Posted by: adbhutam | December 28, 2016



Poor Śrīhari!!

The Vedāntic Brahman is devoid of any form. Yet, in order to help the aspirants who cannot grasp this ultimate truth, the Veda and purāṇa-s have devised innumerable forms which can be related with by the aspirant through worship, etc. and evolve. In that conception, the Padma purāṇa offers this imagery. As a prelude to this imagery, Sūta says: Of the several forms that Viṣṇu has assumed one is the ‘purāṇa-form’:

In the svarga khaṇḍa (62.2-7) there is this imagery of identifying the various Purāṇa-s with the various body-parts of Viṣṇu:

ब्राह्मं मूर्धा हरेरेव ह्रदयं पद्मसंज्ञकम्॥
वैष्णवं दक्षिणो बाहुः शैवं वामो महेशितुः । ऊरू भागवतं प्रोक्तं नाभिः स्यान्नारदीयकम्॥
मार्कण्डेयं च दक्षांघ्रिर्वामो ह्याग्नेयमुच्यते । भविष्यं दक्षिणो जानुर्विष्णोरेव महात्मन: ॥
ब्रह्मवैवर्तसंज्ञं तु वामजानुरुदाहृतः। लैङ्गं तु गुल्फकं दक्षं वाराहं वामगुल्फकम् ॥
स्कान्दं पुराणं लोमानि त्वगस्य वामनं स्मृतम् । कौर्मं पृष्ठं समाख्यातं मात्स्यं मेदः प्रकीर्तितम् ॥
मज्जा तु गारुडं प्रोक्तं ब्रह्माण्डमस्थि गीयते । एवमेवाभवद्विष्णुः पुराणावयवो हरिः ॥
(- पद्मपुराण, स्वर्गखण्ड , ६२।२-७)

[Brahma Purāṇa is said to be the ‘forehead’ of Śrī Hari, the Padma Purāṇa is said to be the ‘heart’ of Śrī Hari, theViṣṇu Purāṇa is said to be the ‘right arm’ of Śrī Hari. The Śiva Purāṇa is said to be the ‘left arm’ of Śrī Hari. The Śrīmad Bhāgavata is said to be his ‘thigh’, the Nārada Purāṇa is said to be his ‘navel’, The Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa is said to be his ‘right-foot’.
The Agni Purāṇa is said to be his ‘left foot’, the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa is said to be his ‘right-knee’,
the Brahma Vaivrata Purāṇa is said to be his ‘left-knee’. The Liṅga Purāṇa is said to be his ‘right ankle’,
the Varāha Purāṇa is said to be his ‘left ankle’, the Skanda Purāṇa is said to be the hair on the body of Śrī Hari’.  The Vāmana Purāṇa is said to be his ‘skin’. The Kūrma Purāṇa is said to be his ‘back’. The Matsya Purāṇa is said to be his ‘stomach’. The Garuḍa Purāṇa is said to be his ‘bone-marrow’. The Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa is said to be his ‘bone’.

[Padma Purāṇa, svarga khaṇḍa (62.2-7)]

So far the story is trouble-free. However, when one attempts to identify some purāṇa-s in the above imagery as ‘tāmasa’, then the tragic scenario unfolds.When all those body-parts of Śrī Hari that are identified with those particular tāmasa purāṇa-s, then the unfortunate, unpleasant and unavoidable situation of those body-parts being tāmasic arises. While the very purpose of taking up this ‘puraṇa-form’ is to enable an aspirant to worship, contemplate, the Lord as endowed with loveable, adorable, body-parts, the purāṇa classification into sattva, rajas and tamas, plays spoilsport. The damage is not yet over. Since it is admitted by those who subscribe to this tri-classification that even the so-called sattva purāṇa-s are not entirely sattva but have their quota of tamas, there is no way that even a single body-part of Śrī Hari is not ‘cancerous’. The only solace, if at all, is that while some parts that are matched with sattva purāṇa-s are ‘benign’, the rest of the parts are ‘malignant.’ Such is the pitiable state the Lord Śrī Hari stands reduced to by the protagonists of the purāṇa-tri-classification.

Actually the idea of purāṇa-Ṣrīhari-body-parts identification is promoted by the Padmapurāṇa with the idea of inculcating the same devotion one has to the divya mangala svarūpam of ŚrīHari to the purāṇa-s too which are the means to attain Him. Unfortunately this avowed idea is thwarted by the tri-classification of the purāṇa-s.

The classification is also patently Śruti-viruddha. We have a similar body-parts identification with reference to both Nārāyaṇa and Rudra. Here, what is identified with the body-parts is the Vedas and not the purāṇa-s.

