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Chaagapasunyaaya -- Q & A

From: Kasturi Varadarajan (
Date: Thu Apr 20 2000 - 15:14:50 PDT

Dear Friends,
     After Hari posted his article on the application of chaaga-pasu-nyaaya, 
I sent him a number of questions and comments to which he has responded. I 
enclose below these questions/comments and responses, along with fragments
of the original article. Apologies for the long post. Since I have only done 
the editing, the responsibility for any major errors is definitely 
Hari's. :-) 

     My summary of the whole thing as a layperson is this. When the vedas
use the word Narayana, it denotes the supreme being. This is so even when
a personality is being referred to. That is, the personality called 
Narayana is the personality of the supreme being. Thus Narayana is a
vedic name for the supreme being.

     Whereas with the words {Shiva, Indra, Rudra, Brahma} this is not the
case. The word `Shiva' is sometimes used to directly refer to the supreme
being. But sometimes it denotes the personality of an atman/being/jiva that is
different from the supreme being. At yet other times it denotes the
supreme being as the inner controller of the personality of a jiva called 

     The reason I have dared to summarize is to ask a question. I request
*one passage from Sruti* which is *universally accepted*
by all followers of the veda which implies/suggests that Rudra/Shiva
refers to a jiva and not the supreme being. That is, why can't Rudra, when 
being spoken of as a personality, be thought of as another personality of the 
supreme being? 

     For example, the passage "In the beginning was only Narayana, not
Brahma, not Isana" does suggest that Isana & Brahma do not denote
the supreme being here. But is this passage accepted as authoritative
by everybody? I should say that since this question just occured to
me, I have not posed it to Hari yet. I also have to emphasize that this
is only a question (and not a challenge since I know virtually nothing
of the veda). 

     Also I found a nice article by Mani on this topic:

          Chaaga Pasu Nyaaya & Supremacy of Shreeman Naaraayana
     "Nyaaya" is a Sanskrit terms almost meaning "Maxim". Numerous such 
     nyaayas are used in philosophical discussions and debates to ascertain 
     the purport of interpretations and arguments. These maxim help us to 
     understand certain elements that are beyond the comprehension of our 
     senses because they are in the form of citing examples which are already 
     known to us. Nyaaya is a component of philosophy system as far as those 
     schools of philosophical thoughts, which are based on Vedas. In this 
     article, I am going to explain a Poorva Meemaamsaa nyaaya called Chaaga 
     Pasu Nyaaya to ascertain the Supremacy of Shreeman Naaraayana as 
     declared by the Vedas.

comment: Is maxim the correct word to use? Perhaps `syllogism' or
`inference rule' is better? Please check dictionary.

response: What you say is acceptable. The words that you have suggested are
more appropriate than maxim.

                 Chaaga Pasu Nyaaya - explained

                    --  portion deleted --

     Analysis of Upanishad Texts - Important Kaarana & Chodaka Vaakyaas
     In the following paragraphs, important upanishad texts are going to be
     analyzed in the context of finding out who is identified as the Supreme 
     self in the Vedas. We will then subject this analysis with respect to 
     the chaaga pasu nyaayam, which is discussed above.   

Question: Before we proceed to understand which personality is identified 
with the supreme self, I want to know something. Are Narayana, Rudra, Indra, 
Vayu, Brahma distinct personalities of the veda? How can we distinguish one
from another? Are there any characteristics for each of them?

Response: "Naaraayana - Lord of Godess Lakshmi" is one personality.
He is alone having the charecteristic of "Ubhaya Lingam" - two
identifications namely "Ananta Kalyaana Gunaakaratvam" (Having as
attributes infinite divine qualities unique to himself) and "Akila
Heya Pratyanekatvam" (Untouched by all impurities of chit/achit though
he is present inside and outside all chit/achit) ("Apahata Paapma Divyo
Devaha Eko Naaraayana:). And "Jagat Kaaraanatvam" (Being the only cause of
the universe) and "Chatur Purushaartha Pradatvam" (he who grants all
the four purushaarthas dharma,artha,kaama & moksha) are characteristics
of Naaraayana. Rudra(Paarvathy Pathy), Indra, Vayu, Brahmaa(Chaturmuka) -- who
are some of the other personalities -- are not having these characteristics.
The material birth of Rudra, Indra etc are stated in the Veda as per their 
karma. It is stated in the Veda that "Rudra(Paarvathy Pathy) is the son of 
Brahmaa. Rudra began to cry and asked his father (Chaturmuka Brahmaa) to give 
him names so that he BECOMES purified and Brahmaa named him and gave him 
powers". Also the Veda says "Brahmaa was born to Naaraayana from his mercy and
Rudra from his wrath". Rudra BECAME "Mahadeva" and "Siva" by doing
a sacrifice(Sarvamedha) by the mercy of Naaraayana. Rudra is called
"Siva" because he carries the Ganges which is the water flowing from
Hari's feet and BECAME pure. Brahmaa got his knowledge from Naaraayana
regarding Veda as stated in Veda. Similarly Indra and Vayu.

