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Sarvajnatman's Sankshepa Shariraka – A lucid example of an ancient Advaitic Vaishnava work

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This write-up is based on an important advaitic philosophical work of the 9th/10th Century, by an author called "Sarvajnatman". The name of the work is "saN^kShepa shAriiraka". The purpose of these write-ups is to show that in addition to Shankara, ancient advaitins who were his close followers held Vishnu alone as supreme.
Dedication to Vishnu and "viShNoH paramaM padam"
In the very first verse of this work, Sarvajnatma Muni has written the following mangaLa shloka :
"anṛta jaḍa virodhi rūpaṃ antatraya mala bandhana duḥkhatā viruddham ॥
atinikaṭam avikriyaṃ murāreḥ paramapadaṃ praṇayād abhiṣṭavīmi ॥" (1.1)

Translation: “Out of reverence, I praise the Supreme State/Nature of the Slayer of the demon Mura (Lord Vishnu), opposed in nature to falsehood and the non-self-illuminating, opposed to in nature to (i) the threefold limitations (desha - place, kAla - time, and vastu - physicality), (ii) impurity, (iii) bondage, and (iv) suffering, which is very near by virtue of being the individual self’s own true nature, and which is not subject to change.”

And again, Sarvajnatma Muni praises Lord Vishnu in the very last verse:

"bhujaṅgamāṅga śāyine vihaṅgamāṅga gāmine । turaṅgamāṅga bhedine namo rathāṅga pāṇine ॥"

Translation: Salutation to the one who rests on the Serpent (Adisesha), has the bird (Garuda) as His vehicle, who killed the (demon Kesi who came in the form of a) horse, to the one who bears the (Sudarshana) Chakra.

Today’s advaitins try to discredit Lord Vishnu’s supremacy in the Vedas by saying that “viShNu” in “viShNoH paramaM padaM” has to be interpreted etymologically as “all-pervading Brahman” and not as the “Puranic deity”. Here are some examples from a public email discussion group on advaita:

“It is very common to refer to the state of moksha as "viShNoH paramam padam". The word viShNu here need not be taken as a reference to viShNu with form. Rather, it refers to the upaniShadic statements that having created the universe, brahman enters it. The verb root "viS" means to enter, and therefore Brahman is called viShNu.”

“For 'tad viShNoH paramam padam' of the Kathopanishad 1.3.9 Shankara has commented that it is the 'the superior-most abode of VishNu, the vyApanashIla, all-pervading Brahman, the paramAtman, called vAsudeva, in
its TRUE sense, satattvam.'  This qualifying word is crucial: the saguNa aspect is denied and the purified nirguNa Brahman alone is realized to be one's true nature.  So, Shankara has desisted from giving any saguNa-meaning for the term VishNu here.”

However, one can easily see that sarvaj~nAtman is against this view. While he could have written “viShNoH paramaM padaM”, instead he writes “murAreH paramaM padaM” (supreme nature/state of the Slayer of the demon Mura) . Thus, according to ancient advaitins, “viShNuH” in “viShNoH paramaM padaM” only indicates the shankha-chakra-gadA-dhAri, the slayer of mura.

Shri sarvaj~nAtman always relates liberation in advaita to the state/nature of the saguNa-brahman who is endowed with shuddha-sattva upAdhis. See elsewhere:

1.239 – "paramake viṣṇoḥ pade śāśvate"
1.248 – "paramaṃ viṣṇoḥ padam"
1.265 – "bhagavato viṣṇoḥ paramaṃ padam"
1.266 – "paramaṃ padaṃ murāreḥ"
3.55 – "hareḥ paramaṃ padam"
3.144 – "viṣṇoḥ paraṃ padam"
3.291 – "anādy anantaṃ mahataḥ paraṃ dhruvaṃ nicāyanīyaṃ padam īdṛśaṃ hareḥ"

One has to note the usage of the terms “Vishnu”, “Hari”, “bhagavAn”, “murAri” all of which refers to the Supreme Deity of the Vaishnavas only.

Some modern advaitin/smArthas might still claim that "murAri", "hari" etc., just like "viShNu" can still be interpreted using "inner meaning" rather than directly to indicate nirguNa brahman. This is incorrect since:

(i) The commentators on this work, Ramatirtha, Madhusudana, and Nrsimhashrama unanimously agree that "murAri" refers to bhagavAn viShNu only. See for example Ramatirtha's commentary: "Shri Krishna, the one who slayed the asura named 'mura' is called 'murAri', a famous name specified by all purANas. That this is Lord Vishnu Himself, who descended for the protection of the earth, is shown there itself.(muranāmno asurasya hantā śrīkṛṣṇo murāririti sarvapurāṇeṣu prasiddham । sa ca jagatpālanāya kṛtāvatare bhagavān viṣṇureveti ca tatraiva nirṇītam ।)

(ii) Nowhere has the granthakAra (author) used similar phrases related to devatAntaras, like "kailAsa padaM", "nandivAhanasya padaM", "shUlinaH padaM", "pashupateH padaM" etc, which one would expect if the author believed in hari-hara abheda vAda and in "inner meanings" to negate the saguNa mUrti aspect.

