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As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school, which bases its tenets on the doctrines laid out in the Brahma Sutras, a work by the sage Vyasa which summarizes and systematizes the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads. (You can read the Brahma Sutras here.) But the Vedanta school didn't always have the dominant position in Hindu philosophy; before the time of Adi Shankaracharya the dominant school of Hindu philosophy was the Purva Mimamsa school, which I discuss here. In contrast to the Vedanta school which is devoted to analyzing the Jnana Kanda of the Vedas, i.e. the Upanishads, Purva Mimamsa focuses on analyzing the Karma Kanda of the Vedas, i.e. the Samhitas and Brahmanas.

Now as I discuss in this answer, the Brahma Sutras and the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, the defining text of the Purva Mimamsa school, were originally part of a larger whole. There was originally a 20-chapter Mimamsa Shastra, consisting of the 12 chapters of Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutras, which analyze the Brahmanas of the Vedas; the 4 chapters of Kasakritsna's now-lost Devata Kanda Sutras, which analyzed the Samhitas of the Vedas, and the 4 chapters of Vyasa's Brahma Sutras, which analyzed the Upanishads of the Vedas. These three parts formed a sequence: first a person seeks happiness in this life and in Swarga, so they acquire a desire to know Dharma, and so they read the Purva Mimamsa Sutras and learn how to do various Yagnas. Then they realize that the fruit of all Yagnas are ultimately temporary, and so they acquire a desire to know the gods, in the hope that the gods may grant them eternal happiness. So they read the Devata Kanda Sutras and learn how to meditate upon the gods, but then they realize that even that won't lead to eternal happiness, so they acquire a desire to know Brahman. And so finally they read the Brahma Sutras and learn how to meditate upon Brahman, which leads them to the eternal bliss of Moksha.

But people today can't really follow this sequence, because as I said the Kasakritsna's Devata Kanda Sutras are lost. (That doesn't mean that Moksha is impossible though, since Sharanagati doesn't require following this sequence.) But they were lost relatively recently, so they're quoted by numerous Acharyas including Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Sudarshana Suri, Vedanta Desikan, and Appaya Dikshitar. We know of five Sutras from the Devata Kanda Sutras:

  1. Athato Daivi Jijnasa - Now therefore there is a desire to know the gods
  2. Nana Va Devata Prithaktvat - They are different gods because they are cognized thus.
  3. Ante Harau Taddarshanat - Ultimately Hari is to be meditated upon
  4. Sa Vishnuraha Hi - He is called Vishnu
  5. Tam Brahmetyachakshate, Tam Brahmetyachakshate - He is announced as Brahman, he is announced as Brahman

But all hope is not lost! Some time relatively recently, I think in the 1800's, several manuscripts were discovered with the title "Sankarsha Kanda". This is exciting, because Sankarsha Kanda is an alternative name for Kasakritsna's Devata Kanda Sutras. But don't get too excited! The text found in these manuscripts doesn't have anything to do with the gods or meditating on them. However, it does have one connection with the Devata Kanda Sutras, namely it has the second Sutra I quoted above, "Nana Va Devata Prithaktvat". My question is, in what context does this Sutra occur in the discovered Sanksharsha Kanda text? And what is its meaning in this context?

The reason I ask is that we can compare this with its meaning in the Devata Kanda Sutras, where it means that Prana and Vayu are different gods. Here is how Adi Shankaracharya describes it in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya:

With regard to the ishti comprising three sacrificial cakes, which is enjoined in the passage, Taitt. Samh. II, 3, 6, 'A purodâsa on eleven potsherds to Indra the ruler, to Indra the over-ruler, to Indra the self-ruler,' it might be supposed that the three cakes are to be offered together because they are offered to one and the same Indra, and because the concluding sentence says, 'conveying to all (gods) he cuts off to preclude purposelessness.' But as the attributes (viz. 'ruler' and so on) differ, and as scripture enjoins that the yâgyâ and anuvâkyâmantras are to exchange places with regard to the different cakes, the divinity is each time a different one according to the address, and from this it follows that the three offerings also are separate.--Thus, in the case under discussion, Vâyu and Prâna, although fundamentally non-different, are to be held apart as objects of meditation, and we have therefore to do with two separate meditations.--This is explained in the Saṅkarsha-kânda, 'The divinities are separate on account of their being cognized thus.'

