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Everything posted by kimfelix

  1. My point was that you accused another poster of misquoting the Ramayana whilst doing exactly the same yourself. Sorry if my mentioning your credibility caused offence, it was tongue in cheek really. But having seen how you use texts to support your points, it does make me a little suspicious of the other citations you have given from Shruti and Smriti.
  2. My understanding of Rudra in the SU is entirely in line with most readings of the text. It is the overt meaning of the text. By 'do not understand' you really 'do not submit to my interpretation'; that's not quite the same thing. If Chapter 3 of the SU is not Shaivite then there is nothing that could be Shaiva. It could not be made more clear. And if I was completely wrong about that the point about the Ramayana is unaffected.
  3. Do you have a Sanskrit verse reference for the quote? As I suspected the Valmiki Ramayana does not mention Ranganatha. This is derived from commentary based on Puranic accounts so your original assertion was a little disingenous. There are of course Puranic sources for Rama worshipping Shiva, but as you say this is not mentioned by Valmiki and you are right to point this out. But I think the same standards should be applied from both sides, otherwise it gives the impression that you are only interested in polemics.
  4. Dark Warrior, yesterday you cited a story from the Ramayana about squirrels carrying sand in the building of the bridge. In the Valmiki Ramayana the building of the bridge by Nala is told in Chapter 22 or the Yuddha Kanda, in verses 48-75. There is no mention of squirrels there. I don't know what the Sanskrit word for a squirrel is. You must be more careful in citing texts as this undermines your credibility in debate. You also cite a reference from the Valmiki Ramayana where Rama says that he does not worship Shiva or Brahma. Again I have some doubts as to whether this verse actually exists. Do you have a reference?
  5. Straight question, Dark Warrior, what is the reference for Rama worshipping Ranganatha in the Valmiki Ramayana. You often seem to make very definite assertions about different texts without giving the reference so it can be checked. Do you have the reference for this one?
  6. Raghu, thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree with a lot of what you say, particularly regarding the perspective of the Gita. I was arguing mainly from the other side just as a way of pursuing the topic from a range of perspectives. On the last point, I agree that a lot of Brahmins do take their identity very seriously but that is not quite the same as the whole varna dharma idea. In terms of society as a whole and the social role of dharma, then varna is no longer a central issue. Perhaps we need to reinterpret the Gita's emphasis on varna dharma in a more general sense as loka-samgraha, having a responsibility for the welfare of society as a whole that must be reconciled with our personal quest for spiritual goals. Anyway thank you again for your intelligent and learned words. Regardless of your birth, I regard you as a Brahmin.
  7. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad is Veda; it is to be found in the Krishna Yajur Veda. So you might say that any statement contradicting the SU is contradicting Veda. I am not saying that there are inconsistencies in the Veda, but there may be paradoxes that are hard for the human mind to fully comprehend. After all, the Supreme is achintya. You might look at it this way. If we find within the Veda a statement that Vishnu is supreme and then another that says Rudra is supreme, we might conclude that Vishnu and Rudra must be the same being or different aspects of the same being. In that way there is no inconsistency in the Veda and we can accept its statements as they are, without recourse to unusual interpretations. This view is confirmed in the Mahabharata. Krishna describes Shiva as narayanatmako jneyah, to be understood as of the same nature as Narayana (12.328.19). And Narayana himself says to Shiva, yas tvam vetti sa mam vetti yas tvam anu sa mam anu/navayor antaram kimcit, 'one who knows you knows myself; one who follows you follows me. There is no difference between us.' (12.328.64). These verses are to be found in the Nara-Narayaniyam, a passage of the Mahabharata that teaches Vaishnavism. There are other parts of the Mahabharata in which Shiva is said to be the source of Vishnu, Brahma and Rudra. It is here we find the explanation of how Rudra was born from Brahma; this Rudra is not the original Shiva who is the Supreme Deity but a secondary manifestation and it is this secondary manifestation that is associated with the the tamo-guna. In the Anushasana Parvan, Book 13, of the Mahabharata we find this prayer to Shiva: yo asrijad dakshinad angad brahmanam loka-sambhavam vama-parshvat tatha vishnum loka-rakshartham ishvarah yugante chaiva samprapte rudram angat srijat prabhuh 'He is the Lord (ishvara) who from his right side created Brahma the creator of the world and from his left side created Vishnu for the protection of the world. And at the end of the Yuga the mighty Lord creates Rudra from his body.' I am not trying to say that Shiva is superior to Vishnu, but just to show that there is pramana on which to argue that Shiva is not a demigod or jiva of this world. This was requested above.
