Guiding Principles in the Jungle of Shastra

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Question: In the Śiva-Purāṇa, Kailāśa-Saṁhitā, 15.21-29, it is said that Viṣṇu appears from the Vāmadeva face of Rudra, is the presiding deity of the Sthiti-Cakra, and has four vyaṣṭi manifestations. A Śrī Vaiṣṇava, in order to establish samanvaya, as well as to establish Viṣṇu’s supremacy, explained to me that this Viṣṇu is not the unmanifest Viṣṇu, but rather is a manifestation of Aniruddha. He quoted Mahābhārata, Śānti-parva 327.26: “He [Aniruddha], *having become manifest*, created the grandsire, Brahmā” (your translation, obtained from Kṛṣṇa Sandarbha). The Śrī Vaiṣṇava also said that this Viṣṇu is Sattvamūrtī Viṣṇu, who manifests from Aniruddha, and whom we Gauḍīyas call Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who lies in the milk ocean of the universe.

Is this correct, according to the Gauḍīya viewpoint? What are the vyaṣṭis of Vāsudeva in the Śiva Purāṇa, Kailāśa Saṁhitā? The Śrī Vaiṣṇava told me that these vyaṣṭis are not catur-vyūhas.

Answer: To understand and harmonize such statements, you need to have a complete picture of śāstra, because different śāstras are propagated for different sādhakas. Every śāstra is not for everybody, and knowledge is described according to the adhikāra of the sādhaka.

Śāstra is like a jungle, and you have to know how to find your trail in it to reach your destination. If you read Devi Purāṇa, it says that the three devas appeared from her, whereas in Śiva Purāṇa, they appear from Śiva. The 15th chapter speaks about Sadāśiva, from whom appears Maheśvara. From Maheśvara comes Rudra, and from Rudra comes Viṣṇu. From Viṣṇu comes the caturvyuha of Vasudeva, etc.

The explanation given by the Śrī Vaiṣṇava is not very satisfactory, because even if he is not the unmanifest Viṣṇu, He is still Viṣṇu, or Aniruddha, according to him. So if this Viṣṇu is Kṣīrodakśāyi, then why is He coming from Rudra? That is not clear.

Even if He is just sattva-mūrti, how is He different from the so-called unmanifest Viṣṇu?

My understanding is that the source of all these is Sadāśiva, as per the Siva Purāṇa itself. Sadāśiva is just another name for Mahā Viṣṇu, and all these names (Sadāśiva, Maheśvara, Rudra, Skanda, etc.) are also names of Viṣṇu.

In some kalpas, Viṣṇu Himself takes the position of Rudra or Brahmā, so when it is said that from Rudra came Viṣṇu or Vasudeva, it does not refer to the popular Rudra. Rather, the description is of the kalpa when Rudra, or Śiva, is Viṣṇu Himself.

Secondly, who comes from whom does not always refer to hierarchy. Kṛṣṇa worshiped Śiva to get a son, and Rāma also worshiped Śiva to be victorious against Ravaṇa. That does not make them inferior to Śiva.

Narasiṁha appeared from a pillar. Does this mean the pillar has become superior to Narasiṁha?

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Question: I have read your articles on the position of Lord Śiva and have understood that Sadāśiva is an intermediate between jīva and Īśvara, and after him comes Rudra, who appears from the forehead of Brahmā.

In various places in the scriptures, like Ṛg Veda, Mahābhārata and some Purāṇas, it is said that Rudra propitiated Lord Viṣṇu, thus receiving his powers (Rudratva), and became known as Mahādeva.

The same thing appears in different places, but the name Rudra is replaced by Śiva, Bhava, and sometimes Sadāśiva.

For example, in Padma Purāṇa 5.42.18: sadāśivoyamārādhya paramaṁ sthānamāgataḥ, “Sadāśiva reached the highest place after worshipping Him (Śrī Rāma)”.

Some of these references were quoted by Śrī Rādhā Dāmodara Gosvāmī in Vedānta Śyāmantaka, and following him, Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa also did the same, to prove that Śiva’s powers are dependent on Lord Viṣṇu.

My question is, which Śiva is referred to in these places? Is it Sadāśiva, who is an intermediate between jīva and Īśvara, or is it Rudra, who appeared from the forehead of Brahmā?

Answer: This reference is to Rudra.

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Question: Do Vaiṣṇavas consider Tantra texts like the Mahānirvāṇa-tantra or Muṅḍamālā-tantra (which are close to Śākta philosophy) as authoritative as the Gautamīya-tantra, which the Gauḍīya ācāryas frequently quote from?

Also, is the Gautamīya-tantra equal to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in terms of validity, or is it relative to the Bhāgavatam?

Answer: Bhāgavat Purāṇa is the supreme pramāṇa for us. There is nothing equal to it.

Anything else that does not contradict Bhāgavatam is acceptable.

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Question: I was listening to your lecture related to Śruti, Smṛti, and Gauḍīya Śāstras, and in that lecture you said that there was originally one Veda, which was Yajurveda, and then Maharṣi Vedavyāsa divided it into Ṛg, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Vedas.

Is there any śāstric reference to substantiate this?

If not, then on what basis is Yajurveda considered the original Veda, which was then divided into four by Maharṣi Vedavyāsa? I understand that Vedas are apauruṣeya, but how is Yajurveda considered the original Veda?

Answer: For reference, please read Tattva Sandarbha, Anuccheda 14-16.

It was Vyāsa who arranged the Veda into four, for the facilitation of doing yajña. Vyāsa is not really his name—it literally means one who arranges. Veda is apauruṣeya, and by arranging it, it does not become pauruṣeya. Vyāsa did not compose Veda.

For example, the Gītā has 18 chapters and 700 verses. If I divide those chapters into three subchapters for easy understanding, that does not turn it into something else.

 

 

 

 

 

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