Śrīdhara Swāmin Misrepresented
Veda Vyāsa, the greatest champion of Hari-Hara abheda and Trimūrti aikya, has upheld this position throughout the purāṇas and the Mahabhārata. All non-vaiṣṇava Achāryas headed by Shankara have followed this sampradāya alone
However the bloggers have been campaigning to distort the message of Veda Vyasa by their machnations:
//KuTarka vAdi says: From time immemorial, this debate of Shiva or Vishnu is going on. The very truth that there is and there has been debate on this subject shows that people have not understood the grand scheme created by Veda Vyasa for appealing to all type of people to follow the path of Dharma (where Dharma = God).
Well, my dear maharishi, since you understand “the grand scheme” as opposed to us lesser mortals, I suppose that means you are the avatara of some rishi and a cut above us, huh?
firstly, there has been no debate from time immemorial. Yamuna muni clearly states that all vaidikas admitted vishNu alone as Parabrahman. This fact is further reteirated by vedAnta Desika who declares that adi Shankara was a vaishnava. Yes, the same vedanta desikan who also declared that advaita is Buddhism in disguise.//
The above claim of the blogger is contradicted by Veda Vyasa. Says he in the Sūtasamhitā 4 yajñavaibhavakhaṇḍa, sūtagītā 2nd chapter:
अस्ति रुद्रस्य विप्रेन्द्रा अन्तःसत्त्वं बहिस्तमः
विष्णोरन्तस्तमः सत्त्वं बहिरस्ति रजोगुणः
[For Rudra it is sattva internal and tamas external. For Viṣṇu it is tamas internal and sattva external.]
अन्तर्बहिश्च विप्रेन्द्रा अस्ति तस्य प्रजापतेः
[For Brahmā it is rajas both internal and external]
अतोऽपेक्ष्य गुणं सत्त्वं मनुष्या विवदन्ति च
हरिः श्रेष्ठो हरः श्रेष्ठ इत्यहो मोहवैभवम्
सत्त्वाभावात्प्रजानाथं वरिष्ठं नैव मन्वते (40 -42)
[Therefore people dispute whether Hari or Hara is greater since they have sattvam. Since Brahma is devoid of sattvam he is not party to the dispute!!]
The above cited last verse says: On the basis of ‘sattva’ of Hari and Hara, deluded people dispute whether Hari or Hara that is superior.
So the debate on Hari-Hara superiority is time immemorial. The idea of purāṇas being composed later is not admissible to the traditionalists; only academicians hold such unorthodox views. The Vaishnava acharyas cited by the blogger are not to be considered authority here since they are known for their bigotry.
Incidentally the above section of the Sūta samhitā is what has likely inspired Sridhara swamin who also says at the end of those verses cited as a ‘challenge’ by the bloggers:
5. // The following padya-section occurs in Sridhara’s commentary on Shlokas 3-8 in the same chapter as a summary of the tattvam (truth) and abhiprayam (learned opinion) of the Rishis:
“guṇāḥ sattvādayaḥ śānta-ghora-mūḍhāḥ svabhāvataḥ
viṣṇu-brahma-śivānāḿ ca guṇa-yantṛ-svarūpiṇām
nāti-bhedo bhaved bhedo guṇa-dharmair ihāḿśataḥ
sattvasya śāntyā no jātu viṣṇor vikṣepa-mūḍhate
rajas-tamo-guṇābhyāḿ tu bhavetāḿ brahma-rudrayoḥ
guṇopamardato bhūyas tad-amśānāḿ ca bhinnatā
ataḥ samagra-sattvasya viṣṇor mokṣa-karī matiḥ
aḿśato bhūti-hetuś ca tathānanda-mayī svataḥ
aḿśatas tāratamyena brahma-rudrādi-sevinām
vibhūtayo bhavanty eva śanair mokṣo’py anaḿśataḥ”
In essence, it says that the trimUrtis are associated with sattvam, rajas, and tamas. From the pAramArthika point of view, these are like reflections of the same reality (vastu) on mAyA (this explanation is as per the tenets of the ‘bimba-pratibimba-vAda’ branch of advaita-matam). Though Vishnu is saguNa and is associated with Sattva, He is in essence the very parabrahman. Hence, He does not display the characteristics of restlessness (rajas) and delusion (tamas). However, the same can not be said of Brahma and Rudra, who are re-reflections of the shuddha-chaitanyam on rajas and tamas, and hence are affected by triguNas. Therefore, one should focus their mind entirely on Lord Vishnu, who is the embodiment of sattva, leading one to liberation. This brings material comfort too as a by-product. Worshipping Brahma or Rudra on the other hand, one only obtains material wealth quickly. They may become moksha-adhikaris only very slowly. Note that this padyam of Sridhara Swami shows clearly what modern-day neo-advaitins have distorted and hidden.//
