THE CONCEPT OF KRAMA MUKTI IN ADVAITA
In the following blog there is a supposed analysis of the concept of krama mukti in Advaita with the ulterior motive of somehow, desparately, bringing in the idea of ‘vishnu alone is the saguna brahman in advaita according to Shankara’:
The blogger commences thus:
Vishnu as Saguna Brahman and Krama-mukti in Shankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya: Part I – The kAryAdhikaraNa section
In this section, the nature of destination of the “devAyana” (path of the deities) described in the Upanishads is explained. This is the path by which the mukta (liberated jIvAtmA) travels. Shankara explains that the goal of these muktas is the satya-loka of the four-faced Hiranyagarbha/Brahma. From there, upon the dissolution of satya-loka at the end of the kalpa, they reach the Supreme abode of Vishnu which is the abode of krama-mukti. In turn, they achieve final liberation in Vishnu’s abode, which is the realization of the essential nirguNa nature of saguNa brahman Vishnu, the Lord of the Universe.//
The fundamental misconception of advaita by the blogger is revealed by his words: //This is the path by which the mukta (liberated jIvAtmA) travels. Shankara explains that the goal of these muktas is the satya-loka…//
In advaita, the mukta never ‘travels’ anywhere. The devayāna path is for those sagunopāsakas (also called apara brahma upasakas) who not having gained the nirguna brahma jnanam in this life, by the strength of their saguna/apara brahma upasana, travel to brahmaloka through a nāḍi in the body. For the nirguna jnaani there is no travel, not even utkrānti (their sukshma sharira does not even leave the gross body, ‘na tasya prāṇā utkrāmanti atraiva samavanīyante’ of the Br.up. which means ‘his (the jnani’s) sukshma sharira does not leave the body; it dissolves here itself.) The saguna/apara brahma upasaka travels to brahma loka, attains nirguna jnana there (and in that instant is a mukta) and then at the time of dissolution of that loka, along with the lord of that loka, Brahma, the sagunopaska, now nirguna jnani, attains ultimate videha kaivalya, never to return to samsara. Even here, the one who has gained nirguna brahma jnaanam in Brahma loka does not travel anywhere. This is the position in advaita. The blogger has not understood this fundamental difference and goes on a long tour of misconceived ideas, only to confuse and mislead the unwary readers, in the guise of bringing out the truth about advaita. And what all he says in the above paragraph is not at all supported by the Shankara bhashya/s.
The blogger has a confused understanding of the terms ‘aparabrahman’ and ‘sagunabrahman’:
//The word ‘but’ indicates the setting aside of the doubt.–As Brahma, who is not para or saguNa brahman (aparasya brahmaNa) is in proximity (sAmIpyAt) //
He thinks, obviously erroneously, that the two are different and hence takes pains to differentiate apara from saguna brahman. However, for Shankara they are synonymous as brought out in the bhasyas, a few examples of which are:
In this BSB 3.1.14 Shankara says:
// किंविषयाः पुनर्गतिश्रुतय इति, उच्यते — सगुणविद्याविषया भविष्यन्ति । तथा हि — क्वचित्पञ्चाग्निविद्यां प्रकृत्य गतिरुच्यते, क्वचित्पर्यङ्कविद्याम्, क्वचिद्वैश्वानरविद्याम् ; यत्रापि ब्रह्म प्रकृत्य गतिरुच्यते — यथा ‘प्राणो ब्रह्म कं ब्रह्म खं ब्रह्म’ (छा. उ. ४-१०-५) इति ‘अथ यदिदमस्मिन्ब्रह्मपुरे दहरं पुण्डरीकं वेश्म’ (छा. उ. ८-१-१) इति च, तत्रापि वामनीत्वादिभिः सत्यकामादिभिश्च गुणैः सगुणस्यैव उपास्यत्वात् सम्भवति गतिः । न क्वचित्परब्रह्मविषया गतिः श्राव्यते । तथा गतिप्रतिषेधः श्रावितः — ‘न तस्य प्राणा उत्क्रामन्ति’ (बृ. उ. ४-४-६) इति । ‘ब्रह्मविदाप्नोति परम्’ (बृ. उ. २-१-१) इत्यादिषु तु, सत्यपि आप्नोतेर्गत्यर्थत्वे, वर्णितेन न्यायेन देशान्तरप्राप्त्यसम्भवात् स्वरूपप्रतिपत्तिरेवेयम् अविद्याध्यारोपितनामरूपप्रविलयापेक्षया अभिधीयते — ‘ब्रह्मैव सन्ब्रह्माप्येति’ (बृ. उ. ४-४-६) इत्यादिवत् इति द्रष्टव्यम् ।//
Note the first two italicised sentences where Shankara says the satyakāmatva, etc. epithets are pertaining to saguna brahman, for the upasaka of this there is traveling from the body on death to a certain loka. He precludes the traveling for parabrahma (obviously nirguna brahma) jnani-s in the other italicised sentence above.
The blogger makes another statement, revealing his confusion:
//Purvapaksha – Brahma is said to be proximate to Parabrahman because he is saguna brahman who is rooted in Nirguna brahman.//
What he thinks is a purva paksha, is actually the position of the siddhānta. Apara brahma or saguna brahma or kārya brahma or saviiśeṣa brahma or sopādhika brahma (all synonyms in shānkara advaita: तत्र कार्यमेव सगुणमपरं ब्रह्म एनान्गमयत्यमानवः पुरुष इति बादरिराचार्यो मन्यते BSB 4.3.7) [In this one sentence Shankara has categorically specified that the three terms ‘kārya brahma’, ‘saguṇa brahma’ and ‘apara brahma’ are synonyms] is actually very proximate, not spatially, but conceptually, to Para/nirguna brahman. One example to understand the term ‘sāmīpya’ is from shankara’s Chandogya bhashya 8.12.3:
आत्मभावेन वा आत्मसामीप्येन जायत इत्युपजनमिदं शरीरम्,
Here Shankara is saying that the gross body is very proximate to the Atman. Now, in advaita the Atman is non-different from Brahman, all-pervading. How can the all-pervading Atman be an object of anything else in creation, proximate spatially? That is not the idea: the idea of taking the body to be the atman is what is meant by ‘the body being very proximate to the Atman.’ In the same way the apara/saguna/kārya brahma is taken to be the supreme by the upasakas. Shankara in the introduction to the prashnopanishat says: the six jignāsus who had regarded the apara brahman as lofty had come to sage Pippalada to know exactly the nature of para brahman: ते ह एते ब्रह्मपराः अपरं ब्रह्म परत्वेन गताः, तदनुष्ठाननिष्ठाश्च ब्रह्मनिष्ठाः, परं ब्रह्म अन्वेषमाणाः …
It may be again seen that the blogger is confused regarding what is parabrahman in advaita:
// The word ‘but’ indicates the setting aside of the doubt.–As Brahma, who is not para or saguNa brahman (aparasya brahmaNa) is in proximity (sAmIpyAt) to the highest brahman (parabrahman), there is nothing unreasonable in the word ‘Brahman’ being applied to the former (Brahma) also.//
I included this portion of the blogger at this juncture just to show that as stated in the aforesaid Prashnopanishat bhashya, the term Parabrahman means Nirguna Brahman. They are the aspirants who are already adepts in the meditation of saguna/apara brahman and now are on the enquiry of the nirguna brahman and also ultimately attain that knowledge as per this very upanishad. The blogger is mistaken in thinking that Parabrahman means Vishnu, the one superior to Brahma. He uses the adjective superlative ‘highest’ which in advaita will only mean nirguna brahman.
// Secondly, if brahmA is saguNa brahman “rooted” in higher nature of nirguNa, it would make Shankara’s bhAShya for the next sUtra nonsensical, where the AcArya says “after pralaya, they along with hiraNyagarbha proceed to the param parishuddham viShNoH paramaM padam“. Because, here another “paramaM padam” is used which would make the previous “parabrahmasAmIpya” redundant.//
Here the blogger is under the mistaken idea that Shankara is differentiating between Vishnu (the saguna brahman as per the blogger) and vishnu’s ‘paramam padam’. Such is not at all the case with Shankara. Nor is it that for Shankara the sāmīpya of brahmaa the four-faced is with vishnu the parabrahma.