As we shall see soon in this series, the author and the commentator Nrsimhashrama specifically negate jagatkAraNatvaM (status of being the universal cause), aparicchinna-jnAna-aishvaryatvaM (status of being the possessor of unbounded knowledge and rulership) for Shiva (in the section on the refutation of kaNAda and pAshupata matas), and in the very next verse says that "according to our siddhAnta, it is the son of vasudeva, who is beyond speech, who is devoid of origin and end, is the cause of the universe which He created effortlessly like the act of breathing". Again, while the author could have used the word "vAsudeva" to describe parabrahman (in which case etymological meanings can be employed to avoid Lord Vishnu), the phrase chosen is "the son of vasudeva". In the verse after that, the author condemns the mAheshvara/shaiva doctrine that shUlabhRt (bearer of the trident) is the author of the Vedas. We shall see the shlokas and the detailed commentaries as we cover the material in proper order.

Enough to say this much to those hari-hara-abheda-vAdins who say "Vishnu, Murari, Hari etc. are not to be interpreted as popular deities in advaita".

Ganga the river is Lord Vishnu's Sri Pada Tirtha

That the river Ganga emanates from Lord Vishnu's feet and that Shiva wishes to bear it, is an affirmation of the Supremacy of Vishnu. This is a fact that Shaivas deny. Appayya Dikshita spells the Shaiva position out very clearly in "Brahma Tarka Stava", saying that there are two Gangas and the one that emanated from Vishnu's foot flow straight to the ocean, becoming useless to the world while the other Ganga originates from Shiva's head and benefits the earth by flowing through the north-eastern plains of the bhArata country.

As we will see now, ancient Advaitins rejected such Shaiva misreadings. Sarvajnatman himself has the following shloka in the same work where he has dedicates the text to the Lotus Feet of Lord Padmanabha. In this verse, the authors prays that his work should bear the dust of Lord Vishnu's feet, just like the river Ganga bears the dust of His Lotus Feet. A confirmation of the Vaishnava faith of ancient advaitins:

"avirala pada paṅktiḥ padmanābhasya puṇyā
caraṇa kamala dhūli grāhiṇī bhāratīyam ॥
ghanataram upaghātaṃ śreyasaḥ śrotṛ saṅghāt
surasaridiva sadyo mārṣṭu māṅgalya hetuḥ ॥"

Translation: May this literary composition, which causes auspiciousness, dense with its arrangement of words, purified due to its association with the dust from Lord Padmanabha’s Lotus Feet, immediately wash away the affliction of saMsAra from those who hear it, just like Ganga -- the river of the devas, which bears the dust of Lord Padmanabha’s feet (gathered during His trivikramAvatAra).

Sarvajnatman's predecessor, Sureshvara brings out the supremacy of Vishnu very clearly in a similar verse in Naishkarmyasiddhi. Note that in addition to stating that Ganga emanates from the foot of Lord Vishnu, Suresvara states that these waters are indeed the one borne by Shiva:

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.

Maheshvara, the possessor and controller of Maya is none but Vishnu

A famous verse in the shvetAshvatara upaniShad (4.10) states that “one should know mAyA as the prakR^iti and maheshvara as the possessor of the mAyA”. When it comes to the identity of this "maheshvara", ancient advaitins are pretty clear. Take Sureshvaracharya as an example, who first gives the above mantra and the explanatory verse from the Gita consecutively to make its meaning clear, in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad Bhashya Varttika:

“māyāṃ tu prakṛtiṃ vidyānmāyinaṃ tu maheśvaram ।
iti vedaśiraḥsūktistathā codghṛṣyate sphuṭā ॥” (1.4.382)

“daivī hyeṣā guṇamayī mama māyeti ca smṛtiḥ ।
vaiṣṇavī khalviyaṃ māyetyapi loke'pi gīyate ॥” (1.4.383)

Translation: The statement from the Vedas “mAyAM tu prakR^itiM vidyAn mAyinaM tu maheshvaraM” is extremely clear. Also from the Smriti statement “daivI hyeShA guNamayI mama mAyA…” (Gita 7.14), and from the popularity of mAyA being sung as “vaiShNavI” in the world.

Sarvajnatman similarly states in the following verses from the controller:

2.166 – "jaḍaśaktimātra vapuṣā gagana śvasanādi kārya jananī bhavati । puruṣottamasya vaśavartitayā prakṛtiḥ parasya jagadeka guroḥ" [Prakrti generates the effects AkAsha, vAyu etc. with its form as Jada-shakti , by being subject to the control of Purushottama, who is the Supreme and is the only Guru for the entire universe.]

2.190 – "jīveśāna-jagad vibhāga jananī śaktir jaḍā vaiṣṇavī" [The Jada-shakti of Vishnu, which generates the difference between the individual soul, the ruler, and the universe.]

3.108  – "māyā sarveśvareṇa hariṇā dṛḍhamabhyadhāyi" [Mayashakti, strengthened by Hari, the Lord of all.]