So is the Sutra used in the same way in the discovered Sankarsha Kanda text? You can read the discovered Sankarsha Kanda text in Sanskrit here. We're interested in Sutra 2.2.36. And you can read Devasvami's commentary on the discovered Sankarsha Kanda text here. Here's the relevant portion. I don't know Sanskrit, so can someone translate it for me?

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It's speaking of different forms of Indra. I found the answer in S. Shastri's summary of the Adhikaranas (sub-sections) of the discovered Sankarsha Kanda text. Here are the relevant Adhikaranas in Adhyaya 2 Pada 2:

  1. In the Ishti where there are three purodasha cakes to be offered to three deities, the cutting of slices from them is simultaneous.
  2. But they should be offered to the respective deities one by one, since the deities are different.

I was focusing on the wrong part of the Ad Shankaracharya quote I gave in my question. I was focusing on the difference between Prana and Vayu, when I should have been focusing on the differences in the three forms of Indras:

With regard to the ishti comprising three sacrificial cakes, which is enjoined in the passage, Taitt. Samh. II, 3, 6, 'A purodâsa on eleven potsherds to Indra the ruler, to Indra the over-ruler, to Indra the self-ruler,' it might be supposed that the three cakes are to be offered together because they are offered to one and the same Indra, and because the concluding sentence says, 'conveying to all (gods) he cuts off to preclude purposelessness.' But as the attributes (viz. 'ruler' and so on) differ, and as scripture enjoins that the yâgyâ and anuvâkyâmantras are to exchange places with regard to the different cakes, the divinity is each time a different one according to the address, and from this it follows that the three offerings also are separate.--Thus, in the case under discussion, Vâyu and Prâna, although fundamentally non-different, are to be held apart as objects of meditation, and we have therefore to do with two separate meditations.--This is explained in the Saṅkarsha-kânda, 'The divinities are separate on account of their being cognized thus.'

Ramanujacharya also discusses the same issue of offerings to different forms of Indra in the same context, in this section of his Sri Bhashya:

There is a text 'He is to offer a purodâsa on eleven potsherds to Indra the ruler, to Indra the supreme ruler, to Indra the self-ruler.' This injunction refers to one and the same Indra, possessing the qualities of rulership and so on; but as, through connexion with those several qualities, the aspects of Indra differ, the oblation of the purodâsa has to be repeated. This is declared in the Sânkarshana, 'The divinities are different on account of separation.'

So it seems that the discovered Sankarsha Kanda text utilizes the "Nana Va Devata Prithaktvat" verse in the same way as Kasakritsna's Devata Kanda Sutras, which makes it all the more strange why it seems to have no other connection to the Devata Kanda Sutras.

In any case, for good measure let me give the relevant passage of the Taittiriya Samhita of the Yajur Veda:

Prajapati assigned food to the gods; he said, 'Whatever shall be left over these worlds, be that mine.' That was left over these worlds, Indra, the king, Indra, the overlord, Indra, the sovereign; thence he milked these worlds threefold; that is the cause of its having three elements. For him of whom he desires, 'May he be an eater of food', let him offer this (offering) of three elements, to Indra, the king, a cake on eleven potsherds, to Indra, the overlord, to Indra, the sovereign. Indra, the king, is this (world of earth), Indra, the overlord, is this (atmosphere), Indra, the sovereign, is yonder (world of heaven); verily he has recourse to these worlds with their own share; verily they bestow food on him; he becomes an eater of food. Even as one milks a cow ready to give milk by reason of its calf, so he milks these worlds, made ready, for desire, for food; he places (the cake) on potsherds face upwards, for variety. There are three cakes, these worlds are three; (verily they serve) to obtain these worlds; each one above the other is larger, for so as it were are these worlds; (verily they serve) for prosperity; he cuts off from all (the cakes) as he sets them up without making a failure; be recites (the verses) alternating, to prevent burning.

So the difference being discussed is between Indra the king, Indra the overlord, and Indra the sovereign.

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