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Thread: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

  1. Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    I can totally relate to Philosoraptor's following comments, with me too being born a smArtha and having convinced myself later that Shankara's position was indeed Vishnu sarvottamatva.

    Now, what I find interesting about this discussion is that, contrary to what I was taught as a child, Adi shankara does indeed place a premium on the worship and meditation on nArAyaNa, and does NOT equate His worship with the worship of other gods. This comes out clearly from bhagavad-gItA, but it also comes out clearly from his commentary to the same...
    Yet, because the truth of this was obscured from me by neo-smArtha thinkers, I and many others have been diverted from meditation on brahman to meditation on entities which are not brahman. I have wasted my time following such views, not realizing them to be false. Now I feel the pressure to catch up on doing what I should have done all these years.
    Put simply, had I known in my youth that Adi shankara endorsed nArAyaNa-sarvottamatva, as opposed to panchopAsana, it would have made a big difference to me. All along, advaita was represented to me as "all gods are same," with viShNu-bhakti being considered an optional path. You should worship, but it does not matter who you worship. In that case, why do the worship? Any intelligent person will naturally ask. If you say that I am free to think of Vishnu as supreme or non-supreme, then how will that instill the basic shraddha in me to approach Vishnu with sincere feeling? Right knowledge leads to right action. Wrong knowledge does not lead to right action. One does not act on a certain bit of information (i.e. Vishnu is Brahman) unless he is convinced of the correctness of that information. Saying "all gods are same" and "you have freedom to decide which path is right for you" sends mixed signals to a young person who is searching for the truth.
    I would like to add that to say that contemporary flag-bearers of Advaita are aloof to the worship of Vishnu is a very mild way of describing what is much more serious and damning. In the last 60 years or so, neo-Advaitins (including the head of a mutt who was fondly called 'walking god' etc) have flooded mass media with anti-Vaishnavite concocted purANic stories, commentaries, and diatribe. The head of a certain mutt in Tamil Nadu has spread several anti-Vaishnavite notions such as 'Vishnu exhibited tamo guna in his avatara as Narasimha and Rama', 'Urdhvapundra was started by Ramanuja since he wanted to rebel against ashes-wearing advaitins', 'Ramanuja's sishya kUrattAzhvAn was defeated in debate with Shaivites' and many more such falsehoods among the ignorant masses. Thiruvisanallur Rama Subba shastri (a vidwAn who lived between 1850 and early 20th century and identified Shankara as Vaishnava) and his excellent works are little known among the masses, but his bitter rival Mannargudi Raju Shastri, a staunch shaivite, is celebrated by the mutt I mentioned earlier with all media attention and fanfare. This is the status of the so-called 'traditional' advaitins. Then what to speak of Vivekananda who said "Vaishnavites, being dualists, are a most intolerant sect in India". Such is the plight of smArthas, be they traditional or non-traditional.

  2. #72
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    Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship


    This is very simple in someways even as the world becomes more complex yet boundaries seem not as far away by distance as they have been in the past, which in one way is why some are so fearful, hopefully a clarification to those who see a boogy man hiding under their bed wearing a mask of the dreaded Hindu who is not an adherent of their sect putting poison in their milk and wearing a cross stamped on their forehead.

    1) Advaitans are not the enemy of Hinduism because they are different from one's particular sect, they are members of the Hindu family.

    2) Fixations on disparaging the Ishta Lords or Shri Devatas on a public internet forum of those who do not belong to your sect is not benificial to the Family of Hinduism, it gives fodder including Vedic and Hindu scripture based misrepresentations to like-minded Abrahamic forces who gleefully use such examples to disparage Hinduism, which in turn even provide debating points to such fixated Hindu sectarians to disparage and make fun of other Hindus. Glorify your own Ishta.

    3) Do not hyjack single quotes of Adi Sankara to play these endless put downs on other Hindu sects who do not belong to yours, especially if you are not an Advaitan which I am told Adi Shankara was. Even if He wasn't an Advaitan, this is a waste of time if the purpose of using single quotations is to fixate on belittling another Devas or Devi like a commercial on television. You are being a humbug by doing so. Honestly, did someone's Guru or Acharya tell them disparaging is their duty in this life?

