Vedanta Sutra, Bhashyas, Puranas, Itihasas and Kavyas
- Vedanta Sutra and BhashyasVyasadeva is an incarnation of Krishna. He compiled Vedanta-sutra to enable one to understand the Absolute Truth through infallible logic and argument.
Veda means knowledge, and anta means the end. In other words, proper understanding of the ultimate purpose of the Vedas is called Vedanta knowledge.
A sutra is a code that expresses the essence of all knowledge in a minimum of words. It must be universally applicable and faultless in its linguistic presentation; this is the definition of sutra according to Vayu and Skanda Puranas.
Knowledge which is given in the Vedanta-sutra is supported by the Upanisads. Vedanta-sutras are known as nyaya-prasthana, legitimate logic and argument concerning cause and effect giving the conclusive understanding of the sruti-prasthana, the Upanishads .
Vedanta-sutra, which consists of codes revealing the method of understanding Vedic knowledge, is the concise form of all Vedic knowledge. It begins with the words athato brahma-jijnasa: "Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth". The human form of life is especially meant for this purpose, and therefore the Vedanta-sutra very concisely explains the human mission. According to the great dictionary compiler (Kosakara), Hemacandra, Vedanta refers to the purport of the Upanishads and the Brahmana portion of the Vedas.
The Vedanta-sutras are also known by the following different names:
The Vedanta-sutra consists of four chapters. The first two chapters discuss the relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is known as sambandha-jnana, or the knowledge of relationship.
The third chapter describes how one can act in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhideya-jnana.
The fourth chapter describes the result of such action. This is known as prayojana-jnana.
Because the Vedanta-sutra is in codes which contain a lot of knowledge, it required commentaries (bhashyas).
Sripada Sankaracharya wrote his commentary on Vedanta-sutra based on monism (advaita - not two). He established that God and the living entity are one. Not accepting the transformation of the energy of Absolute Truth, which is the actual explanation of th e Vedanta-sutra, he introduced the theory of illusion. He claimed that everything is one with Supreme.
There are other (theistic) commentaries by vaishnava acharyas:
Nimbarka - dvaitadvaita (oneness and dualism)
Vishnuswami - suddhadvaita (purified oneness)
Ramanujacharya - visistadvaita (specific oneness)
Madhvacharya - dvaita (dualism)
Baladeva Vidyabhusana - acintya bhedabheda (inconceivable
oneness and difference)
In each of these commentaries, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is established as the cause of all causes, the cosmic manifestation is established as transformation of His inconceivable energies, and devotional service is described very explicitly.
Puranas, Itihasas and Kavyas
Puranas are compiled from related historical facts which explain the teachings of the four Vedas. In the Chandogya Upanishad, the Puranas and the Mahabharata, generally known as histories, are mentioned as the fifth Veda.
Srila Vyasadeva, due to his kindness and sympathy toward the fallen souls, supplemented the Vedas with Puranas which easily explain the Vedic truths, intended for different types of men.
All men are not equal. There are men who are conducted by the mode of goodness, others who are under the mode of passion and others who are under the mode of ignorance. The Puranas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradu ally regain their original position and get out of the hard struggle for existence.
All the stories mentioned in the Puranas are actual histories, not only of this planet but also on millions of other planets within the universe.
In the Puranas, (which are classified under the three modes) as a matter of course, Srila Vyasadeva has certainly given descriptions of the glories of Krishna, but not as many as given to religiosity economic development, sense gratification and salvation . These four items are by far very inferior to engagement in the devotional service of the Lord.
Therefore, in the pure-goodness Purana, viz., Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Vyasadeva proclaims that the prime necessity of human life is to realize one's eternal relationship with the Lord and thus surrender unto Him without delay.
Itihasas are literatures describing historical events pertaining to either a single hero or a few heroic personalities in a lineage: for example, Ramayana describing the pastimes of Sri Ramachandra and Mahabharata describing the pastimes of the Pandavas in the lineage of the Kurus. In these books there are topics on transcendental subjects along with material topics. The Bhagavad-gita is a part of Mahabharata. The whole idea of the Mahabharata culminates in the ultimate instructions of the Bhagavad-gita that one should give up all other engagements and should engage oneself solely and fully in surrendering unto the lotus feet of Krishna. The conclusive teaching of the Ramayana also is to fully surrender and take shelter of Lord Sri Ramachandra.
Kavyas are dramatic poetical presentations of selected histories from the Itihasas and/or Puranas, some examples are Raghuvamsa, Meghaduta, Sakuntala.
All the vedic literatures, are put into systematic order for the benefit of the fallen souls who are detached from the transcendental loving service of the Lord, It is the duty of the fallen souls to take advantage of such literatures and become freed from the bondage of material existence.
Next posting - Greatness of the Vedas and misconceptions!