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Saguna Brahman and Krama Mukti in Shankara's Advaita Vedanta - Part 2


The second (current article), third (click here), and fourth (click here) parts of this article series (click here for the first part) shows that Shankara’s system of advaita vedAnta as enunciated in his prasthAna trayI bhAShya-s has nothing in conflict with and in fact strongly supports the notion of an eternal abode called Vaikuntha where those who reach do not return. We shall establish this by showing the following:

  1. There are very clear statements of Shankara to support the theory of an eternal loka for saguNa brahman. In addition, there are several supporting statements that when strung together lend further support. It can be shown that there is no room for these to be taken figuratively to mean something else.

  1. In addition, an analysis of key sections in Shankara’s Gita and Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashyas reveals that this eternal loka belongs to Lord Vishnu, and that those who are on the path of no return reach that place.

  1. There are innumerable statements by various advaitins such as Sridhara, Madhusudana Sarasvati, Gauda Brahmananda, Maheshvara Tirtha, Narayana Bhatta, Desha Mangala, etc. to show advaita’s acceptance of Vishnu’s Vaikuntha of the aforementioned nature as a realm beyond saMsAra.

  1. To deny the existence of Vishnu’s loka that is beyond the satya loka and not subject to dissolution is tantamount to saying that Advaitins are aprAmANika-s who ignore the shAstra.

  1. Even non-Vaishnava commentators such as Sayana explain “viShNoH paramaM padaM” as a reference to Vaikuntha-loka. Moreover according to Sayana, the R^ik where this mantra occurs is about the popular deity Vishnu who took trivikrama avatAra, thus establishing that “viShNu” in “viShNoH paramaM padaM” is the popular Lord Vishnu only.

We need to clarify an important stance one has to take while analyzing the commentaries by Advaitins to shruti and smR^iti. There are adversaries who claim such things as:

“...whatever has been stated by Madhusudana in his commentary to the Bhagavadgita or any other commentator for any other work like the SrimadbhAgavatam on the topic of ‘eternal loka’, stands overruled by the above statement of the Advaita Siddhi.”

(Note: These “other commentators” that this adversary refers to are Sridhara and Maheshvara Tirtha, who are also advaitins to the core.)

It is requested that readers be not held at sway by the above line of thinking while reading this article. Here is our reply to those who resort to such modes of arguing: It is absurd to claim that Madhusudana Sarasvati’s words in Advaita Siddhi overrules his own Bhagavad Gita commentary, or that advaitins who commented on the Ramayana/Bhagavata compromised the core tenets of advaita for something else. There is a tendency among the uninformed to think that advaitins like Shankara, Madhusudana Sarasvati, Maheshvara Tirtha, Sridhara Swami etc. wore differently coloured hats while commenting on different portions of śruti / smṛti / itihāsa / purāṇa. Contrary to that we, even as Vishishtadvaitins, believe that these advaitic authors were consistent and true to their hearts everywhere. Unlike the modern ‘Shankarites’ who conduct themselves variously to suit different purposes according to "antaḥ śāktaḥ bahiḥ śaivaḥ loke vaiṣṇavaḥ", we believe that these early advaitAcArya-s fall under the "mahAtma" category according to the following saying:

"manas anyat vacas anyat kāryam anyad durātmanām । manas ekaṃ vacas ekaṃ karmaṇyekaṃ mahātmanām ॥",

even though they may not have been infallible with respect to the logical fallacies of advaita as a darshana.

Anyhow, why not say instead that Madhusudana Sarasvati's Gudhartha Dipika commentary on the Bhagavad Gita overrules what was stated in Advaita Siddhi? Unlike our adversaries, we need not resort to such desperate arguments to establish our position. We can, and have, done justice to all available evidence and reconciled them without ignoring anything that seems to run contrary to our position as unimportant, as one will see in this article.

Vishnu as Saguna Brahman and Krama-mukti in Shankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya: Part II – The jagad-vyApAra-adhikaraNa section

In this section of the Brahma Sutra Bhashya (BSB), Shankara raises the following question: “Do those saguNopAsaka-s, who attain Ishvara-sAyujya through the knowledge of qualified Brahman (saguNa vidyA) attain unlimited Lordship, or is their Lordship subject to certain limitations? This section is for two main purposes:

  1. To show why the pUrvapakSha (prima facie) view that the aishvarya (Lordship) is unlimited must be rejected, based on Shruti, Smriti, etc.

  1. To show why the Purvapakshin’s remark “limited aishvarya means return to saMsAra” must be rejected.

In this section, one of the reasons given by Shankara for limited Lordship is that the shruti talks about Lordship for saguNopAsaka-s only within the material realm.

Shankara then continues his argument as follows: Now, the Lordship of the Highest Lord is confined not only to the material realm since He exists in an eternal form beyond it. We have evidence from both Shruti and Smriti for this fact. And it cannot be stated that those who have no intent, by virtue of the absence of any such vidhi (rule), to obtain the Lordship of the eternal abode. Hence, their Lordship is limited to the material world while the Lordship of the Highest Lord extends beyond it.

In this context, it is important to analyze in detail Shankara’s commentaries not only to the related sUtra-s, but also to the shruti and smR^iti texts given in support of this “eternal form of the Lord unconnected with the effected universe” that Shankara refers to.

There are other arguments that Shankara gives for the limitedness of aishvarya for those who attain sAyujya. These are: (a) The aishvarya of these devotees cannot extend to creation ofthe universe etc. since it would lead to a position where there are multiple Ishvaras. (b) The scripture moreover declares that only their enjoyment is equivalent to that of the Highest Lord. These are unrelated to our present article and hence we shall not examine them.

Below are the sUtra-s that are of interest to the present topic, the Sanskrit text of Shankara’s commentary with English translations given underneath.

Sutra Bhashya 4.4.19-20

vikārāvarti ca tathā hi sthitim āha | BBs_4,4.19 |

vikārāvartyapi ca nityamuktaṃ pārameśvaraṃ rūpaṃ na kevalaṃ vikāramātragocaraṃ savitṛmaṇḍalādi adhiṣṭhānam /
tathā hi asya dvirūpāṃ sthitim āha āmnāyaḥ 'tāvānasya mahimā tato jyāyāṃśca puruṣaḥ /
pādo 'sya sarvā bhūtāni, tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divi' (chā. 3.12.6) iti evamādiḥ /
na ca tat nirvikāraṃ rūpam itara ālambanāḥ prāpnuvanti iti śakyaṃ vaktum atatkratutvāt teṣām /
ataḥ ca yathā eva dvirūpe parameśvare nirguṇaṃ rūpam anavāpya saguṇa eva avatiṣṭhanta evaṃ saguṇaḥ api niravagraham aiśvaryam anavāpya sāvagraha eva avatiṣṭhanta iti draṣṭavyam // 19 //

Moreover, according to scripture, there is also an eternal form of the Highest Lord which does not abide in effects; He is not only the ruling soul of the spheres of the sun and so on which lie within the sphere of what is effected (in other words, he does not merely dwell as inner ruler of sun, etc, but also has an abode and form beyond prakR^ti).

For the text declares His abiding in a twofold form, as follows: 'Such is the greatness of it; greater than it is the Person. One foot of him are all beings; three feet of him is what is immortal in its own self-effulgence' (Ch. Up. III, 12, 6). And it cannot be maintained that that form of Him which is beyond modification, ie, beyond time (nirvikAra) is obtained by those who upAsaka-s intending to reach His other forms (ie, the effects like sun, etc); for intent is not placed on the former.

Hence, just as he (the Saguna Upasaka) does not reach (directly) the attributeless (nirguNa) nature of the double-natured Highest Lord, stopping at that form which is distinguished by qualities (saguNa), even in obtaining the Saguna form of the Lord, the upAsaka stops at limited aishvarya (in the form of rulership over certain spheres within the effected universe) and does not obtain the unlimited aishvarya of Ishvara.

darśayataś caivaṃ pratyakṣānumāne | BBs_4,4.20 |

darśayataḥ ca vikāra āvartitvaṃ parasya jyotiṣaḥ śruti smṛtī /
'na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṃ nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto 'yamagniḥ' (kaṭha. 5.15, śvetā. 6.14, muṇḍa. 2.2.10) iti /
'na tadbhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅ ko na pāvakaḥ' (gī. 15.6) iti ca /
tat evaṃ vikāra āvartitvaṃ parasya jyotiṣaḥ prasiddham iti abhiprāyaḥ // 20 //

Scripture and Smriti both declare that the highest light does not abide within effected things, 'The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings, and much less this fire' (Mu. Up. II, 2, 10). 'The sun does not illume it, nor the moon, nor fire' (Bha. Gîtâ XV, 6).--The Sûtra is meant to show that the non-abiding of the highest light within effected things is a well-known circumstance.