There is a commentary by Vamśidhara (included in that multi-thousand page book containing several commentaries and available for download too) who has elucidated what Sridhara Swamin says in those verses. He gives the vedantic view of the verses and says that there is no absolute bheda between the trimurtis as they are only associated with guṇas and only on the basis of guṇas there is a difference. Viṣṇu too, by association of rajas and tamas is Brahma and Shiva alone and Shiva too by association with sattva is Vishnu alone and so on. And those who meditate upon Rudra and Brahma as endowed with shuddhasattva forms, they get liberated. And according to Sridhara, says Vamshidhara, it is by taking into consideration that all the three are actually samagra sattva forms that here and there we see statements like: All the three of us are one and the same and those who perceived difference between us will not get peace, etc. And Sridhara says at the end of that set of verses/commentary:
तत्तद्भक्तानां तु कलहो मोहमात्रम् इति SB 10.88.5-7
[‘the disputes between the devotees of trimūrtis, however, is mere delusion.] And Vamṣidhara explains this line as: between devotees of Hari and Hara in the form of: one is superior and the other is inferior – is just ignorance, ajñānam.
The bloggers, while accusing the ‘modern-day neo-advaitins’ of hiding Sridhara’s verses, have themselves dishonestly hidden this crucial ending line of Sridhara which says: the dispute among the bhaktas is mere delusion. This one line completely changes the perception of Sridhara’s verses, elucidated clearly by Vamśidhara. Any reader, by seeing also that last comment of Sridhara will get the correct purport of the verses, not as distorted by the bloggers to make those verses appear disfavoring Rudra and Brahma. While the neo-advaitins’ alleged ‘hiding’ of these verses of Srīdhara does no damage to the Vedāntic and therefore Vedavyāsa’s position of Hari-Hara abheda and Trimurti aikya, it is the cunning hiding of the crucial ending comment of Sridhara Swamin: तत्तद्भक्तानां तु कलहो मोहमात्रम् इति SB 10.88.5-7 [‘the disputes between the devotees of trimūrtis, however, is mere delusion.] is the real damage to the ideal perception one has to have about Sanātana Dharma and the gods thereof.
Also, Veda Vyāsa himself is censuring the bigots such as these bloggers by saying that the dispute between who is superior is mere delusion. Thus Veda Vyasa puts in the dock all the vaishnava Acharyas who held the saguṇa deity Vishnu alone to be supreme as they are ignorant of the purport of the shāstra. Only Shankara has steered clear of such petty thinking and bigotry. None can succeed in proving that Shankara’s usage of names such as Nārayana, Vishnu, Vāsudeva, etc. in the prasthanatraya refers to this deity who is identified and restricted by the vaishnavas as Lakshmipati. Sridhara swamin’s true intentions having been revealed now, the bloggers can never claim his support for their bigotry. In the Mandukya Kārikā bhāshya of Shankara 4.1 we have:
// ज्ञानस्यैव पुनर्विशेषणम् — ज्ञेयैर्धर्मैरात्मभिरभिन्नम् अग्न्युष्णवत् सवितृप्रकाशवच्च यत् ज्ञानम्, तेन ज्ञेयाभिन्नेन ज्ञानेन आकाशकल्पेन ज्ञेयात्मस्वरूपाव्यतिरिक्तेन, गगनोपमान्धर्मान्यः संबुद्धः संबुद्धवान्नित्यमेव ईश्वरो यो नारायणाख्यः, तं वन्दे अभिवादये । द्विपदां वरं द्विपदोपलक्षितानां पुरुषाणां वरं प्रधानम्, पुरुषोत्तममित्यभिप्रायः । उपदेष्टृनमस्कारमुखेन ज्ञानज्ञेयज्ञातृभेदरहितं परमार्थतत्त्वदर्शनमिह प्रकरणे प्रतिपिपादयिषितं प्रतिपक्षप्रतिषेधद्वारेण प्रतिज्ञातं भवति ॥//
Only those who have studied the Advaita darśana under traditional Acharyas can recognize that the Nirguna tattvam is what is being spoken of in the above passage. For Shankara ‘Nārayana’ is the Purushottama tattvam, none other than the Guru tattvam, upadeṣṭṛ. It is the Dakshināmūrti tattvam of Advaita.
