[Advaita-l] essays by Sri.Vidhusekhara Bhattacharya ??

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Aug 19 03:13:09 CDT 2013

On Sun, 18 Aug 2013, Venkata sriram P wrote:

> Namaste Advaitins,
> I am in search of Sri.Vidhusekhara Bhattacharya who was a great scholar 
> in mimamsa, tarka and vedanta.  He was a great thinker too.

I'm not familiar with his traditional scholarship but Vidhushekhara 
Bhattacharya is well known amongst Indologists as a scholar specializing 
in Buddhism.  His relevance to Advaita Vedanta is that he published a
critical edition and translation of the Mandukya Karikas ("The Agama 
Shastras of Gaudapada" republished by Motilal Banarsidass, 1989) which 
makes the case that Gaudapadacharya is referring to the Buddha and Advaita 
Vedanta itself is an offshoot of Buddhism.  Needless to say Advaitins 
vehemently disagree with this thesis.  Even historians who don't have a 
particular stake in the controversy have found Bhattacharya to be rather 
sloppy in his use of evidence.

> He wrote some scholarly essays on mImAmsA sutras of "bAdari" (not the 
> bAdarAyaNa). As per Bhattacharya, he showed the pramANAs for the 
> upanayana of shUdrAs and their participation in vaidika karma kANDa as 
> per the bAdari sUtrAs vide series 6.1.25 to 6.1.38.

Like all of these reformer types, Bhattacharya has a penchant for making 
rather large mountains out of the tiniest of molehills.  Here is what 
those Mimamsa sutras actually say.

chAturvarNyamavisheShAt || 25 ||

"[The right to Vedic karma belongs] To all four Varnas without qualification"

This is the pUrvapakSha view.  All four varNas are allowed to perform 
yajnas (which are the archetypes for all other Vedic karmas.)

nirdeshAdvA trayANAM syAdagnyAdheye.asaMbandhaH kratuShubrAhmaNashrutetityAtreyaH || 26 ||

"But teaching establishing agni for the three [dvija varnas] only is 
given therefore [the Shudra] has no relation to the sacrifice.  This is 
the purport of the Brahmana [text] says Atreya."

This is the siddhAnta. According to the brAhmaNa portion of shruti where 
the agni sthApana which is the prerequisite for the entire sacrificial 
system is explained, specific times are given.  A brAhmaNa should establish 
agni in vasantaR^itu, a rAjanya in griShma, and a vaishya in sharada. 
No mention is given of a time for shUdras therefore Atreya says the 
inference is that they have no connection to agnyAdhAna and therefore to 
the rest of the kratus.

nimittArthe na bAdaristasmAtsarvAdhikaraM syAt || 27 ||

"No, only in the special case [ of agnyAdhAna are times for the 
traivarNikas given] so it follows that all have adhikara."

bAdari says that the mention of specific times for the traivarNikas is a 
special feature of the agnyAdhAna ceremony only not stated as a general 
rule.  So the general rule should be that a shUdra or any other person who 
is not a brAhmaNa, kShatrIya or vaishya can establish agni at any time.

Note:  this sUtra and the one before it are the only ones with named 
authors.  It is reasonable to assume bAdari is the pUrvapakShin and Atreya 
the siddhAntin throughout the adhikaraNa but it is not explicitly stated.

api va.anyArthadarshanAdyathAshrutipratIyet || 28 ||

"Not so, look at the same evidence laid down in other shrutis."

A rejoinder to the argument in 27 is that this is not the only place where 
three varnas are mentioned to the exclusion of the shUdras. (The 
commentators give many examples.)  If agnyAdhAna were the only situation 
it could be dismissed as an anomaly.  However the prevalence of similar 
restrictions shows that if anything the general rule is the opposite of 
what the pUrvapakSha contends.

nirdeshAttu pakShe syAt || 29 ||

"But the teaching suggests the other side."

Here the objector tries a different tack suggesting the overall purport of 
the Vedas supports his viewpoint.  This is followed by several arguments 
for his thesis.

vaiguNyAnneti chet || 30 ||

"If it is argued 'No by reason of disability...'"

na kAmyatvAt || 31 ||

"...Not so because desire is there."

Note: This sUtra completes the thought begun in 30 so it seems to me 
they should be one but for some reason all the traditional pATha splits 
them into two separate sUtras.

