MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ADVAITA AND SHANKARA AND THEIR CORRECTION

Misconceptions about Advaita and Shankara and their correction.

In the blog,

http://narayanastra.blogspot.in/2012/04/sarvajnatmans-sankshepa-shariraka-lucid.html?showComment=1410418506101#c8637519144828852903

there is an attempt to misinterpret even the Naishkarmyasiddhi verse of Sureshwaracharya in order to somehow push the ‘Vishnu supreme’ idea:

viṣṇoḥ padānugāṃ yāṃ nikhila bhava nudaṃ śaṅkaro’vāpa yogāt
sarvajñaṃ brahma saṃsthaṃ munigaṇaiḥ sahitaṃ samyag abhyarcya bhaktyā ।
vidyāṃ gaṅgām ivāhaṃ pravara guṇa nidheḥ prāpya vedānta dīptāṃ
kāruṇyāt tām avocaṃ jani mṛti nivaha dhvastaye duḥkhitebhyaḥ ॥

(Naishkarmyasiddhi, 4.76)

Translation: The River Ganga, which flows from the (toe nail on the left) foot of Vishnu was obtained by Shankara (Lord Rudra) through yogic effort. Later Bhagiratha worshiped the all-knowing Rudra, who is surrounded by groups of sages, who is ever fixated on Brahman, with devotion to obtain the river for the salvation of the people of the earth. Similarly, I worshiped the one endowed with great qualities who is called Shankara, who is also all-knowing, surrounded by sannyasis, who is ever meditating on Brahman, who obtained the brahmavidyA that flows from Vishnu’s feet, so that out of compassion I can disseminate that brahma-vidyA so that those who are in sorrow due to cycles of births and deaths, may rid themselves of the same.//

Here are some points to be considered in evaluating the above translation:

  1. There is nothing in the verse to say that the Ganga flows from the left toe nail of Vishnu.
  2. There is no mention of ‘effort’ on Shiva’s part in obtaining the Ganga.  It is mere ‘yoga’ that is mentioned in the verse.
  3. There is nothing in the verse to say/mean ‘Shankara obtained the Brahmavidya issuing forth from Vishnu’s feet’.  This is a mere misinterpretation of the translator to make it appear that Sureshwara accepts that Shankara obtained the brahmavidya from Vishnu’s feet.
  4. The ‘viṣṇoḥ padānugāṃ’ of the verse, with reference to Shankaracharya, only means ‘that vidya which reveals the Supreme Reality spoken of in the Kathopanishad 1.3.9 as ‘tad viShNoH paramam padam’ for which Shankara has commented: तत् विष्णोः व्यापनशीलस्य ब्रह्मणः परमात्मनो वासुदेवाख्यस्य परमं प्रकृष्टं पदं स्थानम्, सतत्त्वमित्येतत्, यत् असावाप्नोति विद्वान् ॥  [The supreme state of Vishnu, the Infinite, known as Vaasudeva….]  Since the context here is the attainment of liberating knowledge/liberation, it is not any saguna deity’s abode like vaikuntha but nirguna brahmavidya which is stated as ‘satyam jnanam anantam brahma’ in the Taittiriya up.
  5. The ‘padAnugAm’ is an adjective for the brahmavidya which means ‘that vidya that reveals the Supreme Reality.’  It is in no way a reference to the Saguna Vishnu’s feet.
  6. In Advaita the knowledge is not admitted to ‘flow’ from anyone’s feet.  It is the knowledge of one’s true nature that one is already that.
  7. While Sureshwara says/implies only this much, the translator goes on to give his own biased interpretations.

There is also another wrong idea being propagated about Advaita:

//There is only one deity who is identified as worthy of upAsaNa. That deity is nirguNa brahman under suddha sattva upAdhIs, identified as saguNa brahman and as vishNu by Shankara in both vishNu sahasranAma bhAshya and prasnOpanishad bhAshya. The others are under the effect of
mAya/rajO/tamO guNa upAdhIs. Attainment of saguNa brahman, vishNu, is krama mukti, prior to attainment of paramArthika sath.//

Nowhere in the bhashya has Shankara identified any deity as ‘saguna brahman’ saying that it is one endowed with shuddha sattva upadhis and called it by the name ‘vishnu’.  If any, Shankara has only commented on the Chandogya and other references to saguna brahman as ‘satya kAma, satya sankalpa, etc.’ and not given any name whatsoever to that.  In general, in Advaita, the saguna brahman is understood as ‘Brahmaa’ the four-faced one also called Hiranyagarbha.  His abode is what is identified as saguna brahma loka.  One going there, owing to upasana on saguna brahman (and not trying to obtain the nirguna brahma jnana here by practicing shravana etc.) will get the nirguna brahma jnana taught by Brahmaa and at the end of his tenure, at the time of pralaya, attain moksha along with brahmaa.  This is the method shown in the brahmasutra bhashya.