     The upanishads otherwise known as Vedanta explains the Brahman's Swaroopa
     (reality), Roopa (form), Guna (Charecteristics/attributes/qualities),
     Vibhuthi-Iswaryam (Lordship). The upanishad texts are broadly classifiable
     into Kaarana Vaakya and Chodaka Vaakya. Kaarana Vaakyas are those verses 
     of the upanishads which declares the Brahman as the only cause (material 
     and instrumental cause) of the universe. Chodaka Vaakyas are those 
     verses of the upanishads which declares the various infinite divine 
     qualities of the Brahman who is the only cause of the universe. Let us 
     now consider certain Kaarana Vaakyaas. In the "Sat Vidya" of Chandokya 
     Upanishad, we come across the verse "Sat Eva Sowmya Edamagre Aasit". 
     Here the upanishad declares that the cause of the universe by using the 
     term "Sat". "Sat" means the eternal existing supreme
     soul, which is the cause, unchanging in nature. Is this "Sat" a sentient 
     being or an insentient being? When we analyze the Vedanta further, we 
     read another verse "Aatma va Edamekam Agre Aasit". Here the upanishad 
     says that "Sat" is "Aatma". "Aatma" is derived from "Aapnothi iti Aatma" 
     vytputhi. That it, "Aatma is the one which spreads on its body by its 
     knowledge in terms of supporting, controlling and owning its body". This 
     shows that the supreme self is sentient. 

comment: This shows that sat is Aatma, the Self, and so is sentient. 
"Supreme" does not seem appropriate yet, but only after it is
described as Brahman below.

response: You are right. It is a mistake to mention "Supreme" here.

     Is the supreme self different from the Chit(Jeeva) or one amount
     the Jeevas? Further down in the Vedanta, we find that this supreme self is
     called by the name "Brahman" - "Yato va imani bhutaani jaayente yena 
     jaathani jeevanti yam prayanthi abhisamvisantithi tat vijgyaasasva tat 

comment: Translate this into English?

response: The Translation is "Know that entitiy as Brahman from who all
these (chit & achits) orginated, live and into him all these enter during 

     "Brahman" is the term, which is derived from the root "Brah" meaning,
     greatness - greatness in terms of reality, form, attributes, and lordship.
     This is not applicable to the Chit (Jeeva) though it is sentient but only
     finite (Anu swaroopa) as declared in Vedas. 

comment: In Geeta ramanuja interprets Brahman to mean jiva, nature etc.
in several places. How does that fit in with this claim? In the 
upanishads, is Brahman always used to mean supreme self?

response: This is as per the context-being the cause of the universe in

     Therefore the supreme sprit is different from the Jeeva and is 
     unparalleled and unsurpassed. Up to this, we comprehend that the supreme 
     self is different from the Jeevas and non-living matter but still we 
     need to know who this supreme self is? In the Vedanta, we
     find the verse "Eko ha vai Naaraayana Aasit ... Na brahma nesaanaha" and
     "Apahatapaapma Divyo devaha Eko Naaraayana:" These verses clearly says 
     that the supreme self called as "Sat", "Aatma" and "Brahman" is none 
     other than "Naaraayana". Now we apply the chaaga pasu nyaaya. It is to 
     be noted here very clearly that "Sat", "Aatma" and "Brahman" are common 
     nouns but the term "Naaraayana" is a particular noun identifying the 
     Lord of Goddess Lakshmi and Bhoomi "Hereeshca Te Lakshmischa Patniyow" 
     is the Purusha Sukta in Veda confirming this. "Naaraayana" is the term 
     derived from the vyutputhis "Naaraanaam Ayanam" and "Yesya Naaraaha 
     Ayanam".  "Nara" means Vishnu (Naaraayana) because He is imperishable. 
     "Naara" means the entire universe composed of Chit & Achit entities 
     which originated from "Nara" as "Nara" is the cause of the entire 
     universe having the subtle chit & achit as his body before creation and 
     creates them by giving expanded form and having the expanded chit and 
     achit as his body. "Naaraanaam Ayanam" means "Naaraayana is
     the base/support for all chit and achit tatvas". This shows the "Bhahir
     Vyaapthi" - the manner in which Naaraayana pervades the universe. "Yesya
     Naaraaha Ayanam" means "Naaraayana is present inside all chit and achit
     entities as the ultimate controller (anthar-yaamin, soul) and owner
     (Seshi-Lord) of everthing. This shows the "Anthar Vyaapthi" - the manner 
     in which Naaraayana is present inside everything. The "NAakaara" in the 
     end of the term "NaaraayaNA" without doubt says that the term 
     "Naaraayana" is a particular noun denoting the Lord of Goddess Lakshmi 
     who is Vishnu. This is confirmed by the grammatical rule of the Vedas 
     (Vyaakaranam - one among the six accessories of the Veda) and by 
     Paanini's grammatical treatise. Thus the Veda identifies the supreme 
     self (Brahman) as Shreeman Naaraayana. Thus is the application of the 
     Chaaga Pasu Nyaaya. 

