Sastras and Studies III.
The Pancaratras or Bhagavata-sastra
Observations about Ramayana War
Versions of Ramayana
Books on Salagrama Silas
CC & SB - verses and chapters
When was Bhagavatam written
Upanisads and their Commentaries
The position of tamasic sastras
A. Govindacarya Svamin, M.R.A.S. Published by JRAS, 1909.
1. The synonymy of what is well known as the Pancaratra is thus given in the Padma-tantra (one of the 108 tantras or Samhitas):
suris suhrid bhagavatas satvatah pancakalavit
ekantikas tanmayas' ca pancaratrika ity api
From this it is evident that pancaratra = bhagavata = satvata = ekantika.
2. The sastra or science (of the worship of the One God, monotheism) is also called ekayana, which means the Only Way (Monotheism). For, as is stated in Isvara-samhita, Narada tells the sages -
moksayanaya vai pantha etad anyo na vidyate
tasmad ekayanam nama pravadanti manisinah
"Whereas there is no other path than this one to emancipation (moksa), the wise call this by the name ekayana."
3. This science is also known as the mula-Veda or root science (or Root knowledge), inasmuch as Vasudeva is at the root of all knowledge, as the following verse explicitly says:
mahato veda-vrksasya mula-bhuto mahan ayam
skandha-bhuta rg-adyas te sakha-bhUtas ca yoginah
jagan-mulasya vedasya vasudevasya mukhyatah
pratipadakata siddha mula-vedakhyata dvijah
adyam bhagavatam dharmam adi-bhute krte yuge
manava yogya-bhutas te anutisthanti nityasah
(id. 1, 24-26)
"This (science) is the root of the Veda-tree; the Rg and others are its trunk and branches. The (science) is called by the name mula-Veda (root-Veda), because it is an exposition of Vasudeva, the root of the Universe. This is the original Bhagavata-dharma which in the Krta age worthy men observed always."
4. That this ancient science is ancient, and not originated by Vasudeva, the son of Vasudeva (Krsna), is evident from the word Vasudeva, meaning "He who permeates all", though, grammatically it is also a patronymic, viz, "son of Vasudeva." For firstly, the word Vasudeva occurs in the Taittiriya Upanisad passage known as the Visnu-gayatri, secondly, we have in the Padma-tantra:
vasudeva-sutasyapi sthapanam vasudeva-vat
"The installation of the son of Vasudeva (Krsna) is like that of Vasudeva (the Ancient One)".
Thirdly, that the ekayana science is one of the ancient sciences learnt by Narada, is evident from what Narada himself tells Sanatkumara in the Chandogya Upanisad:
rg-vedam bhagavo 'dhyemi yajur-vedam
sama-vedam atharvanam caturtham itihasa-puranam
pancamam vedanam vedam pitryam rasim daivam
nidhim vako-vakyam ekayanam
"O Sanatkumara, I have learnt Rg-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda Atharvanam, ... Ekayanam."
Also, see the word occurring in the same Upanisad vii, 1, 4; 2, 1; 5, 2; 7, 1.
Fourthly, Sri Krsna Himself says in the Bhagavat-gita (7.19):
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah
"That great soul is hard to find who knows 'Vasudeva is all';" showing that the Bhagavata or Vasudeva religion was not originated or invented in Krsna's days, but was existent from time primeval.
Further, Sri Krsna confirms this position, viz., the eternity of the Bhagavata religion, by telling Arjuna that what He taught him now was ancient religion, which from time to time is forgotten by men, and He comes and revives it. Read Bhagavad-gita, iv, 1-3:
imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam
vivasvan manave praha manur iksvakave 'bravit
evam parampara-praptam imam rajarasyo viduh
sa kaleneha mahata yogo nastah parantapa
sa evayam maya te 'dya yogah proktah puratanah
"It was I (the Ancient, not merely as Krsna now) who taught this divine science (yoga) to Vivasvan (the sun). Vivasvan taught Manu; and Manu taught Iksvaku. That this is thus traditionally derived, the royal sages know. But by long lapse of time the science was lost. And this ancient science has again by Me now told thee, O foe-dread (Arjuna)".
Here "royal sages know" does not mean that only the royal sages or Ksatriyas know, and that Brahmanas therefore do not know; nor does it mean that Ksatriyas originated it without reference to the Brahmanas.
Also, the term "royal" is also interpretable as "those sages who have attained royalty or eminence in the divine science"; and therefore need not necessarily mean Ksatriyas. Besides, if the Ancient, as He says, taught Vivasvan, may it be adduced from this that the Ancient was a Ksatriya, or that Vivasvan (the sun) is a Ksatriya? It is simply Narayana, the Primeval God, teaching Narada to begin with - Narada, the mind-born son of Brahma and therefore a divine Brahmana (Brahmarsi) - as many be seen from Isvara-samhita, i, 4, 11:
narayanam tapasyantam nara-narayanasramo
samsovantas sada bhaktya moksopaya-vivitsavah
samsthita munayas sarve narayana-parayanah
kalena kena cit svargat narayana-didrksaya
tatravatirya devarsih naradas sa kutuhalah
drstva narayanam devam namaskrtya krtanjalih
pulakancita-sarvangah prsta-vadano munih
stitva nanavidhaih stotraih pranamya ca muhur muhuh
pujayamasa tam devam narayanam anamayam
atha narayano devah tam aha munipungavam
munayo hy atra tisthanti prarthayana hareh padam
etesam satvatam sastram upadestum tvam arhasi
ityuktv-antardadhe sriman-narayana-munis tada
"The sages (munis) lovingly served Narayana absorbed in meditation at Nara-Narayana-asrama (Badari in the Himalayas). Wishing to see Narayana, Narada descended from svarga; and seeing Him, prostrated and stood up with hands clasped, with joy beaming in his face and thrilling in his frame. He burst forth in praise, again and again casting himself at His feet. He worshiped (thus) the holy Narayana. Then spake Narayana to the sage-chief thus: 'The sages sit here praying for Hari's feet and thou art fit to teach them the satvata-sastra (panca-ratra).' So saying Sriman Narayana made Himself invisible".
Also read Bharadvaja-samhita cited under par. 6 infra, as also iii, 41 (id.) and its Parisista, 1. 88.
As to the primordial or primeval character of this Bhagavata (Vasudeva or Pancaratra) religion, further reference is invited to Maha-narayana, Brahma-bindu, Mukti, Ramatapani and Vasudeva Upanisads.
5. That Pancaratra is Vedic and possesses authority (so that its precepts and practices are to be followed by all those who own allegiance to Veda) is expressed in the Padma-tantra verse:
sruti-mulam idam tantram pramanam kalpa-sutravat
(i, 1, 88)
"This tantra is sruti-originated or sruti-rooted, and is an authority like, for example, the kalpa-sutra".
6. The meaning of the term pancaratra is thus explained:
(a) Padma-tantra. The question is put:
mahopanisad-akhyasya sastrasya-asya mahamate
pancaratra-samakhy-asau katham loke pravartate
(i, 1, 681/2-69)
"How, O wise sire! Is this Mahopanisad currently known in the world as Pancaratra?" To which samvarta is made to answer thus:
pancaratrani sastrani ratriyante mahanty api
tat-sannidhau samakhyasau tena loke pravartate
"Because the five other great sastras are like darkness in the presence of this (Pancaratra), thence is it currently known by the term Pancaratra".
The other five sastras are:
(1) Yoga (author Virinca or Hiranya-garbha)
(2) Sankhya (author Kapila)
(3) Buddha (author Buddhi-murti)
(4) Arhata (author Arhata or Jina)
(5) Kapala, Suddha-Saiva, Pasupata (a group-author Siva)
or it may be also thus interpreted:
pancatvam athava yadvat dipyamane divakare
rcchanti ratrayas tadvat itarani tad-antike
"As when the sun rises, the nights die, so others die in the vicinity of this (Pancaratra)".
ratram ca jnana-vacanam jnanam panca-vidham smrtam
tenedam panca-ratram ca pravadanti manisinah
(i, 1, 44)
"Ratram is a term signifying knowledge and because of this there are five (panca) kinds, therefore the wise call it Pancaratram".
The five kinds of knowledge (read op. cit., verses 45-56) are said to be:
(1) Tattva (this is sattvika)
(2) Mukti-prada (also sattvika)
(3) Bhakti-prada (this is nairgunya)
(4) Yaugika (this is rajasa)
(5) Vaisayika (this is tamasa)
(c) Sri Prasna-samhita, ii, 40, states:
ratrir ajnanam ity uktam
"Ratri, night, means nescience, and panc, derived from the root pac, to cook, means that which 'cooks', i.e. destroys that nescience". Hence Pancaratra is the science which dispels ignorance.
Also (d) Ahirbudhnya-Samhita xi-64, 65, 66 (?) and Kapinjala-samhita, chap. 1, may be referred to.
7. The acaryas or teachers in succession who promulgated these doctrines (omitting Narayana and Narada, vide par. 4 supra) are thus stated:
pura totadri-sikhare sandilyo 'pi maha-munih
samahita-mana bhutva tapas taptva mahattaram
anekani sahasrani varsanam tapaso 'ntatah
dvaparasya yugasy-ante adau kali-yugasya ca
saksat samkarsanat labdhva vedam ekayanabhidam
sumantum jaiminim caiva bhrgum caiva-aupagayanam
maunjyayanam ca tam vedam samyag adhyapayat pura
(Isvara-samhita, i, 38-41)
"In days past, on Totadri peak, Sandilya the great sage sat fixed in severe austerities (tapas) for many years. In the end he obtained from Samkarsana - in the interim between Dvapara age and Kali age - the Veda going by the name of Ekayana, and taught them well to Sumantu, Jaimini, Bhrgu, Aupagayana and Maunjyayana".
And then in viii, 175-7, of the same samhita, Narada tells:
ekantino mahabhagah sathakopa-purasarah
ksonyam krt-avatara ye lokojjivana-hetuna
sandilyadyas ca ye canye pancaratra-pravartakah
prahladas caiva sugrivo vayusunur vibhisanah
ye canye sanakadyas ca pancakala-parayanah
"Satakopa and other great devout saints became incarnate on earth to save creature. Sanaka and others, Sandilya and others, Prahlada, Sugriva, the wind son (Hanuman), Vibhisana and others - the strict observers of the five-timed injunctions pancakala - these are the promulgators of the Pancaratra.
With reference to Sandilya, attention is invited to No 10, Sandilya-vidya and No. 32 Sriman Nyasa-vidya in the table of the 32 Vidyas, pp 129-30 of our Bhagavad-gita with Ramanuja's commentary.
Next, after Satakopa and others, comes Ramanuja. For Narayana tells Bala-bhadra (or Bala-rama, the brother of Krsna) thus (Isvara-samhita, xx, 278-80):
asti te vimala bhaktih mayi yadava-nandana
prathamam sesa-rupo me kaimkaryam akarod bhavan
tatas tu laksmano bhutva mam aradhitvan iha
idanim api mam yastum balabhadra! tvam arhasi
kalav api yuge bhuyah kascid bhutava dvijottamah
nana-vidhair bhoga-jalair arcanam me karisyasi
"O son of Yadu-race (Balarama)! Thou hast clean (or pure) devotion (or love) for Me. Thou, first as Sesa didst the great service for Me. Then next didst thou worship me as Laksmana. You are now serving me as Balabhadra. You shall again in Kali age be born as a great brahmana (Ramanuja), and shall worship me with many things of joy."
Brhad-Brahma-samhita makes this clear thus:
dvija-rupena bhavita ya tu samkarsanabhidha
dvaparante kaler adan pasanda-pracure jane
ramanujeti bhavita visnu-dharma-pravartakah
srirangesa-daya-patram viddhi ramanuja munim
yena sandarsitah pantha vaikunthakhyasya sadmanah
param-aikantiko dharmo bhava-pasa-vimocakah
yatrananyataya proktam avayoh pada-sevanam
kalenachhadito dharmo madiyo 'yam varanane!
tada maya pravrtto 'yam tat-kalocita-murtina
visvaksenadibhir bhaktair sathari-pramukhair dvijaih
ramanujena munina kalau samstham upesyati
"'My Samkarsana part (O Sri),' says Narayana, 'is the form of a brahmana by the name Ramanuja, which it is going to take birth after the Dvapara age and in the Kali age, to expound the Visnu-dharma (Bhagavata religion), when the world will be full of heretics or renegades (pasanda). Know that Ramanuja will be the specially favored of Sri Ranga (-natha) and he will show the way to the realm known as Vaikuntha. The one-pointed Religion exclusively to be rendered to Thee and Me (Sriman Narayana) the religion which delivers (creatures) from the bonds of samsara (material existence) becomes dimmed by age, O fair faced one! according to the requirements of the age, I take many forms, and act by means of My devotees such as Visvaksena, Sathakopa, etc., and Ramanuja in the Kali age."
Bharadvaja-samhita iv, 92 teaches:
abhyarthito jagad-dhatrya sriya narayanas svayam
upadisad imam yogam iti me naradat srutam
"Prayed to by Sri, the Universal Mother, Narayana Himself taught (Her) this yoga. So did I hear from Narada".
From the above it will be seen how the hierarchy (guru-parampara) of the Sri-Vaisnavas or Sri-Sampradaya came to be constituted thus:
(3) Visvaksena = Senesa = the Lord of the hosts (the Eternals)
(4) Satakopa or Satagopa (the Mortal-Immortal)
(5) The others between (4) and (6)
(7) Succession after (6), up to one's own holy preceptor
"seed" or "theme" verse of every scripture revealing its topic (SB 1.3.28 - krsnas tu bhagavan svayam)
(Bhaktivinoda Thakura: Harinama Cintamani, ch. 7:)
The sruti teaches ten principles
The Vedic literature teaches that both mundane fruitive activities (karma) and empirical speculative knowledge (jnana) are inferior paths. The conclusion is that perfection is available only through bhakti. The Lord gives karma and jnana for preliminary purification of the jivas, and afterwards gives pure bhakti. In the Vedic literature there are ten principle instructions.
The first is that the proof or basis (pramana) of real knowledge is the sruti. The other nine principles are prameyas ascertained from the pramana. These ten principles destroy nescience and establish true spiritual knowledge.
The nine ascertainable principles: the first three pertain to Krsna
The first of the nine prameyas is that Hari, Krsna, is the only Supreme Absolute Truth. The second is that He is omnipotent. The third is that He is Rasamurti, the embodiment of all spiritual mellows. He is the source of bliss for all living entities and He eternally resides in His abode in the spiritual sky. These first three teachings pertain to the Supreme Lord, Krsna.
The second three pertain to the position of the jiva
The fourth prameya is that the jiva is the Lord's separated part and parcel. The jivas are the infinitesimal eternal spiritual sparks of pure consciousness who comprise the innumerable living entities. The jiva is of two types: eternally conditioned, who populate the material world, and eternally liberated, who populate the spiritual world.
The fifth prameya is that the conditioned souls are enamored by the glitter of maya's illusory potency. They have forgotten Krsna and remain eternally in this phenomenal world, enjoying and suffering material existence.
The sixth prameya is that the eternally liberated jivas are associates of Lord Krsna. They reside in the spiritual world and enjoy transcendental loving relationships with the Lord. These three, then, are the teachings about the jiva found in the sruti.
The seventh prameya is acintya-bhedabheda-sambandha
Everything material and spiritual is acintya-bhedabheda-sambandha (simultaneously one and different). The jivas and matter are inconceivably manifested from Lord Krsna's internal potency. Once knowing acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, the jiva understands that he is the servant of Krsna and is like the spark or ray of the spiritual sun that is Krsna. The transformations of the Lord's energy are beyond the mind's grasp (acintya), says the sruti. But the so-called transformations of the Supreme Lord Himself that the Mayavadis would like to have us all believe in are only mischievous and offensive postulations.
Thus, so far, the above seven prameyas comprise sambandha-jnana or knowledge of the eternal connection between the Lord and his energies. The sruti further points out abhidheya, which is the means to achieve prayojana, the supreme goal.
7 points of Sambandha:
a. to know the ontology of Krsna
b. to be fully aware of different potencies of Krsna
c. to have the knowledge of rasa-tattva
d. to know the characteristics of unalloyed soul
e. to know how soul gets entanglement in samsara
f. to know the process of how to get rid of maya
g. to know the philosophy of unthinkable simultaneous distinction and non-distinction between Bhagavan and jiva
Abhidheya is devotional service
The nine limbs of devotional service are: hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, praying, rendering service, carrying out the orders of the Lord, being a friend of the Lord and completely surrendering to the Lord. The chanting of the holy name is the most important devotional activity, and for this reason the Vedas glorify the chanting of the syllable om. Devotional service (sadhana-bhakti) has two divisions: vaidhi and raga. Abhidheya, the ninefold process of sadhana-bhakti, is the eighth prameya.
Prayojana is Krsna-prema
By the mercy of Lord Krsna, the jiva who takes shelter of abhidheya will attain Krsna-prema or love of Godhead. Krsna prema is the prayojana (necessity and ultimate goal) of the jiva; it is the ninth prameya.
[Footnote #1 by Bhaktivinoda] Pure devotion is indicated by the human proclivity to always render favorable devotional service to Krsna. Such devotion strives only for further excellence in service, being satisfied with nothing else. Pure devotion is uncontaminated by fruitive activity or empirical knowledge. The Vedic literature recommends that we cultivate pure devotion by taking full shelter of the holy name. [End of footnote #1]
These nine basic principles were ascertained from the sruti by learned spiritual masters who taught them for the guidance of all conditioned souls. But those who criticize the sruti, the very source of spiritual knowledge, are offenders against the holy name and are known as the lowest among men.
Sri V. Sundar
Invocation to the Acaryas
laksminatha samarambham nathayamuna madhyamam
asmadacarya paryantam vande guruparamparam
That wondrous lineage of preceptors, that starts with Sriman Narayana, and came through Nathamuni down to my own Acarya, I salute that.
Invocation to Visvaksena (senai mudaliar)
yasya dvirada vaktradyah parisadyah parah satam
vighnam nighnanti satatam visvaksenam tamasraye
An introduction to the Purusa-sukta
Where is the Purusa-sukta in the Vedas?
