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Appayya dIxita etc (was Re: Anandalahri etc)

From: Rama Balasubramanian (rama_at_ctd.comsat.com)
Date: Wed Oct 08 1997 - 10:27:34 PDT

Vijay Srinivasan wrote:

>I liked your quotes from Appaya Dikshitar.  Whenever or wherever Narayana's
>glory is spoken, one cannot escape being happy about it.  I have also
>heard

I was wondering whether to reply to the original message by Krishna
Kalale and decided against it. After this I thought may be I should. I
hope my comments will be taken in the right spirit.

It was claimed that shrI appyya dIxitarvAL was a "shaivite" earlier
and the message seemed to convey that he somehow bacame a vaishnavite
later. The following points should be noted about dIxitarvAL:

1. He was always a smArtha and never a shaivite. He was a great shiva
   bhakta, but also worshiped vishhNu as all religious smarthas do. He
   has written an explanation of shrI nIlakaNTha shivAchArya's brahma
   sUtra bhAshhya (BSB), but also mentions that he must have written
   the BSB that way only because of his regard for Lord shiva.  Some
   people think that he (dIxitar) must have been a shaivite because he
   wrote this explanation, but it could not be further from the
   truth. It is like shrI vAchaspati mishra commenting on nyAyA texts
   and nowhere does he contradict it, but only explains their
   concepts. But he was actually an advaitin and is against nyAyA in
   his advaitic writings!

2. It was claimed that he quoted only "authoritative scriptures". In
   reality he has actually written a _whole_ book called shiva purANa
   tAmasa khaNDanaM. The name alone should make things clear.

3. The fact that he quotes such in the AnandalaharI (a song on devI)
   should itself make it clear that he did not distinguish between
   worshiping devi or vishhNu as saguNa brahman. The same approach is
   taken by shrI sha.nkara, by quoting the gItA in his lalitA trishatI 
   bhAshhya.

4. Nowhere in his "later" writings does he disown his "previous"
   writings. If he had a sudden change of heart and leaned from
   shaivism to vaishnavism one would expect at least an indication in
   his writings.

Another note I would like to make about the "authoritative scriptures"
is that shrI sha.nkara himself quotes jAbAla, pai.ngala upanishhad-s
etc. I gather that shrI rAmAnuja has quoted the garbhopanishhad. So
are all these not "authoritative"? If only 10 upanishhad-s are to be
accepted why did these two Acharya-s quote others also? Then, do we
draw a line that only these upanishhad-s + 10 are to be accepted? If
not, on what basis, since shrI sha.nkara and shrI rAmAnuja thought
they were fit to be quoted? If so, why should shrI Anandagiri and shrI
sha.nkarAnanda who were directly in the lineage of shrI sha.nkara be
discounted? Frankly, saying that the 10 upanishhad-s are only shruti
seems pretty arbitrary to me. OTOH, they are indeed the most important
and of them the mANDUkya is supreme (according to H.H abhinava
vidyAtIrtha mahAswamigaL). BTW, the pai.ngala upanihhad very clearly
uses the adhyAropa-apavAda technique.

Further, shrI vidyAraNya (no less an authority for us than shrI
sha.nkara himself) has quoted shiva, li.nga purANa-s in the
pa.nchadashI and also his guru shrI sha.nkarAnanda has written
dIpikA-s on about 15 upanishhad-s other than the principal
upanishhad-s. I mentioned before the explanation given by shrI
Anandagiri (in his TIkA to the gauDapAda kArikA bhAshhya) why shrI
sha.nkara has not used all the upanishhad-s available also. Mind you,
dIxitar had great regard for all these gurus himself and it seems
doubtful to me whether he would disagree with them!

>A few years back, Paramananda Bharati (a great saint from Sringeri Mutt)
>gave a wonderful lecture at Buffalo.  He appeared to me more open and a
>greater devotee of Sriman Narayana than even most of the Vaishnavite saints
>who visit this town. When I asked him whom should we meditate on when
>chanting Gayatri Mantra, he quoted Adi Sankara saying that Narayana alone
>should be meditated upon "Dhyeyas Sadha Savitru Mandala Madhyavarthi
>Narayana......".  Also he narrated an incident from Adi Sankara's

If he were a saint from the Sringeri tradition he must have also been
wearing bhasma and rudrAxa, is it not? Did you ask him if Lord shiva
_cannot_ be meditated upon? Or gayatrI devI herself? The dhyAna shloka
we use describes only gAyatrI devi, in fact. Such statements by
advaitins are meant for pariplava only and not otherwise. Perhaps,
this was during some festival like vaikuntha ekadasi or was given in
in a vishhNu temple, which would explain why he said that. Or perhaps
he knew you were a srivaishnava?

I have seen 3 different suggestions given by advaitic gurus. Some
suggest gAyatrI and in fact the dhyAna shloka agrees with this. Some
say hari using the savita=surya nArAyaNa connection. Some also say
bharga is a name of shiva.

I also think the "dheyas sadA" shloka is from the mahAbhArata and not a
composition of shrI sha.nkara.

>where Sankara explains to his mother saying that everyone and everything
>originates from Maha Vishnu and finally they go back to him and therefore
>why worry.

The story is from the mAdhavIya sha.nkara vijayam. Before this it says 
shrI sha.nkara asked his mother to meditate on Lord shiva and since
she could not do that, he advised her to meditate on Lord vishhNu!

Anyway, the point I'd like to make is that smArtha-s do not
distinguish between worship of saguNa brahman, be it hari, hara,
gaNesha or whoever. One should keep this in mind while reading smArtha
texts. Assuming that smArtha-s mean the same thing as shrI
vaishhNava-s, when saying things like "hari is the lord, he is the
source" etc is quite incorrect. Sri Sadagopan seems to have gauged
the smArtha way of thinking perfectly (though I have no doubt he won't
agree with it :-)).

I'd also like to point out that even if advaitins had said the Lord
vishhNu alone can be worshiped as saguNa brahman, it hardly brings
advaita any closer to vishishhTAdvaita. Some postings on the list seem
to convey the impression that there is no essential difference if this
is done. The theory of mAyA alone is enough to totally disprove any
such claims. Perception of a saguNa brahman is due to adhyAropa only
and not anything else. Bhakti to saguNa brahman is not necessary. shrI
gauDapAda has indicated that it is one of the "paths" and all other
major advaitins also agree on this point.

Ramakrishnan.