Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed May 17 17:47:28 CDT 2000

I disagree with some of the statements below:
----Original Message Follows----
From: "Bhaskar Y.R." <bhaskar.yr at IN.ABB.COM>

Bhaskar: Sripada   Shankaracharya  had  projected  the  verse,  'tat  tvam
asi'  as  the
VA: First of all, it is a misconception that Bhagvatpada was the one who
started the notion of Mahavkyas. These were so regarded even before him. For
instance, the extant fragments of Brahmadatta indicate that he also accepted
certain statements as Mahavakyas. While the Vaishnavas might dismiss
Brahmadatta as a 'Jratmayavadin' (as Sri Sudarshana Suri does in his
Srutaprakashika), there were nevertheless other Acharyas before Bhagvatpada
who held this notion as well, and who are accepted as authorities by the
Vaishnava teachers as well. A study of the Chatuhssutri portion of Shri
Bhashya of Sri Ramanujacharya indicates that Vakyakara Brahmanandin and
Dramida also accepted some statements as Mahavakyas-- Sri Ramanuja is at
pains to prove that the Advaitins 'misuse' or 'misinterpret' these
Mahavakyas. From the Advaitin texts also, we discern the same. For instance,
in the Mundaka Upanishad Bhasya of Bhagvatpada, he quotes a statement
"siddham tu nivartakatvat" (quoting from memory) which is identified as a
'Vakya' (from Brahmanandin) in the Ishtasiddhi by Vimuktatman, and as a
statement from the Dramidabhashya by Anandagiri in his Tippana on the MU
Bhashya. This citation from the Vakyakara (or the Dramidabhasya) is usually
interpreted to mean that the Mahavakyas are efficacious. A decade ago, I
read a pre-Shankara Jaina text that stated that the Aupanishadas have 5
Mahavakyas. It list them and 3 were identical whereas the 4th had a minor
variant. (I do not recall the name of the Jaina text, it is sitting in my
home in India). In short, like many other older concepts (another example
being the story of the prince and the hunter), Advaitins wove many ancient,
pre-Shankaracharya concepts into their Darshana.

Bhaskar: But  "Aum" or "Om" is the Pranava-mantra as well as the Maha-vakya,
as  far  as the Vedic Scriptures are concerned.
Vishal: This does not preclude the designation of other sentences as
Mahavakyas. In addition, I want to emphasize that the usage of term 'Vedic
Scriptures' used by ISCKON is highly misleading. While all Hindu scriptures
(except the cearly anti-Vedic ones) might be called Vedic scriptures, the
term Vedic is typically not used to cover the Puranasm Agamas, Itihasas etc.
And when we do so, tradition itself specifies the use of Mangalacharanas
other than OM for 'non Vedic' texts. For instance, the Sukla-Yajurveda
Sarvanukrama Sutras state: "Omkar Vedeshu, Athakara Bhashyeshu" meaning that
the Vedas are prefixed with OM and the Bhashyas by 'atha'. As we all know,
section after section even in the Upanishad etc., starts with the word

Bhaskar: The
verse "Om tat sat" is always used in conjunction with "Om tad visnoh".
Vishal: This is unclear to me. The words 'Tad Vishnoh' are the 'pratika' of
a favorite mantra from Rigveda Mandala 1, Adhyaya 2 (do not remember where
exactly) viz. "Tad vishnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti...." In the RV, the
Agneya mantras are typically placed in the beginning, followed by Aindra
suktas followed by Saraswati/Vishnu Suktas (to make a very inaccurate
generalization). And the reason for this is stated in the very openning
sections of 'Aitreya Brahmana". To paraphrase from memory, it states that
there is only one Agni, which is threefold-
As Agni in Prithivi
As Indra/Vayu in Anatariksha
As Vishnu in the Dyuloka
It is in this sense that Sri Vishnu is called the 'Parama Pada', and there
is no rule that 'Om tat sat' has to be used in conjunction with Vishnu
alone. For that matter, the word Sat is used for Agni in the famous mantra
'Indram mitram varunamagni mahuh..." RV I.164.46

Bhaskara: This is confirmed by Srila Madhvacharya as
Vishal: As of now, the Gaudiya Vedanta Sampradaya traces its lineage from
Sri Madhvacharya very often. However, a closer look at the historical
sources shows that this happened only after Sri Baladeva (the author of the
Govinda Bhashya- which draws heavily from the Madhvabhashya on the
Brahmasutras) joined the Sampradaya-- or a little around his time. Prior to
that, it appears that Sri Ramanuja was considered the main source of
inspiration. I am not saying this because of my own biases, but because I
was requested to review a book (written by an ex-follower of Srila
Bhaktivedanta) which proved this by drawing upon numerous sources. I do
confess, that I have no independent opinion on this matter because of my own
hazy knowledge of the subject, but if you wish, I can email you the name of
the author (the book will be published in future) and you can seek the
details from him.

Bhaskar: As  for the projection that 'tat tvam asi' is the Maha-vakya, it is
unacceptable as  long  as  one complies with the authority of the Vedic
Vishal: As above

Bhaskar: [.....]All performances of sacrifice, charity and penance should
also  be  begun with Om. Considering all these facts as in the Vedic
one cannot but to accept this whole-heartedly.
Vishal: True, but how does that negate the idea that some chosen sentences
can be treated as Mahavakyas and contemplated upon/acted upon?

Other list members have already said a lot and I will not repeat that. But
before comparing the teachings of Srila Prabhupada with those of
Vedantacharyas, we need to ask the question: Are the Hare Krishnas Hindus at
all or not? From what they tell me, Srila himself stated clearly that "We
are not Hindus". If so, that his Darshana becomes a 'Nastika mata' and a
discussion of the same falls outside the scope of the list.

Best regards

Vishal Agarwal
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bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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