Here, Shankara’s statements look very indirect and can cause much confusion if the context is not understood properly. We shall now address the key areas that need to be clarified:

Question: What does ‘obtaining a certain form of the Lord’ mean here?

Answer: The context is established by the bhAShya for the first sUtra in this adhikaraNa (section) i.e., BSB 4.4.17. Here, Shankara raises a question on the issue of saguNopAsaka-s attaining sAyujya with the Highest Lord:

ye saguṇabrahma upāsanāt saha eva manasā īśvarasāyujyaṃ vrajanti kiṃ teṣāṃ niravagraham aiśvaryaṃ bhavati āhosvit sāvagraham iti saṃśayaḥ

In the next Sutra (BSB, 4.4.18), Shankara talks about attaining Lordship over certain spheres as “obtaining the Lord of the mind” etc. It is specifically to be understood that “obtaining the Lord of the manas” here means “obtaining the rulership of manas, on account of obtaining sAyujya with the Lord, who happens to be the ruler of the manas”:

ādhikāriko yaḥ savitṛmaṇḍalādiṣu viśeṣa āyataneṣu avasthitaḥ para īśvaraḥ tadāyatta eva iyaṃ svārājyaprāptiḥ ucyate /
yatkāraṇam anantaram 'āpnoti manasaspatim' (tai. 1.6.2) ityāha /
yo hi sarvamanasāṃ patiḥ pūrvasiddha īśvaraḥ taṃ prāpnoti iti etat uktaṃ bhavati /
tat anusāreṇa eva ca anantaram 'vākpatiścakṣuṣpatiḥ śrotrapatirvijñānapatiśca bhavati' (tai. 1.6.2) ityāha /
evam anyatra api yathāsaṃbhavaṃ nityasiddha īśvara āyattam eva itareṣām aiśvaryaṃ yojayitavyam // 18 //

It is stated that the individual soul’s rulership is dependent on the Him,  who is eternally perfect (nityasiddha). And He, who officiates in certain special places within the material universe such as the sphere of the sun (ādhikāriko yaḥ savitṛmaṇḍalādiṣu viśeṣa āyataneṣu avasthitaḥ) lets the individual soul enjoy rulership of these spheres through sAyujya.

Question: Why does the Sutra all of a sudden seem to bring up the case of Ishvara’s existence independent of creation?

Answer: The Sutra brings this up in order to prevent the pUrvapakSha position that the rulership of the individual soul can be absolute, since He can, in the aforementioned manner (BSB, 4.4.18) enjoy the rulership of every sphere in the material universe. The current Sutra sets aside this conclusion, saying even if the rulership of every sphere within the material universe is admitted to the seeker of saguNa brahman through sAyujya, the aishvarya is not unlimited. For, the Sutra says, the Highest Lord is not only the ruler of the material universe, but is also the ruler of realms beyond (vikArAvartI). For this purpose only, the Sutra brings up the case of the eternal abode and eternal form of the Lord unconnected with creation (nityamuktaM parameshvaraM rUpam, nirvikAraM rUpam).

Question: Why does the Sutra say that the individual soul does not obtain the eternal form of the Lord? Does that mean that saguNopAsaka-s do not reach an eternal realm and remain only within the material universe, subject to rebirth? Moreover, the Sutra says that the saguNopAsaka-s are not intent on the eternal form of the Lord, how is that possible, since saguNopAsaka-s, as per your theory, reach the eternal Vaikuntha loka where the Lord exists with an eternal form?

Answer: An apparent contradiction indeed to our position, but arising out of lack of attention to the context!! One must also read the sub-commentaries of Anandagiri (nyAyanirNaya TIkA) and Anubhuti Svarupacharya (prakaTArtha vivaraNa) to dispel this apparent position contradictory to various shruti, smR^iti, and purANa texts that talk about upAsaka-s being granted to reach the eternal realm of vaikuNTha.

Take the context first. We already showed that “obtaining the Lord of such and such a form” refers to obtaining and enjoying rulership over the sphere in which the stated form of the Lord is said to exist. Hence, this portion of the commentary only means that the attainer of sAyujya-mukti does not attain rulership over the eternal realm of the Lord, but only rulership over the material universe, thus limiting his aishvarya.

Next, we need to look at what is meant by saying “these saguNopAsaka-s do not have their intention set on the nirvikAra form of the Lord”. For this, Anandagiri’s Tika (nyAyanirNaya) and Anubhuti Svarupacarya’s Prakatartha Vivarana say that due to the lack of a rule in the shruti for obtaining such a Lordship, there is no intent on the part of the upAsaka-s:

niratiśayaiśvaryavadīśvaropāsakāstadātmatāṃ prāptāḥ sātiśayaiśvaryavanto bhavantītiyayuktaṃ tadātmatvavirodhādityāśaṅkya brahmaikye’api saguṇaprāptānāṃ nirguṇaprāptyabhāvavadetadyuktamiti vaktuṃ brahmaṇo dvairūpyamāha - vikārāvartīti (nyāyanirṇaya, 4.4.19)

[The following doubt is raised: “It is not befitting to say that those who attain sAyujya with a being that is endowed with unlimited rulership attains limited rulership, because the two are of contradictory nature.” The section is begun by Shankara showing the twofold form of Saguna Brahman (vikAra and nirvikAra) to answer as follows: “Just as those who obtain saguNa brahman do not attain the nirguNa state (immediately) even though Brahman is one, what we have stated makes is in fact fitting very well.”]

astu brahmaṇo vikārāvartirūpaṃ tathāpi kiṃ syāt, tatrāha - naceti । vastutastathātve’api yathopāsanameva tatprāptirupāsanaṃ ca vidhyadhīnaṃ niravagrahamahattvādidharmasya copāstyagocaratvādanupāsitasyāprāptiriti phalitamāha - ataśceti । (nyāyanirṇaya, 4.4.19)

[“You say there is an eternal changeless form of (Saguna) Brahman. Be that as it may. So what?” - This question is answered thus: “In reality, even though it is so (that the Saguna Brahman has an eternal form), the general rule of ‘obtaining of exactly the same form (i.e., rulership) as per the nature of upAsana’ is dependent on the specific rules in scripture. In the absence of a scriptural-based specification of obtaining such forms as unlimited Lordship etc. through upAsana, there is no attainment of what is not meditated upon.”]

nanūpāsyasya brahmaṇo niraṅkuśamaiśvaryamasti ; tatkimiti tadupāsanānna prāpyata ityāśaṅkya vyabhicāramāha - vikārāvarti ceti । yadyadbrahmaṇo rūpaṃ tatsarvamupāsakena prāptavyamiti na niyama ityarthaḥ ॥ (prakaṭārtha vivaraṇa, 4.4.19)

[By the section beginning with “and moreoer, there is an eternal form disconnected with the material universe” etc., the following doubt is answered: “But the object of worship, (Saguna) Brahman, is endowed with unlimited rulership. Why is that rulership not obtained by worshiping it (Brahman)?” The meaning is, there is no rule to say that *every* form of (Saguna) Brahman is obtainable to the worshiper.]

Question: How do you say that the Sutra Bhashya shows Ishvara’s existence beyond material creation?

Answer: To show the existence of this eternal form, Shankara gives the example of Gayatri-brahma-vidya in the Chandogya Upanishad which declares that while only one quarter of the Highest is saMsAra-maNDala, three quarters of it are immortal and in a realm beyond saMsAra-maNDala:

tāvānasya mahimā tato jyāyāṃśca puruṣaḥ
pādo 'sya sarvā bhūtāni, tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divi

[Such is the greatness of it; greater than it is the Person. One foot of him are all beings; three feet of him is what is immortal and in its own self-effulgence (Chandogya Upanishad, 3.12.6).]