    4) Sectarians who engage in such fixations are the last to know what is actually a "Neo-Hindu". They also have a tendency to barge in on a post of an OP and try to narrow the question to the equivalent of horse-blinders and single a
    scriptural quotes that really take the OP post into tangent paths. Also many if not most true Advaitans have better things to do then sit in such fodder and so you never hear from them anyway on such matters. Some Advaitans also do not consider Adi Shankara as the "end all and be all" of Advaita or Ishta anyway, but it is worse when you use Adi Shankara in such manners to fixate on disparaging while you do not yourself follow Adi Shankara's school. So even those Advaitans who do not follow Shankara as the end-all source do not want to participate either and thus swim in the same fodder and so as is expected do not participate and you don't hear much from them either.

    5) It should not be surprising however, that those who such disparage is directed towards and against their Lord specifically will react, in fact the public disparage is really all about trolling for such reaction in the first place.

    Om Namah Sivaya
    Last edited by ShivaFan; 29 September 2013 at 03:50 PM.

  3. #73

    Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    "First they ignore you. Then they make fun of you. Then they attack(*) you. And then you've won."

    --- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

    --- Albert Einstein

    (*) By, for example, misrepresenting you in public, lying about what you said, knocking down their own strawmen, calling your culture "vile," etc.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  4. #74

    Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    Quote Originally Posted by bhagavatafan View Post
    Then what to speak of Vivekananda who said "Vaishnavites, being dualists, are a most intolerant sect in India". Such is the plight of smArthas, be they traditional or non-traditional.

    My observation on the internet has been that it is usually the Neo-Hindus who display intolerance, often, ironically, in the name of promoting "tolerance."

    They tolerate Vaishnavas only as long as Vaishnavas appear to tacitly accept their views on "all religions are right" and "all gods are the same." But when Vaishnavas start discussing the distinctive nature of their beliefs, then the Neos feel it is their duty to point out the error of these misguided Vaishnavas. Not uncommonly, the Vaishnavas in these discussions will present logical, evidence-based arguments in favor of their position, while the Neos will rely on sentimental arguments and then get upset when those arguments are not accepted as valid. Here is one such example (paraphrased) which I saw, several times on this forum:

    V: "According to shruti, brahman is The Lord of the devas, because it is said in Katha Upanishad that devas like Surya, Indra, Vayu, and Agni perform their respective functions out of fear of Him, and in the Kena Upanishad it is said that these devas depended on Brahman for their victory."

    Neo: "Oh yeah? Well, then how do you explain Tulasi das?......."
    What is even more bizarre is when the term "Vaishnava" acquires the connotation of a dirty word among these Neo-Hindus. It is increasingly becoming the case that anyone who reads, thinks about what he believes, and expresses those beliefs in a logical, coherent, and evidence-based fashion, is denounced as a "Vaishnava" by the Neos. One of our forum members, whom everyone knows is a staunch Shaivite, was recently accused of being a Vaishnava in disguise. The absurdity of this becomes obvious when people read this particular Shaivite's attempts to prove the supremacy of Shiva in the shruti.

    Finally, it ought to be pointed out that Vaishnavas are not the reason why several threads got reclassified as "jalpa," or were just closed down with no explanation.

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

  5. #75
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    Mumbai, India
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    Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    Interesting. I was born in a smarta family too.
    namastE astu bhagavan vishveshvarAya mahAdevAya tryaMbakAya|
    tripurAntakAya trikAgnikAlAya kAlAgnirudrAya nIlakaNThAya mRtyuJNjayAya sarveshvarAya sadAshivAya shrIman mAhAdevAya ||

    Om shrImAtrE namah

    sarvam shrI umA-mahEshwara parabrahmArpaNamastu

    A Shaivite library

  6. Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    Quote Originally Posted by Sri Vaishnava View Post
    Now, I have asked some others for the vIrarAghavIyam (sri vaishnava commentary on bhagavatam by srI vIrarAghavAchArya of the 14th century) to get the achAryan's view in this matter. If it differs from my friend's opinion, I will post it here.
    In response to Sri Vaishnava's quote above, I have confirmation from the commentary on Bhagavata by vIrarAghavAcArya. The above explanation is exactly what vIrarAghavAcArya gives. Those who can read Telugu lipi (just the script, you don't need to know Telugu language) can read the Sanskrit original here:

    Sri vIrarAghavAcArya says that Durga is bhagavan-mAyA-abhimAna devatA and vinAyaka is viShvaksena-pArShadaH, i.e. one of the chieftains of Vishvaksena's army.

    The original question was about the identity of "Durga" and "Vinayaka" in Srimad Bhagavatam 11.27.29/30:

    durgāḿ vināyakaḿ vyāsaḿ
    viṣvakṣenaḿ gurūn surān
    sve sve sthāne tv abhimukhān
    pūjayet prokṣaṇādibhiḥ

    A verse that starts with "satyAcyutAnanta durgA viShvaksena gajAnanAH nityAH sarve pare dhAmni..." from Padma Purana is quoted by Jiva Goswami in his commentary. It is to be examined if the authenticity of this verse and its implication that viShNu durgA is a nityasUri is accepted in Srivaishnavism.
    Last edited by bhagavatafan; 01 October 2013 at 07:50 PM.

  7. Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    I have dug out another piece of information regarding the name 'Ganapathi' commonly understood as Shiva's son Ganesha:

    There is an ancient Smriti text called "Shandilya Smriti" published as Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, no. CXX, in 1935, edited by one C.K. Sambasiva Sastri. It is mentioned by the editor that the Smriti has been compiled using three manuscripts that were more than 300 years old at his time. The author Shaunaka, is the AcArya of AshvalAyana, the author of the AshvalAyana Grhya Sutras.

    In this Smrti, it is mentioned that a Vishnu temple is to be built at the center of every village, and that shrines for Vishnu's consorts and 'Ganapati' must be established inside the temple itself. Here, Vaishnavite commentators have taken 'Ganapati' as the epithet of Vishvaksena, who is the Lord of Vishnu-gaNas.

  8. #78

    Re: Adi shankarAchArya's views on anya-devata worship

    Dear bhagavatafan and other learned members,

    So, just to be clear, durgA in the bhAgavatam verse above is "viShNu-durgA" (not the same as the wife of shiva), and viShNu-durgA is the same as yoga-mAyA, correct?

    And yoga-mAyA aka viShNu-durgA is not considered a nitya-sUri as per Sri Vaishnavism, correct?

    I am curious to know if there is any significance to the fact that yoga-mAyA has many names in common with umA/durgA/pArvatI as mentioned in the 10th skandha of the bhAgavatam (bhAgavata 10.2.11-12):

    nāmadheyāni kurvanti sthānāni ca narā bhuvi |
    durgeti bhadrakālīti vijayā vaiṣṇavīti ca ||
    kumudā caṇḍikā kṛṣṇāmādhavī kanyaketi ca |
    māyā nārāyaṇīśānī śāradety ambiketi ca ||

    "Lord Kṛṣṇa blessed Māyādevī by saying: In different places on the surface of the earth, people will give you different names, such as Durgā, Bhadrakālī, Vijayā, Vaiṣṇavī, Kumudā, Caṇḍikā, Kṛṣṇā, Mādhavī, Kanyakā, Māyā, Nārāyaṇī, Īśānī, Śāradā and Ambikā."

    It's clear from verse 10.2.6 that the Lord is addressing yoga-mAyA. However, in the previous verse (verse 10) He mentions that she will be propitiated with animal sacrifices.

    arciṣyanti manuṣyās tvāṁ sarva-kāma-vareśvarīm |
    dhūpopahāra-balibhiḥ sarva-kāma-vara-pradām ||

    "By sacrifices of animals, ordinary human beings will worship you gorgeously, with various paraphernalia, because you are supreme in fulfilling the material desires of everyone." (bhAgavata purANa 10.2.6 - BBT)

    It sounds to me like it is equating yoga-mAyA with durgA of the shaiva pantheon. However, looking at the Sanskrit, it appears the BBT translator is translating "baLibhiH" as meaning by means of animal sacrifice. I checked MW for this - it appears that it can be translated as gift or tribute in a general sense, or as an animal sacrifice.

    Also of related interest, the varAha-purANa discusses the shakta legend behind navarAtrI with the slaying of the asura by durgA. Except that it's not "durgA" who does the slaying as per the popular tradition - it's yoga-mAyA. Once again, it seems that yoga-mAyA is being equated to durgA. But that seems not entirely consistent with the view that the durgA mentioned in the 11th skandha verse is a personal associate of viShNu.


    "Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something." - Plato

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