The following material is taken up for responding:
//There is no conflict whatsoever with Shankara’s explanation in Katha Upanishad 1.3.9. And it is of no avail to lament that this interpretation unnecessarily induces an intermediate state in KU 1.3.9, and that this is damaging to our position since it would mean that the “Purusha” described in 1.3.11 is not Vishnu, since:
- There is no problem because this Highest State is described as that of i.e., associated with/belonging to vAsudevAkhya viShNu, and NOT as “Higher than vAsudevAkhya viShNu”
- Moreover, for the name “kathitaH” in Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya, Shankara asserts that the shruti passage in contention “puruShAnna paraM ki~ncit kAShThA sA parA gatiH” (KU, 1.3.11) is associated with Lord Vishnu only.
Even in Kathopanishad Bhashya for the verse in question (KU, 1.3.9), Shankara associates an abode with Saguna Brahman Vishnu who has the name Vasudeva. In the commentary, Shankara explains “padam” as “sthAnaM” i.e., place as well as “satattvamityetat”, i.e., the nature of the Highest self:
vāsudevākhyasya paramaṃ prakṛṣṭaṃ padaṃ sthānaṃ satattvamityetadyadasāvāpnoti vidvān
This again points to kramamukti in Advaita Vedanta, where the knower of (Saguna) Brahman attains sthAnam, a realm beyond saMsAra, and reaches final liberation there, reaching the satattvam, true nature, of the all-pervading Saguna Brahman Vishnu. If “padam” only meant a “state”, the usage of “sthAnam” would be redundant. //
Response to the above:
Shattering the bloggers’ dream-castle of somehow pushing in the un-vedantic ideas of ‘vaikunṭha’, ‘eternal loka’ into the Advaita shāstra for which there is absolutely no proof in the Shankara bhāṣyas and other works accepted by tradition, here is what Shankara says:
Kathopanishat 1.3.4 bhashyam:
//तथा च श्रुत्यन्तरं केवलस्याभोक्तृत्वमेव दर्शयति — ‘ध्यायतीव लेलायतीव’ (बृ. उ. ४-३-७) इत्यादि । एवं च सति वक्ष्यमाणरथकल्पनया वैष्णवस्य पदस्यात्मतया प्रतिपत्तिरुपपद्यते, नान्यथा, स्वभावानतिक्रमात् ॥//
The ‘vaiṣṇava padam’ (called by the name ‘tad viṣṇoḥ paramam padam’ in the Kathopanishat 1.3.9) is no ‘abode’ that the blogger imagines it to be. An abode is some geographical location which is finite and has to be reached by one who is removed from there. Shankara says in the above commentary, appearing a little before the mantra 1.3.9, that the ‘vaiṣnava padam’ is that which is to be realized as one’s own Atman, self. He reasons: the nature of the jīva is not being a bhoktā, enjoyer, but the very Pure Consciousness devoid of any upādhis of kartṛtva and bhoktṛtva. He says, only if this is admitted the teaching of ‘vaiṣṇavam padam’ coming in the sequel will be appropriate. And to show the appropriateness Shankara says ‘the vaiṣṇavam padam’ is to be realized as one’s self itself, non-different from it. Thereby Shankara has shut the door on the face of such misguided, disgruntled, elements who want to propagate the idea of an abode going by the name vaikuntha or anything else. No one can realize a locality to be his Atman. The nature, svabhāva, of the jiva, Shankara says, can never be annulled. And this can be upheld only if the vaishnava padam is realized to be oneself. If it is a place, then the jiva will be a bhokta in that place. Advaita has no room for such unvedantic ideas as the liberated jiva residing in an eternal loka and enjoying the vaikunṭha bhogas along with the Lord. The word ‘sthānam’ of the bhāṣyam does not mean any abode but ‘mokṣa’. Shankara uses the ‘ākhya’ suffix to the word to make it ‘mokṣākhyam’ as the meaning for the word ‘sthānam’ appearing in the BG verse, shown in the sequel. So, the state of ‘mokṣa’ can never be vaikunṭha which is only a geographical place not admitted by Advaitins.