comment: This is very nice! The common nouns "aatma","sat" and "brahman"
thus refer to Narayana the particular noun. I think you should translate
all the sanskrit sentences in the syllogism -- In the beginning was 
only Sat, In the beginning was only aatma, In the beginning was only
Narayana, not Brahma, not Isana. (My trans. is obviously not correct.) This 
way the application of the nyaya will be clear even to those who don't 
understand sanskrit.

     Further the the Brahma Sutra recognizes only the Paancharaatra Aagama as 
     authoritative as the Veda and rejects all other authored works like 
     Saankya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Charuvaaka, Bowdha, Jaina and Pasupata Saiva.
     It further identifies the Supreme self by Ubhya Lingam - Two 
     identifications namely "Ananta Kalyaana Gunaakaratvam" (Supreme
     self has infinite divine qualities) and "Akila Heya Pratyaneekatvam" 
     (Supreme self though is present in all chit and achit entities, is 
     untouched by all impurities). These two identifications apply only to 
     Shreeman Naaraayana and it does not apply to any other deity. 

comment: Why do they not apply to any other deity? 

response: The ubhayalingam (two identifications - having infinite divine
qualities and being untouched by all impurities of universe) only
apply to Shreeman Naaraayana as the Veda says "Apahatapaapma Divyo
Devaha Eko Naaraayana:". Further it does not apply to any body else as 
the material-birth and karma-sufferings are told for all except
Shreeman Naaraayana. 

     Therefore it is ascertained without doubt from the authority of Veda 
     that Shreeman Naaraayanan is the unparalleled and unsurpassed Supreme 

     Few more texts from Upanishads - arguments and counter-arguments
     There is someone who quotes from the veda a verse "Siva Eva Kevala:" 
     meaning "Siva is alone (the cause - therefore Siva is Supreme without a 
     second person). The person who has raised this objection has not studied 
     the Veda and the context where this verse occurs. The context is 
     regarding the cause of the universe, which is Brahman. "Siva" is a 
     common noun meaning "Auspicious". It assumes any gender as per its usage 
     as adjective with a noun in Sanskrit as it is a common noun. Further 
     here in this context, "Siva" is associated with all-pervasive nature and 
     by the term "Bhagavan" which are unique only to Shreeman Naaraayana. 
     Therefore the term "Siva" cannot mean "Paarvathy Pati -
     Rudra" here, but only means "Lakshmi Pati - Vishnu". Vishu is ever 
     aspicious (Pure by his nature itself on the other hand Paarvathy pati 
     got his sins removed by Vishnu and became pure (siva) and he is not pure 
     by his nature).

question: Is rudra a particular noun?  If not, what is the particular
noun identifying this deity?  

response: No. Rudra is not a particular noun. It is again a common noun 
derived in sanskrit "He who cries (tears flow)". The fact is all the words
finally end up by denoting Shreeman Naaraayana-even the pronouns
like "Aham (I)", "Tvam (you)" etc also denote finally Naaraayana only.
There are two ways by which all words finally denote Naaraayana. They
Way 1: By the derivation of the word and in the context of being
the cause of the universe etc.
Way 2: As Naaraayana is the soul of everything (all chit/achits)
all the words finally denote the soul who is Naaraayana as 
everything is Naaraayanaa's body/mode only.

