An article on the above topic is available for download here:
Om Tat Sat
Veda Vyāsa’s Loyalty
Veda Vyāsa, the special incarnation of Viṣṇu, the holder of the special post of codifying the Vedas, is ever loyal to the Veda. He expresses his loyalty to the Vedas by depicting the Vedic message through his Puranas and the Mahabharatha. Here is an instance of such expression of his loyalty.
In the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa is narrated an episode:
FIRST ADHYÂYA, FIRST BRÂHMANA.
14:1:1:11. The gods Agni, Indra, Soma, Makha, Vishnu, and the Visve Devâh, except the two Asvins, performed a sacrificial session 1.
14:1:1:22. Their place of divine worship was Kurukshetra.. Therefore people say that Kurukshetra is the gods’ place of divine worship: hence wherever in Kurukshetra one settles there one thinks, ‘This is a place for divine worship;’ for it was the gods’ place of divine worship.
14:1:1:33. They entered upon the session 2 thinking, ‘May we attain excellence! may we become glorious! may we become eaters of food!’ And in like manner do these (men) now enter upon the sacrificial session thinking, ‘May we attain excellence! may we become glorious! may we become eaters of food!’
14:1:1:44. They spake, ‘Whoever of us, through austerity, fervour, faith, sacrifice, and oblations, shall first compass the end of the sacrifice, he shall be the most excellent of us, and shall then be in common to us all.’ ‘So be it,’ they said.
14:1:1:55. Vishnu first attained it, and he became the
most excellent of the gods; whence people say, ‘Vishnu is the most excellent of the gods.’
14:1:1:66. Now he who is this Vishnu is the sacrifice; and he who is this sacrifice is yonder Âditya (the sun). But, indeed, Vishnu was unable to control that (love of) glory of his; and so even now not every one can control that (love of) glory of his.
14:1:1:77. Taking his bow, together with three arrows, he stepped forth. He stood, resting his head on the end of the bow. Not daring to attack him, the gods sat themselves down all around him.
14:1:1:88. Then the ants said–these ants (vamrî), doubtless, were that (kind called) ‘upadîkâ 1‘–‘What would ye give to him who should gnaw the bowstring?’–‘We would give him the (constant) enjoyment of food, and he would find water even in the desert: so we would give him every enjoyment of food.’–‘So be it,’ they said.
14:1:1:99. Having gone nigh unto him, they gnawed his bowstring. When it was cut, the ends of the bow, springing asunder, cut off Vishnu’s head.
14:1:1:1010. It fell with (the sound) ‘ghriṅ'; and on falling it became yonder sun. And the rest (of the body) lay stretched out (with the top part) towards the east. And inasmuch as it fell with (the sound) ‘ghriṅ,’ therefrom the Gharma 2 (was called); and inasmuch as he was stretched out (pra-vrig,), therefrom the Pravargya (took its name).
14:1:1:1111. The gods spake, ‘Verily, our great hero (mahân virah) has fallen:’ therefrom the Mahâvîra pot (was named). And the vital sap which flowed from him they wiped up (sam-mrig) with their hands, whence the Samrâg 1.
14:1:1:1212. The gods rushed forward to him, even as those eager to secure some gain (will do) 2. Indra reached him first. He applied himself to him limb after limb, and encompassed him 3, and, in encompassing him, he became (possessed of) that glory of his. And, verily, he who knows this becomes (possessed of) that glory which Indra is (possessed of).
14:1:1:1313. And Makha (sacrifice), indeed, is the same as Vishnu: hence Indra became Makhavat (possessed of makha), since Makhavat is he who is mystically called Maghavat 4, for the gods love the mystic.
14:1:1:1414. They gave to those ants the enjoyment of food; but, indeed, all food is water, for it is by moistening (the food) therewith that one eats here whatever one does eat.
14:1:1:1515. This Vishnu, the (Soma-) sacrifice, they then divided amongst themselves into three parts: the Vasus (received) the morning-pressing, the Rudras the midday-pressing, and the Âdityas the third pressing.
14:1:1:1616. Agni (received) the morning-pressing, Indra.
Veda Vyāsa, even though he is verily Viṣṇu, true to his loyalty to the Veda, has narrated the above in the Devi Bhāgavatam. He does not feel that ‘None is above Viṣṇu':
The above narrative shows the Power of Devi over that of Lord Viṣṇu.
