Re: Vedanta Discussions

In article <3da7b4$hn@ucunix.san.uc.edu> vijaypai@kachori.rice.edu (Vijay  
Sadananda Pai) writes:
> In article <3d51g0$s9g@ucunix.san.uc.edu>,
> Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya@cco.caltech.edu> wrote:
> >Whoever has accepted that some Purana is Vedic scripture?
> Veda Vyasa has -- it's right there staring at you in Chandogya
> Upanishad.
> "itihasa-puranah pancamah vedanam vedah"
> The Itihasa and Puranas are the 5th Veda
> 	Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.4)

1. Please note the fact that the word "itihasa-puranah" is in the  
singular, not in the plural. In the present time, we have umpteens of  
Puranas. The Chandogya Upanishad seems to know only one itihasa-purana.  
Itihasa typically means the Mahabharata. Purana probably means the Vishnu  
Purana, which is quoted both by Sankaracharya and Ramaujacharya. However,  
as far this is concerned, my guess is as good as yours. It is quite  
obvious that the later Puranas have been composed by lesser humans and  
attributed to Vyasa, in a futile attempt to grant them legitimacy. No  
wonder the acharyas of old, including Ramanujacharya, do not use these  
later Puranas at all. 

2. The exact words do not mean that the Itihasa-Purana is the fifth Veda.  
The words "itihasa-purana pancamah vedanam vedah" are interpreted by *ALL*  
acharyas (including the Vaishnava teachers) as two different things,  
itihasa-puranah pancamah (itihasa-purana as the fifth), and vedanam vedah  
(the Veda of the Vedas i.e. grammar). All acharyas, including the  
Vaishnava ones, are also agreed in saying that the Purana referred to here  
is in the singular, and does not mean the whole body of Puranas known in  
their times. If you want to connect the words pancamah and vedanam vedah  
to mean the 5th veda, that is not supported by any Indian traditional  
commentary. Of course, you could claim it is all crystal clear to you, and  
you don't need any commentaries!

In the Upanishad, Sanatkumara asks Narada to list all the branches of  
knowledge that he knows. Narada lists them by saying, 1. Rg Veda, 2. Yajur  
Veda, 3. Sama Veda, 4. Atharva Veda, 5. Itihasa-Purana, 6. the Veda of the  
Vedas i.e. grammar, etc. He goes on to list other branches of knowledge,  
like Rasi, Nakshatra vidya, Kshatra vidya, etc. The word `pancamah'  
therefore, stands purely as the numeral indicating the *fifth* branch of  
knowledge that Narada knows. Nowhere does Narada say that the  
itihasa-purana is the 5th Veda. Note that vyAkaraNa (grammar) is glorified  
as the Veda of the Vedas, but that does not mean that grammar is more of  
an authority than the Vedas, nor does it mean that grammar is "Vedic  

3. After knowing all these brabches of knowledge, Narada is still in  
grief, and asks Sanatkumara to teach him. What does Sanatkumara do? He  
could have said, "The Bhagavata Purana is the commentary on the Vedanta  
Sutra. Please read it again." On the contrary he says, "All that you know  
till now, is nothing but a name. The Rg Veda is a name, the Yajur Veda is  
a name,....., the Itihasa-Purana is a name." Sanatkumara then proceeds to  
teach Narada the secret of Brahman and Atman, and guess what? At the end  
of it, he gives him an Advaitic mesage. He explains the bhUmAn, the  
Infinite as I, and then as the Atman and as the whole of creation. The  
Atman alone is all this, he says, at the end of the 7th prapathaka of the  
Upansihad. Now, this is exactly what Sankaracharya himself says in his  
advaitic philosophy. Remember you do not agree with that. 

So, if you want to quote the Chandogya Upanishad, please make it a point  
read it in full. 

4. Finally, my original question was about "some Purana", not all extant  
Puranas. Specifically, I meant the Padma Purana, as that is what Manish  
quoted to "prove" that Advaita is "wrong". When you people use the term  
"Vedic literature", please note that within that superset, Sruti is most  
authoritative. The Puranas are not Sruti, whereas the Upanishads are.  
Please note the world of difference between the two, before you shoot off  
your mouths.   

> This view has been supported by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva
> and other great acaryas.

Don't include Sankaracharya in this list. The only Purana he quotes is the  
Vishnu Purana, and he is specific that it is Smrti. You include Sankara in  
your list of "great acharyas" whenever it seems convenient to do so. What  
exactly is your problem with advaita then? Why did you people start this  
tirade against it, calling it a superstition? 

> >authority, etc. I quote Sankara only to show how consistent he is with  
> >Upanishads, and that too, only because you attack him, and dismiss all  
> >advaita as superstition.
> Have you read Vada-ratna-vali by Visnudasacarya (a descendant of  
> That pretty clearly shows that mayavad is _not_ consistent with the  
> view of the Vedas, but that dvaita is.

Advaita is not mayavad, you know. It is Brahma-vad. 

And have you read Panchadasi of Vidyaranya, where he shows how Advaita is  
most consistent with all the Vedas? And Advaita siddhi of Madhusudana  
Saraswati, the great Krishna-bhakta, where he shows how the message of the  
Bhagavad Gita is also Advaita only? 

Before you quote Vishnudasacharya, also please note that really,  
Madhvacharya's bheda-tattva is not compatible with Chaitanya's achintya  
bheda-abheda tattva. Srisha Rao already pointed this out before. Get your  
philosophy straight before debunking others. 

> >for you. Only don't keep harping on "Vedic scriptures" without first  
> >knowing what they are.
> Right back at ya, Vidya! Vyasadeva said it all ...
> "itihasa-puranah pancamah vedanam vedah"
> The Itihasa and Puranas are the 5th Veda
> 	Chandogya Upanishad (7.1.4)

Well, it turns out that he really didn't! As Vedanam vedah means grammar,  
(which you would have known, if you had studied the Sanskrit grammar), the  
meaning of "fifth Veda" does not arise at all. The number 5 used here,  
refers only to the Itihasa-Purana as the fifth body of knowledge that  
Narada knows. Nowhere is it accorded a status as equal to the four Vedas.  
Please stick to the Puranas that you are comfortable with. Do not quote  
the Upanishads to me. 

S. Vidyasankar