8

While reading from a Shaivite blog (though I am a Vaishnava) of whether the Srimad Bhagavatam or the Devi Bhagavatam is more authentic, I came across an interesting claim of the blogger that Ramanujacharya, prominent acharya of Sri-Vaishnavism and Adi Shankaracharya, the founder of Smartism never referred to the Srimad Bhagavatam. Here is what the blogger says:

In the Brahmasutras of ‘Badarayana’ the first verse is just a namesake verse which only sets forth what the objective of the Brahmasutras is – it says, “athāto brahmajijñāsā || (Brahmasutras 1:1:1)”, which means, “Then therefore the enquiry into Brahman”. Only the subsequent aphorisms deal with all sorts of topics such as – creation, jiva, jagat, brahmna, various schools of darshanas, etc. The very second verse of ‘Brahma sutras’ talks about – the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world. That sutra is as follows:

“janmādyasya yataḥ ||” (Brahmasutras 1:1:2) “(Brahman is that) from which the origin (i.e. the origin, subsistence, and dissolution) of this (world proceed)”.

Let’s forget about who that ‘cause’ is who creates, sustains and dissolves the world, as the definitions vary across various schools. Advaitins term is ‘brahman’, vaishnavites call it ‘Narayana, Vishnu, Krishna…’, Shaivites call it as ‘Shiva’, Shaktas call it as ‘Devi’. Let’s only focus on the sutra and not on the translation and commentaries for now.

The sutra simply says, ‘janmādyasya yataḥ (that from which the origin of this world)’. This aphorism gives us a very interesting reasoning tool to us. Interestingly, the very first verse of Srimad Bhagawatam begins with exactly same words of this sutra and elaborates that verse further. The first verse from Srimad Bhagawatam is quoted below.

“janmādyasya yato ‘nvayāditarataścārtheṣvabhijñaḥ svarāṭ | tene brahma hṛdā ya ādikavaye muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ | tejovārimṛdāṃ yathā vinimayo yatra trisargo ‘mṛṣā | dhāmnā svena sadā nirastakuhakaṃ satyaṃ paraṃ dhīmahi ||” (SB 1:01:01) “(Translation is unimportant here, hence didn’t provide that)”.

In the commentaries of Shankara, as well as Ramanuja, we see them quoting extensively from various scriptures, including Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata, and even Puranas. On this second verse of ‘Brahma-sutras’ neither Shankara nor Ramanuja ever felt a need to cite Srimad Bhagawatam to expound the meaning of this aphorism. Why? If Veda Vyasa was truly the author of ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ then ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’s very first verse is a ‘natural commentary’ and ‘the most authoritative elaboration ‘ on the very second verse of ‘Brahmasutra’! How could Shankara and Ramanuja dare to insult Vyasa by not cross-referencing Vyasa’s own elaboration of that verse in their commentaries? They had however all the liberty to ‘interpret’ that verse to be in sync with the philosophy they were championing. Then what stopped them from citing that verse from ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’?

Not only for that second verse of ‘Brahmasutras’, in any of the works of Shankara and Ramanuja ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ has never been quoted. While both these scholars quoted extensively from Vishnu Purana, and other Puranas – Food for thought? Alright! Let’s forget Shankara. Ramanuja was a staunch devotee of Vishnu. He upheld Vishnu’s supremacy all throughout his works. Srimad Bhagawatam is replete with verses proclaiming Vishnu’s supremacy. Then what made Ramanuja not consider this text as worthy of referencing to establish Vishnu’s supremacy? Points to ponder!

The reason is simple – The bogus book called ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ was a later day creation and was not a work of Veda Vyasa at all. Whosoever the author of Srimad Bhagawatam was – he was no doubt a great devotee of Krishna and a great author, who was inspired by the ‘Brahmasutras’ and considered to begin his work using Brahmasutra. To write a huge volume of thousands of verses mimicking Puranas of Veda Vyasa, is truly a herculean task.

Well, let me extend the arguments in the section to a further level to refute another belief from the ‘Dwaita’ school. It is said that during the times of ‘Madhavacharya (champion of dualistic school)’, ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ was in circulation. In the legends of life history of ‘Madhwa’ it is said that Madhwa found that during his time there were in circulation, many mutually contradicting versions of ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ and many mutually contradicting versions of ‘Mahabharata’ as well. Madhwa came forward as a superhero and without giving much importance to the ‘Mahabharata’ of Vyasa alleging it to had been interpolated extensively, he himself authored a book called ‘Mahabharata tatparya nirnaya’ and inserted many bogus stories in it to glorify Bhima and Vishnu to the skies. Similarly, that superhero had analyzed all those contradictory versions of ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ and picked one version rejecting others as not authentic, and that version is what is available today.

Well, these stories of Madhwa are too fancy to believe, as like as many other stories from Madhwa’s mouth. His scholarly-heroic-deed of chaffing out the so called ‘correct’ version from the available ‘unauthentic’ versions of ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ will get ‘automatically’ demolished by this article of mine (despite I having no specific agenda or section discussing Madhwa specifically). This article would naturally reveal the truth that – Madhwa is famous for ‘creating’ stories and ‘falsifying facts’ – His chosen book, which he declared as the ‘most authentic’ Bhagawatam would be rendered as ‘bogus scripture’ shortly. That is enough to reveal Madhwa’s lies, and this evidence could be rightfully extrapolated to reject Madhwa’s another self-propagated ‘story’ that Mahabharata was interpolated and his version of Mahabharata was the most authentic one.

Is the blogger right and if not, why did Adi Shankaracharya and Ramanujacharya never refer to the Srimad Bhagavatam in their works?

The website I referred to is this.

  • On seeing the answer, i now doubt whether in this comment reference is to the Purana or to Gita. – Rickross Jul 24 '17 at 5:42
  • 1
    The reason is simple – The bogus book called ‘Srimad Bhagawatam’ was a later day creation and was not a work of Veda Vyasa at all. <-- this is one of the greatest nonsense that I heard in my life, literally speaking. The name of the Bhagavatam is mentioned and celebrated as the best of all the Puranas in several Puranas. See related: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/8790/… – brahma jijnasa Jul 26 '17 at 0:45
  • @brahmajijnasa Then that blog says Bhagavata Purana contradicts Mahabharata heavily. Apart from this, Bhagavata Purana has only around 14000 verses, not 18000 as claimed by Puranas. – Tat Tvam Asi Jun 11 '18 at 17:25
  • @NarayanaSharma There are many incorrect things stated in that blog, and the arguments against the Srimad Bhagavatam posted there are not strong, namely they can be easily disputed. By the way, scientists do not think that Bhagavatam is some recent Purana, they think it's as old as other Puranas. See at the link I posted above. There you'll see Srimad Bhagavatam is mentioned in several old Puranas which means it's as old as other Puranas. I think Srimad Bhagavatam and Devi Bhagavata are both old Puranas written by Vyasa, ... – brahma jijnasa Jul 5 '18 at 17:18
  • @NarayanaSharma ... however Srimad Bhagavatam is known as the best sattvic Purana perfectly consistent with the teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta, whereas Devi Bhagavata is known to be a Purana full of verses which contradict the teachings of the Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta. That's why Devi Bhagavata, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana, etc, are tamasic Puranas. Tamas means "darkness, ignorance" and every text which contradicts Vedas, Upanishads and Vedanta is to be considered as ignorance or tamas. – brahma jijnasa Jul 5 '18 at 17:18
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There is a discussion about the date of the Bagavata Purana in the Introduction to the English translation by Swami Tapasyananda.

There was a view that attributed the authorship of the Bhagavata to Vopadeva (13th century). But this theory fails when it is noted that Al beruni, the celebrated Arab scholar (1030 AD), refers to Vaishnava Bhagavata in his book on India. Prof Siddheswar Bhattacharya in the Introduction to his work, The Philosophy of the Bhagavata, refers to p 131 of Sachaw's book, Alberuni's India on this question and states: "The question of its composition by Vopadeva melts away by Alberuni's reference to the Bhagavata in which, according to his view, Vasudeva has been extolled."

Prof B. N. Krishnamurti Sarma has something of interest to say on the date of Bhagavata Purana, based on his research work on external evidence for the same, in his learned work on the subject in the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute of Poona Vol XIV, 1932-33. He states that Gaudapada (7th century) in his commentary on Uttara Gita refers to the Bhagavata Purana in the course of his commentary on II, 46 of the text, quoting the following hemistich: taduktam bhagavate: tesamasau klesa eva sisyate, nanyadyatha sthulatusavaghatinam. This line is to be identified with the second line of Bh X.14.4, which is as follows: tesamasau klesa evasisyate nanyadyatha sthulatusavaghatinam. At the time of publication (1933), this was a welcome breakthrough in the quest for the date of the Bhagavata as it gives the lie to the very fanciful theory of Vopadeva's (13th century) authorship of it, popularized by a set of orientalists, Wilson, Macdonell, Colebrooke and Burnouf. The reference given by Prof Sharma goes to support the theory now held that the Purana must have taken shape in its present form by about the first half of the 6th century, after the Alwar movement (5th to 8th century) in the South had become powerful. Prof Sarma's quotation from Gaudapada, however, gives greater precision. ......................

There is, however, an anomalous circumstance that puts a hurdle before the acceptance of this or an earlier date for the Bhagavata. No quotation from it has been given by Sri Ramanuja, born in 1071 A.D., in his extensive writings. He has taken his quotations only from the Vishnu Purana (4th century A.D.) which is much earlier than the Bhagavata and in many respects parallel, but much inferior to it as a sacred text. ......There are two possible explanations for his silence: 1. The hypothesis that the Bhagavata was produced in the South between the 5th and the 8th century is wrong. It must have been produced in the North and had not yet become known in the South by the time of Alberuni (1030 A.D.). Or, 2. Ramanuja avoided reference to it for doctrinal reasons.

The second alternative is the more probable one. Ramanuja was a great propagandist of the Pancharatra Agama and he must have considered the Vishnu Purana as offering better support for it than the Bhagavata, whose acceptance of Siva almost on a par with Vishnu must have been considered as militating against his theology.

Next, in Ramanuja's system Sriman Narayana in Vaikuntha is the highest form of Brahman, whereas the Bhagavata seems to accept - and it has been so interpreted by Vaishnava sects like those of Chaitanya and Vallabha - that Sri Krishna is the supreme form of Brahman. Vasudeva a name which primarily indicates Sri Krishna, is the most sacred name for God in the Bhagavata, whereas Narayana is the most important and sacred one for the Pancharatrins. The Bhagavatas and the Pancharatrins, though always devoted to Vishnu, seemed to have been distinct sectaries at an earlier date, and Ramanuja's preference for the Vishnu Purana, which has admittedly more of Pancharatra leaning than the Bhagavata, might have been due to this. Further, the Bhagavata is non-dualistic in its trend, although what brand of non-dualism it represents is disputable. Saktimat and Sakti (Powerholder and Power) rather than Sariri and Sarira (soul and body) seems to be the relationship envisaged by the Bhagavata between God and the world. Ramanuja, however, is committed to the latter view. For these reasons Ramanuja might have ignored the Bhagavata ....

Introduction to Srimad Bhagavata Purana translated by Swami Tapasyananda

3

Sankaracharya indirectly makes references to Srimad Bhagavatam in his works:

In this regard, Jiva Goswami writes in 23rd Text of Tattva sandarbha:

I am paraphrasing only required portion:

By depicting in his Govindastaka and other works events described only by the Bhagavatam — such as the Queen of Vraja's(Yashoda) amazement at seeing the total form of the universe and Krsna's stealing the clothes of the gopis of Vraja, Sankaracharya touched Srimad Bhagavatam indirectly.

Krishna's stealing the clothes of gopis of Vraja is also mentioned in Brahma-Vaivarta purana, but the description is different than what Shankaracarya describes. Shankaracharya's description is consistent with Bhagavatam's description.

The corresponding verses from Govindastakam and the chapters from Bhagavatam

मृत्स्नामत्सीहेति यशोदाताडनशैशव सन्त्रासं व्यदितवक्त्रालोकितलोकालोकचतुर्दशलोकालिम् । लोकत्रयपुरमूलस्तम्भं लोकालोकमनालोकं लोकेशं परमेशं प्रणमत गोविन्दं परमानन्दम् ॥ २॥

mṛtsnāmatsīhēti yaśōdātāḍanaśaiśava-santrāsam vyāditavaktrālōkitalōkālōkacaturdaśalōkālim| lōkatrayapuramūlastambhaṃ lōkālōkamanālōkam lōkēśaṃ paramēśaṃ praṇamata gōvindaṃ paramānandam||2||

Worship Govinda who is supreme bliss, who showed the fear of a child when beaten by Yashodá saying, ``You are eating earth''. and in whose opened mouth was seen the row of fourteen worlds, visible and invisible, who is the support of the three worlds (vis., Svarga, pruthvè, pátála), who is in the form of the worlds, visible and invisible, who cannot be seen, who is the controller of the universe and who is the supreme Lord. (2)

The corresponding bhagavatam chapter titled SB 10.8: Lord Kṛṣṇa Shows the Universal Form Within His Mouth

स्नानव्याकुलयोशिद्वस्त्रमुपादायागमुपारूढं व्यदित्सन्तिरथ दिग्वस्त्रा ह्युपुदातुमुपाकर्षन्तम् । निर्धूतद्वयशोकविमोहं बुद्धं बुद्धेरन्तस्थं सत्तामात्रशरीरं प्रणमत गोविन्दं परमानन्दम् ॥ ६॥

snānavyākulayōṣidvastramupādāyāgamupārūḍham vyāditsantīratha digvastrā dātumupākarṣantaṃ tāḥ| nirdhūtadvayaśōkavimōhaṃ buddhaṃ buddhērantaḥstham sattāmātraśarīraṃ praṇamata gōvindaṃ paramānandam||6||

Worship Govinda who is supreme bliss, who climbed up the tree carrying the clothes of women busily engaged in their bath and who made them come close to him for the purpose of giving the clothes to them who were naked and who desired to get back their clothes, who is free from duality, grief and delusion, who is wise, who dwells in the intellect, and who is pure-existence. (6)

The corresponding bhagavatam chapter titled SB 10.22: Kṛṣṇa Steals the Garments of the Unmarried Gopīs

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