Vedic religious sources are classified as "sruti" or "smrti". Sruti - that which is heard - is of the nature of divine revelation. Vedas, hymns composed by seers and sages beginning as best as we can date them in 3000 BC were sung under divine inspiration. This is why they are sruti. These sages 'heard' them as the voice of the Divine.
Only two bodies of hymns are recognized as divinely composed. One being the Vedas, and the other, the Thiruvaymozhi of Kari Maran Sadagopan, or Sri Nammazhvar, which are recognized as equivalent to the 4 Vedas in the Ubhaya Vedanta school, the Sri Vaisnava tradition. The six compositions of Kaliyan Nilan, or Sri Thirumangai Azhvar, are recognized as the 6 Vedangas.
[Note: Ubhaya Vedanta refers to the twofold vedanta, seen through the two eyes of the Sanskrit Upanisads and the Tamil Divya Prabandha. They are of paramount and equal authority to Sri Vaisnavas.]
Smrti is that which is remembered, and includes a large part of the commentary of the Vedas, different Puranas, epics, and other sources.
The Purusa-sukta is one of the Panca suktas of the Sri Vaisnava sampradaya or tradition. The other four are the Narayana-sukta, Sri-suktam, Bhu-suktam, and the Nila-sukta.
The Purusa-sukta is seen earliest in the Rg Veda, as the 90th Sukta of its 10th mandala, with 16 mantras. Later, it is seen in the Vajasaneyi Samhita of the Sukla Yajur Veda, the Taittiriya Aranyaka of the Krisna Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, and the Atharva Veda, with some modifications and redactions.
In South India, the Purusa-sukta, Visnu-sukta, Sri-sukta and Narayana-sukta are generally chanted together in parayana.
The Sri Rudra, Purusa-sukta, Upanisads, the Gita, and the Visnu Sahasra Nama are also recommended for daily parayana - chanting.
Since the Purusa-sukta is seen in all Vedas, it is cited as the essence of all srutis by Veda Vyasa in the Mahabharata. Saunaka, Apastamba and Bodhayana have also written concerning the use of the Purusa-sukta.
What does the Purusa-sukta talk about?
The Purusa in the title of the Purusa-sukta refers to the Parama Purusa, Purusottama, Narayana, in his form as the Virat Purusa. He was the source of all creation. It describes this form of His, as having countless heads, eyes, legs, manifested everywhere, and beyond the scope of any limited method of comprehension. All creation is but a fourth part of Him. The rest is unmanifested.
Purusa as Brahma remained inactive, and Aniruddha Narayana (Garbhodakasayi), one of the four aspects of Narayana in the first tier at the base of the Visva Rupa, asked him "Why do you do nothing?"
"Because of not knowing," Brahma replied.
"Perform a yajna. Your senses, the devas, shall be the ritviks (priests). Your body shall be the havis (offering). Your heart, the altar. And I shall be He who enjoys the havis. From your body sacrificed, shall you create bodies for all living creatures, as you have done in kalpas before this." Thus says the Sakalya Brahmana.
This yajna was called "sarvahuta", the offering of all. The act of creation itself grew out of yajna, the rite of sacrifice.
Who was worshiped at this sacrifice? It was the Purusa. Who performed it? Brahma, the creative aspect of the Purusa. Who were the ritvik priests? The devas, who are the Purusa's senses. Who was tied as the beast of the sacrifice? Brahma, again. What was barhis, the altar of the sacrifice? All of nature. Who was the fire? The Purusa's heart. What was sacrificed? Again, the Purusa himself, his great body that contained all of creation.
In a way, this is a message of love, that the Purusa would consume Himself in the fire of creation, to create all the worlds. From this sacrifice did all of creation emanate. This is central to the message of the Purusa-sukta.
vedaham etam purusam mahantam
aditya varnam tamasah parastat
tam evam vidvan amrta iha bhavati
na anyah pantha vidyate 'yanaya
"This great Purusa, brilliant as the sun, who is beyond all darkness, I know Him in my heart. Who knows the Purusa thus, attains immortality in this very birth. I know of no other way to salvation."
bh. Shrirang Chikhalikar
It took five days to build a bridge from India to Lanka.
The construction progressed as follows:
First Day - 14 yojanas (1 yojana = 8 miles/12 km)
Second Day - 20 yojanas
Third Day - 21 yojanas
Fourth Day - 22 yojanas
Fifth Day - 23 yojanas
Leaders who fought on behalf of Lord Ramacandra:
Nala-nila, Angada, Sveta, Kumuda, Canda, Rambha, Sarabha, Panasa, Krodha, Gavaya, Dhumra, Dambha, Sannadana, Kratha, Pramathi, Risabha, Kesari, Satabali, Mainda, Dvivida, Pavana-putra Hanuman, Laksmana, Vibhisana, Sugriva, Jambavan, Susena, Gaja, Gavaksa, Dadhimukha, Sumukha, Durmukha, Vegadarsi, Jyotirmukha, Hemakuta, Durdhara, etc.
In Lord Rama's army except for seven, all were monkeys and other animals. All these animals were demigods in disguise.
Sri Rama (the Supreme Lord), Laksmana (the Supreme Lord's expansion), Vibhisana (Ravana's brother) and Vibhisana's four ministers were present in the human form.
Raksasa leaders who fought on behalf of Ravana:
Malyavana, Prahasta, Mahaparsva, Mahodara, Dhumraksa, Vajradamstra, Akampana, Atikaya, Indrajit, Pisaca, Trisira, Kumbha, Nikumbha, Narantaka, Kumbhakarna, Devantaka, Kampana, Prajangha, Sonitaksa, Virupaksa, Yupaksa, Makaraksa, etc.