On the contrary, the above wrong understanding gives the impression that one attains to the saguna vishnu for krama mukti.  In that case there has to be a specification of vishnu loka, vaikuntha, in the advaitic bhashya.  No such thing is found anywhere. Also, in that case, such a Vishnu loka is subject to pralaya which idea is unthinkable for the vaishnava. Even in the Bh.gita bhashya, where Shankara could have given expression to such an idea, there is none.  The eighth chapter simply talks of two paths and no such attainment of saguna vishnu or vaikuntha is spoken of there.

The Prashnopanishat bhashya never talks about vishnu as the supreme deity or saguna brahman.  If any, there is a vague indication to a deity as the functionary of the protection duty by the name ‘soumyena’ in contrast to rudra as the functionary of destruction with the vIrya guna.  The one that takes all these modes is the Prana and nowhere is the name vishnu given to this prana either in the upanishad or in the bhashya.  In fact the ‘soumya’ is also an effect of maya upadhi alone coming through sattva.  The blogger is somehow trying to push the Vishnu supreme idea into the Prashna bhashya.

There is some more misconception of the blogger on the idea of saguna upasana in advaita:

//By knowledge of vishNu, it is meant that these devas act as gurus to provide the knowledge that an advaitin must meditate on vishNu as saguNa brahman to attain krama mukti and finally paramArthika sath.//

First the blogger said that Shiva helps one get the knowledge of vishnu.  Now after having been shown that there is no such thing as ‘knowledge of vishnu’ he amends that as above.  There is no such path in Advaita as envisaged by the above statement.  Upasana in advaita is required for getting chitta ekAgrata and shuddhi.  There is no prescription as to a particular deity to attain this. Even by meditating on one’s guru one can accomplish this. The Yoga sutras say: yathAbhimata dhyAnAd vA (By meditating on anything that pleases one, with the exclusion of objectionable objects)  In all the places where saguna brahma discussion is there in the brahmasutras or upanishads, not a single place is identified as upasana of vishnu or shiva or any other.  In advaita the saguna upasana has two dimensions: 1. for chitta shuddhi/ekAgratA for a vedanta sAdhaka who is engaged in shravana, etc. of the upanishads.  2. the upasaka who does this upasana ’till the end of his life’ and if done properly, goes thru the shukla maarga to attain brahma loka and attain knowledge and liberation in that loka.  This alone is krama mukti.  The sadhaka of category 1, if he does not attain nirguna jnanam in this life, is called ‘yoga bhrashta’ in the 6th ch. of the Bh.gita and upon death goes to one or the other punya lokas and returns to continue his sadhana.  He is not a candidate for krama mukti, which term is a technical one in advaita, referring only to the category 2.

The blogger has not understood this difference and hence made that misleading statement.

There is another misunderstanding of the blogger about the Advaitic knowledge:

// There is no such thing as ‘knowledge of Vishnu’ in Advaita. //

Then subbu will have to say Shankara himself has misunderstood advaita. “jnAnI viShNoH tattvavit” (Gita Bhashya, 7.16) meaning, “the wise is defined as the one who possesses the knowledge of Vishnu”.//
The term ‘vishnoH tattvam’ means the truth pertaining to Vishnu.  In other words, it is not any saguna/attributed knowledge of the deity vishnu, but the nirguna vyaapana shIla, ananta, svarupa lakshanam, of Brahman.  That is why Shankara uses the shashThI and in the Kathopanishad bhashyam gives the adjective satattvam which means: knowing Vishnu As He Is.  This implies that knowing vishnu as he is not (which is saguna attributed, which is the forte of the vaishnavas) is not liberating knowledge in advaita.  Ultimately, ‘knowledge of vishnu’ in advaita is nothing but atma jnanam, knowledge of oneself.  In the ‘vAkya vRitt’i Shankara gives an opening verse: yasya prasAdAt ahameva vishnuH, mayyeva sarvam parikalpitam cha.. This is the true realization and not any saguna jnanam.  This is no different from the Dashashloki ‘shivah kevaloham’.  The vishnu’s tattvam and shiva tattvam and everyone’s tattvam is one and the same.    The true advaitin is neither Vishnu or Shiva pakshapAtin. He is not partial to any deity. While the vaishnava or the shaiva is a fanatic, the Advaitin is never grouped under either of the two. He has no need to be fanatic for he has no deity affiliations.

