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Who was Mahidasa Aitareya – Part One

12 Oct

The post Vedic period

1.1. The post Vedic period is generally reckoned as the one that fell between the end of Rig Veda and the commencement of Buddhism. And more particularly, it covered the period of the Aitareya and Taittairiya texts, Brahmana Schools and the early Upanishads. In regard to its teachers, it is the period encompassed by Mahidasa Aitareya and Yajnavalkya Vajasaneya. It is an obscure but a highly important period of thought- evolution that preceded the rise of Jainism, Buddhism and other later systems of Indian thought.

1.2. The period closed with Yajnavalkya whose philosophical teachings epitomized   the logical trend of the entire post Vedic thought tending towards the psycho-ethical. Yajnavalkya’s psychological speculations about the waking, the dreaming and the sleeping states of consciousness  ; and his theories of rebirth, death and birth laid the foundations of many of the Jaina, the Buddhist and the Hindu doctrines.

The discussions of this period form the basis for development of many psychological theories of the senses, the mind and the soul; and speculations of their functions and inter relations that are characteristic of the Buddhist traditions.

Shift in emphasis

2.1. The locale of the post Vedic period shifted from the Vedic  land of seven- waters (saptha-sindhavah) in the Punjab-Sindh region to Madhyadesha , which at those times meant the country lying to the east of Vinashana ( the region where the Saraswathi disappeared) stretching eastward up to Kalakavana or Black Forest , a tract somewhere near Prayaga.

2.2. The shifting of the knowledge-base from west to east must have taken place gradually. There is a long interval separating the last sage of the Rig-Veda from the first thinkers or the philosophers of the Post Vedic period.

During that long period  not only did the manner and the objective of life change but the aspirations of life too changed. It moved from a desire for a long and a cheerful life on earth to a will to secure release from the chain of births. The escape from Dukkha and delusions of the world took precedence over enjoying earthly fruits.

The gods too were steadily and slowly changing from their Vedic characteristics and functions of granting longevity, cattle, children, wives, victory, health and happiness and prosperity on earth to sage- like counsellors bestowing the knowledge that liberates. In the post Vedic texts the gods were approached with reverence for gaining an understanding of the nature of Man and his Universe.

2.3. The chief interest of the Vedic sages was centred upon the physical world as a whole. The thinkers of Aranyakas and Upanishads were, on the other hand, more concerned with the organic world and man, and his inner urges, culture of faith and intellect. While the Vedic hymns look outward in reverence and awe at the phenomena in nature, the post Vedic texts tend to look inward attempting to interpret the powers of nature as varied expressions of human consciousness.  In the post Vedic stage, logic and dialectics formed two wings of the discussions that were carried on; and, yet   the intellectual aspect was as much important as the contemplative. The shift in emphasis was gradual and natural.

2.4. Although the early hymns of Rig Veda are full of inquisitive questions as to the what, the whence, the how and the whither of things, they are not philosophical in approach. Those exclamations and wonderment were turned in to philosophical expositions in the Post Vedic era by Aghamarshana and other thinkers that followed him.

2.5. The highest aspiration of the thinkers of the post Vedic times was to approach and be one with what one looked up to as the Supreme. That soaring aspiration found its expression in hymns, verses, speculative thoughts, and the deeply absorbing discussions of the Aranyaka texts and the Upanishads. 

The question that mainly came up in the Post Vedic texts was ‘Who am I? ‘, which brought in its trail the other questions such as:’ ’Who is He?’; and ‘How shall I be one with Him?’ The thinkers of those times tried answering those questions in varieties of ways until it led them to the realization that  the questions seemingly separate were in fact two aspects of the same problem. On that, they exclaimed in amazement and joy:  ‘If I know Him, I know myself; If I know myself, I know Him’.  That finally led to the pithy aphorism  ‘So hum’ – I am He.

Mahidasa Aitareya

3.1. All such conceptions charged either by intellect or by intuition was in currency during the post-Vedic times. The earliest of its philosophers was Mahidasa Aitareya.  He is revered as the forerunner who showed the way to thinkers that succeeded him. Mahidasa is therefore recognized as the Father of Indian Philosophy, though many regard Aghamarshana as the first one to clearly state and put forward a definite explanation of his belief that Samvatsara (year) , time-principle which governs life and death was the essence of all things.

