Posted by: adbhutam | February 3, 2018


Advaitic message in the Yama Gita of the Vishnu Purana

In the Vishnu purana there is a Yama Gita where there is a teaching for attaining the Advaitic knowledge: The verses are presented with Sridhara Swamin’s commentary:

हरिगुरुवशगोस्मि न स्वतन्त्रः प्रभवति संयमने ममापि विष्णुः  ॥ ३,७.१५ ॥

I am under the control of Hari the Guru. And hence am not independent. Vishnu is capable of controlling, containing, me as well. How is this so?

कटकमुकुटकर्णिकादिभेदैः कनकमभेदमपीष्यते यथैकम्  ।

As the cause of the origin and destruction, the Lord is sarvAtma and therefore is the controller of all. The analogy is: The various ornaments such as bangle, crown, earrings, etc. the effects named so. They are but transformations of gold that is one alone, …

सुरपशुमनुजादिकल्पनाभिर्हरिः अखिलाभिरुदीर्यते तथैकः  ॥ ३,७.१६ ॥

So too by the imagined disctinctions, which are mere names, such as gods, animals and humans, One Hari alone is articulated. The verse itself uses the word ‘kalpana’ to indicate that the different entities and the differences  among them is a mere kalpana. Hari alone is spoken of variously as gods, humans, etc.

[The Chandogya Shruti ‘वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयम्, मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम्’ is what is meant here.  The shruti teaches that the transformations of gold, clay, etc. are mere names and the truth in them is the material cause.  So too the entities such as gods, animals and humans are mere names and they are essentially Hari, Brahman, alone. In other words, difference across various ornaments, various entities such as gods, humans and animals, is due to maya, ignorance. The truth is the material cause, Brahman.]

क्षितितलपरमाणवोनिलान्ते पुनरुपयान्ति यथैकतां धरित्र्याः  ।

सुरपशुमनुजादयस्तथान्ते गुणकलषेण सनातनेन तेन  ॥ ३,७.१७ ॥

Further, since bheda, difference, is maayika, when the maya, ignorance, is gone, Hari alone remains. Gods, humans and animals are only manifestations of gunas. When gunas subside, one becomes one with Vishnu.

Evidently the ‘Vishnu’ of the Vishnu Puranam is Nirguna Brahman. For, the ‘becoming one with..’ is possible only with Nirguna Brahman and not a formed saguna deity.


From the above verses and the commentary we find that bheda is due to ignorance and abheda is Knowledge. It is the rule that even when bheda persists due to ignorance, abheda is not absent; abheda is the Truth that is never absent at any time, past present and future. Thus whether there is difference across the Trimurtis or humans or animals, it is due to ignorance. Knowledge, being the Truth, is not lost during the state of ignorance. Thus, when the scripture teaches non-difference, whether between Hari-Hara, Trimurtis, jiva-Brahman, etc.’pAramArthika abheda’ is not something that is of a particular time or state. Abheda is present even when the bheda is perceived. So, the misconception that abheda is only pAramArthika while there is real bheda in vyavaharika is refuted by Shankara in the BSB 2.1.14. Such a misconceived idea of Advaita is stated here:



  • What else is the significance of these statements?


Ans: That trimUrti aikyatva can never be attributed to Shankara. The AcArya says clearly that brahmA is subordinate to the Supreme Lord, whose identity has been declared to be Vishnu. Moreover, statements such as “one should not see the difference between Vishnu, Brahma, and Siva” quoted by Shankara/Sureshvara etc. means that one should see the paramArtha tattva that they are all in essence Nirguna Brahman only (though the upAdhis differ, making one Ishvara and the others jIvas).

Moreover, it shows that it is incorrect to say that Shankara considered Vishnu and Shiva to be the one and the same, quoting such examples. One would then have to accept that Shankara considered the trimUrtis to be equal, which as we have shown is untenable.

Thus, today’s advaitins who constantly invoke trimUrti aikyatva to prove Hari-Hara aikyatva are contradicting Shankara directly.


One can easily see how Advaita is misunderstood and misrepresented to deceive the unwary reader. Piqued by the several puranic verses Shankara has cited in the Vishnu Sahasra Nama bhashya that have been brought to the limelight by the ‘today’s advaitin’, the above is an attempt to somehow camouflage these under the garb of ‘paramarthika-vyavaharika’ idea of Advaita. Now consider these two verses that Shankara has cited in the VSN bhashya:

Two seminal verses from the Bhaviṣyottara purāṇa in the introduction to the VSN:

Maheśvara (Śiva) says:

विष्णोरन्यं तु पश्यन्ति ये मां ब्रह्माणमेव वा ।

कुतर्कमतयो मूढाः पच्यन्ते नरकेष्वधः ॥

[Those fools who, devoid of proper thinking, consider Me and Brahmā as different from Viṣṇu, will be baked in the lowly hells.]

ये च मूढा दुरात्मानो भिन्नं पश्यन्ति मां हरेः ।

ब्रह्माणं च ततस्तस्माद् ब्रह्महत्यासमं त्वघम् ॥

[Those fools, wicked ones, by seeing Me and Brahmā as different from Hari are committing the heinous sin of brahmahatyā.]