Nor is this an ‘indication’ of krama mukti in Advaita. Shankara clearly demarcates the realms of sadyo mukti and krama mukti. The former is that which contains teachings of the absolute Brahman, in terms of ‘asthūlam anaṇu’ (not gross, not subtle/atomic…etc.) and the latter comes with the need to meditate on attributes like satya kāma, satya sankalpa, etc. The ‘ubhayaliṅgādhikaraṇam’ (3.2.11 – 21) of the Brahmasutra/bhāṣya can be looked into for this clear demarcation and the conclusion that the Vedantic Brahman has to be realized as Nirguṇa/nirviśeṣa alone.
The context of the ‘tad viṣṇoḥ paramam padam’ is clearly the teaching of the Brahman ‘as it is’ for realization as one’s Atman, as Shankara says in the above Kaṭha bhāṣya 1.3.4. It is no way an upāsana prakaraṇam. The ‘adhyātma yoga’ to realize the Supreme as oneself is also taught in the mantras immediately after 1.3.9, in 1.3.13. Introducing this mantra Shankara says: tat pratipattyupāyamāha (‘the method of realizing That is being stated in the sequel’)
The upāsana teaching is over quite early when the second boon was sought by Nachiketas about Agni vidyā and taught by Yama involving the method of preparing the sacrificial trough, the manner of meditating on the Vaishvānara, etc. The fruit of such meditation too is clearly mentioned: attaining higher loka-s/svarga. At the very end of the Upanishad, in 2.3.16, the path through which the upāsaka of the agnividyā reaches his destined loka is taught. Thus, the two, realization of the Supreme as oneself, and meditating on some attributes and attaining a loka, are quite different and there is absolutely no way the two are mixed in the 1.3.9.
The blogger banks on two words in that mantra/bhashyam: padam and sthānam. He erroneously thinks the word ‘sthānam’ means an abode and hence his fervent hopes of pinning the vaikuntha-theory in Shankara advaita. That such sillythings are nowhere near the Exalted Shānkara Bhāṣya is what is shown in the sequel by a number of passages from the bhāṣyas of the Upanishads, Brahmasūtra and the Bhagavadgita. The exact translations are not provided here, which one may look up in a standard book, but only a gist of the passages is provided.
तस्मात् तस्यैव महिम्नः, स्यात् भवेत्, पदवित् — पदस्य वेत्ता, पद्यते गम्यते ज्ञायत इति महिम्नः स्वरूपमेव पदम्, तस्य पदस्य वेदिता ।
For the word ‘padavit’ occurring in the above mantra, Shankara says: padam is padyate, gamyate, jñāyate and therefore the word ‘padam’ means verily the ‘svarūpam’ the true essence. He who has known (jñāyate) this is called padavit. [It should be noted that the Sanskrit root ‘pad’ has the meaning ‘gam’ which has also the meaning ‘know’.] Therefore, according to Shankara, the word ‘padam’ means the very svarupam of Brahman, known by the name ‘Viṣṇu/Vāsudeva’ in the Kaṭha 1.3.9 upaniṣad/bhāṣyam. The word ‘padam’ and ‘sthānam’, therefore by no means ‘indicate’ any abode or karma mukti. In fact it is laughable that the blogger is making such a silly suggestion in a completely sadyomukti prakaraṇa.
Here is a sample on the word ‘sthānam’:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । पञ्चमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ५ Bh.gita 5.5
यत्साङ्ख्यैः प्राप्यते स्थानं तद्योगैरपि गम्यते ।
एकं साङ्ख्यं च योगं च यः पश्यति स पश्यति ॥ ५ ॥
5.5 The State Sthāna (State) is used in the derivative sense of ‘the place in which one remains established, and from which one does not become relegated’. That is reached by the Sankhyas, and that is reached by the yogis as well. He sees who sees Sankhya and yoga as one.
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । पञ्चमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ५ – भाष्यम्
यत् सांख्यैः ज्ञाननिष्ठैः संन्यासिभिः प्राप्यते स्थानं मोक्षाख्यम्, तत् योगैरपि ज्ञानप्राप्त्युपायत्वेन ईश्वरे समर्प्य कर्माणि आत्मनः फलम् अनभिसंधाय अनुतिष्ठन्ति ये ते योगाः योगिनः तैरपि परमार्थज्ञानसंन्यासप्राप्तिद्वारेण गम्यते इत्यभिप्रायः ।
5.5 Sthānam, the State called Liberation; yat prapyate, that is reached; sankhyaih, by the Sankhyas, by the monks steadfast in Knowledge; tat prapyate, that is reached; yogaih, by the yogis; api, as well.