question: Is there no passage in upanishad which says "Rudra is Brahman"?

response: There are such passages but as per the Chaaga pasu nyaaya (way 1)
and way 2 told above, the term has to only denote Shreeman Naaraayana.
This point is very important. Why Rudra alone? In the "Pratardana
Vidya" of upanishads, Indra (lord of heaven(swarga)) says to 
a person named Pratardana that "O Pratardana! You worship me (to
attain salvation)". This is explained in Brahma Sutra by Veda Vyasa
as "Saastra Drushtyaa Thuupadesho Vaamadevavat". Meaning, even in
the Sruti, a sage Vaamadeva spoke similar to Indra. But it has to 
be understood here that as everything is the body/mode of Vishnu and
Vishnu is the soul of everything, only Vishnu is declared here. For
further doubts please write to me in this context.

question: Since the upanishads say "Rudra is Brahman" in some places and 
"Narayana is Brahman" in others, why can't we conclude that the
supreme self is both Rudra and Narayana? 

response: It cannot be conclued so because the 
upanishads declare that the supreme self is only one. "Eko Sat", 
"Sat Eva sowmya Edam agre Aasit" etc. Further "Rudra" cannot be considered 
here as the Veda clearly says "Na Brahmaa Neshaanaha Divyo Deva: Eko 
Naaraayana:" meaning in the begining (before creation) rudra and brahmaa were 
not existing and only the divine Naaraayana was existing as the only cause".

question: In the passages that say "Rudra is Brahman", you have argued that
Rudra refers to Narayana. Why can't we apply the arguement the
other way around to conclude that in the passage "In the beginning
was only Narayana", Narayana refers to the deity Rudra?

response: The reverse as told here cannot be accepted as the answer to your
previous question is to be refered here. Further "Rudra" is again a
common noun and only "Narayana" is the proper/particular noun. Naaraayana
is identified as "Lord of Lakshmi".

question: What about the passage which says "NamastevayO tvameva pratyaksham
brahmAsi"? Is Vayu to be taken as referring to Narayana? Or does the
word "pratyaksham" have some significance?

response: Again use the Chaaga-pasu nyaaya here. But Madwaachaarya's views 
are different in this context.

question: What about a similar passage in the `Ganapati Upanishad' -- "tvameva
pratyaksham brahmasi" or something like that?

response: This upanishad is not held authoritative even by Shree Adi Sankara 
as Shree Adi Sankara has not handled this upanishad. Even if the upanishad
is taken, the word Ganapati is a common noun. Apply the "way 1" and
"way 2" here also. Please note that the Veda has said "Na Brahmaaa
Neshaanaha Divyo Devaha Eko Naaraayana:" meaning "In the begining
(before creation), even Brahmaa (chaturmuka) and Rudra(Paarvaty Pati) 
were not present and only the Divine Supreme Self Shreeman Naaraayana
was present". This clearly states that only Shreeman Naaraayana is the
Supreme self and there is no room for any other person.

question: You have talked about two ways of interpretation -- way 1 
(Chaaga-pasu Nyaaya) and way 2. I am confused about where way 1 should be 
used and where way 2 should be used. Also, where should we take the words
as referring to the deities themselves?

response: This is very important. When the common nouns like siva, sambhu,
swambhoo, rudra, indra, hiranyagarbha etc occur in the context of
being the cause of universe, brahman's qualities etc, then these words
have to be taken to mean only "Naaraayana". If these words occurs in
the SAME CONTEXT but with strong identification of demi-gods like
"the destroyer of vruthaasura (who is indra)" etc., then these words
are to be taken to mean again Naaraayana who has these demi-gods
as his body. The brahma sutra ("Jeeva mukya praanaa lingaat Chethi na
tat vyaakyaatam") confirms this. The pratartana vidya and the upadesa
of Vaamadeva in sruthi are held as proof and example here (Brahma
Sutra "Saastra Drushtiya thu upadeso vaamadevavat"). When these common
nouns like Rudra, Indra etc., occur with qualities not that of Brahman
like being the cause of universe etc., but with individual qualities
like "became purified", "getting powers" etc., then these words only
denote the respective demi-gods as the context is not here. Chaaga-pasu
nyaaya cannot be applied from one context to another without appropriate

     Another objection raises by quoting the vedic verse "Sambhuhu Aakaasa 
     Madye iDhyeyaha". The context in which this verse occurs ....
                         --- portion cut ---

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