Reverting to the concept of proximity…
In the karika bhashya 4.99 too Shankara says that the Buddha had come very close to the ‘advayavastu’ (which is the all-pervading brahman/atman): यद्यपि बाह्यार्थनिराकरणं ज्ञानमात्रकल्पना च अद्वयवस्तुसामीप्यमुक्तम् । There are other examples from the bhashyam for the usage of ‘sāmīpya’ in similar vein: अतिशयसामीप्येन द्रष्टृत्वात् उपद्रष्टा स्यात् । (BGB 13.22), etc.
This following conclusion of the blogger is nowhere substantiated in the bhashya:
//Having established that the souls reach Brahma who is in proximity with saguNa brahman,//
Brahma is not admitted to be in proximity with saguna brahman by the bhashya. The blogger is imposing the theistic idea of Vishnu > brahma which is not what is considered in the bhashya. In the BSB 4.3.9 परब्रह्मसामीप्यात् अपरस्य ब्रह्मणः, तस्मिन्नपि ब्रह्मशब्दप्रयोगो न विरुध्यते । परमेव हि ब्रह्म विशुद्धोपाधिसम्बन्धं क्वचित्कैश्चिद्विकारधर्मैर्मनोमयत्वादिभिः उपासनाय उपदिश्यमानम् अपरमिति स्थितिः ॥ ९ ॥ the word ‘para brahma’ denotes the nirguna chaitanyam and the apara brahma denotes the saguna / karya brahma. In the next sentence, by defining saguna brahman by the term upādhi (sopādhika brahman), Shankara is implying that the nirguna brahman is nirupādhika brahman.
The blogger also knows the above sentence where Shankara differentiates between the para and apara brahman. The sentence is very clear that Para brahman has no (not even) vishuddhopādhi sambandha and such an attribute is superimposed only to derive an apara brahman. But, strangely, obviously confusedly, the blogger identifies the Para brahman with Vishnu, the saguna brahman where he says the brahmaloka residents along with brahma will go/reach upon dissolution of that loka. Also, when the spoke of the ‘proximity’ concept, he identifies the deity Vishnu (who is endowed with vishuddopādhi according to the blogger) as the one to whom brahma is proximate. Such ideas have no basis in the bhashya whatsoever.
BSB 3.4.9 सम्भवति च सोपाधिकायां ब्रह्मविद्यायां कर्मसाहित्यदर्शनम् ;(this is the same as sagunopasana)
Kaṭhopaniṣad bhashya 2.3.13: ‘वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम्’ (छा. उ. ६-१-४) इति श्रुतेः, तदा तस्य निरुपाधिकस्यालिङ्गस्य सदसदादिप्रत्ययविषयत्ववर्जितस्यात्मनस्तत्त्वभावो भवति । तेन च रूपेणात्मोपलब्धव्य इत्यनुवर्तते । तत्राप्युभयोः सोपाधिकनिरुपाधिकयोरस्तित्वतत्त्वभावयोः where both the terms sopādhika and nirupādhika are used to denote the latter means nirguna / para brahman and the former the saguna/apara brahman. There are innumerable instances of the usage of these two terms in the bhashya.
Thus ‘saguna brahman is no different from apara brahman’ and ‘kārya brahman’ in shānkara advaita. And therefore the blogger’s following conclusion is flawed as it is based on the misconception stated earlier:
//When the reabsorption of the effected Brahma’s world (kAryabrahmaloka) draws near, the souls in which meanwhile perfect knowledge has sprung up proceed, together with Hiranyagarbha (the aforesaid Brahma) the ruler of that world, to ‘what is higher than that i.e. to the pure (as it is beyond prakrtri) highest place (as it is the abode of saguNa brahman) of Vishnu (saguNa Ishvara).//
The abode of saguna brahman is brahma loka which is very much within prakriti, as it undergoes pralaya when the lord of that loka along with the muktas there will become videha mukta-s.
It is also to be noted that if Vishnu, the deity with Lakshmi, conch, etc. is admitted to be ‘saguṇa brahman’ to please the blogger, then the inevitable, undesirable for the blogger, conclusion would be that such a vishnu is kārya brahman, which is effected and therefore subject to perish in pralaya.