// The advaitic paramarthika liberating knowledge is not any knowledge of Vishnu, the resident of Vaikuntha and the consort of Lakshmi, etc. For Shankara ‘VasudevaH sarvam’ /; na anyo’ham vAsudevAt’ (For Madhusudana: sarvam idam aham cha VasudevaH) is not any saguna brahman realization/identification. That Vasudeva / Vishnu is not any saguna brahman.

Oh wow, really? Then why does Anandagiri say “na kevalaM purANa-AgamAbhyAM so’dhigamyate paraM tu shrutyakSharairapi ityarthaH” (not only is Narayana known through Puranas and Agamas, but also through the Vedas) in the Antaryami Brahmana of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Bhashya Varttika? So, the Narayana of the Itihasa-Puranas described therein as the consort of Lakshmi, resident of Vaikuntha, etc. is the same as the nArAyaNa referred to by Sureshvara in the same section by the words.//

Just because Anandagiri mentions the word purana/agama the nonb-advaitin, pseudo vaishnava, jumps to the conclusion that he is referring to the attributed vishnu.  What Anandagiri means is that the paramartha tattvam can be known through the puranas/agamas too (when taught by a trained teacher).  One can get such gems from the itihasa/purana literature as:

सकलमिदमहं च वासुदेवः

परमपुमान्परमेश्वरः स एकः ।

इति मतिरमला भवत्यनन्ते

हृदयगते व्रज तान्विहाय दूरात् ॥ ३२ ॥ (Vishnupurana)

 

This verse shows the Advaitic realization based on ‘sarvam khalvidam brahma’, etc. where the jnani knows that all that is experienced, and his own experiencer self, Atman, is none other than the Supreme Reality Vasudeva.

वासनाद्वासुदेवस्य वासितं भुवनत्रयम् । सर्वभूतनिवासोऽसि वासुदेव नमोऽस्तु ते ॥

 

It is Vasudeva the Pure Consciousness that is the substratum for the world-superimposition. All creation exists in Brahman, yet Brahman is untouched by the world. Shankara brings out another such Advaitic verse from the itihasa/purana in his Brahma sutra bhashyam 1.1.10:

 

स्यात्परमेश्वरस्यापीच्छावशान्मायामयं रूपं साधकानुग्रहार्थम्, ‘माया ह्येषा मया सृष्टा यन्मां पश्यसि नारद । सर्वभूतगुणैर्युक्तं मैवं मां ज्ञातुमर्हसि’ इति स्मरणात् । [The vishvarupa that the Lord showed to Narada is a creation out of mAyA by the Lord and He says: ‘do not know Me to be endowed with the gunas of the the created world.’]

Such Advaitic verses are also found in the Bhagavatam (uddhava gita, jaDabharata story, etc.).

It is this genre of verses of the purana-itihasas that Anandagiri meant and not the attributed Brahman which is not the subject matter of Advaitic paramartha tattva. In the introduction to the Bh.gita Shankara says that the birth and exploits of Krishna are an ‘as if’ and therefore there is no real birth for Brahman. Thus, the Vishnu’s tattvam is in no way the one with a residence and consort, holding some weapons, etc. Such a tattvam is everyone’s true nature. Sureshwara, in the Manasollasa vArtika 1.30 to the Dakshinamurti stotram says:

 

ईश्वरो गुरुरात्मेति मूर्तिभेद विभागिने । व्योमवद् व्याप्तदेहाय दक्षिणामूर्तये नमः ॥

 

which is already stated by Shankara in his nirguna mAnasa pUjaa:

ईश्वरो गुरुरात्मेति भेदत्रयविवर्जितैः। बिल्वपत्रैरद्वितीयैरात्मलिङ्गं यजेच्छिवम्॥

 

where the difference among the entities: Ishwara, Guru and the Self is said to be only apparent and in principle the three are one alone. Certainly, this entity cannot be a saguna Vishnu but the Nirguna Pure Consciousness.

If it is true that the tattva knowable through the puranas were to be different from the one knowable through the vedas, the epithet of smriti which means that text which is in accordance with the shruti,will be out of place for the puranas, for they are meant to give the veda jnana alone, though through different method.  Thus, even though the puranas describe vishnu to be the resident of vaikuntha, consort of Lakshmi and a lot of exploits of him, which for Shankara is an AkhyAyikA meant for vidyAstuti, eulogy of the vidya, and no more true, the tattva of vishnu is nirguna brahman which is taught by the Vedas.  The Panchadashi puts this succinctly:

मायाख्यायाः कामधेनोर्वत्सौ जीवेश्वरावुभौ।
यथेच्छं पिबतां द्वैतं तत्त्वं त्वद्वैतमेव हि॥६-२३६॥
jIva and Ishvara are the two calves of the Kamadhenu cow called mAyA. Let them drink (the milk) of duality as much as they desire, but nonduality alone is the truth. 6.236.