The commentary to the next Sutra gives two other examples:

na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṃ nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto 'yamagniḥ'

[The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these lightnings, and much less this fire' (Mundaka Upanishad, 2.2.10, occurs also in Katha Upanishad, 5.15  and Svetasvatara Upanishad, 6.14).]

na tadbhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ

[The sun does not illume it, nor the moon, nor fire (Bhagavad Gita, 15.6)]

Here, we should also cite Shankara’s Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya, where the Acharya says that *the deity Vishnu* is the destination intended for those who are liberated, due to *no chance of returning* for those who reach Him:

muktānāṃ paramā gatiḥ – muktānāṃ paramā prakṛṣṭā gatirgantavyā devatā punarāvṛttyasaṃbhavāttadgatasyeti muktānāṃ paramāgatiḥ । ‘māmupetya tu kaunteya punarjanma na vidyate’ iti bhagavadvacanam ।

For the Bhagavad Gita verse (8.16) cited by Shankara in the above commentary, one should refer to Madhusudana’s commentary which we have explained under the next part in this article series to get a clear picture.

Question: Well, what answer do you have to the objection that terms like “nirvikAra rUpa”, “vikArAvartI” etc., refer to formless Nirguna Brahman (Chaitanyam) state and not some eternal form of Vishnu in an eternal abode called Vaikuntha?

Answer:  Again, our position fits the context whereas the position that you state does not. Here is the reason:

The entire section talks about the niravagraha aishvarya which can belong to Saguna Brahman alone, and hence the scriptural statements quoted (Chandogya Upanishad, Mundaka/Katha, Gita) etc. refer to forms of Saguna Brahman only.

The existence of the two-fold saguNa/nirguNa brahman has already been discussed in great detail in the kAryAdhikaraNa section itself, in 4.3.14. There is no need prove this again, especially with a Sutra (4.4.20) dedicated to it establish it from shruti and smR^iti. Hence, what is covered in 4.4.20 must be a new topic in the sUtra bhAShya, not something that was not introduced in the previous adhikaraNa-s.

Moreover, note the reason and the comparison Shankara gives with Saguna Upasakas not attaining Nirguna Brahman (immediately). Shankara does not say “Behing Saguna Upasakas, they do not attain Nirguna Brahman; Hence, the aishvaryam is limited.” The Acharya instead says “Just as they do not reach Nirguna Brahman, being Saguna Upasakas, even in the obtaining of sAyujya with the Saguna form, they are limited.”

The whole point behind bringing the eternal vikArAvartin form of the Highest Lord to attention at this juncture is to show that the Highest Lord’s aishvarya is not limited to the effected universe. It would be absurd to say “the rulership of the Lord extends to His Nirguna nature”, while from the point of the attributeless state all duality is false and there is nothing to rule over.

Question: What about Anandagiri’s statement in the final Sutra (4.4.22) that the rulership of the saguNa upAsaka is limited to one kalpa? Does it not harm your position by implying that your vaikuNTha which the saguNa upAsaka reaches is within the satya loka only, and that this loka is subject to dissolution?

Answer: This is easy to address. Rulership lasting for one kalpa makes sense, since the rulership is over certain spheres within the material universe. Hence, it is temporary. It may be that at the end of this rulership, the upAsaka attains nirguNa mukti by the grace of the Ishvara. That does not mean that the eternal world necessarily is destroyed from the point of view of the individual souls yet to be liberated in the vyAvahArika realm.

Question: Okay. It is clear that Saguna Brahman does have an eternal form and an eternal abode that is Sri Vaikuntha from a cursory glance (more pramANa-s to be provided later). If so, what is the nature of the antaryAmin of all creatures from the vyAvahArika perspective? Is it Saguna or Nirguna Brahman, and does it have a form or not?

Answer:  There are some who mistake advaita in a manner that they think statements like “AhaM AtmA guDAkesha” refer only to nirguNa tattva as the Self and not Saguna Brahman. This is an erroneous understanding. As has been stated already, Nirguna Brahman under shuddhasattva upAdhi-s is Saguna Brahman. Thus,  in the vyAvahArika sath, it is Saguna Brahman that is the antaryAmin of all. Shankara has also explicitly made clear in his bhAShyas that Saguna Brahman is the indweller of the sun, etc besides having an eternal abode.
So, statements like “ahaM AtmA guDAkesha” mean, “the self of all entities is that Saguna Brahman (krishNa) who is Nirguna Brahman under shuddhasattva upAdhi-s”. Hence, “vAsudevaH sarvam” for instance means that a mahAtmA must recognize that all beings have that one Self, which is Nirguna Brahman under sattva upAdhi-s and hence called “vAsudeva”.
This antaryAmin saguna Brahman is nArAyaNa according to both Shankara who says “nArayaNaH paro ‘vyaktAt” and Madhusudhana who quotes “eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahmA, na ca shankaraH” in his Advaita Siddhi. Prior to creation, nArAyaNa, the Saguna Brahman, is full of auspicious attributes which make him Ishvara but does not have a specific form. However, He assumes forms like Krishna, Rama, etc after creation which are shuddhasattva in nature, or gentle (saumya) and this is different from the beings like Brahma, Rudra, etc whose nature is rAjasa/tAmasa. Of course, the fact that nArAyaNa prior to sR^iShTi has no form does not negate the fact that – 1) He is Saguna Brahman qualified by attributes, 2) He nonetheless does have an eternal form in Vaikuntha which is not subject to creation and destruction, 3) He assumes numerous forms like Rama, Krishna, etc and occupies various abodes within the Universe as well after creation.

Question: Thus far, what you have given as an argument for Shankara’s acceptance of “an eternal abode beyond destruction belonging to Vishnu the Saguna Brahman” is weak. The inferences are a bit indirect. It looks like there are some hidden assumptions as well. Should you not show direct statements?

Answer: Very well. For this purpose, we now begin two new sections “Evidence from Gayatri-brahmavidya in Chandogya Upanishad Bhashya”, and “Evidence in Shankara’s Bhagavad Gita Bhashya” where we have shown direct statements by Shankara supporting the notion of an eternal abode for Saguna Brahman Vishnu. In addition to that, we have dedicated the entire next part of this series titled “Acceptance of Vaikuntha as an eternal loka by other Advaitins” showing a continuous tradition of advaitic authors accepting the existence of an eternal loka for Vishnu.

Evidence from Gayatri-brahmavidya in Chandogya Upanishad Bhashya

The khANDa 12 and khANDa 13 of the third adhyAya of Chandogya Upanishad concerns itself with an exposition of what is known as gAyatrI brahma vidyA. Let us examine Shankara’s commentary to the following portion of the mantra:

atha yad ataḥ paro divo jyotir dīpyate viśvataḥpṛṣṭheṣu sarvataḥpṛṣṭheṣv anuttameṣūttameṣu lokeṣu (ChUp, 3.13.7)

atha yadasau vidvānsvargaṃ lokaṃ vīrapuruṣasevanātpratipadyate /
yaccoktaṃ tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divīti tat… viśvataḥ pṛṣṭheṣvityetasya vyākhyāna sarvataḥ pṛṣṭheṣviti /
saṃsārāduparītyarthaḥ /
saṃsāra eva hi sarvaḥ /
asaṃsāriṇa ekatvānnirbhedatvācca /
anuttameṣu tatpuruṣasamāsāśaṅkānivṛttaya āhottameṣu lokeṣviti

Translation: Now, what is described as the “heavenly abode of Brahman” (mentioned in the previous mantra as the result of the brahmavidyA) that is to be obtained by the knower (of brahman) through upAsana on the vIrapuruSha-s (i.e., the dvArapAlaka-s of Brahman situated in the heart, mentioned in the previous mantra) has also been described as “three quarters of it are imperishable, established in its own self-effulgence” in the previous kANDa. That Brahman is now described as the “jyotis” which shines above the universe, above everything, in the highest worlds, beyond which there are no worlds.

Note several points here. First, Shankara clearly says that the brahmaprApti arising from the Gayatri-Brahmavidya, a form of Saguna Vidya, is described as “a heavenly abode”. Is Shankara intending an abode within the material universe, or an abode of an eternal nature beyond material existence? Surely the latter, since by saying “yaccoktaṃ tripādasyāmṛtaṃ divīti tat“ Shankara brings up the immortality of this “svargaloka” (hence not to be confused with the ordinary svarga-loka of Indra, etc.) by a connection with the imperishable three-quarters that was just described in 3.12.6. Also, the three quarters do not include even the satyaloka, since “vishvAnibhUtAni” in 3.12.6 which Shankara explains as “tejobannAdIni sthAvarajaN^gamAdIni” (fire, food, air, etc. constituting plants, animals, etc.) has to include Brahma, who has been declared by Shankara as a bhUta (being that comes into existence during the course of creation) in innumerable places in the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya etc. Also, “saMsArAdupari” also shows that these unmatched Highest loka-s are beyond saMsAra that includes all material existence. Brahma’s saMsAritva has been declared by Shankara in many places, for example in Sutra Bhashya, 1.3.30 and in 1.1.4.