Om Tat Sat
Evidence for Viṣṇu being created according to BUB 1.4.11
In the Bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣad 1.4.11 there is the mantra about the creation of the Celestial Kṣatriya class: deva-kṣatra. The upaniṣad mantra:
ब्रह्म वा इदमग्र आसीदेकमेव तदेकं सन्न व्यभवत् । तच्छ्रेयोरूपमत्यसृजत क्षत्रं यान्येतानि देवत्रा क्षत्राणीन्द्रो वरुणः सोमो रुद्रः पर्जन्यो यमो मृत्युरीशान इति ।
A sample of such ‘deva kṣatriya-s’ is given in the mantra. Shankaracharya’s Bhāṣya:
[In the beginning this, the Kṣatriya and other castes, was indeed Brahman, identical with that Brahman
(Viraj) who after manifesting Fire assumed the form of that. He is called Br.ahman, because he
identified himself with the Brāhmaṇa caste. One only : Then there was no differentiation into other
castes such as the Kṣatriya. Being one, i.e. without any protector etc. such as the Kṣatriya, he did not
flourish, i.e. could not do his work ‘properly. Hence he, Viraj, thinking, ‘I am a Brahmaṇa, and these
are my duties,’ in order to create duties pertaining to a Brahmaṇa by birth-to glorify himself as a
performer of rites–specially, pre-eminently, projected an excellent form. What is that? ]
Br.up.1.4.11 भाष्यम् –
क्षत्रं क्षत्रियजातिः ; तद्व्यक्तिभेदेन प्रदर्शयति — यान्येतानि प्रसिद्धानि लोके, देवत्रा देवेषु, क्षत्त्राणीति — जात्याख्यायां पक्षे बहुवचनस्मरणात् व्यक्तिबहुत्वाद्वा भेदोपचारेण — बहुवचनम् । कानि पुनस्तानीत्याह — तत्राभिषिक्ता एव विशेषतो निर्दिश्यन्ते — इन्द्रो देवानां राजा, वरुणो यादसाम्, सोमो ब्राह्मणानाम्, रुद्रः पशूनाम्, (in yajurveda 3.4.5 and sayana bhashya). पर्जन्यो विद्युदादीनाम्, यमः पितॄणाम्, मृत्युः रोगादीनाम्, ईशानो भासाम् — इत्येवमादीनि देवेषु क्षत्राणि । (Shankara makes this comment for the word ‘iti’ at the end of the ṛk of the Br.up.1.4.11 shown above. The ‘iti’ has got this meaning of ‘etcetra’ and thereby Shankara says that the deva kṣatras mentioned in the Br.up.1.4.11 is not exhaustive and are only a few and there are several others as well. Thus the ‘ādi’ of the Bhāṣyam is crucial.)
Translation of the Bhāṣya:
The caste called Kṣatriya. This is being pointed out by a reference to its individuals. Those who are well known in the world as Kṣatriya among the gods. The plural is used (in ‘Kṣatriyas’), as in grammar a word denoting
a caste may be optionally in the plural.1 Or because there are many individuals in a caste, the difference is
figuratively transferred to the group. Who are they? This the text answers by mentioning particularly the
anointed ones: Indra, the King of gods; Varuṇa, of the aquatic animals ; the moon, of the Brahmal).as ;
Rudra, of the beasts ; Parjanya, of lightning etc.; Yama, of the Manes ; Death, of disease etc.; and
lsana, of luminaries. These are some of the Kṣatriyas, among the gods. (Shankara makes this comment for the word ‘iti’ at the end of the ṛk of the Br.up.1.4.11 shown above. The ‘iti’ has got this meaning of ‘etcetera’ and thereby Shankara says that the deva kṣatras mentioned in the Br.up.1.4.11 are not exhaustive and are only a few and there are several others as well. Thus the ‘ādi’ of the Bhāṣyam is crucial.)
The two highlighted sentences of the bhāṣya are important in the establishing of Viṣṇu’s birth (creation) in the above Upaniṣad. To find out what Shankara means by ‘. Those who are well known in the world as Kṣatriya among the gods’ we get sufficient information in the Kṛṣṇa Yajur veda samhitā:
3.4.5 अनुवाक 5 अभ्यातानाः
VERSE: 1 अग्निर् भूतानाम् अधिपतिः स माऽवत्व् इन्द्रो ज्येष्ठानां यमः पृथिव्या वायुर् अन्तरिक्षस्य सूर्यो दिवश् चन्द्रमा नक्षत्राणाम् बृहस्पतिर् ब्रह्मणो मित्रः सत्यानां वरुणो ऽपाम्̇ समुद्रः स्रोत्यानाम् अन्नम्̇ साम्राज्यानाम् अधिपति तन् मावतु सोम ओषधीनाम्̇ सविता प्रसवानाम्̇ रुद्रः पशूनां त्वष्टा रूपाणां विष्णुः पर्वतानाम् मरुतो गणानाम् अधिपतयस् ते मावन्तु पितरः पितामहाः परे ऽवरे ततास् ततामहा इह मावत । अस्मिन् ब्रह्मन्न् अस्मिन् क्षत्रे ऽस्याम् आशिष्य् अस्याम् पुरोधायाम् अस्मिन् कर्मन्न् अस्यां देवहूत्याम् ॥
In the above mantra portion a number of devas who are ‘adhipatis’ of certain groups is enumerated. (The mantra is a prayer to all these adhipati devas to protect the supplicant) The entities listed in the above are according to the Sāyana bhāsya available here:
https://archive.org/stream/taittiriya/taittiriya_samhita_sayana_05__2.5.12-3.4.11#page/n283/mode/2up (mantra detailing all deva-kshatras)
The Sāyaṇa Bhashya for the above:
The bhāṣya gives some explanation about the groups for which each deva mentioned in the mantra.
