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Sunday, April 29, 2012

My journey to Sri Vaishnavism - Part 2 (End of the beginning)

(Pardon the poor formatting of the essay.)

The traditional idea of unalloyed devotion to one's Guru and the modern argument of non necessity of a Guru are two extreme positions and most of the spiritual seekers of Sanathana Dharma fall somewhere in between. This premise needs to be investigated as this sets the further course of actions. Some important philosophers/Acharyas of Bharata were intellectual rebels. The Most famous one is Acharya Ramanuja who had many differences of opinion with Yadava Prakasha regarding Vedanta interpretation. Similarly Madhvacharya could not agree with his Guru Achyutapreksha's teachings in many places. Another lesser known example was Bellamkonda Ramaraya who became an Advaitin though born and brought up in a Sri Vaishnava family and his Guru was a Visishtadvaitin. There are other such examples. The question is Should we really blindly follow what the Guru says?

The short answer to this is No.  We know from modern fake Guru history that the premise of blind acceptance is outright wrong. People like Nityananda, Kalki Bhagavan, David Bruce Hughes(Dasanudas Babaji) and so many Gurus of ISKCON in the past  and innumerable others have been exposed as fakes and they inflicted a lot more pain in their "disciples" due to blind allegience. However, the issue need not be as serious as sexual transgression to establish this point. Intellectually too, it is equally valid.

Here is where the three important factors, Shastra(scripture), Acharya/lineage(Spiritual Guide)  and Vichara (self investigation) come into picture. If the Guru teaches us something, then it must be present in the shastras as well as stand up to your own reasoning and convictions. If it does not appeal to your intellect, alternate paths need to be explored.

Another important point that is also over-emphasized over the above factors is following the practices of family elders and ancestors. Unequal emphasis on any one of all these factors results in serious confusion.   An elderly person confidently asserted that Morning Sandhyopasanam need not be preceded by snanam(bath). They also maintained that only for the madhyahnika sandhya a bath is required. I found this ridiculous as I knew that only during emergencies one is allowed  to do mantrasnanam  and at all other times bathing is a MUST. However, this person was arguing for his case based on the practice of another 'elder' whom he had observed. He was convinced that a snanam was indeed required for the paratah sandhya only after I showed him the instruction in a book on Sandhya. 

The foregoing issue was an important factor in my decisions because two very important advaitins figure in my family tree. One is the famous Appaya Dikshita who is the brother of Achan Dikshita, my direct 13th ancestor. Swami Sivananda, famous for his Divine life society, is the younger brother of my great grandfather. If I ask a Vaishnava acharya whether following the elders of my family is the prime duty, then they cannot give me an answer that convinces their ideology as well as their viewpoint on family tradition.

Thus we also need to study the scriptures on our own and clarify the doubts with different

teachers. Moreover, the repetition of 'follow elders' advice is not going to help us until we are

convinced about the basis of all the practices.

The elective

During my seventh semester at BITS, Pilani I had to opt for three elective courses to complete the coursework. This gave me an opportunity to select 'Shankara's thoughts' as one of them. The course was based on Vivekachudamani (Crest jewel of wisdom) , a work by Adi Shankara outlining Advaita philosophy. I remember being more enthusiastic about this course rather than electronics electives. 

The professor explained creation as follows: 
Consider the following image:

The whole circle is Brahman, which is attributeless and the only entity. It is jnanamaya (or exists as knowledge itself). However, we have to explain the diversity we see in the world. Also, the Vedas say that Brahmam at the beginning of creation said to itself "Let me become many" . One fourth of brahman becomes Maya and obscures the rest of it and hence appears as the diverse name and form that we see in the world. 

Then he went on further to explain the related concepts like anirvachaniya (inexplicability) of maya and pancha kosham, nature of mind etc. The introduction of Maya rekindled a lot of doubts that I had already. Brahman is first of all indivisible. How can it be divided like stated above. If it is said that Maya is a separate entity, then the fact of only one reality is contradicted. Also, how can we explain the fact that Brahman which is the eternal knower, full of knowledge be obscured by Maya? However I did not discuss this deeply at that time with the teacher as I thought that some more learning will clear this up. I also assumed that these doubts are somewhat like the doubts we have regarding our epics and Puranas where many events seemingly unethical have some hidden reasons behind them. Later on I would find out that these questions cannot be answered satisfactorily with Kevaladvaita interpretation of Vedanta.

I went on to do a project on Dakshinamurthy stotram, which is allegedly composed by Adi Shankara. However, there is no doubt that it is a very well structured stotram giving the salient features of Advaita philosophy. While referring works on Advaita for this project, I got hold of 'Advaita VedantaEdited by R. BALASUBRAMANIAN. History of Science, Philosophy, and Culture in. Indian Civilization, vol. II, part 2' .

It is really a commendable project. The volume on Advaita Vedanta was very extensive in its coverage. It even briefly surveyed vernacular literature of advaita, which we often never hear about. While discussing  the concept of abheda or non-difference and mithyatva or illusoriness of the world, which are central to advaita,  Vyasatirtha's objections(in Nyayamruta) on these issues were discussed. These objections were answered by Madusudhana Saraswati in his advaita Siddhi. These in turn faced a rebuttal in Tarangini by Ramacharya. (Vyasatirtha and Ramacharya belong to the Dvaita lineage of Madhvacharya). I highlighted all these issues briefly during my project presentation. However, my professor was not really into comparitive Vedanta. He assumed the truth of advaita and hence I could not get meaningful solutions to these problems. 

I used to have long hours of discussion on this topic with my friend Dushyanth Sridhar who consistently supported Visishtadvaita. While I had doubts regarding advaita, I was still undecided.

As regards to Vishnu paratvam, the way was easier.

Vedic Scriptures - the way

शास्त्रयोनित्वात्
                - ब्रह्मसूत्रम् (१.१.३ )
   (That the Brahman is the cause of creation etc follows altogether from the vedic scriptures)

  The Brahmasutram is a work comprising of 545 short aphorisms by Rishi Badarayana. It talks about the goal(Brahman), the means to attain the goal and also defends vedanta from other schools of thought. It begins all this by harmonizing various seemingly contradicting vedic passages to give a coherent view.

This particular sutra (aphorism) stated above is one of the most important sutras of the text. This is because it reveals the epistemology of spiritual journey in a nutshell. Epistemology or the science of knowing is extremely crucial to any endeavor. We cannot know Brahman by either sense perception (pratyaksha) or inference (anumana) simply because Brahman is a non-material tattva (or entity) that is beyond the gross or the subtle senses. The only way to understand this Supersoul (Paramatma) is by experiencing it with atman or the individual soul, which is also non-material. Since, this is not easy for all the atmans, it is revealed as shastra through the atmans that are capable of this cognition. They are the Rishis and they give us the Vedas, which is apaurusheya (not created by anyone including God) and ananta (unlimited by space or time). Using any other method such as logic, guesswork, experiments etc is futile since all of these ultimately fall under the first two categories of knowing mentioned above.

Other important works called smriti, itihasa and puranas also appeared with the view of 

explaining the purport of Vedas. Those works in these categories which are in tune with the 

message of the Vedas are also considered as a pramana (or a valid means of knowledge)

Lord Krishna to the rescue

I decided that I must take the matter into my hands (but ultimately the Paramatma was of course responsible for shedding light on himself in my mind) and do a small analysis of Bhagavad Gita (accepted by Advaitins too) to see if there is any clue to the issue of Paratvam.(Upanishads and Brahmasutra were not that easily accessible in terms of interpretation). As the azhwars have stated, the floating opinions regarding this issue are that All the three deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are equal (or) Vishnu is supreme (or) Shiva is Supreme (or) There is a higher nirguna sadashiva who is the creator of all the three (or) Shakthi is the origin of all the three etc. 

The first verse that caught my attention is the Charama slokam.

ahaḿ tvā sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi  śucaḥ (18.66)

Here, Krishna specifically says that one has to surrender to him only and not anyone else. This indicates that he recognizes difference/ gradation.

This is actually confirmed by him in verse 2.12

na tvevāhaḿ jātu nāsaḿ na tvaḿ neme janādhipāḥ

(Certainly never at any time did I not exist, nor you nor all these kings and certainly never shall we cease to exist in the future)

He posits an eternal difference between himself and other Jivas here. It definitely means that difference is real. This verse has generated a lot of controversy among the advaitins and other schools and Swami Vedanta desikan dedicates four pages to explain the absurdity of the advaitic position with respect to this verse in his tatparya chandrika, which is a commentary on Ramanuja's Gita Bhashyam. 

