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Re: Validity of the Samhitas (was Re: Am Namo Narayanaya)

From: Greg Jay (gregjay_at_poi.net)
Date: Thu Jun 25 1998 - 02:09:16 PDT

Krishna Susarla said:
>In that case, the question then becomes this. Is there any objective
>evidence which validates Brahma-samhita as authentic shaastra? An answer I'm
>likely to get when I pose this question to devotees around me is, "Lord
>Chaitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He approved of it,
>therefore it is bona fide." But what I'm looking for is evidence beyond mere
>tradition that justifies our position that this is in fact an authentic
>shaastra. After all, we quote Brahma-samhita to all sorts of people,
>expecting them to accept its evidence. That being the case, we should be
>prepared to discuss with them why Brahma-samhita is to be considered an
>authentic pramaana.

I have been personnally to Tiruvattur and the people there have no history
or legend about Sri Chaitanya finding that book there. They know nothing
about it. I was general manager of a Smithsonian PL480 funded microfilm
project to preserve Vaisnava Shastras in the 80's and I never came across
any objective evidence about Brahma Samhita. I know nothing to suggest that
it is accepted by any but Gaudiyas.

>Thanks for this enlightening discourse. So then the Samhitas = Agamas,
>correct? And the Sri Vaishnavas clearly do accept these Samhitas as
>authentic. In that case, does anyone know exactly what the origins are of
>these Samhitas/Agamas? Are they also breathed out by Lord Narayana at the
>beginning of creation, or are these considered to be authored works?

Both Pancaratra and Vaikhanasa Agamas are composed of Samhitas (not to be
confused with the Veda Samhitas). They are divided into three divisions as
to whether they were spoken by the Lord, Divine Beings (like Adi Sesa) or
Rishis.

>Also, you may be familiar with Gaudiya works like Bhakti-rasaamR^ita Sindhu.
>In it, numerous Samhitas are quoted to establish various points; are these
>Pancharaatra Samhitas which would be considered by Sri Ramanuja and Sri
>Yamunacharya as canonical? Or are these also purely "Gaudiya shaastras?"

Yes, these are quotes from Pancaratra accepted by all Vaisnavas. Acharyas
of each sampradaya have quoted from these original Agamas or Samhitas.
Mostly though except for the Sri Sampradaya, the Acharyas of the other
sampradayas compile quotes from various sources (including Pancaratra) for
the ritualistic works of their followers. Madhva compiled Tantrasara
Sangraha, and Sanatana Goswami (and Gopala Bhatta) compiled Hari Bhakti
Vilasa.

>While we're on the subject, are you at all familiar with scriptures such as
>the Vishnu-yaamala, Brahma-yaamala, etc? These are also quoted in Srila
>Prabhupada's books, but I have yet to find any information on what they are,
>where they came from, evidence for their authenticity, etc.


Some are Dharma Shastras, others are connected to Puranas. Just off hand I
can't say about the two you just mentioned. I'll check up and see if I can
find more definite information for you. You should also know that many
times we only know of a shastra from the fragments of it that are quoted by
later writers. Unfortunately so muchhas been lost or destroyed over the
years. Also even if we know the name of a shastra and accept it as bona
fide and authoritative, there are still the matter of interpolations to
deal with.

If you want to discuss more about Gaudiya topics, please e-mail me directly.

adiyen

Keshava das