MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE JAGADVYĀPĀRĀDHIKARAṆAM, ETC.
In the following blog the blogger has given expression to his complete misunderstanding of the Advaita darśana. The endeavor in this article is to expose such misconceived ideas and show the correct method of Advaita in respect of those aspects.
//Hence, just as he (the Saguna Upasaka) does not reach (directly) the attributeless (nirguNa) nature of the double-natured Highest Lord, stopping at that form which is distinguished by qualities (saguNa), even in obtaining the Saguna form of the Lord, the upAsaka stops at limited aishvarya (in the form of rulership over certain spheres within the effected universe) and does not obtain the unlimited aishvarya of Ishvara.//
[The segment in the above ‘translation’ by the blogger // even in obtaining the Saguna form of the Lord,// has no basis whatsoever in the original bhāṣya. It is a mischievous interpolation. This is all what is said in the bhāṣya: अतश्च यथैव द्विरूपे परमेश्वरे निर्गुणं रूपमनवाप्य सगुण एवावतिष्ठन्ते, एवं सगुणेऽपि निरवग्रहमैश्वर्यमनवाप्य सावग्रह एवावतिष्ठन्त इति द्रष्टव्यम् [Also, just as in the two-formed Supreme Lord, without attaining the nirguna form, they (the sagunopasakas) stay in the saguna form (this ‘form’ is not any figure, only the world in the manifest and unmanifest forms – ‘one foot’ of Brahman), so too in the realm of saguṇa, the upāsakas remain with limited powers alone and not unlimited powers as that of Ishwara. ]
What the blogger says here:
// The section is begun by Shankara showing the twofold form of Saguna Brahman (vikAra and nirvikAra) to answer as follows: “Just as those who obtain saguNa brahman do not attain the nirguNa state (immediately) even though Brahman is one, what we have stated makes is in fact fitting very well.”]//
is wrong. Shankara nowhere is showing the twofold form of Saguṇa Brahman. This is an erroneous understanding and mischievous interpolation of the blogger. The meaning of the Chandogya shruti cited by Shankara in BSB 4.4.19 is explained by Anandagiri: the first and third quarters speak of the realm of transformation and the second and fourth, the transcendental, untransforming ‘form’ which is Nirguna Brahman which is the substratum of the transformed-realm containing the savitṛmanḍala, etc. The blogger is fundamentally wrong in thinking that Advaita holds that there are two forms of saguṇa Brahman; on the contrary it is that the saguṇa Brahman is kalpita in Nirguṇa Brahman. In the ‘ubhayalingādhikaraṇam’ BSB 3.2.11 Shankara has stated:
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । तृतीयः अध्यायः । द्वितीयः पादः । उभयलिङ्गाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् ११ – भाष्यम्
न तावत्स्वत एव परस्य ब्रह्मण उभयलिङ्गत्वमुपपद्यते ; न हि एकं वस्तु स्वत एव रूपादिविशेषोपेतं तद्विपरीतं च इत्यवधारयितुं शक्यम्, विरोधात् ।
There cannot be two-forms for the Parabrahman naturally. It cannot be, indeed, said that one entity is by itself endowed with attributes such as form and not so, since it is contradictory to each other.
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । तृतीयः अध्यायः । द्वितीयः पादः । उभयलिङ्गाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् २१ – भाष्यम् BSB 3.2.21:
तस्मात् निर्विकल्पकैकलिङ्गमेव ब्रह्म, न उभयलिङ्गं विपरीतलिङ्गं वा इति सिद्धम् ॥
Therefore, there is only one form for Brahman, which is free of differentiations.
This sets at rest the funny theory of the blogger that ‘saguṇopasakas first reach a certain abode, vaikuṇṭha, and then attain identity with the nirguna form of (Lakshmipati) Vishnu, the saguṇa Brahman of Advaita.’ Such a misconception has no place in Shānkaran Advaita.
For the above stated reasons, the following silly observation of the blogger is also completely faulty:
// [“You say there is an eternal changeless form of (Saguna) Brahman. Be that as it may. So what?” – This question is answered thus: “In reality, even though it is so (that the Saguna Brahman has an eternal form), the general rule of ‘obtaining of exactly the same form (i.e., rulership) as per the nature of upAsana’ is dependent on the specific rules in scripture. In the absence of a scriptural-based specification of obtaining such forms as unlimited Lordship etc. through upAsana, there is no attainment of what is not meditated upon.”] //
No one has said that // there is an eternal changeless form of (Saguna) Brahman//
The blogger has wrongly copied the words of the Nyāyanirṇaya:
// astu brahmaṇo vikārāvartirūpaṃ tathāpi kiṃ syāt, tatrāha//
It should be vikāravartirūpam and not as shown by him with an elongation on the second ‘a’. That is how it is printed in the Motilal Banarasidas edition, p.904: अस्तु तर्हि ब्रह्मणो विकारवर्तिरूपं…. That makes the reading a completely wrong one than that intended by Anandagiri. What the gloss intends is: ‘Let there be a form of Brahman that exists within the realm of transformation…’ And it is quite reasonable, for the question is on why the saguṇopāsakas do not gain total aiśvarya despite their getting sāyujyam of the saguṇa Brahman.
The prakaṭārtha vivaraṇa cited by the blogger adds nothing to the discussion.
This section of the blog is a complete misunderstanding:
// Question: How do you say that the Sutra Bhashya shows Ishvara’s existence beyond material creation?
Answer: To show the existence of this eternal form, Shankara gives the example of Gayatri-brahma-vidya in the Chandogya Upanishad which declares that while only one quarter of the Highest is saMsAra-maNDala, three quarters of it are immortal and in a realm beyond saMsAra-maNDala:
tāvānasya mahimā tato jyāyāṃśca puruṣaḥ
pādo ‘sya sarvā bhūtāni, tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divi
[Such is the greatness of it; greater than it is the Person. One foot of him are all beings; three feet of him is what is immortal and in its own self-effulgence (Chandogya Upanishad, 3.12.6).] //
For, in Advaita the status of Ishwara is aupādhika; created by upādhis generated by avidya. In the BSB 2.1.14 Shankara has very clearly stated this: the omniscience, lordship, etc. are not absolute. So, Ishwara, Ishwaratva is only relative to material world and there is no way these subsist in the transcendental realm. The Chandogya shruti cited is also not to show in any way that Ishwara (saguṇa Brahman) exists beyond the realm of creation, with an eternal form.
The blogger is clearly mistaken here too:
// Here, we should also cite Shankara’s Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya, where the Acharya says that *the deity Vishnu* is the destination intended for those who are liberated, due to *no chance of returning* for those who reach Him:
muktānāṃ paramā gatiḥ – muktānāṃ paramā prakṛṣṭā gatirgantavyā devatā punarāvṛttyasaṃbhavāttadgatasyeti muktānāṃ paramāgatiḥ । ‘māmupetya tu kaunteya punarjanma na vidyate’ iti bhagavadvacanam ।/
The word ‘devatā’ is what has misled the blogger. It is not any deity that he thinks to be. In the Chāndogya sixth chapter called sadvidyā where the tattvamasi occurs, the Upanishad does not use the word Brahman at all. It uses three words: devatā (in feminine), Sat (neuter) and Atmā (masculine). ‘सेयं देवतैक्षत हन्ताहमिमास्तिस्रो देवता अनेन जीवेनात्मनानुप्रविश्य नामरूपें व्याकरवाणीति ॥ ६.३.२ ॥ for which Shankara comments: सेयं प्रकृता सदाख्या that devatā which is called ‘Sat.’ So, what Shankara says in the above VS bhasya is not any saguṇa deity but the Nirguṇa Brahman. In Advaita the state of non-return to samsāra occurs only when attaining, realizing by knowledge, the identity with nirguna Brahman. Even for the BG 8.16 Shankara has said: माम् एकम् उपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म पुनरुत्पत्तिः न विद्यते ॥ By attaining Me, the One, there is no return….This One is no way any saguna Brahman.
