[Advaita-l] Re: Questions on Isavasya - Delving into Taittiriya

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 29 01:00:55 CDT 2006

punah namaskAramulu Siddhartha gAru

  Before we get to Sri Sankara's interpretations, a word about the grammatical issues. I had horribly misspelt all the key words earlier, for the reason that my knowledge is infirm. The correct spellings are: Root is Bhuj (the same root from which bhojanam is derived); ParasmaipadI 3rd person, present singular is bhunakti; AtmanEpadI 3rd p, pr. sg. is bhu~Nkte. pANini's dhAthupATha defines the meaning as bhuj - pAlanAbhyavahArayoh (means protection and consumption). The parasmaipadI's usage should suggest protection (as the fruits of actions accrues to others, not agent) but bhunakti is regularly used to mean 'consume'.
Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:
    > Sri Sankara's system of intepretation: It is very well known that Sri Sankara's view
> is that only those parts of Scripture which reveal what is not known through
> pratyaxa is paramount.

But this is true even of karma kAnDa, let alone the GYAna kAnDa.
"agnihOtram juhuyAt.h svargakAmaH" tells that one attains svarga
through agnihOtra, which could not have been known through pratyakSha.

  - Yes, that we attain heaven on performing sacrifices is not pratyaxa and so Sruti pramANam should be taken.
  Then, why should the GYAna kAnDa be placed on a higher pedestal than
the karma kAnDa? Isn't that because it's an assumption of vEdAnta (any
school) that the GYAna kAnDa is more important in terms of mOkSha (as
opposed to, say, the mImAmsakas who place emphasis on the karma
  - No, apriori beliefs do not drive intepretation. The Truth guides. Now if the Sruti has many statements, all of them not accessible to pratyaxa, and yet if they are seemingly contradictory, what should prevail? A detailed note of the method of interpretation is given by Sri Sankara. We should understand the true meaning after considering factors such as the beginning, the end, emphasis, repetition, and mainly, the key import of the teaching, . Accordingly, when we try to grasp the key import, the ultimate teaching, i.e. the j~nAna kANDa prevails.

If we now take it as given that the GYAna kAnDa has to be given
pre-eminence over the karma kAnDa, what justifies some parts of the
GYAna kAnDa being given preference over the others (esp. when
statements about whether Isvara exists, whether brahma is saguNa or
nirguNa are all beyond the scope of pratyakSha)?

  - The unity of the overall teaching justifies preference being given to parts of j~nAna kANDA. Let us take an example and explore this further. 
  In the TaittirIya, the entire first valli is about upAsanas including sacrifices for intelligence and wealth and ends with a sort of convocation address where the teacher tells the students: 'satyam vada, dharmam chara' ...'mAtridevo bhava, pitridevo bhava, AchAryadevo bhava' .. respect learned people, etc. 
  This, Sri Sankara says, is preparation for what comes next: brahmaj~nAnam. Where earlier the sAdhaka asks for hirusite animals (lomaSAh - sheep), students (brahmachAriNah) etc. in the second valli we see that 'brahmavit Apnoti param' - the knower of brahman attains the ultimate. The second valli goes onto expand that statement, and ends with the exposition that brahmAnandam is 10 raised to the power of 22 times the happiness of a perfect (strong, young, wise, brave, healthy, no enemies etc.) king. 
  The third valli starts with a definition of brahman (given by VaruNa) and repeats what has been said in the second valli, but structured as the quest of Bhrigu, the son of VaruNa.
  Now, in the TaittirIya we see that the emphasis is clearly on the knowledge of brahman, not on seeking hirusite animals. While speaking the truth, conducting ourselves according to dharma, respecting parents, teachers, and the learned are all vihita dharmas that need to be followed, the knowledge of brahman is definitely 'higher'. Again bramhAnandam is not jprecisely equal to 10^22 times the happiness of a perfect king. It should be understood that it is immensely better than anything else that we could even imagine, that it is ultimately beyond definition or explanation. Elsewhere, bhoumA, establishes the same thing.
  Now, by definition, tradition, and common consent, upanishads are part of j~nAna kANDa. But we see that the scope is rather wide within one upanishat - the taittirIya. The unity of teaching, the main import, the central tenet, is to be understood as a) the seeker of brahman attains the ultimate; b) that brahman is satyam j~nAnam anantam; and c) that brahman is the origin of creation, sustainer of the created, and that into which the world dissolves.(or depending on the emphasis of the teacher, some few such statements.) What is the objection to such graded importance of j~nAna kANDa statements?
  If you observe, I have selected an example to which other believers would not object (and not statements like 'ekameva advitIyam' or 'tattvamasi'). I want to know how SikshA valli gets equal emphasis with other above highlighted statements? I believe - kind of intuitively, not just by logical thinking - it does not, and that therefore graded importance is tenable, and indeed the only way.
  For example, if madhva were to give an interpretation where all of
GYAna kAnDa were to be given equal emphasis (hypothetically), would
that not automatically undermine shaN^kara's claim that not all of
GYAna kAnDa should be given equal importance? 
  - Yes, if SrimanmadhvAchArya or (Sri Aditya of IIT, Madras for that matter with his 'chunkyvAda') gives such an interpretation, which withstands scrutiny, and is accepted by the learned, it undermines Sri Sankara's claim, and even his doctrine. 
  Many believe such an interpretation has not yet been offered.
  Best regards

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