It is a basic doctrine of mImAmsA that the basis of karma is the desire of 
attaining a specific goal.  E.g. in the general case, a desire to reach 
heaven.  shUdras as much as anyone else are capable of desiring various 
goals.  And they have all the instruments, arms, legs, the ability to 
reason etc. needed to do whatever is needed to accomplish those goals. 
You cannot claim that they are lacking in that way. So prima facie they 
should be able to do perform the yajnas because the Veda is the source of 
the fulfillment of all desires.

saMskAre cha tatpradhAnatvAt || 32 ||

"And [lack of] saMskAra [is not a bar] because that is the principal 

The pUrvapakShin anticipates an objection that shUdras are not entitled to 
upanayana saMskAra by claiming that it is not necessary because it is the 
desire of the yajamAna and his ability to act on that desire which is the 
principal qualification.


> According to bAdari, even shUdrAs are also called "dwijAs" after their 
> upanayana samskAra as mentioned in the above sUtrAs.

is nonsense.  bAdari (or whoever the pUrvapakShin is) agrees that shUdras 
cannot get upanayana.  His argument is that it doesn't matter.

api vA vedanirdeshAdapashUdrANAM pratIyate || 33 ||

"Not so, the teaching of the Vedas is that only non-shUdras are 

The siddhAntin begins his rebuttal.

guNArthitvAnneti chet || 34 ||

"If it is argued '[his] qualities are based on desire' it is not so."

Merely having the desire to attain some goal is not enough.  There must 
also be skill and competence.

saMskArasya tadarthatvAdvidyAyAM puruShashrutiH || 35 ||

"Concerning the saMskara, it is for the purpose of knowledge"

And that skill and competence come from knowledge of the Veda.  Vedic 
education begins with upanayana which the shUdras have no adhikara for.

vidyanirdeshanneti chet || 36 ||

"if it is argued 'the teaching of the vedas allows [Vedic] knowledge [for 
the Shudra', it is not so."

The opponent might say "very well if upanayana is a prerequisite let the 
shUdra undergo it"

Note:  This is only a concession on the part of the opponent who real 
opinion as stated in 32.  Hardly a sign of some hoary tradition of 
upanayana for shUdras.

Anyway, this is not tenable because...

avaidyatvAdabhAvaH karmaNi syAt || 37 ||

"Being unentitled to learn [the shUdra has] no capacity to perform karmas"

Shruti says the a brAhmaNa should undergo upanayana in vasantaR^itu, a
rAjanya in griShma, and a vaishya in sharada.  (there is that triple 
again.)  There is no specification for upanayana for shUdras therefore 
they have no capacity to perform the karmas which require vedic knowledge.

tathA anyathArthadarshanam || 38 ||

"Also we see other texts [that say the same]"

As well as the above negative inference, there are shrutis that explicitly 
prohibit reciting in front of a shUdra.  Thus the final conclusion is that 
shUdras are not entitled to perform Vedic karmas.

Note: this whole discussion only applies to Vedic karma.  It says nothing 
about the adhikAra or not for purAnokta or tantrokta karma.

> Sri Vidhusekhara Bhattacharya also refers the shAbara bhASya for 
> mimAmsa who too supported the participation of shUdrAs in yajnAs (vide 
> shabara & karka bhASya).

Having said all that, there are two specific instances where shUdras can 
perform Vedic karmas.  This is utterly non-controversial and is in fact 
discussed in the exact same pada of the mImAmsAsUtras and also in the 
paribhAShA sUtras of the kAtyAyanashrautasUtras which karkopAdhyAya 
commented on.  So it is mistifying why his name and shabaraswAmi are 
singled out when all mImAmsakas would agree.  These cases are a man of the 
rathakAra (chariotmaking) caste which are non dvIja is entitled to perform 
agnyAdhAna in varShAR^itu and the king (sthapati) of the naiShadas 
(An adivAsi tribe. nala of nala-damayanti fame was a naishadasthapati) is 
entitled to perform rudreShTi.  But these are "exceptions that prove the 
rule."  The very fact that they have to be explicitly mentioned proves 
there is no general adhikAra for shUdras.

> In darshapUrNamAsa iSTi, while approaching the "haviSkrut" (the one who 
> prepares the havish), a brAhmaNa should approach the haviSkrut and asks 
> for it with the pada "Ehi"; similarly, a kSatriya should ask with the 
> pada "Agahi"; similarly, the vaishya should ask with the pada "Adrava" 
> and a shUdra should ask the havish with the pada "AdhAma".  This is 
> mentioned even in shatapatha brAhmaNa (vide 1-1-4-2).

Actually it is not.  Here is the exact text from kaNDikas 11-12.

atha haviShkR^itamudvAdayati | haviShkR^idehi haviShkR^idehiti vAgvai 
haviShkR^iduvAchamevaitadvisR^ijate vAgu vai yaGYastadyaGYamevaitatpunarupahvate || 11 ||

"Now calling the haviShkRit.  'Come haviShkRit, come haviShkRit' is said. 
The haviShkRit verily is vAk [speech] so saying '[come] haviShkRit' frees 
vAk.  vAk verily is yajna so [by this procedure] the yajna is again called 
to him [the yajamAna]

tAni vA.etAni | chatvAri vAcha ehIti brAhmaNasyAgahyAdraveti vaishyasya 
cha rAjanyabandhoshchAdhAveti shUdrasya sa yadeva  brAhmaNasya 
tadAhaitaddhi yaGYiyatamametadu ha vai vAchaH shAntatamaM yadehIti 
tasmAdehItyeva brUyAt ||

"Of this [call] there are four [variations] ehi to a brAhmaNa, 
Agahi and Adrava to a vaishya and rAjanyabandhu [i.e. kShatriya.]
respectively[1] and  Adhava[2] to a shUdra. Here only the brAhmaNa [call 
is used] as it is the most fit for yajna and most peaceful therefore let 
him [the yajamana] say ehi only."

[1] You got the order reversed.

[2] not AdhAma

The implication is that only a brAhmaNa can be the haviShakR^it. 
Actually in shuklayajurveda tradition the agnidhR^i priest or less 
typically the yajamanas dharmapatni serves in this office.  If I 
understand the sayaNabhAShya correctly the Apastambhas also allow a male 
or female of any varna who is a servant of the yajamana to be 

> Shabara Swami also advises the diksha vidhi for shudras who are 
> participating in vaidika karma kANDa and instructs them to have only 
> "dadhi" (curd) prepared from vyAghra-kSeera (milk of tiger) and

I doubt it but you haven't given a citation so I cannot check.  Certainly 
for the haviShkR^it no special diksha is prescribed or needed.

> further goes to the extent that even shUdrAs have got the adhikAra for 
> sOma-pAna (vide shatapatha brAhmaNa

Again this is rather an exaggeration.  The context is a discussion of 
performance of the sautramaNi yajna, why there are offerings to the 
ashvinas, saraswatI, and indra and how it is the prayAschitta if the 
yajamana has a bad reaction to the soma during some other yajna.  It is 
also an a~Nga of the rAjasUya yajna.

To this end the myth is told how Indra killed his enemy vishvarUpa the son 
of tvAShtR^i.  tvAShtR^i was angry and when he brewed [literally 
"pressed"] soma he did not share any with indra.  indra being indra came 
and drank it up anyway but became violently sick yet was unable to vomit. 
It is at this juncture shrUti observes

chatvAro vai varNAH | brahmaNo rAjanyo vaishyaH shUdro na 
haiteShAmekeshana bhavati yaH somaM vamati sa 
yaddhaiteShAmekaschitsyAtsyaddhaiva prAyaschittaH || 9 ||

"Verily there are four varNas, brAhmaNa, rAjanya vaishya and shUdro and 
not one of them indeed vomits soma; if even one of them were to do so it 
would be a prayaschitta."

You could infer from this that shUdras drank soma (not a stretch as it is 
a plant growing wild in nature after all) but It is clearly not 
establishing an adhikAra but emphasizing that vomitting soma is not a 
likely way to get over a bad reaction to it and so not a good 
prayaschitta.  Therefore someone in this situation should perform the 
sautrAmaNi instead.

> I want to read in original what exactly is written in that.

You are right to be skeptical.  People ask me why I always have such a low 
opinion of reformers but I've yet to come accross one who wasn't a liar or 
a buffoon.

This also illustrates the importance of learning shastras and sanskrit to 
avoid being misled by these types.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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