Shrisha Rao shrao at IA.NET
Mon Mar 1 15:23:05 UTC 1999

On Sun, 28 Feb 1999, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> No, never said that. I only said that the _prima-facie_ interpretation
> of upanishhads (early ones) is _closer_ to the interpretation of
> sha.nkara and that the _prima-facie_ interpretation of the brahma
> sUtras is closer to Ramanuja's interpretation. What I meant by the
> statement you quote is that the prima-facie interpretation of
> statements in those upanishhads that lend some support to
> AnandatIrthas  theories are "dubious". More about this later. He also
> quotes early Upanishads,  there's no question about that.

The prima facie interpretation of certain statements in the Upanishads may
appear closer to that of Shankara, no doubt, but it could hardly be said
that they are consistently so -- for instance, creation is consisently
described in such detail, and Mukhya PraaNa is lauded in several canonical
Upanishads, yet Shankara has no use for these concepts.

> basically identifies himself as Madhva. The sarvadarshana-sangraha
> written by mAdhava (identified with vidyAraNya, an advaitin and _not_
> madhva!) a junior contemporary of AnandatIrtha (or slightly later)
> describes the doxography of various philosophical schools. When he
> talks about dvaita he sarcastically refers to "Madhva" as "This
> mystery was promulgated by pUrNa-praGYa mandira, who esteemed himself
> the third incarnation of vAyu", page 102, translation by E.B.Cowell.

I fear the "sarcasm" and the "mystery" are all the work of the translator,
and not the original author.  I'd be careful about drawing inferences from
misinformed secondary sources.  I have seen the actual text and can quote
original statements.  Although it is without doubt that Sayana's intention
was ultimately to refute Madhva, there is no overt "sarcasm" to be had,
and he correctly quotes RV I.141-1, etc., as per Madhva's own statements.

> About pramANa-s: The first is from a secondary source and was given to
> me by a scholar of Ramanujas philosophy, who is also well read in the
> system of sha.nkara and "Madhva". He pointed out to me one of Madhvas
> curious statement. Apparently he says that not only will he quote from
> shAstra-s written prior to him and being written now, he'll also quote
> from shAstras which will be written in the future!!!

And where exactly did Madhva say this?  Let's be specific, now.

> Aptly, when he
> wants to split sandhi in the chhAndogya statement "AtmAtatvamasi"
> (usually given a non-dualist meaning) as AtmA - atattvamasi (Atman,
> that thou art NOT) he quotes some weird text called the brahma-tarka!!
> In other places he quotes an unknown text called parama-upanishhad! He
> quotes many dubious texts and not just upanishhads.

However, should you care to note the sarva-darshana-saN^graha you referred
to above, you would observe that Sayana himself has quoted Madhva's
parama-shruti quotes in support of the latter's interpretation of the
`prapaJNcho yadi vidyeta' verse.  Clearly, Sayana had little reservation
about the veracity of the paramopanishhad; Sridhara Swami had none, for he
quotes it himself.  Both the parama-shruti and the brahma-tarka have been
accepted as Shruti and Smrti respectively by Madhusudana Saraswati, whose
opinion in this matter cannot be lightly discarded.  Several of Madhva's
"dubious texts" have also been quoted by Shankara (for ex.:
paiN^gi-shruti), Sureshvara (for ex.: bhAllaveya-shruti), etc.  Last but
not the least, "untraceable" quotes are not wanting in the works of
Shankara, etc., either.  I could find a dozen examples without breaking a

> When he talks
> about the mANDUkya he says it was revealed by vishhNu in the form of a
> frog. The text quoted is a verse from garuDa (or nArada, sorry I am
> quoting from memory). But Karmarkar in his study of the gauDapAda
> kArikas points out that this verse is not to be found in any extant
> manuscript of the purANa.

Not exactly.  The original statement in this regard was by the late
Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya, who only said in his 1942 work that he had
been unable to trace the quotes in *printed texts* of the Garuda; this
point was later repeated by R.D. Karmarkar and T.M.P. Mahadevan in 1952
and 1953 respectively, without crediting the original source; also,
Karmarkar, et al. have given a very crass interpretation of Madhva's
statement that the Upanishad was revealed by `maNDUka-rUpI bhagavAn.h --
it can mean bhagavAn.h in the form of the sage maNDUka, rather than
bhagavAn.h in the form of the animal that is called maNDUka.  Clear
references to the sage maNDUka exist in the Atharva-veda (not some
untraced quotes by Madhva, but even as commented upon by Sayana), and a
Smrti composition by the same person (called a `shixA') in some 200-odd
verses was published in Lahore in 1921 (a later reprint is in my
possession).  Lastly, we must note that there is no obvious explanation
why the Upanishad would be called `mANDUkya', except by way of Madhva's
explanation -- unlike the IshAvAsya, kena, etc., the name cannot be traced
to its own contents.

> One could say that these texts might be lost. Perhaps so in the case
> of purANa-s,  but it is somewhat curious that the upanishhads like the
> parama and other texts like brahma-tarka which he uses in _key_ places
> have not been conserved by his school,

A valid criticism, but not one that uniquely applies to Madhva's
tradition; others could also be similarly faulted.

> "V.S. Ghate in the book 'The vedanta, a study of BS with the bhashyas
> of Shankara, Ramanuja, Nimbaraka, Madhva, and Vallabha.' compares a
> few major suutras. He concludes that Madhva's commentary on
> brahmasuutra is not only inadequate, but makes unreasonable and
> distorted interpretations of statements, and often gives scriptural
> citations of doubtful authority. "

Ghate's remarks have been reviewed by B.N.K. Sharma in his `History of the
Dvaita School', to which attention may be drawn in this regard; a complete
picture cannot be formed without hearing both sides.  I have carte blanche
from Dr. Sharma to quote his works in any amount, but would like to avoid
taking advantage of his kind offer; if you have real difficulty laying
hands on the HDSV, I will give highlights of the relevant portion.

> Perhaps, that will give some more instances of "dubious" claims. This
> all points out to the evolution of what "authoritative" texts are. A
> great discussion of evolution of "authoritative statements"  by Prof
> Aklujkar can be found in
> under "Twists and Turns in the Transition from Veda to Vedanta".

His analysis is interesting, but at least in his thoughts re the mANDUkya,
the contents thereof are not beyond dispute.  As for the rest, the term
`vedAnta' is interpreted as referring to the Upanishads, or as coming at
the "end of the Vedas," only by the Advaitic tradition, so his criticism
of that view only applies to them.

 > Even then Madhva is probably an extreme in the spectrum because he
> probably really believed he was an incarnation of vAyu and hence could
> "see" upanishhads and other texts which others could not. So, as an
> exegite he is very uninteresting since he can quote arbitrary things
> as shruti or smR^iti, which he seems to do (by the status of being
> vAyu!).  But from a philosophical standpoint he is certainly
> interesting.

It would be as well if you would at least make the effort to stick to
facts and first-hand sources; speculating based on uninformed latter-day
ones is hardly well advised.

> PS: BTW, Madhva also claims he read various commentaries on the
> bhAgavata purANa, including one by hanumAn! The first example of
> anyone quoting hanumAn as an exegite!!

All right, I'm calling your bluff.  Where did Madhva say that?  Madhva did
quote what is said to have been an ancient Pancharatra commentary on the
Bhagavata, called the `tantra-bhAgavata', and this text is also quoted
from by Sridhara Swami and Jiva Goswami.  No other full-scale gloss is
referred to, and its authorship is not stated.


Shrisha Rao

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