We say that Vedas, being Apaurusheya and timeless are the basis from
> which
> > even Smrutis and Puranas have developed.
> Apaurusheyatva is orthogonal to timelessness.  We speak of Newtons law of
> gravity.  Isaac Newton was a devout Christian who lived in England in the
> 17th century.  But gravity existed long before Isaac Newton and would
> exist even if there had never been an Isaac Newton.  We call it Newtons
> law because he was the first to "see" it.  So too, the Rshis are not the
> authors of the mantras but the ones who first "saw" them (the literal
> meaning of rshi is mantradrashta) Or they "heard" them  (Shruti = "that
> which is heard") in any case this was not a deliberate mental act.  We see
> a similar mindset in other ancient cultures too.  For instance, the Greek
> poet Homer does not begin his Illiad "now I'm going to sing about the
> wrath of Achilles" but "Sing Muse of the wrath of Achilles"  (The Muses
> were the nine Goddesses of the Arts in Graeco-Roman religion.)  In other
> words Homer did not think he was composing a poem but that divine
> inspiration was posessing him and speaking through him.  Divine
> inspiration could have made the Rshis see or it could have been the
> hallucinogenic properties of the Soma plant or a state of samadhi caused
> by yogic practices.  Whatever the cause, for the Mimamsakas (from whom
> Vedantins take the doctrine of apauresheyatva) it is clear that Rshis are
> not authors.
> Smrti deriving from Shruti is for a different reason.  Take for instance
> Sandhyavandana.  Everyone will agree even if they don't practice it
> themselves that this is the basic daily ritual obligation for a Brahmana.
> Yet in the Shuklayajurvedic tradition which is the one I am familiar with,
> the only mention of sandhya is in the Shatapathabrahmana,
> aharaharsandhyaamupaset "From day to day he should practice the sandhya.
> But what does that mean "from day to day"?  And how exactly do you
> "practice sandhya"?  The Rshis pondered on subjects such as these and
> these are the vedangas.  The vedanga kalpa deals with rituals and there
> are different works in this genre for different shakhas (more of
> which below) In shuklayajurveda it is in the paraskaragrhyasutra that you
> can learn that sandhya is to be done at morning, noon and night, it
> involves offering arghya, reciting Gayatri etc.  Other Rshis thought about
> the big picture and worked to consolidate these particular traditions into
> grand theories of Dharma.  These are what we normally call Smrtis, by
> Manu, Yajnavalkya, Parashara etc.  As that literature became volumninous,
> there developed nibandhas or digests such as Nirnayasindhu etc.  Then for
> people who just wanted a practical guide to e.g. sandhya, there developed
> prayogas which just give the facts without much or any discussion.  One
> project I've been working on and off for my own benefit is a comparison
> between different prayoga books.  And so the general-particular cycle
> continues.
> > Ramayana and Mahabharata being events which actually took place.
> So that was a description of the Smrtis that deal with karmakanda but
> another important class deals with the events mentioned in the shruti.
> The terms Purana and itihasa are used in the Veda itself.  During sattras
> (yajnas lasting three days or more) it was the custom to pass the time
> between sessions telling stories of old.  And the frame story of the
> extant puranas is usually that of a 100 year sattra held in Naimisharanya
> by Shaunaka Rshi.  In the chandogyopanishad, Narada tells Sanatakumar of
> the various subjects he has studied including Rk, Yajus, Sama, and
> Atharva veda "and itihasapurana which is the fifth."
> While astikas do believe the events in itihasa and puranas did take place,
> according to the Mimamsakas it is a mistake to treat them as "history".
> These kind of statements whether in shruti or smrti are arthavada -
> auxilliaries to injunctions to act (or to know according to Vedantins)
> Another example:  the scientist Schrodinger came up with a thought
> experiment involving a cat in a box to illustrate a theory about quantum
> physics.  And "Schrodingers cat" has been much debated by physicists since
> then.  It has even entered popular culture.  But if you ask "Is the cat
> striped? Does it like milk?" you are missing the point.  Yes, cats do have
> different colours of fur.  Yes they do eat different things.  But these
> details are irrelevant to the task of explaining a principle of physics.
