[Advaita-l] Samit Pani

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Nov 6 22:30:42 CST 2013

On Fri, 25 Oct 2013, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> Namaste
> In Prashna Upanisad the Brahma Jnaninaha like Bharadwaja'son Sukesha,
> Satyakama, Sauryayani, Ashvalayana Kausalya, Bhargava and Katyayana
> Kabandhi  the six Brahma Nishthas approached the Guru Pipplada with Samit
> sticks in hands.

First thing, were these six actually jnanis?  Prashna 1.1 describes them 
as brahmaparA brahmaniShTA.h paraM brahmAnveShamANA ("intent on brahman, 
abiding in brahman, seeking the highest brahman") so they were certainly 
advanced but perhaps not at the top level. E.g. They were "seeking the 
highest brahman." and after all they are coming to PippalAda to resolve 
their doubts.

> In Upanisads the disciple will approach his Guru with fuel sticks in hand.
> Why?

On Sun, 27 Oct 2013, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> Namaste
> There will be four conditions .
> A Householder disciple with fuel sticks in hand is approaching householder
> Guru.
> B Sanyasi disciple with fuel sticks is approaching householder Guru.
> C Householder disciple with fuel sticks is approaching Sannyasi Guru.
> D Sanyasi disciple with fuel sticks is approaching Sanyasi Guru.

> E Brahmachari disciple with fuel sticks is approaching Householder Guru.
> F Brahmachari disciple with fuel sticks is approaching Sanyasi Guru.

The answer according to the upanishad itself is F.  (It could also be E 
but I'm going by what the tikakar has said according to Shri 

tAnha sa R^iShiruvAcha bhUya eva tapasA brahmacharyeNa shraddhayA 
saMvatsaraM saMvatsyatha yathAkAmaM prashnAnpR^icchata (1.2 first part.)

"That Rishi said to them, '[though you have already done so] live 
with me again for one year with tapas, brahmacharya, and faith then ask 
me as many questions as you please.'"

Although standards have fallen and most only do this perfunctorily isn't 
samiddana part of the upanayana samskara that marks the entry into 
brahmacharya ashrama to this very day?  Isn't it a recognized part of the 
nityakarma of a brahmachari according to all dharmashastras?

Elsewhere in this thread other posters have given explanations of how this 
is a symbol of some sort.  To which Bhaskar replied:

On Mon, 28 Oct 2013, Bhaskar YR wrote:

> It is a good esoteric explanation indeed.  But I am really wondering do we
> really need symbolical explanations like this for each and every utterance
> of shruti?  I dont think so!!   we dont  have to read too much into 'samit
> pANi' issue, when 'vishaya' in this shruti statement is something else.
> This maNtra saying how important it is to have  a brahma nishTa guru in
> brahma jignAsa and indispensability of the shrOtreeya / brahmanIshTa guru
> in brahma jignAsa.  Here vishaya vAkya is not about : 'what  shishya
> should hold in his  hand or what he should  wear when approaching a guru,
> but here insistence and importance is all about having a brahma nishTa
> guru by a shishya in brahma jignAsa.

I agree with this.  Shankaracharya explains in his prashnopaniShadbhAShya 
that this whole story of the asking of questions and their answer is an 
arthavada for the purpose of glorifying vidya. 
(R^iShiprashnaprativachanAkhyAyikA tu vidyAstutaye )  It indicates that 
jnana is earned by tapas, brahmacharya, and shraddha, serving at the feet 
of a sarvajna guru.  As with arthavada in general, a specific situation is 
used to illustrate a more general principle.

On Sun, 27 Oct 2013, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

>  He will give the fuel sticks to the Guru. The Guru is not be a
> Sanyasi. He may perform many Yajnas and he is teaching Brahma Jnana to
> disciples. Sanyasis cannot perform Yajnas and fire rituals like this.

Grhasthas do not perform the samitdana of a Brahmachari either.  But they 
are given the samit because acharya is the one who teaches achara.  It is 
from the acharya that the brahmachari will learn what to do with the 
samit.  So it is a sign of vinaya (good manners and conduct) to present 
the teacher with the implements of learning.  What ashram the teacher 
himself belongs to and whether he can use them himself or not is not 

On Sat, 26 Oct 2013, V Subrahmanian wrote:

> In the Anandagiri gloss for the bhashya on the said Mundaka mantra 1.2.12,

Note that it is relevant to quote the muNDakopaniShadbhAShya in this 
regard because the muNDaka and prashna have a close relationship.  The 
former belongs to the saMhitA of the atharvaveda and the latter to the 
brAhmaNa.  The cover the same topics.

> it is said: 'samitpANiH iti vinayopalakShaNam.'  [The expression
> 'samitpANiH' is a representative indication for the humility of the
> aspirant approaching the Guru].  The editor Sri Subrahmanya Sastri in the
> foot note says:
> // By the word 'brahmaniShTha' the BhashyakAra indicates that he is a
> sannyAsin.  Then, what is the use of going to such a one with samit which
> is of no use to him? In order to answer this Anandagiri says that it is an
> upalakShaNa, representative indication, to the aspirant's vinaya,
> humility.  SamitpANitvam on the part of the aspirant will be directly
> appropriate in the case of those householder-brahmaniShTha-s such as
> Janaka, yAjnavalkya and angiras. //

I thinks this finally settles the subject.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list