Madhva and textual sources (was Re: Advaita-Chandran)

Shrisha Rao shrao at IA.NET
Wed Mar 10 00:11:23 UTC 1999

On Tue, 9 Mar 1999, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> Why use phrases like "calling your bluff"? I do not know Ramadas from
> Adam and I have no need or desire to mislead him.

That's fine, then.  We'll both try to stick to facts that we can
acknowledge between us.

> The question of
> whether the bhAgavata refers to the devI bhAgavata or the vaishhNava
> bhAgavata has been a much discussed point among Indian scholars for
> many centuries now. H.H.Wilson says that the vaishhNava camp quotes
> one of Madhwas statements that he has seen 8 commentaries on the

That's strange.  B.N.K. Sharma, whom I'd definitely consider one of the
"Vaishnava camp," and a Maadhva to boot, says no such thing in his 1932
BORI paper on the dating of the Bhagavata Purana; to the best of my
knowledge, neither he nor any other Maadhva says such a thing at any time.
In my opinion, what Madhva claimed to have seen would in any event be poor
evidence given that Madhva's sources are not universally acknowledged.

It's been a while since I read Dr. Sharma's paper, but as I recall, his
main arguments were that the "argumentum ad ignorantium" from the lack of
reference to the Purana in Shankara's works is invalid, and that
Abhinavagupta (10th cent., I believe) quotes the Purana but not the
devI-bhAgavata, although it would be clearly to his advantage to do
otherwise given his own philosophical leanings.

Some question exists about whether the references to turIya, etc., in the
Bhagavata are copied from the mANDUkya-kArikA (which would place the
Bhagavata after Gaudapada, reliably known to have lived no later than the
5th cent. CE) or otherwise, but as the relevant verses can be determined
to be part of the Upanishad itself which obviously preceded Gaudapada by
an unknown amount, nothing is known about the date of the Bhagavata in
this manner.  The commentary (by an author of unknown name and antiquity)
on the Lakshmi-Tantra (an extant Pancharatra text) also says that the
quartet of turIya, etc., in the mANDUkya refer to the four
vyUha-expansions of Vishnu, which tho not exactly what Madhva says about
them, does give a historical background to show that the Vaishnava camp
has traditionally considered names to refer to forms of Vishnu.

I have heard that there are controversial references to the Bhagavata
Purana in a work claimed to be Ramanuja's (but not accepted so
universally), and in an Alwar work, but I don't know the references to
these offhand, though it can't be hard to find them.

> bhAgavata to prove its antiquity. He adds "Now amongst these is one by
> the monkey Hanuman; and although a Hindu disputant may believe in the
> reality of such a composition, yet we may receive its citation as a
> proof that Madhwa was not very scrupulous in the verification of his
> authorities" (preface to vishhNupurANa, page 30). Now Wilson may be
> wrong, but if my recollection is right I told Ramadas that some of my

If Wilson didn't give an actual quote where Madhva says this, I'd conclude
more about his lack of verification than about Madhva's.  Anyway, as far
as I know, Madhva has claimed that there is a lot of exegetical literature
handed down by tradition along with the Vedas, etc., a key reference is
Br. U.'s (II.4-10 -- this is from memory, so needs verification) reference
to `sUtrANi, anuvyAkhyAnAni, vyAkhyAnAni', etc., which in Madhva's
commentary are references to the Brahma Suutra, the Brahma Tarka, and the
various Pancharatric or other exegetical literature which he quotes from
profusely.  This literature however seems to cover more than just the
Bhagavata alone.  I have independently verified that some of the extant
Pancharatra literature does tend to favor Madhva's theories more than any
other's, and that some sources he alone uses (such as `mahA-samhitA') are
extant (although not enough effort has been made, in my opinion, to
discover these and trace his quotes).

> sources were secondary and unverified.  If Wilson is completely
> incorrect, I am willing to update my knowledge.

As I said, it is to be hoped that Wilson gave some references in
connection with his assertion, or some hint where such could be found.


Shrisha Rao

> Rama

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