[Advaita-l] Chronology and Traceability

Raghav Kumar Dwivedula raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 12:29:53 EDT 2021

Namaste Anand ji

Most of the graama devatas are placeable in the vedic devatas scheme. Sri
Krishna mentioned the grama devatas like the (sapta) mAtR gaNa devatas,
chatur-bhaginIs etc. in gItA 9.24.

येऽपि अन्यदेवताभक्तिमत्त्वेन अविधिपूर्वकं यजन्ते, तेषामपि यागफलं
अवश्यंभावि । कथम् ?

यान्ति देवव्रता देवान्पितॄन्यान्ति पितृव्रताः ।
भूतानि यान्ति भूतेज्या यान्ति मद्याजिनोऽपि माम् ॥ २५ ॥
यान्ति गच्छन्ति देवव्रताः देवेषु व्रतं नियमो भक्तिश्च येषां ते देवव्रताः
देवान् यान्ति । पितॄन् अग्निष्वात्तादीन् यान्ति पितृव्रताः
श्राद्धादिक्रियापराः पितृभक्ताः । भूतानि विनायकमातृगणचतुर्भगिन्यादीनि यान्ति
भूतेज्याः भूतानां पूजकाः । यान्ति मद्याजिनः मद्यजनशीलाः वैष्णवाः मामेव
यान्ति । समाने अपि आयासे मामेव न भजन्ते अज्ञानात् , तेन ते अल्पफलभाजः
भवन्ति इत्यर्थः ॥ २५ ॥
Even these hierarchically lower devatas if worshipped with a sattvik
attitude confer results equivalent to Ishvara worship. This is what the
popular worship of vinAyaka is likely to have modified in to over the
centuries. This vedicization/sanskritization is quite awareful and
validated by the gIta itself. (The communist historians of India falsely
allege that such 'sanskritization' is 'brahminical' and with ulterior

The idea is, that the same devatA, when performed with a different
attitude, leads to the devata himself/herself being evoked in a more saumya
/ refined form.

Next is the question of "non-vedic gods". The Astika view would be that the
vedas are the last word in ateendriya viShayas. Therefore all these other
non-vedic gods too are part of the vedic/agamic pantheon which has a place
for the most refined Ishvara worship as also departed ancestor worship
(pitRs) and the bhUta worship (lower devatas mostly for salama purposes).

Please note that the entire universe both gross and subtle  has been
partitioned or mapped out so to speak among these 33 categories of vedic
deities who represent Ishvara's powers or partial aspects . So any 'new' or
'non-vedic' deity like Harihara or Santoshi mAtA (of 20th century vintage
according to some) or even tribal worship of the Sun or Earth or Rivers, is
only either an amsha or combination of these original vedic deities.

When the tribals of Arunachal as part of their Donyi-Polo tradition worship
Surya and Chandra, its not hard to see correspondences. Elsewhere it may be
weaker but never altogether absent. This is the principle.

I had occasion to stay for an year in the Biligiri Rangana Hills of Mysuru
where the Soliga tribals revere a huge ancient champaka tree called the
Doddasampige. Its hanging twines are identified as the jaTa or matted locks
of God. The correspondence to Shiva worship is evident although the names
of Shiva are not explicitly invoked for that particular Sacred tree.



On Thu, 17 Jun, 2021, 6:40 pm Anand N via Advaita-l, <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste,
> 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
> for.
> Om Namo Narayanaya,
> Anand
> 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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