Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nārāyaṇārya, Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta and Mīmāṃsā —UPDATED

Nārāyaṇārya was a Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedāntin author whose only (as far as I know) extant work is the Nītimālā. Already this work shows some of his basic tenets:
  1. 1. the focus on Pūrva Mīmāṃsā (the Nītimālā has a long section on Vedic prescriptions*).
  2. 2. the attempt to reinterpret Pūrva Mīmāṃsā according to the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta tenets (Vedic prescriptions are read as orders of God*).

In this sense, Nārāyaṇārya is among the ones who paved the way to Veṅkaṭanātha (aka Vedānta Deśika) and it is no surprise that Veṅkaṭanātha often refers to him while justifying his attempt to interpret Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta as a single śāstra. However, Veṅkaṭanātha's use of Nārāyaṇārya includes a possible problem, i.e., the fact that Nārayaṇārya allegedly authored a text in which he dealt with only 500 of the adhikaraṇas of the Pūrva Mīmāṃsā Sūtra. Since Veṅkaṭanātha wants to say that all adhikaraṇas are to be accepted, he needs to justify Nārāyaṇārya's move as a sign of his being an advanced scholar. In this connection, he quotes the following verse, seemingly from Nārāyaṇārya:

adhyasya vyākriyādoṣaṃ ye sūtram api tatyajuḥ |
prāyaḥ sphaṭikam apy ete jahyur eva japābhramāt ||

Which seems to mean:

The ones who, after having themselves superimposed (adhyasya) a fault (doṣa) in [the sūtra's] analysis (vyākriyā) abandoned even a sūtra,
these would in general, abandon even a crystal [although the faults are not in the crystal, but have only been superimposed on it], because of a fault in the China rose (behind it).

Now, the simile can be understood as follows: the errors are not in the Pūrva Mīmāṃsā Sūtra themselves, but in their later commentators (beginning with Śabara) and one only superimposes them on the PMS, just like the faults one seems to see in a crystal are only the faults of something else, behind it.

On Vedānta Deśika, see this post (and its links).

*about which, see the excellent thesis by Himal Trikha.


Anand said...

Dear Elisa,

It may be that the sphaṭika here refers to the crystal which acts as a fulcrum in the japa-mālā. The simile would then mean that such people skip over the crystal (though it is pure) in the course of their neglectful recitation (japā-bhramāt). Just a thought.


andrew said...

i like anand's idea. i would have gone for a हेतुपञ्चमी ("in order to not blunder in their recitation").

elisa freschi said...

Thanks a lot for the suggestions… in fact you are so nice that I think I will be posting more about my struggles in the future!

p.s. check the update regarding the translation of japā.

andrew said...

yes, elisa, you're right. i now see that lots of people use the redness of a crystal behind which a china rose has been placed as an example of a quality that appears to be inherent in an object but in fact is not. (so, the faulty analysis is not in the nature of the sūtra, like the red color is not in the nature of the crystal; but you'd be stupid to throw out a crystal for that reason.)

Anand said...

Yes, absolutely: the japā-kusuma is obviously the point of reference. For the beads it would have to be short -a (japa) anyway.

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