I showed this because I mentioned about the ‘exploits’ of various deities explained elaborately in the puranas and sometimes in the vedas too.  Shankara says that these stories are eulogies to bring out the greatness of brahmavidya (nachiketas story, bhrugu-vAruni conversation, Uddalaka-Shvetaketu conversation, etc. in the upanishads).  An AkhyAyika is only to set a background for the teaching of the Tattva and therefore not real, just as the Bhagavadgita is taught in the Mahabharata war background.. All the stories of all the puranas and Upanishads are not necessarily real life happenings. While the birth and samsara of jivas themselves are not true as per the Vedanta, where is the question of birth of other entities like Shiva or brahmA or vishnu being true? All these entities are concocted by the Scripture and woven in a story form in order to give out the tattva which has nothing to do with these characters. The subodhini commentary on the Sankshepashariraka invocatory verse says that ‘mura’ represents ignorance and MurAri is the one who dispels that ignorance. So, the story of mura being put down by Vishnu is only an allegorical reference to ignorance is dispelled by the realization of Pure Consciousness. In the Vivekachudamani Shankara says: नारयणोऽहं नरकान्तकोऽहम्…[I am nArAyaNa, the slayer of the demond called naraka ], the allegory being quite simple here.
The word narayana has been explained by the sAyana bhashyam in the narayana sukta explanation with the famous verse:

आपो नारा इति प्रोक्ताः आपो वै नरसूनवः । अयनं तस्य ताः प्रोक्तास्तेन नारायणः स्मृतः” as the etymological meaning of the word given in puranas.  For the words ‘vishvam nArAyanam..’ SAyana says that vishvam is narayana since it is superimposed in that sentient being. It does not mean any connection with vaikuntha, etc.  If one realizes narayana as the consort of Lakshmi etc.,that does not constitute true advaitic knowledge.  It is not tattvam of narayana.  It is mithya jnanam alone, though it will help the sadhaka progress further to gain the nirguna brahma jnanam.  This is because Shankara has stated in the BSB 2.1.14 that all the attributes such as omniscience, omnipotence are superimposed by avidya and get dispelled upon the arising of the knowledge of the absolute truth.  Thus, vishnu jnanam is not what the vaishnavas take it to be. It is ajnanam in the advaitic supreme point of view. It has a different connotation in advaita.  What non-advaitins think is the tattvam of Vishnu is ignorance as per Advaita.

The opening verse of Shankara’s introduction to the gitabhashya has created confusion among many that it  means to them a reference to saguna brahman.  One has to read the Bh.gita 8. 20 along with that opening verse in order to place the ‘narayana’ correctly:

परस्तस्मात्तु भावोऽन्योऽव्यक्तोऽव्यक्तात्सनातनः।यः स सर्वेषु भूतेषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति।।8.20।।

English translation by Swami Gambhirananda
8.20 But distinct from that Unmanifested is the other eternal unmainfest Reality, who does not get destroyed when all beings get destroyed.
Shankara’s commentary:

परः व्यतिरिक्तः भिन्नः; कुतः? तस्मात् पूर्वोक्तात्। तु-शब्दः अक्षरस्य विवक्षितस्य अव्यक्तात् वैलक्षण्यविशेषणार्थः। भावः अक्षराख्यं परं ब्रह्म। व्यतिरिक्तत्वे सत्यपि सालक्षण्यप्रसङ्गोऽस्तीति तद्विनिवृत्त्यर्थम् आह — अन्यः इति। अन्यः विलक्षणः। स च अव्यक्तः अनिन्द्रियगोचरः। ‘परस्तस्मात्’ इत्युक्तम्; कस्मात् पुनः परः? पूर्वोक्तात् भूतग्रामबीजभूतात् अविद्यालक्षणात् अव्यक्तात्। अन्यः विलक्षणः भावः इत्यभिप्रायः। सनातनः चिरन्तनः यः सः भावः सर्वेषु भूतेषु ब्रह्मादिषु नश्यत्सु न विनश्यति। ।।8.20।।

 

