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Re: PramAnas for Brahman as being different from its Body

From: raghunathan k.k. (
Date: Mon May 01 2000 - 09:42:39 PDT

SrI Lakshminrusimha ParabrahmaNE namaha
SrI Lakshminrusimha divya pAdukA sEvaka SrIvaN SatakOpa-
SrI nArAyaNa yateendra mahAdESIkAya namaha

 Dear SrI HarikrishNa,
 namO nArAyaNa.

>>  Saatvata Samhita, Poushkara Samhita and JayAkya Samhita are
>>  regarded as the "Ratna Traya" (Three Jewels) in pAncAratra.
>> --------------------------------
> While I do not normally take issue with nonshruti Samhitas, I must
point out
> that these are not exactly mainstream. Exactly on what basis should
I accept
> the Samhitas? I would be interested to know. The Puraanas, for
example, are
> explicitly described as the fifth Veda. Are there similar references
in the
> shrutis to the Pancharaatras?

> Also, I would like to know if Saatvata Samhita is the same as
> Tantra?

 SAtvata samhita is an authoritative pAncarAtra text.
 Please refer to treatises like Agama prAmAnya of YAmunAchArya
 (Trans. By Van Buitenen), PAncarAtra Raksha of SrI VEdAnta DESika,
 AgamAs and South Indian Vaishnavism by Dr V.VaradAchAri,
 The Glory of Lakshmi - the english trans. by Dr V.VaradAchAri, of
 Pandit V.KrishnamAchArya's Sanskrit Introduction to the Lakshmi
 Tantra, Introduction to pAncarAtra and Ahirbudhnya samhita by 
 Otto Schrader, pAncarAtra and early vaishnava theology by 
 Matsubara etc. These have more information for your questions.

> Previously you wrote, ". This  gives them [Gaudiya Vaishnavas] a
> very contradictory metaphysical stand since BhagavAn  is 
> savisEsha (who has various guNas, form etc) and He can't   
> simultaneously be nirvisEsha" (without any attributes whatsoever)
> as "NirguNa Brahman"."

> But here now you are arguing for the existence of a Brahman
> separated from its attributes, or somehow superior to its 
> attributes. Either Brahman is the same as its form or different 
> from it. If different from it, then you are arguing for the 
> existence of two entities. In that case the criticism above
> applies even more to your point of view.

   I am sorry to say again that you have misunderstood what I 
   have written. Please go through them again. Since Brahman is 
   saviSEsha, it has many attributes. This by itself clarifies 
   that Brahman is different from its attributes. The theory of 
   NirviSEsha Brahman refers to an entity which is not 
   characterized by any attribute at all. 

   Brahman being omniscient, knows everything. He knows through
   the jn~yAna he has. That jn~yAna is technically referred to as 
   dharmabhUta jn~yAnam (dbj), which is present as an inseparable 
   attribute to Brahman. There are various states of its dbj 
   corresponding to various kalyANa guNas. Brahman also has an 
   eternal form, inseparable from it at SrI VaikuNTham. Brahman 
   also has chit and achit as its sarIra, inseparable from it.
   Brahman's swaroopa is also characterized by Sattyatvam, 
   jn~yAnatvam, aanandatvam etc. Since Brahman is characterized 
   by many inseparable attributes, it is certainly SaviSEsha and 
   is not at all nirviSEsha. 
> Also, the idea that the formless Brahman is superior to Brahman with
form is
> contradicted by Bhagavad-Giitaa:
> mattaH paratara.m naanyat ki~nchidasti dhana~njaya |
> mayi sarvamida.m prota.m suutre maNigaNaa iva || giitaa 7.7 ||
> O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything
> upon Me, as pearls strung on a thread (bhagavad-giitaa 7.7).
> Here, "Me" can only apply to the person Krishna, and not to anything
> Him taking that form, or whatever. This is a very straightforward
> and comes in a scripture that everyone accepts.

  There is absolutely no contradiction. "Me" primarily refers
  to the person, who is Brahman and not its attribute viz. the
  "Divine Body". By the statement "Everything rests upon Me
  as pearls strung on a thread", it obviously points to the 
  Brahman who is all-pervading and the supporter etc of chit
  +achit. This is certainly the  straight-forward meaning.
  The person speaking is Brahman and not its body by itself. Hence, 
  "Me" is used by Brahman (KrishNa) to denote Himself and not His 
  body here. "Me" here, connotes Him, who is actually all-pervading.
  Brahman while manifesting to Arjuna and speaking these words is 
  with a body of certain dimension. The "limited body" in front of 
  Arjuna is obviously not the thing that pervades everywhere
  to support everything as a thread supporting the pearls.  
  Thus "Me" verily connotes the Brahman itself.

