[Advaita-l] Acarya Shankara is not a blind follower of theScriptures

K Kathirasan NCS kkathir at ncs.com.sg
Tue Feb 1 19:12:56 CST 2005

Namaste Siddharthaji,

I do agree with you. G Kannan in his book 'Understanding Karma Kanda' gives a nice simile for the Vedas. He compares it with a tree:

Tree - Samhita
Branches - brahmanas
Unripe fruits - aranyaka
Ripe fruits - upanishads

If we look at it this way, then we may not have a problem. Recently while studying the book by Dr CL Prabhakar on the Shukla Yajur Veda, I realized that there are many mantras of the Upanishads in the Samhita itself. It is not that the Upanishads are texts that have no connection with the Samhitas. In fact the Upanishads are born from the contemplation of the mantras in the Samhita. Morever, Ishavasya and brhadaranyaka upanishads are found in the Samhita and Aranyaka respectively. To be sure, only the Samhita is revealed per se or what the mantra drshtas saw. The rest (brahmana, aranyaka & upanishad) is born from it. 

-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org [mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org] On Behalf Of sidha at omkarananda-ashram.org
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2005 10:07 PM
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Subject: [Advaita-l] Acarya Shankara is not a blind follower of theScriptures

Respected Kartik Ji,

>>>>>>>If you note VAchaspati Mishra's commentary, every time he 
with Shankara, he provides **quotes from shruti and smR^iti** that bear out his view. VAchaspati Mishra doesn't say, "I disagree with Shankara because I don't like what he is teaching", which is blasphemy!

Neither do I say that. My point is that there are some points where I differ from the standpoint of Bhagavan Adi Shankara. Let me tell you where. It seems like, I again say it seems like, because I can't remember Shankara saying that clearly, but he has simply followed the Mimamsakas, Acarya Shankara accepts that all the 4 Vedas only contain rituals and not any Adhyatmika teachins. Even though myself I'm a firm Advaita Vedanta and I can give you proofs of Advaita Vedanta in the Rig-veda, which shows that only this philosophy is Vedic, it seems like traditionally Advaita Vedantins assert the rest of the Vedas (not the Upanishads) to be a part of the rituals and nothing to do with spirituality. At least this is what I was again and again told by my traditional masters, till I first started to learn the Rig-veda in year 2000, when I started to doubt that explanation that so called 96 thousand Mantras only deal with Karma or Upasana????????????? Such a statement is in fact a blasphemy which scholars have been doing since thousands of years. One can see traces even in the Nirukta and Patanjala Mahabhashya, where Yaska and Patanjali firmly opposes such views. They in fact discouraged me from reading the Samhitas, saying that they are of no use for those who are seeking Moksha. A recent statement by Shri Jaladhar ji was also a similar one. My full-time study of the Rig-veda in the past 4 years, clearly shows that whatever we see in the Upanishads, is just a clear commentary on the very obscure Mantras of the Vedas. The Sun of knowledge in the Vedas is far more radiant than the Sun of knowledge in Upanishads, Gita and Brahmasutra. So whatever I'm saying is based on the Shruti and on my own understanding and logic, that is why I disagree with Shankara, not in his philosophy, but in this particular aspect. I hope this makes it clear. However, I would like to add here that Shankara doesn't really say something like that, on the contrary he has praised the Rig-veda very very much in the BrahmaSutra Bhashya 1-1-2.

>>>>Can you please provide reasons for the above assertion?

Shankara himself states, "if the Shruti would tell us that the fire is cold, would Shruti be considered authentic?". I say that Shankara is not a blind follower of the Shruti in the sense that he doesn't simply believe what the Shruti says, he also follows his rational mind. In places like Chandogya Bhashya 1-2-1 (he provides a very different meaning of the words Deva and Asura) and Isha Bhashya 9,8 (He provides  a very different significance of the terms Vidya and Avidya_ Shankara doesn't take the words of the Shruti verbally, but he gives a rational explanation. This is what makes him so special. Even though Shvetashvatara Upanishad clearly glorifies Bhagavan Kapila, he is the greatest opponent of Shankara in the Brahmasutras. In Aparokshanubhuti Shankara clearly condemns the standpoint so clearly mentioned in the Gita and Chandogya Upanishad regarding Prarabdha. (Shloka
Shankara clearly states in the Gita (13-2) Bhashya, " a person knowing all the scriptures, but not knowing the tradition, should be considered a fool". In Kenopanishad (2-4) Vakya Bhashya and its Ananda Giri commentary it is clearly concluded that "knowledge of the Brahman arising from the scriptures is objective (vishayatvena or paroksha), and thus it is not true knowledge, only subjective realization is true knowledge". That is why I'm saying that Shankara is not at all a blind follower of the Scriptures.

>>>>>>>>But you do see that if your reasoning goes against shruti and
it cannot be accepted.

Hence, I'm not reasoning against Shruti, but I'm reasoning according to the Rig-veda Shruti.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> As per pUrva mImAmsA,
the Vedas are *eternal*, meaning that they have neither a beginning nor an end with time. The idea of scriptures having been "created (by an omniscient being)" is Buddhist, and KumArila argues against such an attitude towards the Vedas.

I don't know if you would say this if you carefully read the Bhashya on the Sutra 1-1-3, where Bhagavan Bhashyakara clearly uses the term "sambhava". If you would look into the Bhamati there you would realize that the standpoint of Vyasa is different from Kumarila in this regard. He clearly mentions that even though Mimamsakas accept that the Vedas are Anadi, the followers of Vyasa don't agree with that. I think that standpoint of Vedanta is far more logical than that of the Mimamsakas. Love, Siddhartha Krishna

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