4.46 – Consider this verse:

"kṣaraṃ pradhānamamṛtākṣaraṃ haraḥ
kṣarātmānāvīśate deva ekaḥ ॥
tasyābhidhyānād yojanāt tattvabhāvād
bhūyaś cānte viśva māya nivṛttiḥ ॥"

Even though the statement of the shvetAshvatara upaniShad bearing the word hara is illustrated, the commentator Shri Ramatirtha explains it in his work (anvitArthaprakAshikA) as follows: “the pradhAna called mAyA, which is subject to modification is called kShara, and hara is the one who governs it” [pradhānaṃ māyākhyaṃ kṣaraṃ vināśi haraḥ tad adhiṣṭhātā īśvaraḥ ।]**, thereby using the etymological meaning for hara instead of interpreting the word as a name of Rudra/Siva. Moreover, the commentator proceeds further thus: “The one Lord, who is Pure, the Supreme Atman, rules the kShara and Atman, i.e., the object of enjoyment and the enjoyer [eko devaḥ śuddhaḥ paramātmā kṣarātmanau bhogya bhoktārāv īśate niyamayati], thus explaining the words “devaH ekaH” from the mantra. Further in addition to that, Ramatirtha quotes Bhagavad Gita 15.18, saying that the being known as "puruShottama" in this verse is the controller of mAyA spoken of in the aforementioned shvetAshvatara text:

"yasmātkṣaramatīto'hamakṣarādapi cottamaḥ । ato asmi loke vede ca prathitaḥ puruṣottamaḥ" (BG 15.18) iti smṛtyuktaḥ puruṣottama eko devo yaḥ kṣarātmānāvīśate...

From this explanation, it can be seen that there were at least a few advaitins who agreed that “bhagavAn shrIman nArAyaNa who is called ‘Purushottama’ in the Vedas and Itihasa/Puranas, is the one who is declared as the Supreme One in shvetAshvatara and other Upanishads, and not Parvatipati Rudra”.

**ATTENTION: It is important to note that this meaning is not accepted in Srivaishnavism. Rangaramanuja and Vedanta Desika interpret “hara” as the jeevAtmA, the enjoyer of prakR^iti. The paramAtma is only described by the words “Ishate ekaH devaH”.

Bhagavad-avataras are not subject to karma:

Modern-day advaitins do not understand this point properly. They quote randomly to arrive at non-Vedic conclusions. There is a variety of statements that they make, and I make no attempt to list them here or refute them point-by-point. Let us just take a look at what our ancient advaitic author had to say here:

"svecchā vinirmita vapur bhajato'pi tasya
nājñānitā'vagatirasti vaśitvahetoḥ ।
vaśyatva hetukam idaṃ sphuraṇaṃ narāṇāṃ
nāhaṃ vijāna iti nāsti tad īśvarasya ॥ (2.181)"

Translation: Even when He takes up a form out of His own will/at the request of His devotees, the condition of omniscience is not compromised. For He is the controller of all. He does not possess the quality of ignorance/avidyA as seen in men who are in bondage.

"saṅkalpapūrvakaṃ abhūdraghunandanasya
nāhaṃ vijāna iti kaṃ cana kālametat ॥
brahmopadeśam upalabhya nimittamātraṃ
taccotsasarja sa kṛte sati devakārye॥" (2.182)

Translation: Once, Raghunandana (descendant of the raghu dynasty i.e., Rama), did display the condition of “ignorance”, out of His own volition, resolve, and free will (unlike a jIva). Brahma’s advice to Him (that He was indeed Parabrahman Vishnu/Narayana) was just a mere instrument. Taking up and giving up that resolution were executed by none but Him, for the benefit of the devas (i.e., to take a human form to kill Ravana).

Lord Krishna, and not Shiva, is the one declared as the Supreme in the Vedas:

Towards the end of the 3rd adhyAya of this work, there is a refutation of the doctrine of kaNAda and the mAheshvaras. Shri Nrsimhashrama Saraswati’s commentary deserves great notice here.

First, the context: According to the philosophy of kaNAda and other vaisheShikas, who do not believe in the apauruSheyatva of the veda, the connection between words and the sense conveyed by them have been constructed by Lord Siva, whom they claim can be inferred from perception and inference. This is disregarded by Sarvajnatman as un-Vedic. The author says that according to the Vedas, it is instead Lord Krishna, who is declared in the Vedas as the Supreme, is the one who created the universe effortlessly.

Note that if ancient advaitins such as Sarvajnatman were hari-hara-abheda vAdins, they would be quite less inclined to switch to Lord Krishna in the siddhAnta portion when the pUrvapakSha talks about Lord Shiva.


"pada padārtha paraspara saṅgatiṃ
niramimīta tato na jagadguruḥ॥
matimatāṃ pravaro vṛṣabhadhvajaḥ
kaṇabhugādi munipravaraḥ prabhuḥ॥
na tu (*) dharādijagadracanābalā-
danumito'navakhaṇḍitaśaktikaḥ ॥263॥"

"api tu vaidika vāṅmanasātigā
(a)nudita lupta cidekarasāt prabhoḥ ॥
abhavad ānakadundubhi nandanā(t)
amatipūrvam idaṃ sakalaṃ jagat ॥264॥"

(*)‘nanu’ as per the recension of Ramatirtha and Madhusudana, implying an objection from the pUrvapakSha. In Nrsimhashrama’s recension,  it is ‘na tu’, implying an emphatic statement from the uttarapakSha.