  8. eko hi rudro na dvitiyaya tasthur ya imal lokan ishata ishanibhih pratyan janams tishthati sanchukocha anta-kale samsrijya vishva bhuvanani gopah (SU 3.2) I am sure there are ways of reinterpreting this text so as to get an alternative meaning, but one can hardly say that there are no Vedic pramanas for Shaivism when the overt meaning of this text is that Rudra is the one supreme lord without second. Other verses in the Upanishad confirm the overt meaning. Why is the Shiva Purana tamasic. I have read it a couple of times and there is nothing in it all to indicate the influence of Tamas. A Tamasic person (according to the Gita's definition) would not find what they want in the Shiva Purana. Is the Mahabharata also Tamasic? If not, what is the problem with citing it as support for a Shaiva position?
  9. Godseed, this is probably not the right thread for this discussion but I am not aware of any verses in shastra that refer to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as an avatar. You make a very strong distinction between Chaitanya and Swaminarayan, but I don't think there is the textual evidence to support this view. I am not trying to give any offence but the ascription of avatar status to Chaitanya and Swaminarayan always struck me as being rather similar and as lacking in support from Mahabharata or Puranas.
  10. Raghu, I will try to reply to the questions you have asked as best I can, although I am not necessarily opposing your position. I can see two sides to this debate and I am not an advocate of one or the other. 1. I would prefer to say the Yudhishthira or Bhrigu way as that gives a little greater strength to the position and shows that it is not some modern invention. The standards employed would be those given in Chapter 18 of the Gita; there are people from all backgrounds who have a tendency towards intellectual pursuits and are less materialistic. This is certainly not ideal but neither is the birth method as we can see so many Brahmins by birth who don't meet the Gita's criteria. So, yes, the method is flawed but then so is selection by birth, perhaps more so. 2. Prabhupada is an interesting character and his attempt to transplant Indian religion into a Western environment is a fascinating study. I think that in initiating his followers as Brahmins he was following the lead set by his own guru, Bhakti-siddhanta Saraswati. Do you think that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was also mistaken in his attempt? I am no advocate for ISKCON and have only a limited knowledge of its procedures, but I would say that the emphasis on devotion to Krishna as transcending all other qualities led the Gaudiya Math leaders to suppose that if one had Krishna bhakti then such a person was greater than a Brahmin. It is not a unique idea. Basavanna and the Lingayats held a similar view in relation to Shiva bhakti. They have no Brahmins because they regard Shiva bhakti as transcending all such designations. I also suspect that Prabhupada found it hard to comprehend the Western mind and when he saw great commitment to the cause in his followers he presumed a level of sincerity that was not quite there. I think he failed to grasp how temporary everything is in the West and how prone young Westerners are to take something up very ardently and then set it aside a few years later. 3. I would say that the caste system as it has been practised in India for centuries is not based on any sort of spiritual realisation. Swami Vivekananda makes this point very eloquently. It is more about families preserving their own wealth and status than the spiritual upliftment of society. I do know some Brahmins by birth who take this identity very seriously and are wonderful admirable people, a joy to be with, but they are equally opposed to being given status by birth alone. 4. Good point. I would say that in modern society varna has very little meaning in religious life. It is a leftover from the past. Caste provides a very valuable sense of community but too often it is connected to pride and contempt for others. What does varna mean for most people today, particularly those living in the West or in Indian cities? It is not an important element in our religious lives and I think that most Hindus would share that view.
  11. The demand for Pramana is easily satisfied. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad is shruti and it is overtly Shaiva. There are literally hundreds of quotations that could be given from Mahabharata and Puranas that confirm the same point. The reason why Rudra is born from Brahma and his association with tamoguna is explained in detail in the Shiva Purana. I can't see any reason to presume that the Bhagavata is any more authoritative than the Shiva Purana.