Shankara has said what it means to ‘attain Him’ so as to not return to samsāra, in the BGB 8.15, just prior to the above cited verse by the blogger:
माम् उपेत्य माम् ईश्वरम् उपेत्य मद्भावमापद्य पुनर्जन्म पुनरुत्पत्तिं नाप्नुवन्ति न प्राप्नुवन्ति ।
‘Attaining/reaching’ Brahman is not moving to any physical location where Brahman resides, but attaining, realizing, by knowledge, Its very nature, madbhāvamāpadya. This is not at all possible with a saguṇa deity. That very word ‘māmupetya’ is repeated, for that very purpose of non-return, in the very next verse cited by Shankara in the VS bhashyam. And it never means any saguṇa deity.
In another chapter, 15, Shankara says:
ततः पदं तत्परिमार्गितव्यं
यस्मिन्गता न निवर्तन्ति भूयः ।
तमेव चाद्यं पुरुषं प्रपद्ये
यतः प्रवृत्तिः प्रसृता पुराणी ॥ ४ ॥
ततः पश्चात् यत् पदं वैष्णवं तत् परिमार्गितव्यम्, परिमार्गणम् अन्वेषणं ज्ञातव्यमित्यर्थः । यस्मिन् पदे गताः प्रविष्टाः न निवर्तन्ति न आवर्तन्ते भूयः पुनः संसाराय ।
The Supreme Abode is something to be known, realized, not reachable physically.
For a detailed understanding of the terms ‘padam’, etc. read this article:
The blogger says:
//Question: Well, what answer do you have to the objection that terms like “nirvikAra rUpa”, “vikArAvartI” etc., refer to formless Nirguna Brahman (Chaitanyam) state and not some eternal form of Vishnu in an eternal abode called Vaikuntha?
Answer: Again, our position fits the context whereas the position that you state does not. Here is the reason:
The entire section talks about the niravagraha aishvarya which can belong to Saguna Brahman alone, and hence the scriptural statements quoted (Chandogya Upanishad, Mundaka/Katha, Gita) etc. refer to forms of Saguna Brahman only//
The above is simply completely wrong. The adhikaraṇa that is presently discussed is no doubt about the aishvarya of the sagunopāsakas in comparison with the Ishwara’s aishvarya which is unlimited. However, the sutra ‘vikārāvarti cha…..’ is to make a comparison at two levels:
//न च तत् निर्विकारं रूपम् इतरालम्बनाः प्राप्नुवन्तीति शक्यं वक्तुम् अतत्क्रतुत्वात्तेषाम् । अतश्च यथैव द्विरूपे परमेश्वरे निर्गुणं रूपमनवाप्य सगुण एवावतिष्ठन्ते, एवं सगुणेऽपि निरवग्रहमैश्वर्यमनवाप्य सावग्रह एवावतिष्ठन्त इति द्रष्टव्यम् ॥ १९ ॥//
The Nirguna (nirvikāra) ‘form’ of Brahman is not attained by the sagunopāsakas as they have not worked for it. Therefore, too, अतः च, just as of the two-fold form of Brahman, the upāsakas remain in the saguṇa realm only and not in the nirguṇa realm, so too, within the saguṇa realm, they remain with limited powers without attaining the unlimited powers (of Ishwara).
Here, the comparison is so very clear. That is why the idea of Nirguṇa Brahman is brought in by the sūtra by the word ‘vikārāvarti’. The common aspect between the two levels is: one can attain to only what he has worked for and not that for which he has not put efforts.
The bhāṣyam uses four expressions: नित्यसिद्धस्यैव ईश्वरस्य (4.4.17), पर ईश्वरः, पूर्वसिद्ध ईश्वरः(4.4.18), अनादिसिद्धेनेश्वरेण (4.4.21). All these mean the same saguna Brahman, Ishwara, who rules the created world. They do not mean what the blogger thinks: //who is eternally perfect (nityasiddha//
And the blogger enters into a misadventure citing the Chandogya bhāṣyam for 3.12.7, etc. //Evidence from Gayatri-brahmavidya in Chandogya Upanishad Bhashya This is examined in the sequel:
The blogger says:
// Note several points here. First, Shankara clearly says that the brahmaprApti arising from the Gayatri-Brahmavidya, a form of Saguna Vidya, is described as “a heavenly abode”. Is Shankara intending an abode within the material universe, or an abode of an eternal nature beyond material existence? Surely the latter, since by saying “yaccoktaṃ tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divīti tat“ Shankara brings up the immortality of this “svargaloka” (hence not to be confused with the ordinary svarga-loka of Indra, etc.) by a connection with the imperishable three-quarters that was just described in 3.12.6. Also, the three quarters do not include even the satyaloka, since “vishvAnibhUtAni” in 3.12.6 which Shankara explains as “tejobannAdIni sthAvarajaN^gamAdIni” (fire, food, air, etc. constituting plants, animals, etc.) has to include Brahma, who has been declared by Shankara as a bhUta (being that comes into existence during the course of creation) in innumerable places in the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya etc. Also, “saMsArAdupari” also shows that these unmatched Highest loka-s are beyond saMsAra that includes all material existence. Brahma’s saMsAritva has been declared by Shankara in many places, for example in Sutra Bhashya, 1.3.30 and in 1.1.4.//
For chandogya 3.12.6 the bhāṣyam is:
तावानस्य महिमा ततो ज्यायंश्च पूरुषः । पादोऽस्य सर्वा भूतानि त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवीति ॥ ६ ॥
तावान् अस्य गायत्र्याख्यस्य ब्रह्मणः समस्तस्य महिमा विभूतिविस्तारः, यावांश्चतुष्पात्षड्विधश्च ब्रह्मणो विकारः पादो गायत्रीति व्याख्यातः । अतः तस्माद्विकारलक्षणाद्गायत्र्याख्याद्वाचारंभणमात्रात् ततो ज्यायन् महत्तरश्च परमार्थसत्यरूपोऽविकारः पूरुषः पुरुषः सर्वपूरणात् पुरि शयनाच्च । तस्य अस्य पादः सर्वा सर्वाणि भूतानि तेजोबन्नादीनि सस्थावरजङ्गमानि, त्रिपात् त्रयः पादा अस्य सोऽयं त्रिपात् ; त्रिपादमृतं पुरुषाख्यं समस्तस्य गायत्र्यात्मनो दिवि द्योतनवति स्वात्मन्यवस्थितमित्यर्थ इति ॥
Anandagiri says: paramārthasatye hetumāha avikāra iti.
That which is vācārambhaṇamātram in advaita is the created universe mithyā, and that which is not that is Nirguna Brahman. That is how the Chandogya sixth chapter teaches. ‘aitadātmyam idam sarvam, tat satyam, sa ātmā, tat tvam asi shvetaketo’ [All this universe which is a transformation of tejas, ap and annam – fire, water and earth – has this Sat as its Self and that is satyam and you, shvetaketu, are that Sat]. And that is specified by the bhāṣya as ‘paramārthasatyarūpa, avikāra…’. It is well known that the parmārtha satya in advaita is Nirguṇa Brahman. Nowhere Shankara is talking about a saguṇa entity and his worlds that are beyond, outside, creation.