It is further illuminating to study the verses where he talks about worshipping the Gods.

ye 'py anya-devatā-bhaktā yajante śraddhayānvitāḥ
te 'pi mām eva kaunteya yajanty avidhi-pūrvakam   (9.23)

(Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so in a wrong way.)

na tu mām abhijānanti tattvenātaś cyavanti te (9.24)

(I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices. Therefore, those who do not recognize My true transcendental nature fall down.)

kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ prapadyante 'nya-devatāḥ

(Those deprived of discrimination by various desires impelled by their particular nature surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.)

antavat tu phalaḿ teṣāḿ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām
devān deva-yajo yānti mad-bhaktā yānti mām api (7.23)

(The result of those of insufficient understanding is temporary. The votaries of the demigods obtain the demigod but my devotees attain me)

Now, the above slokams show us that there can be no clearer scripture than the Bhagavad Gita. I came to realise that Krishna who is non different from Sriman Narayana (he shows his four armed form after the vishwa roopa darshanam in Chapter 11) is the Supreme Lord and there is none greater OR EQUAL to him.
Any other interpretation is simply wrong and has to be forced upon it. This is because there is nothing in the rest of the Gita to overrule the above verses. It is so consistent. 

This certainly gels well with the first of 6 short sentences conveyed by Lord Varadaraja of Kanchi to Kanchi purna.
 "Ahameva paramtattvam" (Only I am the Supreme entity/Paramatma).

Note: Here it does not mean that Lord Krishna condemns worship of other deities. What he simply says is that it is lower rung in the ladder and is temporary. It cannot give us liberation. This sense is conveyed because he mentions in other verses that he himself makes every one of these devotions stronger and finally gives the desired fruit of this worship too. Hence, taking the extreme positions of either condemning everyone else to hell or equating Krishna with other Gods will not help in the true understanding of Gita.

Fancy interpreters of the Gita want us to somehow believe that by all these verses too, he talks about total equality of all deities. This is a view not supported by most of the traditional interpreters including Adi Shankara. 'Radical Universalism' or the idea that every religion is  the same is the bane of today's "followers" of Vedic religion. Even S.N.DasGupta in his History of Indian philosophy does a lengthy analysis of the word 'yoga' used in the Gita and comes to the conclusion that it conveys the same sense of the word as used in the Pancharatra agama rather than in others like Sankhyasutra, yogasutra etc.  Thus, while  giving non- straight forward meaning in some places will certainly help a coherent interpretation, this should not become an excuse to read into the text one's own views, especially when if it is clear and can stand on its own.  Moreover, we will see how all this analysis is in fact confirmed by the shruti as well as puranas.

In fact, Adi Shankara, despite being an advaitin, has strictly used only Narayana/Vishnu at all the zillion places where the general words Brahmam/atma/sat etc have been used in the prasthana trayam. The Acharyas of the shankara mutts sign their letters as "Narayana Smriti" . Mind you this Narayana has not been used by Shankara in the sense of Nirguna Brahman but as the Saguna, with all the kalyana gunas.

This information does in a natural way lead to Vaishnavism ,  but why Sri Vaishnavism? There have been a lot of advaita vaishnavas in History, famous examples being Sridhara who wrote a commentary on Bhagavatham and Madhusudhana Saraswati who wrote Bhakthi Rasayana.
Also, We know that the Madhva, Nimbarka, Vallabha, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were also Vaishnavas. Why not these paramparas?
The puranas, which are often extolled as the commentaries on Vedas confuse us regarding paratvam. Six puranas including Shiva and Linga puranam talk about Shiva paratvam, Six puranas including Vishnu and Bhagavatha talk about Vishnu Paratvam and the remaining six about Brahma and other deities. How is this to be reconciled with the Gita?
                                                                        (.........to be continued)

26 comments:

  1. Comment through email:

    Very good analysis Anand! please continue to write.

    ReplyDelete
  2. hi anand... this is me srividya 4m chennai.... we met in alagammai mam painting class... just by ur paintings got u in this blog... how r u?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sri,

      Sorry for the late reply. I forgot about this after I read your comments weeks back.

      Hope you are doing well.