8.20 He is parah, distinct, different;-From what?-tasmat, from that aforesaid (Unmanifested).The word tu, but, is meant for showing the distinction of the Immutable that is going to be spoken of from the Unmanifested.He is bhavah, the Reality, the supreme Brahman called the Immutable. Even though different, there is the possibility of similarlity of characteristics. Hence, for obviating this the Lord says: anyah, the other, of a different characteristic, and He is the Immutable which is beyond the range of the organs. It has been said that He is distinct from that. From what, again is He distinct? Avyaktat, from the Unmaifested spoken of earlier, which is the seed of the multitude of beings, and which is characterized as ignorance (avidya) Ast. adds, ‘anyah vilaksanah, bhavah ityabhiprayah: The meaning is that the Reality is different and distinct (form that Unmanifested).-Tr. He is sanatnah, eternal.Bhavah, the Reality; yah sah, who is such; na, does not; vinasyati, get destroyed; when sarvesu bhutesu, all beings, beginning from Brahma; nasyatsu, get destroyed.

 

In the above verse/bhashya, the avyakta, mAyA, ignorance, is shown as the seed of all creation. This corresponds to the sixth mantra of the mAnDukya where Ishwara is mentioned. The Turiya, in the seventh mantra, is the one which is beyond Ishwara, after negating all the three states along with their subjects, both in the cosmic and individual states. In the above verse, the other avyakta, Brahman, is beyond the unmanifest seed. In advaita, Ishwara is no different from avyakta since the very entity Ishwara is a product of Pure Consciousness, Nirguna Brahman and mAyA. If both these are separated, there is no such entity called Ishwara. So, the 8.20 is all about this NB which is beyond Ishwara. The non-difference between avyakta, seed, and Ishwara the creator is well established in the BG itself. While the Lord says

अहं सर्वस्य प्रभवो मत्तः सर्वं प्रवर्तते।
इति मत्वा भजन्ते मां बुधा भावसमन्विताः॥10.8॥

I am the source of everything, everything evolves from Me….

He also says

अव्यक्ताद्व्यक्तयः सर्वाः प्रभवन्त्यहरागमे।

रात्र्यागमे प्रलीयन्ते तत्रैवाव्यक्तसंज्ञके।।8.18।।

 

BG 8.18 With the coming of day all manifested things emerge from the Unmanifest and when night comes they merge in that itself which is called the Unmanifested.

 

In the first verse the lord says that He is the source of creation, etc. In the second verse He says that avyakta is the source of shrishti and pralaya. The Lord can never create etc. in the absence of avyakta and the latter can never create etc. in the absence of the Lord. This inseparable connection between the two makes the Ishwara of Vedanta an entity a product of such a combination. The only entity that is beyond this combination is the nirguna Brahman.

 

These two verses establish the non-difference between the terms ‘Ishwara’ and ‘avyakta’.

 

Thus, the opening verse of the BG introduction, cited by Shankara, is decidedly about Nirguna Brahman, the Turiya of the Mandukya, which negates the saguna Brahman, creator Ishwara. In the Mandukya all the six entities: vishva, taijasa and prAjna (in the individual jiva mode) and virAT, Hiranyagarbha and Ishwara (in the cosmic/total mode) are only appearances of the transcendental Turiya of the seventh mantra which is established by negating all the six entities as unreal upadhis. The Vishnu-jnanam that Shankara spoke of in the BG 7th ch. is not of the Ishwara of the mandukya but of the Turiya. The vaishnavas (including the pseudo ones) cannot go beyond the Ishwara of the sixth mantra. They do not see the seventh mantra as a negation of the six entities which Shankara explicitly says in the bhashya. No vaishnava will approve of this negation done in the shankara bhashya. That is the reason why an advaitin cannot be a vaishnava and a vaishnava cannot be an advaitin for their understanding of Brahman is fundamentally poles apart.

 

The Mandukya never talks of Vishnu as the Turiya. Nor does Shankara supply that term/name. The Brahmasutra refutes the inert pradhana as the cause of the universe and only establishes the chetana, sentient, Brahman as the cause. Nowhere does the BSB talk about Vishnu or any other deity as that sentient cause of the universe. Shankara has left it unsaid only to accommodate the larger Advaitic idea of creation. In advaita creation is only an imagination. All that is needed is that such imagination can happen only in a sentient being. Ultimately, the jiva is the one who has imagined the creation/samsara. That is why it is possible for an advaitin to say: yasya prasAdAt ahameva VishnuH, mayyeva sarvam parikalpitam cha.   [I am the substratum, Vishnu, in whom the universe is concocted – vAkyavRtti of Shankaracharya]. Just as Madhusudana has stated at the beginning of his commentary, siddhantabindu, to the Dashashloki (shivah kevaloham) as the work is that of Shankara, Vidyaranya has in the Panchadashi 7.40 onwards, quoting complete verses, says they are from the VAkyavRtti, giving the name of the text.

