As I discuss in this answer, one of the early movements that was important to the development of Vaishnavism was the ancient Pancharatra movement, whose sacred texts consisted of detailed procedures to worship the sage Narayana, an ancient incarnation of Vishnu. Since the Pancharatra texts originated from Narayana himself, they're followed by pretty much all Vaishnavas today. But there was a time when some people, especially those belonging to the Purva Mimamsa school, questioned the validity of the Pancharatra texts because they believed the Vedas were the only legitimate Hindu scriptures. So as I discuss in this question, the early Sri Vaishnava Acharya Yamunacharya, who was Ramanujacharya's guru's guru, composed a work called the Agama Pramanya to defend the scriptural authority of the Pancharatra texts.

Now part of Yamunacharya's argument involves demonstrating that the Pancharatra Agamas don't contradict the Vedas. After he demonstrates this, he refutes a potential objection:

Therefore, even if there were a conflict between the Bhagavan's doctrine and the Veda, there still would be option between them; but we have already expounded that there is no conflict between them at all. Objection: However, how can the venerable author of the Bhashya state that those parts which are in conflict are invalid: "If there be conflict, it is carefully eliminated." Refutation: This statement means that those of frail minds, who are not strong enough to plunge into the deep ocean of rules of interpretation, must not be disrespectful to the Vedas. This is comparable to the venerable Jaimini's exposition that the fruits of acts serve to increase people's faith in the acts.

So it seems that there was some Bhashyakara or commentator who said concerning the Pancharatra Agamas that "If there be conflict, it is carefully eliminated." Yamunacharya explains that this Bhashyakara is just pretending to criticize the Pancharatra Agamas, because he doesn't want people who mistakenly think that the Pancharatra Agamas contradict the Vedas to reject the Vedas because of that.

My question is, who is the Bhashyakara being referred to here? The translator says that it is Shabara Swami, the traditional commentator on the Purva Mimamsa Sutras. But does that quote occur in Shabara's commentary?

This journal paper by Gerhard Oberhammer suggests that he was a pre-Shankara commentator on the Brahma Sutras. As I discuss in this question, Adi Shankaracharya thought that the Brahma Sutras criticized the Pancharatra Agamas. Oberhammer argues that the first two of the four sections of Adi Shankaracharya's Brahma Sutra Bhashya which discuss this issue are actually written from the point of view of the mysterious Bhashyakara, and the second two sections are designed to refute the Bhashyakara. And he further claims that the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Sudarshana Suri quotes and refutes this same Bhashyakara. In any case, Oberhammer's fundamental contention is that this Bhashyakara was a proponent of a modification of the Vyuha theory (which I discuss here) which is consistent with the Vedas.

But are there any Sri Vaishnava commentaries on Yamunacharya's Agama Pramanya which shed light on the identity of this Bhashyakara? By the way, Oberhammer theorizes that this Bhashyakara may have been Dramidacharya, an ancient Vedantic philosopher who wrote a commentary on the Chandogya Upanishad as I discuss here. (See my question here for more information.)

  • "Adi Shankaracharya thought that the Brahma Sutras criticized the Pancharatra Agamas" Adi Shankara criticized other as well, Saiva Agamas, texts related to Buddhism, Jainism etc.. He did it intentionally at that time for a specific purpose, of course he had a lot of philosophical differences but he knew others were right in some regard as well. So he didn't actually "thought".
    – Pinakin
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 18:38
  • 2
    @ChinmaySarupria Yeah, in the Brahma Sutra Bhashya Adi Shankaracharya makes clear that he agrees with the Pancharatra Agamas on other things, like the importance of meditating upon Sriman Narayana as a means of Moksha and on their view of Brahman as the material cause of the Universe. He makes clear that he's only criticizing the Pancharatra Agamas for a (perceived) difference on the philosophical issue of the relationship between the Jiva and Brahman. Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


Who is the Bhashyakara who pretended to criticize Pancharatra?

That Bashyakara is not criticizing the Pancharatra agamas. The Bhashyakara is Shabara, and he is commenting on the Purva Mimamsa sutra of Jaimini that says:

When there is a conflict (between Veda and Smriti) the Smriti should be disregarded; because it is only when there is no such conflict that there is an assumption (of a Vedic text in support of Smriti)

Yamunacharya says that when there is a conflict between Vedas and Pancharatra agamas, there is option. The opponent then says that that assertion goes against shabara's commentary on Jamini's sutra that says that Shruti takes precedence over Smriti, and Yamunacharya responds to that by saying that Jaimini just wrote that sutra so people who are not intelligent enough to reconcile apparent contradictions between smriti and shruti should just accept the vedic text so as to not disrespect the veda.

Yamunacharya seems to think that either only the pancharatra agamas, which are smriti, are equivalent to the vedas, or that every smriti is equivalent to the vedas.

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