In the Chandogya 13.3.7 bhāṣyam विश्वतः पृष्ठेष्वित्येतस्य व्याख्यानं सर्वतः पृष्ठेष्विति, संसारादुपरीत्यर्थः; संसार एव हि सर्वः, असंसारिणः एकत्वान्निर्भेदत्वाच्च । it is very clear that ‘sarvaḥ’ (‘all, everything, multiplicity’) is samsāra and that which is above samsāra is the asamsāri, One and devoid of divisions. This is undoubtedly the Nirguna Brahman, stated as nirvikalpam by Shankara in the ubhayalingādhikaraṇa, cited in this article. Shankara is not at all talking about any transcendental lokas here by the term ‘samsārādupari’, for in advaita, Ishwara’s relevance is within samsāra. If the ‘lokas’ were to be meant by Shankara as obtaining ‘above’ the samsāra manḍala, the above cited असंसारिणः एकत्वान्निर्भेदत्वाच्च would be contradicted, for the loka-s above samsara is in plural, and one loka has to be distinct from the other. So, the blogger has got the entire Chandogya section wrong.
And coming to the bhāṣyam: // anuttameṣu tatpuruṣasamāsāśaṅkānivṛttaya āhottameṣu lokeṣviti //
what it means is: Anandagiri explains: All the lokas that have no lokas excelling them are ‘anuttama loka-s’ This is the meaning derived from the bahuvrīhi compound. And Shankara says that these lokas are that of hiraṇyagarbha, namely satya lokas. These are the highest lokas. Anandagiri explains this as: Since these uttama lokas are the kārya, effect, of Brahman, the latter is manifest forever in these lokas as hiraṇyagarbha, etc. [the basis for this is the Kaṭhopaniṣad mantra 2.3.5: च्छायातपयोरिव ब्रह्मलोके, and Shankara says: छायातपयोरिव अत्यन्तविविक्तं ब्रह्मलोक एवैकस्मिन् । – Atman/Brahman is extremely clearly graspable only in Brahmaloka and not so in the others.] And Brahman that transcends all the effects is specified as being above these lokas: samsārāt upari, for the purpose of meditating. Anandagiri has very explicitly clarified in the earlier paragraph that this is an upāsanā where the jīvbrahma aikyam is involved. If Shankara had intended any vaikuntha loka in this section, he would not have said ‘in satya loka, etc. the Hiraṇyagarbha, etc. which are the effects of the Supreme Lord, are very clearly manifest…’.‘सत्यलोकादिषु हिरण्यगर्भादिकार्यरूपस्य परस्येश्वरस्य आसन्नत्वादुच्यते उत्तमेषु लोकेष्विति । On the other hand he would have said: vaikuṇṭhādi lokeṣu….viṣhṇvādirūpeṇa ..etc. For according to the blogger the vaikunṭha is certainly above satyaloka and hiranyagarbha is surely lower than viṣṇu. That Shankara does not say so is the evidence that goes against the imagination of the blogger.
तदेतद्धार्दाकाशाख्यं ब्रह्म पूर्णं सर्वगतम्, न हृदयमात्रपरिच्छिन्नमिति मन्तव्यम्, यद्यपि हृदयाकाशे चेतः समाधीयते । अप्रवर्ति न कुतश्चित्क्वचित्प्रवर्तितुं शीलमस्येत्यप्रवर्ति, तदनुच्छित्तिधर्मकम् । यथा अन्यानि भूतानि परिच्छिन्नान्युच्छित्तिधर्मकाणि, न तथा हार्दं नभः । पूर्णामप्रवर्तिनीमनुच्छेदात्मिकां श्रियं विभूतिं गुणफलं लभते दृष्टम् । य एवं यथोक्तं पूर्णाप्रवर्तिगुणं ब्रह्म वेद जानाति इहैव जीवन् तद्भावं प्रतिपद्यत इत्यर्थः ॥
Chandogya 3.13.6 bhashyam:
ते वा एते यथोक्ताः पञ्चसुषिसम्बन्धात् पञ्च ब्रह्मणो हार्दस्य पुरुषाः राजपुरुषा इव द्वारस्थाः स्वर्गस्य हार्दस्य लोकस्य द्वारपाः द्वारपालाः ।…….. ततश्च स्वर्गलोकप्रतिपत्तये पारम्पर्येण भवतीति स्वर्गलोकप्रतिपत्तिरेवैकं फलम् ॥
The above is not anything but the attaining, realizing, the Para (Nirguna) Brahman. There is an imagery here: the ‘svarga’ is not any heavenly abode, not even any transcendental abode of Vishnu as the blogger erroneously thinks, but the vedāntic ‘heart’. Anandagiri says in 3.13.1: svargalokaśabdaḥ paramātmaviṣayaḥ, ‘svargam lokamita ūrdhvam vimuktāḥ’ …svargalokasya paramātmano bhavanam āyatanam’ The word ‘svarga’ means Paramātman. The place in the body where that svarga, paramātman, is located/visible/perceptible is called ‘heart-space’. This heart-space is none other than Brahman तदेतद्धार्दाकाशाख्यं ब्रह्म पूर्णं सर्वगतम् (ch.bhashyam 3.12.9). Just like a team of soldiers guard the King/palace/city, so too the team of sense organs ‘guard’ the Brahman, that is, they do not permit anyone to enter, realize, Brahman. So, one has to ‘befriend’ the sense organs, that is, make them amenable to sādhana, and finally attain the realization of Brahman. That is the imagery here.
In the seventh mantra bhashyam: अथ यत् असौ विद्वान् स्वर्गं लोकं वीरपुरुषसेवनात्प्रतिपद्यते, यच्चोक्तं त्रिपादस्यामृतं दिवीति, तदिदं लिङ्गेन चक्षुःश्रोत्रेन्द्रियगोचरमापादयितव्यम्, यथा अग्न्यादि धूमादिलिङ्गेन । Shankara clearly says: hereafter, that ‘svarga loka’ (heart-ākāsha, Brahman) that this Knower attains, and that which was stated much earlier as the one that subsists transcending the created world, is to be clearly stated through indicatory marks, just as fire is inferred, known, through the indicatory mark that is smoke. By resorting to such reasoning alone one will attain certainty with regard to Brahman, as ‘This is how/what It is’.
This statement of the blogger is incorrect, misleading:
// We also have confirmation from Anandagiri who says in the Chandogya-Bhashya-Tika that it is saguNa-brahman here who for the purpose of upAsana described as the resident of these transcendental loka-s:
tasya upāsyatvārthaṃ saṃsārādupariṣṭādavasthānamuktaṃ । (Anandagiri in 3.13.7) //
Anandagiri’s statement no way amounts to what the blogger tries to convey. It simply says: With a view to meditate on That (Brahman), it is stated to be beyond samsāra. This in no way means that Brahman is taught to be resident of these transcendental lokas. No lokas have been specified anywhere in the Upanishad or bhashya as transcendental and where Brahman resides. This is a mischievous interpolation of the blogger to mislead his gullible readers. One who has the capacity to read the texts in the original and understand them correctly, as per a good sampradāya, will never fall a prey to such tricks as the blogger employs to push his ‘Vishnu, the deity, is the saguna Brahman in Shankara Vedanta and Vishnu lokas are imperishable, eternal, etc.’ Such un-vedantic concepts are in no way part of the Advaita Vedanta taught by Shankara. In fact the Ratnaprabhā says: //योषितोऽग्नित्ववत् द्युमर्यादत्वादिकं ध्यानार्थं कल्पितं ब्रह्मणॊ युकमित्याह – अत्रोच्यते इत्यादिना //p.145. [Just as the female is taught as being of the nature of fire (for meditation purpose, while in truth the female is not fire), so too the limitedness, etc. of Brahman in the dyuloka, etc. is devised, kalpitam, for the purpose of meditation.]