 

I said all this only to show that in advaita it is enough the substratum of the creation-superimposition is a sentient entity and not necessarily the creator named Vishnu or Shiva or any other.

 

The pseudo vaishnava in his blog-reply goes on to give more proof of his ignorance of advaita. See my replies within [ ]:

 

// Veerashaiva says: The Dakshinamurty, a form of Shiva, is not worshiped as a ‘mere Guru’ but the very substratum of the creation. If Madhusudana said that Vishnu is the antaryamin of Saraswati and Vinayaka, he has also said in the commentary to the Shivamahimna stotram that Shiva is no different from Vishnu.

Our Reply: Well, according to both NrsimAshrama and Sureshvara, that Dakshinamurthy, “the very substratum of creation”, is 1) meditating on Vishnu after receiving Ganga from the latter’s feet, 2) is very knowledgeable, but the knowledge is not unbounded. So I guess the “very substratum of creation” is subject to saguNa brahman, vishNu, after all!

 

[Sureshwara has not said that Shiva is meditating on Vishnu’s feet. It is the pseudo vaishnava’s imagination. Shankara, in the Mandukya karika bhashya 4.1 says:

 

तत्राद्वैतदर्शनसम्प्रदायकर्तुरद्वैतस्वरूपेणैव नमस्कारार्थोऽयमाद्यश्लोकः । आचार्यपूजा हि अभिप्रेतार्थसिद्ध्यर्थेष्यते शास्त्रारम्भे । आकाशेन ईषदसमाप्तमाकाशकल्पमाकाशतुल्यमित्येतत् । तेन आकाशकल्पेन ज्ञानेन । किम् ? धर्मानात्मनः । किंविशिष्टान् ? गगनोपमान् गगनमुपमा येषां ते गगनोपमाः, तानात्मनो धर्मान् । 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 ॥

 

Shankara says:

 

  1. The proponent of Advaita darshana is Narayana
  2. Gaudapada pays obeisance to the Preceptor (Guru) Narayana
  3. This he does in the ‘advaitic’ form
  4. That is, in this verse the obeisance is paid to Narayana, the very Advaita svarupa, that is Nirguna Brahman, as the Guru.
  5. This NB is the Purushottama (refer to BG 15th chapter)
  6. Thus, just as Dakshinamurty is the Guru as well as the Substratum of the creation, the very advaita svarupam, for Shankara, Narayana is also all these.
  7. In the BGB 13.18 too Shankara says this alone: मद्भक्तः मयि ईश्वरे सर्वज्ञे परमगुरौ वासुदेवे समर्पितसर्वात्मभावः, यत् पश्यति शृणोति स्पृशति वा ‘सर्वमेव भगवान् वासुदेवः’ इत्येवंग्रहाविष्टबुद्धिः मद्भक्तः स एतत् यथोक्तं सम्यग्दर्शनं विज्ञाय, मद्भावाय मम भावः मद्भावः परमात्मभावः तस्मै मद्भावाय उपपद्यते मोक्षं गच्छति ॥

Here Shankara says ‘Vasudeva is Ishwara, sarvajna, and the Supreme Guru.’ And the devotee that is fit for liberation is the nirguna bhakta who comprehends everything in creation as this Vasudeva. Surely this is not any saguna bhakti or looking upon Krishna’s form in all creation. ]

 

For advaitins the Vedanta artha pravartaka (proponent of the teaching of Vedanta) can be both Narayana and Shiva. We have these two invocation verses:

 

नारायणम् पद्मभुवं वसिष्ठं……श्रीशंकराचार्यमथास्य….where Narayana is the source of the Vedanta and सदाशिवसमारम्भां शंकराचार्यमध्यमाम्….where Shiva is at the head of the list of Acharyas.

 

The pseudo vaishnava has exhibited his ignorance of advaita thus guessing: // So I guess the “very substratum of creation” is subject to saguNa brahman, vishNu, after all! //

 

[In Advaita, the substratum of creation is the Nirguna Brahman in which alone the superimposition takes place. In saguna Brahman there is no superimposition. In fact saguna Brahman, Vishnu, itself is a superimposition in the Advaitic Nirguna Brahman. When this superimposition is understood, there is no way Shankara or any Advaitin can be a vaishnava for there is nothing of the attributed Vishnu in the Advaita tattva. The only tattva there is the nirguna Brahman which is called ‘vyApanashIla’ Vishnu by Shankara. ]

 

Regarding MS, logic dictates that if he identifies vishNu as the antaryAmin
of vinAyaka, etc, the shiva mahimna stOtra is a very weak straw to grasp at. It is an example of MS’s gramattical prowess – nothing more than that.

