Posted by: adbhutam | August 17, 2009



श्रीगुरुभ्यो नम:

Traditional Advaitins recite the following verse as a part of their daily prayers:

शंकरं शंकराचार्यं केशवं बादरायणम् ।

सूत्र-भाष्यकृतौ वन्दे भगवन्तौ पुन: पुन: ॥

Shankaram shankarAchAryam keshavam bAdarAyaNam.

sUtra-bhAShya-kRitau vande bhagavantau punaH punaH.

[My repeated reverential obeisance to Lord Shankara, verily Shankaracharya, and Lord Keshava, verily bAdarAyaNa-vyAsAchArya who are the authors of the commentary and the BrahmasUtras respectively.]

व्यासाय विष्णुरूपाय व्यासरूपाय विष्णवे ।

All Advaitins revere the two great luminaries whose contribution is invaluable. Tradition holds that Lord VishNu (Keshava) Himself incarnated as Bhagavan BAdarAyaNa VyAsa who composed the Bhagavadgita (Mahabharata) and the Brahmasutras. Also, Lord Shiva Himself incarnated as Acharya Shankara who penned the commentaries to the Brahma sutras, Gita and the Upanishads.

Tradition also holds the two Divinities Lord Shiva and Lord VishNu as non-different from each other: (See footnote 5 & 6 below)

शिवाय विष्णुरूपाय शिवरूपाय विष्णवे ।

शिवस्य हृदयं विष्णु: विष्णोश्च हृदयं शिव: ॥

Shivaaya viShNurUpAya shivarUpAya viShNave

Shivasya hRidayam viShNuH viShNoshcha hRdayam shivaH

[(obeisance to) Lord Shiva who is of the form of Lord ViShNu and to Lord ViShNu who is of the form of Lord Shiva. Shiva’s heart is VishNu and VishNu’s heart (essence) is Shiva.]

Thus, according to tradition, the One Supreme Brahman, as Vishnu and Shiva, has authored the Scripture and its commentaries for the supreme benefit of those in bondage. This scheme assures us that the commentaries of Acharya Shankara reflect the true purport of Scripture owing to the unity of authorship of the Scripture and the commentaries.

In the sequel, a brief study is undertaken to bring out a very unique way of viewing the ‘change of roles’ by VishNu (Keshava) and Shankara.

Generally when we require a clarification while reading the Upanishad or the Bhagavadgita, we look into the bhAShyam. Here is a case where we get an elucidation for a bhAShya-statement in the Bhagavadgita.

In His commentary to the BrahmasUtra ‘tat tu samanvayAt’ (1.1.4) Acharya Shankara makes a laconic statement, pregnant with meaning:

तस्मात् मिथ्याप्रत्ययनिमित्तत्वात् सशरीरत्वस्य, सिद्धं जीवतोऽपि विदुषोऽशरीरत्वम् ।

//The embodiedness of the Self is caused by wrong conception and so the person who has reached true knowledge is free from his body even while still alive (Brahma sutra bhashya 1.1.4).//

This pithy statement is easily understood and its purport appreciated if we study the following verses of the Bhagavadgita (5.8,9):

नैव किंचित् करोमीति युक्तो मन्येत तत्त्ववित् ।

पश्यन् शृण्वन् स्पृशन् चिघ्रन् गच्छन् अश्नन् स्वपन् श्वसन् ॥

प्रलपन् विसृजन् गृह्णन् उन्मिषन् निमिषन्नपि ।

इन्द्रियाणीन्द्रियार्थेषु वर्तन्त इति धारयन् ॥ (५. ८,९)

[The man of Knowledge, a Jnani, even while engaged in – seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, walking, eating, dreaming/sleeping, breathing, talking, discharging (ejecting), holding/grasping, closing and opening the eyes (even while still alive) – is of the firm conviction ‘I do nothing at all; the senses/organs interact with their respective objects.’ (is free from his body) ]

Even though the Acharya has left us in no doubt about the Jnani, at the body-mind-organs level, engaging in all action, yet, we find the above verses of the Gita a quick reference manual for understanding the Acharya’s statement in the BSB quoted above. The words in brackets in the above paragraph are from the Brahmasutra bhashya.

Just as the BSB quote states, in one go, the Jnani’s unembodiedness as well as his being alive, the Gita verses quoted above too state, in one go, the Jnani’s freedom from agency even while engaging in all activity.

While what has been said above is with an assumed ‘writer’s licence’, one can also look at the Bhashyam quote as a laconic commentary of the two Gita verses. Either way, the mutual conformity of the Gita verses and the Bhashya quote give the seeker a feeling of joy and increased faith in the Bhashyam and the Gita as guiding lights in the spiritual journey.

शंकरं शंकराचार्यं केशवं बादरायणम् ।

सूत्र-भाष्यकृतौ वन्दे भगवन्तौ पुन: पुन: ॥

Shankaram shankarAchAryam keshavam bAdarAyaNam.

sUtra-bhAShya-kRitau vande bhagavantau punaH punaH.

Om Tat Sat
Foot notes On Shiva-Vishnu Abheda:

1. The Maitrayani Upanishad:

VI prapaathaka, 8th mantra. And the same Self is also called Isana (lord), Sambhu, Bhava, Rudra (tamasa); Pragapati (lord of creatures), Visvasrig, (creator of all), Hiranyagarbha, Satyam (truth), Prana (breath), Hamsa (ragasa); Sastri (ruler), Vishnu, Narayana (sattvika); Arka, Savitri, Dhatri (supporter), Vidhatri (creator), Samrag (king), Indra, Indu (moon). He is also he who warms, the Sun, hidden by the thousand-eyed golden egg, as one fire by another. He is to be thought after, he is to be sought after. Having said farewell to all living beings, having gone to the forest, and having renounced all sensuous objects, let man perceive the Self from his own body.

(Incidentally, this Up. Is quoted by Madhwa in the Vishnu Tattva Vinirnaya.  See this link):

2. The Ganapatyatharva shIrsha Upanishad:

त्वं ब्रह्मा त्वं विष्णुस्त्वं रुद्रस्त्वं  इन्द्रस्त्वं  (You are Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Indra….)

(In this Upanishad, belonging to the Atharva Veda, popularly chanted in many traditions, Lord Ganapati is depicted as the Supreme Brahman and all other deities are spoken of as manifestations of this Consciousness.)

3. SrimadBhagavatam: Daksha yajna (IV.7.50 – 54)

(50) Lord Vishnu said: ‘I, Brahmâ and Lord S’iva as well, do not differ in being the supreme cause and Supersoul, the witness and the self-sufficient one of the material manifestation.) Him the Supreme Brahmân that is without a second, is as one Supersoul with both Brahmâ and S’iva, but the living ones who are not conversant with this, think of them as being separate. (53) The way a person sometimes does not make a difference between the head, hands and other parts of his own body, so does My devotee thus make no difference between living beings. (54) He who having the one nature of the three, verily does, of the Supersoul in all beings, not see the separateness, o brahmin, realizes the peace.’

4. Bhagavadgita: 10.23:

रुद्राणां शंकरश्चास्मि…

[The Lord says ‘I am Shankara (Shiva) among the (eleven) Rudras.’]

5. Andhra/Karnataka Smarta sampradaya

Millions of those belonging to the above traditions chant this verse thrice daily during their sandhya worship.

6. Dravida (Tamil) smarta sampradaya

Likewise, millions of those of the above tradition chant this prayer as part of their daily sandhya worship thrice:

नम: सवित्रे जगदेक-चक्षुषे जगत्प्रसूतिस्थितिनाशहेतवे

त्रयीमयाय-त्रिगुणात्मधारिणे विरिंचि-नारायण-शंकरात्मने ॥

[Oh! Sun God! You are the One and Only Eye of the entire world.  You are the Cause of Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution of the world.  You are the embodiment of Veda, the bearer of the three guNas – sattva, rajas and tamas, and are verily Brahma, VishNu and Shankara (Shiva).]



  1. Superb!

    • Thanks Sanjay for your appreciation.


  2. One may see the following:

    In his भक्तिसूत्राणि, महर्षि शाण्डिल्यः presents काश्यपः, भगवान् बादरायणः views before stating his own. While doing so, he describes भगवान् बादरायणः as an अभेदवादी। The earliest commentary on the भक्तिसूत्राणि of शाण्डिल्यः by स्वप्नेश्वरः also clarifies that भगवान् बादरायणः is an अद्वैती, This favours the position of वेदान्तः (अद्वैतम्) which professes अद्वैतम् as व्यास-अभिमत-सिद्धान्तः, The same has been established by Śrī ayyanna dīkṣita mahodaya in his ‘व्यासतात्पर्यनिर्णयः’, where similar instances are quoted to show that all the rival दर्शनानि of वेदान्तः held advaitam only as the purport of बादरायणस्य ब्रह्मसूत्राणि।

    The rival दर्शनानि of वेदान्तः are न्यायः वैशेषिकम् साङ्ख्यम् योगः & पूर्वमीमांसा।

    The sūtram which शाण्डिल्यः mentions in his भक्तिसूत्राणि is the following:
    आत्मैकपरां बादरायणः (४) ॥३०॥

    Corresponding भाष्यम् is as follows:
    बादरायणाचार्यः पुनः शुद्धात्मविषयिणीम् एव मनुते। तथा च सूत्रम् – आत्मेति तु अवगच्छन्ति ग्राहयन्ति च इति। एतन्मते जीवब्रह्मत्वकल्पनाया मिथ्यात्वात् शुद्धचिदात्ममात्रबुद्धेः तत्त्वज्ञानत्वात् तदेव मुक्तिफलाय इति।

    The conception of जीवः ब्रह्म​ as separate entities is मिथ्या।

    The Hindi & English translation can be seen from the below link.

    Thanks for the aforementioned info which I have got it from this blogger itself. And also I thank our friend naṭrāja who has contributed.

    • Thanks for the links.

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