We also have confirmation from Anandagiri who says in the Chandogya-Bhashya-Tika that it is saguNa-brahman here who for the purpose of upAsana described as the resident of these transcendental loka-s:
tasya upāsyatvārthaṃ saṃsārādupariṣṭādavasthānamuktaṃ । (Anandagiri in 3.13.7)

This is revealed more clearly by Madhusudana as “śrīvaikuṇṭhasthaṃ sarvayogidhyeyaṃ” in Gita 7.24-25. We have discussed this in the next part of this article series.

Again, do we have statements from Shankara himself that the description in this passage is a description of sopAdhika saguNa brahman and not of nirupAdhika state? Affirmative, since Shankara has dealt with this passage again in the Brahma Sutra Bhashya, 1.1.24 where Gayatri-Brahmavidya is discussed:

yaduktaṃ niṣpradeśasya brahmaṇaḥ pradeśaviśeṣakalpanā nopapadyata iti /

nāyaṃ doṣaḥ /
niṣpradeśasyāpi brahmaṇa upādhiviśeṣasaṃbandhātpradeśaviśeṣakalpanopapatteḥ /
tathāhi- ādityo, cakṣuṣi, hṛdaye, iti pradeśaviśeṣasaṃbandhāni brahmaṇa upāsanāni śrūyante /
etena 'viśvataḥpṛṣṭheṣu' ityādhārabahutvamupapāditam /

Translation: Against the further objection that the omnipresent Brahman cannot be viewed as bounded by heaven we remark that the assignment, to Brahman, of a special locality is not contrary to reason because it subserves the purpose of upAsana. Nor does it avail anything to say that it is impossible to assign any place to Brahman because Brahman is out of connexion with all place. For it is possible to make such an assumption, because Brahman is connected with certain limiting adjuncts. Accordingly Scripture speaks of different kinds of devout meditation on Brahman as specially connected with certain localities, such as the sun, the eye, the heart. For the same reason it is also possible to attribute to Brahman a multiplicity of abodes, as is done in the clause (quoted above) 'higher than all.'

Note: by “limiting adjuncts” or “upAdhivisheShasaMbandhAt” we need to take it as “sattva upAdhi-s in the context of upAsana. While all beings are nirguna Brahman under rajo/tamo guNa upAdhi-s, Vishnu alone is under shuddhasattvaupAdhi-s and hence he alone is worthy of upAsana as Saguna Brahman for liberation. This has already been pointed out by Anandagiri in his TIka on to Shankara’s BSB, in the kAryAdhikaraNa section, and identified as Vishnu by agnicit puruShottama mishra as well in his commentary to the introductory (invocatory) verse of Sarvajnatman’s saMkShepa shArIraka.

To those who say that the vaikuNTha vAsin and vaikuNTha loka must be subject to pralaya in Advaita Vedanta because of its association with a certain place, we have the same reply as Shankara. The statements of Shankara in Mundakopanishad 3.2.6 to the effect that Brahman cannot be associated with a specific place is in the context of sadyomukti/jIvanmukti that constitutes immediate realization of Nirguna Brahman.

Anandagiri (in nyAyanirNaya) and Govindananda (in ratnaprabhA) confirm here that the Sutra talks about a form of Saguna Brahman beyond the saMsAra maNDala. Hence, it is clear that this form exists beyond Satya loka.

Shankara’s comment “pradeśaviśeṣasaṃbandhāni brahmaṇa upāsanāni śrūyante / etena 'viśvataḥpṛṣṭheṣu' ityādhārabahutvamupapāditam” and Anandagiri’s statement “tasya upāsyatvārthaṃ saṃsārādupariṣṭādavasthānamuktaṃ ।”, where they have mentioned that Saguna Brahman assumes a form in a transcendental abode that is beyond the saMsAramaNDala for the purpose of upAsana/dhyAna by yogins/Saguna Bhaktas. This form of the saguNabrahman and His abode are revealed to be that of Shri Vishnu and Shri Vaikuntha in the comment “śrīvaikuṇṭhasthaṃ sarvayogidhyeyaṃ” etc. by Madhusudana Saraswati in Gudhartha Dipika while commenting on Bhagavad Gita 7.24-25.

Evidence in Shankara’s Bhagavad Gita Bhashya

There are several places in the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya where Shankara introduces the notion of an eternal abode for Saguna Brahman, Vishnu. We have already seen the case of Gita 15.6 being quoted in BSB 4.4.20 as a pramANa for the eternal form of the Highest Lord. Further confirmation that this is Vishnu’s paramaM padaM is obtained in the corresponding section of Shankara’s Bhagavad Gita Bhashya:

tataḥ paścāt yat padaṃ vaiṣṇavaṃ tat parimārgitavyam, parimārgaṇam anveṣaṇaṃ jñātavyam ity arthaḥ | yasmin pade gatāḥ praviṣṭā na nivartanti nāvartante bhūyaḥ punaḥ saṃsārāya | (BGBh, 15.4)

Translation: After that, the Supreme abode (followed by the state) associated with Vishnu must be sought after and known. Those who go i.e., enter into that abode do not return again to the state of material existence and rebirth.

tad eva padaṃ punar viśeṣyate -

na tad bhāsayate sūryo na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ |
yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṃ mama ||BhG_15.6||

tat dhāmeti vyavahitena dhāmnā saṃbadhyate | tad dhāma tejo-rūpaṃ padaṃ na bhāsayate sūrya ādityaḥ sarvāvabhāsana-śaktimattve 'pi sati | tathā na śaśāṅkaś candraḥ, na pāvako nāgnir api | yad dhāma vaiṣṇavaṃ padaṃ gatvā prāpya na nivartante, yac ca sūryādir na bhāsayate, tad dhāma padaṃ paramaṃ viṣṇor mama padam ||BhGS_15.6||

Translation: That abode is once again described. Neither the sun that is capable of illuminating the entire sky, nor the moon, nor fire illuminates that self-effulgent abode. Those who obtain that abode, associated with Vishnu, enter into it and do not return. That abode, which even the sun etc. do not illuminate, is my, Vishnu’s, highest abode.

Right after 15.6, Shankara raises the objection “But it is well-known that if one can go to a certain place, returning is always possible. How do we say for sure that there is no return of those?” and answers it in the next few verses by saying that these upAsakas attain nirguNa prApti at the end by giving the pot-sky analogy of avaccheda-vAda pakSha as well as the water-reflection analogy of AbhAsa-vAda pakSha. Note that there won’t be any such serious objection deserving a long explanation if “prApti”, “gamana”, “pravesha” etc. (respectively, “attainment”, “reaching”, and “entering”) only meant nirguNa-brahman realization. The idea is that they attain saguNa Ishvara, who is Vishnu and then attain His highest state, ie, nirguNatattva.

Let us take a look at another instance in the Gita Bhashya:

tameva śaraṇaṃ gaccha sarvabhāvena bhārata।
tatprasādātparāṃ śāntiṃ sthānaṃ prāpsyasi śāśvatam।।18.62।।

tameva īśvaraṃ śaraṇam āśrayaṃ saṃsārārtiharaṇārthaṃ gaccha āśraya sarvabhāvena sarvātmanā he bhārata। tataḥ tatprasādāt īśvarānugrahāt parāṃ prakṛṣṭāṃ śāntim uparatiṃ sthānaṃ ca mama viṣṇoḥ paramaṃ padaṃ prāpsyasi śāśvataṃ nityam। ।।18.62।।

muktāstiṣṭhantyasminniti sthānam (ānandagiri)

Translation: Take refuge in Him the Lord alone with your whole being for getting rid of your mundane sufferings O scion of the Bharata dynasty. Through His grace, i.e., through the Lord’s grace, you will attain the supreme peace, i.e. highest tranquility, and the eternal Abode associated with Me i.e., Vishnu’s paramaM padam.

From the following closely-related purANika verse, it is evident that the Gita verse in question (18.62, above) says that the mukta reaches the eternal Vaikuntha Loka. Note the second half of both the Gita verse and the below:

ato hi vaiṣṇavā lokāḥ nityāste cetanātmakāḥ ।
matprasādātparāṃ śāntiṃ sthānaṃ prāpsyasi śāśvatam ॥

Translation: “Hence, these Vaishnava-worlds are eternal, and of the nature of the sentient. By my grace, you will attain supreme peace and the eternal Abode.”

The above verse is quoted as pramANa for vaikuNTha and discussed by Madhusudana and Gauda Brahmananda Saraswati in Advaitasiddhi and Laghucandrika respectively (dvitIya pariccheda, page 745 Anantakrishna Sastri’s edition). We shall discuss this portion of Advaitasiddhi/Laghucandrika in further detail shortly.

Coming back, the two verses show that “viShNoH paramaM padam” in Shankara’s commentary means not only the liberated state, but also the attainment of Vaikuntha-loka.

Note that if the term “sthAnam” itself meant only “quiescent state of Nirguna Brahman”, Shankara would not have added a cakAra as in “parāṃ prakṛṣṭāṃ śāntim uparatiṃ sthānaṃ ca mama viṣṇoḥ paramaṃ padaṃ”. The presence of cakAra shows the attainment of Saguna Brahman’s world only, where two things are said to be attained: (a) The supreme peace due to permanent remedy from the disease of mundane existence, and (b) the place of Vishnu, the Saguna Brahman beyond saMsAra.

Also note here that Anandagiri has explained “sthAnam” (Abode) as “the (place) where the liberated ones reside”. The usage of plural “liberated ones” (muktAH) indicates an eternal realm where a plurality liberated Jivas reside makes it inappropriate to associate “Vishnu’s highest padam” exclusively with nirguNaprApti, a state where there is no plurality.

Another point is also noteworthy here. In places where an interpretation in the secondary sense as “realization” i.e., “svarUpa-pratipatti” is warranted for the terms “prApti”, “gamana” etc., Shankara’s explanation is seen to be explicit and markedly different:

'brahmavidāpnoti param'(tai. 2.1.1) ityādiṣu tu satyapi āpnoteḥ gatyarthatve varṇitena nyāyena deśāntaraprāpti asaṃbhavāt svarūpapratipattiḥ eva iyam avidyā adhyāropita nāma rūpa pravilaya apekṣayā abhidhīyate 'brahmaiva sanbrahmāpyeti' (bṛ. 4.4.7) ityādivat iti draṣṭavyam /

Nowhere in the Bhagavad Gita Bhashya where statements like “attainment of Vishnu’s paramaM padam” (8.21, 15.6, 18.56, 18.62), “attaining Me” (8.16, 9.25) etc. are mentioned, Shankara takes this route to say that the “attainment” is to be strictly taken in a secondary sense as “realization of the Atman’s true nature” or as “brahmaiva lokam” etc. In fact, Shankara explains “gatvA” as “prApya” in one place “prApya” as “gatvA” in another in the Gita Bhashya, instead of “AtmasvarUpaM pratipAdya” etc.

Also, recall Shankara’s explanation of “muktAnAM paramA gatiH” in the Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya, which we have explained above in this article.

[Note: For those who believe in modern translations, note that both Alladi Mahadeva Shastri as well as Swami Gambhirananda, who are non-Vaishnava modern-day translators, have used the term “abode” both in 15.6 and 18.62 in their respective translations of Shankara’s Bhagavad Gita Bhashya.]

Continued in Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.


  1. Speaking of Veerashaiva, it's been a long time since I took down one of his asinine write-ups and exposed his utter stupidity so let us enjoy some "Veerashaiva Kapola Kalpitam".

    A couple of years ago, Veerashaiva had attempted to "refute" -- I use the word loosely -- Shri Puttur Swami's "Sankararum Vainavamum" - a book where Swami unequivocally establishes that Shankara was a Vaishnava. A sample of his "refutation":

    - Puttur Swami says that Shankara clearly declares in his VSB under the names "bhUta-krt, bhUta-brt" that Vishnu assumes rajo-guna/creation in the *form* of Brahma (virincarUpEna) and tamo-guna/destruction as the *antaryamin* of Rudra (rudrAtmana), while he himself, established in Sattva, protects. The usage of "rUpena" and "Atmana" clearly indicate the two are distinct and subservient to Vishnu.

    - Veerashaiva argues, "But but but Shankara quoted "tasmAt chivaH paramakAraNam" under the name "Rudra".

    - Look how the fool misunderstands the nature of a refutation. If you are refuting something, first you need to address the very sections quoted by your opponent and reinterpret it according to your opinion. Then only should you give a supporting statement. Quoting something that appears outwardly contradictory without explaining the section under debate is not a "refutation" -- all it shows is that your position cannot resolve the difference.

    This much is his "scholarship". The waste of space is wrong of course.


  2. Cont'd from above...

    Firstly, under the "Shiva" nAma occurring in the series "sarvam sarva shivah sthAnuh", Shankara quotes the Harivamsha where Shiva says names applicable to him are applicable to Hari and vice-versa, and thus there is abheda. The advaitic implication is that Shiva is verily Hari, the saguna Brahman under tAmasa-upAdhis, or one can say Hari is verily Shiva under tAmasa-upAdhis, and so that level of Jiva (Shiva)= Saguna Brahman (Hari) is accepted, allowing for Shankara to proclaim that there is abheda.

    This interpretation is proven by two things. Firstly Shankara's usage of "rudrAtmana" which indicated the difference between the two at the vyAvahArika. Then, the second proof is the statement by Shankara following this - "shivAdi nAmAbhih harir eva stUyatE" - Thus, Hari alone is eulogized by the names of Shiva.

    Note that Shankara, nowhere says the reverse - "Shiva is eulogied by names of Hari". Despite proclaiming abheda and vice-versa applicability of names, he only accept the praise as one way - Hari alone is praised by names of Shiva. It cannot be said that this is because he is commenting on VS and favouring Vishnu, because our senile opponent wants to believe he is praising Shiva as well, and also because he had no qualms accepting that names denote both- he could also have said praise goes to both but he desisted.
    This is because praise only goes to Hari who is Saguna Brahman. The abheda is only because Hari assumes the form of Shiva under tamas and not vice-versa -- so though both are identical by nature, one is the higher form and another the lower -- hence the higher alone is praised through both Hari and Shiva.

    Note that this is vouched for by Sridhara who says for the Shiva stuti in the Bhagavatam - "Siva parAkramaih harih stuvantah" - whereas he never says Shiva is praised in a Stuti meant for Hari.

    And there is another reason why Shankara says all this here. The name "Shiva" occurs two times in the sahasranama. The other location is "kshemakrt-chivah". There, Shankara gives the direct meaning for Vishnu - he who purifies. So, to avoid redundancy, he explains "shiva" in "sarvam-sharvah-shivas-sthanur" as "He who is pure, devoid of trigunas (despite being the self of all). As pramANa, he gives "sa brahma, sa sivah". Then he says all the stuff above about abheda etc because Hari is shiva under tamoguna upAdhis, but Hari as Saguna Brahman is pure, and because of the former, the names of Shiva apply to him.

    It is purely to avoid redundancy that he gives two meanings. Note that under "kshemakrt shivah", he makes it clear it is a direct name of Vishnu.

    So much for that. Now, this explanation makes the quotation of "tasmAt shivaH paramakAraNam" crystal clear - names of Shiva apply to Hari. El Finito.

    No knowledge of even the simplest meanings of shAstra, vishishtadvaita or even advaita and he tries to write "refutations"!


  3. Cont'd from above...

    Now, in our next example, we see how Veerashaiva tries to explain away another one of Puttur Swami's refutation regarding some bogus upanishads:

    //In the Tamil booklet ‘Sankararum Vainavamum’, the Vishishtadvaitin author makes this charge on page 10:(Translation):Appayya Dikshita and his associates concocted several Upanishads that proclaim ‘Shaivadvaita’ and compiled a list of 108 ‘Upanishads’. The Vaishnavaite elders say that the 'Sharabha, Bhasma Jabala, Rudraksha Jabala, etc. that make a struggled case of Shiva as the Supreme Brahman and the Muktika that endorses these as Upanishads are modern concoctions.' If these were Upanishads really, Haradatta, Srikantha, Appayya Dikshita, etc. who authored several books to establish Shiva-supremacy would have cited these. But they have not.' We hear these in the list of Upanishads only in the post-Appayya Dikshita period.//

    This much about Puttur Swami he writes. Now our Veerashaiva "advaitin" (loosely) says:

    //To the above charge, the Advaitin's response is as follows:
    Upanishad/s with a 'Jabala' suffix is found named in the Shiva Puranam that is admitted to be of very ancient antiquity. The size of the Shivapuranam is of that of the Mahabharata. Shankara has cited from this Purana in the Vishnu Sahasra Nama Bhashya to bring out the Shiva-supremacy, as the Parama Kaaranam.//

    So basically, all those bogus upanishad are authentic because Shankara cites the Shiva Purana, which means he established Shiva paratva, which means every shloka in the Purana is uninterpolated and pristine, and a shloka with a random name of "Jabala" is quite definitely authentic, and signifies the spurious upanishads. Quite a hilarious attempt at a "refutation"!