One can recall a similar verse in the Śrīmadbhāgavatam (Dakṣayajña section) as said by Viṣṇu: such jiva-s will not attain liberation.

Clearly, such verses of the scripture are never a favorite of non-advaitins. The Vishnu Purana too very emphatically teaches abheda of Trimurtis, Hari-Hara, that Sridhara Swamin has clearly elucidated.

अविद्यामोहितात्मानः पुरुषा भिन्नदर्शिनः  ।

वदन्ति भेदं पश्यन्ति चावयोरन्तरं हर  ॥ ५,३३.४९ ॥

[Those with deluded minds see and articulate difference between Me and You, Shiva.] Evidently, Vishnu is not teaching any ‘pAramArthika abheda’ here. The abheda is there even now, when the ignorant ones see and articulate bheda. If we were to hold that the teaching here is about the pAramArthika abheda, then the non-advaitic schools will have conceded that the VP indeed teaches absolute non-difference, a position that is detrimental to them. In any case, the message of the verse is crystal clear. Shankara or Sureshwara have not mistaken the teaching of these verses.

Where is the teaching there in the verses cited above that ‘only pAramArthika abheda’ is intended? That is a clear teaching of abheda ‘now’ in the vyavaharika. Shankara has refuted the idea ‘abheda in pAramArthika and bheda in vyavaharika’ in the BSB 2.1.14.

Moreover, Sri Sureshwaracharya in the Br.Up.Vārtika has said:

यः पृथिव्यामितीशोऽसावन्तर्यामी जगद्गुरुः ।

हरिर्ब्रह्मा पिनाकीति बहुधैकोऽपि गीयते ॥

[The Br.Up. ‘he who, stationed in the pṛthvī devatā impels the mind-body-organs of that devatā….’ who is the antaryāmī, jagadguru, even though one, is variously spoken of as Hari, Brahmā and Pinākī (Śiva).]

Anandagiri: कथं श्रुत्यवष्टम्भेन ईश्वरस्य कारणत्वं, मूर्तित्रयस्य इतिहासादौ सर्गस्थितिलयेषु यथायोगं कर्तृत्वश्रुतेः, अत आह । यः पृथिव्यामिति । प्रकृतो हि ईश्वरः स्वरूपेण एकोऽपि मूर्तित्रयात्मना बहुधा उच्यते पृथिव्यादौ तस्यैव अन्तर्यामित्वेन स्थितिश्रुतेः, न च तद्विरोधे पुराणादिप्रामाण्यं सापेक्षत्वेन दौर्बल्यादिति भावः । स पूर्वेषां गुरुरितिन्यायेन अन्तर्यामी इत्यस्य व्याख्या जगद्गुरुरिति ।


Anandagiri says: How is it that while Isvara  is the jagatkāraṇam according to the Shruti,  the itihāsa, etc. say that there is the causehood as appropriately assigned to the trimūrti-s in creation, sustenance and dissolution? [the idea is: while the shruti says Brahman, Ishvara, is the jagatkāraṇam, we find the itihāsa, purāna, etc. distributing that to three different entities functionally?] The above verse of Sureshvara is answering this question: Even though Ishwara is one only, he is spoken of as many, Hari, Brahmā, Pinākī. Why is it that Ishwara is admitted to be one only? Since it is one Ishwara alone (not many) that is taught in the shruti as the antaryāmin. If the purāṇa-s, etc. say something different (three different individuals performing distinct functions), then since these texts are dependent on the Shruti for their prāmāṇya, they do not enjoy the status of the shruti; they are durbala, weak, only when they say something contradictory to the Shruti. Since He, Ishwara, is the Guru of everyone (including devatā-s) this antaryāmin, Ishwara, alone gets the epithet of ‘Jagadguru’.

Surely, Sureshwara is not implying an abheda ‘only in the pAramArthika’ sense. It is One Ishwara that is spoken of  variously as Hari, Brahma and Pinaki.  The similarity with the VP verse cited at the beginning with gold-ornaments example, with the word ‘kalpana’ and Sridhara Swamin’s commentary that ‘One Hari alone is spoken of variously’ is significant. Thus, it is a misrepresentation of Advaita on the part of the blogger to give the impression that ‘ Moreover, statements such as “one should not see the difference between Vishnu, Brahma, and Siva” quoted by Shankara/Sureshvara etc. means that one should see the paramArtha tattva that they are all in essence Nirguna Brahman only (though the upAdhis differ, making one Ishvara and the others jIvas).’  Rather than the ‘today’s advaitins’, it is he who is directly contradicting, misrepresenting not just Shankara but the Shruti, smritis, Veda Vyasa, etc. 

That bheda across the Trimurtis is ‘aropita’ by the disputants is stated by none other than Sri Nrsimhasrama, the commentator of Sarvajnatman’s Sankshepasariraka, in his very first invocation:

…..आरोपिता वादिभिः विष्णुः शंकर आत्मभूरिति भिदा तत् सन्निधत्तां महः ||

//I bow to that Supreme Consciousness in which the vādins, disputants, superimpose the difference between Hari, Hara and Brahma.//

Surely, such bheda that is ‘aropita’ can’t be taken to be real, even in the vyavaharika, for abheda is what persists even when this bheda, out of ignorance, is perceived. Even as when one perceives the snake in the place of the rope, it is the rope that is the truth there.

