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SamhithAs and AagamAs : Part 2

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Fri Jun 26 1998 - 20:22:35 PDT

Dear BhakthAs : In the earlier posting , I included
a definition of the word , SamhithA and gave some
illustrative examples of SamhithAs . 

Since SamhithAs ( Veda and Aagama types) have been used as 
PramANAs to draw anumAnAs (inferences), it is appropriate 
to define them first .

1 .PramANam : It is defined as an accurate conception or notion 
or description as it is . It has also been derived as a means 
to arrive at correct knowledge or a mode of proof .

The naiyAyikAs , the Vedanthins , the MimAsakAs 
and the SaankhyAs recognize different kinds of 
PramANams :

naiyAyikAs : Four kinds ( Prathyaksham , anumAnam ,
upamAnam and Sabdham )

VedAnthins and MimAmsakAs : Six Kinds ; two more added
to the above four ( anupalabdhi and arthApatthi )

SaankhyAs : 3 kinds ( Prathayksham , anumAnam and sabdham )
anumAnam here refers to inference without flaw .

2 .AagamA  means a text without flaw or sacred scriptures
or the last of the pramANAs recognized by the naiyAkikAs
(viz), sabdhA /Aaptha Vaakhyams like VedAs .
PaancharAthra aagamam's sacredness as a result of
its affiliation with Sriman NaarAyaNA
is indicated by this quotation :

matham cha VaasudEvasya tasmAth aagamam uchyatE 

AagamAs and VedAs have SamhithAs as content 
or dividing chapters . PaancharAthra AagamA has 
close to 100 samhithais . The most famous ones 
are Paadma , Ahirbudhnya samhithAs .Sriman 
N.Krishnamachari has posted sofar three outstanding
articles on PaancharAthra Aagamam ( Saasthram ) 
in the SaraNAgathi Journal that you may wish to 
look up for details . 

Excerpts from Samhithais pertinent to our discussion 

The 25th adhikAram of Rahasya Traya Saaram 
( PrabhAvayavasthAdhikAram ) contains number
of PramANams on who is a BrAhmaNan and who
is not . In one subsection , Swami 
Desikan refers to all BhagavathAs as belonging
to the same "Jaathi" and quotes from Sasthraas,
IthihAsams , Divya prabhandhams and samhithAs .

Examples : 1 .Mahaa Bhaaratham 

na sUdrA; Bhagavadh BhakthA: viprA BhagavathA: smruthA :
SARVA VARNESHU tE sudrA: yE hyAbhakthA JanaardanE 

(Meaning) : Those SudrAs , who have Bhakthi towards 
Bhagavaan are not SudrAs . They are Bhaagaavatha 
BrAhmaNAs . In all jAthis ( VarNAs ) , those , who
have no bhakthi for JanaardanA are SudrAs .

Swami Desikan introduces the terminology of 
Bhaagavatha -BrahmaNan  and Bhaagavatha-Sudran 
and Kevala BrahmaNan and kevala Sudran to distinguish
the two classes .

2. Divya prabhandhams & AzhwArs' anubhavams 

2.1:Swami Quotes PeriyavAcchAn PiLLai's commentary 
on the famous paasuram of Thirumangai's " Kulam Tarum " ,
paasuram which asserts that the blessed naamam of NaarAyaNA
will yield one Sri VaishNava Kulam , JN~Anam 
and all kinds of wealth . 

2.2: PeriyAzhwAr wishes to cast aside  
the old kulam and join the Thondar kulam 
thru wishing the Lord PallANdu ( pandaikkulatthai
Tavirnthu pallANdu--) . This paasuram has been termed as 
Yekaanthi kula paasuram. Swami concludes that 
the jaathi of birth will stay , while the acquired kulam 
will not change . 

2.3: A brahma-Vidh sUdrA like VithurA has been 
recognized by BhagavAN KrishNA , when he partook 
of annam at his house joyously against DuryOdhanA's 
objection .VithurA has been decribed as Svayam-
Parisuddhan . He did not however volunteer rahasyArthams
to DhrudhirAshran and referred him to a qualified Brahmin for 
instructions on Brahma Vidhyai and RahsyArthams .
2.4 :AzhwArs also did not incorporate praNavam in their 
paasurams for the same reason , since such a 
sacred manthram has to be received via a proper
AchAryA .This is in line with Bhagavan's
upadesam in the 18th chapter of Gita , where  
Sri Parthasarathy points out : " better is one's 
dharma (though ) imperfect than the dharma 
of another well-performed .He who does the duty
ordained by his own nature incurs no evil 
( kilmisham )" .In the earlier vesrse , He 
revealed that one attains perfection by 
worshipping Him with his own duty .  

2.5: Thirumazhisai in his famous paasuram ,

" KulangaLAya yeeraraNdil onrilum piranthilEn ,--
ninn ilangu paadamanRi maRROr paRRilEN yem IsanE "

declares : Oh , Sriman NaarAyaNA ! I have no other refuge 
except Your sacred feet , now that I have not been born
in any one of the four kulams ( BrahmaNa , Kshatthriya,
Vaisya and Sudra Kulams ) that are eligible to observe
their own dharmams .  

