The Bhagavadgita and Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nāma – double up as texts on Shiva as well

It is popular belief among non-advaitins that the  Bhagavadgita and VSN are texts that relate to of Lord Vishnu. However, for the Vedantin such as Shankara, these are works that are a teaching on realizing Brahman. They are not theological texts for the Vedantin. He does not confine the commentary to make the texts applicable to solely a finite deity Vishnu. He also reveals the VSN to be holding Shiva as Brahman, jagatkāraṇam, as well. His citing the śivapurāṇa verse ‘…;śivaḥ paramakāraṇam’ for the ‘Rudra’ name therein is a proof for this. Also for the name ‘soma’ of the VSN, Shankara, alternatively, takes it as the one with Umā.  That he has considered the Kaivalyopaniṣat ‘sa brahmā, sa śivaḥ…’ as teaching abheda of all deities is another proof of his not confining the VSN to the finite deity Viṣṇu.
Quite interestingly we have Sri Desamangalam Arya, the commentator for the famous Nārāyaṇīyam of Melpattur Narayana Bhattatiri, at 90.5 say:
नामसहस्रकादीति |  आदिशब्देन श्रीगीतादि गृह्यते | सोऽपि तदुभयमपि शिवपरतया व्याख्यातुं शक्यमपि विष्णुपरतयैव व्याख्यातवान् | [ Nāmasahasrakādi iti. The ‘etc.’ includes the Bhagavadgītā, etc. He, Shankara, too, even though both these texts can be commented/interpreted upon to mean Shiva to be the Supreme, explained them as bringing out Vishnu alone as the Brahman.]
The following emerge as fall-outs from  the above comment:
  • The VSN and the BG are not Vishnu-specific works
  • A Vedantin can happily interpret these texts as Shiva-specific as well
  • The immediate fallout of this is: the वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यः occurring in the BG will lose its emphasis with respect to Vishnu as normally claimed by non-Advaitins.
  • There is the śivagītā, having the concepts of the BG, of the Padmapurana which has been commented by a 15-16CE Pontiff of the Sringeri Peetham.
  • Abhinavagupta has commented upon the BG. It is reported that he has said:    //In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Gitarthasangraha, Abhinavagupta emphatically declared that freedom from all miseries can be obtained by seeing Him (Paramshiva) in everything and everywhere, and not by renunciation of the world. The impending battle between Pandvas and Kaurvas is interpreted as the race between Vidya (knowledge, perception) and Avidya (ignorance, blurred perception).//
  • There cannot be a greater blasphemous statement than Desamangalam Arya’s and implicitly of Narayana Bhatta’s, for the cause of Vaishnavism.
  • If the VSN and BG can be interpreted as Shiva-specific, the status of the so-called ‘sattva puranas’ is at stake. Desamangalam includes an ‘ādi” after saying VSN and BG. The Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata will lose their uniqueness as Vishnu-specific works. In fact Sridhara Swamin has, in the invocation to the Bhagavatam commentary captured the essence of this text:  माधवोमाधवावीशौ सर्वसिद्धिविधायिनौ। वन्दे परस्परात्मानौ परस्परनुतिप्रियौ॥
    I bow to Mādhava and Umādhava (Shiva) who are both ‘Isha-s’ Supreme Lords. They are capable of bestowing all accomplishments (to their devotees). They are both the selves of each other and both love to engage in the stuti of each other. Thus, the Self, which is the dearest for one, is Shiva in the case of Krishna/Vishnu. The Vishnupurana commentary of Sridharaswamin contains the episode of Vishnu offering his very eye in worship of Shiva.
  • This verse alone is the authority for gauging Sridharaswamin’s heart about the gods Shiva and Vishnu. What might appear to be contrary to this in his commentaries are to be seen as contextual and not his personal view, which is set out in the invocation cited above.
  • The claim of Narayana Bhatta and Desamangalam that Shankara commented upon the BG as Vishnu-specific is denied by none other than Ramanuja.  Śrībhāṣya: 2.2.27

     ….वेदवादछद्मप्रच्छन्नबौद्धनिराकरणे निपुणतरं प्रपञ्चितम् । 

    //This point has already been set forth in detail in our refutation of those crypto-Bauddhas who take shelter under a pretended Vedic doctrine.//In the Bhagavadgita 13.2 bhāṣya Ramanuja says:

     अत एवमादिवादा अनाकलित — श्रुतिस्मृतीतिहासपुराणन्यायसदाचार — स्ववाक्यविरोधैः स्ववचःस्थापनदुराग्रहैः अज्ञानिभिः जगन्मोहनाय प्रवर्तिताः इति अनादरणीयाः।

    //Therefore such arguments as these are to be rejected since they stem from ignoramuses who are obsessed with asserting their views that are self-contradictory, with no basis in the Śruit, smṛti, itihāsa, purāṇa, logic and noble conduct, aimed at deluding the world.//

  • Thus, according to Ramanuja, since Shankara is ignorant of the purport of Shruti, smriti, purana, etc. which is Vishnu-supremacy (according to Ramanuja), has not upheld the deity Vishnu as the Brahman in the BG. Also, someone who is a crypto-Buddhist cannot be even a vaidika, let alone being a protagonist of Vishnu-supremacy.

  • Pillai Lokachariar of the Ramanuja following himself has acknowledged that the names Vasudeva and Vishnu are more advaita-friendly. These two names, especially Vasudeva, has been a favorite of Shankara to proclaim: I am Vasudeva as the purport of the BG. In fact the names Vishnu, Krishna, etc. are found in the Shiva Sahasra Nama of the Mahabharata, which is condensed by Kshemendra of the 11 CE and is a part of the extant Kumbhakonam edition which Madhvas follow.

  • Narayana Bhatta’s credential as a protagonist of Vishnu-Supremacy stands contradicted by none other than himself by authenticating the Prapanchasāra as that of śankara. In this work Shankara has established every deity as upaasya for moksha. The claim of Narayana Bhatta in the Narayaneeyam as Shankara has singled out Vishnu in the Prapanchasara is thus far from the truth.

  • The greatest blow to courting Narayana Bhatta as a non-vaishnava scholar supporting the cult of Vaishnavism comes from not anyone else but himself.  He has composed the Sreepaada saptati which is a work holding Devi, the consort of Shiva, to be the Supreme: Read an article here on this topic:

Desamangalam Arya’s observation that the VSN and BG, etc. are texts that are amenable to Shiva-supremacy is no doubt representative of the Vedantic idea. As he himself observes, citing a maxim, in the commentary to 90.9: ‘यस्येच्छा जायते यस्मिन् तं देवं स समाश्रयेत्’ [let one resort to that god in whom he finds a liking], each one resorts to the god of his liking, that arises out of his samskaras born of practices of earlier lives. So, there is no hard  and fast rule that one should be a vaishnava alone in order to get liberation. Desamangalam says further: by the firming up of the devotion to that chosen god, the devotee attains the fruit. This rule is at the basis of the puranas holding one god as superior at the cost of apparently deprecating the other gods. Repeatedly one can encounter such statements in the Mahabharata that bring out the central theme of not only the MB but the entire Veda:

रुद्रो नारायणश्चैव सत्त्वमेकं द्विधा कृतम्।

लोके चरति कौन्तेय व्यक्तिस्थं सर्वकर्मसु।। 12-350-27a 12-350-27b.

[Rudra and Narayana are only two manifestations of One Principle…….]

Om Tat Sat

Posted by: adbhutam | November 27, 2017


‘Nahi nindā nyāya – The correct and wrong applications’

Posted by: adbhutam | November 27, 2017

Posted by: adbhutam | November 26, 2017


An Excellent Vedanta discourse in Hindi
In the following URL, after about 45 minutes into the video, Sri Jnanaraj Maharaj, the Head of Shri Manik Raj Mahasansthān, of Humnabad, near Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), Karnataka, delivered a very interesting lecture on Advaita in Hindi. His talk was appealing and stuck to the traditional Advaita teaching.


I am very impressed by his grasp of the subject and delivery that I would happily refer anyone who is interested in studying Advaita Vedanta in the medium of Hindi or Maraṭhi to him and his institution. Those living in that region interested in Vedantic study can definitely benefit from him.
The above discourse was part of the bi-centenary function where HH Shankara Bharati Swamiji presided.
Below is a discourse in Marathi by a Sannyasin:
Posted by: adbhutam | November 19, 2017




The word ‘tattva’ means: tasya bhāvaḥ tattvam. The true nature of a thing is called tattvam. 

Shankara says BSB 1.1.21:

कथमेतदवगम्यते ? ‘येनाक्षरं पुरुषं वेद सत्यं प्रोवाच तां तत्त्वतो ब्रह्मविद्याम्’ (मु. उ. १ । २ । १३) इति प्रकृतस्यैवाक्षरस्य भूतयोनेरदृश्यत्वादिगुणकस्य वक्तव्यत्वेन प्रतिज्ञातत्वात् ।

Here the word ‘tattva’ of the Mundakopanishat is given the meaning: That Source of the Beings that cannot be seen with the eye, etc.

We have in the Bh.Gītā the Lord saying:

भक्त्या मामभिजानाति
यावान्यश्चास्मि तत्त्वतः ।
ततो मां तत्त्वतो ज्ञात्वा
विशते तदनन्तरम् ॥ ५५ ॥

He who knows Me as the Vishvarupa and also As I am actually in truth,  thus having known Me actually, he becomes one with Me immediately.

Shankara says: भक्त्या माम् अभिजानाति यावान् अहम् उपाधिकृतविस्तरभेदः, यश्च अहम् अस्मि विध्वस्तसर्वोपाधिभेदः उत्तमः पुरुषः आकाशकल्पः, तं माम् अद्वैतं चैतन्यमात्रैकरसम् अजरम् अभयम् अनिधनं तत्त्वतः अभिजानाति । ततः माम् एवं तत्त्वतः ज्ञात्वा विशते तदनन्तरं मामेव ज्ञानानन्तरम् । नात्र ज्ञानप्रवेशक्रिये भिन्ने विवक्षिते ‘ज्ञात्वा विशते तदनन्तरम्’ इति । किं तर्हि ? फलान्तराभावात् ज्ञानमात्रमेव, ‘क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि’ (भ. गी. १३ । २) इति उक्तत्वात् ॥

Shankara gives the Tattva of Bhagavān: By devotion one knows Me with the upādhi-created expansive form (Vishvarūpa), and ‘As I am’ free of all upādhis, the Supreme Purusha, Brahman, just like ether, Advaitam, without any kind of second, Pure Consciousness, free of old age, fear, death, thus knowing Me ‘tattvataḥ’, As I Am in truth…Having secured the right knowledge of Me, he ‘enters’ Me. Shankara raises a question, with a teaser: Is this ‘entering’ the Lord mean anything like: After knowing, one enters later?’. No. Then what does the Lord say: By using the word ‘viśate tadanantaram’, ‘enters immediately upon knowing’. There is no fruit other than knowing, as the Lord has said in the 13.2: Know Me as the Kshetrajna as well.’

Shankara is reiterating the Vedānta siddhānta: there is no two-step procedure here: first know and then enter. It is jnanamātrāt mokṣa. He has said this elaborately in the BSB, samanvaya sutra bhashya. This is an aside.

The point that is made here is: There is a need to know the Truth ‘as it is.’  And what is apparent is not the truth as it is. The tattvataḥ jnānam is a must. This is because the Krishna that one sees and converses with is a body-mind complex, that has a date of birth and a date of disappearance. So with Rama or any other avatāra of Brahman. So, what one gets to see and even hear is usually a sopādhika brahman. Hence the need to stress that the liberating knowledge is of the nirupādhika Brahman which cannot be grasped by the senses; it is not upāsya, which is a-brahma and an-ātmā, but the nirupādhika Brahman which alone is/can be non-different from the Atma of the seeker.    Thus, it is the knowledge of the nirguṇa tattvam that constitutes ‘knowing Rāma or Krishna or any other tattvataḥ or tattvena’. Only a Vedantin can know thus tattvataḥ; others who cannot grasp the nirguna tattva of Krishna, etc. cannot get the Vedanta tattva; it is only a-tattva, a-brahma, anātmā, that they end up with.

Even when one refers to one’s iṣṭa devatā, it is the tattva that is being actually referred there. So says Anandagiri, for example, in the introduction-invocation of theBh.Gi.Bhāṣya of Shankara: नारायणः परोऽव्यक्तात्….Anandagiri says: it is the iṣṭadevata’s tattva that is being invoked here by Shankara.

Here are two etymological meanings for the word ‘Kṛṣṇa’ and ‘Rāma’:

In the Bhagavadgita Bhashyam 6.34 Shankara has given an etymology to the name ‘Kṛṣṇa’: कृष्ण इति कृषतेः विलेखनार्थस्य रूपम् । भक्तजनपापादिदोषाकर्षणात् कृष्णः, तस्य सम्बुद्धिः हे कृष्ण । The word krsna is derived from the root krs in the sense of ‘uprooting’; He is Krsna because He uproots the defects such as sin etc. of devotees.

There is a popular etymology in a verse form: कृषिर्भू-वाचकः शब्दो णश्च निर्वृतिवाचकः । तयोरैक्यं परं ब्रह्म कृष्ण इत्यभिधीयते ।। ’kṛṣiḥ’ connotes Existence, Sat, and ‘ṇa’ is Bliss. The combination of these two is Supreme Brahman known by the name ‘krṣṇa’. It is said to be in the Gopālatāpinyupaniṣat. The Mahabharata too contains a similar verse: कृषिर्भूवाचकः शब्दो णश्च निर्वृतिवाचकः। विष्णुस्तद्भावयोगाच्च कृष्णो भवति सात्वतः ।। 5-69-5a 5-69-5b The name ‘Kṛṣṇa’ occurs in the Śivasahasranāma’ too of the Mahabharata.


तथा चागस्त्यसंहितायामुक्तम्-
“रमन्ते योगिनोऽनन्ते सत्यानन्दे चिदात्मनि ।
इति रामपदेनासौ परं ब्रह्माभिधीयते ।।”

The word Rāma is derived thus: ra-ma – ramante yogino anante satyānande cidātmani. iti rāmapadena asau param brahma abhidhīyate. That Para Brahman which is Infinite, Eternal, Bliss, Consciousness in which yogin-s revel is denoted by the name ‘rāma’.

‘Keśava’ – Shankara, alternatively, has given an etymological meaning for the name  in the VSN Bhāṣya number 23: कश्च अश्च ईशश्च त्रिमूर्तयः केशास्ते यद्वशेन वर्तन्ते स केशवः ।

[Brahmā, Vishnu and Shiva are the trimūrti-s – all of whom are under the control of that entity which is called Keśava.] Thus Shankara clubs Viṣṇu too along with the other two and shows Viśṇu is also under the control of a higher authority. This is the greatest contribution of Shankara to the lofty cause of Vaiṣṇavism : ) This is in addition to his naming Viṣṇu as a samaṣṭi jīva in the Mundaka bhāṣya and quoting from the Kaṭharudropaniṣad  in the Brhadaranyaka bhashya (for sannyasa, which is also cited by Vishveshvara Saraswati in the yatidharma sangraha) which also holds Viṣṇu as the foremost of jivas by showing Shiva as the Jagatkāraṇam. Of course the VSN reference to Rudra as the ‘Shivah parama kāraṇam’ of the (tāmasic) Shiva purāṇa is another such service to Vaishnavism by Shankara.  All these will go down in the history of Vaishnavism with Shankara as the greatest benefactor.

There is another way of looking at the ‘tattva’ of Krishna:

The Skandopanishat and the Mahabharata have explicitly said शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय शिवरूपाय विष्णवे….whereby Viṣṇu’s/Kriṣṇa’s tattva, heart, is Śiva. Krishna has said in the Mahabharata that he worships his Self, Shiva (nārāyaṇātmaka = he who is the ātmā of nārāyaṇa), thereby exemplifying the Brhadaranyaka statement 1.4.8 तदेतत्प्रेयः पुत्रात्प्रेयो वित्तात्प्रेयोऽन्यस्मात्सर्वस्मादन्तरतरं यदयमात्मा ।’ That which is the innermost is the dearest for oneself. Shankara commenting on this says: तस्मादप्यन्तरात् अन्तरतरम् , यदयमात्मा यदेतदात्मतत्त्वम् । That which is the innermost is this Atmatattvam (taught by the Upanishad). Thus, for Krishna, the ātmatattvam is Shiva.

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय शिवरूपाय विष्णवे ।
शिवस्य हृदयं विष्णुः विष्णोश्च हृदयं शिवः ॥८॥
यथा शिवमयो विष्णुरेवं विष्णुमयः शिवः ।
यथान्तरं न पश्यामि तथा मे स्वस्तिरायुषि ॥९॥
यथान्तरं न भेदाः स्युः शिवकेशवयोस्तथा ।[Skandopaniṣat]

[(obeisance to Śiva who is of the form of Viḷṣṇu, and to Viṣṇu of the form of Śiva. Śiva’s heart (self) is Viṣṇu and Viṣṇu’s self is Śiva. Just as Viṣṇu is fully verily Śiva, so too Śiva is fully verily Viṣṇu. As I do not see any difference between them, let me be prosperous and long-lived. Let there be no difference between Śiva and Keśava. In fact the Mahabharata itself contains a similar verse:

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय विष्णवे शिवरूपिणे ।।

दक्षयज्ञविनाशाय हरिरूपाय ते नमः। 3.39.76 (हरिरुद्राय) [These are the words of Arjuna to Lord Śiva.]

In the Harivamśa, an extension of the Mahabharata, we have Markandeya’s words:

मार्कण्डेय उवाच॥ शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय विष्णवे शिवरूपिणे। अथान्तरं न पश्यामि तेन ते दिशतः शिवम् ।

Sridhara Swamin has, in the invocation to the Srimadbhāgavatam, captured the essence of this purāṇa:

माधवोमाधवावीशौ सर्वसिद्धिविधायिनौ। वन्दे परस्परात्मानौ परस्परनुतिप्रियौ॥

I bow to Mādhava and Umādhava (Shiva) who are both ‘Isha-s’ Supreme Lords. They are capable of bestowing all accomplishments (to their devotees). They are both the selves of each other and both love to engage in the stuti of each other. Thus, the Self, which is the dearest for one, is Shiva in the case of Krishna/Vishnu. The Vishnupurana commentary of Sridharaswamin contains the episode of Vishnu offering his very eye in worship of Shiva. One can gauge the love of Vishnu for his Self.

Also, the Nrsimha uttara tāpini upanishat has given an advaitic etymology for the name ‘nr-simha’. Thus Nrsimha tattva is also Nirguna Brahman. To sum up, Keshava, Krishna, Vishnu (vyāpana śīla), Rāma, Nrsimha – all have a tattva that is different from what is generally connoted by those names. That tattva is Nirguna Brahman. In the Shiva sahasra nāma occurs the name Vishnu.

Says the Mahabharata:

रुद्रो नारायणश्चैव सत्त्वमेकं द्विधा कृतम्।

लोके चरति कौन्तेय व्यक्तिस्थं सर्वकर्मसु।। 12-350-27a 12-350-27b.

O Kaunteya, Rudra and Narayana are one principle manifesting as two going about in the world…

Om Tat Sat

Posted by: adbhutam | November 18, 2017


The Trimūrti-s are created from pancha bhūta-s
That the trimurti-s are also created ones, from pancha bhuta-s, is stated by Shankara in the text Sarva vedanta siddhanta sara sangraha:
verses 417-429 The deities presiding over the senses
 ॥ २४ ॥इन्द्रियदेवताः ॥

जिह्वाया वरुणो दैवं घ्राणस्य त्वश्विनावुभौ ।
वाचोऽग्निर्हस्तयोरिन्द्रः पादयोस्तु त्रिविक्रमः ॥ ४१७॥

पायोर्मृत्युरुपस्थस्य त्वधिदैवं प्रजापतिः ।
मनसो दैवतं चन्द्रो बुद्धेर्दैवं बृहस्पतिः ॥ ४१८॥

रुद्रस्त्वहङ्कृतेर्दैवं क्षेत्रज्ञश्चित्तदैवतम् ।
दिगाद्या देवताः सर्वाः खादिसत्त्वांशसम्भवाः ॥ ४१९॥

सम्मिता इन्द्रियस्थानेष्विन्द्रियाणां समन्ततः ।
निगृह्णन्त्यनुगृह्णन्ति प्राणिकर्मानुरूपतः ॥ ४२०॥

After enumerating the various deities that preside over the various organs, Shankara says in verse 491 above that all these deities starting from dik (direction/space) are created from the pancha bhūtas such as ākāśa. In that list Shankara includes Trivikrama (Vishnu), Rudra, Prajāpati, Brhaspati, etc. Thus all deities in creation, including the trimurtis, are created ones from pancha bhutas.
In the Anubhūti prakāśa, a work of Vidyaranya, that condenses in verse form each of the ten principal upanishads and the Kaivalya, Koushitaki, and Nrsimha uttara tapini, says in the Kenopanishat chapter:
भावनाजन्यवृत्त्या एव स्फोर्यं ध्यायन्ति उपासकाः । उपासकेन दृश्यं तत् ब्रह्म मुख्यं कथं भवेत् । 50 |  The meditators meditate upon the deity, the upāsya, which is illumined by the contemplative mental vṛtti, mode by the upāsaka. Such a deity, how can it be the Upanishadic Brahman?
[The logic is that which is an object for a subject cannot be Brahman. Only because they are all created, they become upāsya mūrtis.]
न दृस्यते चक्षुषा यत्, चक्षुषो भासकं तु यत् । तत् ब्रह्म, विष्णुमूर्त्यादेः न मुख्यब्रह्मताऽस्ति हि ॥ 51 || That which is not perceived by the eye, but which illumines the eye, that is Brahman. How can the formed deities such as Viṣṇu be the Upanishadic Brahman?
Here we instantly recall what Shankara has said in the same context in the Kenopanishat bhashya 1.5: The upasyas such as Vishnu, being different from the upasaka, are not to be realized to be Brahman; they are a-brahma, anātmā.
Again in the Nrsimha uttara tapini  chapter Vidyaranya says.
हिरण्य़गर्भः सूत्रात्मा त्रिमूर्तिः च इति उदीर्यते ।
ब्रह्मा विष्णुः च रुद्रः च मूर्तयो गुणभेदतः ॥ 151
The Samashti jiva is called variously as ‘Hiranyagarbha, Sūtrātmā, Trimūrti – Brahmā, Viṣnu and Rudra, on the basis of the three guṇa-s.
This is in complete agreement with the scriptural position. Shankara has stated in the Mundakopanishat bhashyam that Vishnu is a samashti jiva. Also, what Vidyaranya says about the trimurtis is in exact agreement with what Shankara has said in the Vishnu sahasra nāma bhāṣya on the names bhūtakṛt, etc. The trimurtis are manifestations of one Brahman which is in truth none of the trimurti-s, who are created so based on guṇa-s. The Supreme Brahman is nirguna.
Thus, the deities such as Viṣṇu are all created ones and are only manifestations of the Upanishadic Para Brahman. This proves wrong beyond doubt that the malicious claims of some self-styled ‘vaiṣṇava-s’ in the garb of ‘vedantins’ that ‘Visṇu’ is the ‘Supreme Brahman’ as per ‘prominent Acharyas’ (one among whom they say is Shankaracharya).
//Vishnu – The Supreme Brahman according to all Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis, and prominent Acharyas//
Without knowing what constitutes ‘Supreme’ Brahman for Shankara, these bloggers tried to propagate their own ignorance to their gullible readers. They did not know that the ‘Visnu’ of their conception, who is no more than a formed deity, is not at all the Brahman of the Upanishads as taught by Shankara and all advaitins of all times.
Becoming confused, they shifted to another erroneous position: ‘Vishnu alone is the saguna brahman for Shankara’:
//Here, we establish Sriman Narayana’s paratva and prove Adi Shankara and early advaitins held Vishnu alone as Saguna Brahman. We also expose Shaivas in advaitic garb as proponents and adherents of newer tradition which is in no way connected to the ancient system of advaita vedanta which was purely vaishnava in nature.//
One can see how laughable the above claim is!! Nowhere has Shankara stated Vishnu ‘alone’ to be the saguna brahman. If anything, for Shankara, the saguna brahman is identified with Hiranyagarbha, brahma loka and not vishnu or vaikuntha. So much for the ‘purely vaishnava nature’ of ‘early advaita, which held vishnu to be anātmā, abrahma, vaikuntha to be anitya, vishnu to be samashti jiva, etc.!!
One can easily see, both from the pramāṇa-s from the pen of Shankara, in the prasthāna traya and prakaraṇa works, that such a claim is completely baseless. For Shankara only Nirguna Brahman is the Supreme Brahman and not the deity Vishnu, who is explicitly stated by Shankara as ‘anātmā, abrahma’, product of the pancha bhūta-s, no different from other deities such as Brahmā and Rudra. In their enthusiasm to ‘expose’ Shaivas….they have ended up exposing their own ignorance of Vedanta in general and Advaita in particular.
Om Tat Sat
Posted by: adbhutam | November 17, 2017


Shankara says ‘Vaikuṇṭha, etc. are anitya’

Shankara says in the work ‘sarva-vedānta-siddhānta-sāra-sangraha’, a text of over 1000 verses:

सर्वस्यानित्यत्वे सावयवत्वेन सर्वतः सिद्धे ।
वैकुण्ठादिषु नित्यत्वमतिर्भ्रम एव मूढबुद्धीनाम् ॥ २०॥

[When it is established that everything made of parts is ephemeral, those of lowly intellect are deluded thinking that vaikuṇṭha, etc. are eternal.]

Here Shankara denies eternality to Vaikuntha, etc. loka-s. He has held a similar view in the Mundakopanishad bhashyam too about mukta-s required to go to a loka for being liberated. Madhusudana Saraswati, and Brahmānanda, the commentator to the Advaitasiddhi, too have endorsed this view that the bhagavat loka-s are anitya. The latter has said that there is no pramāṇa for the existence of an abhoutika (non-material) vaikuṇṭha.

A few sample verses from the SSSS:

जन्मानेकशतैः सदादरयुजा भक्त्या समाराधितो

भक्तैर्वैदिकलक्षणेन विधिना सन्तुष्ट ईश स्वयम् ।

साक्षाच्छ्रीगुरुरूपमेत्य कृपया दृग्गोचरः सन्प्रभुः

तत्त्वं साधु विबोध्य तारयति तान्संसारदुःखार्णवात् ॥ २५४॥

Ishwara, pleased by the aspirant’s karma-bhakti yoga sādhana, Himself appears as the Guru and enlightens the disciple and liberates him.

शिव एव गुरुः साक्षात् गुरुरेव शिवः स्वयम् ।
उभयोरन्तरं किञ्चिन्न द्रष्टव्यं मुमुक्षुभिः ॥ २५६॥

The Guru-Shiva identity is emphasized here. So, Ishwara is non-different from Shiva who is the Guru.
In all the following verses Shiva is stated as the Supreme:
श्रीगुरुः –
धन्यः कृतार्थस्त्वमहो विवेकः
शिवप्रसादस्तव विद्यते महान् ।
विसृज्य तु प्राकृतलोकमार्गं
ब्रह्मावगन्तुं यतसे यतस्त्वम् ॥ २७८॥

The Kathopanishat says that ātmaprasāda is required for liberating knowledge. Shankara has said in the BSB: by the grace of Ishvara one gains the knowledge that results in mokṣasiddhi.

शिवप्रसादेन विना न सिद्धिः
शिवप्रसादेन विना न बुद्धिः ।
शिवप्रसादेन विना न युक्तिः
शिवप्रसादेन विना न मुक्तिः ॥ २७९॥

यस्य प्रसादेन विमुक्तसङ्गाः
शुकादयः संसृतिबन्धमुक्ताः ।
तस्य प्रसादो बहुजन्मलभ्यो
भक्त्येकगम्यो भवमुक्तिहेतुः ॥ २८०॥

Quite contrary to the thinking of non-advaitins, Shankara holds Shiva to be the cause of mokṣa for even Śuka, etc. In truth there is no ‘giving’ of mokṣa as per the Vedanta. The principal Upanishads have not endorsed this idea. Knowledge results in instantaneous moksha.

विवेको जन्तूनां प्रभवति जनिष्वेव बहुषु
प्रसादादेवैशाद्बहुसुकृतपाकोदयवशात् ।
यतस्तस्मादेव त्वमपि परमार्थावगमने
कृतारम्भः पुंसामिदमिह विवेकस्य तु फलम् ॥ २८१॥

The word ‘Īśa’ also means Shiva in this text:

मूढा अश्रुतवेदान्ताः स्वयं पण्डितमानिनः ।
ईशप्रसादरहिताः सद्गुरोश्च बहिर्मुखाः ॥ ५२१॥

See also the second cited verse above. There too Isha, though can mean ‘Ishvara’, by the Shiva-Guru identity, means Shiva only.

श्रुत्या सत्त्वपुराणानां सेवया सत्त्ववस्तुनः । अनुवृत्त्या च साधूनां सत्त्ववृत्तिः प्रजायते ॥ ३७०॥

By hearing the ‘sattva’ purāṇa-s, imbibing sāttvic food, by resorting to service of the holy, one becomes a sāttvik person.

It would appear that Shankara is endorsing the purānic division into sattva, rajas, etc. However, when we see other verses cited here this idea does not fit. For, Shankara shows Shiva to be the Supreme, the one who blesses knowledge and moksha. Also, the condemning the nityatva of vaikuntha, etc. is also not conducive to the sāttvika purana idea.

So, the sattvapurāṇa word in the verse cited is not to be taken as reference to sāttvika-division of purāṇa-s but simply means: sat kathā śravaṇam. HH Sri Narasimha Bharati Swamin, 33rd pontiff of the Sringeri Peeṭham, has used this word ‘sat kathā’ in his hymnal work: kamalaja-dayitāṣṭakam.

सत्सङ्गं सत्कथायाः श्रवणमपि सदा देवि दत्वा कृपाब्धे

विद्यां शुद्धां च बुद्धिं कमलजदयिते सत्वरं देहि मह्यम् ॥ ५ ॥

 Also at the beginning of the work Shankara pays obeisance to Ganapati:

यदालम्बो दरं हन्ति सतां प्रत्यूहसम्भवम् ।
तदालम्बे दयालम्बं लम्बोदरपदाम्बुजम् ॥ ३॥

This is also not conducive to sāttvika purana idea. This is because Ganapati belongs to Shiva parivara, who is tāmasika. It is another matter that Rukmini, in the Bhagavatam, visited Shiva temple and offered worship and prayed to the Shiva parivara. ‘Only tāmasic people worship Shiva’ is the siddhānta of some self-styled vaishnavas.

The work can be accessed here:

Nirguṇa Brahman – the subject matter of the entire Vedic corpus

In the Kaṭhopaniṣad, Nachiketas, in order to ‘encash’ the third boon, poses this crucial question to the Acharya Yama:

अन्यत्र धर्मादन्यत्राधर्मादन्यत्रास्मात्कृताकृतात् ।
अन्यत्र भूताच्च भव्याच्च यत्तत्पश्यसि तद्वद ॥ १४ ॥ 2.2.14

एतच्छ्रुत्वा नचिकेताः पुनराह — यद्यहं योग्यः, प्रसन्नश्चासि भगवन् , मां प्रति अन्यत्र धर्मात् शास्त्रीयाद्धर्मानुष्ठानात्तत्फलात्तत्कारकेभ्यश्च पृथग्भूतमित्यर्थः । तथा अन्यत्र अधर्मात् विहिताकरणरूपात् पापात् , तथा अन्यत्रास्मात्कृताकृतात् , कृतं कार्यमकृतं कारणमस्मादन्यत्र । किञ्च, अन्यत्र भूताच्च अतिक्रान्तात्कालात् भव्याच्च भविष्यतश्च तथा अन्यत्र वर्तमानात् । कालत्रयेण यन्न परिच्छिद्यत इत्यर्थः । यदीदृशं वस्तु सर्वव्यवहारगोचरातीतं पश्यसि जानासि तद्वद मह्यम् ॥
The question sets the seminal nature of Brahman: That which is beyond dharma and adharma, transcends the cause effect duality, and even time. Shankara considers this very question to be so precisely describing Brahman that he chooses to cite this mantra in many places.
In reply Yama starts a long discourse, commencing with:

सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति तपांसि सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति ।
यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं चरन्ति तत्ते पदं सङ्ग्रहेण ब्रवीम्योमित्येतत् ॥ १५ ॥

इत्येवं पृष्टवते मृत्युरुवाच, पृष्टं वस्तु विशेषणान्तरं च विवक्षन् । सर्वे वेदा यत्पदं पदनीयं गमनीयम् अविभागेन अविरोधेन आमनन्ति प्रतिपादयन्ति, तपांसि सर्वाणि च यद्वदन्ति यत्प्राप्त्यर्थानीत्यर्थः । यदिच्छन्तो ब्रह्मचर्यं गुरुकुलवासलक्षणमन्यद्वा ब्रह्मप्राप्त्यर्थं चरन्ति, तत् ते तुभ्यं पदं यज्ज्ञातुमिच्छसि सङ्ग्रहेण सङ्क्षेपतः ब्रवीमि ओं इत्येतत् । तदेतत्पदं यद्बुभुत्सितं त्वया तदेतदोमिति ओंशब्दवाच्यमोंशब्दप्रतीकं च ॥
The reply concisely states: That Truth is the one taught by all the Vedic corpus, without any distinction and contradiction (within the various Vedic sections), all austerity is aimed at knowing that Truth, etc. From the commentary of Shankara अविभागेन अविरोधेन आमनन्ति प्रतिपादयन्ति it is clear that the reference in various Upanishads to Brahmā or Shiva or Vishnu as the Jagatkāraṇam, is avirodha, that is, they are non-contradictory. Only Shankara, the Vedantin, has said this. For others, these references became an insurmountable problem that compelled them to labor hard to somehow convert patent references to Shambhu, Rudra, etc. in the Atharva shikā/śira, Śvetāśvatara, etc. to mean Vishnu. The bigotry is only speaking for itself. Shankara alone is eminently above such sectarian bindings.   The mantras that follow give the nature of Brahman in more specific terms:

न जायते म्रियते वा विपश्चिन्नायं कुतश्चिन्न बभूव कश्चित् ।
अजो नित्यः शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे ॥ १८ ॥

अन्यत्र धर्मादित्यादिना पृष्टस्यात्मनोऽशेषविशेषरहितस्यालम्बनत्वेन प्रतीकत्वेन चोङ्कारो निर्दिष्टः अपरस्य च ब्रह्मणो मन्दमध्यमप्रतिपत्तॄन्प्रति । अथेदानीं तस्योङ्कारालम्बनस्यात्मनः साक्षात्स्वरूपनिर्दिधारयिषयेदमुच्यते । न जायते नोत्पद्यते म्रियते वा न म्रियते च उत्पत्तिमतो वस्तुनोऽनित्यस्यानेका विक्रियाः, तासामाद्यन्ते जन्मविनाशलक्षणे विक्रिये इहात्मनि प्रतिषिध्येते प्रथमं सर्वविक्रियाप्रतिषेधार्थं न जायते म्रियते वेति । विपश्चित् मेधावी अपरिलुप्तचैतन्यस्वभावत्वात् । किञ्च, नायमात्मा कुतश्चित् कारणान्तरात् बभूव न प्रभूतः । अस्माच्चात्मनो न बभूव कश्चिदर्थान्तरभूतः । अतोऽयमात्मा अजो नित्यः शाश्वतः अपक्षयविवर्जितः । यो ह्यशाश्वतः, सोऽपक्षीयते ; अयं तु शाश्वतः अत एव पुराणः पुरापि नव एवेति । यो ह्यवयवोपचयद्वारेणाभिनिर्वर्त्यते, स इदानीं नवः, यथा कुड्यादिः ; तद्विपरीतस्त्वात्मा पुराणो वृद्धिविवर्जित इत्यर्थः । यत एवम् , अतः न हन्यते न हिंस्यते हन्यमाने शस्त्रादिभिः शरीरे ; तत्स्थोऽप्याकाशवदेव ॥
This mantra says: That which is beyond the transformations of birth, growth, decay, death, is Pure Consciousness, is neither an effect nor the cause of anything distinct from it, Eternal, Ancient, and does not die even when the body is killed.
It is significant to note that the mantra itself says that this Truth does not die even when the body is killed. That means, the Upanishad holds the Atman, that alone survives death, to be none other than Brahman, which is what the primary question of Nachiketas sought to know of. So, jiva brahma aikya is explicitly stated here. Also, this comment of Shankara: अस्माच्चात्मनो न बभूव कश्चिदर्थान्तरभूतः । From this Atman nothing that is different, distinct, from the Atman, is born. This shows that whatever that is ‘born’ of Atman-Brahman, is not different from it. In other words, whenever we hear from the Shruti or smriti that the world, the jivas, devas, etc. are ‘born’ from Brahman, denoted by the entity Brahmā, Vishnu or Shiva, those born entities are non-different from the Trimurtis that are stated here. This also confirms the Sureshwaracharya declaration that ‘the Ishwara is only one, only spoken of by different names.’ Thus, when Veda Vyasa says: Vishnu, Brahma etc. were born of Shiva or Shiva, etc. were born of Vishnu, what he means is: the cause and effect are non-different. Vedantins alone can free Brahman of vastu pariccheda and therefore cause no infringement of anantatva. Non-vedantins who hold Vishnu to be different from Brahma, etc. will compromise on anantatva of Brahman and have Vishnu as a paricchinna vastu.
We have a smrti-version of the mantra: सर्वे वेदा यत्पदमामनन्ति, in the Bh.Gita, for example rendered as: 
सर्वस्य चाहं हृदि संनिविष्टो
मत्तः स्मृतिर्ज्ञानमपोहनं च ।
वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो
वेदान्तकृद्वेदविदेव चाहम् ॥ १५ ॥
The Lord says: I am the one firmly established in the hearts of all beings. ….I am the one to be known through all the Vedic corpus. …
Shankara says: सर्वस्य च प्राणिजातस्य अहम् आत्मा सन् हृदि बुद्धौ संनिविष्टः …..वेदैश्च सर्वैः अहमेव परमात्मा वेद्यः वेदितव्यः ।  I am the Atman of all beings….I, the Paramātmā, is to be realized through all the Vedic corpus.
Non-advaitins, aka, non-Vedantins, hold this verse as authority to claim that ‘all the veda-s make known only Vishnu’ to hold that any other deity than Vishnu is not the ultimate aim of the Vedic teaching. Shankara, the Vedantin alone holds that it is Brahman that is the aim of the Vedic teaching and not any finite deity like Vishnu. For, the Kenopanishat 1.5 prohibits one from knowing anything other than the Atman, one’s own Self, as Brahman: Tadeva brahma tvam viddhi, nedam yadidam upāsate. Shankara, while commenting on this says: Any deity such as Vishnu, that is only upāsya, having a name and form and therefore different from the upāsaka, the Atman, is not the subject matter of this mantra. Vishnu, etc. deities are anātmā and therefore abrahma as per the Upanishads. Hence this finite deity which is naturally different from other deities and the jiva, and therefore paricchinna, is not the aim of the Vedic teaching. Shankara has said in the adhyāsa bhāṣya: ….वेदान्तवेद्यमशनायाद्यतीतमपेतब्रह्मक्षत्रादिभेदमसंसार्यात्मतत्त्व….That which is known from the Vedanta is the one beyond hunger, etc, free from the distinctions such as Brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, asamsāri, ātmatattvam.  If it is a deity such as Vishnu, he is not free from distinctions and is not the Atma tattva which is nirguna brahman.
Just as the Bh.gita expression वेदैश्च सर्वैरहमेव वेद्यो ..which is only incidentally uttered by Krishna, Veda Vyasa has said in the Shiva Sahasra nāma (*) occurring in the Mahabharata: अथर्वशीर्षः सामास्य ऋक्सहस्रामितेक्षणः ॥ 61 ॥ यजुःपादभुजो गुह्यः प्रकाशो जङ्गमस्तथा ।   Shiva is verily the embodiment of the Vedas; the Veda-s are verily Shiva: the Atharva veda is His head, the Sāma veda is his mouth, the Rg Veda is none other than His thousand insuppressible eyes, (thus sahasrākṣa is not any sole epithet of Vishnu) the Yajur veda are his limbs….There is a famous saying: वेदः शिवः शिवो वेदो वेदाध्यायी सदाशिवः ।.  Also, the third brahma sutra: śāstrayonitvāt is commented upon by Shankara alternatively as ‘the śāstram which is the cause of knowing Brahman.’ Thus, the entire Vedic corpus is aimed at securing us the knowledge of Brahman and not any finite deity such as Vishnu. The norm of the Vedantin is: If X is different from Y, then X is finite, vastu paricchinna. Since the jiva himself thinks, erroneously, that he is paricchinna, finite, and hence suffers samsāra, there is no point in teaching him that he is again finite, as different from any deity that is only deemed to be Brahman by non-Vedantins.
(*) The Shiva sahasranāma is an inseparable part of the Mahabharata, having found reference in the oldest condensation, the Bharata manjari, of Kshemendra (10-11 CE) and in the extant Kumbhakonam edition of the Mahabharata that Madhvas follow.
Om Tat Sat
Posted by: adbhutam | November 14, 2017


Free download of the Book, “The Multifaceted Jivanmukta”

The book titled “The Multifaceted Jivanmukta” detailing the life and teachings of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswamin, the 35th Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Sringeri Sri Sharada Peetham, was released, with much appreciation, on 18th October 2017, His Holiness’s birth centenary, by the present pontiff of the Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamin, who had earlier graciously penned a benedictory epistle (Srimukha) for the book

His Holiness was truly multifaceted. He was not only a spiritual giant, yoginshastraic scholar, and compassionate preceptor but also an able administrator and adept in various secular fields. While grounded in tradition, He was catholic in His outlook.

The role of His Holiness both as an ideal disciple and a perfect Guru has been presented in depth in several chapters of this book. A detailed account is provided of His spiritual practices, such as Hatha-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Nadanusandhana, contemplation on the Atman, meditation and samadhi on divine forms, scripture-based reflection on the Truth and Savikalpa-samadhi and Nirvikalpa-samadhi on the Absolute, up to their culmination in His enlightenment and jivanmukti (liberation while living) even before He was 20 years of age. How He compassionately graced disciples and others in various ways are covered in depth. His teachings in the form of parables, essays and expositions too form an important part of this book.

The intellectual acumen of His Holiness was not confined to matters philosophical and religious. The openness with which He considered the propositions of science, for instance, merits special mention. “How apt is it to view modern science as confirming what is said in ancient religious texts? Are the laws of nature sufficient to account for the appearance and development of the world and various life-forms? Do the laws of nature have a foundation? If yes, what is the nature of that basis?” – a chapter of this book titled “His Scientific Insight” deals with how His Holiness took up such issues and threw light on them, with complete regard to the teaching of the scripture and without discounting scientific findings in any way.

This book has much to offer to all spiritual aspirants and the religious; to the traditionalists and the liberals; to the intellectuals and the common folk.

This book can be downloaded free of cost from the following link:

The book contains hundreds of Sanskrit quotations from Shruti, smriti, itihasa, Puranas and other  rare  śāstra texts.

An article in Tamil by a devotee on the earlier Sringeri Jagadguru:

The article appeared in the Tamil periodical: Amman Darisanam recently.

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