RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approaches to the One

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 13 14:02:30 CDT 2000

Thanks for the highly informative posts on the R^ig Vedic mantras. I agree
that the R^ig Vedic mantras can be interpreted from a viewpoint of
upAsana/dhyAna/yoga. But I also believe that this is one type of
interpretation, based on what MadhusUdana sarasvatI says in his
gItA bhAShya, where the gItA, of course, is treated as the essence of
the Vedas. The treatment of karma, upAsana/bhakti, and jnAna in the
gItA directly corresponds to the same in the Vedas. This is the insight
that MadhusUdana has provided us.

R^ig Vedic (saMhitA) mantras represent three viewpoints:

1. karma-kANDa - this is the standard interpretation given by sAyaNa
   for the most part, although he never fails to recognize the upAsana
   and jnAna oriented interpretations wherever appropriate. At this
   level, the mantras are used to invoke the Gods, for example by the
   hotR^i in the yajnas.

2. upAsana-kANDa - upAsana is a broad term that covers not just
   Yoga/meditation but also bhakti. A couple months ago, I posted a few
   articles on nIlakaNTha's mantra-rAmAyaNa wherein he has identified
   the mantras of the R^ig Veda which correspond to the rAmAyaNa. Many
   of these mantras are filled with bhakti. (I hope to continue the
   series soon; as always, I am guilty of lethargy.)

3. jnAna-kANDa - an example of this would be the famous nAsadIya sUkta.
   sAyaNa's commentary on this is revealing and brings out the full
   import of the sUkta.

I agree that the R^ig Veda is verily an ocean of treasures; one comes
up with a pearl everytime one dives into it! As to why Shankara does
not quote extensively from it seems to be a mystery, but my guess is that
he wanted to use quotes that are very explicit in their message, with
one interpretation. Had he used R^ig vedic quotes, he would have had to
explain why his jnAna-oriented interpretation must be used in preference
to those that are karma and upAsana based. Moreover, the saMhitA is
considered as belonging to the karma-kANDa by the mImAMsakas, and not as
VedAnta. In order to convince them, he would have had to first show
that the saMhitA contained jnAna portions too, which would have been
somewhat tangential to his task. This is my conjecture.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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