The sources of authority in Advaita Vedanta

ravi chandrasekhara vadhula at YAHOO.COM
Mon Mar 24 13:32:19 CST 2003

Dear List members,

Thanks for the response to my questions.  Jaldhar's
discussion below is one of the best explanations on
our varna-ashrama.  I have perused dvaita and
vishtadvaita list archives and they are in agreement
with Jaldhar's explanation.  In Hindu Dharma, Kanchi
Acharya gives an excellent explanation on varna
dharma.  Recently there was an article by Mr Gupta,
Indian ambassador to Finland, which stated our shatras
prohibit casteism which has led to debates on many
discussion groups.  These debates tend to focus on
veda-adhikara for non-dvijas, women, and foreigners.
The question is what adhikara do dvija bandhus and
dvija brasthas have with regards to what rituals they
can perform or can they marry from their respective
castes still, etc.

Dhanyavaad, Ravi Chandrasekhara
--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM> wrote:
> On Tue, 11 Mar 2003, Sanjay Verma wrote:
> > As was reinforced today:
> >
> > The following 3 prasthanas are accepted by all
> advaitins:
> >
> >  1. Sruti (namely the Upanishads) 2. Brahma Sutras
> 3. Bhagavad Gita
> >
> >
> >
> > best regards, K Kathirasan
> >
> >  Please help me understand. If these are the
> foundation texts, then do
> >  they not carry more weight in spiritual debates
> (of interpretation of
> >  Dharma) than those texts not mentioned on the
> list (e.g., epics,
> >  puranas, manusmriti)?
> >
> No why would you think that?  Just as a house needs
> a foundation, it also
> needs walls, doors, a roof etc.  These three are
> prasthanas in that they
> delimit the range of concepts that make up Advaita
> Vedanta.  However they
> are not the be all and end all of authority in
> Advaita Vedanta (which as I
> mentioned is Shruti, Smrti, and shishtachara).
> Shankaracharya as was
> mentioned earlier also quotes from several minor
> upanishads, the
> Mahabharata, several Puranas etc.  After him, there
> is a long line of
> commentators who may also quote other works.  I am
> curious as to why you
> feel the need to establish an "Advaita Bible?"  As I
> said in one of the
> very first posts, such a notion of canon is alien to
> our traditions.
> Furthermore you are also failing to consider that
> Dharma and Moksha are
> two seperate purusharthas in Advaita tradition.
> There is a little overlap
> in subject matter (as in the quote from Brahmasutras
> I am giving below.)
> but by and large they are two seperate subjects.  If
> you are looking in
> the wrong place, is it any wonder you don't find any
> evidence?
> > If you cannot accept my account of what He said, I
> respect your right to
> > your interpretation. For the purposes engaging in
> an edifying
> > disquisition, then please offer citations for a
> better account of what
> > Sri Krishna said. As mentioned, I have been
> quoting Bhagavadgita Bhashya
> > as translated by Dr. A.G. Krishna Warrier, and
> published by the Sri
> > Ramakrishna Math. If a debate is to educational,
> the it is not
> > sufficient to say that “I do not accept your
> account.” I am humbly
> > asking you (when you have time) to provide an
> account you deem to be
> > more consistent with Advaita Vedanta.
> It's not your account it's any account.  Krishna
> Bhagawan is a literary
> character.  (Note I didn't say fictional though if
> we are looking from a
> critical point we must be prepared to accept the
> possibility.)  What we
> know of Krishna Bhagawan is not "as it is" (despite
> the protestations of a
> recent commentator) but filtered through the prism
> of a particular
> tradition.  Thus if we are trying to determine what
> that tradition is,
> quoting one of its products as a source is a
> circular argument.
> On the other hand Shankaracharya is a historical
> person with a distinct
> body of work and fixed views.  Even his opponents
> know exactly what he
> stood for.
> > My postings refer to specific quotes, and it
> should not be difficult to
> > find competing interpretations.
> > All I ask is that opposition to my account of what
> Sri
> > Krishna said be drawn from the Foundation Texts as
> listed above – I ask
> > for this limitation because I have tried to limit
> my citations to the
> > Bhagavadgita Bhashya and the Upanishads.
> I repeat once again that this is an illegitimate
> method of interpretation.
> If you are going to cite anything, you should cite
> Manu, or Yajnavalkya,
> or Parashara.  The post that started this topic long
> before quoted
> the Dharmasutras of Apasthamba, Gautama, and
> Vasishtha,  Even there we saw
> a literal reading need not be taken but at least
> they are a valid starting
> point for Dharmajignasa as the Mimamsasutras put it.
> Anyway if it is the prasthanatrayi you want here is
> the apashudra
> prakarana of theBrahmasutras (I.3.34-38)  the
> question is are shudras (and
> by extension other non-dvijas,) entitled to learn
> the Vedas?
> The purvapaksha is yes becuse we have the examples
> of Janashruti and
> Satyakama Jabala.  In the Chandogyopanishad a king
> called Janashruti
> approaches the Brahman Raikva to learn brahmavidya
> and is called a Shudra
> and rebuffed.  When he asks a second time he is
> taught.  Satyakama Jabala
> is the boy you mentioned who didn't know who his
> father was.  (Note
> however tradition does not accept that his mother
> was a prostitute.)  He
> approaches Maharshi Gautama for instruction who asks
> him his lineage.
> When he truthfully answers that he doesn't know,
> Maharshi Gautama assumes
> he must be a Brahmana and teaches him.
> But according to Maharshi Vedavyasa, the Siddhanta
> is
> no because:
> 34. it refers to sorrow from hearing his insult.
> In the case of Janashruti means "sorrowful one" not
> it's conventional
> meaning of a member of the Shudra caste.  Because he
> was in sorrow when he
> approached Raikva Rshi, he was rebuffed and called
> shudra.  When he
> transcended his sorrow and came to him a second
> time, he was accepted.
> 35.  And because his Kshatriyahood is known through
> his relationship with
> the son of Chitrarath.
> How do we know the etymological meaning should be
> taken and not the
> conventional one?
> Further proof that he was not a Shudra by caste is
> the fact that he was
> actually a Kshatriya.  How do we know?  Because the
> Chandogyopanishad
> mentions his relationship to Chaitrarath Abhipratin
> who was a Kshatriya.
> In the Vedas only two people of equal rank are
> mentioned together.  (As
> well as singular and plural, Sanskrit has a dual
> number.)  How do we know
> Chaitraratha was a a Kshatriya?  Because
> Chaitraratha means the son of
> Chitraratha who is explicitly called a Kshatriya.
> (So there is no
> confusion, let me emphasize what is being said here.
>  The son of a
> Kshatriya is a Kshatriya.)
> 36. And sanskaras are mentioned, but for them their
> absence is declared.
> Another reason is given: Vedic study begins with the
> upanayana samskara
> (yajnopavita or janoi) In the Vedas (e.g in the
> Shatapathabrahmana which
> is a text I'm familiar with) the rules for upanayana
> are given for
> Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas.  No such rule
> is given for Shudras so
> the inference is they are not entitled.  Furthermore
> the masculine noun is
> used so we can infer that women aren't allowed
> either.
> 37.  And only after ascertaining the absence of that
> was
=== message truncated ===

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