And not stopping with that he desperately brings in Ramanuja to support his view. Nowhere in the Shankara advaita is the idea of the sagunopasakas, after having reached Brahmaloka, going to yet another saguna brahma (vishnu loka) admitted. Why is this flawed? Shankara very clearly specifies that those upasakas who reach brahma loka gain the liberating knowledge there, in brahma loka. And having become nirguna brahma jnanis in brahma loka, upon that loka getting dissolved in pralaya, they attain the Supreme kaivalya. In fact they are mukta-s, in the advitic connotation, there itself in the brahma loka, just like jivan muktas in this loka. There is no room, need, for these jnanis to go to a separate vishnu loka, which is a pure imagination of the blogger, to somehow sneak in the idea of vishnu supremacy/vishnu-saguna brahman into Shānkara advaita.
It is also to be very clearly understood and remembered that in Advaita the supreme position is:
न निरोधो न चोत्पत्तिः न बद्धो न च साधकः ।
न मुमुक्षुर्नवै मुक्त इत्येषा परमार्थता ॥ G.K. 2.32
There is neither dissolution nor creation, none in bondage and
none practicing disciplines. There is none seeking Liberation
and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.
Since there is no creation (ajāti) and no dissolution, there are no jivas. Since
there are no jivas, there is none in bondage. Hence, there is no one seeking
liberation and therefore no sādhaka. Thus there is none who is a mukta since there is no
such thing as bondage first of all. The advaitic realization confers upon one the
knowledge that one is the Nirguna Brahman, the sole absolutely real in Advaita. With such
a realization there is no way anyone can go to and stay eternally in any loka such as
vaikuntha. The concept of vaikuntha is relevant in Dvaita and VA since the jivas
in their systems are eternally jivas, even in moksha. That is the reason in Advaita
no such loka as vaikuntha is admitted as the residence of liberated jivas. There is no
concept of ‘liberated jiva’ in advaita for the jiva bhāva itself is realized to be
mithya. Not understanding these fundamentals of advaita, the bloggers desparately
labour to impose a vaikuntha, vishnu loka, vishnu-supreme, etc ideas that are completely
alien to Vedanta.
See this: BSB 4.3.10
कार्यात्यये तदध्यक्षेण सहातः परमभिधानात् ॥ १० ॥
कार्यब्रह्मलोकप्रलयप्रत्युपस्थाने सति तत्रैव उत्पन्नसम्यग्दर्शनाः सन्तः, तदध्यक्षेण हिरण्यगर्भेण सह अतः परं परिशुद्धं विष्णोः परमं पदं प्रतिपद्यन्ते.
To buttress his funny claims the blogger gives an ‘explanation’:
//Some object here that in advaita-bhAShyas, “viShNoH paramaM padam” refers only to the nirguNa state and has nothing to do with Lakshmipati-Chaturbhuja Vishnu, the deity of the Vaishnavas. We will now show why they are wrong:
- Shankara’s qualification of “Vishnu” as “vAsudevAkhya” in Kathopanishad 1.3.9 itself is enough to stop such nonsensical claims. There is only one entity, the caturbhuja Vishnu that has “vAsudeva” as samAkhya in all shruti, smR^iti, purANa, nikaNDus, etc. Amarakosha says “(1\.1\.42) padmanAbho madhuripurvAsudevastrivikramaH (1\.1\.43) devakInandanaH shauriH shrIpatiH puruShottamaH”. Shruti says “brahmaNyo devakIputraH brahmaNyo madhusUdanaH” (Narayanopanishad).//
I have rebutted his claim in an earlier blog of mine. Yet just this one mantra which comes soon after the one the blogger cites above is enough to show that his position is faulty:
महतः परमव्यक्तमव्यक्तात्पुरुषः परः ।
पुरुषान्न परं किञ्चित्सा काष्ठा सा परा गतिः ॥ ११ ॥
//Beyond the Purusha there is nothing: this is the end, the Supreme Goal.//
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । अष्टमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक २२ – भाष्यम्
पुरुषः पुरि शयनात् पूर्णत्वाद्वा, स परः पार्थ, परः निरतिशयः, यस्मात् पुरुषात् न परं किञ्चित् ।
In the above BGB 8.22 too Shankara echoes the above Kathopanishad usage of the term ‘purusha’ as being the ultimate, nothing excels It or exists beyond It.
Now, if as the blogger’s claim ‘there is a state/tattvam beyond ‘Vishnu’ of the 9th mantra which he says is ‘the paramam padam’ of vishnu, thereby differentiating ‘vishnu’ from ‘his superior state/abode’, then the ‘Puruṣa’ of the 11th mantra has to be seen as something different from ‘Vishnu’. This is because the 11th mantra says ‘there is nothing beyond the Puruṣa’. And the 9th mantra means to the blogger there is something beyond vishnu. Obviously, the vishnu of the 9th mantra will be some state/entity that is lower/different from Purusha. [ Nowhere have we heard of any aparamam/nikṛṣṭam padam of Vishnu for the Kathopanishad to differentiate from it and state a paramam padam of vishnu.] That will be absurd for no school admits that Vishnu and Purusha are different entities or of different levels. So, the ‘vishnoḥ paramam padam’ is nothing but ‘vishnu the supreme abode’ just as in the expression ‘rahoḥ śiraḥ’ where rāhu and the head are non-different. The Gopalayatindra commentary to the Kathopanishat bhashya for that mantra alternatively states this ‘rahoḥ shiraḥ’ example and says: it is aupacharika ṣaṣṭhī for the word vishnu.
Incidentally, in the commentary to the Kathopanishat by Madhva, he gives a verse specifying the hierarchy to identify the word ‘vishnu’ and ‘purusha’ of the mantras concerned:
…. तस्याश्च पुरुषो विष्णुः पूर्णत्वान्नैव तत्समः ।
कश्चित्कुतश्चिच्छ्रेष्ठस्तु नास्तीति किमु सा कथा ॥
He does not identify any such as ‘vhnu’s superior state/abode’ as something different, higher, than Vishnu.
And on the ‘support’ of amara kosha, let it be known that there are several usages of the term / name ‘Shiva’ in the bhashya:
प्रश्नोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । चतुर्थः प्रश्नः । मन्त्रः १ – भाष्यम्
अथेदानीं साध्यसाधनविलक्षणमप्राणममनोगोचरमतीन्द्रियमविषयं शिवं शान्तमविकृतमक्षरं सत्यं परविद्यागम्यं पुरुषाख्यं सबाह्याभ्यन्तरमजं वक्तव्यमित्युत्तरं प्रश्नत्रयमारभ्यते ।
माण्डूक्योपनिषद्भाष्यम् । मन्त्रः १२ – भाष्यम्
प्रपञ्चोपशमः शिवः अद्वैतः संवृत्तः एवं यथोक्तविज्ञानवता प्रयुक्त ओङ्कारस्त्रिमात्रस्त्रिपाद आत्मैव ;
सर्वद्वैतोपशमत्वादेव शिवः । for karika word in 1.29
मुण्डकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । तृतीयं मुण्डकम् । द्वितीयः खण्डः । मन्त्रः ७ – भाष्यम्
त एते कर्माणि विज्ञानमयश्च आत्मा उपाध्यपनये सति परे अव्यये अनन्तेऽक्षये ब्रह्मणि आकाशकल्पेऽजेऽजरेऽमृतेऽभयेऽपूर्वेऽनपरेऽनन्तरेऽबाह्येऽद्वये शिवे शान्ते सर्वे एकीभवन्ति अविशेषतां गच्छन्ति एकत्वमापद्यन्ते जलाद्याधारापनय इव सूर्यादिप्रतिबिम्बाः सूर्ये, घटाद्यपनय इवाकाशे घटाद्याकाशाः ॥
बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । पञ्चमोऽध्यायः । प्रथमं ब्राह्मणम् । मन्त्रः १ – भाष्यम्
सर्वसमाप्तौ तु कस्य विरोध आशङ्क्येत अद्वैते केवले शिवे सिद्धे..
In the amarakosha the word ‘shiva’ is listed as one of the many names of Lord Shiva in about 10 verses starting from 59. None of these will suit the word ‘shiva’ found in the above instances of the bhashya for the simple reason that these several names of Shiva refer to the individual God, shūāpāṇin, and the usage of that word in the bhashya is referring to the nirguna brahman. Similar is the case with the kārikā/bhashya usage of the word ‘shivā’ in the feminine. As per the amarakosha it refers to one of the several names of Parvathi. Hence, bringing in the amarakosha for the names vāsudeva, vishnu, etc. will be absurd and a futile exercise. Also, there are usages, in the Vivekachudamani etc.: नारायणोऽहं नरकान्तकोऽहम्…[I am Narayana, the slayer of ‘naraka’ used in the context of the aspirant’s expression of his realization of the supreme. The vākyavṛtti of Shankaracharya [which work the Panchadashi cites] opens with the verse: यस्य प्रसादात् अहमेव विष्णुः मय्येव सर्वं परिकल्पितं च [’I prostrate to my Guru by whose grace I have realized that I am Vishnu indeed and everything is an appearance in Me.] Such usages are purely in the nirguna context and bringing in the saguna vishnu, narayana will be absurd. The aspirant in Advaita will not realize his identity with the consort of lakshmi, holding conch, etc. in his hand, residing in a limited world like vaikuntha. These are all avidya-born upadhis as per advaita, used for upasana and not for realization. So too the word Vasudeva. See these sample sentences:
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । प्रथमः अध्यायः । चतुर्थः पादः । वाक्यान्वयाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् २२ – भाष्यम्
अतश्च विज्ञानात्मपरमात्मनोरविद्याप्रत्युपस्थापितनामरूपरचितदेहाद्युपाधिनिमित्तो भेदः, न पारमार्थिक इत्येषोऽर्थः सर्वैर्वेदान्तवादिभिरभ्युपगन्तव्यः …स्मृतिभ्यश्च — ‘वासुदेवः सर्वमिति’ (भ. गी. ७-१९) ‘क्षेत्रज्ञं चापि मां विद्धि सर्वक्षेत्रेषु भारत’ (भ. गी. १३-२) ‘समं सर्वेषु भूतेषु तिष्ठन्तं परमेश्वरम्’ (भ. गी. १३-२७) इत्येवंरूपाभ्यः ;
Here Shankara is giving pramāṇas for the advaitic nirguna jnanam. The BG 7.19 usage of the word ‘vāsudevaḥ’ is hardly the vaikunṭhavāsin. The Vishnusahasranama bhashya of Shankara too does not give any saguna-favoured meaning for the name ‘Vāsudeva’ by citing several puranic verses. The Parameshwara word too is hardly the saguna Ishwara.
This instance, however, will surely mean the deity vāsudevaḥ’:
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । तृतीयः अध्यायः । चतुर्थः पादः । ऐहिकाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् ५१ – भाष्यम्
इत्यर्जुनेन पृष्टो भगवान्वासुदेवः ‘न हि कल्याणकृत्कश्चिद्दुर्गतिं तात गच्छति’ (भ. गी. ६-४०) इत्युक्त्वा,
On the contrary, this instance is not at all the saguna vāsudevaḥ:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । द्वितीयोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ६१ – भाष्यम्
तानि सर्वाणि संयम्य संयमनं वशीकरणं कृत्वा युक्तः समाहितः सन् आसीत मत्परः अहं वासुदेवः सर्वप्रत्यगात्मा परो यस्य सः मत्परः, ‘न अन्योऽहं तस्मात्’ इति आसीत इत्यर्थः Here, the jnani’s identity with the Para tattvam vāsudeva is stated. This can never be the saguna brahman in advaita. This instance is also not saguna brahman: Introduction to the BG 4th ch. त्वयि सति ‘वासुदेवः सर्वम्’ इति ज्ञानेनैव मुमुक्षवः सन्तः
In this instance we have two usages, the first one is nirguna and second one saguna:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । सप्तमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक १७ – भाष्यम्
तस्मात् ज्ञानिनः आत्मत्वात् वासुदेवः प्रियो भवतीत्यर्थः । स च ज्ञानी मम वासुदेवस्य आत्मैवेति मम अत्यर्थं प्रियः ॥
Here Shankara himself settles the issue:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । सप्तमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक १८ – भाष्यम्
‘अहमेव भगवान् वासुदेवः न अन्योऽस्मि’ इत्येवं युक्तात्मा समाहितचित्तः सन् मामेव परं ब्रह्म गन्तव्यम् अनुत्तमां गन्तुं प्रवृत्त इत्यर्थः ॥ The word param brahma differentiates the apara brahma vasudeva from the nirguna brahman.
Here is another fine example:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । नवमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक १ – भाष्यम्
इदमेव तु सम्यग्ज्ञानं साक्षात् मोक्षप्राप्तिसाधनम् ‘वासुदेवः सर्वमिति’ (भ. गी. ७-१९) ‘आत्मैवेदं सर्वम्’ (छा. उ. ७-२५-२) ‘एकमेवाद्वितीयम्’ (छा. उ. ६-२-१) इत्यादिश्रुतिस्मृतिभ्यः Here Shankara very clearly precludes the saguna meaning for the name vasudeva. He calls this samyagjnanam and supports it with other shruti passages. The sagunopasaka’s jnanam is not admitted to be samyagjnanam in advaita. He calls it ‘the direct means to moksha’. This can never be sagunopasana/saguna vasudeva.
Madhusudana says in the BG 7.19:
वासुदेवः सर्वमिति ज्ञानवान्सन्मां निरुपाधिप्रेमास्पदं प्रपद्यते सर्वदा समस्तप्रेमविषयत्वेन भजते। सकलमिदमहं च वासुदेव इति दृष्ट्या सर्वप्रेम्णां मय्येव पर्यवसायित्वात्। अतः स एव ज्ञानपूर्वकमद्भक्तिमान्महात्मात्यन्तशुद्धान्तःकरणत्वाज्जीवन्मुक्तः सर्वोत्कृष्टो न तत्समोऽन्योऽस्ति,
The realization ‘Vasudeva is all this and me’ can never mean a saguna Ishwara identification. In advaita the individual and the entire universe is a superimposition on nirguna brahman and the realization takes the above form of identifying oneself and the entire world with/as Brahman. Such a brahman can never be the deity vasudeva because that is also avidya kalpita as per advaita. Also, on the same lines of the Bhashya of Shankara, Madhusudana too comments on the BG 4.24 (brahmārpaṇam…’):
तत्सर्वं ब्रह्मणि कल्पितत्वाद्ब्रह्मैव रज्जुकल्पितभुजङ्गवदधिष्ठानव्यतिरेकेणासदित्यर्थः। This substratum Brahman is not at all any saguna Vasudeva but the Nirguna chaitanyam which is what is called by the term Vasudeva in the BG and the bhashyam. In that BGB 4.24 Shankara gives the vivarta vāda example:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । चतुर्थोऽध्यायः । श्लोक २४ – भाष्यम्
ब्रह्म अर्पणं येन करणेन ब्रह्मवित् हविः अग्नौ अर्पयति तत् ब्रह्मैव इति पश्यति, तस्य आत्मव्यतिरेकेण अभावं पश्यति, यथा शुक्तिकायां रजताभावं पश्यति ; तदुच्यते ब्रह्मैव अर्पणमिति, यथा यद्रजतं तत् शुक्तिकैवेति ।
This is called ‘bādhāyām sāmānādhikaraṇyam.’ That which was wrongly seen as the world is now realized to be Brahman just as that which was wrongly seen as silver is realized to be nacre. The absence of the world is what is indicated in the bhashya. Since the saguna vasudeva is also part of the world, there can be no identification with it in the true realization.
In the VS bhashya Shankara cites a Vishnupuranam verse that gives the nirguna meaning of Vasudeva:
सकलमिदमहं च वासुदेवः
परमपुमान्परमेश्वरः स एकः ।
इति मतिरमला भवत्यनन्ते
हृदयगते व्रज तान्विहाय दूरात् ॥ 3.7.32 ||
The verse may mean something else to the non-advaitin but
the advaitin sees this as the expression of the advaitic
realization of the Truth. The Vasudeva here is by no means
the saguna brahman but the Nirguna Tattva. In the VS bhashya for the word Vasudeva,
Shankara cites four verses all of
which are nirguna specific alone. In short, all these
four verses only say that the entire creation is having
the Vasudeva for its support/substratum. So also Shankara cites a verse regarding Vishnu:
‘नाविष्णुः कीर्त्तयेद् विष्णुंनाविष्णुर्विष्णुमर्चयेत् ।नाविष्णुः संस्मरेद् विष्णुंनाविष्णुर्विष्णुमाप्नुयात् ॥ From the Mahabharata, karmadāṇḍa. This means: Let one who is not Vishnu himself sing praises of Vishnu, perform worship, engage in remembering Vishnu and none who is not Vishnu himself shall ‘attain’ Vishnu. This is the essence of the Advaitic realization of the Truth. ऒम् तत् सत्