अथ दानधर्मपर्व ॥ 1 ॥

ब्रह्मणा देवान्प्रति श्रीनारायणमहिमप्रतिपादकगरुडमुनिगणसंवादानुवादः ॥ 1 ॥

ऋग्यजुःसामवक्त्राय अथर्वशिरसे नमः ।

हृषीकेशाय कृष्णाय द्रुहिणोरुक्रमाय च ॥

It is a stuti of Nārāyaṇa praising Him as one with the Rg, Yajus and Sāma veda-s as the Mouth/Face and the Atharva Veda as the Head.

And in the Mahābhārata itself, in the Śiva sahasra nāma we have:

अथर्वशीर्षः सामास्य ऋक्सहस्रामितेक्षणः।। 13-17-91

यजुःपादभुजो गुह्यः प्रकाशो जंगमस्तथा।  [The atharva veda is  ‘śīrṣa’ meaning ‘head’, the sāma veda being the mouth, the ṛgveda the innumerable limitless eyes and the yajurveda, the hands and feet of the Viśvarūpa Śiva]

Since there is no such classification of the Veda-s as sāttvika, rājasika and tāmasika, the defect of the body-parts of Brahman, whether in the form of Nārāyaṇa or Rudra, being rendered impure does not arise.  However, since the purāṇic classification by default renders the body-parts of Śrīhari diseased, it is unvedic, veda-viruddha.

The condescending explanation to justify the purāṇic classification as, for example, found here:

// The significance of these quotes is simple: While Hari is attained directly by the sAttvika purANas, he is attained indirectly by the tAmasika purANas. Because the tAmasika purANAs are for those not eligible for the truth due to karmas. But by adhering to these purANas, they will eventually attain Hari through the grace of those very deities (shiva, Skanda, etc) whom they regard as supreme.

As Hari is the antaryAmin of these deities, even the worship offered to those deities reach him only and thus it can be said he is the subject of the tAmasa purANas. As the intent of the tAmasa purANas is to eventually elevate the unqualified ones to Hari bhakti, it can be said they are also the limbs of Hari along with the other purANas, as they have a valid function.

The vishNu and bhAgavata are the peak of sattva, with sattva decreasing in the other purANas. The Shiva and Linga purANas are the peak of tAmas,//

will not hold water for the very Padmapurāṇa which is alleged to have given the tri-classification also says:

सात्विका मोक्षदाः प्रोक्ताः राजसा सर्वदा अशुभाः ।
तथैव तामसा देवि निरयप्राप्तिहेतवः ।। (Padmapurāṇa uttara khaṇḍa 236.21)

Among these puranas Sāttvika Purāṇas lead one to liberation, Rājasa do not cause good and tāmasa purāṇa-s lead one to hell.

So, how can the so-called ‘tāmasa’ purāṇa-s lead to mokṣa, even in an indirect fashion? We have known from the śāstra-s that heinous crimes lead one to hell. According to the above verse, resorting to the ‘tāmasa’ purāṇa-s lead one to hell, in other words, implying that worshiping of a deity other than Viśṇu as the Supreme is a heinous crime like brahma-hatyā, gurudāra gamanam, etc. There is no pramāṇa that heinous crimes will gradually lead one to mokṣa!

Also there is no truth in the claim // But by adhering to these purANas, they will eventually attain Hari through the grace of those very deities (shiva, Skanda, etc) whom they regard as supreme.// since Ṣrī Madhusudana Saraswati has said:

In his commentary to the BG 15th Chapter, MS writes a benedictory, mangala, verse:

शैवाः सौराश्च गाणेशा वैष्णवाः शक्तिपूजकाः।

भवन्ति यन्मयाः सर्वे सोहमस्मि परः शिवः।।

[Those worshipers/meditators of the deities such as Śiva, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa, Viṣṇu and Śakti ultimately become one with That Supreme Consciousness that verily am I]

The fact that even vaiṣṇava-s are included among the others is noteworthy. So, there is no room for any gradual attainment of viṣṇu bhakti by others and then attaining mokṣa. Such bigoted ideas are completely unvedic and are shunned by vaidika-s.