  12. Raghu, two points in response to your previous post: 1. Why would Mahabharata make exactly the same point as Prabhupada seemed to following with ISKCON, and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in his Gaudiya Math? 2. And there are many Brahmins by birth who have also fallen from brahminical standards. So your argument must equally discredit the validity of selection by birth.
  13. cbrahma, Hinduism is polytheistic, monotheistic and monist at the same time. This may be a problem for Western theologies but why should that matter? Western theology has so many problems of its own that it cannot be regarded as any sort of absolute standard. Christianity is regarded as polytheistic by Muslims because of its three gods. Moreover, the rigid monotheism of Christianity etc raises problems about evil and suffering in the world--the problem of theodicy. How is it that the world is so full of evil and suffering if it is the creation of a benign, all-powerful Deity? Richard Rubenstein, a Jewish theologian who survived Auschwitz, claimed that the notion of an all-good, all-powerful Deity is no longer possible in light of the suffering he had witnessed. But my main objection to Christian monotheism is its insistence that faith in Christ is the only way to salvation, because of the atonement for sin brought about by his death. This is just a matter of blind faith, but Christians use it to insist that theirs is the only religion and to condemn and abuse other faiths. I am entirely tolerant of faith-based religion, but I cannot tolerate their intolerance, particularly as the religion is so intimately tied in with the evils of colonialism, imperialism and the domination and enslavement of other races. The close alliance between Christianity and aggression against other peoples is not an aberration or a coincidence; it is a direct result of the supremacist theology. So I have no problem with Christianity as a faith-based religion; different people believe all sorts of different things. But I do have a problem with the supremacism, as it is the root of so many evils; and there are hints of that mood in your original post. There is the story of a Mexican chief who was being tortured by the Spanish who were trying to convert him to Christianity. Eventually, after roasting him on a spit, they said, "Why will you not convert?" He replied, "Because if I convert I will go to heaven" They said, "Why do you not want to go to heaven" "It's full of Christians"
  14. Yes, there are two Bharata's but I had always presumed that Bharatvarsh was named after the son of Shakuntala and Dushanta (Mahabharata 1.69.50). When Arjuna is addressed as Bhaarata or Bharata-sattama, it is this Bharata who is being referred to and not the King Bharata of the Bhagavata who was reborn as a deer. I don't think this Bharata, son of Rishabhdev is mentioned in the Mahabharata.
  15. Amlesh, you are right about that. I just checked in the Bhagavata. It is interesting that the Vishnu Purana does not mention this dissatisfaction in its telling of the story. I suspect the Bhagavata is more anxious to emphasise the pure bhakti element in its narration.
  16. Some hard questions there. Some I answers I am pretty sure of, some guesses and some I don't know at all. 1. During the yuga-sandhya between kali and satya 2. A guess--chakshush 3. Dharma, from the Mahabharata 4. Dana, Shaucha and two others. These I am guessing are the four legs of the bull encountered by Parikshit. 5. ---- 6. One year old? 7. Om namo vasudevaya shuddha-jnana-virupine 8. Because he wanted to be greater than an earthly king. He was a kshatriya by disposition and so sought greater power. A bit of a guess. 9. Narada persuaded Daksha's sons to renounce the world and not produce offspring. He was cursed to have no permanent home. 10. Was he blessed so as to survive the pralaya at the end of the creation? 11. ---- 12. Bhakti? 13. Vajranabha 14. Arjuna? 15. Bhishma 16. No he was not angry, he felt blessed to have been allowed to see Krishna and to be welcomed by him with such humility. 17. Nriga gave away the same cow to two Brahmins and so was cursed to be a lizard. 18. --- 19. --- 20. --- That's the best I can come up with without looking at books, but that would be cheating. Good quiz. Thank you very much.
  17. There is not much detail given in the Puranic accounts, but they seem to indicate that he will overthrow the rulers of the world rather than engaging in wholesale massacre of the population.
  18. Kalki is mentioned in the Mahabharata (though there he is not noted as an avatar) and in various Puranas, including the Vishnu Purana (4.24.18). It says that he will be the destroyer of the mlecchas and thieves who are reigning as kings at the end of Kaliyuga. There is no mention there of his white horse. My understanding is that the transition from Kali to Krita Yuga is an automatic progression of time and is not caused by Kalki. He just comes to sort out the residual problems of Kaliyuga by delivering the righteous from the clutches of wicked rulers.
  19. The swaminarayan sect has many fine people involved with it. I know many of them myself and they are very devout and strict in their religious conduct. They are descended from Ramanuja in terms of sampradaya but they regard Swaminarayan as an avatar of Vishnu. That is why they worship his murti in the temple; it is not that different to Gaudiya Vaishnavas worshipping Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as avatar.
  20. If anyone has the Ganguli translation, the relevant part of the conversation with Yudhishthira is on page 360 of volume 3, in Chapter CLXXIX and the relevant passage from the Bhrigu-Bharadvaja Samvada is page 34 of Volume 9, in Chapter CLXXXIX.
  21. Tackleberry, if you read the whole of chapter 182 of the Shanti Parvan that explanation is very unlikely. It says what it says and if it doesn't mean what it says then it is highly misleading. It is not simply a matter of a different interpretation. If we were to follow the line you recommend then anyone would be able to say, 'Well the scripture says 'x' but in fact it really means 'y''. In that case why bother reading scripture at all if you can just pretend it doesn't say what it says. I would prefer to accept that even in the scriptures different authorities have different opinions on issues. We can live with diversity and difference of opinion because we are a mature tradition. That is the great strength of our religion.
  22. Raghu, sorry for the delay in replying to you. I was citing the BORI Critical Edition of the Mahabharata. There is a reference in the teachings of the dharma-vyadha that is also interesting. I can't find the exact reference immediately but it must be in the Aranyaka Parvan. There it says: yas shudro dame satye cha satatothitah tam brahmanam manye: if a shudra is always elevated in terms of restraint and truthfulness then I consider him to be a Brahmin. In 12.182.8, Bhrigu says: shudre chaitad bhavel laksyam dvije chaitan na vidyate na vai shudro bhavech chudro brahmano na cha brahmanah This designation (of a Brahmin described previously) may appear in a shudra and not exist in a Dvija. The shudra is then not a shudra and the Brahmin is not a Brahmin. The same verse is spoken by Yudhishthira to Nahusha in the form of a serpent in 3.177.20. This is not the only side of the argument from the Mahabharata but it does show that this opinion is a viable position to take and does have scriptural support.
  23. There are at least two places in the Mahabharata which state that varna is not determined by birth alone. These are verses 20-21 of Chapter 177 of the Aranyaka Parvan (3.177.20-21) and verse 8 of Chapter 182 of the Shanti Parvan. It states there that if the qualities of a Brahmin are not found in one of Brahmin birth then he is not a Brahmin and if the qualities of a shudra are not found in one who is a shudra then he is not a shudra. I can give the Sanskrit if anyone is particularly interested, but they are clear references that show that this view is scriptural.
  24. Raghu, I am sorry I have not responded earlier to your thoughtful words. I am speaking on behalf of western academics or the norms of Western society. Not at all. I am trying to base my views on the eternal virtues that are sanatan dharma. So much of what you say here is not addressed towards myself and I have no desire to defend modern society. Apologists for modernity may be critics of the Manu Smriti, but to therefore presume that a critic of Manu is an apologist for modernity is a logical fallacy. The critics of the smritis are not exclusively modern. In the 12th century, Basavanna, the great acharya of the Vira Shaivas, utterly condemned any sort of distinction being made on the basis of caste and gender. He arranged for a marriage between a Brahmin and an outcaste. When the king discovered that this had taken place he had the parents of the couple dragged to death through the streets in order to prevent varna-samkara and to uphold what he understood to be dharma. So this is not a view that has only recently appeared. The idea of consulting a guru on all matters is not one that is too widespread in Sanskrit texts. Wise men are certainly to be consulted but we must be careful and I would be very reluctant to surrender my own judgement to any other individual. Experience of the world suggests that this is far too risky and the experiences of ISKCON would surely confirm that. In the Shanti Parvan of the Mahabharata, Chapter 171 I think, Bodhya says that this gurus are Pingala, the osprey, the snake, the antelope, the arrow maker and the young girl. This is the example I would choose to follow, adding yourself to my list of course.
  25. I am afraid the way the words are represented here does not accord with the conventional method transliteration and so it is difficult to establish what the exact wording is. To attempt to do so would involve a certain amount of guesswork.
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