[The word ‘sthānam’ above means ‘the state of liberation’. And it is attained through jnānam. In advaita, mokṣa is not something to be attained but the very nature, svarupa, of the jiva. One has to only realize his true nature. Thus, the word ‘sthānam’ on which the blogger depended to stealthily sneak into Advaita his ‘abode’ theory is not any such thing but the very svarūpam. Now, it will be clear to the reader that the two words ‘padam’ and ’sthānam’ both mean the same and that is why Shankara used the latter word to explain the former in the Kaṭha 1.3.9. Incidentally one can also see from the above the usage of the word ‘gamyate’, also found in the above cited Br.up.bhāṣya. It is only ‘knowing’ and by no means ‘going/reaching’ any geographical place called vaikuntha.
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । अष्टमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक २१ – भाष्यम् BGB 8.21
सोऽसौ अव्यक्तः अक्षरः इत्युक्तः, तमेव अक्षरसंज्ञकम् अव्यक्तं भावम् आहुः परमां प्रकृष्टां गतिम् । यं परं भावं प्राप्य गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते संसाराय, तत् धाम स्थानं परमं प्रकृष्टं मम, विष्णोः परमं पदमित्यर्थः ॥
The verse above contains the word ‘dhāma’ which can normally mean ‘abode’ or ‘position’. The bhāṣhya, however, does not give that meaning. Shankara sticks, consistently, in his entire prasthānatraya bhāṣya, to the same meaning for these terms. He says here, ‘dhāma’ is the ṣthānam’, the supreme svarūpa of viṣṇu, the padam. Here we see one more word added to the category: ‘dhāma’ (along with padam and sthānam, all meaning ‘svarupam’ and by no means a place/abode). One can see how Shankara never lets go the Kathopanishat 1.3.9 terms. One will see this several times in the sequel.
वेदेषु यज्ञेषु तपःसु चैव
दानेषु यत्पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्टम् ।
अत्येति तत्सर्वमिदं विदित्वा
योगी परं स्थानमुपैति चाद्यम् ॥ ८.२८ ॥
The verse says: ‘….by knowing the yogi attains the supreme, param, sthānam’.
वेदेषु सम्यगधीतेषु यज्ञेषु च साद्गुण्येन अनुष्ठितेन तपःसु च सुतप्तेषु दानेषु च सम्यग्दत्तेषु, एतेषु यत् पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्टं शास्त्रेण, अत्येति अतीत्य गच्छति तत् सर्वं फलजातम् ; इदं विदित्वा सप्तप्रश्ननिर्णयद्वारेण उक्तम् अर्थं सम्यक् अवधार्य अनुष्ठाय योगी, परम् उत्कृष्टम् ऐश्वरं स्थानम् उपैति च प्रतिपद्यते आद्यम् आदौ भवम्, कारणं ब्रह्म इत्यर्थः ॥ ८.२८
One can see the Kathopanishat 1.3.9 unmistakably recalled here by Shankara: the word viditvā is given the meaning anuṣṭhāya (one can recall the Kaṭha upāya 1.3.12 cited above, adhyātma yoga, here too it is the yogi who is the aspirant). For the word ‘sthānam’ of the verse Shankara adds utkṛṣṭam which he said for paramam in the Kaṭha. He simply says ‘aiśvaram’ instead of vaiṣṇavam here. For upaiti which means attains, Shankara carefully comments: pratipadyate, knows, realizes, thereby precluding the abode-going/travelling idea which is not applicable here.
