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  1. There are many stories told based on the Mahabharata and Ramayana which are not to be found in the Sanskrit version of the text and this is one of them. For what it is worth, the version of the Mahabharata is that Yudhishthira is the greatest character because he is closest to dharma. It is for this reason that he ascends to heaven without tasting death, when all the other characters die. It is said at the end that the only sin he committed in his whole life was telling the lie that led to the death of Dronacharya. And in mitigation it must be said that he was asked to do this by Krishna himself. Dharma seems to be the central theme of the Mahabharata narrative and in terms of dharma, Yudhishthira is unrivalled.
  2. That is the way in which Shankaracharya interprets statements of the Upanishads such as 'ayam atma brahma', 'aham brahmasmi', 'sarvam khalv idam brahma' and 'tat tvam asi'. I would not say that the only way to understand these injunctions is in terms of the absolute identity of atman and brahman, but to do so is not an unreasonable mode of exegesis and seems to be in line with the spirit of these shruti texts.
  3. I don't think I am a mayavadin, although you would have to define the term before I could be sure. But in answer to your question, I would suggest that in Shankara's view moksha is not a matter of going anywhere different to where you are now. You are atman, and as the Mandukya Upanishad (v2) says, ayam atma brahma, the atman is Brahman. We perceive ourselves as existing in this world because we believe ourselves to have an individual identity , when we realise our true identity we cease to exist in that way and come to exist in terms of our true identity, Brahman. I think that is the advaita teaching as I understand it.
  4. Ranjeet, have you got references for those citations? If not it is hard to locate them in the works of Shankaracharya; some of these works are of dubious authenticity and there is sometimes a tendency to quote out of context, which alters the meaning.
  5. Bhaktajan, my private library contains Upanishads, Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas etc as well as writings of acharyas including AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Narayan Maharaja. What higher authority should I seek counsel from? All of us read and hear and then make our judgements as to what path to follow.
  6. Ranjeet, you slightly misquoted what I said but it is not important. I was actually suggesting that jnana may not be about understanding one philosophy or another but about inner realisation of the truth and because this realisation is beyond the range of the rational mind it cannot be revealed through the spoken word. Both the Isha and the Kena Upanishad seem to suggest that true knowledge is beyond philosophising.
  7. I have read the discussion of the tamoguna in the Bhagavad Gita. I have also read a number of Puranas that some would designate as tamasic. There is absolutely no congruence between the concept of tamas as delineated by the Gita and the content or mode of discourse of these Puranas. Read them yourself and then compare what they say to the notion of tamas; it just doesn't coincide at all. There are different approaches to Advaita. Sriman Shankaracharya establishes a form of Vedanta that is advaitic by interpretation of shastra but for others philosophy is secondary to spiritual realisation, which is intensely personal and by definition subjective. I find the texts are most useful when I read and contemplate each verse without preconception as to its meaning. But there is no 'unbiased perusal'. Bias is an inevitable part of the human condition; but self-knowledge can give some insight into the nature of our biases.
  8. Namaste Ranjeet. I don't think the matter is quite as obvious as you suggest and I certainly don't see that the conclusion you present is 'glaringly' obvious. You have offered us a number of citations from the shruti but in each case there is much room for debate and one who chooses to disagree with you is not to be regarded as a fool or as wicked. 1. You cite 6.18 of the Shvetasvhvatara which refers to the one who manifested Brahma and delivered the Vedas to him. But note this verse does not mention Vishnu and you have added 'from His navel' as if it were part of the translation. That is a bit devious. Where the Shvetashvatara does name the Deity it is speaking about, it is always Rudra or Shiva. Note for example: jnatva shivam sarva-bhuteshu gudham (4.16). Vishnu is not mentioned in this Upanishad. 2. The Isha likewise never mentions Vishnu by name and neither does it use the word(s) parameshvara as you suggest. 3. I am afraid I don't have the full text of hymn 164 of the Rig Veda before me so I cannot say whether it is about Vishnu, although the name is not mentioned in the verses I have been able to access. The line you particularly draw our attention to does not mean 'he is your friend, the one who resides in every living being'. This verse is also to be found in the Shvetashvatara (4.6) and gives us the metaphor of the two birds residing in the same tree, one eathing the fruit and the other the witness. The meaning here is not quite what you represent it to be. Thank you anyway for helping with this discussion. I agree with many of the points you make but as is so often the case it is hard to be dogmatic in drawing conclusions.
