Is Vedas mutually contradictory?

Bhed Abhed and Ghatak shrutis:

For the sake of study, Vedas are divided into two parts- Purva-bhaag and Uttar bhag. “Purva-bhaag” deals about karma-kand, Upaasana and rituals while “Uttar-bhaag” also called “Vedant” deals about Knowledge of Brahman. Rituals performed with knowledge leads to Sriman Narayana. So, both parts are equally important.

It’s said that, “विद्वान विपश्यते दोषज्ञः”| (Two vidwans would never agree to each other.)

Also, “शास्त्र ज्ञानं बहु क्लेशं”| Study of Shastras is extremely painful since they seems to contradict each other. So, Mundaka Upanishad(1.2.12-13) says-“  “’ One should a approach a guru witch tranquil mind and restrained senses”. The guru should be

  1. Shrotiyam: learned in Vedas from up to the end.
  2. Brahmnishtham: who have apprehended the true nature of Brahman.

There are mainly three schools of Vedantic studies- Advait, Dvait and Vishishtadvait. While Advait talks about complete ‘oneness’; Dvait talks about complete ‘difference’.

Adhikaari-Bheda

There is no room for contradiction in Vedas. Each and every shloka of Vedas are sacred and equally important. Not any one part of Vedas can be taken and said to be superior to other.

Adhikaari-bheda means differences arising from the levels of interpretations by the readers. While Vedas seems to be mutually contradicting, they give non-contradictory message actually. Abhed shruti talks about one-ness of Jeevatma and Parmatma while Bhed Shruti talks about difference between Jeevatma and Parmatma.  Are Vedas mutually contradicting? No, Vedas themselves provides the solution in form of Ghatak-Shruti which combines both Abhed-Shruti and Bhed-Shruti. That’s the contribution of Sri Ramanuja to Vedant philosophy. When Ramanuj arrived in the scene, there was utter darkness all around. He appeared like a becon-light in the dark-phase.

How can so many interpretations of Vedas be possible? Vedas too seems to advocate different things at different places. Ramanuja at the end of his magnum opus ‘Sri Bhasyam’ says – “iti sarvam samanjasam” which means “now everything is reconciled.” No any other commentators have dared to write so. How did he reconciled the differences? Let’s have a look.

Vedas comprises of 3 different types of texts.

  1. Bhed shruti: Which talks about difference between Jeevatma and Parmatma.
  2. Abhed Shruti: Which talks about oneness of Jeevatma and Parmatma.
  3. Ghatak Shrutis: One may think that Vedas have enough confused the people. Vedas themselves provides the solution. Ghatak shrutis connects both the abhed and bhed shrutis so that no contradiction remains.

 

Article in Hindi: शरीर-आत्मा भाव, घटक श्रुति

  1. Abhed shruti:

Abheda Shruthis states that the universe (all chit and achit entities) and the Brahman are one and the same. They seem to convey the identity of the universe, jeevatma and the Brahman (Parmatma).

 

  1. sarvam Khalvam idam Brahm. (All this is Brahman.) Chandogya Upanishad (III.14.1.)
  2. tat tvam asi. (You are that (Brahman)). Chandogya Upanishad (6.8.7.)
  3. Ayam Atma Brahma (This Atman is Brahman): Mandukya Upanishad (1.2) of the Atharva Veda.
  4. Aham brahmasmi (I am Brahman) (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I.iv.10)

2. Bhed Shruti:

 

The Bheda Sruthis seems to categorically declare the difference between the Brahman and the universe.

When the Vedas make statements like, “A is the creator of B,” “A is the supporter of B,” “A is that into which B is absorbed at the end of its life,” “A pervades B,” “A is the indweller of B,” etc, then it logically follows that A and B are two different entities. Related, certainly. Inseparable, certainly. But still distinct.

e.g.,

  1. bhokta bhogyam preritaram cha matwa sarvam proktam trividham brahmametat ‘ (Shvetaashwara Upanishad -1/12)

// भोक्ता भोग्यं प्रेरितारं च मत्वासर्वं प्रोक्तं त्रिविधं ब्रह्ममेतत् ॥//

(bhokta (enjoyer) is Jeevatma, bhogyam (enjoyed) is Prakriti and Prerita (controller) is Brahman. All three are the forms of Brahman. [translated by  Harikrishnadas Goenka]

