[Advaita-l] Difference in the approaghes of Madhacharya and Shankaracharya

Srinath Vedagarbha svedagarbha at gmail.com
Fri Aug 19 13:07:15 CDT 2016

On Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 12:43 PM, Sunil Bhattacharjya via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Dear friends,
> Kindly permit me to put before you the following assessment, given by
> late C.R.Krishna Rao, a staunch Dvaitin, in pp.74-75 of his book  "Madhva
> and Brahmatarka" .
> <Samkara generally restricts himself to the Upanishads for his
> authorities. Madhva on the other hand draws his quotations from the Vedas,
> the Upanishads, the pancharatras, the puranas, the Mahabharataand other
> authritative works. Some of the moot points have been clearly explained in
> the Smriti literature, and Madhva makes free use of it.>
> Krishna Rao then goes on to say " The need for quotations from sources
> other than the Upanishads  to explain the Upanishadic texts seems obvious.
> This clearly shows that Dvaitins prefer to explain Para-vidya with
> Apara-vidya.

Well, there is a very valid reason for this.

An interpretation of shruti based on some other shruti has to be preferred
to one that is based on the purANas. The latter has to be preferred to one
given without the aid of purANas (or in opposition to purANas). We have
multiple statements in itihAsa and purANas to that effect:

MB Adi-parva has this position --

itihAsapurANAbhyAM vedaM samupabR^iMhayet |
  bibhetyalpashrutAd vedo mAmayaM pratariSyati ||

There are similar verses in many purANAs. This is the prime reason for
preferring an interpretation based on purANas over others and not because
purANAs were authored by Sri Vedavyasa. Similarly, the Mahabharata
attributes flawlessness to Pancharatras, so an interpretation based on such
should be preferred to a free-flow interpretation.

Before we go to the issues concerning purANas, let's look at this verse
from Brahma-purANa:

  tribhAShAM yo na jAnAti rItInAM shatameva cha |
  vyatyAsAdIn sapta bhEdAn vedAdyarthaM tu yo vadet.h |
  sa yAti nirayaM ghoramanyathAj~nAnasambhavam.h ||

Though Sri Madhva says that this verse is from axaNa shAstra, his
commentator Sri Trivikrama Pandita quotes the same from BrahmapurANa. The
bhAShAs spoken of here -- guhya, samAdhi and darshana -- aren't separate
languages, but different levels of looking at the shruti text. The same
shruti text can be used to get knowledge at the Adhibhautika, Adhidaivika
and AdhyAtmic levels. This, in a way, fixes the eligibility criteria
(adhikAra) of an interpretor.

Regarding your characterization of puranas as apara vidya, it is not
We note that the referrent of the word 'purANA' mentioned in the Chandogya
(7.1.2), Brihadaranyaka (2.4.9) and a host of other vedic texts (like the
Maitreyi-araNyaka, gopatha brAhmaNa) is the set of texts that are prevalent
as purANas. Likewise with itihAsa. Thus, what we know as itihAsa and purANa
are considered allied literature by shrutis themselves. Thus, we can use
these texts to interpret shruti.

On the counter criticism, one can argue Shanakara in many places summons
evidence (for his position) as 'sampradAyavit' without really quoting any
such ancient/recent 'sampradAyains' and/or their works. In contrast, Madhva
always cites very specific texts (apourusheya and/or pourusheya) as


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