 

[Just because facts are so compelling, the pseudo vaishnava appeals to ‘logic’ and ‘grammar’!! In fact, in advaita, the antaryamin is Pure Consciousness (PC), as per the Brihadaranyaka antaryami section and the Brahmasutra bhashya on this topic. This PC is non-different whether it is in Vishnu or Shiva or any jiva. So, it is the PC that is at the basis of all the ‘exploits’ of Vishnu in the puranas. The Antaryami of even Vishnu is this PC for the concept of saguna Brahman is a superimposition on this PC. What play of grammar is there in these concluding verses of Madhusudana:

 

हरिशंकरयोरभेदबोधो भवतु क्षुद्रधियामपीति यत्नात् ।

उभयार्थतया मयेदमुक्तं सुधियः साधुतयैव शोधयन्तु ॥ १

 

[With the benediction that the understanding of non-difference between Hari and Shankara may rise even in those with a lowly intellect have I, with effort, commented on the Shivamanhima stotra verses in dual-meaning mode (as applying to Hari and Hara. Let the noble ones accept this as admissible alone.]

 

भूतिभूषितदेहाय द्विजराजेन राजते ।

एकात्मने नमो नित्यं हरये च हराय च ॥ ६

[Obeisance ever to Him who is resplendent with His body adorned with vibhUti, ashes and is of the complexion of camphor (or having the moon on His head), the One Atman that is both Hara and Hari.]

No need for Madhusudana to exhibit his grammatical acumen in these mangala shlokas at the end of the commentary, which lie outside the corpus of the verses he has commented upon as applying to both Hara and Hari, if one were to look for a sample of Madhusudana’s expertise in grammar. ]

 

Shiva-vishNu abheda is not intended in the way this Veerashaiva thinks – rather MS says often that worship of vaiSnavas, shaivas, shaktas, etc reach Vishnu, which is another way of saying prayers that go to vishNu directly reach him and those that go to anya devata reach him indirectly (as he is the antaryAmin).

 

[The pseudo vaishnava has not got the Advaitic import of Madhusudana or Shankara or any other Advaita Acharya, just as his partner, a dabbler in Advaitic works while not being able to take to Vaishnavism totally. All worship of all deities including Vishnu reach the Pure Consciousness alone. And that PC alone enables even Vishnu to respond to prayers. And that PC is what Shankara calls Narayana, Ishwara, in the antaryami section of the Br.upanishad.]

Veerashaiva says: There is no evidence in the advaitc tradition to concocted idea that advaitins are like mAdhvas who worship all deities as hari bhaktas. Advaitins worship Vinayaka, Saraswati, etc. during particular occasions in the year. In not a single place in their ashtottaram is a name that these deities are worshipers of or subordinate to Hari.

Our Reply: Yep, there is absolutely zero evidence…if we all close our eyes and ignore selectively, of course!

 

[The evidence, from Shankara: parAtparam nirantaram, sadA vimukti sAdhakam, etc. in the Ganesha pancharatnam. In the Saraswatyashtottaram we have: brahmajnAnaikasAdhanAyai namaH {the one who is known by the only means of Brahma jnanam). Even the Ganesha ashtottaram has: VishnustutAya namaH(the one who is worshiped by Vishnu. The pseudo-vaishnava and his partner will quickly try to do some bahuvreehi jugglery to mean that ‘the one who has worshiped vishnu’. But that does not fit the context as the ashtottaram is aimed at showing Vinayaka as no inferior to anyone.   Having closed their eyes to all pramana, the salesmen for their brand of vaishnavism desperately scout for pramanas of their liking and reject those that are opposed to them.]

Veerashaiva says: There is absolutely no substance in this claim. Advaitins cannot be Vaishnavas nor vaishnavas can be advaitins. The term ‘vaishnava’ as is understood popularly means unrelenting allegiance to that deity who is a resident of vaikuntha, whose bears the conch, etc. and is the consort of Lakshmi.

Our Reply: “vaiSnava” does not mean just a”deity with 4 arms”. It means “knower, ie, meditator of vishNu”. The name “vishNu” is identified with the Being known as nArAyaNa in the veda, who assumes many forms, who is the Lord of Sri and Vaikunta, who is referred to by all names, who is different from jivAs like brahma, rudra and indra and one of said forms being the “4 armed form”.