  1. पृथगात्मानं प्रेरितारं च मत्वा जुष्टस्ततस्तेनामृतत्वमेति ॥” (Shvetaashwara Upanishad -1/6)

Meaning: (By knowing the individual self and the impeller to be different, he, being blessed by him, attains immortality.) [translated by M. B. Narsimha Ayyangar)

  1. नित्योऽनित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानाम् एको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान् ।

तमात्मस्थं येऽनुपश्यन्ति धीराः तेषां शान्तिः शाश्वती नेतरेषाम् ॥ Kathopanishad. 5.13

Meaning: “Who so among the intelligent realize the Self in the (inner space of the) heart as the eternal among the ephemeral, the consciousness among the conscious, who, though one, dispenses the desired objects to many, to them belongs eternal peace, not to others.” (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 5.13) [translated by Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli]

 

  1. नित्यो नित्यानां चेतनश्चेतनानामेको बहूनां यो विदधाति कामान् ।

तत्कारणं सांख्ययोगाधिगम्यं ज्ञात्वा देवं मुच्यते सर्वपाशैः ॥Shvetaswar Upanishad. 6.13

Meaning: “He is the eternal among the eternal and the intelligent among all that are intelligent. Though one, He grants the desires of the many. One is released from all fetters on realizing Him, the cause of all, who is comprehensible through philosophy and religious discipline.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.13) [translated by Swami Tyagisananda]

 

  1. क्षरं प्रधानममृताक्षरम हरः क्षरत्मानाविशते देव एकः।। (Shvetaswar Upanishad 1.80)

Meaning: The perishable is Prakrti; the immortal and imperishable is Hara (the individual self); and the Lord alone rules over both the perishable Prakrti and the imperishable individual self’ [ Translated by By Swami Adidevananda]

  1. क्षरं त्वविद्या ह्यमृतं तु विद्या विद्याविद्ये ईशते यस्तु सोऽन्यः।।5.1.1।।(Shvetaswar Upanishad 5.1)

Meaning: The indestructible is the Avidya (Karma) and the immortal is the Vidya (Knowledge) and He who commands them is distinct. [translated by M. B. Narsimha Ayyangar)

  1. द्वा सुपर्णा सयुजा सखाया समानं वृक्षं परिषस्वजाते।

तयोरन्यः पिप्पलं स्वाद्वत्त्यनश्नन्नन्यो अभिचाकशीति।। (Atharv-ved kand 9.14.20; Rig-Ved Mandal 1.164.20; Kathopanishad 1.3.1; Mundak Upanishad 3.1.1; Shvetaswar upanishad 4.1.6)

Meaning: The body is like Pippala plant, aatman and Parmatman is like two friend birds sitting on the tree. One of them eats the sweet pippala fruit and other shines in splendor without eating them at all. The fruits are like ‘karmaas’ which a jeevatma experiences while Patmatma just witness it, without being affected by Karma.

 

  1. यस्मात्क्षरमतीतोऽहमक्षरादपि चोत्तमः। अतोऽस्मि लोके वेदे च प्रथितः पुरुषोत्तमःGita 15. 18।।

Meaning: Inasmuch as I transcend the perishable (i.e., bound) Person of the aforesaid nature, and I am higher, for reasons stated earlier, than the imperishable Person or liberated self, therefore I am styled the Supreme Person in the Smrti and Srutis.

[ Translated by By Swami Adidevananda]

https://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in/srimad?scram=1&setgb=1&etradi=1&&language=dv&field_chapter_value=15&field_nsutra_value=18

10. क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि सर्वक्षेत्रेषु भारत। क्षेत्रक्षेत्रज्ञयोर्ज्ञानं यत्तज्ज्ञानं मतं मम।।Gita 13.3।।

Meanings: Know as Myself the Field-knower also who is the only form of the Knower in all the bodies like divinities, men etc., i.e., know them as ensouled by Me.

3. Ghatak Shruti:

Ghatak shruti joins Bhed and Abhed shrutis.

