muktika upanishhad (was Re: Brahmana)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Mon Feb 17 20:56:10 CST 1997

Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:

> On Fri, 14 Feb 1997, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:
> > No it need not. The padma purANa contradicts shruti by saying shiva should
> > be worshiped. So do many other purANa-s.
> Now this is a bizarre turn of events, you're making ISKCON arguments? :-)
> No authentic Purana says such a thing.

Really, you should really check up before making such statements, especially
when you accuse me of behaving like ISCKONites :-). Here you go:

`Second, the fact that a purana is classified as belonging to a particular sect
does not prevent it from paying attention to other Gods. Conversely even the
aggressively sectarian statements, such as those collected by Wilson, may,
within the same purana, be directed at different deities. Thus in the Padma on
the one hand: "He who abandons Vasudeva and worships any other God, is like a
fool, who being thirsty, sinks a well in the banks of the Ganges". But, on the
other hand, in the same Padma: "From even looking at Vishnu, the wrath of Siva
is kindled, and from his wrath, we all fall assuredly into a horrible hell; let
not, therefore, the name of Vishnu ever be pronounced". '

Ref: pp. 21-22, The Puranas, by Ludo Rocher, A History of Indian Literature
edited by Jan Gonda.

Rocher has given further references like this in the same section. So my point
was, statements like: "smriti texts like the Padma prohibit the worship of
Vishnu, the authors cannot be wrong and hence shruti praising vishnu is bogus"
are quite ridiculous. Of course ISKCONites take the portion praising vishnu and
wave their hands wildly at the shruti texts praising shiva, hoping that they'll
go away. Not that the other vaishnavite schools are any different in this

Any way, you are engaging in similar justification of your condemnation of the
vajrasuchi and the muktika by citing (some) smR^iti texts as proof, which is
also patently ridiculous and against all tenets of mImA.nsA.

> > The final authority in all such cases
> > is shruti and not handwaving, back pedaling arguments that the authors of
> > smR^iti texts must have followed shruti and hence this upanishhad is a fake
> > and so on.
> >
> Right but the bone of contention in this case is what constitutes Shruti.
> There are some texts in the Vedas which are sufficiently unclear that
> people can disagree on their meaning yet mainstream enough to be accepted
> by everyone.  Then there are some statements which are so off the wall it
> becomes more reasonable to reject them outright than to stretch and warp
> ones theories to accommodate them.


> > Read pUrva mimA.nsA arguments on how a text is established as shruti.
> >
> "apaurusheyam vakyam vedah." as MM Laugakshi Bhaskara says.  These vakyas
> were heard by the Rshis, passed down through their disciples who taught
> their disciples to the present day.  So one of way of ascertaining the
> validity of a text is to see if it has attracted the notice of the
> parampara. If it hasn't, well that doesn't neccessarily mean we can reject
> it straight away but we should at least be suspicious.

No, non-sequitur. Both the mANDUkya nd the shvetAshvatara had no recitation
tradition at the time of shrI sha.nkara and he did not hesitate to accept them.
So as long as the upanishhad-s have been passed down as shruti, it's enough.
This is exactly the case with the muktika and has been accepted by upanishhad
brahma yogin and HH abhinava vidyAtIrtha mahAsvAmigaL. Since they were well
versed in mImA.nsA also, your arguments fail to hold water, in fact you have no
argument against accepting the muktika in the first place.

> > You have this cute habit of switching back and forth between "critical
> > scholarship" and vedanta whatever pleases you. In your previous mail you
> > claimed
> > that pUrva mimA.nsA scholars do not accept this upanishhad.
> Not quite, I said they did not notice it and quote from it.  I can think
> of two reasons for this.  One, the vajrasuchi Upanishad simply didn't
> exist at that time or two, they knew of it and didn't regard it as
> genuine.  There could be other reasons but my point is this document is
> not part of the mainstream tradition.

Again not applicable. I have quoted two mImA.nsA scholars who _do_ accept the
muktika, which lists the vajrasuchi. The mainstream tradition _does_ accept
the muktika, as can be seen by the acceptance of HH and Up. brahma yogin.

>  > When you were asked
> > by Giri who they were, and when I pointed out two stalwarts in the advaita
> > tradition who accept the muktika, you back pedal furiously and claim to be a
> > critical scholar.
> Uh no. I actually accepted your proof.  _And_ I accept the arguments of
> critical scholars.  What I don't do is give equal weight to both.  In fact

If you accept the views of critical scholars you might as well accept that the
veda-s were "written" etc. You can't take some things in both, whatever pleases
you. Since this is the advaita list, let's stick to vedAnta.

> Again my allegiance is to the entire Vedic tradition.  As it happens I
> think Advaita Vedanta is the best expression of that tradition--that's why
> I read this list.  But it should be strongly emphasized that belief in
> Advaita depends on belief in tradition, not the other way round.
> So let's stick to the whole tradition not just single persons or texts
> even if they are extremely worthy of respect (which I do not doubt.)