 

[The pseudo vaishnava does not even know what he writes. No one has claimed that ‘vaishnava’ is a four-armed deity. Let Vishnu mean any and so many things. Shankara does not take any of these meanings but is firm on ‘vyApanasheela’ (Infinite Brahman) which is no way the saguna deity but the nirguna Brahman only.]

That makes Adi Shankara definitely a Vaishnava as attested to by Vedanta
Desikan and Narayana Bhattadri.

 

[What is the use of Vedanta Desika and Bhattadri attesting Shankara? Who are they and what capacity they have in attesting Shankara? While Vedanta Desika could not understand the Advaita of Shankara correctly and raised a hundred silly objections, how can he understand what Shankara is? To top it all, Veda Vyasa himself has contradicted these attestations in the Garuda purana. There he says Shankara is a demon called manimAn who brought about sAnkarya and destroyed Bhagavata dharmas. How can a Vaishnava do all this? So much for the pseudo vaishnava’s desperate clinging to the straw of ‘Shankara is a vaishnava’. In their over-enthusiasm to sell their brand of vaishnavism they are somehow trying to cling to Shankara’s name hoping in vain that that name will do magic to their brand name. They have no reply to the statement: a vasihnava cannot be an advaitin for he cannot bear the chopping off of all attributes, ananta kalyana guna ganams, from their dear Vishnu as an advaitin does. Nor can an advaitin be a vasihnava who will not give up these kalyana gunams even in moksha. Mistaking Shankara’s mention of the names Narayana, Vishnu, Ananta in the bhashyas to be his allegiance to their brand of vaishnavism, they are shouting from their roof-tops that here is a prominent Acharya who is a vaishnava. While Madhva bitterly called names ‘asurendra’ in his MBTN for Shankara’s denying all attributes, this pseudo vaishnava picks up the rejections of Madhva and Ramanuja and wears it as a memento!! Ito brashTaH tato bhraShTaH is their lot. ]
Veerashaiva says: The very idea of vyavaharika and paramarthika is anathema
to the vaishnava. Hence there is no way advaitins were/are/will be vaishnavas.

Our Reply: The very idea of vyavaharika and paramArthika is anathema to
vaishnavas who are dvaitins and vishishtadvaitins. Vaishnavas like Adi
Shankara who was an advaitin certainly embrace it.

 

[Why did the dvaitins and vishishtadvaitins not accept Shankara as a vaishnava of their brand? How can they? For they themselves have no agreeable definition of a vaishnava. For Adi Shankara’s embracing the pAramarthika, the vaishnavas have cursed him to eternal hell. And you are celebrating what your Acharyas denounced by denouncing their dictats. What else is pseudo vaishnavism?]
This was just a sample to show how absurd the criticism of these modern
“followers” are. We do not plan to do follow-ups, but this should be enough
to convince our readers. Articles will come up in the future.

 

[If the ‘modern’ followers of Shankara do not know Shankara, as you have discovered in the modern times, why did the ancient vaishnavas not discover the true vaishnavism of Adi Shankara? What blinded their judgment? Any amount of your baptizing Shankara into your brand of vaishnavism is not going to cleanse the spitting by the ‘other’ ‘prominent’ acharyas on Shankara. All your ‘articles’ are only specimens of fanaticism. While you can never bring yourself to raise an accusing finger on Madhva and Ramanuja for their tirade against advaita/shankara, you cannot also assert that Shankara’s negating all attributes as avidyakalpita upadhi janita is the correct understanding of the prasthana traya. The day you do this, all your blogs will simply crumble to non-existence from its now pathetic calls to accept your ‘Shankara is vaishnava’ ignorance.]

OM TAT SAT

 

Responses

  1. Hi,my name is sunil.Your replies to that blogger are good.Did shankara say that nirguna brahman is not omnipotent,omniscient.What does shankara say as the cause of saguna brahman.

    • Dear Sunil,

      In the Brahmasūtra bhāṣya (commentary to the Brahmasūtra) 2.1.14 Shankara says:

      //Thus God’s rulership, omniscience, and omnipotence are contingent on the limiting adjuncts conjured up by nescience; but not so in reality can such terms as ‘the ruler’, ‘the ruled’, ‘omniscience’, etc. be used with regard to the Self shining in Its own nature after the removal of all limiting adjuncts through illumination.//
      You can see the above and read further on p.334 of the English translation of Swami Gambhirananda, Advaita Ashrama, 2004.

      Here, Shankara is referring to the Nirguṇa Brahman. The cause of the saguṇa brahman is ‘nescience-created adjuncts’ as Shankara says above.

      adbhutam


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: