THE ‘PARA BRAHMAN’ OF ADVAITA
In the following blog is a comment which says:
//Many articles in this website provide a lot of pramanas from vedantha and puranas. But they do not mention one of the most ancient ideas that the brahmanas have been implicitly following for ages and which demonstrate the vishNu tatvam. That is why I am citing atreya brahmana verse 1 and sandyAvandana mantra. They explicitly portray what the vedic tradition emphasizes – vishNu aka nArAyAnA is saguna parabrahmam.//
A response to the above:
While the person who comments there and the bloggers might have their own idea of what the term ‘saguna parabrahmam’ means, for Advaitins such a term is an oxymoron.
For Shankara the saguna Brahman is also kāryam, aparam [created, lower]: BSB 4.3.7 [kāryādhikaraṇam]
‘स एनान्ब्रह्म गमयति’ (छा. उ. ४-१५-५) इत्यत्र विचिकित्स्यते — किं कार्यमपरं ब्रह्म गमयति,आहोस्वित्परमेवाविकृतं मुख्यं ब्रह्मेति । कुतः संशयः ? ब्रह्मशब्दप्रयोगात्, गतिश्रुतेश्च । तत्र कार्यमेव सगुणमपरं ब्रह्मएनान्गमयत्यमानवः पुरुष इति बादरिराचार्यो मन्यते । कुतः ? अस्य गत्युपपत्तेः — अस्य हि कार्यब्रह्मणोगन्तव्यत्वमुपपद्यते, प्रदेशवत्त्वात् ; न तु परस्मिन्ब्रह्मणि गन्तृत्वं गन्तव्यत्वं गतिर्वा अवकल्पते,सर्वगतत्वात्प्रत्यगात्मत्वाच्च गन्तॄणाम् ॥ ७ ॥
Shankara distinguishes the saguna Brahman which is also a kāryam, created, and aparam, lower, from the mukhyam brahma which is the Nirguna Brahman that alone is not created and thus, the Supreme tattva of the Vedanta. If Nārāyaṇa is admitted as one of the deities that can be the saguna Brahman, then as per advaita, that Nārāyaṇa is essentially a created one. Anything saguna is a created one.
The commenting person does not perhaps realize this anomaly. If X is designated as ‘Para Brahman’, then it cannot be saguṇa. If it is saguṇa, then it is kāryam, created, and therefore, of a lower status than the Nirguna Brahman, which alone is Para Brahman. Since the bloggers also are ignorant of these terms and their meanings as per Advaita, they endorse such ignorance coming from their followers.
The above is only to bring to the notice of the followers of the Advaita bhāṣya the particular, rare, instance from the bhāṣyam where the three terms, saguṇam, kāryam and aparam, are used in one place, in sāmānādhikaraṇyam to denote that Brahmā, who is the lord and resident of Brahmaloka. It can also be noted that generally, perhaps exceptionally, Advaitins alone use the adjective ‘saguṇa’ for Brahman since they alone distinguish it from their Nirguna Brahman. For non-advaitins what advaitins consider saguna, created and lower brahman, is the supreme. They may object saying: ‘No, for us the Supreme Brahman, Vishnu, is not a created one or a lower one and is definitely different from the chaturmukha brahmā. ‘ However, for advaitins, if it is saguṇam then there is no way it cannot be kāryam and lower, being aupādhika.
In the above cited comment, he also says:
//Also vedanta has been indicated to be the crest jewel in the sarvadarsanasangra of Vidyaranya. //
Response to the above: What Sāyaṇa (Vidyāraṇya) has said for this mantra that Tamil smartas recite during their sandhya worship thrice a day:
ऋतँ सत्यं परं ब्रह्म पुरुषं कृष्णपिङ्गलम्। ऊर्ध्वरेतं विरूपाक्षं विश्वरूपाय वै नमो नमः ॥ This occurs in the Mahanarayana upanishat of the Taittiriya āraṇyaka 1.12. Sāyana says that the deity here is Umāmaheśvara. This adds to the point that ‘the sandhyāvandana mantras are not completely Viṣṇu-specific’ as the commenting person claims. This is in addition to the information given in the recent article: https://adbhutam.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/a-false-propaganda-vi%E1%B9%A3%E1%B9%87u-and-sandhyavandanam/
Also, Sāyaṇa does not give the impression, as the commentator of the blog claims, that the Aitareya brāhmaṇa first mantra is anything about the supremacy of Vishnu. It is about a ritual where offerings are made to various deities, including Viṣnu, like all other deities, in a certain order, which no way means any supremacy of Vishnu.