Since the mantra involved here ‘pādo’sya sarvā bhūtāni….’ is verisimilar to the Puruṣasuktam, the sāyana bhāṣya for that segment is given here:
यद्यपि सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्मेत्याम्नातस्य परब्रह्मण इयत्ताया अभावादंशचतुष्टयं न निरूपयितुं शक्यं तथाऽपि जगदिदं ब्रह्मस्वरूपापेक्षयाय़्त्यल्पमिति विवक्षित्वा पादत्वोपन्यासः ।
[The Taittiriyopanishat has defined Brahman as ‘Satyam, Jnānam, Anantam’ which is svarūpa lakṣaṇam for Brahman, Nirguna Brahman, in Advaita. Such a Brahman has no confines and therefore it is impossible to demonstrate the ‘four parts’ the mantra is mentioning. Yet, in view of the fact that the universe is infinitesimal in comparison to the infinite Brahman, anantam, the ‘four quarter’ imagery is employed.]
This is cited to show that the blogger’s idea of ‘above’ everything is vaikuntha located is baseless.
It is also significant that the sāyana bhāṣya cites the BG 10.42 –
विष्टभ्याहमिदं कृत्स्नमेकांशेन स्थितो जगत् ॥ ४२ ॥ where the bhashyam cites this mantra, though from the Rg.veda:
अथवा बहुना एतेन एवमादिना किं ज्ञातेन तव अर्जुन स्यात् सावशेषेण । अशेषतः त्वम् उच्यमानम् अर्थं शृणु — विष्टभ्य विशेषतः स्तम्भनं दृढं कृत्वा इदं कृत्स्नं जगत् एकांशेन एकावयवेन एकपादेन, सर्वभूतस्वरूपेण इत्येतत्; तथा च मन्त्रवर्णः — ‘पादोऽस्य विश्वा भूतानि’ (ऋ. १०-८-९०-३) इति; स्थितः अहम् इति ॥
The purpose of showing all the above is to prove that in Advaita this mantra specifying the ‘transcendental three parts’ is to teach the nirguna, asamsāri, Brahman and not any saguna deity located in any abode. No special abode above creation is admitted in Advaita. The Advaita Siddhi explicitly denies eternality to viṣṇu lokas and admits their existence only during the period between maha pralayas. Therefore such lokas are very much within samsāra mandala.
The fundamental error of the blogger is in taking the word ‘svarga loka’ as being a special loka, abode, beyond creation. That such is only an imagery, hārda brahman’ is shown in the bhāṣya. All that the blogger says on the Chandogya mantras taken up by him for discussion along with Anandagiri is therefore faulty and shatter his hopes of proving an eternal vaishnava loka in vyavaharika satyam in advaita.
Here is another desperate attempt by the blogger to somehow bring in his pet theories into advaita. Responses are placed between [ ]:
// Again, do we have statements from Shankara himself that the description in this passage is a description of sopAdhika saguNa brahman and not of nirupAdhika state? Affirmative, since Shankara has dealt with this passage again in the Brahma Sutra Bhashya, 1.1.24 where Gayatri-Brahmavidya is discussed: //
[It has been shown beyond doubt that the Chandogya mantra in question is not teaching any sopādhika Brahman as obtaining in a loka beyond creation. That which transcends creation, the lokas, is the nirupādhika Brahman alone. The very attempt to bring in this Sūtra bhāṣua 1.1.24 is futile since Shankara has not admitted any loka that is named vaishnava or another, in a realm beyond creation. All lokas, grouped under uttama lokas in the chandogya mantra and explained as ‘hiranyagarbhādi (satya) lokas’ in the bhashya come under the created category and therefore within samsāra. Since this is clearly settled, the sutra bhashya topic is irrelevant as it is dealing with a different topic of upasana-specific locations. All such dyu loka, etc. based upasanas are within the created range and not at all beyond creation. Hence there is absolutely no scope for this sutra bhashya here. It does not alter the situation settled in the chandogya bhashya: Brahman, asamsāri, is beyond created lokas. ]
The blogger adds a note:
//Note: by “limiting adjuncts” or “upAdhivisheShasaMbandhAt” we need to take it as “sattva upAdhi-s” in the context of upAsana. While all beings are nirguna Brahman under rajo/tamo guNa upAdhi-s, Vishnu alone is under shuddhasattvaupAdhi-s and hence he alone is worthy of upAsana as Saguna Brahman for liberation. This has already been pointed out by Anandagiri in his TIka on to Shankara’s BSB, in the kAryAdhikaraNa section, and identified as Vishnu by agnicit puruShottama mishra as well in his commentary to the introductory (invocatory) verse of Sarvajnatman’s saMkShepa shArIraka.//
This needs to be clarified: The upAdhivisheShasaMbandha is not with any person, individual, deity. The upadhis are all certain locations in the body such as eye, heart, or any loka, mandala. Hence the question of Vishnu being sattva upadhi is not at all relevant. In fact there are innumerable Hiranyagarbhopasanas in the Upanishads and presenting Hiranyagarbha (Brahmā) as extremely pure, superior. Hiranyagarbha is no different from brahmā, prajāpati, and if he is rajopādhi, the blogger is only faulting the Upanishad/Shankara for enjoining this upasana. Here are shown a sample of such instances about Brahmā in the bhāṣyam. I am not giving exact translations which can be had from any standard book, based on the references shown below:
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । प्रथमः अध्यायः । द्वितीयः पादः । अदृश्यत्वाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् २३ – भाष्यम् Brahmasutra bhāṣyam (BSB) 1.2.23
श्रुतिस्मृत्योश्च त्रैलोक्यशरीरस्य प्रजापतेर्जन्मादि निर्दिश्यमानमुपलभामहे — ‘हिरण्यगर्भः समवर्तताग्रे भूतस्य जातः पतिरेक आसीत् । स दाधार पृथिवीं द्यामुतेमां कस्मै देवाय हविषा विधेम’ (ऋ. सं. १०-१२१-१) इति
Hiranyagarbha, called Prajāpati, is having the three worlds for his body.
बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । पञ्चमोऽध्यायः । पञ्चमं ब्राह्मणम् । मन्त्रः १ – भाष्यम् Bṛ.up.B 5.5.1
कथं पुनर्यक्षमित्युच्यते — ते एवं सृष्टा देवाः पितरमपि विराजमतीत्य, तदेव सत्यं ब्रह्म उपासते; अत एतत् प्रथमजं महत् यक्षम् ; तस्मात् सर्वात्मना उपास्यं तत् ;— समवर्ततेति अजायतेत्यर्थः — तथा, ‘स वै शरीरी प्रथमः स वै पुरुष उच्यते । आदिकर्ता स भूतानां ब्रह्माग्रे समवर्तत’ इति च । Hiranyagarbha is to be meditated upon by all means.
काठकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । प्रथमोऽध्यायः । प्रथमा वल्ली । मन्त्रः १७ – भाष्यम् Kathopanishad 1.1.17
किञ्च, ब्रह्मजज्ञम्, ब्रह्मणो हिरण्यगर्भाज्जातो ब्रह्मजः ब्रह्मजश्चासौ ज्ञश्चेति ब्रह्मजज्ञः । सर्वज्ञो ह्यसौ । तं देवं द्योतनाज्ज्ञानादिगुणवन्तम्, ईड्यं स्तुत्यं विदित्वा शास्त्रतः, निचाय्य दृष्ट्वा चात्मभावेन इमां स्वबुद्धिप्रत्यक्षां शान्तिम् उपरतिम् अत्यन्तम् एति अतिशयेनैति । वैराजं पदं ज्ञानकर्मसमुच्चयानुष्ठानेन प्राप्नोतीत्यर्थः ॥ The virāt who is born of Hiranyagarbha, brahmā, is a Jnani and is to be meditated upon.
मुण्डकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । प्रथमं मुण्डकम् । प्रथमः खण्डः । मन्त्रः ८ – भाष्यम् Mundakopanishat 1.1.8
अन्नात् प्राणः हिरण्यगर्भो ब्रह्मणो ज्ञानक्रियाशक्त्यधिष्ठितो जगत्साधारणोऽविद्याकामकर्मभूतसमुदायबीजाङ्कुरो जगदात्मा अभिजायत इत्यनुषङ्गः । Hiranyagarbha is endowed with the Jnanakriyashakti of Brahman….
मुण्डकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । प्रथमं मुण्डकम् । द्वितीयः खण्डः । मन्त्रः ११ – भाष्यम् Mundakopanishat 1.2.11:
ये पुनस्तद्विपरीतज्ञानयुक्ता वानप्रस्थाः संन्यासिनश्च, तपःश्रद्धे हि तपः स्वाश्रमविहितं कर्म, श्रद्धा हिरण्यगर्भादिविषया विद्या, ते तपःश्रद्धे उपवसन्ति सेवन्तेऽरण्ये वर्तमानाः सन्तः । शान्ताः उपरतकरणग्रामाः । विद्वांसः गृहस्थाश्च ज्ञानप्रधाना इत्यर्थः ।
समस्तमपरविद्याकार्यं साध्यसाधनलक्षणं क्रियाकारकफलभेदभिन्नं द्वैतम् एतावदेव यद्धिरण्यगर्भप्राप्त्यवसानम् । तथा च मनुनोक्तं स्थावराद्यां संसारगतिमनुक्रामता — ‘ब्रह्मा विश्वसृजो धर्मो महानव्यक्तमेव च । उत्तमां सात्त्विकीमेतां गतिमाहुर्मनीषिणः’ (मनु. १२-५०) इति ॥
The above speak of the glories of Hiranyagarbha as attainable through highly sāttvik path.
तैत्तिरीयोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । शीक्षावल्ली । षष्ठोऽनुवाकः । मन्त्रः २ – भाष्यम् Taittiriya bhashyam 1.6.2
भूर्भुवः सुवः स्वरूपा मह इत्येतस्य हिरण्यगर्भस्य व्याहृत्यात्मनो ब्रह्मणोऽङ्गान्यन्या देवता इत्युक्तम् । यस्य ता अङ्गभूताः, तस्यैतस्य ब्रह्मणः साक्षादुपलब्ध्यर्थमुपासनार्थं च हृदयाकाशः स्थानमुच्यते, सालग्राम इव विष्णोः । तस्मिन्हि तद्ब्रह्म उपास्यमानं मनोमयत्वादिधर्मविशिष्टं साक्षादुपलभ्यते, पाणाविवामलकम् । Hiranyagarbha upāsana is enjoined here.
बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । प्रथमोऽध्यायः । प्रथमाध्यायस्य चतुर्थं ब्राह्मणम् । मन्त्रः ६ – भाष्यम् Bṛ.up.bhāṣyam 1.4,6
हिरण्यगर्भस्तूपाधिशुद्ध्यतिशयापेक्षया प्रायशः पर एवेति श्रुतिस्मृतिवादाः प्रवृत्ताः । Hiranyagarbha (brahmā) is indeed of extremely pure upādhi….and therefore is more or less the Supreme Itself…
बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । प्रथमोऽध्यायः । प्रथमाध्यायस्य पञ्चमं ब्राह्मणम् । मन्त्रः २० – भाष्यम्
तथा अद्भ्यश्चैनं चन्द्रमसश्च दैवः प्राण आविशति । स वै दैवः प्राणः किंलक्षण इत्युच्यते — यः सञ्चरन् प्राणिभेदेषु असञ्चरन् समष्टिव्यष्टिरूपेण — अथवा सञ्चरन् जङ्गमेषु असञ्चरन्स्थावरेषु — न व्यथते न दुःखनिमित्तेन भयेन युज्यते ; अथो अपि न रिष्यति न विनश्यति न हिंसामापद्यते । सः — यो यथोक्तमेवं वेत्ति त्र्यन्नात्मदर्शनं सः — सर्वेषां भूतानामात्मा भवति, सर्वेषां भूतानां प्राणो भवति, सर्वेषां भूतानां मनो भवति, सर्वेषां भूतानां वाग्भवति — इत्येवं सर्वभूतात्मतया सर्वज्ञो भवतीत्यर्थः — सर्वकृच्च । यथैषा पूर्वसिद्धा हिरण्यगर्भदेवता एवमेव नास्य सर्वज्ञत्वे सर्वकृत्त्वे वा क्वचित्प्रतिघातः ; स इति दार्ष्टान्तिकनिर्देशः । किञ्च यथैतां हिरण्यगर्भदेवताम् इज्यादिभिः सर्वाणि भूतान्यवन्ति पालयन्ति पूजयन्ति, एवं ह एवंविदं सर्वाणि भूतान्यवन्ति — इज्यादिलक्षणां पूजां सततं प्रयुञ्जत इत्यर्थः ॥
Hiranyagarbha is spoken of as omniscient.
बृहदारण्यकोपनिषद्भाष्यम् । द्वितीयोऽध्यायः । षष्ठं ब्राह्मणम् । मन्त्रः ३ – भाष्यम् Bṛ.up.2.6.3
ब्रह्मणो हिरण्यगर्भात् ; ततः परम् आचार्यपरम्परा नास्ति । यत्पुनर्ब्रह्म, तन्नित्यं स्वयम्भु, तस्मै ब्रह्मणे स्वयम्भुवे नमः ॥
Brahmā, that is Hiranyagarbha, is the Supreme Achārya. Obeisance to Him.