The essence of the above study is: Abheda is not of any particular state; it is the Truth of all times, even when bheda is perceived whether out of ignorance or when the shAstra teaches karma, upasana, etc. The latter is called ‘adhyaropa’ by the ShAstra. Even during such upasana, karma, abheda is not lost. The Vedanta exhorts one to shed the bheda buddhi as quickly as possible and realize the abheda which is the truth ‘even when bheda is perceived.’

Om Tat Sat


  1. ओन्नमश्शिवाय​। 🙏🏼 ओन्नमः विष्णुपुराणाय​। 🙏🏼

    I’d like to share a small understanding regarding a verse from विष्णुपुराणम्, there’s a word called as पुराणम् which is used in a singular form. I shall explain it below after quoting the verses.

    There’s a very well known verse for आस्तिकाः from वायवीयसंहिता of शिवमहापुराणम् & it’s also present in this very विष्णुपुराणम् which explains that the सनातनधर्मः takes its base in the अष्टादशविद्यास्थानानि

    अङ्गानि वेदाश्चत्वारो मीमांसा न्यायविस्तरः।
    पुराणं धर्मशास्त्रञ्च विद्याश्चेताश्चतुर्दश॥ ७.१,१.२५
    आयुर्वेदो धनुर्वेदो गान्धर्वश्चेत्यनुक्रमात्।
    अर्थशास्त्रं परं तस्माद्विद्या ह्यष्टादश स्मृताः॥ ७.१,१.२६शिवपुराणम्/संहिता_७_(वायवीयसंहिता)/पूर्व_भागः/अध्यायः_०१

    Same thing in विष्णुपुराणम्विष्णुपुराणम्/तृतीयांशः/अध्यायः_६
    Verse no: २८, २९

    In भविष्यपुराणम्भविष्यपुराणम्_/पर्व_१_(ब्राह्मपर्व)/अध्यायः_००२
    Verse no: ६, ७

    In गरुडपुराणम्गरुडपुराणम्/आचारकाण्डः/अध्यायः_८७
    Verse no: ६३, ६४

    In वायुपुराणम्वायुपुराणम्/पूर्वार्धम्/अध्यायः_६१
    Verse no: ७८, ७९

    It’s present in महाभारतम् at 2 different places as well.महाभारतम्-12-शांतिपर्व-122
    Verse no: ३१, ३२ (In this chapter it’s said that व्यासः obtained these 18 from महेश्वरः/शिवः)महाभारतम्-14-आश्वमेधिकपर्व-116
    Verse no: 16

    It’s also present in ब्रह्माण्डपुराणम् & विष्णुधर्मोत्तरपुराणम्

    So, basically what I’m interested right now is that the word पुराणम् in the quoted verse above is in singular form. See even वेदाङ्गानि are 6 in number, but while stating in the context of पुराणानि, singular form has been used.

    From here what one has to infer is that there is nothing called as one पुराणम् being superior or inferior to the other पुराणम्, this is also conveying a stupendous message on त्रिमूर्तीनामैक्यम्।

    I have also heard the following:

    अष्टादशानामेतासं विद्यानाम्भिन्नवर्त्मनाम्।
    आदिकर्ता कविस्साक्षाच्छूलपाणिरिति स्थितिः॥
    Source: No idea.

    It says that the source/आदिकर्ता कविः for all these 18 विद्याः is शूलपाणिः (शिवः)

    P.S.: See what has been stated in शान्तिपर्वः of महाभारतम्।

    • That is because a number of the puranas such as the Naradiya are of the opinion that there was originally only one Purana which was later divided into 18 by Veda vyasa. You can go through the following chapter for details:

      • satyam mahodaya, I’m aware of this fact, as I have heard others saying the same & now I thank you because you have quoted the verse. And it’s indeed great to see the verse that you have quoted is from the पुराणानाम् अनुक्रमणिका of the बृहन्नारदीयम् (नारदपुराणम्), this नारदपुराणम् is a special in which it has discussed the contents of all the 18 पुराणानि।

        पुराणमेकमेवासीत्सर्वकल्पेषु मानद।
        चतुर्वर्गस्य बीजं च शतकोटिप्रविस्तरम्॥ २२

        दीपावळ्यै हृत्पूर्वकशुभाकाङ्क्षाः महोदय​।

        ओन्नमश्शिवाय​। 🙏🏼नारदपुराणम्-_पूर्वार्धः/अध्यायः_९२

        P.S.: mahodaya, I’d like to have your contact, you may also get added in our शाङ्कराद्वैतम् WhatsApp group, where there are many scholars. You can see my WhatsApp contact number in my Gravatar profile. Just click the शिवः picture, शिवः will show/redirect you a way so that I can have your contact. Of course शिवः is a way to everything isn’t it. ❤️ I shall delete my contact number as soon as I see your WhatsApp message.

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