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Re: Murugan

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Tue Dec 26 1995 - 09:04:27 PST

In the Vedarthasangraha, Sri Ramanuja explains how 
Sriyah Pati (Sriman Narayanan) alone is the Supreme 
Being described in the Vedas and Vedanta.  The Vedas 
declare the nature of the Supreme Truth in many ways.
Sometimes them call It Brahman (the great and glorious
essence); other times they call It Sat (Being); still
other times they call It Purusha, other times Vishnu,
Rudra, Atma, Paramaatma, etc.  How are we to reconcile
all these various names? 

Surely they all refer to one Supreme, as the Vedas 
declare that there is only one Supreme Cause -- ekam
eva advitIyam.  Fortunately, the Vedas themselves
offer a reconciliation of all these names, contained
in the various Upanishads and even in the text of the 
Veda proper.

In the Purusha Sukta, found in all four Vedas, the
Supreme Brahman is described as the Being who exists
everywhere.  At the end of this glorious Sukta, the
Purusha is described: 

	hrISca te lakshmISca patnyau

	He who has Hri (Bhudevi) and Lakshmi as His eternal
	consorts or attributes. 

Similarly, in the Chhandogya Upanishad, we have the
description of the Supreme Person as ``tasya yatha
kapyaasam pundarikam eva akshini'' -- His eyes have
the beauty of the petals of a lotus, just unfolding
under the rays of the sun and crowning a rich stalk.
In all religious literature, only Vishnu is addressed
as the ``lotus-eyed one''.

There are even more direct Veda vaakyas.  For example,
in the Rig Veda, we see 

	tad viSNOh paramam padam, sadaa paSyanti sUrayah

 -- the enlightened seers always perceive the supreme abode 
of Vishnu, a reference to the nitya suris.  A similar 
reference is found in the Katha Upanishad.

The Taittiriya Aranyaka explicitly reconciles all
the various names of the Supreme found in the Vedas
and encompasses them all under the term ``Narayana''
in the Narayana Sukta.  Taking note of the terms 
Sat, Brahman, Atma, Akshara, all found in the Upanishads,
the Sukta goes on to declare 

	viSvam naaraayaNam devam

	All is Narayana.

and 
	sa brahmA sa SivaH sendraH sO 'ksharaH paramaH svaraaT

	Narayana is Brahma, Siva, Indra, the Imperishable,
	the Supreme Independent.

These two vaakyas clearly enunciate the principle that 
the concept of Narayana encompasses all other deities.

Even otherwise, the etymological meaning of
the word Narayana has perhaps the deepest philosophical
significance of any name of God, over and above even the 
terms Vishnu Siva, Brahma, Indra, etc. The latter 
terms respectively mean ``pure'', ``great'', and ``king'',
and are applicable to any number of things, including
the individual self. However, Narayana means ``That in 
which all creatures rest'', which by implication can only 
refer to the Supreme.

It is true that the Vedas themselves often praise other 
gods. However, usually these are in the context of 
the Vedic sacrifice, which is not the highest essence
of Vedic teaching.  When it comes to the purely 
philosophical portions, it is quite clear that the
personality to which the vaakyas refer is only
Narayana.

Of course, we should not ignore the Bhagavad Gita, 
considered by all Vedic acharyas as the essence of the Vedas.

With this immense Vedic tradition behind them,
it is a wonder that some people call Sri Vaishnavas
closed-minded for choosing to worship only Narayanan!

Mani

P.S. 
This is not to say that the other forms of
worship, be it Saivism, worship of Devi, Christianity,
etc., are devoid of significance! Rather, we can
only say that they are not as firmly rooted in Vedic 
tradition as is the concept of Narayana.  Naturally, 
Truth can be found outside the text of the Vedas, lending 
authority to the various different creeds that exist. 
The only point being made here is that the Vedas and
Divya Prabandham describe the Ultimate Truth as Narayana and
sanction worship of God conceived in those terms.

P.P.S. 
As someone else has noted, even Sankaracharya considered
usd the name Narayana when referring to God.  Many stotras
are ascribed to him when he may or may not have authored.
However, in his undisputed authentic works, such as his
commentaries on the Upanishads, Gita, and Brahma-sutras,
he invariably refers to Narayana as the Supreme Essence.
His immediate disciples do the same.