The following deaths occurred in the war:
Dhumraksa, Akampana, Devantaka, Trisira, Nikumbha (killed by Hanuman)
Vajradamstra, Kampana, Prajangha (killed by Angada)
Kumbha, Virupaksa, Mahodara (killed by Sugriva)
Sonitaksa (killed by Dvivida)
Yupaksa (killed by Mainda)
Prahasta, Mahodara (killed by Nila)
Kumbhakarna, Makaraksa, Ravana (killed by Sri Rama Himself)
Mahaparsva (killed by Risabha)
Atikaya, charioteer of Indrajit, Indrajit himself (killed by Laksmana)
Mayamati (fake) Sita (killed by Indrajit)
chariot horses of Indrajit (killed by an army of monkeys)
bh. Shrirang Chikhalikar
Madhva, one of the principle teachers of Vedic philosophy, commenting on the Vedanta-sutra (2.1.6), quotes the Bhavisya Purana as follows:
veda ity eva sabditah
puranani ca yaniha
vaisnavani vido viduh
"The Rg Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata [which includes the Bhagavad-gita], Pancaratra, and the original Ramayana are all considered Vedic literature. The Vaisnava supplements, the Puranas, are also Vedic literature." (Readings in Vedic literature)
The above definition highlights the unique position of Valmiki Ramayanam. However there are many versions of Ramayanam which indicate the great interest shown by the scholars in these most sacred topics about Lord Rama.
Some of the following versions may have a dose of mayavada.
anargha raghava ramayanam
bal ramayana natakam
janaki harana ramayanam
mahabharat-van parvatantargat ramakatha
mahavir carit natakam
prasanna raghava natakam
raghuvamsa mahakavyam (by Kalidas)
uttara ramacarit natakam
kamba ramayanam (Tamil)
ramayana (Oriya, by Sadala Das)
rama carita manasa (Hindi)
Gerald Surya: On the Dvaita list they say that the "mula-ramayan" mentioned in the verse above is *not* the Valmiki Ramayana. Apparently they feel there is an even earlier version which they take to be even more bonafide. I do not know if they consider Valmiki Ramayana bonafide.
Krishna Susarla: I think this may even be the correct Tattvavadi position on this. The term "mula-ramayana" would mean "original Ramayana" or something like that. They must feel that the original is not the authored work of Valmiki but rather something that was present in the original Yajur Veda (prior to its being split into four).
The thing is, Valmiki came to understand Ramayana by Narada's grace, correct? It stands to reason that the Ramayana that he wrote would follow closely the so-called "mula-ramayana," assuming that Narada was familiar with the latter.
Gerald Surya: However, we accept the reference as referring to Valmiki Ramayana and as the bonafide version of Ramakatha.
Krishna Susarla: There is no doubt that the Ramayana by Valmiki is the most bona fide extant Ramayana available. However, that certainly is not to say that it does not require commentary...
Author: Shapiro, A. A.
Title: Salagrama Sila
[with orig. text and Engl. translation of "Salagrama Pariksha"]
Doctoral Dissertation - Columbia University
Gaura Keshava Das:
Alan Shapiro was known (he has since passed away) as Asseem Krsna Das, a Westerner who got initiated by B.H. Bon Maharaja many years ago. I knew him when he and I were living in Vrndavan in the late 70s early 80s. I saw his research which was based on a manuscript with color illustrations procured for him by Srivatsa Goswami from a private collection of one of the royal family of Jaipur.
Vaishnavism Through The Ages, by Rabindra Kumar Siddhantashastree
(chapter two - "Origin and Sanctity of the Salagram", chapter three - "Different Types of Salagram". It is written from a smarta perspective but the information is useful in identifying Who's Who.)
Salagrama Kosha, by S.K. Ramachandra Rao
Two volumes totaling 500 pages, published by Kalyana Kalpataru from Bangalore and available through major Indian bookstore chains. In America, see users.erols.com/nataraj for ordering info. The author is a scholarly Madhva and has done some work on BBT Bhagavatam translation into Kannada.
There is an even nicer set called Pratima-kosha by the same author which is all about carving of regular Deities and sculptures of various devas, about 1000 pages over 6 volumes.
Caitanya-caritamrta: 11,555 verses (2,311 + 6,016 + 3,228) in 62 chapters (17+25+20) The count differs from manuscript to manuscript. My figure is based on the BBT edition. Some editions give separate counts for Bengali and Sanskrit verses.
Srimad Bhagavatam: 14,094 verses in 335 chapters (canto/chapters/verses: 1/19/808, 2/10/393, 3/33/1416, 4/31/1449, 5/26/668, 6/19/851, 7/15/750, 8/24/931, 9/24/960, 10/90/3936, 11/31/1367 12/13/565).
Nila Madhava Das:
That SB has 335 chapters is clearly stated in many places, including the Bhagavatam commentaries of our own acaryas, Jiva and Sanatana Gosvamis (10.12.1). One may also need to be aware that a few acaryas (mainly from the Vallabha sampradaya) only count 332 chapters. They do not count SB canto 10 chapters 12-14 and thus their chapter 12 is everyone else's 15 and so on.
Bengali commentator Sri Ganga Nath Sahaya in his commentary Anvitartha Prakashika says that Srimad Bhagavatam has 18 000 "slokas". Sloka here means anuSTup chhanda (32 syllables). So if all the syllables of the Bhagavatam were added (along with all the variant readings) and the sum total would be divided by 32, we would get a figure close to 18 000.
From Bhagavata Mahatmya, Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda:
Saunaka asked, "O Suta Gosvami, when did Sukadeva recite the Bhagavatam to Pariksita, Gokarna to Dhundhukari, and the Kumaras to Narada Muni?"
Suta Gosvami replied, "About thirty years after Lord Krsna's departure to His abode, on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadra, Sukadeva recited Bhagavatam to Pariksit. Two hundred years later in the month of Asadha, on the ninth day of the bright fortnight Gokarna recited Bhagavatam to Dhundhukari. Thirty years later, in the month of Karttika on the ninth day of the bright fortnight, the Kumaras recited it to Narada Muni."