      Good to see you here. BTW, how did you land in my blog through my paintings? I have always assumed it is really very difficult to hit my blog as it seems to be the lowest on any list displayed by google?

      Delete
  3. Hi Anand,
    I am Kanna from Andhra, searching to get a copy of "Paramartha bhushanam"(english translation) of Uttamur swami, can you please point me to the publications where this book is available.

    Adiyen.
    kannan.mukundam@gmail.com


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the late reply.

      As far as I know, this publication must be available in Uttamur Swami's thirumAligai in Chennai , T.Nagar.
      His house is in Nathamuni Street and many rare books are available there. If you or anyone you know get a chance to visit chennai, you can give it a try. I can find more details regarding the addresss etc. of this place.

      Delete
    2. I just read your comment again and you want a English translation for this work. I am pretty sure that a translation has not been done yet for this work. These kinds of works are difficult to translate and also no one has such a huge amount of time these days to do it. (As everyone is running after money mostly).

      Delete
  4. I would like to introduce my blog page on matters related to this post. Kindly visit my page at http://narayanastra.blogspot.com

    I hope you will find it interesting. Adiyen begs pardon if you feel I am spamming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your blog is really very good. I went through the purana classification post. Will comment on that. Thanks for the link.

      Can you send me your contact ? I would like to get in touch. These days, it is difficult to come across people with similar interests in this field . Mine is v21[DOT]anand[@]gmail[DOT]com

      Delete
    2. I have sent you my contact to your email address.

      The purANa page was actually contributed by another Srivaishnava bandhu, and all credits go to him.

      Adiyen.

      Delete
  5. Hi Mate,

    My Humble Namaskarams.

    Salutations to the revered guru "Sruthis Smirithis Puranaanaam Aalayam Karunalayam Nammai bagawadpada San(m)karam loka San(m)karam"



    Got redirected to this blog while searching for advaita vaishnavam. Really elated to see a blog of this kind which resembles my tune and matches my frequency with respect to the inclination towards Advaita Vaishnavism. One sentence of yours that caught my mind was about the lineage of yours (Sri Appaya Dikshitar). In this scenario I would like to say that even my aunt (Dad's Sister) got married to the Appaya Dikshita family of Adayapalam in North Arcot District. Now I am coming back to the topic as you said and cited many examples with respect to Brahman (Nirguna and Saguna), with respect to the Advaita and Vshistadavaita School Of thought was clean sheet analysis, and the minute details about the signature of the Advaita (Eka Dhanta) sanyasi's signature as 'Narayana Smirithi' is really appreciable, at this point I would like to mention about "Srimad baghawad Gita" with Shankara's Commentry to it which is available at archives.org, in this to support your views, The Acharya Himself stared the Bashyam by Saluting Sriman Narayana. And the authors comments goes this way....


    "Naraya;/a is beyond tbe Avyakta ;
    From the Avyakta the Mundane Egg is born ;
    \Yithin the Mundane Egg, verily, are these worlds
    And the Earth made up of the seven Dvipas.
    [ This is a paura«ic verse speaking of the Antaryamin,
    the Inner Guide and Regulator of all souls. It is quoted
    here by the commentator in order that he may begin his
    important work, after the orthodox fashion, with the contemplation
    of his favorite God (Ish/a-Devata), namely, Naraya
    «a, and further with a view to shew that the Pura»a
    (archaic history), the Itihasa (ancient tradition) and the
    Gitti teach one and the same doctrine. Naraya«a is, in the
    popular conception, the Creator who was brooding over
    the waters just before the beginning of Creation. Cf. Manu
    I. lo. According to a subtler conception, Na.raya«a is the
    Antaryamin, the Divine Being in whom all embodied souls
    have their being. He is not a creature of the Avyakta, but
    far transcends it. It is the Avyakta, the Avyak/ita, Maya,
    the undifferentiated matter, out of which, when in apparent
    union with Isvara, is evolved the principle of Hira;/yagarbha,
    here spoken of as A«(fa or the Mundane Egg, which is composed of the five simple rudimental elements of matter.
    An intermingling of the five rudimental elements of matter
    gives rise to the principle of the Viraj, of which are formed
    the Earth and all- the other lokas or inhabited regions.—
    {Anandagiri). The seven Dvipas or insular continents are
    Jambu, Plaksha, Kusa, Krau?;cha, Saka, 5almala and
    Pushkara. For further particulars regarding these, see
    "^y/ikon'^s yi:sh;mpura»a Vol. I, p. 109 ff.]
    >• ' ' till
    . -
    ' • ' The- twofold Vedic Religion.
    '
    J .rrhrt Iloru created 'tlie universe, and wishmg to secure
    ' brdfer' tnerein' 'He flr'st created the Prajapatis" (Lords of
    creatures) such as Marichi and caused them to adopt the
    Pravntti-Dharma, the Religion of Works. . He then
    created others such as Sanaka and Sanandana | and caused
    them to adopt the Nivntti-Dharma, the Religion of
    Renunciation, characterised by knowledge and indifference
    to worldly objects. It is the twofold Vedic Religion of
    Works and Renunciation that maintains order in the
    universe. This Religion which directly leads to liberation
    and Avorldly prosperity has long \ been practised by all
    castes and religious orders (var»a-asrama)—from the brahnia
    «as downwards,—who sought welfare."

