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Re: SrI Sankara's views on vyuha.

From: Krishna Kalale (
Date: Thu Dec 04 1997 - 14:51:41 PST

A very interesting article.  I wanted to write on Sri M. Srinivasan's email
earlier but could not do so due to want of time. I heard from my gurus
regarding this explanation.  The reason Sri Sankara refuted only portions
of Pancharatra doctrine was because he felt that:

I do agree with what you have written since I did hear the same thing from
our gurus. Sankarshana nama jivo jayata : indicates a view that jeeva was
created and jiva cannot be created since it is eternal.  (note for Sri
Sankara jiva or atman or paramatman does not make significant difference
since it is monistic doctrine). Other than this issue Sri Sankara does
agree with pancharatra system.  

I think Pancharatra is a very basic system for our Visistadvaitic
philosophy and you should write something about it since this topic has not
come up in our discussions in this network.

How many samhitas do you have besides padma samhita. I recently got
vishnusamhita, ahirbudhnya samhita.

adiyen Krishna

At 04:21 PM 12/3/97 -0600, Krishnamachari, N. wrote:
>Dear BhAgavatottama-s:
>	In the explanation for the nAma catur-vyuha, a nAma which occurs
>in SrI vishNu sahasranAmam, I had pointed out that SrI Sankara had given
>a reference to mahA-bhArata supporting the vyuha concept.   SrI M.
>SrInivAsan told me in our private conversation  that it was his
>understanding that SrI Sankara did not support  the pAncarAtra system.
>Since the vyuha concept is an integral part of the pAncarAtra system,
>the question of SrI Sankara's position on the pAncarAtra doctrine arose.
>Since I was not knowledgeable in this area, I spent some time going
>through some scant literature in my possession to learn more on this
>	Based on the bhAshya for brahma sutra by SrI Sankara, SrI M.
>Srinivasan's statement is correct that SrI Sankara does not accept the
>pAncarAtra doctrine.  However, there are certain aspects of the
>pAncarAtra doctrine with which he agrees.  The vyuha concept, or the
>division of the supreme Brahman into many forms,  is one aspect that he
>accepts.  This view is based on my understanding of the preface to a
>book on pAdma samhitA by sudarSanam SrI Kr*shNasvAmi aiyangAr, where he
>has included a section of the original samskr*t commentary by SrI
>Sankara for the brahma sutra II.2.42.  The relevant portion of Sri
>Sankara's original commentary is reproduced below:
>	"tatra yat-tAvaducyate yo'sau nArAyaNah paro'vyaktAt prasiddhah
>paramAtmA sa AtmanAtmAnam anekadhA vyuha avasthita iti, tat na
>nirAkriyate. (Note the words vyuha and 'na nirAkriyate).  'sa ekadhA
>bhavati, tridhA bhavati' (chAndogya 7.26.2) ityAdi Srutibhyah
>paramAtmanah anekadhA bhAvasya adhigatatvAt.   yadapi tasya bhagavatah
>abhigamanAdi lakshNam ArAdhanam ajsram ananya cittatayA abhipreyate
>tadapi na pratishidhyate (again, note the words na pratishidhyate).
>Sruti-smr*tyoh esvara-praNidhAnasya prasiddhatvAt.
> The translation of the above words of SrI Sankara is "We do not refute
>the view stated therein that nArAyaNa, who is superior to Nature and who
>is well-known to be the supreme Self and the Self of all, has divided
>Himself by Himself into many forms;  for from vedic texts such as - He
>assumes one form, He assumes three forms etc., it is known that the
>Supreme Self does become multifarious.  As for the predilection for His
>propitiation, consisting in visiting His temple etc., and so on, with
>exclusive devotion and for long, that also is not denied.   For the
>contemplation of God is well in evidence in the veda-s and smr*ti-s." -
>translation is taken from svAmi gambhIrAnanda, advaita ASrama
>	 The major objection SrI Sankara has for the pAncarAtra system
>is on how the beings called sankarshaNa, pradyumna, and aniruddha
>resulted from the supreme Self, vAsudeva.    It is very interesting to
>read the vyAkhyYna-s of SrI Sankara and SrI rAmAnuja for the sutra-s
>"utpatti asambhavAt, na ca kartuh karaNam, vij~nAnAdi bhAve vA tat
>apratishedhah, and vipratishedAcca, wherein the objections are raised
>and answered.   Briefly, SrI Sankara's objections are - a) The soul
>called sankarshaNa could not have originated from the Self vAsudeva,
>since a soul cannot be born or created according to veda-s; b) If
>vAsudeva, sankarshaNa, pradyumna, and aniruddha are all of equal
>knowledge, powers, etc., as the bhAgavata (another name used for the
>pAncarAtra) doctrine maintains, there is no need for four forms, since
>one form could have carried out all the functions of the God; c) If they
>are of all of equal knowledge and powers etc., then one could not have
>originated from another, since the cause and effect should have some
>difference in order to differentiate them, and yet the bhAgavata-s
>insist that they are not different.  
>	SrI rAmAnuja points out that the origin of sankarshaNa from
>vAsudeva etc. in this context should be viewed as the voluntary
>assumption of bodily forms by the supreme Brahman vAsudeva out of
>compassion for its devotees, so that the devotees can have easy access
>to the supreme Brahman.  This is because vAsudeva the supreme Brahman
>has for its body the pure aggregate of the six supreme qualities, and
>thus is difficult for all to attain easily.  The devotee attains to the
>vyuha forms by worshipping the vibhava forms such as worship of  rAma,
>kr*shna, etc., and from the vyuha forms he attains to the Subtle form of
>vAsudeva.  If birth or origination of sankarshaNa from vAsudeva etc. is
>viewed thus, there is no contradiction between the pAncarAtra doctrine
>and the veda-s.  In fact, the pAncarAtra doctrine is considered to
>include in it all the other veda-s, the sAnkhya-yoga, and AraNyaka-s.
>	Thus, in summary, while it is true that SrI Sankara did not
>accept the pAncarAtra doctrine in its enitrety because he had issues
>with certain aspects of it, by his own words, there are certain aspects
>of the pAncarAtra doctrine that he also agreed with, e.g.,  vAsudeva as
>the supreme Brahman, its ability to divide itself and manifest itself in
>many forms, dedicated worship to vAsudeva in temples, etc.
>	While I started looking at the above, I am also writing some
>notes along the lines of  a high-level summary of the pAncarAtra
>doctrine, and if it is of interest I will post it in the list.
>-dAsan kr*shNamAcAryan