aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca
Mon May 6 21:21:45 UTC 1996

        Two points in Madhav Deshpande's communication of 6 May which I
found particularly important are the following:
        Point 1: >	Currently, I am working on a text called VedavicaaraH by
DraviDa Shyaamashaastri composed around 1890s.  Among other things, the 
text refers to practices of Brahmans which are contrary to what is 
prescribed in the orthodox tradition (asaampradaayika).  The author says 
that acts like pulling out one's hair and worshipping the Caityas are 
prescribed in the Shaastras of the Naastikas, and yet many Aastika 
Brahmans perform these Naastika acts.  While the author clearly views 
this as despicable, there is a clear admission of behavioral fluidity.<

        The observations I would add to this would be: 
        (a) Such a behavioral fluidity is found from a very ancient time in
India. It is not  a relatively recent phenomenon. That is why I used the
phrase "religious life as it was lived in India" in my last posting. 
        (b) The reactions to such fluidity were as varied in India as they
would be in any other self-reflective culture. One must assume a
spectrums/spectra of conservatism, puritanism, liberalism etc. in the
        (c) It is not enough to be aware of (a) and (b) as mere
generalizations or abstractions. They must be reflected in one's
reconstruction of particular historical issues, changes, developments etc. 

       Point 2:  > If certain ideas from non-Brahmanical
traditions were perceived as being not contradictory to the Vedic
tradition (vedashaastra- avirodhii tarkaH), their acceptance would not
necessarily signal a move across the Brahmanical and Buddhist divide in
the author's own perception, though it may seem like a move to an outside
observer. <

        Agreed. But  we must at the same time bear in mind the following 
         (a) A culture's mechanisms or devices for expressing preferences
for (what *we* would consider)  a conservative position or a liberal
position can be different from the mechanisms or devices of another
culture. An author's perception may *essentially* be the same as ours,
although it may not appear in terms such as 'conservative,' 'liberal' etc.
or as 'Brahmanical and Buddhist divide' etc. 
        (b) Even under the possibility of a different idiom, there is a
plurality available. Also, the same idiom does not cover an identical
extent of liberalism, inclusivism or appropriationist approach in each

        For example, saying that even the Buddhist aagamas come from the
Vedas can be an idiom  for liberalism,  inclusivism (in a negative sense of
the term) or appropriation in India, although it may not contain any words
corresponding (even approximately) to 'liberalism,' etc.

        Similarly, saying that the Buddha is the ninth incarnation of
Vi.s.nu can have a range of motives behind it. For some, Vi.s.nu would be
Buddha only in his trickster aspect , a god who deludes the demons by
spreading a false, Buddhist, philosophy among them. For some, the hidden
message of a statement of the described kind would be that one should
accommodate the Buddha as a deity but not what his followers practise or
preach. For others, like Jaya-deva, the author of the Giita-govinda, the
intention behind accepting the Buddha as the ninth incarnation of Vi.s.nu
could be one of genuine respect for the Buddha's message of compassion. 

        If an author like Bhart.r-hari or Gau a-paada accommodates what
seem to be Buddhist views (as far as our extant sources go) under a Veda
umbrella and does not  discriminate against them any more than he would
against the views of others in the Brahmanical tradition (that is,
relegates them all to a lower level of truth), I think, we would be
justified in concluding that he *essentially*  crosses the 'Brahmanical :
Buddhist' divide or comes close to crossing it. 

        Now some minor comments: 

        Deshpande writes: 

        1. >	I would like to draw attention to my discussion of relatively 
late Buddhist Sanskrit texts like Lalitavistara which shows that the 
Buddhist tradition by this time shows an increasing absorption of both 
the Brahmans as a social category and its prestige, as well as the Vedic 
traditions of the Brahmans.  In fact the text says that the Buddhist gods 
taught the Mantravedashaastra to the Brahmans.  I related this rising 
star of the Brahmans within the Buddhist tradition to the fact that 
almost all the Mahayana teachers were born Brahmans converted to 
Buddhism, apparently without shedding all the Brahmanical baggage.  For 
details, see my Sanskrit and Prakrit, Sociolinguistic Issues, Motilal 
Banarsidass, 1993, pp. 7-8. <

        In the publication I referred to as 'under preparation,' I point
out that the explanation in terms of Brahmins bringing their past baggage
into Buddhism does not constitute a satisfactory or adequate explanation. 
(Sorry for withholding the details, Madhav. I am anxious to send the full
version to you. But have not so far found time to update my current draft
by introducing the details from your recent Marathi book on
Sanskrit-Prakrit relations.)

        2. >Another interesting discussion occurs in the Mahaabhaazya
(Kielhorn edn, vol. I, p. 3).  An objector says that if any cited verses
are authoritative, then even a verse such as the following would be
authoritative: "If a whole row of wine-pots with the color of Udumbara,
when consumed, does not take one to heaven, how could it take one to
heaven consumed during a sacrifice?"  Patanjali responds by saying that
this verse was sung by its honorable author under delusion (pramattagiita
eza tatrabhavataH).  However, what comes from this honorable author when
he is not deluded would be authoritative (yas tv apramattagiitas tat
pramaaNam).  After classifying some sayings of an honorable person as
deluded, and therefore, unacceptable, Patanjali still leaves room to
accept other sayings of the same person, if they do not exhibit delusion. 
Of course, the most important point here is that the evaluative framework
of Patanjali, or what he would consider delusion or lack of delusion, is
indeed Brahmanical. <

        Deshpande's last point could be true, although I do not think that
a strong enough case has been made to establish Pata;njali as a blindly or
fanatically Brahmanical thinker -- one whose primary  criteria for reading
delusion in a statement would be lack of that statement's agreement with
what the Brahmanical scriptures say. Such a stark depiction of Pata;njali
is possible only if one imputes very specific, contextually unsupported,
motives to statements like iha pu.sya-mitra.m yajayaama.h.  

        It should also be noted that the term tatra-bhavat in Pata;njali's
remark can be taken in two ways: 
        as a sarcastic reference to a thinker of Caarvaaka or Lokaayata
persuasion (compare the type of argument that is found in the (B.rhaspati?)
verses quoted in the Caarvaaka-dar;sana chapter of the
Sarva-dar;sana-sa graha; in his 1979 publication, Deshpande takes the verse
as possibly coming from a Buddhist author) or 
        as a (possibly playful) reference to Pata;njali's interlocutor.  
        In the latter, non-agentive, sense of the genitive,Pata;njali's
sentence would mean: 'What you cite was uttered by someone in a drunken
state.  Pata;njali's intention then may not be one of classifying thinkers
according to his evaluative frame -- of pre-judging pramattataa or
apramattataa according to a Brahmanical criterion.  His following sentence
yas tv apramatta-giita.h sa pramaa.nam would correspondingly state a
general truth all of us would (I hope) accept. 
ashok aklujkar
Professor, Dept. of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1Z2

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