Agni the Head, adhipati, of elements, Indra, of devas, Yama (of….), Vāyu, Sūrya, Chandra, Bṛhaspati, Mitra, Varuṇa, Samudra, Annam, Soma, Savitā, Rudra, adhipati of Paṣus [exactly stated by Shankara in the Br.up.1.4.11 bhāṣyam], Tvaṣṭā, Viṣṇu, adhipati of Parvatas, Maruts, and so on….
For विष्णुः पर्वतानाम् of the Yajurveda, the Sāyaṇa bhāṣyam says: Viṣṇu is the adhipati of parvatas like govardhana.
From the above Veda mantra it is clear that so many deva-adhipatis are there. On closer examination one will find that even this list is not exhaustive. For instance the Vitteśa (Kubera) as adhipati of yakṣas, etc. mentioned in the Bhagavadgita 10th ch. is not in the above list. What the Br.up.1.4.11 mantra lists is a very few names compared to the Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda mantra. One can see several names from the two sources overlapping. That is why Shankara says These are some of the Kṣatriyas, among the gods. The list of deva-kṣatriyas mentioned in the Br.up..1.4.11 is not an exhaustive one; there remain many more than that of that category. The name of Viṣṇu, appearing as one among so many deva-adhipatis in the ‘well-known source’ Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda is a deserving one for inclusion in the Br.up.1.4.11. One cannot object that Viṣṇu has not been included in the Br.up. and therefore it would be wrong to do so. However we have several names in the Yajur veda mantra cited which have been included and there are names from that mantra itself not included in the Br.up.mantra as well. That itself shows that there is no room for any choice on the part of the Br.up.1.4.11 and that there is no valid reason to exclude Viṣṇu from the list even while it is present in the Yajurveda list as one among many devas.
If only Shankara had not made that crucial twin-comment: 1. Of the deva kṣatras being well known in the world (veda) and 2. That the Br.up.1.4.11 list is only representative, ‘upalakṣaṇa’, there would be no knowledge about the fact of only some names, just seven, out of innumerable, that are mentioned in the Br.up.1.4.11 and that there are many more that ought to be included in the mantra in order to get the correct purport of the teaching of the Br.up.1.4.11. Otherwise one will go with the incomplete, wrong, knowledge that there are only these seven deva kṣatras. Of course, for those who have done the Yajur veda adhyayanam of even the samhitā part and have some knowledge of the veda bhāṣyam the considerably longer list of names which includes viṣṇu as the adhipati of parvatas will be quite familiar.
In the sequel are given some references from various sources to substantiate many names and the corresponding group that Shankara has mentioned in the Bhāṣya for the Br.up.1.4.11. The Mahabharata too contains several such names and groups.
For Indra being the King of Devas:
Indra is the adhipati of ‘lokapālas’ (so says the sāyaṇa bhāṣya). This term means ‘devas’ as brought out by:
For Varuna being adhipati of yādasa:
वरुणो यादसाम् BG 10.29
For पर्जन्यो विद्युदादीनाम्
वर्तमानेन पर्जन्योऽग्निर्दीप्यते । अभ्राणि धूमः, धूमप्रभवत्वात् धूमवदुपलक्ष्यत्वाद्वा । विद्युत् अर्चिः, प्रकाशसामान्यात् । BUB 6..2.10
For यमः पितॄणाम् –
परेयिवांसं प्रवतो महीरनु बहुभ्यः पन्थामनुपस्पशानम् ।
वैवस्वतं संगमनं जनानां यमं राजानं हविषा दुवस्य ॥१॥
The bhashyam for the above is available here:
In the Brahmandapurana:
वैवस्वतं पितॄणां च यमं राज्येऽभ्यषेचयत् ॥ २. ८. ८ ॥
[Yama was coronated as the King of pitṛs. ]
The above is similar to the Mahabharatha (Karṇa parva) incident of Tripurasamhāra where Rudra is ‘coronated’ as the pati of ‘paśu-s’.
There are many more ‘rāja-s’ in the above document.
Mahabharata where many ‘adhipatis’ are listed:
Om Tat Sat
A new article with the above title is available for download here:
You may read the article and also share it with your friends, other websites and institutions.
Om Tat Sat
A new Article Series has been started on the specific Upaniṣadic content of the Sūtasamhitā. The Part 1 of the series, on the Chandogya upanishad 6th chapter is available here for reading:
Traits of a True Vaiṣṇava
In order to get an idea of the traits of a true Vaiṣṇava one has to look at a sample of the works of the Advaitins, that include Veda Vyasa, Shankara, Madhusudana Saraswati, Appayya Dikṣita, etc. a few of which are presented here.
In the Viṣnu sahasra nāma bhāṣya Shankara brings out the first two of the above. For example he cites these verses:
In the commentary of Shankaracharya to the Viṣṇu sahasranāma (VSN) the following verses are cited for explaining the verse पवित्राणां पवित्रं यो……
सर्पवद्रज्जुखण्दस्तु निशायां वेश्ममध्यगः ।
एको हि चन्द्रो द्वौ व्योम्नि तिमिराहतचक्षुषः ॥
[Just as a piece of rope appears as snake and just as the single moon appears as two to a diseased eye..]
आभाति परमात्मा च सर्वोपाधिषु संस्थितः ।
नित्योदितः स्वयंज्योतिः सर्वगः पुरुषः परः ॥
अहंकाराविवेकेन कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ।
[…so too the Paramātman appears in all the upādhis. He is truly the ever-emergent, self-luminous, all-pervading, Puruṣa the Supreme, owing to the non-discrimination between the ego and the Self thinks himself to be the doer.]
स्वमायया स्वमात्मानं मोहयन्द्वैतमायया ।
गुणाहितं स्वमात्मानं लभते च स्वयं हरिः ॥
[By his own Māyā, deluding himself with the illusion of dvaita, Hari Himself comes to see himself endowed with guṇas.]
Shankara further cites a few verses from the Harivamṣa 3.88. 61, 61, 62 which are addressed by Maheśwara during the Kailāsa yātra episode:
अहं त्वं सर्वगो देव त्वमेवाहं जनार्दन ।
आवयोरन्तरं नास्ति शब्दैरर्थैर्जगत्त्रये ॥
[I am thou and thou alone am I, O Janārdana. There is no difference between us, by word or by sense in all the three worlsd.] That is being elucidated in the sequel:
नामानि तव गोविन्द यानि लोके महान्ति च ।
तान्येव मम नामानि नात्र कार्या विचारणा ॥
[O Govinda, your esteemed names alone are mine as well; no doubt need to be had in this regard] There Veda Vyasa, through Shiva, conveys that all the names of Viṣṇu, including the name ‘Nārāyaṇa’ are that of Śiva. Thus the thousand names of Viṣṇu are also those of Śiva since there is no difference in name and sense between the pair Hari and Hara.
त्वदुपासा जगन्नाथ सैवास्तु मम गोपते ।
यश्च त्वां द्वेष्टि भो देव स मां द्वेष्टि न संशयः ॥
[The worship/meditation of You, O Gopati, let that be meditation of mine too. He who hates you O Deva, hates me too, undoubtedly.]
At the end of citing these verses Shankara says that these establish ‘ekatva’, Oneness, Advaita, the core teaching of the Vedas and the Smrtis.
This is just a sample of such countless pronouncements of Veda Vyasa, based on the Vedas, across the Mahabharata and the puranas.
Shankara’s core message of the Upanishad bhāṣya too is none other than the above. One can see that in the Brhadaraṇyaka 1.4.10 and others like the Praśṇopaniṣad.
We can see the above message carried on by Madhusudana Saraswati too:
सत्यज्ञानसुखात्मकः श्रुतिशिखोत्थाखण्डधीगोचरः ।
मोक्षं प्राप्त इव स्वयं विजयते विष्णुर्विकल्पोज्झितः ॥ इति ।
The verse says ‘Viṣṇu’ (Brahman) who is innately satyam, jñānam and sukham, is the abode of the universe consisting of the unreal dvaita of knower, knowing and known conjured up by māyā, and owing to the akhaṇḍkāravṛtti-based realization of His native ānanda svarūpa, being freed from the apparent bondage shines as though liberated, free from all the vikalpa-s.’
Here MS is depicting ‘Viṣṇu’ as the way Brahman is done in Advaita: Brahman alone, owing to ignorance of its own nature, appears as a bound jīva, samsārin, and owing to the knowledge of its true nature, is liberated as though. A vaiṣṇava who is a bigot and a fanatic would never bear to think of the Lord to be subject to avidyā and therefore a samsārin.
भूतिभूषितदेहाय द्विजराजेन राजते ।
एकात्मने नमो नित्यं हरये च हराय च ॥ ६
Obeisance ever to Him, who is resplendent with His body adorned with vibhūti, ashes, and is of the complexion of camphor (or having the moon on His head), the One Atman that is both Hara and Hari.
हरिशंकरयोरभेदबोधो भवतु क्षुद्रधियामपीति यत्नात् ।
उभयार्थतया मयेदमुक्तं सुधियः साधुतयैव शोधयन्तु ॥ १
[With the benediction that the understanding of non-difference between Hari and Shankara may rise even in those with a lowly intellect have I, with effort, commented on the Shivamahimna stotra verses in dual-meaning mode (as applying to Hari and Hara). Let the noble ones accept this as admissible alone.]
See this page too for more inputs about Madhusudana Saraswati’s vision:
MS’s trimūrti aikya approval, on the lines of Veda Vyāsa and Shankara, is expressed in this verse-commentary of the Mahimna stotra:
बहलरजसे विश्वोत्पत्तौ भवाय नमो नमः
प्रबलतमसे तत्संहारे हराय नमो नमः ।
जनसुखकृते सत्त्वोद्रिक्तौ मृडाय नमो नमः
प्रमहसिपदे निस्त्रैगुण्ये शिवाय नमो नमः ॥३०॥
[Salutation to Brahmā in whom rajas preponderates for the creation of the universe, salutation to Rudra in whom Tamas preponderates for the destruction of the same. Salutation to Viṣṇu in whom Sattva preponderates for giving happiness to the people (by preservation of the created universe). Salutation to Śiva who is effulgent and beyond the three attributes. ]
The last line of the above verse is explained by Madhusudana thus:
प्रमहसिपदे निस्त्रैगुण्ये शिवाय नमो नमः – निर्गतं त्रैगुण्यं यस्मात्न्निस्त्रैगुण्यं तस्मिन्पदे पदनीये तत्पदप्राप्तििमित्तम् । कीदृशे? प्रमहसि प्रकष्टं मायया अनभिभूतं महो ज्योिर्स्मिन्स्था । सर्वोत्तमप्रकाशरूपत्रिगुणशून्यमोक्षनिमित्तमित्यर्थः ।शिवाय – निस्त्रैगुण्यमङ्गलस्वरूपाय ’शिवमद्वैतं चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते ’ इति श्रुतेः । प्रमहसि पदे सथिताय इति वा । हरिपक्षेऽप्येवम् ।
The above means: ‘Shiva’ is the tattvam, the Turiya, which transcends the three guṇas. Why is Shiva to be prostrated? With a view to attain Him, His state. What is His nature, state? The Supreme Consciousness, effulgence, unaffected, untouched by māyā is what He is. [Alternatively, He is established in such effulgence.] [’स्वे महिम्नि प्रतिष्ठितः’ Chandogya up.7.4.1] That is the supreme state of mokṣa which is free of all three guṇas. For the word ‘Shiva’ the author cites the Mandukya 7th mantra: ‘shivam advaitam chaturtham manyante’ That pure auspicious essence that is free of the three guṇas which is non-dual, called the ‘fourth’ (Turiya).
Having explained thus to refer to Hara, Shiva, the commentator Madhusudana Saraswato, for whom Hari and Hara are non-different, says: the above explanation applies to Hari too in exactly the same manner. Thus, for Madhusūdana the Supreme Brahman can be called Hari or Hara. It makes no difference for the advaitins such as Veda Vyāsa, Shankara and Appayya Dikṣita.
We cannot but bow in admiration to Madhusūdana Saraswati’s broad vision that is conspicuous by its freedom from narrow-mindedness that is characterized by fanaticism and bigotry. MS, just like the venerable Advaita Achārya Shankara (who too steered clear of all fanaticism and bigotry by expressing Hari-Hara abheda and trimūrti aikya in his various works including the Viṣṇu sahasra nāma bhāṣyam) stands firm in the tradition of Advaita Acharyas.
Madhusudana Saraswti has left no trace of doubt that he was not a bigot. While his iṣṭa devatā bhakti was for Viṣṇu, he has not displayed the least intolerance that would normally go with a vaiṣṇava or even a śaiva. MS has emerged as a true Advaitin whose primary, fundamental, allegiance was with the Advaitic Nirguṇa Brahman which is devoid of any attributes. At the end of the 14th ch. commentary MS says: कल्पितस्य चाधिष्ठानानतिरेकाद्भगवतः कृष्णस्य च सर्वकल्पनाधिष्ठानत्वेन परमार्थसत्यनिरुपाधिकब्रह्मरूपत्वात्। [Since the superiposed is non-different from the substratum, Lord Kṛṣṇa being the substratum for all superimposition is the Absolute Reality since it is the very essence, Brahman, free of all upādhis. This reminds one of the Sri Lalitā sahasra nāma: sarvopādhi vinirmukta sadāśiva pativratā [She is free of all upādhis, the chaste consort of Sadāśiva]. In the sequel are shown a few instances from the works of MS in evidence of his mature thinking:
योगिनामपि सर्वेषां मद्गतेनान्तरात्मना ।
श्रद्धावान्भजते यो मां स मे युक्ततमो मतः ॥ ४७ ॥
// 6.47 Even among all the yogis, he who adores Me with his mind fixed on Me and with faith, he is considered by Me to be the best of the yogis. //
In the commentary of Sri Shankaracharya we have:
6.47 Api, even; sarveṣām yoginām, among all the yogis, among those who are immersed in meditation on Rudra, Āditya, and others; yah, he who; bhajate, adores; mām, Me; antarātmanā,with his mind; madgatena, fixed on Me, concentrated on Me who am Vāsudeva; and sraddhāvān, with faith, becoming filled with faith; sah, he; is matah, considered; me, by Me; to be yukta-tamah, the best of the yogis, engaged in Yoga most intensely.
While most people, especially vaiṣṇava bigots, take the words ‘Rudra’ in the above commentary to refer to Lord Śiva, MS, of his own accord, even though the verse of the BG does not contain that word, chooses to write in his GD: योगिनां वसुरुद्रादित्यादिक्षुद्रदेवताभक्तानां सर्वेषामपि मध्ये मयि भगवति..[Among all the yogins who are devoted to the lowly deities such as the vasu-s, rudra-s and āditya-s, he who is devoted to Me…] MS does not take the word ‘Rudra’ (and ‘Aditya’) in Shankara’s commentary to mean the well known Lord Śiva etc. as some like the author of the Tamil book ‘śankararum vaiṇavamum’ has done displaying their hatred for Śiva, verily non-different from Nārāyaṇa. MS gives the correct clarification by taking them to mean the gaṇas such as the eight vasus, the eleven rudras and the twelve ādityas. See an article on this topic here: http://www.mediafire.com/view/610a95362eprvy3/Reference_to_Rudra_and_Āditya_in_the_Bh.g.pdf
Nor does MS compel anyone to meditate on any specific form of any specific devatā:
…संयम्य विषयाकारवृत्तिशून्यं कृत्वा मयि परमेश्वरे प्रत्यक्चिति सगुणे निर्गुणे वा चित्तं यस्य स मच्चित्तो मद्विषयकधारावाहिकचित्तवृत्तिमान्। [BG 6.14]
[One having controlled the mind, that is, making it free of taking any form, installing the mind in Me, the, Supreme Lord, who is the inmost self, either saguṇa or nirguṇa,…he is the one who has given his mind, chittam, to Me.]
In this commentary MS cites a number of Patanjali Yoga sutras. One sutra, though not cited, but related to the means of attaining samādhi, is: yathābhimatadhyānād vā [Samādhi is attained by meditating on any object that is agreeable to the mind]. Of course, such an object should not be objectionable, as clarified by the commentaries.
That all devata-upāsanas have the Brahman in their core is brought out by MS in his BG commentary at the end of the 15th chapter:
शैवाः सौराश्च गाणेशा वैष्णवाः शक्तिपूजकाः। भवन्ति यन्मयाः सर्वे सोहमस्मि परः शिवः।।
[Those worshipers/meditators of the deities such as Śiva, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa, Viṣṇu and Śakti ultimately become one with That Supreme Consciousness that verily am I] MS is definitely not saying that he is the substratum of all these upāsakas. All these upāsanas culminate in the upāsaka realizing his oneness with the Supreme Reality, Brahman.
This verse is reminiscent of the Mahimnastotram verse:
त्रयी साङ्ख्यं योगः पशुपतिमतं वैष्णवमिति
प्रभिन्ने प्रस्थाने परमिदमदः पथ्यमिति च।
रुचीनां वैचित्र्यादृजुकुटिल नानापथजुषां
नृणामेको गम्यस्त्वमसि पयसामर्णव इव॥ ७॥
The different practices based on the three Vedas, SaMkhya, Yoga, Pashupata-mata, VaishhNava-mata etc . are but different paths (to reach to the Greatest Truth) and people on account of their different aptitude choose from them whatever they think best and deserved to be accepted . But as the sea is the final resting place for all types of streams , You are the only reaching place for all people whichever path,straight or zigzag, they may accept . (7)
MS has written a very elaborate commentary for the above verse.
The early Advaitain Sri Vācaspati Miśra too, in his invocation to the famous ‘bhāmati’ commentary to Shankara’s Brahmasutra Bhashya says:
षड्भिरङ्गैरुपेताय विविधैरव्ययैरपि शाश्वताय नमस्कुर्मो वेदाय च भवाय च ॥३ ॥
मार्तण्डतिलकस्वामिमहागणपतीन् वयम् । विश्ववन्द्यान्नमस्यामः सर्वसिद्धिविधायिनः ॥४
ब्रह्मसूत्रकृते तस्मै व्यासायापरवेधसे । ज्ञानशक्त्यवताराय नमो भगवतो हरेः ॥५ ॥
The summary of the above verses is: Obeisance to the Veda and Bhava (Śiva). That the author of the Bhāmatī was a great vaidika is brought out from his preference to offer his first namaskara to the Veda. Then in the same breath he pays respects to Śiva, his iṣṭa devatā. He seeks the grace of Sūrya, Subrahmaṇya and Gaṇapati and says that these deities are propitiated by the whole world, viśva vandyān. Then his respects are offered to Veda Vyāsa whom he says is an incarnation of Bhagavan Hari. From this triad of invocatory verses we come to know that the period during which Shankara and Vācaspati Misra flourished the Hari-Hara bhakti along with bhakti/worship of Surya, Skanda and Ganapati was extensively prevalent. That very state of affairs is carried on by the savants of the Advaita tradition to this day where, too, like that period of Shankara and the Bhāmatikāra, we see devotion to all the gods of the vedic religion being practiced. This is an important trait of the Vedic-Vaiṣṇava. Even though a great opposition to this Vedic religion came from non-advaitic so-called vaiṣṇavas, the tremendous efforts of Vaidikas such as the illustrious Appayya Dikṣita could offer resistance to the downfall of the true vedic worship of the various gods and see it vibrant today. One can easily see that the vaiṣṇavism that opposed this vedic religion is marked by bigotry and is truly a mockery of the very etymology of the word ‘viṣṇu’ which is ‘vyāpaka’ that pervades everything. The opposing forces tried to finitize Viṣṇu by forging a non-existent divide between Hari and Hara and other devatās.
To conclude, the traits of a true vaiṣṇava are:
It is to the credit of Sri Amalānanda, a true vaiṣnava of the above characteristics, who is the author of the work ‘kalpataru’, a commentary on the Bhāmatī, who composed the following verse that elucidates the sense of the point no.5 above:
निर्विशेषं परं ब्रह्म साक्षात्कर्तुमनीश्वराः ।
ये मन्दास्तेऽनुकम्प्यन्ते सविशेषनिरूपणैः ॥
वशीकृते मनस्तेषां सगुणब्रह्मशीलनात् ।
तदेवाविर्भवेत्साक्षादपेतोपाधिकल्पनम् ॥ [Kalpataru 220.127.116.11]
The meaning is:
It is beyond the ken of many to realize the Supreme Brahman that is without any attributes. The scripture talks about Brahman with attributes with a view to help these people, out of compassion. Once their mind becomes attenuated by practicing saguṇabrahma disciplines, with not much effort the upādhi-free Brahman realization comes about.
This is the admitted view of the Advaita Vedanta tradition. Shankaracharya has said a lot about this across the bhAshyam literature. One such statement of His isthe Sutra bhashyam:
स्यात्परमेश्वरस्यापि इच्छावशात् मायामयं रूपं साधकानुग्रहार्थम् । (1.1.vii.20)
(Ishwara, out of compassion, takes on, by His Maya, a form to grace the spiritual aspirant.)
The above is the characteristic of a true vaiṣṇava who holds that the attributes [ananta kalyāṇa guṇa gaṇa] is an adhyāropa by the śāstram on Brahman which is by itself nirviśeṣa. It is this characteristic that angered the neo-vaiṣṇavas who are unable to admit the fact of being unable to contemplate on the attributeless Brahman. That is the reason for their not accepting Shankara and those who followed him as vaiṣṇavas and therefore vaidikas. For them the attributes of Brahman are non-negotiable. For them only avaidikas like Śankara can spell out such blasphemous concepts like the one articulated beautifully by Amalānanda above. Hence alone Amalānanda can never be a vaiṣṇava of their brand. This above pronouncement of Amalānanda straight away makes him a fierce opponent of the Pāñcarātra doctrine that Śankara, based on Veda Vyāsa, refuted. This is because the pāñcarātra doctrine of the so-called vaiṣṇavas can never afford to give up the concept of eternal, inalienable, infinite auspicious attributes of Brahman. While, quite opposed to this, here we have Amalānanda bulldozing the very heart of pāñcarātra, by denying all those divine auspicious attributes as an adhyāropa, avidyākalpita, only meant for those who are incapable of rising to the heights of the Vedāntic Nirviśeṣa Brahman. This marks one of the several points that fundamentally divide the Vedantic Vaiṣṇava from the neo-vaiṣṇava of the non-advaitc brand. Thus, by no means can anyone call Amalānanda a friend of the pāñcarātra. In the BSB 2.2.42 etc. of his own Śāstradarpaṇam, Amalānanda upholds Shankara’s view saying that there is this difference between the Śruti and the pāñcarātra in the aspect of jīvotpatti, the creation of the jīva. While the śruti does not teach the creation of the jīva since the pāñcarātra teaches that, the latter’s view is inadmissible in the Vedānta. Even though the ‘created’ jīva is non-contradictory to the absolute nirviśeṣa Brahman of the Vedānta, since in that state the jiva is mithyā, yet, from the point of mokṣa of the jiva, there is this contradiction with the śruti: the jīva, being created, will attain extinction, svarūpa nāśa, when the prakṛti of which he is a product is negated/destroyed. Thus Amalānanda never differs from Shankara not even in a single aspect. Nor does he or any other advaitin accept the pāñcarātra as ‘devoid of defects.’ Appayya Dikṣita points out a vaikhānasa refutation of the pāñcarātra. Those who are unable to bear the refutation of this (their) school by Veda Vyāsa, Shankara and all the other commentators who followed him, spread lies that ‘later advaitins’ have accepted this school. A careful reading of all the commentaries available to this adhikaraṇam will reveal the emptiness of such desperate claims of such perpetrators of lies about Veda, Veda Vyāsa, Shankara and advaitins.
Om Tat Sat
Advaita taught in the Śaiva Purāṇa
In the 8th Chapter (verses 56-59) of the Panchadaśīi, Swami Vidyaranya has cited a few verses from the Parāśara Upapurāṇa, a text belonging to the Śiva Purāṇa. These verses are about the true nature of the Vedantic Brahman-Atman:
These are the verses from the above text cited in the Panchadashi:
वृत्तेः साक्षितया वृत्तिप्रागभावस्य च स्थितः १८
असत्यालम्बनत्वेन सत्यः सर्वजडस्य तु १९
साधकत्वेन चिद्रूपः सदा प्रेमास्पदत्वतः
आनन्दरूपः सर्वार्थसाधकत्वेन हेतुना २०
सर्वसम्बन्धकत्वेन सम्पूर्णः शिवसंज्ञितः
जीवेशत्वादिरहितः केवलः स्वप्रभः शिवः
Panchadaśi 8.56. It is said in the Shiva Purana that pure consciousness (Kutastha) exists as a witness to (the rise and fall of) the mental modifications (Vrittis), their prior (and posterior) non-existence and the state of ignorance prior to inquiry about truth.
8.57-58. As the support of the unreal world, its nature is existence; as it cognises all insentient objects, its nature is consciousness; and as it is always the object of love, its nature is bliss. It is called Shiva, the infinite, being the means of revelation of all objects and being related to them as their substratum.
8.59. Thus in the Śaiva-Puranas Kutastha has been described as having no particular characteristics of Jiva and Ishvara and as being non-dual, self-luminous and the highest good.
One can see that the nature of Atman/Brahman taught there as ‘Śiva’ is found in the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad 7th mantra too: शान्तं शिवम् अद्वैतम् [prapañcopamam ’śāntam śivam advaitam..]. Shankara has also stated in the Bhāṣyas this word ‘śiva’ as Atman/Brahman:
प्रपञ्चोपशमः शिवः अद्वैतः [Mā.up.12]
सर्वद्वैतोपशमत्वादेव शिवः । while commenting on the Kārikā 1.29: अमात्रोऽनन्तमात्रश्च द्वैतस्योपशमः शिवः । ]
शिवं शान्तमविकृतमक्षरं सत्यं परविद्यागम्यं पुरुषाख्यं सबाह्याभ्यन्तरमजं वक्तव्यमित्युत्तरं प्रश्नत्रयमारभ्यते । Praśnopaniṣat 4.1 bhāṣyam.
त एते कर्माणि विज्ञानमयश्च आत्मा उपाध्यपनये सति परे अव्यये अनन्तेऽक्षये ब्रह्मणि आकाशकल्पेऽजेऽजरेऽमृतेऽभये-
ऽपूर्वेऽनपरेऽनन्तरेऽबाह्येऽद्वये शिवे शान्ते सर्वे एकीभवन्ति अविशेषतां गच्छन्ति एकत्वमापद्यन्ते जलाद्याधारापनय इव सूर्यादिप्रतिबिम्बाः सूर्ये, घटाद्यपनय इवाकाशे घटाद्याकाशाः ॥
प्रसन्नं शिवमतुलमनायासं नित्यतृप्तमेकरसमित्यर्थः [Bṛ.up. 3.9.28]
Shankara has also cited a seminal verse from the Śivapurāṇa itself (considered to be a tāmasa purāna by Vaiśṇvas as it teaches the supreme status of Śiva) in the Viśṇu sahasra nāma bhāṣya explaining the name ‘Rudra’ (114th name):
रुर्दुःखं दुःखहेतुं वा तद् द्रावयति यः प्रभुः ।
रुद्र इत्युच्यते तस्माच्छिवः परमकारणम् ॥ (samhitā 6, ch.9, verse 14)
(‘Ruḥ’ means misery or the cause thereof. This is destroyed, melted away, by Rudra. Hence the Supreme Lord, Shiva, who is the Ultimate Cause (of creation, etc.) is called ‘Rudra’).
In the Brahmasutras, the Cause of creation, etc. of the universe is called ‘Brahman’ which alone is stated by the names Śiva and Viṣṇu in the scripture.
In the same Purāṇa cited above, subsequent to the above verses is taught the method of devotion to Bhagavān Śiva is to be practiced, as part of the Brahmavidyā sādhana. Shankara, keeping such teaching in mind alone has said in the BSB 2.2.42:
//यदपि तस्य भगवतोऽभिगमनादिलक्षणमाराधनमजस्रमनन्यचित्ततयाभिप्रेयते, तदपि न प्रतिषिध्यते, श्रुतिस्मृत्योरीश्वरप्रणिधानस्य प्रसिद्धत्वात् ।
Nor do we mean to object to the inculcation of unceasing concentration of mind on the highest Being which appears in the Bhâgavata doctrine under the forms of reverential approach, &c.; for that we are to meditate on the Lord we know full well from Smṛti and Scripture.//
That the teaching of the core Advaitic Atman, Brahman, and the means in the Purāṇa is what is significant. It is with this in mind that such purāṇas as the Sūta samhitā are considered tāmasic by Vaiṣṇavas who could not tolerate the explicit pronouncement of the Advaita Tattva as taught by Shankara in them by Veda Vyasa. For those who are opposed to Veda Vyasa teaching the Vedanta, such verses are there to delude those who are not fit to take to the ‘true’ vedic teaching that holds the Lakṣmipati Viṣṇu alone to be the Vedantic Brahman. All those subscribing to this view also admit that Shankara and other Acharyas like Sureśvara and Sarvajñātman are also those deluded since they have taught the Vedanta as expounded in the Śruti and Smṛti.
Om Tat Sat