    If you need to further explanation of this topic pleas do visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqNqVrJLNz4

    Have a great day ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My Humble Namaskarams,
    First I salute my revered guru’s feet “Sruthis Smirithis purananaam aalayam karunalayam
    Namaami baghawad pada sankaram loka sankaram”
    Redirected to this blog while searching about Advaita Vaishnavam, the fact is self-explanatory that your blog and my search about this topic aligns with my tune of thought. I don’t know how to call is it merely a coincidence or baghawad anugraham that today I have listned to the upanyasam of Sri Krishna Premi on Adi Sankara Bagawad Pada, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqNqVrJLNz4 in this Sri Krishna Premi explains about the period of Adi Sankara and the necessity for bringing the Vedantic philosophy of advaita, and he goes on explaining about the Acharyas bagawad bakthi and his stotras about krishnastakam, initiation of padmapadha and instructing him to do Nrushimha upasana et all. Towards the fag end of the discussion the upasaka explains about the assignment give for the four disciples of the acharya. Sureshwaracharya aka Mandana Mishra (Who was a karma Yogi and believes in Purva Mimamsa) to do and propagate Gnanayoga and inject the concept of bakthi to him. Because a soul can only get realization if he performs the Gnanayoga with bakthi. And one more interesting fact is that a couple of months back while researching on the Gita bashyam I came across a book at archives.org
    “THE BHAGAVAD-GITA
    WITH THE COMMENTARY OF
    SRI SANKARACHARYA
    TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH
    BY
    A. MAHADEVA SASTRI, b. a.,
    Curator, Government Oriental Library, Mysore”

    In this the commentary stars like this


    “Naraya;/a is beyond tbe Avyakta ;
    From the Avyakta the Mundane Egg is born ;
    \Yithin the Mundane Egg, verily, are these worlds
    And the Earth made up of the seven Dvipas.
    [ This is a paura«ic verse speaking of the Antaryamin,
    the Inner Guide and Regulator of all souls. It is quoted
    here by the commentator in order that he may begin his
    important work, after the orthodox fashion, with the contemplation
    of his favorite God (Ish/a-Devata), namely, Naraya
    «a, and further with a view to shew that the Pura»a
    (archaic history), the Itihasa (ancient tradition) and the
    Gitti teach one and the same doctrine. Naraya«a is, in the
    popular conception, the Creator who was brooding over
    the waters just before the beginning of Creation. Cf. Manu
    I. lo. According to a subtler conception, Na.raya«a is the
    Antaryamin, the Divine Being in whom all embodied souls
    have their being. He is not a creature of the Avyakta, but
    far transcends it. It is the Avyakta, the Avyak/ita, Maya,
    the undifferentiated matter, out of which, when in apparent
    union with Isvara, is evolved the principle of Hira;/yagarbha,
    here spoken of as A«(fa or the Mundane Egg, which is composed of the five simple rudimental elements of matter.
    An intermingling of the five rudimental elements of matter
    gives rise to the principle of the Viraj, of which are formed
    the Earth and all- the other lokas or inhabited regions.—
    {Anandagiri). The seven Dvipas or insular continents are
    Jambu, Plaksha, Kusa, Krau?;cha, Saka, 5almala and
    Pushkara. For further particulars regarding these, see
    "^y/ikon'^s yi:sh;mpura»a Vol. I, p. 109 ff.]
    >• ' ' till
    . -
    ' • ' The- twofold Vedic Religion.
    '
    J .rrhrt Iloru created 'tlie universe, and wishmg to secure
    ' brdfer' tnerein' 'He flr'st created the Prajapatis" (Lords of
    creatures) such as Marichi and caused them to adopt the
    Pravntti-Dharma, the Religion of Works. . He then
    created others such as Sanaka and Sanandana | and caused
    them to adopt the Nivntti-Dharma, the Religion of
    Renunciation, characterised by knowledge and indifference
    to worldly objects. It is the twofold Vedic Religion of
    Works and Renunciation that maintains order in the
    universe. This Religion which directly leads to liberation
    and Avorldly prosperity has long \ been practised by all
    castes and religious orders (var»a-asrama)—from the brahnia
    «as downwards,—who sought welfare.”
    Loka samastha sukino bavanthu; Sarvo jana sukino bavanthu
    Narayana Narayana