Apart from the above, it is a fact that there are innumerous vedic portions like sūkta-s and others like the Śrīrudrapaśna (also called the śatarudriyam), and whole upaniṣads such as the Kaivalya, Atharvaśirā, Atharvaśikhā, Jābāla, Śvetāśvatara, Kaṭharudra (which Śrī Viśveśvara Saraswati has cited from in the Yatidharma sangraha) to name only a few, which all hold Śiva as the Supreme Brahman. There is no pramāṇa in the Veda-s that these vedic texts are ‘tāmasic’ in nature and that they ought not to be resorted to for mokṣa.  On the other hand these Vedic texts are lauded as stuti of Rudra and form the means of mokṣa in several Upaniṣads themselves and the Mahābhārata and other purāṇa-s. So, the idea underlying the purāṇic tri-classification, if it is about worshiping Śiva (or any non-viṣṇu deity) as the supreme, is straightaway veda-viruddha.

Thus, on multiple counts the purāṇa classification is against the method upheld by the Veda-s. As a consequence, holding on to this obnoxious idea of purāṇic tri-classification only breeds bigotry, ill-will among the followers of Veda-s and bring about disunity in society in the name of religion. Above all, the immediate and inevitable fallout of this poisonous concept is that the Supreme Brahman, in the body-form of Śrīhari, is rendered full of tāmasic infection that can never be cured. It is only the Advaitins that are free from this malaise of sullying the upāsya mūrti of Brahman. The verses from the so-called ‘tāmasa’ purāṇas that Shankaracharya has cited in the Viṣṇu sahasra nāma bhāṣya (from the Śivapurāṇa to hold Rudra as ‘Śivaḥ parama kāraṇam’, the trimūrti-abheda, Hari-Hara aikya verses from the Bhaviṣyottara and Harivamśa) are not savored by non-advaitins. No non-Advaitin Acharya would cite these verses for the purpose that Shankara has done. They, with great desperation, would only try to give wholly pathetic interpretations to such verses that are only childish and laughable by any standards. It is only in the hands of Advaita Acharyas that Śrīhari gets salvaged from the untold damage that the so-called vaiṣṇava-s have inflicted on the Lord’s purāṇic form, without sparing even a single body-part thereof.

A Mahābhārata verse extols the vaiṣṇava:

अष्टादशपुराणानां श्रवणाद्यत्फलं भवेत् । तत्फलं समवाप्नोति वैष्णवो नात्र संशयः । [MB 18.6.97]

The fruit of listening to the reading of the eighteen purāṇa-s is had by a vaiśṇava.

The above statement nowhere says that a non-vaiṣṇava will not attain that fruit (whatever that might be). Also, by ‘vaiśṇava’ what Veda Vyasa means can be seen from the very Padmapurāṇa extolling the 12th canto of the Bhāgavatam:

भेदं न कुरुते यस्तु दुर्गाविष्णुशिवादिषु । ब्रह्मत्वेनैव जानाति वैष्णवः स परो मतः ॥ ११

He is admitted to be a great vaiṣṇava who does not differentiate between Durgā, Viṣṇu, Śiva, etc. and looks upon all to be Brahman Itself.

In fact Veda Vyāsa also has cautioned what befalls those who are bigoted:

Shankara cites two seminal verses from the Bhaviṣyottara purāṇa in the introduction to the Viśṇusahasranāma bhāṣya:

Maheśvara (Śiva) says:

विष्णोरन्यं तु पश्यन्ति ये मां ब्रह्माणमेव वा ।

कुतर्कमतयो मूढाः पच्यन्ते नरकेष्वधः ॥

[Those fools who, devoid of proper thinking, consider Me and Brahmā as different from Viṣṇu will be baked in the lowly hells.]

ये च मूढा दुरात्मानो भिन्नं पश्यन्ति मां हरेः ।

ब्रह्माणं च ततस्तस्माद् ब्रह्महत्यासमं त्वघम् ॥

[Those fools, wicked ones, by seeing Me and Brahmā as different from Hari are committing the heinous sin of brahmahatyā.]

One can recall a similar verse in the Śrīmadbhāgavatam (Dakṣayajña section) as said by Viṣṇu.

Thus nowhere do the purāṇa-s uphold the differentiating of Hari and Hara as the ultimate purport. The above verses themselves are enough to show that the purāṇic tri-classification has no basis in the scriptures. Shankara, the foremost Vaidika Acharya, will not be quoting something that has no sanction in the Veda.

Om Tat Sat












  1. Lord Sri Hari’s feet a source of sure refuge will have to be discarded if Puranas were to be assigned gunas. Devotees like Prahalada, Dhruva and Gajendra, Arjuna etc along with Vishtadvaitin acharyas including Alwars will have to be categorized as persons with an overwhelming preponderance of Rajas and Tamas.

    Kind Regards

  2. This link is not working:

    • No idea how to correct it. It worked at the time of my writing the article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: