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Yamunacharya was a medieval Sri Vaishnava scholar who lived a generation or two before the time of Ramanujacharya. He is considered one of Ramanujacharya's gurus, even though they never met.

Yamunacharya wrote a work called the Agama Pramanya, or "Proof of the validity of the Pancharatra Agamas," which as the name suggests, attempts to show that the Vaishnava Pancharatra Agamas are authoritative.

In that work, he says:

Therefore, even if there were a conflict between the Bhagavan's doctrine [Pancharatra Agamas] and the Veda, there still would be option between them; but we have already expounded that there is no conflict between them at all.

Opponent's objection: However, how can the venerable author of the Bhashya [Shabara's bhashya on Jaimini's mimamsa sutras] state that those parts which are in conflict are invalid: "If there be conflict, it is carefully eliminated."

Yamunacharya's 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 Veda.

The opponent is referring to this sutra of Jaimini:

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)

This is the reason why many Hindu scholars say that Shruti takes precedence over Smriti. However, Yamunacharya thinks 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.

Does Yamunacharya think that all smritis have as much authority as shruti, or does he think that only the pancharatra agamas, which are smriti, are equivalent to the Vedas?

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  • "even though they never met" -- this article says they met...
    – YDS
    Jul 17, 2019 at 3:10
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    @YDS That is not true. Yamunacharya and Ramanuja has never met each other. Yamunacharya had seen Ramanuja, but both of them had never really met each other...
    – user15963
    Jul 17, 2019 at 6:37
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    @YDS Yamunacharya just saw Ramanujacharya; they didn't actually meet and introduce to each other.
    – Ikshvaku
    Mar 2, 2020 at 17:55
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    Naturally. Try removing Smriti and try being Hindu. Vedas do not even constitute 5% of your life. This isn't true now, wasn't true in Mahabharata and neither was it true in Raamaayana, as we can observe by reading the texts. Smriti is equally as important, and is a direct extension of the Shruti, done by the Rshis. Including Dharma Shastras and Puranaas and Itihaasas and Aagama etc. In the first place, there's no conflict between any of these, it only appears so, to some individuals of limited intelligence, is his point, which is completely correct. Jan 28 at 1:18
  • To begin with, there is no contradiction between shruti and smriti. There are only differences like veda might say observe 3 days of impurity, one smriti might say observe 2 days of impurity whereas some other smriti might say observe 4 days of impurity. These are not contradictions but workaround to accomodate practical challenges where shruti cannot be applied as-is. This is explained in manusmriti 1st chapter itself using agnihotra performance time as an example. "Smriti contradicts Shruti" is thus a wrong translation and should be like "Smriti differs from shruti".
    – ekAntika
    Jan 28 at 5:12

1 Answer 1

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Shruti does take precedence over Smriti, Yamunacharya does not disagree with this statement. In the Agama Pramanya Yamunacharya has written:

Therefore, even if there were a conflict between the Bhagavan's doctrine [Pancharatra Agamas] and the Veda, there still would be option between them; but we have already expounded that there is no conflict between them at all.

Opponent's 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."

Yamunacharya's 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 Veda. This is compareable to the venerable Jaimini's exposition that the fruits of acts serve to increase people's faith in the acts.

First off, the Bhashya the opponent is referring to is not Shabara's bhashya on Jaimini's Mimamsa Sutras. The opponent brings up Dramidacharya's Brahma Sutra Bhashya. And Yamunacharya just compares the Dramidacharya case to the Jaimini case, in that both were taking precautions concerning unlearned readers. Dramidacharya was an ancient commentator on the Brahma Sutras and Chandogya Upanishad, and in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya he said that if the Pancharatra Agamas ever conflict with the Vedas, the Vedas take precedence. Yamunacharya explains in the Agama Pramanya how that doesn’t mean that there’s actually any conflict between the Vedas and Pancharatra Agamas. It’s just addressing a hypothetical, because if some unlearned person misinterpreted the Pancharatra Agamas and/or the Vedas and thought that the two were in conflict, they should not on that basis reject the Vedas.

By the way Dramidacharya's Bhashya on the Brahma Sutras and the Chandogya Upanishad are both lost today. And Ramanujacharya had 5 Acharyas, his Samashrayana Acharya was Periya Nambi, and he had 4 other Kalakshepa Acharyas: Thirukoshtlur Nambi, Alavandar Azhwan, Thirumalai Nambi, Thirumaalai Andan Nambi. But Yamnuacharya was not Ramanujacharya's acharya, however though Yamunacharya did give Ramanuja 3 instructions. Yamunacharya and Ramanujacharya never formally met, although Yamunacharya who was staying at Kanchipuram did bless Ramanuja with his divya-kataksham (divine glance) from a far. Yamunacharya goes to dheva perumal and does a sharanagathi to emperuman to make Ramanuja the next leader of the sampradaya. Yamunacharya had sent Periya Nambi to fetch Ramanuja but by the time Ramanuja got there Yamunacharya had already attained Vaikuntham. But when Ramanuja saw Alavandars body he noticed that Alavandar's body had 3 folded fingers, signifying to the three unfinished desires that Ramanuja should complete: A bhashya on Vyasa's Brahma Sutras, A bhashya on Thoru Vazh Mozhi, And to name a child Parashara. Here, Here.

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