  Also, there is absolutely _nothing wrong_ is connoting the "body" 
  by the word "Me/My" in certain cases. We can certainly frame 
  meaningful sentences like "My Weight is 70 kg" etc, wherein "My" 
  refers to the body. Lord KirshNa also has used the word "Me" to 
  connote His divine Body (Ex: BG 6.14,6.15, wherein the yOgi 
  aspiring for jIvAtma sAkshAtkAram is instructed to meditate 
  on the form of Lord which is SubhASrayam). Such persons 
  need not meditate upon the essential nature of Brahman
  characterized by Satyatvam, jn~yAnatvam, aanandatvam etc.
  Only the bhakti yOgi needs to meditate upon them alongwith
  other kalyANa guNas and forms specific to the upAsana he
  chooses. This is the distinction between the stages in the 
  meditation by the yOgis, who are aspiring for the jIvAtma 
  sAkshAtkAram and ParamAtma sAkshAtkAram : In the former, the 
  yOgi, who although knows about the svaroopa of Brahman as 
  being characterized by Satyatvam etc, needn't meditate upon 
  them, since his goal is only jIvAtma-sAkshAtkAram ;  while in 
  the latter, the bhakti yOgi should certainly meditate upon 
  the essential characteristics of Brahman also apart from 
  other things, to attain his goal of ParamAtma sAkshAtkAram.
  The meditation upon the divine form of Lord for the former
  is to get rid of sins that obstruct from attaining the
  goal of jIvAtma sAkshAtkAram. Once that yOgi attains a good
  amount of concentration etc due to the blessings of PerumAL, 
  he should perform the dhyAna yOga as prescribed in BG and 
  ever meditate upon himself (jIvAtma svaroopa) with specific 
  characteristics. This will result in his jIvAtma sAkshAtkAram.
  This jIvAtma sAkshAtkAram is a _must_ for ParamAtma 
  sAkshAtkAram, since only when the essential characteristics
  of jIvAtma is realized (ie. sAkshAtkAram), the meditation upon 
  the sarIra-sarIri bhAvam between the yOgi, who is a jIvAtma and 
  ParamAtma can take place during the upAsana (bhakti yOga). I 
  will elaborate these things if needed, in a systematic way after 
  few months. 
 Third pAda of third adhyAya discusses the nature of various 
 upAsanAs ie. Brahma VidyAs. It gives the clarifications on 
 what all attributes of Brahman are essentail for meditation
 in all Brahma VidyAs, and what are specific to certain Brahma
  VidyAs etc.

 In the Aananda adhikaraNa, Sage BAdarAyana (alias VyAsa)
 states "aanandAdaya pradhAnasya" (3.3.11), which implies
 that "Bliss etc qualities are a must for meditation in
 all upAsanas". The qualities are the Satyatvam, jn~yAnatvam, 
 aanandatvam and anantatvam  (all four from TaittirIya Up - 
 Aananda Vidya, which the current adhikaraNa is discussing about). 
 amalatvam (from Mundaka Up - akshara Vidya) as a quality of 
 Brahman to be meditated upon in addition to the above is stated 
 in the sUtra 3.3.33 - aksharadhi adhikaraNa. The present context 
 in Aananda adhikaraNa is on TaittirIya Upanishad.

 Now, the question arises as to why not other qualities 
 of Brahman mentioned in TaittirIya Upanishad for Aananda vidya, 
 like the following is not included for meditation :

 "tasya priyam-yEva Siraha | mOdO dakshiNa-pakshaha |
  pramOda uttara pakshaha | aananda aatmA | bramha puccham
  pratishThA | " (II.5) 

ie."Priya <pleasure in seeing a thing> is his head, MOda 
   <pleasure in obtaining> is his right wing <hand>, pramOda
   <pleasure in enjoying> is his left wing <hand>, aananda 
   <extreme pleasure> is his trunk and Brahma is the tail <leg> 
   that supports them all "

 Sage BAdarAyana answers this doubt in the next sUtra (3.3.12):

 " priya-Sirastvataadyapraptihi upacayApacayau hi bhEdE "

 ie. "Having Priya as the head etc donot come in 
     <for meditation>; for with difference <of organs>, there
     would be thickness and thinness <of Brahman>". 
  Bhagavad RAmAnuja in SrI BhAshyam says that the Upanishad 
  only makes up the representation of Brahman in a human form. 
  The argument is that, if Brahman <divyAtma svaroopam> 
  is made up of different organs/members such as head, wings 
  and tail, then some would be large and some small; some would 
  be thick and some thin, and this would be in conflict with the 
  passages like Taittriya Upanishad text occuring earlier, 
  defining Brahman viz. "Satyam <eternal and unchanging>, jn~yAnam, 
  anantam <all pervading> Brahma". In other words, the unchanging 
  and all-pervading characteristics of Brahman <divyAtma 
  swaroopam> will be violated if Brahman by itself is a 
  combination of different organs as in this case. It will also
  violate texts which say that Brahman is neither thin nor thick: 
  "astUlam anaNu ahrasvam adIrgam ....." (BruhadAranyaka Up.
  3.8.8) ie. "Brahman is neither gross nor subtle, neither short
  nor long .....". This pramAnam is given in SrutaprakASika 
  explaining the term "etc" used by BhAshyakAra wrt the pramAnas
  which would get violated.
  In VEdAnta Deepam, BhAshyakAra makes the point that, understanding 
  of Brahman in this way will make Brahman be liable to change in 
  size and form, which will contradict Upanishad texts like 
  "Satyam jn~yAnam anantam Brahma", advocating all-pervasiveness 
  and unchangability. 

  Also, those texts that advocate the "partless" nature of Brahman 
  will be violated.
  This sUtra certainly rejects the identity of Brahman with
  a body composed of many organs and establishes that, the 
  essential nature of Brahman is only characterized by Satyatvam, 
  jn~yAtvam etc and they only needs to be meditated upon as the 
  essential characteristics of Brahman. Brahman certainly has an 
  eternal divine form with many organs and also takes up many 
  such forms in various avatAras. But, that divine body is not 
  verily the Brahman. 

  In the sUtra 3.3.14, Sage BAdarAyana gives the reason for
  such description of Brahman in Upanishads :

  "aadhyAnAya prayOjanAbhAvAt" ie. "For meditaion, since there
  is no other purpose". BhAshyakAra comments that, various 
  varieties of Joy are being represented as various organs of 
  Brahman, to comprehend Brahman as "bliss" (aanandamaya). It
  is for this specific Brahma Vidya. 

  In the next sUtra (3.3.15), Sage BAdarAyana adds a reason for
  not taking these attributes (Priya as head etc) for meditation
  in all the upAsans : "aatma-SabdAcca" ie. "On account of the 
  term aatma <being used>" { TaittirIya Upanishad : "anyo(a)ntara 
  aatmA(A)nandamayaha }. BhAshyakAra comments that, aatma 
  cannot have parts like head, trunk etc and its having Joy for
  its head etc should thus only be a representation for the
  sake of comprehending Brahman as "bliss".
  Again its very clear that, Brahman being an aatma can't  be 
  made up of parts like head, hands etc.

  A upAsaka should also meditate upon the arcirAdi mAraga. There 
  are other upAsana-specific forms and upAsana-specific auspicious
  qualities of Brhman that needs to be added in the meditation
  of Brahman, in accordance with the upAsana adopted by a
  bhakti yOgi. 

  To just give a sample of the references in Brahma sUtras
  listed in the previous posting :

1. SUtra 1.2.7 belonging to SarvatraprasiddhyadhikaraNa is :

  " armakaukastvAttadvyapadESAcca nEti cEnna nicAyyattvAdEvam
    vyOmavacca " 

  "If it is said - 'No, because Brahman is stated to dwell in
   a very small place and to be of very small size', the reply
   is 'No ! Because He has to be so meditated upon ; in Himself
   He is like ether <whole space of universe ie. all-pervading>".

   This adhikaraNa is an enquiry into a passage in ChAndOgya 
   Upanishad. The message from this sUtra is that, though Brahman 
   in its essentail nature is all pervading, it is prescribed to 
   be meditated upon _as though_ in a very small place and size, 
   since a finite being can't meditate upon an infinite easily.

 2. SUtra 1.2.30 belonging to VaiSvAnara-adhikaraNa is

    "abhivyaktErityASmaratyaha" => "For the purpose of 
     (meditator) forming a vivid image / implying definiteness. 
     Thus opines ASmarathya <a Sage>.

     Bhagavad RAmAnuja says that, this sUtra answers the 
     question "Why the highest aatma, who is unlimited, is
     to be meditated upon in a limited form ? ".  
     Then BhAshyakArar says that the next sUtra answers the
     question as to Why the Highest Brahman is represented like a 
     man having head and limbs in the VaiSvAnara Vidya.

     That sUtra 1.2.31 is "anusmrutEhE BAdarihi" ie.
     "For meditation; BAdarAyana <alias VyAsa> thinks".

     Thus, its only for the sake of meditation. 

  note : ChAndOgya Up personifies Brahman ie.VaiSvAnara as
         one with head, eyes, breath, trunk, chest, feet etc, 
         as representing tEjas, earth, components of a yaj~nya

 3. Dahara adhikaraNa on Dahara Vidya.

    ChAndOgya Upanishad instructs one to perform meditation
    upon the one who is in a very small place of the body.
    To clarify that, this is only for the purpose of meditation,
    Sage VyAsa says :

    "alpaSrutEhE iti chEt tat uktam" (1.3.20)

    "How <ParamAtma> described as small (dahara) ? - Answered 

    In VEdAnta Deepam, Bhagavad RAmAnuja (ie. BhAshyakAra) 
    comments :

    "Objection : Since jIvAtma is like a point of an awl, it can
     be described as small. How can the ParamAtma be described as
     small when He is all-pervading - greatest of all ?
     Reply : This has already been discussed in the <First adhyAya>
     second pAda, first adhikaraNa, seventh sUtra (1.2.7). Its so
     said, only for the purpose of meditation."        

     The gist of the sUtra is also give above.          
 4. In the next adhikaraNa viz. PramitadhikaraNa, a kaThopanishad 
    text is discussed, which says " Purusha, the controller of the
    past and the future dwells in the heart of the meditator's
    body, in a form of the size of the thumb ...."(4.12).

    To the question as to why the limitless Brahman is said to
    be of the size of the thumb, Sage BAdarAyana says 

    "Hrudi apEkshayA tu manushyAdhikAratvAt" (1.3.24)

    implying :
    "Because He is present in the heart, the mention of the
     size is in consideration of human heart's size - He is 
     present in the heart for meditation to be performed by men".

   Regarding the divine body of Brahman :

   The all-pervading ParaBrahman SrIman nArAyaNa takes/has form, 
   and makes His devotees  meditate, reciprocate lovingly etc in a 
   finite media. This act of great compassion by the infinite Lord, 
   only magnifies His glories. The Suddha Sattva material comprising  
   His divine body is also jn~yAnAnanda-maya, similar to His 
   essential characteristic, which is also jn~yAnAnanda.
   It is in this light Sastras say that, Brahman and its
   form are same in nature. Brahman, a chEtana, feels
   the sense of "I" (ie.pratyaktvam) and has dbj. But, an 
   achEtana like Suddha Sattvam does not posses pratyaktvam 
   (ie. feeling of the "I" ness) and doesn't have dbj.

   Hope that you get to understand other pramAnas quoted
   Please go through the originals patiently and also the
   English books of SrI SMS Chari like Fundamentals of 
   ViSishtAdvaita VEdAnta and Vaishnavism, on these topics, for
   understanding the concepts comprehensively.

> I also have many more pramaanas to quote regarding the
> Krishna/Vishnu issue, as well in regards the Bhagavaan/Brahman 
> issue. I will save them for later, since I will be out of town 
> this weekend.

  Please do send them to me whenever you can. As suggested by
  SrI Mani, we will take the discussion off-line. The stand of 
  ViSishtAdvaita (vEdAnta) <which has already been well 
  established based on pramAnas by Bhagavad RAmAnuja>, on these
  issues has been explained convincingly for the SrI Vaishnava
  list members. If you have something else to say, lets discuss
  in private. Thanks for your understanding.

  Reg. an allegation by a member that I posted an article after
  requesting the topic to be closed in the list : 
  The mail in which I asked to close the discussion (of 
  elaborating GVs point of view, claiming it to be superior
  etc) was posted by Fri, 21st Apr, 16:53:09 hrs in my time
  zone. The member accusing me, then made the next posting on 
  Sat, 22nd Apr, 07:48:34 hrs in my time zone, claiming that
  I have incorporated mAyAvAda in my posts and started again 
  elaborating GV philosophy. Thats why I sent a reply to the 
  list again and re-iterated him to wait patiently and go 
  through the SV books and read other postings, before 
  jumping to conclusions. There was absolutely no fault from
  my side. With due respect to the objectives of the list, I am 
  not interested in replying back to the latest mail by that 

 adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,

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