The Ghataka Sruthi declares that the Brahman is the inner controler (Antaryaamin – Aatma) present inside everyone. All chit and Achit entities are the body (Sareeram) of Brahman. This Sareera-atma Bhaavam (body-soul) relationship between the universe and the Brahman is conveyed by the “Ghataka Sruthi.”

Parashar Maharshi explains the ghatak shruti in Vishnu-Puran:

  1. VP 1.22.20: All these are produced from portion of Vishnu who appears as all beings.1.22.20
  2. VP 1.22.38: Whoever is created for its generation by an agent, it forms body of Hari.1.22.38.JPG
  3. VP 1.22.56: The fire remains in one place; but its light spreads all around. In this way, all the worlds are manifestations of the power of the Brahman.

1.22.56

Veda’s authority: (translations by Swami Gambhiranand and Swami Adidevanand)

  1. यः पृथिव्यां तिष्ठन्। पृथिव्या अन्तरो यं पृथिवी न वेद यस्य पृथिवी शरीरं यः पृथिवीमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः{Satpatha Brahman 14.6.7.[7]}
  2. य आत्मनि तिष्ठन् आत्मनोऽन्तरो यमात्मा न वेद यस्यात्मा शरीरं य आत्मानमन्तरो यमयति स त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः – {Satpath Brahman 14.6.7.[30]}

Meaning: He who, dwelling in the self is within the self, whom the self does not know, whose body the self is, and who controls the self from within, He is your Inner Controller and Immortal Self’

  1. यः सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्सर्वेभ्यो भूतेभ्योऽन्तरो यं सर्वाणि भूतानि न विदुः। यस्य सर्वाणि भूतानि शरीरं यः सर्वाणि भूतायन्तरो यमयति। एष त आत्मान्तर्याम्यमृतः (BrihadaAranyak Upanishad 3।7।15)

Meaning: He who, dwelling in all beings, is within all beings, whom all beings do not know, whose body all beings are, who controls all beings from within, is your Inner Controller, immortal Self.

  1. एको वशी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा एकं रूपं बहुधा यः करोति ।

         तमात्मस्थं येऽनुपश्यन्ति धीरास्तेषां सुखं शाश्वतं नेतरेषाम् ।।  Kathopanishad 2.2.12 ।।

Meaning: Eternal peace is for those – and not for others – who are discriminating and who realize in their hearts Him who – being one, the controller, and the inner Self of all – makes a single form multifarious.

 

  1. jagat Sarvam Sariram te (Ramayan. Yuddhakanda, 120:26)

Meaning: Whole Universe is your body.

 

  1. सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि सन्निविष्टो मत्तः स्मृतिर्ज्ञानमपोहनं च (Gita:15।15)
  2. ईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशोऽर्जुन तिष्ठति। भ्रामयन् सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया।। (Gita:18।61)
  3. न तदस्ति विना यत्स्यान्मया भूतं चराचरम्। (Gita: 10।39)

Meaning: Of all beings, in whatever condition they may exist, whether manifest or not, I alone am that state. Whatever host of beings are said to exist, they do not exist without Me as their Self. In the statement, ‘Nothing that moves or does not move exists without Me’, it is taught that the Lord exists as the Self, as said in the beginning: ‘I am the Self, seated in the hearts of all beings’ (10.20). The purport is that the entire host of beings in every state, is united with Me, their Self. By this He makes it clear that He, being the Self of all things, is the ground for His being denoted by everything in co-ordinate predication.

Other authorities are:

Chhandogya. (4.2.2-3);   Brihadaranyak (5.7.3); Mundak (3.1.1); Taittriya (11.6); Shwetaswar(1.12, 1.17, 1.25, 6.33); Aitriya Upanishad

 

The Pradhaana Prathitantram of Visistaadvaita

Sareera-Aatma Bhaava” otherwise called as “Sareera-Sareere Bhava” which is the “Body-Soul” relationship between the universe (all sentient (Chit/Jeeva) and insentient (Achit/non-living matter)) and the Brahman who is Lord Shreeman Naaraayana Paramaataman.

Ramanuja defines what ‘body’ means in his comment on Brahma-Sutras
2.1.9:

Any substance which a conscious soul is capable of completely controlling and upporting for its own purposes, and which stands to the soul in an entirely subordinate relation, is the body of that soul. Our body is completely under our control and we shape it and use it for our purposes. When the soul departs from a body, what remains is lifeless and soon starts to decay, and shortly thereafter it is clear it is not a body at all.