?!! What constitutes the whole tradition according to you? You still haven't
produced a single teacher's statement that the muktika cannot be considered
shruti. I don't suppose you are going to say "I am the tradition" (like Clint
Eastwood's "I am the law") I hope :-).

> > > anthing about the views of the other.  From the critical point of view,
> > > there is ample evidence to suggest it like most of the minor upanishads is
> > > far later than the big 10.  Differences in language, terminology, metre
> > > and adherence to a specific Vedic Shakha are all non-hand-waving factors
> > > in coming to this conclusion.
> >
> > No. Can you point out to a single pUrva mIma.nsA text which claims adherence
> > to a certain metre is necessary?
> "From the critical point of view" it doesn't matter what the Purva Mimamsa
> texts say does it?  Once again the question boils down to what weight

Again, if you want to be a critical scholar you might as well drop all notion
of aparusheyatva and then talk. One can be an "advaitin" even then I suppose,
like Dr S. Radhakrishnan. There is no use pretending to be a vedantin and
trying to use "critical scholarship" whenever some one contradicts you. It's
now incumbent upon you to produce a valid teacher in the advaita tradition
(like Up. brahmayogin or HH) to corroborate your view that the muktika is not
shruti. As I see it the valid teachers in the advaita sampradAya accept the
muktika as shruti, since it has been handed down as shruti and has the
reputation of being so. So if you want to go against tradition, that's your
wish. I'll also stop my arguments with you. I am still arguing with you only
because I feel you have respect for tradition (albeit somewhat confused).

> we're willing to assign various pieces of evidence.  I.e do we find the
> critical conjecture persuasive or even just worthy of notice?  That Vedic
> language is different to Sanskrit is not a modern notion.  Panini knew it
> and that's why he has seperate sutras for the Vedic speech.  That the
> anushtubh chhanda of the Vedas is slightly different from the common
> shloka is also not a new idea.  Pingala knew it and the Chhanda sutras are
> a Vedanga.  What if anything are we going to do with this information?

Nothing? All we can say is that they wrote sUtra-s for parts of the veda-s
which doesn't fit in with the rules of usual grammar. This does not mean shruti
of the other type does not exist.

> > That way the shvetAshvatara and the
> > mANDUkya
> > would have be discarded on the basis of not belonging to a specific shaka.
> Shvetashvatara is a shaka of the Krishnayajurveda.  In the case of the
> Mandukya we have independant testimony from several different comentators
> that it belongs to the Atharvaveda.

The shaka to which the shvetAshvatara belonged is _long_ lost. Only this Up
remains of that shaka. Same is the case with the mANDUkya. Upanishhad-s belong
to shakas, which in turn belong to some veda. I can also claim that the muktika
is a shaka of whatever veda it is supposed to belong to, even otherwise.

Likewise, we have the testimony of upanishhad brahma yogin who wrote
commentaries on all and people who _taught_ vedAnta like HH. Just because they
are nearer in time frame than some other commentators does not make them any
less important. If you think it does, out goes all talk of choosing a proper
disciple, passing on the traditions of the maTha, strict observance of
tradition, etc.

> > criteria. So would you discard the other two and put the gaNapati U in the
> > principal upanishhad-s?
> >
> The lack of svaras is problematic but more than offset by other evidence
> for the antiquity of those works.  Remember we look at all the evidence
> not isolated bits.

Well, some one may have written the upanishhads 200 years before them. Just to
carry your brand of skepticism to that time frame. It is quite ridiculous to
say what was quoted by sha.nkara and some select others are apaurusheya and
the others (especially one's you don't like) were written. Your application of
the so called evidence is purely arbitrary.

> > > > Whether shrI sha.nkara quoted a upanishhad or not cannot be the means
> > > > judging it's validity.
> > >
> > > Not the only means but certainly a means.
> >
> > Certainly not, since he has never claimed to have quoted all
> >upanishhad-s extant
> > during his time.
> >
> Being quoted by Shankaracharya is strong evidence for it being genuine.
> Not being quoted by him says nothing.

Exactly what I was saying. So not being quoted by him is of absolutely no use
in determining if a upanisshad not quoted by him is "genuine". So we might as
well dispense with what shrI sha.nkara or any one else quoted since we are
trying to determine here whether the muktika (not quoted by sha.nkara) is
indeed shruti or not. That can be done only by seeing if it has been handed
down as shruti in the advaita tradition. The fact is it has, as evinced by the
commentaries by Up. brahma yogin and HH's statements.

OTOH, one or more of these upanishhad-s may not have been handed down as shruti
in other schools. So as far as discussions with those schools go, it obviously
make sense to stick to the 10 principal (+shvetashvatara) upanishhad-s, since
every one accepts those. I have no problems with that. But as long as you claim
to be an advaitin and one who follows the traditions to boot, it's incumbent
upon you to accept the muktika.


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