[Advaita-l] Reconciliation of the contradictions in Purana-s

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Oct 26 01:53:28 EDT 2021

https://www.facebook.com/rahul.advaitin/posts/4446628418746100  The above
is  a post  by Shri Smarth Rahul.

========= From Advaita Vedantic viewpoint =========

Doubt : Purans cannot be authentic texts since these are full of
self-contradictions. Vishnu puran extols Shri Vishnu as the supreme and
superior to all , Shiva Purans lauds Shri Mahadev as the highest entity
while Devi Purans does the same for Bhagavati. Therefore, nothing can be
Ekadeshi view : Vaishnav purans alone are Sattvik , while others are
Rajasik and Tamasik. Hence only Vaishnav Purans are to be accepted as
Another Ekadeshi view : It is not true that the authenticity of puranic
events has anything to do with the puran being Sattvik etc. All purans
stand on the same footing being composed by Bhagavan Shri Vyas. All of
these Upaasyas such as Vishnu, Mahadeva , Devi, etc. are Parameshvara !

Objection :- This leads to multiple Ishvaras, which is absurd !

Ekadeshi view continued : No, there is really no difference among them. The
seeming difference/contradiction is nothing but mere leela !

Objection :- we find mentions in the Purans that these divinities oppose,
and even fight against each other. So how can they be different
manifestations of the same entity ? This view is no better off than that of
multiple Ishvaras or no Ishvara !

Siddhanta :- None of the Puranic divinities like Vishnu, Mahadev, etc. is
Ishvara Himself, rather it is Ishvara alone who assumes the form of these
devatas. Ishvara is beyond name, form and action in His true nature. But He
is capable of assuming any of these forms to grace His devotee. The
seemingly contradictory events in the Purans are not to be taken as actual
historical accounts. But If Ishvara were to assume the form of a particular
Upaasya of a specific Puran, He alone would have the capacity to perform
these actions and none else !
In this context, Shringeri Poorvacharya Shri Chandrashekhar Bharati
Mahaswamiji said :

" The Highest Being, the impersonal Brahman, never has any attributes, but
all the attributes which every one of the devatas has belong to Him. When a
particular devata is conceived of as the Upaasya in a particular Puran for
the upliftment of a type of bhakta, that devata is given the seat of
honour, next to none, and has to be decked with all the attributes which
ordinarily go with the other devatas also. There is absolutely no room for
any charge of partiality if in any particular Puran certain devata is given
prominence over others, for when their turn comes in the other Purans they
are treated with equal prominence. Such is the attitude of Shri Vyas in
every one of His Purans. He knows that the Highest being is devoid of any
attributes, any name or any form; but, as a practical teacher, he knows
equally well that such an absolute conception is not within the reach of
people, a few exceptions apart, and, therefore, he offers for the
contemplation of devotees particular devatas who, though mere aspects of
the Absolute Brahman, are treated for the moment and for all practical
purposes as being identical with the Supreme Being. He has so written the
Purans that the bhakta of any particular devata by intensity of devotional
exercise can obtain the fruits of devotion to other devata also, without
the need of worshipping them separately, and finally, by further effort,
can attain even a knowledge of the Absolute Brahman, through devotion to
his particular devata. For practical wisdom, which combines economy of
effort with maximum benefit and adapts the doctrine of the Absolute Brahman
to the needs of the devotee without impairing in any way the truth of the
doctrine, Shri Vyas is inimitable. If we fight among ourselves without
understanding Shri Vyas properly, the fault is ours, certainly not His. On
the other hand, all our gratitude must go to Him. "
" Only the bhakta will be quarrelsome who cannot dissociate a particular
name or a particular form from his conception of Ishvara. He is correct so
far as his mentality goes. But his bhakti is far below that real bhakti
which realises that Ishvara is above all names and above all forms, that
particular names are but convenient denominations for trying to express the
essentially inexpressible and that particular forms are only limited
aspects of the essentially limitless Ishvara. "
Shri Shankaracharya also hints that Vishnu etc. mentioned in the Purans can
be regarded as a devata or Parameshvara depending on the attitude
(Bheda-buddhi/ Abheda-buddhi) of the Upaasaka :
// आत्मा हि नामाधिकृतः कर्मण्युपासने च संसारी कर्मोपासनं वा साधनमनुष्ठाय
ब्रह्मादिदेवान्स्वर्गं वा प्राप्तुमिच्छति । तत्तस्मादन्य उपास्यो
विष्णुरीश्वर इन्द्रः प्राणो वा ब्रह्म भवितुमर्हति, न त्वात्मा ;
लोकप्रत्ययविरोधात् । यथान्ये तार्किका ईश्वरादन्य आत्मेत्याचक्षते, तथा
कर्मिणोऽमुं यजामुं यजेत्यन्या एव देवता उपासते । तस्माद्युक्तं
यद्विदितमुपास्यं तद्ब्रह्म भवेत् , ततोऽन्य उपासक इति । //
~ Kena Up. 1.5 commentary

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