February 18, 3102 BCE (around): Krsna's disappearance, beginning of Kali Yuga (Thus Krsna was present for around 125+48 = 173 years)
30 years after i.e 3072 BC: Sukadeva Goswami spoke Bhagavatam to Maharaj Pariksit on Bhadra Navami
200 years later i.e. 2872 BCE: Gokarna recited Bhagavatam to Dhundhukari on Asadha Navami
30 years later i.e. 2842 BCE: Kumaras recited to Narada Muni on Karttika Navami
Around 2000 BC: Suta Goswami recited to the sages at Naimisaranya
(long after the battle of Kuruksetra)
[Jan: Suta Gosvami retold SB to sages in Naimisaranya at the end of yajna lasting for 1 000 years (SB 1.1.4) which started after the end of Kali yuga (SB 1.1.21, exact date not found in SB but as per SB 1.17.43-44p. after the death of Maharaja Pariksit, exact date again not in SB). Puranic Encyclopedia, entries Bharata II., Janamejaya I. and Pariksit I., say that Janamejaya became king in 3042 BCE (i.e. after the death of his father, Maharaja Pariksit). Thus the date of SB's retelling in Naimisaranya would be 2042 BCE.]
after 1000 BCE: Compiling of Mahabharata
500 BCE: Compiling of Ramayana
before 900 CE: Vyasadeva completed writing the 12 Canto of the Bhagavatam
The last three dates have been picked up from the Introduction of Sri Krsna-samhita by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He gives the date of the writing of the Srimad Bhagavatam as being around 900 AD in the opinion of modern scholars and goes on to give very foolproof evidences regarding this which the modern scholars give. Though Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself put a lot of effort into writing this Intro., he leaves it upto the reader to accept it or not.
And he writes while trying to figure out a date of compiling of the Bhagavatam as per the modern scholars:
"Now we will consider the modern scholars view on the date of the appearance of Srimad Bhagavatam, the jewel of all scriptures. Not understanding our statements, third-grade people may lose all faith and consider it a recent work. Therefore they should read this section..."
Q: Who wrote the Upanisads and what specifically are the Upanisads?
A: Upanisads are written by great risis, sages, to whom they are revealed by the Lord. They are compiled by Maharisi Vyasa. The meaning of the word 'Upanisad' is that which is most near. Upa = near, ni = most, sad = to exist (or to sit). The Upanisads can be called the jnana-kanda of the Vedas (they are concerned with jnana, metaphysical knowledge (i.e. elevating one beyond material universe). They describe the nature of Brahman, mainly its impersonal feature. They are explanations of the mantras, but they are concerned more with meanings of the tattvas or essence, of the origin of life, the world, the soul, God etc. The Upanisads are the basis of the sad-darsanas, the six systems of philosophy.
According to Agni Purana, chapter 271, there are altogether 1600 Upanisads. Nowadays we have about 240 (what we have today is only about 6% of the complete original canon of Vedic scriptures), of which 108 are most prominent. Their list is given in Muktika Upanisad.
Q: Can you explain the purpose of the Upanisads: against ritualist Brahmanism?
A: Each of the four Vedic samhitas (consisting of mantras/prayers to devas) has a Brahmana (a treatise relating to prayer and sacrificial ceremony). Next come the Aranyakas (writings meant for the forest-dwelling hermits) as appendices to the Brahmanas. Then come the Upanisads as appendices to the Aranyakas. These four classes of literary works (the Vedas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas and the Upanisads) constitute the Vedic literature proper. The Aranyakas and the Upanisads are inseparably connected with each other. The Upanisads are called Vedantas (the end of the Vedas).
You mention 'the purpose of Upanisads: against ritualistic
Brahmanism'. The modern Western
is that Upanisads were created as some kind of intellectual opposition to 'brahminical oppression'. There is a Czech saying, "According to myself I judge you." Western civilization is a history of oppression so its scholars tend to see through this prism and thus misunderstand other cultures. They also can't admit that other cultures could be superior in any way.
There is no clash between all these scriptures as modern scholars like to posit. These four types - Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanisads - are meant for members of four Vedic asramas, i.e. brahmacaris, grhasthas, vanaprasthas and sannyasis. Their differences are given by their different purposes. It's something like basic school books, middle school books, university texts and top research texts. They exist at the same time but vary a lot in structure, language, etc.
Western scholars also like to take Puranas and Itihasas out of the Vedic canon. But the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad (2.4.10) states: "Just as a fire kindled with wet fuel sends out clouds of smoke, so the Supreme God has breathed out the Rig-veda, the Yajur-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, Itihasa, Puranas, science of knowledge, mystic Upanisads, succinct verses, codes, elaborations, and commentaries. He, indeed, breathes all these out." Two verses in the Chandogya Upanisad (7.1.2,4) both refer to the Puranas and Itihasas as the fifth Veda that accompanies the four Vedas. Also so-called later texts are mentioned in so-called older texts (check the article on pramana on our site). And so on. In the book "Searching for Vedic India" by Devamrita Swami many of these modern misconceptions are clarified.
Ekanath Das: Baladeva Vidyabhusana has commented on ten of the principal Upanisads: Isa, Katha, Kena, Prasna, Mundaka, Taitiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Mandukya and Brhadaranyaka. He also commented on the Gopala Tapani Upanisad. Only his Isa and Gopala Tapani commentaries are available in print.
Visvanatha Cakravarti and Jiva Gosvami have written commentaries on the Gopala Tapani. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written a commentary on the Isa.
Q: Are the rest of the commentaries lost and therefore not in print, or the manuscripts are being kept somewhere?
A: Good question. GVA doesn't list them at all. I took my information from: Sundarananda Vidyavinoda, "Gaudiya Darsanera Itihasa," Calcutta 1953.
He presents the most complete list of Baladeva's works that I have seen so far. Regarding Baladeva's commentaries on the ten principal Upanisads, he writes, "Isadidasopanisad-bhasya, [and adds in a footnote]: Isopanisad-bhasya vyatita anyanya upanisadera bhasya ekhanao anaviakata," "except for the commentary on the Isa, the commentaries on the other Upanisads still remain undiscovered."
Baladeva's commentary on the Isopanisad was published by Baba Krsnadasa: Isavasyopanisad (with Baladeva's comm.), Ed. Baba Krsnadasa, Mathura 1966.
It was also published by "Sri Sarasvata Gaudiyasana Mission," Calcutta 1970, along with Bhaktivinoda's commentary called Vedarkadidhiti and Madhva's commentary. This book is all in Bengali script, and contains the Sanskrit text of the Iso and the three commentaries. Baladeva's Sanskrit commentary is accompanied by a Bengali translation. The Gaudiya Math in Madras has also published that book, but I do not know the date.
Gopala Tapani with Baladeva's commentary was published by: Haridasa Dasa Baba, Navadvipa 1943.
There may be more recent reprints of these publications. I am not aware of any English translations.
1) Vedanta [The]: A Study of the Brahma-Sutras' Main Bhashyas [with the Bhashyas of Samkara, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Madhva and Vallabha] by Ghate V.S. - Publ. Pune 1981 - HB - 170 pages - U$ 16 + S & H
2) BrahmaSutras [The] and Their Principal Commentaries [in 3 vols.]: 'A Critical and Comparative Exposition of the Commentaries of Sankara Acarya, Ramanuja Acarya and Madhva Acarya' by B.N.K. Sharma - Publ. New Delhi 1986 - CBj - 1,838 pages - U$ 75 + S & H
3) Brahma Sutras 'Sri-Bhashya': 'English translation and Comments according to 'Sri-Bhashya' of Sri Ramanuja' by Vireswarananda Swami and Adidevananda Swami - Publ. Calcutta 1985 - CBj - 600 pages - U$ 12 + S & H
4) Vedanta Sutras [The] with the Commentary by Ramanuja by Thibault George - Publ. Delhi 1996 - HB - 1,040 pages - U$ 18 + S & H
5) Vedanta-Sutras [The] of Badarayana with the Commentary of Baladeva: "With the original Sanskrit text, transliteration in Roman characters, word-for-word synonyms, English translation. By Vasu Srisa Chandra Rai Bahadur - Publ. Delhi 1989 - CBj - 904 pages - U$ 32
Together with his commentary 'Govinda Bhashya' Baladeva wrote a gloss called 'Sukshma Tika', also included in this edition. All quotes and references are documented with the original Sanskrit text in full. Baladeva's 'Prameya RatnaVali' is a brief treatise on the main teachings and tenets of Sri Caitanya MahaPrabhu's school [in appendix]".
6) Vaishnava [A] Interpretation of the BrahmaSutras: Vedanta and Theism: "The thesis is that the original and most authoritative commentary on the Brahma Sutra is the Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavata Purana. The author demonstrates his thesis with a plethora of arguments, logic and references to classic Indian Holy Scriptures". By Chattopadhyay RamPada - Publ. 1992 - CBj - 328 pages - U$ 160 + S & H [Rare]
[HB = hardbound; CBj = clothbound with jacket; S & H = shipping & handling; U$ = USA dollars (1998)]
In some places sastras say (and acaryas confirm) that there are some false stories and that tamasic sastras are misleading:
Jiva Gosvami, Krsna sandarbha 29.69-70:
iti ziva-zAstrIyatvAc ca nAtra vaiSNava-siddhAnta-viruddhasya tasyopayogaH. yata uktaM skAnda eva SaNmukhaM prati zrI-zivena
ziva-zAstre 'pi tad grAhyaM
bhagavac-chAstra-yogi yat iti
anya-tAtparyakatvena svatas tatrApramANyAd yuktam caitat yathA paGkena paGkAmbhaH itivat.
Statements in the Saivite Puranas should not be accepted unless they are corroborated by the Vaisnava Puranas. This is confirmed in the Saivite Puranas (Skanda Purana) where Lord Siva says to Karttikeya:
"Statements in the Saivite Puranas should be accepted only if they are confirmed in the Vaisnava Puranas."
The followers of Lord Siva may try to present a different conclusion, but they are simply contradicting the words of their own master, recorded in their own scripture. From this statement of Lord Siva we may understand that the Saivite Puranas are not a very reliable source of spiritual information. They are not actually able to purify the conditioned souls, and their position is described in the following statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.8.52):
"It is not possible to filter muddy water through mud or purify a wine-stained pot with wine."
One should not therefore rely on the impure statements of the Saivite Puranas.
pAdmottara-khaNDe ca ziva-pratipAdakAnAM purANAnAm api tAmasatvam eva darzitam. mAtsye 'pi tAmasa-kalpa-kathAmayatvam iti.
The inferiority of the Saivite Puranas is confirmed in the Uttara Khanda of the Padma Purana, which explains that the Saivite Puranas are intended for those in the mode of ignorance. The Matsya Purana also confirms that the Saivite Puranas are full of faulty and ignorant conclusions.
Paramatma sandarbha 17.19-20, 24-35:
tatha ca matsye
sattvikesu ca kalpesu
mahatmyam adhikam hareh
rajasesu ca mahatmyam
adhikam brahmano viduh
In the Matsya Purana (53.67-68) it is also said: "The sages know that the glorification of Lord Hari, which is contained in the goodness Puranas is better than the glorification of Brahma, which is contained in the passion Puranas.
tadvad agnes ca mahatmyam
tamasesu sivasya ca
pitrnam ca nigadyate. iti.
"The sages also say that the glorification of Lord Hari is better than the glorification of Siva and Agni, which is contained in the ignorance Puranas, and the glorification of Lord Hari is also better than the glorification of Sarasvati and the Pitas, which is contained in a host of miscellaneous scriptures."
ata uktam skande shanmukham prati sri-sivena
siva-sastresu tad grahyam
paramo visnur evaikas
taj jnanam moksa-sadhanam
sastranam nirnayas tv
esas tad anyan mohanaya hi. iti.
In the Skanda Purana, Lord Siva tells Karttikeya: "The statements of the Siva scriptures should be accepted only when they agree with the Visnu scriptures. Lord Visnu is the only Supreme Lord, and knowledge of Him is the path to liberation. That is the conclusion of all the scriptures. Any other conclusions are meant only to bewilder the people."
tathaiva ca dristam moksa-dharme narayaniyopakhyane. vaisampayana uvaca
This is also seen in the following passage of the Moksa-dharma, Narayaniyopakhyana, where Vaisampayana says:
sankhyam yogah pancaratram
vedah pasupatam tatha
jnanany etani rajarse
viddhi nana-matani vai
"O saintly king, please know that there are many different philosophies, such as the sankhya, yoga, pancaratra, Vedic, and Saiva philosophies.
sankhyasya vakta kapilah
paramarsih sa ucyate
vetta nanyah puratanah
"The great sage Kapila is the propounder of the sankhya philosophy. Ancient Brahma is the knower of yoga. No one is like him.
vedacaryah sa ucyate
pracinagarbham tam risim
pravadanti hi kecana
"The sage Apantaratama [the name of Vedavyasa] is said to be the teacher of the Vedas. Some call him by the name Pracinagarbha.
srikantho brahmanah sutah
uktavan idam avyagro
jnanam pasupatam sivah
"Lord Siva, who is Brahma's son, Parvati's husband, and the ghosts's master, and who has a glorious neck and is detached from material life, spoke the Saiva philosophy.
vakta tu bhagavan svayam
sarvesu ca nripa-srestha
jnanesv etesu drisyate
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Himself the speaker of the Pancaratra philosophy. O best of kings, the Pancaratra philosophy is seen as the best of all the philosophies.
nistha narayanah prabhuh
na cainam evam jananti
"To whatever extent one understands the scriptures and knows the truth of spiritual life, to that extent one will have faith that Lord Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. O king, persons who are trapped in the mode of ignorance cannot understand that Narayana is the Supreme Lord.
tam eva sastra-kartarah
nistham narayanam risim
nanyo 'stiti vaco mama
The wise authors of the scriptures declare that Narayana is the Supreme Lord. The sages place their faith in Lord Narayana. None but Him is the Supreme. Those are my words.
nityam vasati vai harih
"Lord Hari always stays with persons who have faith in Him. He does not stay among the faithless.
pancaratra-vido ye tu
te harim pravisanti vai
O king, the pure devotees, who know the truths explained in the Pancaratras, attain the company of Lord Hari.
sankhyam yogas ca sanatane dve
vedas ca sarve nikhile 'pi rajan
sarvaih samastair risibhir nirukto
narayanam visvam idam puranam. iti.
"Sankhya and yoga are both eternal. All the Vedas are also eternal. All the sages declare that Lord Narayana is the ancient Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the worlds."
[Lord Siva also explains that his own purana, the Siva Purana, as well as other tamasika Puranas facilitate one's journey to hell - tathaiva tAmasA devi niraya prApti hetavaH (Padma Purana, Uttara Khanda 236.22)]
Q: In Mahabharata Arjuna asks Krsna after the Kuruksetra battle to retell Bhagavad-gita again since he forgot it. Krsna states that He can't do it: "I cannot discourse on it again in detail. I discoursed to thee on Supreme Brahma, having concentrated myself in Yoga." How to understand it?
A: Mbh has two levels - dharma and paradharma (bhakti). While on the dharma level Krsna plays the role of a king who sometimes breaks promises, gets cursed, forgets things, etc., on the paradharma level this is all understood to be His lila. He's the Supreme Lord. Sometimes the lila is meant to confuse unqualified individuals.
Madhvacarya comments in Mahabharata-tatparya-nirnaya on the apparent imperfections of the Lord in His appearances in this world:
"Hari Himself, for the delusion of the Daityas, shows sometimes ignorance, or dependence, or pain, or dismemberment, or the possession of a physical body, or the loss of it, etc., or want of capacity or suffering, or equality with, or even inferiority to others." (1.38-39)
"Through this Hari is the Lord of the Devas, and controls the entire universe, still He always does act like a feeble agriculturalist. With clouded mind, He does not know Himself; sorrowful, He searches for Sita; He was bound by Indrajit; all this and more is His play for deluding the Asuras. He becomes senseless by instrumental blow, and has His skin cut; and blood flows. Not knowing Himself, He ask others; leaving His body, He departed to heaven. The Lord displayed all this though it didn't really exist, as if He were an actor, for the delusion of the Asuras. The devas knew this to be false." (2.81-84)
Aside from this, Madhvacarya declared the extant Mahabharata largely unreliable in his Mahabharata tatparya nirnaya:
kvacid granthAn prakSipanti kvacid antaritAn api
kuryuH kvacic ca vyatyAsaM pramAdAt kvacid anyathA 2.3
In some places (of the Mahabharatha) verses have been interpolated and in others verses have been omitted in some places, the verses have been transposed and in others, different readings have been given out of ignorance or otherwise.
anutsannA api granthA vyAkulA iti sarvazaH
utsannAH prAyazaH sarve koTyaMzo 'pi na vartate 2.4
Though the works are really indestructible, they must be deemed to
be mostly altered. Mostly all of them have disappeared and not even one
crore (out of several crores of slokas) now exists.
Note—The Moola Ramayana consisted of 100 crores of slokas; Pancaratra consisted of 50 crores; Mahabharatha, of 60 lakhs of slokas; other Puranas, of 4 lakhs.
grantho 'pyevaM viluLitaH kimv artho deva durgamaH
kalAv evaM vyAkulite nirNayAya pracoditaH 2.5
hariNA nirNayAn vacmi vijAnaMs tat prasAdataH 2.6
zAstrAntarANi sajJAnan vedAMz cAsya prasAdataH
deze deze tathA granthAn dRSTvA caiva pRthag vidhAn 2.7
When the original work itself is so altered, what is there to say of
its meaning which is intelligible (even) to the Devas only with
When the work had thus become altered in the Kali age, under the direction of Hari for its clear understanding, I shall state the settled truths having known them through His grace, and also having well known the other (extinct) works and all the Vedas through His grace, and also having examined the various editions existing in several places.
Q: What is the purpose of this, esp. for a common jiva?
A: Sastra has these cheque points to distinguish individuals with
pious and devotional attitude from those with impious and atheistic
one. Atheists don't bother to study sastra from a guru and thus will
use such statements as reasons to reject sastra. The intelligence for
this is also given by the Lord (BG 15.15). In this way they'll remain
in samsara (BG 16.19). Only the compassion of devotees like Srila
Prabhupada and his genuine disciples can prevent this.
God's delusion (of asuras) is real, see BG 16. Deluded asura is put into a school of hard knocks (in asuric lifeforms) since he refuses to learn any other way that imitating God (isvara bhava) won't make him happy. So it's also a sort of grace, 'the hard grace for the stubborn'. Common jiva isn't so stubborn so he gets lesser karmic reactions: "As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. ..." BG 4.11
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