3.2. According to Sri Sayana-charya, Mahidasa was the son of a sage (identified by Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerji as Sage Visala) who had many wives, among whom was Mahidasa’s mother Itara. She came from a lower caste. Itara   named her son after her chosen deity Goddess Mahi , the Mother Earth.

Mahidasa the neglected one was gifted with a natural aptitude for study and learning. By dint of his sheer genius Mahidasa, years later, rose to eminence. Mahidasa called himself Aitareya the son of Itara; and, named the texts compiled by him – Aitareya Brahmana and Aranyaka – in fond memory and in honor of his mother Itara.

3.3. Nothing specific is known about Mahidasa’s life. The only definite information about him comes from Chandogya Upanishad and Jaiminiya Upanishad, both of which mention that Mahidasa lived a long life of 116 years. It is said; the first 24 years of his life were spent as a student; the next 44 years as householder; the remaining 48 years as hermit or forest dweller free from illness and weaknesses.

3.4. Mahidasa compared the life of a person to a Yajna. According to him, the first 24 years of life are the morning libation connected with the Vasus. The next 44 years of life are the midday libations connected with the Rudras. And, the next 48 years are the third libation connected with the Adityas.

Aitareya

4.1. Aitareya is an important name in the Vedic literature . The Rig-Veda supposedly had an Aitareya recession. Mahidasa was perhaps the founder of a Shakha or a School of the Aitareyins  whose philosophies were incorporated into the Aitareya Brahmana. To Aitareya Brahmana belongs the Aitareya Aranyaka , which includes Aitareya Upanishad. Even as early as in the sixth century BCE, the Buddha regarded the Aitareya along with Taittareya as being the oldest among the post – Vedic texts.

4.2. The Aitareya Brahmana and the Aitareya Aranyaka , omitting the Upanishad portions, together represent a homogeneous body of doctrines which may be regarded as the system of a particular school of thought , say that of Mahidasa Aitareya or of the Aitareya School. The case of the Upanishad is, however, different, as it contains the views of many individuals and schools other than of Aitareya clan.

4.3. Aitareya Aranyaka (appended to Aitareya Brahmana of the Rig Veda) consists five books each of which is treated as a separate Aranyaka. The Books One to Three are attributed to Mahidasa Aitareya; the Book Four to Asvalayana; and , the Book Five to Saunaka , the teacher of Asvalayana.

The status of householder

5.1. One of the moot questions that perhaps were in serious debate during those times was: whether one can coordinate or harmonize earnest spiritual quest with discharge of responsibilities as of a social being, a householder.

Mahidasa replied that with a very emphatic ‘yes’. There  is no reason, he said, why a righteous person should forego   the legitimate pleasures of the senses, in so far as these are in harmony with the purpose of the whole of nature. That is to say, in so far as these serve the real end for which these are meant , and no other.

5.2. He asserted that Marriage is a sacred human institution which must be respected by all human beings. Mahidasa believed, life is altogether imperfect and bitter without marriage and children (AA1.3.4.12-13). According to him, a happy life is one which is lived for a hundred years in health, strength and brightness (indriye, viryye, and tejasi).

5. 3. The householder is the pivot of social system; all stages and segments of life, either in family or in society, revolve around him. Just as all beings depend on air to exist, the other three stages in life (childhood, hermit and recluse) depend on the householder. He feeds, protects and clothes all. The householder generates life, nurtures, protects, educates and strengthens life for the well-being of the present and of the future society. The order, safety and governance in the society all come from the householder.  The values and virtues in life such as love, generosity, commitment, tolerance, prudence, right judgment, purity etc., all emanate from the family. The peace of the departed ancestors too depends on the householder. The gods and the Dharma too are maintained by the householder. Thus, the past, present and future all depend on the householder. All stages of life originate from, prosper in, and merge into the householder.

The art of Life

6.1. As regards the life in general, Mahidasa Aitareya advised: Live the life of nature. The art of self-building or the art of conduct should be based upon the art of the Divine, that is to say, to be in complete accord with the laws of nature. Nothing is bad in its right place; and everything is useless when it is out of its place. Even a precious diamond is a mere speck of dust when it falls into ones eye . Everything gains in value and significance so long as it discharges its proper functions and in proportion to  its contribution  to the general wellbeing of the whole system of which it is an integral , organic part .The eye for instance is good so long as it discharges its functions of seeing for which it is intended and remains an integral part of the organism. ” The eye cannot hear; the ear cannot see; the stomach cannot think ;and, the mind cannot digest and so on (AA 2.4.3.2.3).” Anything out of its  place and out of context is useless.