Further, Veda Vyasa says in the sūta samhita that the trimurtis are not within the jīvavyūha and are not under ignorance. Sridhara’s verse too says that by the word: guṇa-yantṛ-svarūpiṇām – which means: the three are the masters of their guṇas and not victims. Vamśīdhara too endorses the above view of Veda Vyasa that Rudra is not a jīva.
[Meaning of the word ‘yantṛ’ of the verse विष्णु-ब्रह्म-शिवानां च गुण-यन्तृ-स्वरूपिणाम् of Sridhari for 10.88.5-7 http://www.spokensanskrit.de/index.php?tinput=yantR&direction=SE&link=yes&choice=yes ]
The bloggers go about saying that Rudra and Brahma are subject to those gunas. Veda Vyasa contradicts that. Vamśidhara, in the commentary to the Bhāgavatam First canto, 2.23 gives a very long description of the vedantic position by citing several passages from the shruti and smrits to show how there is mention of all the three being born of each other, etc. and what is the purpose behind such contradictory statements in the scripture. There are both shruti and smriti passages to show that Rudra is the source from whom Vishnu and Brahma were born, Brahma is the progenitor of Rudra and Vishnu and Vishnu is the one who brought forth Rudra and Brahma. In fact there is one claim that Rudra was born of Narayana’s wrath (how can Narayana be wrathful, being an embodiment of sattva according to bigots?). There is another mention elsewhere that Rudra is a product of Brahma’s wrath. And then the Praṣnopanishat and bhashya teach that Prajapati (Brahma) is the one appearing in the form of Rudra and Vishnu. Thus there is no finality at all about the so-called ‘birth’ of Rudra, which itself shows that such statements are not to be taken on their face value. Those who have not had traditional teaching of the Vedanta but depend on academic scholars and translations arrive at such faulty conclusions which are no way supported by Veda vyasa.
Thus, form the statements of Veda Vyasa and those who have correctly understood him, there is absolutely no case for the ill-founded, ignorance-based, view that some portions like the Shiva Sahasranama and shiva stutis are interpolations in the MB. It is only a laughable proposition of those outside the vedic sampradaya and wallow in such bigotry. The academic scholars who also dabble in such matters are clearly ignorant of the Vedantic purport, not having had traditional learning, and hence their views are to be rejected as ‘those of a fool’ as Shankara has said in the BGB: asampradāyavit mūrkhavadeva upekṣaṇīyaḥ. They cannot succeed in giving even a single reason that will stand scrutiny for their ‘conclusions’ as to why SS and Shiva stuti cannot and should not be in the MB. The Andhra Bharata (11 – 14 CE) (endorsed as an authentic and dependable work by the author of the Tamil book ‘Shankararum Vaiṇavamum’) and the Bhāratamanjarī (11 CE) amply contain these sections. The Madhvas too admit of the genuineness of this. None can succeed in proving their interpolation in the MB for they will never be able to produce the ‘original’ version of the MB to act as the base reference document. One such scholar said: The MB has been overhauled so many times that it is impossible to say which was the original one that Veda Vyasa wrote. All their reasoning is completely faulty and holds no water in the face of Veda vyasa’s purport captured only by the non-vaishnava commentators that uphold Hari-Hara abheda and Trimūrti aikya. In fact Sridhara swamin’s and Vamśidhara’s comments only eminently endorse Shankara’s commentary on the VS for the names: bhūtakṛt, etc.