    ReplyDelete
  7. How do you prove that krishna is paripurna in vishistaadvaita?.....
    because krishna only said that he is paripurna in bhagavath geetha...

    but ,according to vishistaadvaita...we are brahman,at the same time ,we are not paripurna...similar case applies to krishna...so,how is krishna paripurna in vishistaadvaita?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Anand, very nice work. Keep going.
    These days there is generally a opinion of hinduism that everything is maya, only 'formless' god is real,
    all deities all equal, etc. When someone counters that such-estabilished opinions with strong facts, they
    are simply silenced by force. This is especially the case with vaishnavism, which is simply not even regarded
    as a legitimate sect of sanathana dharma at all and is being lampooned by all kinds of undeserving abuses.
    At a time of kali yuga , when this mentality is growing , people like you have come as oases in the middle
    of this dry desert of 'no god', 'i'm god' philosophies.
    May Sriman Narayana bestow his divine grace upon you.
    Waiting for the next part of this essay.
    Regards,
    Sidharth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment. Sensible comment that gives breaks from trolls and non-sense.

      Yes. I need to continue and finish the series. I got busy with learning samskritam and shastram in the middle. So, I guess it will help this writing better as it has only strengthened my convictions and intuition.

      Delete
  9. Pranaam Anand, I don't know if you know kannada, but if you know i would really like you to read the Mahabharatha written by Kumaravyasa. Kumaravyasa is his pen name while the real name is Narayanappa. You can find the details in Wikipedia. One thing not mentioned in the wiki is that Narayanappa was a staunch devotee of Sriman Narayan. He wrote the epic sitting in the Narayan temple in Gadag district of Karnataka. It is said that he took a bath in the
    temple well and would sit in front of the Garbha Grhia while the curtain was closed and he could hear the voice from inside the Garbha Grhia narrating the Bharata and he would jot down them.
    In it Narayanappa writes about the incident of Pashupatastra Pradana incident where Arjuna praises Lord Shiva as Hari, Hara and Brahma including Vishnu are Himself ie., Shiva. If Shiva is Vishnu, then Vishnu or Narayan is Shiva. Next, Vishnu means 'all pervading' and Shiva means 'auspicious'. Can the all pervading be not 'auspicious' and the 'auspicious' not be 'all pervading
    '? How is it possible? So............

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Namaste,

      Thanks for the comment.

      There are many interpretations of the shrutis and chief among them are these positions.

      1. All devatas are the same and are forms of one brahman.
      2. There is brahman which has infinite kalyanagunas and other devatas, who are also great beings but not the same as brahman.
      3. Trimurtis are forms of the same brahman and are descended from someone else like Sadaashiva or Shakti etc.

      Also the relationships vary with darshanas. Is it maya as described in advaita of AdiShankara or is it sharirashariri-bhaava according to vishistadvaita of Swami Ramanuja ?

      This topic is quite vast but my conclusion according to my reading is that "Narayana" is a proper noun unlike vishnu or shiva. Hence vishnu=shiva is fine as these words denote different gunas. However Narayana is a proper noun which represent a personality and several shrutis attest to the fact that Narayana is the advitIya-brahma-tattva (eko ha vai nArayana AsIt , na brahmA na IshAna: ) .

      Again many people may give some other example to counter it.
      However, the fact that most of the paramparas with vyaakhyanam on prasthaanatrayam including Shankara's vyaakhya in vyaavaharika-dashA clearly state that Narayana is the parabrahma and the rest of the devatas are his amsha (constituting his shariram) is an indication that they agree upon this conclusion.

      Since sharira's name would refer to the antaryaami ultimately, all names refers to Sriman Narayana. In that sense every word refers to Sriman Narayana. Hence wherever anyone or any purana says Shiva=vishnu=Narayana and there is no bhedam etc, it only means that all other names indicate Sriman Narayana as the antaryami and hence are inseparable from him and hence have that kind of sameness (similar to redness of a rose).

      This is also amply proved by purushasuktam and Ramayana's "jagat sarvam shariram te" and antaryami brahmanam etc.

      Still, if you are not convinced, I would like you to pursue your path with dedication because back and forth arguements do not serve much purpose.

      One good source to learn more about this is :
      http://narayanastra.blogspot.in/

      There is no chauvinism etc here , just a sincere effort to understand the shruti and smriti properly without the baggage that has been added later on and leading to absurd claims that "everything is the same".

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    2. Seeing this rather late and the only observation I have to make is that the Narayana you refer to is not, strictly speaking, one to be associated with Vishnu. Although you have yourself made the point partly, suggesting he is one endowed with all the Kalyana gunas, I would say there is really nothing to support that contention. Narayana is considered the Nirguna Brahman by all Advaitins & is used only in this sense by the Shankaracharyas.

      Your observations are incisive and thought provoking, besides being very interesting and I wish you would soon complete the series. Well done!

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    3. Thanks for leaving a comment.

      I think my interest in polemics has kind of waded over the years mainly because of the fact that it does not lead to any proper conclusion. I go by the thumb rule that whichever appeals to your mind and heart is what you go by. Aspects of both Advaitam and visishtadvaitam appeal to me. My interest in Yogadarshana and Buddhism has gone up in recent years. Also, since I took up samskritam study in a structured manner, learning positive concepts (as opposed to just criticising the other all the time) seems to be much more interesting. Need to push myself if I plan to complete this series.

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  10. You have a very beautiful and subtle mind.

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  11. Pranaam Anand, I wasn't arguing but wondering aloud about the confusion that was tormenting me. Now that you have stated that the various names such as Shiva, Vishnu, Shankara etc are only visheshanas of Bhagavan Sriman Narayan and not the proper noun, the cloud that had covered my understanding is cleared. I am now convinced and at peace with myself. Thank you.
    Sarvam Sri Bhagavan Ramanarpanamastu.

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    Replies
    1. dhanyavAda:

      The sharira-shariri bhaava: has been mistaken for sameness which is given as a fact everywhere. A deeper study shows these nuances.

      BTW, how did you get to this page? Just curious.

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    2. Pranaam Anand. It can only be Bhagavan's Grace that destined me to visit this page.

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  12. Dear Anandji,
    Very happy to see your blog.adiyen want to quote few references in adi shankara works where narayana is strongly mentioned.
    1. In Prapanchsara - under section in 'pranava mantra patalam' Shankaracharya mentions only narayana swarupam as dhyana sloka for om mantram.which obviously tells us narayana is to be meditated for attaining moksham.( He did not advice to meditate on nirguna braman)
    2. In the next succeeding chapter Interestingly which explains 'Sri Ashtakshari mantram' he mentions the rishi,chandas & devatha. In that he mentions the devatha as ' paramathma devatha' which implies his opinion is Lord Narayana as paramathma.

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  13. Dear Anandji,
    Very happy to see your blog.adiyen want to quote few references in adi shankara works where narayana is strongly mentioned.
    1. In Prapanchsara - under section in 'pranava mantra patalam' Shankaracharya mentions only narayana swarupam as dhyana sloka for om mantram.which obviously tells us narayana is to be meditated for attaining moksham.( He did not advice to meditate on nirguna braman)
    2. In the next succeeding chapter Interestingly which explains 'Sri Ashtakshari mantram' he mentions the rishi,chandas & devatha. In that he mentions the devatha as ' paramathma devatha' which implies his opinion is Lord Narayana as paramathm

    ReplyDelete
  14. Swami, you did not continue on this. Why?

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    Replies
    1. Got diverted to other things and then mostly laziness. I probably have some draft that I need to work on.

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