    He isn't done:

    // Later, Sridhara Swamin in the Vishnu Purana commentary has cited two verses, for the same purpose, from the Shiva Purana. Sri Raghavananda who lived during the same period, 13 - 14 CE, in Kerala, and wrote a commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam has cited several verses from the Shiva Purana in the Sarva Mata Sangraha, again, that bring out Shiva Supremacy.
    The 'Jabala' found in the following sample verses of the Shiva Purana is definitely not the Jabala Upanishad cited several times by Shankara in the Prasthana traya Bhashya. That Jabala is available fully and has no mention of Bhasma Dharana vidhi. //

    So Sridhara also cited the Shiva Purana, to prove Shiva paratva while commenting on the Vishnu Purana! One wonders why these advaitins were so hell bent on commenting on Vishn Purana at all, if they only wanted to prove Shiva Paratva!! And of course, the Shiva Purana is authentic and uninterpolated in it's entirety even if one shloka is quoted!!


  4. Cont'd from above...

    //The Shiva Purana is also replete with Rudraksha Dharana vidhi, Mahatmya, etc.…/…/book/book_50dbeb7a95cd3.txt
    जाबालकोक्तमंत्रेण भस्मना च त्रिपुंड्रकम् ॥ १,१३.२१अन्यथा चेज्जले पात इतस्तन्नरकमृच्छति ॥ १,१३.२१तत्रैतेबहवोलोकाबृहज्जाबालचोदिताः ॥ १,२४.४९त्रिपुंड्रोद्धूलनंप्रोक्तजाबालैरादरेणच ॥ १,२४.९अग्निरित्यादिभिर्मंत्रैर्जाबालोपनिषद्गतेः ॥ १,२४.८
    [ स होवाच सद्योजातादिपञ्चब्रह्ममन्त्रैः परिगृह्याग्निरिति भस्मेत्यभिमन्त्र्यमानस्तोक Brihajjaabaalopanishat,which is a very lengthy Upanishat.…/brihajjabala.html… and also in this collection containing Brihajjabalopanishat:]
    कालाग्निरुद्रोपनिषत् too has this vidhi for bhasma with the mantras: परिगृह्याग्निरिति भस्म वायुरिति भस्मजलमिति भस्म स्थलमिति भस्म व्योमेति ..which is in the Atharvashiropanishat.]
    श्वेतागस्त्यदधीचाद्यैरस्माभिश्च शिवाश्रितैः ॥ ७.२,३३.४ [reference to Shvetashvataramuni?]//

    Because the Shiva Purana talks about bhasma etc, these bogus upanishad are authentic!! Then he tries to argue the Muktika is authentic:

    //Muktikopanishat is cited in Jivanmukti viveka (JMV) by Swami Vidyaranya 13 - 14 CE:…
    These two mantras are cited in the JMV together, after citing from the Kathopanishad:
    बहुशास्त्रकथाकन्थारोमन्थेन वृथैव किम् ।अन्वेष्टव्यं प्रयत्नेन मारुते ज्योतिरान्तरम् ॥ ६३॥अधीत्य चतुरो वेदान्सर्वशास्त्राण्यनेकशः ।ब्रह्मतत्त्वं न जानाति दर्वी पाकरसं यथा ॥ ६५॥The following mantra is cited elsewhere in the JMVवासनाहीनमप्येतच्चक्षुरादीन्द्रियं स्वतः ।प्रवर्तते बहिः स्वाऽर्थे वासनामात्रकारणम् ॥ २२॥
    All these three are found in the Muktikopanishad.//

    Note that Vidyaranya's work does not say these mantras did belong to the muktika. They could be from another work which were later incorporated into the muktika.

    In any case, let Vidyaranya be quoting from the Muktika (As I haven't read his mediocre works anyway). Maybe Veerashaiva is not aware of this, but Vidyaranya/Sayana is equally responsible for the fabrication of spurious works as Appayya Dikshita was. Works quoted by Vidyaranya and Appayya are not accepted by any Vedantins purely because of this. It was Vidyaranya who invented the concept of worshipping 5 devas and giving predominance to Shiva and it was Appayya who brought Shaiva Siddhantha thought into Advaita. Puttur Swami has himself written about Vidyaranya being an untrustworthy source.

    In all probability, the Jivanmukti Viveka was the starting point for the composition of the Muktika.


  5. Cont'd from above...

    //The JMV cites several Upanishads that are part of the 108 such as the Amritabindu, Amritanada, Aruni, Paramahamsopanishad, Yajnavalkyopanishad, Brahmopanishad, etc. and the Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad which even has this specification for the pundra of sannyasins:…/naradparivra.html… ऊर्ध्वपुण्ड्रं कुटीचकस्य त्रिपुण्ड्रं बहूदकस्य ऊर्ध्वपुण्ड्रं त्रिपुण्ड्रं हंसस्य भस्मोद्धूलनं परमहंसस्य तुरीयातीतस्य तिलकपुण्ड्रमवधूतस्यन किञ्चित् |Thus we see that several centuries before the advent of Appayya Dikshita, the Muktikopanishat and the Upanishads listed therein have existed. The charge that these are concocted ones post-Appayya Dikshita is completely without any basis. Unable to stomach the presence of Shiva-supremacy in innumerable Upanishads, the objection has stemmed by trying to blame Appayya Dikshita. The Shivapurana of very ancient antiquity citing the 'Jabala' Upanishad/s and Vidyaranya citing from the Muktika and several Upanishads enumerated therein is a fact that cannot be denied.//

    Of course, even Shri Desikan and other Acharyas refer to Dvayopanishad, Sudarshanopanishad etc. It is accepted that there were other Upanishads which were lost. The Amrta-Bindu I believe is accepted in it’s current condition by even Vishishtadvaitins. That doesn’t mean that bhasma jabala etc which contradict the Veda and are not even mentioned by anyone is authentic.

    The "philosophy" in these bogus upanishads is also a load of rubbish that makes no sense. That should be an indicator. I have previously pointed out mistakes in interpolated sections of mahabharata (SS) and Padma Purana (Shiva Gita) myself. Easy to spot an inferior work.

    As for Vidyaranya recommending bhasma-dhArana, it is well known he is a Shaiva and prone to that. No surprises.

    Again, Veerashaiva fails to understand the concept of a refutation. Rather than addressing Puttur Swami's simple point, “Not even Veerashaivas like Haradutta and others QUOTE these bogus upanishads", he simply goes off on a tangent and guesswork. Before providing so-called supporting statements like “Shiva Purana says Jabala", first refute Puttur Swami's statement directly – why no Shiva has quoted these upanishad? Show some quotations from these bogus Upanishads. In contrast, Amrta-Bindu etc are quoted at least. Otherwise, the point stands. And if you want to show the Shiva Purana as proof, show again whether any vidvan has quoted those verses – otherwise it is nothing but one of many interpolations in a Purana which has never enjoyed a commentary tradition for obvious reasons.


    1. ADDENDUM 2: Didn't address this properly:

      //The JMV cites several Upanishads....the Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad which even has this specification for the pundra of sannyasins:…/naradparivra.html… ऊर्ध्वपुण्ड्रं कुटीचकस्य त्रिपुण्ड्रं बहूदकस्य ऊर्ध्वपुण्ड्रं त्रिपुण्ड्रं हंसस्य भस्मोद्धूलनं परमहंसस्य तुरीयातीतस्य तिलकपुण्ड्रमवधूतस्यन किञ्चित् |//

      I thought those were Vidyaranya's words, rather, seems like the buffoon is quoting the current version of the Upanishad.

      His brain cannot grasp that even assuming Vidyaranya is a reliable authority (He is not), and that he was quoting the names of extant upanishads in his time, the fact that those upanishads have not been commented upon or their contents quoted implies that they have been tampered with or lost.