The blogger says:
//To those who say that the vaikuNTha vAsin and vaikuNTha loka must be subject to pralaya in Advaita Vedanta because of its association with a certain place, we have the same reply as Shankara. The statements of Shankara in Mundakopanishad 3.2.6 to the effect that Brahman cannot be associated with a specific place is in the context of sadyomukti/jIvanmukti that constitutes immediate realization of Nirguna Brahman//
The blogger is fundamentally mistaken about what Shankara said in the BSB on upadhi-specific teaching of Brahman. While those specific teachings about Brahman ‘in’ the eye, heart, dyuloka, etc. is for the purpose of upāsana, there is no such injunction in the Upanishads that teach the contemplation of Brahman located in a loka called Vaikunṭha. Not even is there an upasana that teaches one to contemplate Brahman ‘as’ located in brahmaloka. So, the blogger has no ‘same reply’ as Shankara whatsoever. And the Mundakopanishad 3.2.6 bhāṣyam is a universal statement and not limited to just sadyomukti/jivanmukti/videhamukti. The blogger cannot take shelter under the supposed logic that since that Mundaka 3.2.6 statement is about Advaitic mukti, there is allowance in advaita for the unvedantic idea of eternal Vishnu in Vaikuntha that is not subject to pralaya. Shānkaran Advaita nowhere admits of any loka outside the created 14 lokas, of which the Satya is the highest, as not subject to pralaya.
In fact the Chandogya expression anuttameṣūttameṣu lokeṣu (ChUp, 3.13.7) is misunderstood by the blogger, as evidenced by his statement:
//That Brahman is now described as the “jyotis” which shines above the universe, above everything, in the highest worlds, beyond which there are no worlds.//
And in another blog:
//Then, the commentator says that these “Abodes” of Vishnu are places where kramamukti is granted (kramamuktidAn) and that they exist above all loka-s and beyond them there are no other worlds (anuttamān yebhyaḥ pare uttamā na santi tān lokān).//
The blogger is fundamentally wrong in understanding the Chandogya shruti, the Shankara bhāṣyam, Anandagiri’s gloss and the Ramayana and the gloss he cites thereon. None of these talk of a vaikuntha that exists ‘above’ all other lokas. The ‘anuttama’ expression is explained by Shankara in the bhashyam thus: If it is taken as tatpuruṣa samāsa, it will mean: ‘na uttamā iti anuttama’ [‘they are not superior’]. Hence, the Upanishad itself uses the word ‘uttameṣu’ immediately after that first expression, which, as the bahuvrīhi compound means: those lokas that do not have other lokas excelling them ‘na uttamā lokāḥ yebhyaḥ iti anuttamalokāḥ’. Even by saying so, Shankara never means any vaikuntha loka as existing ‘above’ these most exalted lokas. For, Shankara says in that bhāṣya, the asamsāri Brahman (tripād) is ‘above’ these exalted lokas, all of which come under the created, one-foot, category: ‘tasmādupari’. Shankara gives the example of Hiranyagarbhādi lokas for those uttama lokas and nowhere says vaikunthaadi. If, as the blogger thinks, Shankara admits of a vaikuntha which is superior to satya loka of hiranyagarbha, Shankara would have mentioned it by name. But he does not. He simply groups all those uttama lokas where Brahman is especially manifest in comparison to other lower lokas. (the Ramayana commentary too says: brahmalokān kramamuktidān). And then Shankara says the transcendental Brahman, three-foot, is above these exalted lokas described as Hiranyagarbhādi. In advaita, krama mukti happens only with the hiranyagarbha loka entering pralaya. There is absolutely no evidence in advaita for a loka designated for krama mukti that escapes pralaya. Every loka where bhoga is there, is within creation according to advaita. For in such lokas there is duality, dvaita. Any loka that has dvaita is created and destroyed during pralaya. That is why Madhusudana Saraswati, despite saying in the BG.8th chapter ‘mallokabhogānte’, denies even vyavaharika eternality escaping pralaya, to all bhagavallokas in the Advaita siddhi. Any bhogabhūmi is a created one where alone there can be multiple bhoktas, multiple bhogya vastus, etc. All this is dvaita according to advaita, subject to creation and destruction.
The blogger thinks that just because the Ramayana commentator says ‘kramamuktidān’ about the lokas where one goes, they are all imperishable. He is thoroughly mistaken. In advaita no loka that is fit for gaining krama mukti is eternal, even in the vyavaharika, creation-sustenance-pralaya, scheme.
The blogger now gives the BG as evidence for his Vishnu-loka theories in Advaita:
// Right after 15.6, Shankara raises the objection “But it is well-known that if one can go to a certain place, returning is always possible. How do we say for sure that there is no return of those?” and answers it in the next few verses by saying that these upAsakas attain nirguNa prApti at the end by giving the pot-sky analogy of avaccheda-vAda pakSha as well as the water-reflection analogy of AbhAsa-vAda pakSha. Note that there won’t be any such serious objection deserving a long explanation if “prApti”, “gamana”, “pravesha” etc. (respectively, “attainment”, “reaching”, and “entering”) only meant nirguNa-brahman realization. The idea is that they attain saguNa Ishvara, who is Vishnu and then attain His highest state, ie, nirguNatattva.//
It should be noted that the candidate in the BG 15th Ch. is not any upāsaka, who will have to go to a loka for krama mukti. He is someone who gains the advaita nirguna brahmātmaikya jnānam in this life itself. The blogger thinks he is intelligent in citing the subsequent verses, with the avaccheda and ābhāsa’ specific examples taken up by Shankara. It can be easily seen how the blogger has missed the key element in that analogy as stated by Shankara. Here is the relevant commentary:
For the BG 15.7 Shankara comments:
ममैव परमात्मनः नारायणस्य, अंशः भागः अवयवः एकदेशः इति अनर्थान्तरं जिवलोके जीवानां लोके संसारे जीवभूतः कर्ता भोक्ता इति प्रसिद्धः सनातनः चिरंतनः; यथा जलसूर्यकः सूर्यांशः जलनिमित्तापाये सूर्यमेव गत्वा न निवर्तते च तेनैव आत्मना गच्छति, एवमेव; यथा घटाद्युपाधिपरिच्छिन्नो घटाद्याकाशः आकाशांशः सन् घटादिनिमित्तापाये आकाशं प्राप्य न निवर्तते । अतः उपपन्नम् उक्तम् ‘यद्गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते’ (भ. गी. १५-६) इति । ननु निरवयवस्य परमात्मनः कुतः अवयवः एकदेशः अंशः इति? सावयवत्वे च विनाशप्रसङ्गः अवयवविभागात् । नैष दोषः, अविद्याकृतोपाधिपरिच्छिन्नः एकदेशः अंश इव कल्पितो यतः । दर्शितश्च अयमर्थः क्षेत्राध्याये विस्तरशः ।
The idea behind giving the analogies is only to show that mokṣa in Vedanta is not going to some place but mere realizing one’s true nature, here and now itself. The idea of being a samsārin is due to the upādhis which make one a finite being. And once it is known that the upadhis are mithyā and therefore do not and cannot finitize the infinite Brahman, that itself is freedom from bondage. The first example of a reflection of the sun in the reflecting medium, a water body: When the water-body medium that reflects the sun is destroyed (due to evaporation or any other reason), there is no longer the reflection. Where did the reflected sun ‘go’? It simply disappears, it is figuratively said to have ‘returned’ to the sun above, being non-different from the sun. In the same way, when the upadhis that are finitizing the infinite Brahman are ‘destroyed’ by knowing their falsity, the one that claimed jivahood no longer does so; he identifies himself with the infinite Brahman. The second analogy of the pot-space that is no different from the infinite space: when the pot, etc.-upādhis cease to be, that is when they are destroyed, the space in the enclosure ‘reaches’ the outer space and never regains the finitude. Here, both in the sun and the space analogies, there is no ‘physical returning’ to the source. Anyone can understand that when the pot breaks the space confined by the pot need not physically travel to reach the outer space. One can easily see that the two words ‘gatvā’ and ‘prāpya’ used by Shankara in the two analogies are only figurative and not literal, just to be in tune with the verse. So too, the term ‘gatvā’, ‘prāpya’ etc. in the case of the jnānin, only literal. In the BSB 4th sutra Shankara has said there is nothing else to be done to ‘attain’ liberation, ‘after’ securing the knowledge:
‘तदात्मानमेवावेदहं ब्रह्मास्मीति, तस्मात्तत्सर्वमभवत्’ (वाजसनेयि ब्रह्मण. उ. १-४-१०) ‘तत्र को मोहः कः शोक एकत्वमनुपश्यतः’ (ई. उ. ७) इत्येवमाद्याः श्रुतयो ब्रह्मविद्यानन्तरमेव मोक्षं दर्शयन्त्यो मध्ये कार्यान्तरं वारयन्ति । तथा ‘तद्धैतत्पश्यन्नृषिर्वामदेवः प्रतिपेदेऽहं मनुरभवं सूर्यश्च’ (बृ. उ. १-४-१०) इति ब्रह्मदर्शनसर्वात्मभावयोर्मध्ये कर्तव्यान्तरवारणायोदाहार्यम् — यथा ‘तिष्ठन्गायति’ इति तिष्ठतिगायत्योर्मध्ये तत्कर्तृकं कार्यान्तरं नास्तीति गम्यते ।//
The blogger’s hopes of showing up the words such as ‘paramam ‘dhāma’, gatvā, etc. in the BG as ‘evidences’ for the existence of a physical Vishnu loka admitted in advaita are dashed by this BGB 8.21:
अव्यक्तोऽक्षर इत्युक्तस्तमाहुः परमां गतिम् ।
यं प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम ॥ २१ ॥
8.21 He who has been mentioned as the Unmanifested, the Immutable, they call Him the supreme Goal. That is the supreme abode of Mine, reaching which they do not return.
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 ॥
English Translation of Sri Sankaracharya’s Sanskrit Commentary – Swami Gambhirananda
//8.21 He Himself who has been uktah, meantioned; as avyaktah, Unmanifest; the aksarah, Immutable; āhuh, they call; tam, Him – that very unmanifest Reality which is termed as the Immutable; the paramam, supreme; gatim, Goal. Tat, That; is the paramam, supreme; dhama, abode, i.e. the supreme State; mama, of Mine, of Visnu; yam prāpya, attaining which Reality; na nivartante, they do not return to the worldly state.//
Here, both in the original and the translation, nowhere is a physical location stated that has to be physically reached for liberation. That Reality itself is the Goal and upon attaining that bhāva, state, there is no return. The Lord never says that the attainment of that state is accomplished by traveling to a specific location. And to top it all, the BGB 15.4 says: ततः पश्चात् यत् पदं वैष्णवं तत् परिमार्गितव्यम्, परिमार्गणम् अन्वेषणं ज्ञातव्यमित्यर्थः । The paramam padam vishnavam has to be known.
In Br.up.Bh. 1.4.7 Shankara says: न तु ब्रह्मविज्ञानव्यतिरेकेण अन्यत् मोक्षसाधनमवगम्यते । [Other than securing the Direct Knowledge of Brahman no means for liberation is seen taught in the scripture] If going to vaikuntha is an unavoidable, inevitable, condition to be liberated, even after securing realization, then the above words of Shankara will be contradicted. Even in the case of krama mukti it is not that one has to go from Brahma loka to any other loka to get mukti; the upasaka who has reached brahmaloka gains the advaita jnanam there and becomes a sadyomukta/jivanmukta there. He is alive there till the mahapralaya and when the brahma loka gets destroyed, along with Brahmā and the others who have gained self-realization, will become liberated. This is nothing but videha mukti for all of them; with no more confines of the body, loka etc.
Br.up.3.3: न च अज्ञानव्यतिरेकेण मोक्षस्य व्यवधानान्तरं कल्पयितुं शक्यम् — नित्यत्वान्मोक्षस्य साधकस्वरूपाव्यतिरेकाच्च — यत्कर्मणा निवर्त्येत । [Other than ignorance there is nothing that blocks liberation since moksha is eternal and is non-different from the svarupa of the aspirant. If, as the blogger thinks, one has to travel to vaikuntha to get moksha, then the above statements would be contradicted. Shankara clearly says that nothing need be done other than removal of ignorance, for liberation. Not just that, liberation is the very svarupa of the aspirant. In the BG 8.21 above the Lord says His bhāva, State, is that Brahman. One who attains to that bhāva, state, has no return to samsara. Since samsara is avidyākalpita, once the avidya is annulled, there is no going to some place for liberation. Non-return is simply not getting into ignorance and not a denial of physically coming back to samsara. The blogger in his proverbial ignorance of Advaita thinks that the 15th chapter is about saguṇopāsana and krama mukti is what is spoken of there. In the 19th verse there is said:
यो मामेवमसंमूढो जानाति पुरुषोत्तमम् ।
स सर्वविद्भजति मां सर्वभावेन भारत ॥ १९ ॥
15.19 O scion of the Bharata dynasty, he who, being free from delusion, knows Me the supreme Person thus, he is all knowing and adores Me with his whole being.
यः माम् ईश्वरं यथोक्तविशेषणम् एवं यथोक्तेन प्रकारेण असंमूढः संमोहवर्जितः सन् जानाति ‘अयम् अहम् अस्मि’ इति पुरुषोत्तमं सः सर्ववित् सर्वात्मना सर्वं वेत्तीति सर्वज्ञः सर्वभूतस्थं भजति मां सर्वभावेन सर्वात्मतया हे भारत ॥
15.19 Bharata, O scion of the Bharata dynasty; yah, he who; asammudhah, being free from delusion;
janati, knows; mam, Me, God, having the aforesaid qualifications; purusottamam, the supreme Person;
evam, thus, in the way described, as ‘I am this One’; sah, he; is sarva vit, all knowing he knows everything through self identification with all i.e. (he becomes) omniscient; and bhajati, adores; mam Me, existing in all things; sarva bhavena, with his whole being, i.e. with his mind fixed on Me as the Self of all. Now then, having stated in this chapter the knowledge of the real nature of the Lord, which has Liberation as its fruit, it is being eulogized.
One can see clearly that the entire 15th chapter is a teaching the Absolute Brahman and the one who realizes that as ‘I am He’ is never a saguṇopāsaka requiring to go to some loka, to gain a further knowledge there. Shankara says, on the words of the Lord, that such a one is a sarvajna. The sagunopasaka is still an ajnani since he has to gain the real knowledge only in that loka where he is destined to go. So, the blogger’s hope of putting up the 15th chapter to sell his theories is a pathetic failure. And it is all the more laughable that he cites Shankara for all such nonsensical ideas.
And the blogger tries to show that he is aware of the ‘difference’ between going, attaining, etc. where there are two interpretations that are possible:
//Another point is also noteworthy here. In places where an interpretation in the secondary sense as “realization” i.e., “svarUpa-pratipatti” is warranted for the terms “prApti”, “gamana” etc., Shankara’s explanation is seen to be explicit and markedly different:
‘brahmavidāpnoti param'(tai. 2.1.1) ityādiṣu tu satyapi āpnoteḥ gatyarthatve varṇitena nyāyena deśāntaraprāpti asaṃbhavāt svarūpapratipattiḥ eva iyam avidyā adhyāropita nāma rūpa pravilaya apekṣayā abhidhīyate ‘brahmaiva sanbrahmāpyeti’ (bṛ. 4.4.7) ityādivat iti draṣṭavyam //
Nowhere in the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya where statements like “attainment of Vishnu’s paramaM padam” (8.21, 15.6, 18.56, 18.62), “attaining Me” (8.16, 9.25) etc. are mentioned, Shankara takes this route to say that the “attainment” is to be strictly taken in a secondary sense as “realization of the Atman’s true nature” or as “brahmaiva lokam” etc. In fact, Shankara explains “gatvA” as “prApya” in one place “prApya” as “gatvA” in another in the Gita Bhashya, instead of “AtmasvarUpaM pratipAdya” etc.//
Shankara need not say all that he said in one place, in all places too. He expects his followers to be intelligent enough to apply what he has said once or more in places where he has not said.
ब्रह्मसूत्रभाष्यम् । तृतीयः अध्यायः । तृतीयः पादः । गतेरर्थवत्त्वाधिकरणम् । सूत्रम् २९ – भाष्यम्
अन्यथा हि अविशेषेणैव एतस्यां गतावङ्गीक्रियमाणायां विरोधः स्यात् — ‘पुण्यपापे विधूय निरञ्जनः परमं साम्यमुपैति’ (मु. उ. ३-१-३) इत्यस्यां श्रुतौ देशान्तरप्रापणी गतिर्विरुध्येत ; कथं हि निरञ्जनोऽगन्ता देशान्तरं गच्छेत् ; गन्तव्यं च परमं साम्यं न देशान्तरप्राप्त्यायत्तम् — इत्यानर्थक्यमेवात्र गतेर्मन्यामहे ॥ २९ ॥
The paramam sāmyam, absolute identity, with Brahman is not dependent on going to some other place. How indeed can one who is unattached, non-goer, go, reach, another place? Asks Shankara in the above passage.
In the Kathopanishad 1.3.4 Shankara, prior to introducing the series that leads to the tad visnoḥ paramam padam, says: वैष्णवस्य पदस्यात्मतया प्रतिपत्तिरुपपद्यते, नान्यथा स्वभावनतिक्रमात् [ Since another shruti teaches that the Pure atman is abhoktā (not an enjoyer/experience), it would be appropriate only when the vaishnava padam is realized as one’s self.]
If the vaishnava pada, as the blogger thinks, is a place, then it is impossible in advaita to teach the realization of that place as one’s self. Also, as pointed out in the foregoing, the BGB 8.21 clearly uses the words ‘यं प्राप्य न निवर्तन्ते तद्धाम परमं मम’ where Shankara has not said anything about reaching an abode: यं परं भावं प्राप्य गत्वा the ‘state’, bhāva, is not to be reached physically; it is to be realized. I have explained, with Shankara’s commentary, in the article https://adbhutam.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/tad-vi%E1%B9%A3%E1%B9%87o%E1%B8%A5-paramam-padam/
// Br.up.4.4.23 bhashyam:
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 ‘gatvā’ in those Bh.Gita usages means jnātvā. The 18.56 expression is to be understood as taught by Shankara in the Kaṭha bhāṣya: वैष्णवस्य पदस्यात्मतया प्रतिपत्तिरुपपद्यते, नान्यथा स्वभावनतिक्रमात्. Vaikuntha, a place, if that is the blogger’s meaning for the expression ‘vaishnavam padam’, it can never be realized to be his own svarupam of the aspirant since that place is characterized by duality and is a physical one, within creation, as established by the Advaita siddhi (see https://adbhutam.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/madhusudana-saraswati-misrepresented/ ).
For the word ‘praveṣṭum’ (literally, to enter) Shankara says: ‘mokṣam ca gantum’. If one were to read this again literally it would translate to: ‘to go to mokṣa’. And that would not make any sense. In Vedanta mokṣa is not going to some place; it is realization of one’s true self. Shankara has said that mokṣa is the very nature of everyone and its realization, knowing, is what is meant by ‘gantum’/praveṣṭum’:
The Bh.G.11.54 says:
भक्त्या त्वनन्यया शक्य
ज्ञातुं द्रष्टुं च तत्त्वेन
प्रवेष्टुं च परंतप ॥ ५४ ॥
भक्त्या तु किंविशिष्टया इति आह — अनन्यया अपृथग्भूतया, भगवतः अन्यत्र पृथक् न कदाचिदपि या भवति सा त्वनन्या भक्तिः । सर्वैरपि करणैः वासुदेवादन्यत् न उपलभ्यते यया, सा अनन्या भक्तिः, तया भक्त्या शक्यः अहम् एवंविधः विश्वरूपप्रकारः हे अर्जुन, ज्ञातुं शास्त्रतः । न केवलं ज्ञातुं शास्त्रतः, द्रष्टुं च साक्षात्कर्तुं तत्त्वेन तत्त्वतः, प्रवेष्टुं च मोक्षं च गन्तुं परंतप ॥
So, praveśa, literally entering, is not so in the above context. Even in the famous Taittiriya Upanishad, tat sṛṣṭvā tadevānu prāviśat [Having created, Brahman entered it], Shankara has explained at length the meaning of the word ‘praveśa’ and concluded that the ‘availability of Brahman in the heart of everyone to be recognized, realized, for liberation’ is what is meant by praveśa. Otherwise, he reasons, the all-pervading Brahman cannot be expected to ‘enter’ any finite place. It is always everywhere.
The blogger further says:
// Also note here that Anandagiri has explained “sthAnam” (Abode) as “the (place) where the liberated ones reside”. The usage of plural “liberated ones” (muktAH) indicates an eternal realm where a plurality liberated Jivas reside makes it inappropriate to associate “Vishnu’s highest padam” exclusively with nirguNaprApti, a state where there is no plurality.//
Here is another reference from Anandagiri:
संन्यासिभिः प्राप्यते स्थानं मोक्षाख्यम्// BGB 5.5 Shankara says: sthānam means that which is called mokśa.
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 krama 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 स्थानम् . I have also pointed out before, in another article, that in the Chandogya, Sanatkumara instructs Nārada: ‘yadi vā na mahimni’: If you want to know ‘where that Bhūman (Brahman) is established, the reply would be: In Its own Glory, sve mahimni pratiṣṭhitaḥ. But even that is not correct; not in its glory.’ For Brahman does not require any support, like vaikunṭha, for its existence. It is infinite, ananta, satya. So, Existence and Infinite nature are not different in Advaita. That which is absolute Existence cannot be but absolutely infinite.
It is extremely silly on the part of the blogger to suggest that advaitins admit of a place where liberated ones, in plural, reside. In the above cited example, Anandagiri himself, uses the word in singular. And moreover clarifies that it is mokṣa. In advaita mokṣa is not a place but the very svarūpam of the aspirant. That svarupa cannot be many. It can be only one. And advaita does not admit of many ātmans. So, the blogger’s wishful thinking that there is evidence in advaita for a place where several muktas live is dismissed summarily. He desperately searches for singular/plural, etc. to somehow push in his vishistadvaitic ideas in advaita. If Ramanuja had identified his ideas in advaita, he would not have invented a new school. Nor would he have badmouthed Shankara (and Sureshwara and Sarvajnatman) as sinners. How can a vaishnava, if Shankara was one, be a sinner? If ending up being a sinner is what being a vaishnava amounts to, there is no special advantage in being one over being any other.
Om Tat Sat