आनन्दगिरि ८.२८: ऐश्वरं विष्णोः परमं पदं तदेव तिष्ठत्यस्मिन्नशेषमिति स्थानं, योगानुष्ठानादशेषफलातिशायिमोक्षलक्षणं फलं क्रमेण लब्धुं शक्यमिति भावः।
And Anandagiri, for the above bhāṣya gives enough material to complete the Gītā-Kaṭha connection. He annotates the Kaṭha ‘viṣṇoḥ paramam padam’ and says ‘that alone which is well established completely is ‘sthānam’, which one can gradually attain by sādhana. One also has to note that the ‘krameṇa’ is not any karma mukti indicated here, but the process of the aspirant evolving in sādhana by undertaking karma yoga, etc. Compare the above with Shankara bhashyam: स्थानं = तिष्ठति अस्मिन् इति, for BG 9.18 word स्थानं .
Here is a passage from the BSB 1.4.4:
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । प्रथमः अध्यायः । चतुर्थः पादः । आनुमानिकाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् ४ – भाष्यम्
ज्ञेयत्वेन च सांख्यैः प्रधानं स्मर्यते, गुणपुरुषान्तरज्ञानात्कैवल्यमिति वदद्भिः — न हि गुणस्वरूपमज्ञात्वा गुणेभ्यः पुरुषस्यान्तरं शक्यं ज्ञातुमिति ; क्वचिच्च विभूतिविशेषप्राप्तये प्रधानं ज्ञेयमिति स्मरन्ति । न चेदमिहाव्यक्तं ज्ञेयत्वेनोच्यते ; पदमात्रं ह्यव्यक्तशब्दः, नेहाव्यक्तं ज्ञातव्यमुपासितव्यं चेति वाक्यमस्ति ; न चानुपदिष्टं पदार्थज्ञानं पुरुषार्थमिति शक्यं प्रतिपत्तुम् ; तस्मादपि नाव्यक्तशब्देन प्रधानमभिधीयते ; अस्माकं तु रथरूपककॢप्तशरीराद्यनुसरणेन विष्णोरेव परमं पदं दर्शयितुमयमुपन्यास इत्यनवद्यम् ॥ ४ ॥
While the Sānkhyas in their smṛti teach that their pradhānam is to be ‘known’, we, the Vedantins, through the adherence to the Rathakalpanā, chariot imagery, taught in the Kathopanishad, preceding the 1.3.9, intend to present the Supreme svarupa of Vishnu. Note the words padārtha jnānam, pratipattum, etc. in the bhāṣyam here which preclude upasana, karma mukti, abode, etc.
कठोपनिषत् १.२.१५ Kathopanishat 1.2.15
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 mantra only contains the word ‘padam’. Shankara, typically, brings in the Vishnu padam. For padam, as shown in the Br.up.case earlier, Shankara says: padanīyam, gamanīyam. One can add ‘jñātavyam’ if gamanīyam is not enough, to remind oneself that knowing is intended here and not going. Shankara explicitly brings in that idea: jnātumicchasi, ‘that you, Nachiketa, have desired to know.’ And that padam, that you have desired to know (bubhutsā) … Shankara links the padam to the knowing and precludes ‘going’.
अतः किं कृतेन कर्मणा आयासबहुलेनानर्थसाधनेन इत्येवं निर्विण्णोऽभयं शिवमकृतं नित्यं पदं यत्, तद्विज्ञानार्थं विशेषेणाधिगमार्थं स निर्विण्णो ब्राह्मणः गुरुमेव आचार्यं शमदमादिसम्पन्नम् अभिगच्छेत् । शास्त्रज्ञोऽपि स्वातन्त्र्येण ब्रह्मज्ञानान्वेषणं न कुर्यादित्येतद्गुरुमेवेत्यवधारणफलम् ।
Here Shankara uses the word ‘padam’ to indicate the Goal, Brahman. And the aspirant wants to ‘know’ it and not ‘go’ to it. Vijṇānārtham for which Shankara comments: by specifically, clearly, without doubt, realizing, adhigamanam. And he adds: even if one is an expert in a discipline, he ought not to embark on brahma jnana anveṣaṇam, enquiry into the knowledge of Brahman, all by himself, without resorting to the Guru. So, the padam is svarūpam, Brahman, and it is to be known, and not to be reached physically by going.
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । द्वितीयोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ५१ BGB 2.51
कर्मजं बुद्धियुक्तं हि फलं त्यक्त्वा मनीषिणः ।
जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः पदं गच्छन्त्यनामयम् ॥ ५१ ॥
The verse has the words: padam and gacchanti (normally ‘going’)
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । द्वितीयोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ५१ – भाष्यम्
कर्मजं फलं त्यक्त्वा इति व्यवहितेन सम्बन्धः । इष्टानिष्टदेहप्राप्तिः कर्मजं फलं कर्मभ्यो जातं बुद्धियुक्ताः समत्वबुद्धियुक्ताः सन्तः हि यस्मात् फलं त्यक्त्वा परित्यज्य मनीषिणः ज्ञानिनो भूत्वा, जन्मबन्धविनिर्मुक्ताः जन्मैव बन्धः जन्मबन्धः तेन विनिर्मुक्ताः जीवन्त एव जन्मबन्धात् विनिर्मुक्ताः सन्तः, पदं परमं विष्णोः मोक्षाख्यं गच्छन्ति अनामयं सर्वोपद्रवरहितमित्यर्थः । अथवा ‘बुद्धियोगाद्धनञ्जय’ (भ. गी. २-४९) इत्यारभ्य परमार्थदर्शनलक्षणैव सर्वतःसम्प्लुतोदकस्थानीया कर्मयोगजसत्त्वशुद्धिजनिता बुद्धिर्दर्शिता, साक्षात्सुकृतदुष्कृतप्रहाणादिहेतुत्वश्रवणात् ॥
Shankara says: having become Jnanis (to show that there is no case for going/travelling, but the gam dhātu means knowing, as he has stated in the Br.up.bhashyam cited much earlier). For ‘padam’ he recalls kaṭha up. and to preclude that it is some abode/loka, he says ‘that which is called ‘mokṣa’. The blogger has banked upon the ‘ākhya’ suffix Shankara has used to the words Vishnu and Vasudeva, to desperately push in the saguṇa deity here. But such is no way the case is eminently proved by the Bhashya itself. On the contrary, the ‘ākhya’ only reminds us of the famous etymology-based verses for ‘viṣṇu’ and ‘vāsudeva’, the names for Nirguna Brahman. (One such verse is cited by Gopalayatindra for the Kaṭha 1.3.9 bhṣāyam word ‘vāsudevākhya’). Shankara uses the ‘paramārthadarśana’ which dispels the delusion that it is saguna Brahman which is vyavaharika, to be negated upon gaining right knowledge. And the word ‘gacchanti’ of the verse means no going/travelling, but realizing. Shankara implies that by the word ‘mokṣākhyam’. In advaita, mokṣa does not involve going to a loka/vaikunṭha. One simply realizes that he is ever free, even while he thought he was bound. And such realization makes him a liberated one here and now. It is only in non-advaitic schools that there is a need to travel to a different loka for mokṣa.
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । एकादशोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ३८ – भाष्यम्:
यत् च वेद्यं वेदनार्हं तच्च असि परं च धाम = परमं पदं वैष्णवम् ।
The verse contains the word ‘vedyam’, deserves/fit to be known. Param dhāma = kaṭha 1.3.9 reminding us that dhāma is the same as padam (svarupam, sthānam) and not any abode.
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । पञ्चदशोऽध्यायः । श्लोक ४ – भाष्यम्
ततः पश्चात् यत् पदं वैष्णवं तत् परिमार्गितव्यम्, परिमार्गणम् अन्वेषणं ज्ञातव्यमित्यर्थः ।
Here the verse-word ‘padam’ is vaiṣṇavam (svarupam and not any abode). For anveṣaṇam, enquiry, of the verse, Shankara says: jnātavyam, to be realized. So, the vaiṣnavam padam is by no means any abode/loka/vaikuntha to be reached by physical travel.
तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत ।
तत्प्रसादात्परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम् ॥ 18.62 ॥
ततः तत्प्रसादात् ईश्वरानुग्रहात् परां प्रकृष्टां शान्तिम् उपरतिं स्थानं च मम विष्णोः परमं पदं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतं नित्यम् ॥
The verse has the word ‘sthānam’. Shankara annotates the Kaṭha 1.3.9. Since it is already known from the earlier Gita Bhāṣya itself that there is no question of going/traveling and it is mokṣa which is only knowing/realizing. Hence there is no ‘reaching’ involved here.
Regarding प्रतिष्ठा –
स्वे महिम्नीति स्वे आत्मीये महिम्नि माहात्म्ये विभूतौ प्रतिष्ठितो भूमा । यदि प्रतिष्ठामिच्छसि क्वचित्, यदि वा परमार्थमेव पृच्छसि, न महिम्न्यपि प्रतिष्ठित इति ब्रूमः; अप्रतिष्ठितः अनाश्रितो भूमा क्वचिदपीत्यर्थः ॥ chandogya 7.24.1
In the foregoing we had seen the word ‘sthānam’ being explained as ‘pratiṣṭhā’ by Anandagiri. Here is a passage where even the concept of pratiṣṭhā, support, for Brahman is rendered redundant. Sanatkumāra says to Nārada: In case you want any ‘place, locus’ for Brahman, called by the name ‘bhūmā’, one can say that It abides in Its own mahimā, glory. But even such abidance is not absolutely true since Brahman is not depending on, needing, any locus whatsoever. The Upanishad itself says this ‘yadi vā na mahimni’.
Thus, this study categorically rejects the unvedantic ideas of any abode for Brahman. Nor does the Katha 1.3.9 bhashya ‘indicate any क्रममुक्ति krama mukti’. By no means the words ‘padam’ ‘sthānam’ mean any abode. On the contrary, they mean only ‘svarūpam’ of Brahman which is mokṣa . And also therefore the names ‘viṣṇu and vāsudeva’ in the bhāṣyam do not mean any deity but the very Nirguna Tattvam. There is no room for the lamentation that // this Highest State is described as that of i.e., associated with/belonging to vAsudevAkhya viShNu // since there is no prasakti, context, occasion, in the rathakalpana to specify a deity, saguna Vāsudeva/Viṣṇu, and then point to his supreme padam/sthānam. It would be extremely odd on the part of Yama to introduce the deity Vishnu all of a sudden here and talk of his superior padam. That is why Shankara in all his greatness as a bhāṣyakāra, explains that word as ‘vyāpanaṣila’, all-pervading, in perfect consonance with the 1.3.2 mantra words ‘akṣaram’ and ‘brahma’. It is well known that ‘Brahman’ is defined as ‘satyam jnānam anantam’ in the Taittiriya up. Shankara adds after vyāpanaśīlasya, brahmaṇaḥ paramātmanaḥ… It would be interesting to note that Shankara has said in 1.3.2 just before the rathakalpana started, akṣaram ātmākhyam brahma = that Imperishable Brahman known by the name Atma. It is well known that for Shankara, Atma = Brahma and this Atma is pratyagātma, innermost self of the jiva. At the commencement of the bhāṣyam for 1.3.10 where a hierarchy is started to culminate in the Puruṣa, Shankara says: That padam which is to be ‘attained’ (realized)…as one’s pratyagātmā, is shown through the hierarchy. From this bhāṣyam too it is clear that the Viṣnu of 1.3.9, if it is saguna deity called by the name vāsudeva, cannot be the Purusha since the saguna deity cannot be realized as one’s pratyagātmā. See an article on this topic of pratyagātmā at: https://adbhutam.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/aham-atma-gu%E1%B8%8Dakesa/
If the 1.3.9 vishnu/vāsudeva is to be matched with the Purusha of 1.3.11, and if the condition specified by Shankara in the 1.3.10 bhashyam of ‘realizing the purusha as pratyagātmā’ then, by default, the Vishnu/vāsudeva has to mean Nirguna Brahman and by no means can be saguna deity. This sets at rest all the speculation and the futile efforts on the part of the blogger to go to great lengths (blog size) to ‘prove’ his funny, faulty, unvedantic, case. It is also to be noted that the word ‘Purusha’ does not come with any qualifications, unlike the Vishnu (‘s paramam padam). So, by no means can the argument/explanation/excuse // this Highest State is described as that of i.e., associated with/belonging to vAsudevAkhya viShNu // stand scrutiny.
