Posted by: adbhutam | March 18, 2019

A Vedantin’s commentary to the Shiva Sahasra Nama – a short selection

Here is an image from NilakanTha’s commentary to the Shiva Sahasra Nama of the Mahabharata. Just two names are highlighted: वृक्षकर्णस्थितिः  and विष्णुप्रसादितः.  The first cited name has a fund of Vedantic import. It is about the tree of samsara that keeps thriving in the face of continued ignorance. If one gets the liberating knowledge, the samsara tree ceases. The one who keeps the tree thriving and the one who puts an end to it is the same power: Shiva. The second name is recalling the incident where Vishnu worshiped Shiva and pleased the latter and obtained the Chakra. This incident is alluded to in the Harivamsha too.

In the left part of the image is the commentary of NilakanTha for the first cited name. He links the eight-fold names of Shiva given in the Shivapuranam with etymology:

शिवो महेश्वरश्चैव रुद्रो विष्णुः पितामहः ॥ ७.१,३२.२३
संसारवैद्यः सर्वज्ञः परमात्मेति मुख्यतः ॥ ७.१,३२.२३
नामाष्टकमिदं मुख्यं शिवस्य प्रतिपादकम् ॥ ७.१,३२.२४

After citing the above, the commentator goes on to say: Since Vishnu and Pitamaha (Brahmaa) are also non-different from Shiva, these have been included in the above bunch of eight names that determine the nature, tattva, of Shiva. The above last line of the Shivapuranam also confirms that these names in this Puranam are pertaining to Shiva alone. Shankara in the Vishnu Sahasra Nama (VSN) Bhashya has cited the verse:

रुद्दुःखं दुःखहेतुर्वा तद्रावयति नः प्रभुः ॥ ७.१,३२.३६
रुद्र इत्युच्यते सद्भिः शिवः परमकारणम् ॥ ७.१,३२.३६

from the above chapter of the Shivapuranam while commenting on the name ‘Rudra’ occurring in the VSN. NilakanTha further says: The names of Vishnu and those of Shiva are applicable to One entity only and cites the verse, from the Harivamsha:

नामानि तव गोविन्द यानि लोके महान्ति च |

तान्येव मम नामानि नात्र कार्या विचरणा ||

Whatever names you have oh Govinda, they are my names only without doubt.

These are the words of Maheshwara in Harivamsa. This means that all the names of Vishnu including Narayana may be applied to Shiva as well.
Shankaracharya, in his commentary to the Vishnu Sahasra Nama, introductory part, has cited the above verse. At the end of his citing several verses of this genre Shankara remarks: इत्यादिवाक्यानि एकत्वप्रतिपादकानि – such scriptural statements have for their purport oneness.
NilakanTha, with pain, says: Those heretics who imagine a difference between Shiva and Vishnu, shall be doomed. Says the Sutasamhita (he cites):
ब्रह्माणं केशवं विष्णुं भेदभावेन मोहिताः | पश्यन्त्येकं न जानन्ति पाषण्डोपहता जनाः | [Those who, out of delusion, look upon the Trimurti-s as different and not as one, are horrible heretics.]
Hence alone, he says, the names such as ‘माता, धाता, पितामहः, रुद्रः, बहुशिराः, बभ्रुः..etc. names of Brahma and Rudra are seen among Vishnu’s names too. Similarly names such as ‘महादेवोऽव्ययो हरिः गणनाथः प्रजापतिः where Vishnu and Brahmaa are there, are seen included in Shiva’s names. Those who hold the erroneous view ‘The names of one deity found in the other deity’s list of names are to be seen as primary in the first deity’s list and secondary in the other deity’s list’ is refuted by the Shiva purana and the Skanda purana (suta samhita) citations above and thus needs to be discarded.
NilakanTha cites vedic mantras in support of the Vedantic view that One Supreme alone is called by various names: यो देवानां नामधा एक एव, नामानि सर्वाणि यमाविशन्ति, एकं सत् विप्रा: बहुधा वदन्ति, अग्निं यमं मातरिश्वामाहुः .. and concludes that those who hold the erroneous view stated above are outside the pale of Veda and therefore have to be rejected. He refers the reader to his extensive discourse on this topic in his introductory commentary to the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata.
That Nilakantha is an advaitin is known from his commentary to the Bhagavadgita which is printed along with the other advaitic commentaries.
Om Tat Sat



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