Rig Veda II.1 states that there is only one Brahman, though attributed different epithets like Indra, Vishnu, Rudra, etc., to denote different actions of the same Almighty. The same was reiterated in RV I.164.46:

एकं सद विप्रा बहुधा वदन्त्यग्निं

ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadantyaghniṃ

Though it is One, inspired poets speak of it in many ways

The Puranas on the other hand eulogise Vishnu, Shiva, etc, by deification, and demean Indra even though according to Vedas, Indra was an epithet much like Vishnu and Rudra.

So is it fair to say movements like Vaishnavism, Shaivism, etc., which encouraged sectarian attitude, are contrary to Rig Vedic principles, therefore, anti-Hindu or anti-Sanatana Dharma?

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    This looks like a self-answered question. What are you expecting to see in an answer? – sv. Aug 11 at 18:32
  • Is it wrong to consider one aspect/epithet of brahman to be more adorable than other? If so definitely they are anti hindu. All humans are not enough spiritual to see that non differnce. Moreover are you sure that no where vedas say that one diety is superior to other? (Though the same veda says all are same) Which may mean that one aspect of brahman has to be more meditated than the other. Deities may be same essentially, but the epithets they represent may have a hierarchy. – Satya Aug 12 at 6:32
  • @Satya: If we are considering the epithets used in Rig Veda as they are, then deification will not arise. Then adoring one particular epithet is not wrong. However, with the deification and denigrating other deified epithets like Indra, Agni, Vayu, etc, in order to elevate respective deifiied God, is not acceptable, in my view. – Srimannarayana K V Aug 12 at 10:49
  • I've made some edits to prevent closure. – sv. Aug 12 at 20:03
  • @Srimannarayana K V. You are right in saying that denigrating other dieties in order to elevate the diety on focus is like marketing..puranas are for people who are beginners in spirituality related matters. Not all puranas denigrate these dieties, if I remember correctly matsya purana mentions that in the battle of vritasura..vishnu fled away from battlefield taking blows from asuras(they are invincible due to boons) and correctly attribute it to indra who later with help of vishnu defeats him exactly in accordance to vedas. Puranas which elevate their deity without denigrating other arevedic – Satya Aug 16 at 15:32

It is certainly correct to say that Vedas do not espouse a hierarchy of the Devas. There is no superior or inferior deity in the Vedas, as seen in RV 1.164.46, which you have mentioned.

Similarly, RV 5.59.6:

अज्येष्ठा ... अकनिष्ठासः ... अमध्यमासो

They have no elder, younger or middling members

Also, RV 10.72.4:

अदितेर्दक्षो अजायत दक्षाद्वदितिः परि

From Aditi was born Daksha, and from Daksha was born Aditi

RV 10.72.5:

यद्देवा अदः सलिले सुसंरब्धा अतिष्ठत । अत्रा वो नृत्यतामिव तीव्रो रेणुरपायत ॥

When the Devas well-connected, stood under the water, their dance stirred up intense dust.

Also, Niruktam 7.4:

... इतरेतरजन्मानो भवन्ति इतरेतरप्रकृतयः ...

They are born from one another, their nature or characteristics is shared

So, keeping the above deep philosophy in mind, if we look at the Puranas, when Vishnu is praised as the highest and Shiva is shown as worshiping Vishnu, in reality Shiva is worshiping himself. And vice versa.

Then why do such partial "sectarian" Puranas exist? The thought process can be gleaned from the great poet Bhartrhari's verse:

महेश्वरे वा जगतामधीश्वरे जनार्दने वा जगदन्तरात्मनि ।
न वस्तुभेदप्रपत्तिरस्ति मे तथापि भक्तिस्तरुणेन्दुशेखरे ॥

I do not see a metaphysical difference between Maheshvara, the Overlord of the universe, or Janardana, the Inner Soul of the universe. Still, my devotion is to the Carrier of the crescent moon (i.e. Shiva)."

It is the idea that among a roster of equivalent deities, we choose one that we connect with emotionally as our इष्टदेवता (iShTadevatA), our preferred deity.

So from the point of view of the scriptures, single Puranas are partial or "incomplete". Hence, all the Puranas and Itihasas are lumped together as "itihAsapurANam", because the Vaishnava and Shaiva Puranas complement each other, and when studied together, they "neutralize" each other and we get a neutral vision of reality.

From the point of view of practical faiths, Vaishnavism and Shaivism are just equivalent, because they both say that their favorite deity is the Brahman.

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  • Up voted. However, I have a feeling that something is missing. I will be back again. – Srimannarayana K V Aug 12 at 1:08
  • If we take a broader view, then you are right. However, denigrating Indra, Agni, etc, in order to elevate Vishnu, Shiva, etc, is not acceptable. It's a marketing strategy. Suppose I am selling a soap of a particular company, I will belittle other brands, in order to elevate mine. That's what literature belonging to Vaishnavism, Shaivism, etc, did. Can you cover these aspects in your answer? @RamAbloh – Srimannarayana K V Aug 12 at 10:23
  • In broader sense not only Puranas pertaining to Vaishnavism and Shaivsm will complement each other, but even Devi Purana will also complement the other two. We have to remember that Ushas, Aditi, Saraswati, Ila, etc, are also epithets which represent female powers, had been mentioned in Rig Veda. If everyone takes broader view, then we will not witness so many stories like fight between Narsimha/Gandaberunda and Sharaba, etc, in Puranas. What started as epithets in Rig Veda had ultimately degraded into a physical wars between EPITHETS? Disgusting @RamAbloh – Srimannarayana K V Aug 12 at 10:56
  • @SrimannarayanaKV I don't think there was a planned strategy to "denigrate" Indra, Agni, etc because we see stories where they play an important role. Yajnas are impossible without Agni, and Puranas are full of stories of rishis doing 1000-year yajnas, etc. Even Mahabharata places great importance on the Vedic deities. I think the sidelining of Indra was a byproduct of focusing on Vishnu or Shiva. For that matter, even the creator Brahma was sidelined. But the best of Indra's features were absorbed into Vishnu, and the best of Agni, Rudra, Maruts, etc were absorbed into Shiva. – RamAbloh Aug 14 at 18:37
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    @SrimannarayanaKV We must remember that Purana literature originally started as "sacred entertainment" while taking breaks in between the sattras during a long yajna. So it does contain stories that are not supposed to be taken too seriously. So stories of fights between mythical creatures could be considered like the fake fights in WWE or something light and entertaining. Not everything in Purana is high theory and philosophy. So we would also be well-advised to look at Puranas as a "mixed bag". – RamAbloh Aug 14 at 18:44

Srimad Bhagavata Purana has something to say about this phenomena. Various differences of interpretation arise due to different types of minds. If you accept the Bhagavata Purana's take then one can't say that sectarian interpretations are necessarily anti-sanatana dharma. Of course such sectarian differences should not degenerate into violence.

Just as one object with various attributes is seen differently through the different senses (say, a flower fragrant to the nose, soft to the touch, and beautiful to the eye), - even so that one Bhagavan is viewed and interpreted differently by different philosophies and scriptural writings in the light of their particular traditions. (He is one and the same, but each religion or philosophy seeks to interpret Him in consonance with its own tradition and concepts.)

Srimad Bhagavata Purana, translated by Swami Tapasyananda, III.32.33

Does such sectarian view go against the Rig Vedic principle?

The answer is that such a sect might have its own interpretation of the Rig Veda where the Rig Vedic text is made to support its position. Think of the Dvaita Vedanta where tat twam asi was changed to atat twam asi to make the case for Dvaita.

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  • It actually resulted in denigrating Indra, Agni, etc, in order to elevate Vishnu, Shiva, etc, is not acceptable. A marketing strategy. – Srimannarayana K V Aug 12 at 11:16
  • The denigration happened because the impersonal aspect of Brahman was downplayed. Once the devatas become individuals completely separate from each other and not impersonal-personal devatas all the faults of monotheism show up. To use the analogy once a particular iceberg is considered to be the best, the fact that all icebergs are simply solid water is forgotten and sectarian view triumphs over harmonious view..It is simply a human failing. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Aug 12 at 11:35

No. Vaishnavaism and Shaivism are not at all anti-Hindu or anti-Vedic. In Hinduism we have two shools of thoughts one is Astika,the other is Nastika. Contrary to popular beliefs Astika doesn't mean atheist. Astika is a term used for those Hindu schools which believe in authority of vedas while nastika include those schools which don't believe in Vedas. All sects of Vaishnavism and Shaivism belongs to sixth and final Astika school of Vedanta. So they have their own intereptation of last part of Vedas that is Upanishads.

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