6.2. Mahidasa said; the greatest virtue of man is truth (satya) , the flower and fruit of speech. The tongue that utters what is not truth dries up and perishes like an uprooted tree (AA. 2.3.6.9-13).

The term truth had a far wider connotation with him than with us. Truth meant a perfect harmony in conduct between ones thought, speech and deed (manasa, vacha, kaya). It is the integrity in life. And, in philosophy, it is the harmony  that should exist between knowledge and reality.

The interconnected Systems

7.1. While Mahidasa accepted that all systems – state, society and family – are independent in their own context. He pointed out that it is only when each system is connected with the others in a meaningful manner that all systems together can perform as a harmonious unity. He also said; the family or the society or the state, though independent in a limited sense, should be so constituted within a super-system that each is harmoniously related and interconnected with the others, just as the organs in a human body. It is only then that all system-parts can together enable the organism to function purposefully and meaningfully.

7.2. Mahidasa extended the analogy of the ‘body-principle’ to explain the relationships that should exist between the State, the Society and Family. He said; each member in the society and each member in the family should have a free scope for a proper discharge of his or her functions or for the proper use of his or her capacities.

7.3. Mahidasa further extended that principle to explain the order prevailing in the universe. Mahidasa meant that all systems are independent, just as a living body is a inter connected whole – an order as the universe itself.

Thus, Mahidasa Aitareya and his school left many inferences relating to the practical life drawn from their study of human organism or of the constitution and nature of working of the physical universe.

The living and the dead

8.1. Mahidasa explained, a living organism is a system that is divisible into a number of component systems. Each member is perfect in its place; but, it is useless while out of place (AA 1.5.1.7). Besides, each member has a distinct place, function or purpose of its own. It is so peculiar to it that no other member can take its place. Each member in a living body exercises its own functions independently; and also in harmony and co-operation with other members (AA 2.4.3.6).

8.2. And, yet all their functions are of relevance only when the unity of the whole organization is maintained by the vital principle Prana. The term Prana, air or breath connotes that the working of the systems depend ultimately on the vital breath. He seems to suggest that the functions of the body such as eating, digestion etc all need the presence of air (AA 2.1.4.9-15).  Mahidasa also says all members of an organization are not absolutely essential for its mere existence so long as there is Prana.

8.3. He pointed out that a living organism must be sharply distinguished from a dead body because a body without life joined to it is but a decaying corpse (sarira), whereas a living body is a self generating mechanism of nature. It is born perpetually, replacing the dead particles (anu) all the while  (AA. 2.1.4.11). Thus , according to Mahidasa, in order to participate in what is called ‘life’ the relation between members in a living organism should not only be that of mere physical contact but should also be that of physiological connection. That is to say, each member of the organization must be animated by the same principle (Prana) and stimulated into activity by the same motive.

Man and Universe

9.1. Mahidasa conceived Man as a microcosm, a miniature universe: “whatever there is belonging to the son belongs to the father; whatever there is belonging to the father belongs to the son” (Aitareya Aranyaka: 2.3.1.1). What is true in respect of man is also true of the universe. The finite thing of experience is not only a part of the whole but is in essence the whole itself. ‘I as a living nomad am the universe’.   (More of that in the next part)

9.2. The main concern of Mahidasa was the search for the central essence of Man; as also the essence of the Universe. The two independent streams of thought – one driven by the desire to realize the true nature of man; and , the other, to understand the objective world – became fused. The blending of the two apparently dissimilar concerns led him to his outlook. He tried to understand and express the world in terms of the individual and his place in it.

9.3. The major problems that Mahidasa tried to grapple were the origin of life and the development of consciousness.  The following explanation on the Aitareya Upanishad is said to be based on his teachings:

‘This which is known as the heart, this mind, mastering knowledge of arts, comprehension, power of retaining import of scriptures, perception, fortitude, reflection, independent power of thinking, distress of mind caused by diseases, etc., memory, volition, application, any pursuit for maintenance of life, desire for the company of women, all these are, indeed, names of Consciousness’.

‘This Brahman; this Indra; this creator; all these gods; these five great elements; all these small creatures; these others; the seeds of creation, these egg-born, the womb-born, sweat-born, sprout-born, horses, cows, men, elephants, whatever else which breathes and moves and flies, or is immovable, all these are guided by Consciousness and are supported by Consciousness. The universe has Consciousness for its guide. Consciousness is the basis or stay of all.

‘Verily, consciousness is Brahman: Prajnanam Brahma’.

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Next

10.1. Aitareya Aranyaka and Aitareya Brahmana are fairly large texts. The concepts and explanations do not also proceed in an order. There are no clear-cut divisions or grouping of his doctrines. We may not be able to discuss his works thoroughly. But we can attempt to glance at some of his views on few other subjects.

That we shall attempt in the next part

Continued in Part Two

References and sources:

1. The History of the Pre-Buddhistic Indian Philosophy (1921); Calcutta University by Dr. Benimadhab Barua (Reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, 1970)

2. A Course in Indian Philosophy by Prof. AK Warder; Motilal Banarsidass, 1998

3. The Essence of Aitareyopanishad  by Swami Sivananda

http://www.sivanandaonline.org/public_html/?cmd=displaysection§ion_id=587

4. Aitareya Aranyaka

http://www.interfaith.org/hinduism/aitareya-aranyaka-2/

 
19 Comments

Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Upanishads

 

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19 responses to “Who was Mahidasa Aitareya – Part One

  1. Soumya srajan

    March 16, 2013 at 9:24 am

    very nicely written article, I like your whole website.

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Dear Soumya , Thank you for the appreciation. Please do read the other posts as well . Regards

       
      • Soumya srajan

        March 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm

        yes sure! Sreenivas, I am going to read one by one all of them, You write very well and u have a lot of knowledge about our ancient wealth and an admirable understanding about it and a very pleasing style.

        I have been writing on speaking tree a series about basic ideas from adviata vedanta.

        http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/philosophy/walking-on-paths-created-by-our-rishis-come-iii
        (first two in this series are more about histroy etc. when did people who spoke and analysed first time ideas from vedas etc. lived)
        I have to still write some more.

        Earlier some time back I wrote a general article on ancient Indian philosophies. on hubbpaages.

        http://soumyasrajan.hubpages.com/hub/Truth-what-it-is

        You any way know a lot more. Do glance through them when u have time and let me know your views about them.

        wealth you are creating on this site is very useful, I hope to use some of your explanations some time.

        It will be nice if you can put some of these articles on Speaking tree site – there are a lot of people there who may be looking for such basic information.
        regards

         
      • sreenivasaraos

        March 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Dear Soumya. Thank you for the links to the Speaking Tree. It is a very comprehensive site covering wide range of subjects. I can see you have poured in lot of hard work, patience and love to keep it running. I appreciate your dedication as also the spread of your understanding.
        I am, of late, not writing much. I am not sure which of my articles might be of interest to your readers. You are free to choose and post those that suit your site.
        Warm Regards

         
  2. Soumya srajan

    March 24, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Hi! Sreenivas
    Oh! speaking tree is actually run by Times of India, not me. I am only a member there.
    its members include people from all over world and many are looking for proper knowledge and information about Hinduism.

    i actually admire your patience, how nicely you have written these articles and with details from original books, purana, vedas and upanishads etc. Your hard work should much wider audience, I felt. hence I suggested to you to put them on Speaking Tree, where a lot many people will respond, I feel.

    Not too many have knowledge of the this type. All your articles will be of interest to readers of speaking tree. Being run by times of India, it has a lot of popularity. So if you have time
    just become a member of speaking tree and put these articles there.
    I am sure many more will read them via ST and benefit from them.
    regards

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 27, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Dear Soumya , As you mentioned , I just became a member of Speaking Tree. And , have posted Who was Mahidasa under Blogs -Seekers Blogs.
      Let me see how it fares.
      Thank you for guidance and support
      Please keep talking
      Regards

       
  3. sreenivasaraos

    March 18, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Amazing is the word for it..
    it is like reading a lecture of a scientist..
    To bring such strong reason to his philosophy at a time
    when beliefs held sway is remarkable.
    Art itself has moved away from representation
    outside to inside only in recent times.
    that plants had life was known to him even before the scientists
    declared them..his thoughts seem to be more advanced to even Sankhya school.

    DSmpath

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 18, 2015 at 5:48 am

      Dear Shri Sampath, I am delighted you continued reading despite the length. Yes; as you said it is as if a scientist is speaking; I stopped short of using that term. Mahidasa is not given to flights of fantasy. He is analytical in his approach. That is commendable when consider that Indian ‘philosophy’ was then just passing out of infancy. He preceded the Buddha by at least 600 to 800 years. The scholars from west too recognize that Mahidasa compares favorably with Aristotle. The problems they point out with Mahidasa are in his use of ‘nomenclatures’ or terms that are not quite easy to follow; and lack of methodical treatment to his subjects. But, all acknowledge that his concepts and his understanding of nature and life were brilliant; and, Mahidasa was far ahead of his times.

      His vision of treating Man as miniature universe; assertion that something can only come out of something and not out of nothing; bridging relations between root and shoot, cause and effect; notions of perpetual change and motion; the proposition that the motion or the energy that brings about changes in the matter is something other than matter; and his belief that ‘organic things’ too are endowed with life and sensations – all these found place in the doctrines of Samkhya and other Schools of thought ( including Buddhism) centuries after his time. Mahidasa was without doubt a pioneer in the development of Indian thought.

      Regards

       
  4. sreenivasaraos

    March 18, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Dear Sreenivasa Rao Sb,

    Excellent I say. Many of Mahi Dasa’s concepts are scientific. We have many good scientists in India but all of them are in the trap of western Science laced with Atheism as it suits capitalist interests and market economy. Science should be away from both Atheism and Theism as they blind.

    I think that the great Sir JC Bose maintained equal distance from Atheism and Theism. He identified himself as an Indian Scientist quiet different from Western Scientists.

    I wish you author books “Philosophy for Scientists” and “Science for Philosophers”.

    Thanks,
    DMR Sekhar.

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 18, 2015 at 5:50 am

      Dear Shri Sekhar, As I said earlier , I owe this blog to you. I started thinking of Mahidasa while in conversation with you about the theories of evolution and genopsych. I am delighted you continued reading part two despite the length. Yes; as you mentioned it looks ‘scientific’; but, I stopped short of using that term. As you can see, Mahidasa was not given to flights of fantasy. He was analytical in his approach. That is commendable when consider that Indian ‘philosophy’ was then just passing out of infancy. He preceded the Buddha by at least 600 to 800 years. The scholars from west too recognize that Mahidasa compares favorably with Aristotle. The problems they point out with Mahidasa are in his use of ‘nomenclatures’ or terms that are not quite easy to follow; and lack of methodical treatment to his subjects. But, all acknowledge that his concepts and his understanding of nature and life were brilliant; and, Mahidasa was far ahead of his times.

      His vision of treating Man as miniature universe; assertion that something can only come out of something and not out of nothing; bridging relations between root and shoot, cause and effect; notions of perpetual change and motion; the proposition that the motion or the energy that brings about changes in the matter is something other than matter; and his belief that ‘organic things’ too are endowed with life and sensations – all these found place in the doctrines of Samkhya and other Schools of thought ( including Buddhism) centuries after his time. Mahidasa was without doubt a pioneer in the development of Indian thought.

      I am not sure I measure up to the task of authoring books on those subjects. I reckon, the author of such books needs to be a fulltime academician if it has to gain acceptance or credibility.

      Thank you.

      Regards

       
      • sreenivasaraos

        March 18, 2015 at 5:53 am

        Dear Shri Sekhar, As I said earlier , I owe this blog to you. I started thinking of Mahidasa while in conversation with you about the theories of evolution and genopsych. I am delighted you continued reading part two despite the length. Yes; as you mentioned it looks ‘scientific’; but, I stopped short of using that term. As you can see, Mahidasa was not given to flights of fantasy. He was analytical in his approach. That is commendable when consider that Indian ‘philosophy’ was then just passing out of infancy. He preceded the Buddha by at least 600 to 800 years. The scholars from west too recognize that Mahidasa compares favorably with Aristotle. The problems they point out with Mahidasa are in his use of ‘nomenclatures’ or terms that are not quite easy to follow; and lack of methodical treatment to his subjects. But, all acknowledge that his concepts and his understanding of nature and life were brilliant; and, Mahidasa was far ahead of his times.

        His vision of treating Man as miniature universe; assertion that something can only come out of something and not out of nothing; bridging relations between root and shoot, cause and effect; notions of perpetual change and motion; the proposition that the motion or the energy that brings about changes in the matter is something other than matter; and his belief that ‘organic things’ too are endowed with life and sensations – all these found place in the doctrines of Samkhya and other Schools of thought ( including Buddhism) centuries after his time. Mahidasa was without doubt a pioneer in the development of Indian thought.

        I am not sure I measure up to the task of authoring books on those subjects. I reckon, the author of such books needs to be a fulltime academician if it has to gain acceptance or credibility.

        Thank you.

        Regards

         
  5. sreenivasaraos

    March 18, 2015 at 5:52 am

    his rational logical summation with the aid of all pramANams available to humans in the study of philosophy – much before the time of Universities like Kanchi,thakshila and Nalanda makes him a great intellectual authority of sort.

    The following extracts from what he said reflect the conclusions of many sages in unraveling universe individual connection.

    The whole of nature is a purposive-order, a system of ends. The finite thing of experience is not only a part of the whole but is, in essence, the whole itself. “I as a living nomad am the universe”.

    Therefore what we recognize as two separate knots are essentially two aspects of one and the same reality. If we take the first cause as Brahman or God the final cause too is God; and so is whatever that falls in-between.

    In Mahidasa’s terminology, in the Universe the first and the last knots are termed Prajapathi (the efficient cause) and Brahman (the final cause or end). In the case of the individual they are termed prana and Prajna.

    Prajapathi causes the world; the world causes water; the water causes life; life begets herbs and living creatures; the manas is the heart of thinking creature; it causes thinking mind; the thinking mind expresses through thoughtful speech ; the thoughtful speech leads to thoughtful action; and the thoughtful action is in reality the man (Purusha), the abode of Brahman”( AA 1.3.4.9)

    Rao Sir,

    There is school of thought that Universe is Brahman . NKR

    Thank you. NKR

     
    • sreenivasaraos

      March 18, 2015 at 5:53 am

      Dear Shri Ravi, Yes Sir; Mahidasa was not given to flights of fantasy. He was analytical in his approach.

      As regards your observation about Universe being Brahman, Mahidasa’s time was much before those notions became the kernel of Vedanta. It took some centuries after Mahidasa for that doctrine to get fully developed and established. But, in the meantime, a sage named Sandilya (who perhaps came sometime soon after Mahidasa) was the first to come up with the assertion: “Sarvam khalvidam Brahma”– All this is verily Brahman. This very famous aphorism which appears in Chandogya Upanishad (3.14.1) is celebrated as the Sandilya Vidya – the wisdom of Sandilya. It asks one to meditate tranquilly on that Absolute Being. It says; He pervades all Universes; He is within my heart, my Life, smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest. He is Brahman.

      Regards

       
      • Soumya Srajan

        March 18, 2015 at 7:57 am

        Oh! I am sorry sreenivasji- I had just given link to vepa’s book in my above comment but it has put the whole article from scribe there.I could not delete it. I hope you can correct it.

         
  6. sreenivasaraos

    March 18, 2015 at 5:54 am

    iked this line ““I as a living nomad am the universe”.”
    yes i beleive in this knots of a rope, that self development is an aim of arts,

    very enlightening post indeed,

    infact this rope philosophy – has links to tantra also – in some way according to some Shools of thought –

    but i think its a closed rope or loop – as from root – comes shoot- shoot – seed- and from seed aagain root – etc

    you are such an erudite scholar – don’t know how to thank you for such a wonderful post – all your hard work

    my recent short story is based on planchette – sometime back i wrote an article on death too,
    i feel so humble to ask a scholar like u to read my posts though,

    best wishes,kk

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    • sreenivasaraos

      March 18, 2015 at 5:54 am

      Dear Sreechandra, Thank you for the comments and appreciation. The idea of the rope-of-life forming into a loop, as you mentioned, is truly interesting. Mahidasa was mostly speaking bout progression of life from one stage to the next; and, perhaps he had not dwelt on the reversal of the process. But, the later texts however speak of our universe as going through eternal cycles of expansion followed by withdrawal or collapsing on itself.Here, the expansion or evolution takes place in stages, proceeding from the most subtle to the most gross; and the effect in each stage resides in its cause.Eventually, all matter in existence retrace their steps, each effect collapsing into its cause, and finally into the original cause. That is, until the next cycle of expansion occurs.

      Thank you

      Regards

       
  7. sreenivasaraos

    March 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Dear Soumya, Delighted to see you.

    Chronology in Indian History is a vexed issue; and, has been much debated. As always, much can be said of either side.

    The chronology, which we now refer to, was put in place during the later years of the 18th century (around the year 1793) largely due to the efforts of Sir William Jones.

    It was built around two factors: One, the date of the death of the Alexander the Great; and two, the identification of Sandrocottus mentioned in the Greek accounts with Chandragupta Maurya.

    Of the two, the former, that is, the date of the death of Alexander the Great is verifiable from other sources. However, it is the identity of Sandrocottus with Chandragupta Maurya that is still a matter of debate.

    Thus the chronology of Indian History, as we now follow, is supported on one leg by a fact and on the other by an assumption.

    I had earlier posted an article: “Why Is The Year Of Alexander’s Death Important To Indian History?” discussing the issue. Please check, which I reckon you might find it interesting.:

    https://sreenivasaraos.com/2012/09/07/why-is-the-year-of-alexanders-death-important-to-indian-history/

    Chandragupta of Gupta Dynasty is now placed in fourth century AD. In case he is indentified with Sandracottos, then the entire chronology will shift back by about eight hundred years .Then the Buddha might as well have been in the 14th century BCE.

    Please also check other links on the issue mentioned in the post.

    In any case , please do visit Shri Niraj Mohanka’s spread sheets- 23 columns wide, 350 rows deep and over 8,000 cells in MS Excel – basically on the chronology of Indian history. It is remarkable for an individual who is not a professional historian.

    http://www.newdharma.org/royal_chron.htm

    As regards Mahidasa Aitereya, I have followed Dr. Benimadhab Barua in his “A History of pre-Buddhistic Indian Philosophy”. Dr. Barua places Mahidasa in the post-Vedic period, which is the transition period from Vedas to Brahmanas.

    Dr. Barua places Mahidasa the founder of the Aitereya tradition after Dhirgatamas (I think I could write about his interesting theories), but before Gargargayana, Pratardana and much before Uddalaka (of Chandogya Up). He regards Mahidasa as the father of Indian Philosophy, because he was the first to systematically endeavour to understand, explain and suggest solutions to the questions concerning the origin of life, and development of consciousness. He paved way for all most all the thinkers who succeeded him.

    The Aitareya Brahmana (3.44) of Mahidasa says: “The Sun does never set nor rise. When people think the Sun is setting it is not so. For after having arrived at the end of the day it makes night to what is below and day to what is on the other side. Having reached the end of the night, it makes day to what is below and night to what is on the other side. In fact, the Sun never sets.”

    The principle subject of interest among the thinkers of Mahidasa’s time appeared to be the primacy of Prana (vital energy or Life) OR Brahman (intelligence or consciousness). While Suravira, Mandukeya, Sakalya the senior and Raivaka argued for Prana; Badhva and Shandilya went for Brahman. It is said; whenever the arguments got into a tie, Mahidasa seemed to favour Prana.

    Dr. Barua mentions that The Buddha regarded the Aitereya, Taittiriya and a few other Brahmana Schools as being among the oldest. Panini the Grammarian mentions (V.1.2) Aitareya and Kaushitaki Brahmanas. Similarly, Yaska also speaks of the two Brahmanas in his Nirukta (vi.8) . Thus, Aitareya of Mahidasa is of great antiquity.

    A B Keith in his “Rigveda Brahmanas: the Aitareya and Kausitaki Brahmanas of the Rigveda”, after a lengthy discussion (from page 42 to page50) , places the texts around 800 BCE. He also says Aitareya is, doubtless, one of the oldest Brahmanas; older than Jaiminiya or Shatapatha.

    Of course, given the state of chronology in Indian History, the dates are always open to debate.
    I am sorry, I have not been of much help, I know. Pardon me.

    Please keep talking.

    Regards

     
  8. sreenivasaraos

    March 18, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    BTW , Martin Haug in his “Aitareya Brahmana of Rig Veda” ( Government Central Book Depot , London; 1863) , based on astronomical data says “we do not therefore hesitate to assign composition of this Brahmana to 1400 BCE to 1200 BCE’ (page 47).

     

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