Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sampradaya Sunday

A certain person, in a certain discussion, quoted a classic verse (with typos and all):
sampradaya vihina ye mantraste nishphala matah
atah kalau bhavishyanti chattvara sampradaya
sri brahma rudra sanaka vaishnava kshiti pavana
chattvaraste kalau bhava hy utkale purushottaman.

"If one receives a mantra from someone who has no links to any one of the four sampradayas, then that mantra will have no effect. Therefore there will arise four sampradayas [ Sri, Brahma, Rudra, Kumara ] who will purify the whole world. These four sampradayas will originate from the influence of Lord Purushottama in the region of Utkala."
Stray verses like this are too many to poke my attention. But the simplistic summa summarum thrown at the end got me all going and wild. Hold on to your hats, gentlemen... Tsadada-da-da-daaah:
"So the only means to attain perfection is by following one of these 4 sampradayas, which are all Vaisnava-sampradayas. Sankaracharya didn't follow any of them, so how can he be a bona fide spiritual master?"
I would reply in greater detail if I were not at a net cafe and without my reference library. Bear with the shabby scribblings that follow.

The origins of this verse, attributed to Padma-purana, are dubious at best. As far as I recall, it is partially referenced in Jiva Gosvami's sandarbhas, and in full as above — I believe for the first time — in Baladeva Vidyabhushan's writings in the 1700-1800s. I'd have to look up the references, I remember spending some time tracking down the verse with some of its fellow peculiarities some years back.

Padma-purana itself is a treasure-house of interpolations, its different editions varying widely, and unsurprisingly some editions containing material essential to certain Hindu factions being published almost exclusively by them. Reportedly some renditions now even contain verses penned by Rupa Goswami, a 17th-century devotional theologian.

Let's anyhow accept the verse as valid and worth consideration, just for argument's sake. The four sampradayas there are said to be tied with Purushottama, or Vishnu. It is then hardly surprising if the said sampradayas are Vaishnava-sampradayas, no? Shankara also had a Vaishnava side to his personality, often unacknowledged, as it wasn't as overt as the emphasis of the personalists.

The verse doesn't however say, yasya panthaM, yasya satyaM, yasya jIvanaM vinA kenApi na gacchati, even if it is favorite ammunition among some sectarian Vaishnavas. It is not the way, the truth or the life of all spirituality. It merely attempts to systematize and legitimize the sects of a certain Hindu substratum, and bears little effect for the rest of Indic religious traditions.

A matter of great curiosity is the fact that the Madhva-sampradaya, to which the Gaudiyas profess belonging to, actually hails from the Hamsa-avatara as the root-teacher of their paramparas or disciplic lineages. They indeed would not credit the Gaudiyas as an orthodox branch if were to get down to the details of the Madhavendra-Lakshmipati connection, even if some courtesies are occasionally exchanged between the traditions.

The whole sampradaya and parampara facade is such a bottomless can of worms. It was best put by Todke Baba of Shivapuri when I asked of his sampradaya. "This sampradaya, that sampradaya. It yields but headache, disturbance and quarrels. Men waste their lives away in minute debates of doctrinal sophistry." I heartily agree with him.

If it works, then go for it, and do it. "Just do it." (Nike 3.14) There's little gain in dwelling in a state of spiritual stagnation while making oneself believe one is on a progressive path, clinging to the feeble straw of being legitimized and therefore insured by one's heritage. "Because it says so in the scriptures, and as I go through the prescribed motions, it follows I must be advancing and quite happy." For its not being so, for having to face that it doesn't add up, would amount to an existential crisis of cataclysmic dimensions.

6 comments:

fuzz said...

It's always nice seeing the nerd side of Ananda.
Once again, i wanna say how much i've enjoyed our talks, and how nice it was for me to have a walking dictionnary concerning such related asian studies by my side.
I knew i could come to you and ask nerd questions, and i knew i could discuss anything with you, even share some of our cynism. wweehhhh.

Needless to say that I agree with you. Many waste lives dissecting texts that some freak wrote at some time, forgetting to write their own poems. Then again, sheeps are cool and fluffy and taste good when roasted (if one eats meat, if not wool is always usefull as well!)
The flower is beautiful cause "i" can experience the flower, not because some saint wrote a text book on how to experience the flower, something like that.

hope all is going good for you and your lady.
peace and shantiness to you both, and hope to see you again soon, somewhere in lalaland:)

shiva said...

Maybe we should all take your words as scripture?

It's funny that you used to be the biggest scripture prude imaginable, but now you're all liKe "I'm too cool for those fools".

Negro please

Where would your "spiritual" "knowledge" be, without scriptures of one type or another?

Egoes wherever I goes?

"Wake up and live ya'll, wake up and live"

shiva said...

Are you pickin up now?

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x426du_bob-marley-the-legend-1_music

Grasshopper Studio said...

hey Shiva,

with all due respect, cause after all you are one if not the sexiest god out there, there is a big diference between aknowledging and studying scriptures and gobbing all "sacred" word down like a fly on honey.
keep on being so sexy shiva, i even have one of your books by my bed side:):)

Om Namaha Shivaya

shiva said...

Grasshopper. A man may tell himself many things. But is a man’s universe made only of himself?

The mountain is beautiful with snow. But after it loses its snow, green grows from underneath. In every loss there is a gain, as in every gain there is loss. Grasshopper, do you understand that?

Anonymous said...

again we got a bunch of loosers commenting under this article too.... Get A life !!!!!!!! you people are A.D.D or somthing?

most older indian scripture is sceinticfic records.

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