2.6 :At another time , when the village Brahmins stopped 
their Veda PaarAyaNam at the sight of Thirumazhisai AzhwAr 
thinking that he was a non-Brahmin and as such should not
hear the Veda vAkhyams  , they could not remember the place
where they had stopped . Thirumazhisai  reminded them as to 
where they left off by a symbol without reciting 
the Veda Vaakhyam itself . He took in his hand
a grain of black rice and scratched it to split it in to
two parts ( KrushNAnAm vreehiNeem naka nirbhinnam --
Yajur Vedam 1.8.9) and the assembled BrahmANaas
were astounded and recognized the AzhwAr's greatness .
AzhwAr did not recite the VedA VakhYam , but guided
them to the correct spot .It was not his duty to
recite Vedam , but he was jn~Ana svarUpan and hence 
he knew the Vedam without the need to recite it .
This fits in with the BhagavAn's aj~NA ( Gita 18.44) :

svE svE karmaNabhiratha: samsiddhim labathE nara :
(Meaning ): Devoted each to his own duty , man
attains the highest perfection .

2.7: Later in the same village,
the ArchA mUrthy of the temple turned his face 
always to the direction of AzhwAr's  travel . 
The uniqueness of the AzhwAr's greatness was also 
understood , when he showed to the protestors , 
who still contested him , by showing the form of 
the Lord resting on his heart cavity . All of them
shut up and understood once and for all who is 
a " BrahmaNA " and who is not .  

2.8 :ThiruppANar is another of the Bhaagavatha BrahmaNaas 
praised by VihagEndra Samhithai . Swami Desikan 
quotes the following important verse as PramANam 
from that samhithai :

NaarayaNaika Nishtasya yaa yaa vritthis tadharchanam
yO yO jalpasya sa Japa: tadh dhyAnam yannirakshaNam I
tath paadhAmbhavathulam theertham tadhucchishtam supAvanam
tadh ukthi maathram manthrArghyam tath sprushtam akhilam suchi II

( Meaning ) :For the one , who thinks always about 
Sriman NaarAyaNa , his karmAs are Bhagavadh AarAdhanams . 
Whatever he speaks is holy japam . Whatever he sees 
is Bhagavadh dhyAnam .The waters that have association 
with his feet are the most sacred .His speeches are 
all sanctifying manthrams . The leftovers from his eating are 
sanctifying  to partake . His touch purifies all that 
comes into his contact . 

2.9 : NammAzhwAr was one of these most sacred ones ,
who followed their VarNAsrama Dharmam and acknowledged 
in his Sixty fourth Thiruviruttam paasuram ( IrukkAr 
MozhiyAr -) that he was limited . He says : Oh , My Lord !
The Brahmins will worship Your sacred feet by chanting 
Veda Rks . I do not have the adhikAram to do that . 
Hence , I will content myself with just the recitation
of your NaamAs " . 

2.10 : Swami Desikan draws from all these pramANams 
and sums it up this way :

vaishNavathvENa maanyathvam samAnam munisammatham 
jAthyAdhi dhvamsatassAmyam mukthi kaalE bhavishyathi 

(Meaning ) : The Rishis approve that being VaishNavAs
is worthy of salutations independent of the Jaathis .
At the time of Moksham , jaathis are destroyed and 
all mukthAs become equal in jaathi . 

Summary : Doing their assigned VarNAsrama duties 
and performing ashtAkshara ( Vaidhika or Taantrika )
Japams  , the various azhwArs irrespective of Jaathis
attained Moksham and have celebrated thru their 
paasura Vaakhyams the glory of AshtAksharam this way :

Nin Thiruvettezutthum kaRRU -- Thirumangai( Having 
learnt and recited Your AshtAksharam )

Yettezutthum vaaramAha OthuvArkal vallar vaanmALavE "
-Thirumazhisai( Those , who perform AshtAkshara manthra 
Japam 8,000 times with pleasure would be capable of 
ruling the Upper world )
Naadum nakaramum nakaRiya NamO NaarAyaNAya "--PeriyAzhwAr
(Oh , people , come hither and recite "Namo NaarAyaNAya "
so that the smart ones of the City and those who are not
that gifted from the rural parts can both understand )

nalvahaiyAl Namo NaarAyaNA " -- PeriyAzhwAr 
( Repeating without any expected returns 
the manthram , Namo NaarayaNA many times )

aaseenA vaa sayanA vaa tishtanthO yathra kuthra cha 
Namo NaarAyaNAyEthi manthraika saraNA vayam 
             ------Naaradheeya Kalpam (4.70 )
(Meaning ) : We are the ones , who have sought refuge 
in the MahA manthram , "namo NaarAyaNAya " , whether 
we are sitting, resting or standing anywhere .We have 
approached it as our UpAyam for Moksham .

That is the glory of this MahA manthram adapted 
for one and all as Vaidhika or Taantrika manthram 
to yield moksha siddhi .

Namo NaarAyaNA 

Daasan , Oppilaippan Koil VaradAchAri Sadagopan