[Advaita-l] Re: itihAsa purANa in the bR^ihadAraNyaka

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Sat Jul 29 20:40:47 CDT 2006

On 7/28/06, Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com> wrote:
> praNAm.h rAmAji,
>         Thanks a lot for clarifying shaN^kara's and sAyaNa's position
> on the reference to "itihAsapurANaH". Two questions:
> -- What would be the position on how the reference to the
> "itihAsapurANaH" would have been interpreted before the mahAbhArata
> was composed? Could it be assumed that the itihAsas and purANas (in
> the sense of histories and mythologies) are always treated as a fifth
> vEda (irrespective of which particular works are referred to by the
> words itihAsa and purANa)?

To answer this question in detail, I'll have to quote Sankara and
Sureshvara who take opposing views in the bR^ihad bhAShya and vArtika.
I'll try to provide this later.

> -- Another question is regarding some statements (you can find this in
> the Adi parva of the mahAbhArata from gangUli's translation) in the
> mahAbhArata like the following:
> "In former days, having placed the four Vedas on one side and the Bharata
> on the other, these were weighed in the balance by the celestials
> assembled for that purpose. And as the latter weighed heavier than the
> four Vedas with their mysteries, from that period it hath been called in
> the world Mahabharata (the great Bharata). Being esteemed superior both
> in substance and gravity of import it is denominated Mahabharata on
> account of such substance and gravity of import. He that knoweth its
> meaning is saved from all his sins."
> What would be the traditional advaita vEdAntic position on this? Would
> this be treated as a case of smR^iti undermining the shR^iti, and
> hence deemed invalid? Would that not violate the sanctity given to the
> itihAsa by the vEda (ChAnDOgya) itself? Thanks.

The traditional position is that any sMR^iti derives validity only
when not in conflict with shruti. The traditional position also is
that sMR^iti rarely contradicts shruti. In any case, statement such as
above would be interpreted as an arthavaada to eulogize the
mahaabhaarata. If it is indeed to be interpreted literally, people
would have stopped chanting the vedas except for the "essential" parts
dealing with nitya karmas and started chanting the mahaabhaarata,
would they have not?


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