[Advaita-l] ShAstra vs. shraddhA

Naresh Cuntoor nareshpc at gmail.com
Tue Jun 12 17:16:52 CDT 2012

In Gita 17.1, Arjuna raises a question - ye shAstra-vidhim utsRujya
shraddhayAnvitAH yajante, teShAM kA niShThA iti. The context to this
question is in the previous chapter which concludes with shAstraM pramANaM
te .. shAstravidhAnoktaM karma kartum arhasi.

Shankara Bhashya clarifies the question in 17.1 is about those who
shAstravidhAnaM .. parityajya yajante .. shraddadhAnatayA. And adds that it
refers to those who devAn pUjayanti without being aware of the shastra
(..kaMchit shAstram apashyantaH..).

Further, it is said that this question does not apply to those who ignore
shAstravidhi. Anandagiri makes this comment clear (..shAstrIyaM vidhiM
pashyantopi ..upekShya ..).

Consistent with the above, Ramanuja bhAShya also remarks that
ashAstravihitasya niShphalatvam ajAnan ashAstravihite shraddhAsaMyukte ...
Anandatirtha is perhaps the most dismissive of the others (i.e., those who
cannot claim that they ignored the shaastra because they were unaware -
ajnAtvA) and says, anyathA tu tAmasAH ityevochyate, i.e., bauddhAdInAm.

The chapter then goes on describe the three types of shraddhA and the types
of yajna, dAna, tapas and AhAra. Besides that the overall message of the
chapter seems to be that Om tat sat iti vAkyam is used by Brahmavadis
because of its profundity.

So, in effect, the three word nirdesha of Brahman (Om tat sat) then gives
carte blanche to ye shAstra-vidhim utsRujya shraddhayAnvitAH yajante.

Without the bhAShya clarification(s), one could arguably extend this weasel
clause to those who shAstrIyaM vidhiM pashyanto vA apashyanto vA upekShate,
is it not?

Doesn't the carte blanche (even in the limited context) go against the
spirit of the previous chapter's conclusion of tasmAt shAstraM pramANaM te?

Wouldn't consistency with the 16th chapter's conclusion demand a
shAstrajnAna-prayatna at least?

- Naresh

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