      As such, while a "Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad" may well have existed, but there is no proof that it's contents were the same as that in the current day version of the Upanishad. It is similar to the case of Mahopanishad, where apart from "eko ha vai narayana AsIt..", nothing else is quoted and Shri Vedanta Desikan states that the Upanishad is lost. The current version of the Mahopanishad is tampered and the contents bar that quoted mantra are inauthentic.

      Besides that verse about urdhva and tripundra clearly seems like it was inspired by the debates between Sri Vaishnavas and Appayya Dikshita. Some "upanishad"!

      So whether is Amrta-Bindu, Bhasma Jabala, Narada Parivrajakopanishad etc, it is not enough that it is mentioned by name. It's contents must be quoted by proper Vaidikas. If not, then at least one must examine it's contents to see if they are in accordance with Vaidika principles. If they fail that test, as they all do, then they are rejected as bogus.

      Of course, coming from a blithering idiot who claims Vishnu Sahasranama refers to several gods, this is to be expected. It is a sign of his desperation that he is trying to make a case of authenticity for spurious Shaiva upanishads as genuine shastras support exactly zero percent of his opinions. Next thing you know, he will be claiming Allah Upanishad is authentic as it borrows from a few genuine mantras.

  6. Cont'd from above...

    Now, my final production of Veerashaiva's stupidity. Here ,he discusses the nAma “lohitAksha" in the sahasranama:

    //Who is ‘Lohitaksha’ in the VSN according to Shankara?//

    Apparently, a text called “Vishnu” Sahasranama really talks about everyone and everything other than Vishnu according to Veerashaiva. Maybe the title of the text should give a clue as to who is LohitAksha?

    //In the Vishnu Sahasra Nama occurs the n name, 59th, ‘Lohitaksha’ While commenting on this name Shankara says ‘lohite akShiNI yasya iti lohitakShaH’ [He whose eyes are red is LohitakShaH] and cites a mantra ‘स मा वृषभो लोहिताक्षः’. This is the famous mantra that is chanted during the upasthaanam for the Madhyahnika. It is there in the Taittiriya Aranyaka 4.42.33 and is the famous Madhyanika Mantra :
    य उदगात् महतोर्णवात् विभ्राजमान: सरिरस्य मध्यात् स मा व्रुषभो
    लोहिताक्ष: सूर्यो विपश्चिन् मनसा पुनातु ॥
    Here लोहिताक्ष refers to sUrya.
    Upon checking the Sayana bhashyam we understand that the devataa addressed in this mantra is Surya. Sayana says ‘vipashcith’ is ‘sarvajna.’
    Thus, according to Shankara, ‘LohitakSha’ is the Surya Devataa.//

    So, the logic is this – Shankara cites a mantra, and since Sayana, a veda-bhashyakAra who simply commented on superficial meanings of the samhitas without understanding the context, and who came centuries after Shankara – that Sayana says it is Surya devata referred to by the Mantra and so it is Surya who is praised in a text called “Vishnu” Sahasranama according to Shankara!!

    If you look close enough, you can see his dvesham filled brain literally exploding under pressure!!

    Laughable. According to Shankara, Vishnu is Saguna Brahman. Thus, names of other deva apply to Vishnu only, as they are forms of Vishnu under different upAdhis. So, even if we take Sayana as an authority (and we shouldn’t), a mantra dedicated to Surya praises only Vishnu according to Advaita.

    And on another note, Surya is a name of Vishnu. Sayana is neither an authority on Vedanta or Shankara.

    //This is just another instance, of many, where the VSN has names that do not denote the deity Vishnu but some other devataa. Since all devata-s in the cosmos are really Brahman alone, the names in the VSN are often seen to be not connected to the deity Vishnu. //

    Yes, it really is “anya-devata sahasranama”!! In fact, it doesn’t talk about our poor bhagavAn Vishnu at all!!

    //For example, Soma (505) is commented, alternatively, by Shankara as referring to Umaa pathi, Shiva. The name ‘Rudra’ (114) too is so. Hiranyagarbha is yet another.//

    And under “dhananjaya", Shankara says it is Arjuna. So is Arjuna Saguna Brahman as well?

    Under Soma and Dhananjaya, he says Vishnu is Shiva and Arjuna in the form of Vibhutis . That’s all. The Rudra nAma refers to Vishnu only As does your everlasting “tasmAt shivah paramakAranam" (ShivAdi nAmabhih harir Eva stUyate)


    1. ADDENDUM: "lohitAksha" nonsense can be dispelled quite easily by studying the mantra and shankara bhashyas to finish off Veerashaiva’s stupid notions. Sayana’s translations are not authority for either school.

      First, let us look at a generic interpretation of the mantra. Sayana’s superficial interpretation will suffice.

      ya udagāt mahatorṇavāt vibhrājamāna: sarirasya madhyāt sa mā vruṣabho lohitākṣa: sūryo vipaścin manasā punātu ॥

      Generic Meaning according to Sayana: May my whole mind be sanctified by the Sun who bestows all our needs, whose eyes are red, who is omniscient and who rises from amidst the waters of the ocean illuminating all the quarters.

      This mantra certainly makes a reference to “Surya”. Sayana is not wrong on that account per se. However, that this does not refer to Surya Devata, but to the Supreme Brahman, the Person dwelling within the Sun according to Shankara. This can be seen from his Chandogya Upanishad Bhashyam where he writes for tasya yathA kapyAsam pundarIkam evam akshinI:

      “His eyes are (red) like a monkey’s seat - lotus. His name is “Ut”. He has risen above all evils.”

      Thus, Shankara identifies the Being in the sun, with golden hair and red eyes as Saguna Brahman, on account of “ut”. As the red eyes are specified in both the Chandogya and the Sandhya Mantra, it is clear that “Surya” here refers to the Saguna Brahman according to Advaita.

      Now, is this red-eyed being, the surya devata, who is being hailed as Saguna Ishvara? Is it Rudra? Or is it Vishnu? We direct you to Shankara’s brahma-sUtra-bhAshyam, where he provides a clarification under “antastaddharmopadeshAt” as to who this person is:

      “For the qualities of the highest Lord (Saguna Ishvara) are indicated in the text as follows”.

      And Shankara, goes on to say that the Highest Being assumes a form to be worshipped by his devotees, by virtue of maya, provides a pramANa for this, as follows:

      “Thus Smriti also says, 'That thou seest me, O Nârada, is the Mâyâ emitted by me; do not then look on me as endowed with the qualities of all beings.”

      This smriti is nothing but the Mahabharata, and this is spoken by Lord Narayana to Narada. Here it is -

      That Shankara quotes this as pramANa to identify the Being in the sun as Saguna Brahman, should be enough to dispel any silly notion that he was talking about Surya Devata. It is Vishnu.

      Since – 1) the Lord has red eyes in the sun according to Shankara, 2) and red eyes are specified in the Sandhya mantra, 3) and Shankara, who identified the red eyed Lord as Vishnu in his BSB, 4) also quotes the Sandhya mantra in Vishnu Sahasranama -- he clearly identified this mantra as referring to Vishnu.

      Not that Veerashaiva’s blabberings even required an explanation, considering it is impossible to think of the Sahasranama as denoting any other deva (starts with "kim ekam daivatam loke") but this should make it amply clear.

      Also note, that mantra can be directly interpreted as Narayana. “udagAt mahatOarnava” can mean “he rises above samsara”. “sarirasya madhyAt” means he is in the sun. “Surya” is a name occurring in the sahasranama, and Shankara and Bhattar have both interpreted it etymologically. Thus, it can even be taken directly as denoting the Lord.

      That should suffice.

  7. Cont'd from above...

    //Shankara has cited a Vishnu Purana verse in the VSN Bhashya introduction:
    सृष्टिस्थित्यन्तकरणीं ब्रह्मविष्णुशिवात्मिकाम् ।
    स संज्ञां याति भगवानेक एव जनार्दनः ॥ १,२.६६ ॥
    Sridhara Swamin says:
    ब्रह्मादिरूपाणि च तद्व्यतिरिक्तानि न भवन्ति इत्येतदाह – सृष्टिस्थित्यन्तकरणीं. The VP says: the forms such as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not distinct from Janardana by the verse: सृष्टिस्थित्यन्तकरणीं…//

    Yes , because Brahma and Rudra are simply Vishnu under rajo-tamo guna upAdhis. Again, not understanding the basic concept of a “refutation” – how about explaining Sridhara's various statements in the Bhagavatam commentary that Brahma and Rudra are under upAdhis, they cannot grant moksha, that they are vishnu bhaktas etc before misinterpreting this VP verse? Without refuting the main statement, misquoting verses and showing it off as “proof" is not a refutation.