Also there is little reasoning in the frivolous argument:
// For your kind information the great Shankara whom you tend claim as Shaiva/Advaitin and what not, has not even bothered to write a commentary on the spurious Siva Sahasranama. Had it really been part of original Mahabharata, why did Shankara choose Vishnu sahasranama and not the Siva Sahasranama (it appears just after Vishnu Sahasranama in the interpolated Mahabharata) This itself is sufficient to prove that your claim is absolutely dubious (BTW, venkat G claims that he knows the mission of Vyasa, WOW. Vyasa and Adi Shankara might be laughing his heart out looking at these pseudo advaitins)//
Let’s see who is being laughed at. First, there is no niyama that Shankara should comment on all the sahasranamas, whether in the MB or elsewhere. None can impose such a rule on any commentator. Secondly, Shankara sees the VS as a document that brings out the nirguna and saguna aspects of Brahman. The deity involved is of little value for the advaitin that Shankara is. That is why he cited verses from Bhavishyottara to show Trimurti aikya (in the introduction to VSB) and from Shivapurana to establish Hari-Hara abheda (for the name Rudra 114). That is the purpose of an advaitin: to establish abheda at every available opportunity. If the VS satisfied this condition, there is no need for Shankara to go about commenting on other lists like the SS. Someone might ask: Why did not Shankara comment on the Lalitāsahasranama, which is also extremely popular? By the same logic of these people one can object and conclude: since Shankara has not commented on several other Upanishads like Maitrāyaṇi, Kaivalyopanishat and dozens of the 108 which advaitins admit, all these un-commented Upanishads are bogus, compositions of some scholars. There is no end to such foolishness. There is an ‘aśokavanikā nyāya’ to demonstrate this myopic vision: Rāvaṇa imprisoned Sītā in a particular garden which is named Aśokavanam. Someone asked: when there were so many gardens at his disposal, why did he place here in that garden?
m. the rule of the grove of aśoka – trees (applied to cases in which a preference of any particular thing among many cannot be accounted for, just as rāvaṇa – kept sītā – in an aśoka – grove, but might equally well have kept her in a grove of other trees),
So, Veda Vyasa and Shankara will be laughing at these foolish suggestions. When they had no bheda buddhi between Shiva and Vishnu, the bigots are trying their best to superimpose on them the bheda buddhi and mislead their gullible readers.
The Sūta samhitā verses which have undoubtedly inspired Sridhara Swamin are:
हरिब्रह्मादिदेवान् ये पूजयन्ति यथालम्
अचिरान्न परप्राप्तिेस्तेषामस्ति क्रमेण हि
[Those who worship Hari, Brahma, etc. as dictated by their own ability, will not attain the Supreme (liberation) quickly, but only gradually.]
(Compare this with the last verse cited above from Sridhara Swamin. There Sridhara replaces Hari (above) with Rudra.)
रुद्रं ये वेदविच्छ्रेष्ठाः पूजयन्ति यथाबलम्
तेषामस्ति परप्राप्तिरचिरान्न क्रमेण तु
[Those who worship Rudra as dictated by their own ability, will quickly attain the Supreme (liberation) quickly and not gradually.]
(Compare this with the penultimate verse cited above from Sridhara Swamin. There Sridhara replaces Rudra (above) with Hari.)
The above concept, keeping aside the deity glorified, stands demonstrated in the BG. There the Lord says four types of people seek Him: those seeking relief from distress, those seeking wealth, those after knowledge and those who have realized the Truth. Clearly, the first two categories are not concerned about the Liberation-giving capacity of the Lord; they set their goal to limited ends and approach the Lord to satisfy them. It is not the fault of the Lord that He grants only what they seek on the maxim: ye yathā mām prapadyante tān tathaiva bhajāmyaham [As they seek so they get]
Vamśīdhara has explained that such statements apparently glorifying one deity and denigrating the other are directed at increasing the bhakti of those bhaktas of that deity that is glorified and no more. He calls this by the famous ‘nahi nindā’ maxim where the denigrating of A is not to really put him down but to extol the greatness of B that is being exhorted/enjoined in the text to be worshiped/followed, etc. Hence there is no real difference at all between the trimurtis. This is the view of Vaidikas such as Shankara. Clearly such view is rejected by vaishnava acharyas who are bigots. The very foundation on which they weaved their systems is such bigotry. These views of abheda /aikya are anathema to the bigots and hence they hide those from their gullible readers, hoodwinking them permanently. Since the idea behind such apparently contradictory verses is explained in the above manner (nahi nindā nyāya), all sentences/verses of Sridhara swamin or any other commentator, or Veda Vyasa or anyone anywhere has to be read with this rider / rule that is specified above. Only then the correct understanding of those specific passages will come about. If this ‘nahi nindā’ maxim is not kept in mind while reading those statements, one will be denying himself the right understanding and end up in bigoted views.
I have uploaded some images from Vamśīdhara’s commentary on these URLs:
In the above, in Sanskrit, one can read the explanation Vamśidhara has given for the SB 1.2.23, culminating on Trimūrty aikya.
The following three images constitute one document, (Vamśidhara on Sridhara Swamin’s SB 10.88 own verses/commentary) :
The blogger also dishonestly tries to portray his school as innocent:
// This interpretation of bhagavad rAmAnuja is why our acharyas, despite insisting Vishishtadvaita as the ultimate truth and refuting other philosophies, never personally attacked Shankara, Madhva, Gaudiyas, etc and had respect for them as Vaishnavas. And we wish to preserve this great trait of sri vaishnava siddhAntha on this blog.//
What a blatant lie!! Ramanujā’s notoriety in personally badmouthing Shankara is there for everyone to see and is only next to unprintable comments of Madhva:
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):
1. As those devoid of appreciation for the auspicious attributes of the Lord (‘kapyāsam’ episode) and hence unfit to be commentators of the Upanishads, etc.
2. As those soaked in immense, beginningless, sinful tendencies
3. As those who are ignorant of fundamentals of epistemology and its application
4. As those who engage in intolerant fallacious argumentation
5. 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.
Dishonesty, hiding uncomfortable portions, etc. is the norm of these bloggers. Veda Vyasa, Sridhara Swamin, etc. have clearly revealed these bloggers’ true colors. All those who laud their dishonest and misinterpreted blogs without having the capacity to detect the misinformation and distortions therein, are also grouped under ‘deluded/ignorant’ by Veda Vyasa and Sridhara Swamin. In my earlier articles I have demonstrated how Shankara has cited from a tāmasa purana (a concept which vaidikas do not approve of), the Shiva purana, to establish Hari-Hara abheda in the VSB. Now, it is the turn of Sridhara swamin who brings out the purport of the Sūta Samhita (Skandapurana, also ‘tāmasa’) to establish Hari-Hara abheda and Trimūrti aikya. The pronouncement of both Veda Vyasa and Sridhara Swamin, and by extension, Vamshidhara, that fighting to show this or that deity as supreme is sheer ignorance, immaturity, is very significant. Like anādi avidyā-driven samsāra, the Hari-Hara supremacy dispute is also anādi. Otherwise Veda Vyasa would not include this remark in the Skanda purana and Sridhara swamin would not endorse it. Now, of course, it is one more reason to treat the Skanda purana as ‘tāmasa’ since it openly disallows Vishnu-supremacy!! And now, lo, Sridhara Swāmin has joined that elite club of ‘tāmasa’. Veda Vyasa and Sridhara Swamin have dealt a direct blow to the very mischievous, ill-conceived, ignorance-based, concept: ‘Defending Vaishnavism as the Supreme Vedic position’ as unvedic and void ab intio and therefore untenable.
With this crucial explicit message [तत्तद्भक्तानां तु कलहो मोहमात्रम् इति SB 10.88.5-7] deliberately blocked out, the damage done to the audience of their blogs goes undetected. It is only when pointed out and put in public domain that people will stand warned about such miscreants masquerading as custodians of dharma. That alone is the purpose of this article.
Om Tat Sat