> In the shatapathabrahmana it is said that Janamajaya Parikshita performed
> the ashvamedha.  The idea is to extol the ashvamedha. i.e. if someone as
> illustrious as Janamajaya performed the ashvamedha, you should too.  In
> the Bhagavatapurana it also says that Janamajaya the son of Parikshita and
> the grandson of Arjuna the Pandava performed a great yajna as he was about
> to die from snakebite.  (in fact this is the occasion for the first
> recital of the Bhagavata.)  Both sources are presumably talking about the
> same event but actually you cannot compare them as they are being told for
> two different purposes.
> > I was interested to know if there is a linear chronological development
> of
> > these works.
> >
> Yes there is. Even according to the astika point of view.  At the
> beginning of each creation cycle, Chaturmukha Brahma "breathes" out the
> mantras.  The Rshis "see" them.  This could be a process that takes many
> generations.  For instance at the end of each kanda of the
> shatapathabrahmana (of which the Brhadaranyakopanishad is a part)  there
> is a vamshabrahmana that gives the parampara of that section.  In the
> Dvaparayuga Maharshi Krshna Dvaipayana forseeing the decline in abilities
> of people in the upcoming kaliyuga collects all these vedic texts and
> arranges them into four (hence he is called Veda Vyasa - the arranger
> of the Vedas) and teaches them to his students who teach them to
> their own students thus founding the shakhas we have today plus many
> others which did not survive for whatever reason.  And out of compassion
> for the dvijetara who have no adhikara for Vedas, he took their essence
> and composed the Mahabharata and the 18 Mahapuranas.  This illustrates
> another principle of our chronology.  The passage of time is not seen as
> progress towards a final or even merely greater levels of revelation but
> as a degeneration.  We have more  shastras in number and volume now not
> because we are more spiritually advanced but because we are less.  What
> took one word in "the good old days" takes one thousand now.
> > For  example:
> > If we look at Rudra Prashna, we see Rudra as wielding bow and arrow and
> > other weapons. The same Rudra then transformed into Shiva who is
> wielding a
> > Trishul. So if we take the Veda's Rudra Prashna as the source, and then
> the
> > source gets multiplied by the later literature, we are arriving at what
> we
> > have today as the Pradosha Puja, Shivaratri etc.
> We have hardly stopped referring to Shiva Bhagavan as a bowman though.
> In the Ramayana it is told how Shri Rama won Sita ma's hand at her
> svayamvara by successfully drawing (and breaking) the Pinaka bow which had
> temporarily passed from Shiva Bhagavan into the Mithila royal families
> hands due to events.  The Rudri also mentions his blue throat, matted
> hair, snake ornaments not to mention the name Shiva itself in the context
> of the panchakshari mantra no less.  Why does it not mention trishula?  As
> mentioned before the Shruti does not necessarily give all the details.
> >
> > We could take any other God too. For e.g. Garuda who is there in the
> > Shatapatha Brahmana, further in the Mahabharata as the son of Kadru.
> There
> > is the whole Garuda Purana too.
> >
> Garuda is in the samhita too.  The mantra suparNo'si... in the Vajasaneyi
> samhita is used in smarta prayoga for ghanta puja but the shrauta
> application is for the agnichayana.  In this yajna a vedi made of bricks
> in the shape of a bird and this bird-altar is honored with this mantra.
> It is called Suparna, Garutman (Garuda,) and Tarkshya which are names of
> his in Puranas too.
> > So can we do a bidirectional traceability between our current image of
> Gods
> > and the Vedic Gods? Is there a clear chronological development and
> > transformation of our Gods and our practices?
> This implies that the material in the puranas is later which is not
> necessarily a settled fact even if we accept the editorial shape of the
> Puranas as we have them is later.  But as this post is already really long
> I should write about that separately.
> --
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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