    //The above meaning alone is brought out by Shankara in the Vishnu Sahasra Nama for the names ‘bhUtakrt’ and ‘bhutabhrt’ as translated (correctly) by K.E. Parthasarathy, Sri Visnusahasranama, Ganesh & Go (Madras) Pvt. Ltd., Madras-17,(1966) [This book contains the Parasara Bhattar commentary too. This author has written other books such as ‘Prapatti..’]
    भूतकृत् Bhutakrt (The evolver of all beings)
    (Sankara) He creates all beings assuming the quality of Rajas in the form of Brahma.
    The name also means that He destroys (कृन्तति) the beings in his Tamasa aspect as Rudra.
    भूतभृत् Bhutabhrt (The Sustainer of Beings)
    (Sankara) Sankara derives the meaning from the root ‘दुभृञ धारणपोषणयोः’ He supports or protects all beings in His Sattvic aspect.[Thus, it is One Brahman, by assuming the three gunas performs the three cosmic functions as the Trimurti-s. Sridhara Swamin has said this in the Bhagavatam commentary too: brahmarUpeNa, vishnurUpeNa, rudrarUpeNa…]//

    Here, he slyly hides that Shankara has said “virincarUpena", “rudrArtmana" but simply says “he as Sattva established protects”.

    Shankara does not say “Vishnurupena" here.

    Before randomly quoting Sridhara, you explain his other statements as advised earlier. Of course, you cannot.

    And finally, here is the real agenda:

    //The three murti-s are only three aspects of one Brahman. The name ‘LohitaakSha’ is there in the Shiva Sahasra Nama of Mahabharata too:
    लोहिताक्षो महाक्षश्च विजयाक्षो विशारदः । The name ‘Lohitaksha’ is also found as an adjectival one, as for example, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishat 5.4.16:अथ य इच्छेत्पुत्रो मे श्यामो लोहिताक्षो जायेत त्रीन्वेदाननुब्रुवीत सर्वमायुरियादित्युदौदनं पाचयित्वा सर्पिष्मन्तमश्नीयातामीश्वरौ जनयितवै ॥ १६ ॥[If a man wishes that a son with a dark complexion and red eyes should be born to him, …]//

    So importantly, the SS is all about Shiva and it contains “lohitAksha". So Shiva is also referred to in VS, the entire VS is about Shiva!!

    FYI, “lohitAksha" is a common noun and of course it can apply to multiple persons. But, 1) it applies to only Vishnu in the text named “Vishnu" Sahasranama, 2) It assumes the meaning of suddha-sattva rUpa and paratva only in connection to Vishnu, the Parabrahman and 3) As neither Surya, Shiva or the baby in the Brihadaranyaka are identified as “Narayana", the name to which all other names belong, none of them are Parabrahman even if called “lohitAksha".

    Well, that was a fun exercise. He sure writes a lot of nothing. Should be labelled a band-width thief and arrested for wasting valuable space on the net.

  8. Finally, speaking of waste of space, Santosh, our "mahapashupatastra", has transferred his garbage from his blog to indiafacts website here:

    Boy, are Veerashaiva and Santosh made for each other. Mudhah, Mayaya-Apahrta-Jnana, etc as Krishna describes in the Gita applies to them.

    Anyway, I have contributed an article to that site myself a while ago. Readers can check out a Vishishtadvaitic commentary on the beautiful Nasadiya Suktam here on this website, my humble offering to the lotus feet of pUrvAchAryAs:

  9. Final comment to all Shaivas like Veerashaiva and Santosh:

    If you hold Shiva as the highest Brahman, then what is the name you assign to the ultimate Reality that describes said Reality perfectly? For it is well known that the Highest Cause (Saguna Brahman in advaita), has a name -- for having a form implies having a name as well. Then what is that specific name of your god you claim to be Brahman, to which all generic names belong?

    Is it Shiva? If so, even the Jiva is called Shiva (asau tadā śivaḥ - Ishvara Gita 2.36). The mind is also referred to as Shiva (Shiva Sankalpa Sukta). Vishnu is referred to as Shiva (shAsvatam Shivam Achyutam; Shantam Shivam Advaitam). In addition, names like "paramashiva", "sadashiva" seem to imply that the name "Shiva" is incomplete and requires a prefix.

    Then, is it "Paramashiva"? But then again, the Jiva, which is "paramah" as it is superior to prakrti, is also "shivah" (hence Paramashiva).

    Then, is "Sadashiva" the highest appellation? But then, the Kaivalya refers to the Jiva as "sadashivah". Vishnu is also referred to as such.

    Is it "Umapati"? Nope, Narasimha is referred to by that name as well.

    Is it "Pashupati"? That could be the highest name of the Reality? Nope, the Kurma Purana does refer to the Jivatma as "Pashupati". "Pashu" signifies anger and the Jiva which possesses anger is "Pashupati". Narasimha is again called Pashupati as well.

    Is it "Nilakantha"? Again, Narasimha is also referred to by that name. Furthermore, the 11th anuvAka of the Rudram attributes the name "nIlagrIva" to the nerves or veins in the body (nIla = black, grIva any narrow passage).

    Is it "Rudra" - But Vishnu is also called Rudra. Also, the vAyupurANa refers to the experience of the individual self as "rudralOka" - the perception that is "rudra" as it destroys samsAra dukha. Again, not an exclusive name.

    Is it "Ishana" or "Isha"? Besides Vishnu, the name denotes the Jiva and even in a generic manner, certain kings etc in the shAstra.

    Is it "Ishvara"? Jiva is referred to as "Ishvara" in the Ishvara Gita and many other places (Madalasa upAkhyAna too). Vishnu is of course referred to as "Ishvara".

    Is it "Maheshvara"? Jiva is referred to as Maheshvara in the Gita (upadraShTAnumantA cha bhartA bhoktA maheshvaraH). Vishnu is referred to as Maheshvara as well, of course.

    Is it "Parameshvara? But the Ishvara Gita refers to the Jivatma as Parameshvara (eṣa ātmāhamavyakto māyāvī parameśvaraḥ - IG 2.45). Bhagavad Gita too refers to the Jivatma as such (samaM sarveShu bhUteShu tiShThantaM parameshvaram) . Bhagavan Vishnu is referred to as "Parameshvara" in the Vishnu Purana.

    Is it "Chandrasekhara" or "ArdhanArIshvara"? But Vishnu is also referred to by those names (Chandrasekhara in Narada Purana, ArdhanArIshvara in Vamana Purana)

    So really, there is no name of Shiva that exclusively describes the supreme reality. Thus, he can only be Brahman, if he is identical with Narayana, the exclusive name of Brahman that is identified as that of God Vishnu in the Upanishads. Unfortunately, "eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahma, nEshAna" puts paid to that notion as well.


  10. Swamy what is exact method to accept which Upanishad is authentic n which is not? XYz Upanishad hasn’t been quoted by anyone isn’t considered as an argument by many.They say even mantra Samhitas don’t have commentaries prior to Sayana that doesn’t mean mantra Samhita becomes fake .Swamy can u elaborate some other technical way to weed out fake Upanishads Thank you.

    1. In the case of samhitas, the doubt doesn't arise as there is a tradition unbroke recitation in the form of Ghana patha, jata patha, pada krama etc. (This is also the case for brAhmaNas and AraNyakas, as well as major upanishads).

      So in the case of Upanishads, the rule is that anything that is commented upon by ancient Vedantins alone must be considered for debate

  11. I request the owners of this blog to avoid using harsh words like "stupid" when refuting the views of someone, even if that person is wrong. Aryamaa says "Veershaiva's stupid notions" - instead he could have said "baseless notions" or "fanciful, untenable notions" or simply "notions arising from ignorance". Even when defending our religion and philosophy, let us abstain from using harsh words against a person. Let us adhere try to the high moral values that our AchAryAs have always stood for

    1. If you don't like our language, don't read our articles. Simple as that.

      For the record, our Acharyas have used terms like "kudhrishtis" and "murkhas" to refer to opponents. The only moral high ground here is your own imagination. Respect is only given to those who engage in debates constructively, not to vitanda-vAdis and Vishnu dveshis like "stupid" Veerashaiva who even made blasphemous comments about the rAsa-leela of bhagavan. He isn't even better than Christians or leftists in that regard and we have zero respect for him or his opinions.

      In short, get off your moral high horse and take a look at reality. Or go read someone else's blog, we have no problems with that.


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