Nrsimhashrama expands the first of the above two verses as follows in his commentary ‘tattvabodhini’ :

“The Lord of sages such as kaNAda and akShapAda, who is inferred as the Lord by virtue of creatorship of earth and the rest of the universe according to their philosophy, who bears the bull as his flag, who is called Shankara (i.e., Shiva/Rudra), is excellent in his knowledge compared to us and in our opinion. However, he does not possess unbounded prowess, rulership, or knowledge. Hence, he cannot have established the connection between the words of the Veda and the sense/object conveyed by the words. The Purvapakshin replies as follows: ‘Then, as per your siddhAnta, by what reasoon is the omniscient Lord proven, and how does the connection between names and forms come from Him?’ The answer is that we only conclude all these things from the statements of the shruti, such as ‘yaH sarvaj~naH sarvavit’ and ‘satyaM j~nAnaM anantaM’”

[kaṇabhugādi munipravaraprabhuḥ – kaṇāda akṣapāda muni-śreṣṭānāṃ svāmī dharādi-jagad-racanā balād-anumitaḥ pṛthivyādi-jagannirmāṇa-lakṣaṇa-kārya-balād-anumitaḥ (kaṇādamate iti upadhātavyaḥ) vṛṣabhadhvajaḥ śaṅkaraḥ yato matimatāṃ pravaraḥ buddhimatām-asmadādīnāṃ śreṣṭaḥ asmadādy-apekṣayā'dhikajñānavān na tu anavakhaṇḍita-śaktikaḥ na tv-aparicchinna-jñāna-aiśvarya-śaktikaḥ tataḥ pada-padārtha-paraspara-saṅgatiḥ padāni ghaṭādi-śabdāḥ padārthāḥ ghaṭādayaḥ paraspara-saṅgatiḥ pada-padārthayor-anyonyaṃ vācya-vācaka-bhāva-sambandhaḥ pada-padārtha-saṅketān-na niramimīta buddhipūrvān-nirmitavān ityarthaḥ । tarhi bhavanmate vā sarvajña īśvaraḥ kena siddhaḥ kathaṃ vā tasmān-nāma-rūpa-tatsambandhāḥ saṃbhūtā ityāśaṅkya yaḥ sarvajñaḥ sarvavit satyaṃ jñānam-anantam-ityādi-śrutyaiva siddhaḥ ॥]

The commentary for the next verse runs thus:

“‘That which is unreachable by words or the mind, by virtue of the statement ‘yato vAco nivartante’, that which is devoid of origin and end, which is Pure Consciousness in essence, the Lord, who was doted upon as his own son by Anakadundubhi (vasudeva), Lord  Krishna Himself. From this Lord Krishna, this universe proceeds effortlessly, as if it were his breath. In your religion, the conclusion that the connection between words and their sense is established by the Lord is conditional upon the premise that the Lord can be inferred. However, we hold that the word-sense connection is apauruSheya.’ - This is the meaning. In this verse, the author (Sarvajnatman) also displays the greatness of his Vishnu-bhakti.”

[satyajñānam anantam ityādinā vedena lakṣaṇa-vṛttyā gamyo vaidikaḥ tatra hetuḥ – vāṅmanasātiga iti । vāṅmanase atikrāntaḥ yato vāca iti śruteḥ anudita lupta cideka rasaḥ utpatti vināśa rahita caitanyaika svarūpaḥ satyādi vākya lakṣya vāṅmanasāgocarānuditānastamita bodha svarūpād ityarthaḥ । ānakadundubhinandanād vasudevena putratetvena abhimanyamānāt śrī kṛṣṇād ityarthaḥ । anena svasya viṣṇubhakty ādhikyaṃ dyotitam ।  amatipūrvam abuddhipūrvaṃ niśvāsavad anāyāsenety arthaḥ । idaṃ paridṛśyamānaṃ sakalaṃ nāma-rūpa-karmātmakam ityarthaḥ । tathā ca bhavadabhimateśvarasya anumānād asiddheḥ tatsiddhiṃ vinā ca saṅketasya tat kṛtatvāsiddher na śabdārtha sambandhaḥ pauruṣeya iti bhāvaḥ ॥]

Note especially the following words of Nrsimhasrama: "Shankara (i.e., Shiva/Rudra), is excellent in his knowledge compared to us and in our opinion. However, he does not possess unbounded prowess, rulership, or knowledge." There can not be a more direct statement from an Advaitin supporting the position of Vaishnavas regarding Rudra.

Note also  that even though the author Sarvajnatman calls Shiva as “jagadguruḥ”in 3.263. However, this does not imply any supremacy, but only says that Shiva imparts knowledge as agreed by all Vaishnavas. In fact, looking at the whole text from another angle, this description may even show that Vishnu is superior to Shiva: While the author says that Lord Vishnu too is a Guru elsewhere, he always employs the superlative degree unlike in the case of Shiva. For example -- “jagadekaguruḥ”(2.166), “jagadekahitaḥ” (3.353), “aśeṣaguruḥ”(3.351) etc.
The following verse in the same section asserts the same message again:

3.272 – "viśvaṃ viṣṇor utthitaṃ nāma-rūpaṃ niḥśvāsādi-prakhyam-ity-āha vedaḥ॥"  [The Veda says that the universe emanates like breath from Vishnu.]

3.290 – Consider this verse:

"sarva-dvaita-vivarjitaṃ vigalita-dhvāntaṃ śivaṃ śāśvatam ॥
pratyag-rūpam-arūpa-gandha-rasakaṃ tac-chabda-vācye sthitaṃ
vākyārthānvayi lakṣitaṃ bhagavato viṣṇoḥ padaṃ gṛhyatām ॥"

In the above verse, though the adjective “shivaM shAshvataM” is employed in the beginning, the object of this description is later declared as: “the State/Nature of bhagavAn viShNu”. Hence, it is very clear that the author considers descriptions such as “shivaM advaitaM caturthaM” found in the Upanishads as having to do with Bhagavan Vishnu only. The commentators on this verse also explain “shiva” as auspicious.