When we see a soul united to a body, we conventionally do not distinguish the two, and treat the two as indivisible parts.

In the same way, everything that exists is completely supported and controlled by the true Self, God. In this way, everything is said to be God’s body; without God nothing could conceivably exist. The other side of this coin is that if anything is to exist, God is inseparably associated with it as its Self, supporter, and controller.

Take an example:

When I say Hari, listen to me. whom am I calling?  body or aatman?

Ans: Body

Q: but body can’t respond

Ans: Aatma

Q: But, aatma don’t have name. Hari, this name doesn’t belong to Aatma.

Solution:

By calling bodily attributes like- O black haired girl, I am calling calling aatman who possess body. aatman and body are intimately attached. we call body but that is meant for aatman.
similarly, brahman is our aatman..residing inside the aatman. So, we becomes his body.
aatman and prakriti are inseparable from Brahman in Sharir-aatma bhaav.
when I say – You are brahman.
I am actualling adressing Brahman inside you i.e. aatman not you
aham brahmasmi–means I am body of Brahman. But, since I have him as my aatma, I am called Brahman. Bodily features are used to call Brahman.
similarly, when I say everything is Brahman it means Brahman is inside everyone
so, they are Brahman…since they are body of Brahman.
Is feathers of peacock different from peacock? Is it same as peacock?
when peacock closes it’s feathers, it’s like dissolution
and when she dances, it’s creation. 
Alvaar says that cloud is mahalkshmi and peacock is Narayan.
We are feathers. we expands i.e. gets body contracts after pralay and reamains in sukhsm form
We would come with a detailed article on Shareer-Aatma bhaav.

When the Gataka Sruthi is used to synchronize, the Abheda sruthi verses mean to tell that nothing other than the Brahman qualified by the universe as his body exists. In the same way when the Gataka sruthi verses are used to synchronize, the bheda sruthi verses mean to tell that the Brahman, who is the soul of the universe, is different from the universe, which is his body. Body and soul are different entities but they are inseparably related. The body is therefore called “Aprutak Sidha Visheshanam” meaning the body becomes the inseparable attribute of the soul. The term “Aprutak Sidha” rules out independent existence of the body. Without the soul, the body cannot have swaroopam. stiti and pravruiti. Also, the soul has not mode without the body and therefore the body called the mode (Prakaram) of the soul.

This relation is to be eternally and inseparably present between the soul and the body otherwise the concept itself is ruled out. For example, assume that a man is supporting an object say “pot”. Though he is the supporter and the pot is supported, the man cannot be the soul of the pot and the pot cannot be called as his body. This is because it is possible that the same pot can be supported by someone else (if he gives it to another person) or by something else say ground (if he keeps it on the ground). The inseparable eternal relation is not present here in this example.

Similarly in an example, a man controls his servant by his order. Though the man is the controller and his servant is controlled, the man cannot be called as the soul of the servant and the servant cannot be called as his body. This is because it is possible that someone else can control the same servant. The inseparable eternal relation is not present in this example also.

Follow another example where a man owns a land and gets benefits from it. Though the man is the owner of the land, enjoys the benefits from his land, and the land is owned and exists for the purpose of the man, the man cannot be called as the soul of the land and the land cannot be called as the body of the man. The inseparable eternal relation is not present in this example also, as another person can own the land if it is sold or seized.

http://sriramanujar.tripod.com/tutorial/5.html#pradhaana_paritantram

Author: ramanujramprapnna

studying Ramanuj school of Vishishtadvait vedant

6 thoughts on “Is Vedas mutually contradictory?”

  1. The dosha of contradiction lies in the eye of beholder. Veda is a complete coherent system. Dividing it into karma kanda and Jnana kanda itself is a wrong thing. Veda can not be understood just by nighantu and nirukta. They are necessary, but not sufficient. One needs to be in experiential planes of rishi or drashta who realised the riks or yajus. Panditas, always argue but a sage never argues. That is why, a scholar is different from a sage or Rishi. We need to look from perspective of Rishi.

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