  9. I have read all these posts with interest. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to the understanding of those who just read the posts. Just a couple of points that occurred to me on this, although they have been covered on other threads. I don't think the argument that the Shvetashvatara is actually referring to Vishnu really holds up if you read through the Upanishad carefully. If that is what is actually meant then the way it is presented is certainly misleading. I think someone said that it should be read in that way because that is 'ordinarily' the meaning. But 'ordinarily' is an imprecise criterion; what is ordinary to one person may be extraordinary to another. The quotation from book 7 of the Rig Veda was very difficult to read. The idea of Vishnu and Shiva's identity also appears in the Mahabharata on a number of occasions, so I can't accept that it is a relatively modern notion that has appeared since the life of Chaitanya. The tendency to elevate Vishnu or Shiva at the expense of the other Deity is primarily a Puranic tendency. The Mahabharata generally seems to regard Vishnu and Shiva as coequal Deities though there are some passages that are predominantly Shaivite and some that are predominantly Vaishnava.
  10. Ranjeet, don't we all have to make that decision as to which smriti is authentic? What else can you do? There is no absolute standard. And ultimately we must make use of shruti and smriti for our own inspiration. Find that which inspires your own spirituality and leave others to use other smriti in pursuit of their own spirituality. I think that is the ultimate criterion but I may be wrong.
  11. The list given in the Kurma Purana (1.1.13-15) includes both the Shiva and Vayu Purana, which it names as Shaiva and Vayaviya in the usual mode of designation for these lists. I agree that Shaiva means 'related to Shiva' rather than giving the direct name of the Purana, but here Vayaviya means 'relating to Vayu'. However, this list has 19 names rather than 18! The Vishnu Purana (3.6.22) gives this list: braahmam paadmam vaishnavam cha shaivam bhaagavatam tatha. Here the Vishnu Purana is referred to as Vaishnavam and so it is logical to take to 'shaivam' as referring to the Shiva Purana, otherwise it would name it as Vayaviyam. No other Purana in the list is mentioned apart from in relation to its conventional name. It may be that it is the content of the Shiva Purana, including the references to Radha, that convinced Hazra that it is not a major Purana but that would be a circular argument.
  12. Some interesting points there, but I don't think it is as quite as clear as Hazra suggests. The fact that 2,000 verses quoted are not to be found in the present version of a text could merely suggest that these passages have been lost. This is not uncommon. The Narada Purana describes four sections of the Kurma Purana but today only one of these still exists. And I am not convinced about the argument for the Vayu rather than the Shiva Purana. In most lists, at least four that I am aware of, the Purana is described as the Shaiva and not the Vayaviya as one would expect (one list includes both Shaiva and Vayaviya). All the other Puranas are listed by name rather than subject so it would be anomalous to refer to the Vayu Purana as Shaiva. I would not be dogmatic on either of these points but on the latter in particular, I think the evidence is towards the Shiva Purana.
  13. Raghu, I think the Brahmavaivarta Purana teaches that Krishna is the original source of Vishnu. I know that Puranic evidence is not always acceptable or persuasive but that may provide some sort of answer to the question you have been posing. If you want I can probably locate the exact passages in the Brahmavaivarta but it may take a little time.
  14. Some of the personal stuff is a bit of distraction but thank you for all these posts, many of which have been most enlightening. Just a couple of points to add, which occurred whilst I was reading. 1. The threefold classification of Puranas does seem to be a part of the Vaishnava view and is found in the Padma Purana, as cited above. There is also a threefold division based on gunas to be found in the Garuda Purana (Brahma Khanda, 1.45-53) but there the three lists are rather different to those given by the Padma. Having read quite a bit of Puranic literature I would say that the guna classification is not sustainable as there is so little difference between works that are said to be tamasic and those judged to be sattvic--apart perhaps from the Deity they revere. 2. Radha is not a late invention of the Geeta Govinda. Her name is not mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana but she is mentioned in the Mahashiva Purana and in the Brahmavaivarta Purana.
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