Quite similar to the above delineation culminating in the Puruṣa, we have in the Bh.gitā 3.42, 43 a hierarchy where the one that is above the intellect, buddhi, is ‘para Ātmā’, Supreme Ātman. If the highest tattva, beyond which there is nothing else, is a saguṇa deity, Shankara would not be commenting in the BGB 3.42/43 that it is ‘Para Ātmā’, for in Advaita the saguṇa Iśwara is anātmā, abrahma as per the Kenopaniṣad bhāṣya and therefore cannot be the Supreme that the BG 3rd ch. teaches.
Here too it is evident that for Shankara, ‘Bhagavan’ is Parabrahman:
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताभाष्यम् । नवमोऽध्यायः । श्लोक १४ – भाष्यम् BGB 9.14
सततं सर्वदा भगवन्तं ब्रह्मस्वरूपं मां कीर्तयन्तः, यतन्तश्च इन्द्रियोपसंहारशमदमदयाहिंसादिलक्षणैः धर्मैः प्रयतन्तश्च, दृढव्रताः दृढं स्थिरम् अचाल्यं व्रतं येषां ते दृढव्रताः नमस्यन्तश्च मां हृदयेशयम् आत्मानं भक्त्या नित्ययुक्ताः सन्तः उपासते सेवन्ते ॥
‘Brahmasvarūpam’ is what Bhagavan is. If it were a saguṇa deity, Iśwara, it would not be ‘brahmasvarūpam’ but anātmā, abrahma, as per Shankara’s teaching in the Kenopanishad bhashya.
Let’s consider the sentence: रामस्य श्रेष्ठं गृहम् (Rama’s best house). Here, one can say that there are several houses belonging to / associated with Rama and this one is the best among them. And it is patent that Rama is different from the house(s). Now, if we apply these to the case on hand, as suggested by the blogger we have: 1. There are several states of Vishnu/belonging/associated with him, and this one in the Upanishad is the ‘best’/highest. And 2. Vishnu is different from those states.
The logical fallout of this is: the Purusha of the subsequent mantra 1.3.11, who has been taught as the ultimate, can never be identified with the above Vishnu since the ‘highest state’ in that mantra is different from / belonging to / associated with Vishnu. And Vishnu will continue to be an intermediate state/entity than the Highest state.
All these are avoided by taking Shankara’s explanation as विष्णोः परमं पदम् to mean ‘Vishnu’s impeccable svarupam’. In the above cited example, one can definitely say: This house of Rama is the best, unequalled. Of course the fact that Rama is different from the house remains unchanged. In the upanishadic situation, however, such an anomaly does not arise for Vishnu can never be disassociated from his svarupam, for bereft of the svarupam an entity does not even exist. Thus, as pointed out by Gopalayatindra’s commentary to Shankara’s bhāṣya, the apostrophe in *Viṣṇu’s* is only aupachārika, inconsequential, as in the case of ‘Rāhoḥ śiraḥ’. The planet, graha, Rāhu is all head and nothing else. So a statement ‘Rāhu’s head’ will have nothing extra to convey. Similarly ‘Viṣṇoḥ paramam padam’ will only mean ‘that exalted svarūpam of Viṣṇu.’ The word ‘satattvam’ of the bhāṣyam for Kaṭha 1.3.9 has been explained by Gopalayatindra as ‘svarūpam’. This word ‘svarūpam’ is given by Shankara in the Br.up.bhāṣyam cited at the beginning here. So, the Kaṭha 1.3.9 bhāṣhyam is total in all respects: it gives two meanings for the word ‘padam’ – 1.sthānam (which Shankara explains as ‘padam’ in the other references where only the word ‘sthānam’ is found in the original Gita and ‘mokṣa’ for the word ‘sthānam’ 2. Satattvam which means ‘svarūpam’. Thus in the Kaṭha 1.3.9 bhāṣyam the meaning for ‘viṣhnoḥ paramam padam’ culminates in ‘viṣnu’s svarūpam which is mokṣa.’
The conclusion shown above is applicable here too:
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । चतुर्थः अध्यायः । तृतीयः पादः । कार्याधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् १० – भाष्यम् BSB 4.3.10
कार्यब्रह्मलोकप्रलयप्रत्युपस्थाने सति तत्रैव उत्पन्नसम्यग्दर्शनाः सन्तः, तदध्यक्षेण हिरण्यगर्भेण सह अतः परं परिशुद्धं विष्णोः परमं पदं प्रतिपद्यन्ते — इतीत्थं क्रममुक्तिः अनावृत्त्यादिश्रुत्यभिधानेभ्योऽभ्युपगन्तव्या । न ह्यञ्जसैव गतिपूर्विका परप्राप्तिः सम्भवतीत्युपपादितम् ॥ १० ॥
Here the culmination of kramamukti is stated: the upāsaka having reached Brahmaloka, having gained the Advaita Nirguṇa Brahman realization as oneself and thus becoming a jnānin, at the end of the kalpa when the Brahmaloka undergoes destruction in pralaya, will remain as the Viṣṇu svarūpam, the mokṣa. Nowhere does Shankara say that the mukta will enter a viṣṇu loka, a geographical plane, after the destruction of the Brahmaloka. ‘Paramapada pratipattiḥ’ is nothing but remaining as the Pure Consciousness, Nirguna Brahman. The last sentence in the above passage means: The direct attaining of the mokṣa svarūpa is impossible through a process involving ‘gati’, travel. In the case of upāsakas there is no aparokṣa jnānam and therefore there is an utkrānti, leaving the body on death, and gati, taking the path to Brahmaloka. It is by undergoing such a stage-by-stage process does the upāsaka attain the mokṣa svarūpa.
The blogger, ganged up with Ramanuja, has badmouthed Advaitins in the above cited URL:
//It would be a fruitless and endless effort to keep shooting down red herrings thrown at us by those who can be best described as bhagavattattvAsahiShNavaH – those who do not tolerate the Truth about Bhagavan Sriman Narayana.//
See what Ramanuja has said about Shankara, Sureshvara and Sarvajnātman:
See what badmouthing Ramanuja in his ‘Śrībhāṣyam’ indulged in against Shankara extending to Sureshwara and Sarvajnātman:
//तदिदमौपनिषदपरमपुरुषवरणीयताहेुतुगुणविशेषविरहिणां अनादिपापवासनादूषिताशेषशेमुषीकाणां अनधिगतपदवाक्यस्वरूपतदर्थयाथात्म्यप्रत्यक्षादिसकलप्रमाणवृत्त-तदितिकर्तव्यतारूपसमीचीनन्यायमार्गाणां विकल्पासहविविधकुतर्ककल्ककल्पितमिति न्यायानुगृहीतप्रत्यक्षादिसकलप्रमणवृत्तयाथात्म्यविद्भिः अनादरणीयम् ।//
(as quoted by MM Śrī S.Subrahmaṇya Śāstri in his foreword to the book ‘Upaniṣad bhāṣyam’ published by the Mahesh Research Institute, Varanasi)
Ramanuja accuses Shankara (and Sureshwara and Sarvajnatman):
- As those devoid of appreciation for the auspicious attributes of the Lord
- As those soaked in immense sinful tendencies
- As those who are ignorant of fundamentals of epistemology and its application
- As those who engage in intolerant fallacious argumentation
- And therefore all right-knowing/thinking people should reject them (Shankara, Sureshwara and Sarvajnatman).
The blogger’s word: bhagavattattvAsahiShNavaH is only a rephrasing of Ramanuja’s: तदिदमौपनिषदपरमपुरुषवरणीयताहेुतुगुणविशेषविरहिणां अनादिपापवासनादूषिताशेषशेमुषीकाणां (aupaniṣada-paramapuruṣa-varaṇīyatāhetuguṇaviśeṣavirahiṇām anādipāpavāsanādūṣitaśemuṣīkāṇām)
Both the blogger and Ramanuja agree that Advaitins starting from Shankara, Sureshwara and Sarvajnātman, up to the present Acharyas, owing to their ‘beginningless sinful tendencies’, are ‘intolerant of the true nature of the Lord’.
Such being the case, the bloggers, in blatant defiance to their Founding Acharya, are putting up Shankara, Sureshwara and Sarvajnatman and others as their brand ambassadors, having realized well that Ramanuja is a failed champion of Vaishnavism. So much for their ‘staunch’ following of their school. They spend a lot of time ‘researching’ advaitic works and write nonsense in the name of ‘authentic’ blogs.
Om Tat Sat