Gurubhakti, Vighnopashanti, Sankalpa, Upasana, and Sattvika Tyaga

1.9-1.10 – In these two verses, Sarvajnatman says that because of his gurubhakti and his/his guru’s nArAyaNa-bhakti, all obstacles to the start composition of this work have been removed:

guru-caraṇa-saroja-sannidhānād-api vayam-asya guṇaika-leśa-bhājaḥ ।
api mahati jalārṇave nimagnāḥ salilam-upādadate mitaṃ hi mīnāḥ ॥

Translation: We possess a tiny bit of our guru’s good qualities, because of our proximity to his feet. Why, even fish that swim in the ocean receive a little bit of water on their body.

śakto guroś-caraṇayor-nikaṭe nivāsāt nārāyaṇa-smaraṇataś-ca nirantarāyaḥ ।
śārīrakārtha-viṣayāvagati-pradhānaṃ saṃkṣepataḥ prakaraṇaṃ karavāṇi hṛṣyan ॥

Translation: The absence of obstacles (to my composition) were possible because of living very close to my Guru’s feet, and because of his/my meditation on Lord Narayana. Hence, with excitement, let me compose this short minor work on the meaning of shArIraka mImAmsa shAstra (i.e., Brahma Sutras).

Here, the commentator Ramatirtha shows two shlokas from Smriti:

tathā nārāyaṇa-smaraṇato nirantarāyo nirvighnaś-cāsmīti yojanā । tathā ca smṛtiḥ –

“sarvadā sarvakāryeṣu nāsti teṣām amaṅgalam ।
yeṣāṃ hṛdistho bhagavān maṅgalāyatano hariḥ ॥

lābhas teṣāṃ jayas teṣāṃ kutas teṣāṃ parājitaḥ ।
yeṣām indīvara-śyāmo hṛdayastho janārdanaḥ ॥”

[Meaning: Always, in every undertaking, there is no bad luck to those in whose heart Lord Hari, the bringer of luck, is ever present. To such persons profit and victory is always ensured. To them, in whose hearts are residences of dark-blue-hued Lord Janardana,  how can there ever be defeat at anyone's hands?]
[Aside: These two shlokas are found in the appendix to shAntiparva (supplementary passages) in the BORI critical edition of Mahabharata.]

Note here that Sarvajnatman says vighnopashAnti was achieved by meditation on Lord Vishnu, showing the sarva-phala-pradatvaM of Vishnu including vighnopashAnti.

In fact, there is no specification in any shAstra that only Ganesha is to be primarily worshiped for vighnopashAnti. In fact as per the lakShaNas mentioned in alankAra-shAstra and other ancient treatises, it is only recommended that any literary undertaking be commenced with a praise on one’s iShTa-devatA. Take the mangaLa-shloka verse of another advaitin, Anandabodha (CE 13th C) in his work nyAyamakaranda. The shloka runs as (long one, only parts shown):

yasyā''huḥ bhuvanodbhava-sthiti-layān līlā-mayān sūrayaḥ
tasmai śuddha-sukhādvitīya-vapuṣe śaśvan namo viṣṇave ॥

Citsukha explains here as follows:

(The author Anandabodha) is instructing the readers on the shiShTAcAra i.e., practice of wise men that one should salute their chosen deity for obstacle-free completion, aggregation, and propagation of the work that they commence to write.

[prāripsita granthasya avighnena parisamāpti-pracaya-gamana kāmaḥ śiṣṭācāra-pariprāptatayā kṛtam iṣṭadevatā-namaskāram ācāra-śikṣārthaṃ pratipādayan prakaraṇasyābhidheya sambandha prayojanāni nidarśayati।]

Hence, it is quite clear that the shloka

“śuklāmbaradharaṃ viṣṇuṃ śaśivarṇaṃ caturbhujam ।
prasanna-vadanaṃ dhyāyet sarva-vighnopaśāntaye ॥”

which is recited by both Smarthas and Vaishnavas should be properly interpreted as a prayer to Vishnu because of the above reason, in addition to the two below:

  1. There are no visheShaNas  (adjectives such as gajamukhatvaM, ekadantatvaM, bhUtagaNAdhipatitvaM, etc.) or shabdas with rUDhitvaM on any devatAntara mentioned.

  1. There are two names that have rUDhitvaM in Vishnu (i.e., they are proper names of Vishnu) in that shloka: Vishnu and Chaturbhuja. The first name is well-known to be Lord Narayana’s, for example, from the Vishnu gAyatri. Regarding the second name which means ‘four-armed one’, look at amarakosha 1.1.41 where Vishnu’s names are listed: “upendraḥ indrāvarajaḥ cakrapāṇiḥ caturbhujaḥ”. This is further supported by Shankara’s Vishnu Sahasranama bhAShya: “catvāro bāhavo'syeti caturbāhuḥ iti nāma vāsudeve rūḍham।” which shows that it was quite popular in those days to call only Vishnu as the ‘four-armed one’.

Let us go back to the work of Sarvajnatman.

3.58 – In the following verse, narrated as a dialogue between Guru and the disciple, the latter says:

“vairāgyaṃ viṣayeṣu pūrvam eva me jātaṃ harer arcanāt
yajñādi-kriyayā nirasta-phalayā kiṃ tv adya dārḍhyaṃ gataṃ ।”

Here, it is noted that worship of Lord Hari results in dispassion towards the material world, which is further strengthened by association with a Guru. Once again, the author chooses to mention the worship of Vishnu and not any other devata.

3.54 – In the below verse:

śravaṇādikaṃ śama-damādi paraḥ
paramātmanaḥ parama-bhāgavataḥ ।
kuru tāvatā paramam eva padaṃ
paramātmanas tvam avalokayasi ॥

the following are recommended by the Guru to the disciple, to be adopted until the disciple can experience the Supreme Bliss of paramAtmA (i.e., liberation): (i) shravaNa (hearing) of vedAnta vAkyas, (ii) developing tranquility and self-control (‘shama’ and ‘dama’), and (iii) being a parama-bhAgavata, i.e., an ekAnta viShNu bhakta who does not resort to the worship of other devatas.

Only the Purana that talks about the greatness of Vishnu is known as bhAgavata purANa (‘Devi Bhagavatam’ is a recent bogus fabrication). Those dealing with the greatness of other devatas are known by the names of the respective devatas. Only the verses spoken by Vishnu are collectively called “bhagavad-gItA”. The utterances of other devatas are known by the names of the respective devatas. Similarly, that the terms “bhAgavata” and “parama-bhAgavata” are used to describe Vishnu’s devotees alone, and not to describe others. Note also that Shankara uses the terms ‘pAncarAtra-siddhAntin’ and ‘bhAgavata’ interchangably in the pAncarAtra-adhikaraNa section of Brahma Sutra Bhashya (2.2.42-2.2.45), while he calls Shiva worshipers as ‘mAheshvaras’ in pAshupata-adhikaraNa (2.2.37-2.2.41).

3.351-3.353 – The following three verses and Ramatirtha’s commentary thereupon deserve special attention:

"bahiraṅga sādhanam aśeṣaguroḥ
parameśvarasya caraṇāmbujayoḥ ॥
niyamāt samarpitam aśeṣamagha
vinihanti buddhi-nilayaṃ sumahat ॥"

"na tathā 'ntaraṅgam upalabdhi janeḥ
upakārakaṃ śamadama prabhṛti ॥
tad anuṣṭhitaṃ paramahaṃsa-janaiḥ
paramātma tattvam upalambhayati ॥"

"bhagavān anādi-nidhanaḥ kṛpayā
harir etad āha jagadeka-hitaḥ॥
sakalaṃ samarpya mayi yukta-manaḥ
kuru karma śuddhi-karam ityasakṛt॥"

It is indeed Lord Hari alone who is the subject matter in the above three verses. This is because of the following reasons:

  1. The first reason comes from the following explanation of Ramatirtha for the first of the three verses. Additionally, Ramatirtha’s explanation also shows who exactly the “parameshvara” referred to by Sarvajnatman in that verse is, and keeping whom in mind must those smArtha-vaidikas who utter “parameshvara prItyarthaM” during sankalpa must perform it:

“While performing karmas, one should have the following sankalpa (resolve) in the beginning: ‘I give up the desire for the fruits and the notion that I am the doer. Instead, I am going to perform these actions as an act of worship of Shriman Narayana, the Yajnasvarupi, who exists as (the antaryAmin of) different devas.’ and in the end, ‘I dedicate the action, along with the credit for performing these karmas and all the karmaphalas (fruits of action) to Shriman Narayana.’ By taking resolve as per the rules, the karma is dedicated.”

[karmaṇi kartṛtvābhiniveśaṃ phalāsaktiṃ ca hitvā kevalaṃ yajñātmakasya nārāyaṇasya tat-tad devatādi rūpeṇāvasthitasya samārādhana rūpam idaṃ karmaṃ kariṣye iti prārambhe, śrīman-nārāyaṇe bhagavati sakārakaṃ saphalaṃ cedaṃ karmās tu idaṃ yathoktaṃ karmaṃ kṛtaṃ nārāyaṇārpaṇam-astv iti vā 'nte ca saṅkalpa rūpo niyamas tasmān niyamāt samarpitam ity arthaḥ]

Note that while Sarvajnatman’s verse says: “The actions performed externally, dedicated as per the rules to the Lotus-feet of ‘parameshvara’, who is The Perfect Guru” [bahiraṅga-sādhanam aśeṣaguroḥ parameśvarasya caraṇāmbujayoḥ niyamāt samarpitam], Ramatirtha says that the ‘dedication to parameshvara’ means ‘dedication to Narayana’ and performing the action as an upAsana of Narayana who is yaj~nasvarUpI.

  1. The second reason is that in the third verse, it is clarified even by Sarvajnatman’s illustration from the bhagavadgIta. He points to the following two verses by using the phrase: “sakalaṃ samarpya mayi yuktamanaḥ kuru karma śuddhikara”

“mayi sarvāṇi karmāṇi saṃnyāsyādhyātma cetasā ।
nirāśīr nirmamo bhūtvā yuddhyasva vigata jvaraḥ ॥” (3.30)

“yataḥ pravṛttir bhūtānāṃ yena sarvamidaṃ tatam ।
sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṃ vindati mānavaḥ ॥” (18.46)

“mad-artham api karmāṇi kurvan siddhim avāpsyasi ॥” (12.10)

Hence, all vaidika karma is dedicated to Vishnu only. Note that by Sarvajnatman’s usage of the words “bhagavān anādi-nidhanaḥ hariḥ” it is shown that Hari has no origin and end and is therefore paramAtmA.

The above verses and remarks confirm the well-known fact that shiShTas begin all vaidika karma with a sankalpa that the karma is undertaken for “bhagavat-preeti” (‘pleasing the Lord’) or “bhagavat-kainkaryaM” (divine service to the Lord), and at the end of the karma perform sAttvika-tyAga for shrIman nArAyaNa by chanting “nArAyaNAyeti samarpayAmi” in addition to seeking redemption by remembering Lord Krishna for carrying out the action improperly:

“prāyaścittāni aśeṣāṇi tapaḥ-karmāt kāni vai ।
yāni teṣām aṣeśāṇāṃ kṛṣṇānusmaraṇaṃ param ॥”

With this note, we finish this discussion on Sankshepa Shariraka. This small exercise is the result of a 3-year process involving searching, analyzing, and shaping points coherently.

As far as I have searched, all the verses in which bhagavAn shrIman nArAyaNa is mentioned by this advaitin have been listed out and explained. There may be many more if I search more carefully. Nowhere in this ancient advaitic work is found any praise of Rudra/Parvati/Skanda/Vinayaka/Surya as parabrahman, from beginning to end.

I dedicate this work to the lotus feet of bhagavAn shrIman nArAyaNa, bhAgavatas, and above all for the pleasure of sharaNAgatas who wish to know the manner in which the Lord is praised by followers of Vedanta matams outside the parama-vaidika sat-sampradAyaM nourished by Swami rAmAnujAcArya.


  1. Swamin,

    It is nice to see you list several pramanams from various Advaita Acharya granthams to establish Vishnu paratvam.

    In the traditional smartha sampradaya or in most Advaita circles there is no debate about Vishnu paratvam. But the way it is understood is not the way most neo Sri Vaishnavas interpret it.

    The axiom,

    Vishnu = Paramatma = Antaryami = Ishvara = Paravasudeva Vasudeva = Bhagavan = Narayana Is irrefutable

    But what this axiom means in different sampradaya differs,

    For a neo Sri Vaishnava what is means is that it is, Vishnu is NOT= Shiva. Shiva is a shudra devata, not worthy of worship, he is a mere jiva, in fact he is worthless and even lower than a bhagavata Sri Vaishnava.

    Fortunately that is not the attitude that Sri Ramanuja Acharya displays in his Sri Bhashyam,

    He goes out of the way in establishing that Pashupata mata kahandanam is not Shiva deva khandanam and says, “this does not mean shiva a vaidhika deva is unestablished”.

    He sees Sriman Narayana being the object of worship for all devata worshipers.

    “...... that section is meant to declare characteristics of that which constitutes the object of meditation in all meditations on the highest being. For that being which in those meditations is denoted as the Imperishable, Siva, Sambhu. the highest Brahman, the highest light, the highest entity, the highest Self, and so on, is here referred to by the same names, and then declared to be Nârâyana. There are thus several indications to prove that Nârâyana is none other than that which is the object of meditation in all meditations on the Highest, viz. Brahman, which has bliss and the rest for its qualities.”

    “(Bri. Up. XI, 4, 22). In some texts enjoining devout meditation, and so on, we indeed meet with terms such as Pragâpati, Siva, Indra, Âkâsa, Prâna, &c., but that these all refer to the supreme Reality established by the texts concerning Nârâyana--the aim of which texts it is to set forth the highest Reality in its purity--, we have already proved under”

    There are loads of pramanas to establish that Sri Ramanuaja Acharya did not consider Shiva as a shudra devata or a jiva. (The jiva concept belongs to Sri Anandatirtha (madva), but even he refers Shiva with a lot of respect and eulogizes Shiva as the best Vaishnava ‘vaishnavanam yatha shambuh’.)

    It is with the same view that smarthas exibit even, the same supreme lord is names shiva, Vishnu, devi etc for them. It is with this basis that Bodhendra wrote ‘hari hara adviata bhushanam’. If you refute this with Vishnu paratvam, then the same can be done with Shiva paratvam. There are loads of shuti statements to establish Shiva paratvam.

    As Azvar says, ’avaravar vidhi vazhi adaya nindranarE’ (TVM –1-1-5), people choose different forms of Bhagavan according to their liking, but they all refer to the same paramatma. To force all in to accepting that one and only a certain form of Bhagavan is valid and others are invalid shows immaturity.


    1. Dear Radhe Krishna,

      Thanks for reading our blog.

      I am sorry to say you are gravely mistaken, and am afraid your understanding of Sri Ramanuja's position on the status of Rudra is glaringly wrong. For a start, please read books written on this subject by sAmpradAyic vidvAns. Dismissing the correct position expounded by none other than Sri Ramanuja, Desika, and the AzhvArs as "neo-Srivaishnavism" only shows your lack of knowledge.

      It is indeed Ramanuja who states in numerous places in Sri Bhashya and Vedartha Sangraha that Shiva is not paramAtmA. Now you are saying that Shiva is not a Jiva. The only remaining class of entities that Shiva can belong to would then be achit !!

      In the statements that you have shown from Sri Ramanuja's Bhashyas, it is only stated that all names are that of Sriman Narayana. There is a grand-canyon size difference between this position and your position that "worship of all devatAs yields the same result".

      And btw, it is "kShudra" devatA and not shUdra devatA. Compared to Sriman Narayana, the worship of other devatAs is indeed kShudra (low). There is nothing wrong in saying that. Calling a spade a spade is no shiva-nindA.

      Bodhendra Saraswati's assertions in hariharadvaita bhUShaNa are fundamentally wrong and we have proved this point in our corresponding article.

      ’avaravar vidhi vazhi adaya nindranarE’ - AzhvAr is only saying that those who worship other devatAs do so because of their karma vAsana, and they are actually worshiping Sriman Narayana only even though they don't know it. Such worship yields only temporary results. Look at the commentaries for "bhajanti avidhi pUrvakam" (Gita 9.24)
      And it is the same AzhvAr who established the aparatvaM of Shiva in "thiNNan veeDu" and "onRum thevum" thiruvAymozhis:

      Epaavam paramE* Ez ulakum,*
      Ipaavam cheythu* aruLaal aLippaaraar,*
      maapaavam vida* araRkup pichchaipey,*
      kOpaalakOLari* ERanRiyE. 2.2.2

      pEsa ninRa sivanukkum biraman_dhanakkum* piRarkkum
      naayagan avaNnE,* kabaalanNan mOkkaththuk* kandukoLmin,*
      dhEsa maamadhiL soozhnthazhakaaya* thirukkurugoor adhanuL,*
      eesanpaal Or avambaRaithal* ennaavathu ilingiyarkkE? 4.10.4

      as well as in tiruvASiriyam (7).

      naLir madic-caDaiyanum nAn-mugak kaDavuLum
      taLiroLi imaiyavar talaivanum mudalA
      yAvagai ulagamum yAvarum agappaDa
      Or Alilaic-cErnda em
      peru mA mAyanai alladu
      oru mA daivam maRRuDaiyamO yAmE.

      We have already refuted the notion that there are "loads of sruti statements referring to shiva paratva". Sri Ramanuja emphatically identifies siva and rudra in the svetasvatara as nArAyaNa. Even ancient advaitins such as Shankara, Sureshvara, Sarvajnatman, and Ramatirtha held this view. This information is clearly given in this page itself.

      Lastly, worship of Shiva as a foremost Vaishnava is recommended only for bhakti-yogis and not for sharaNAgatas. It is indeed the former path that is condemned by Srivaishnava AcAryas. It is not really Shiva-nindA but nindA of paths other than sharaNAgati since they involve effort by the jIvAtmA and can lead to ahaMkAram.

    2. Some points -

      Wrt the pAsupata section in the srI bhAshya,, sri ramanuja does say that it is not entirely wrong to worship paSupati *only* if the devotee considered nArAyaNa as the inner self of paSupati and tried to eulogise paSupati that way. So worship of paSupati as the body of nArAyaNa is a vaidika vidhi. But since they (the pAsupatas) do not do that and consider the jiva pasupati itself as supreme they are wrong.

      In this context the gita slokas on anya devata (avidhi pUrvakam) is relevant. There acharyan states that these devas are his body and hence if not worshipped that way, with knowledge of nArAyaNa as antaryAmin, it is wrong mode of worship.

      Secondly the statements quoted from sri bhAshya by you (the so-called "sri vaishmava") only show acharya said all names belong to nArAyaNa. If not, one would have to consider akasa as parabrahman as well. And in the same section, acharya clearly says "visnor catma bhagavatO bhavah...", wko ha vai nArAyaNa aseet..." quotes the mahabharata section on the dialogue between brahma and rudra (where they acknowledge nArAyaNa as their inner ruler) and also says "sa brahma sa siva" in the nArAyaNa sUkta shows the devas are vibhutis. 


    3. Contd...

      It is pretty clear that this reader has been getting ideas about sri vaishnavas from forums like HDF. And the cheek of calling us “neo-sri vaishnavas” when your stark ignorance is explicit is laughable. It is excusable if someone questions the credentials of srI adi shankara as a vaishnava considering that it is not well-known, but to even think that srI yatirAja. Bhagavad bhAshyakAra, srI rAmAnuja did not condemn worship of shiva is idiocy. No need to use words like “adiyEn” which are exclusively for sri vaishnavas and not a-vaishnavas like yourself.
      Now that we have covered srI rAmAnuja, let us give a few more samples from sri vaishnava achAryAs:

    4. Contd...

      1) In his vyAkhyAna to the vishNu sahasranAma, srI parAsara bhattar first asks – who among Hari, Hara and Hiranyagarbha (Brahma) is supreme? And he follows it up with “eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahma, nEshAna” as well as “nArAyaNat brahma jAyatE, nArAyaNat rudrO jAyatE.

      Was srI parAsara bhattar, who lived partly during the time of srI rAmAnuja and was sanctioned by the latter to write a bhAshya on sahasranAma, a “neo srI vaishnava” then?

      2) Engal Azhwan, who co-wrote srI bhAshya, authored a commentary on vishNu purAna where he establishes that bhagavAn vishNu is the antaryAmin of the jivAs, brahma and rudra, in many places.

      Was engal azhwan, who wrote the fourth adhyAya of srI bhAshya following the dictations of srI rAmAnuja, a “neo-sri vaishnava?

      3) srI periyavAchAn pillai, commentator of the divya prabandhams, has quoted several pramAnAs from shruti and smriti under the pAsuram “nAnmuganai nArAyaNan padaithAn, nAnmugan thAnmugamAi sankaranai thAn padaithAn” to show the jivatva of shiva. He also establishes that all names like “siva”, “rudra”, etc in the veda refer to nArAyaNa.

      Was srI periyavachan pillai a “neo-sri vaishnava?

      4) srI pillai lOkAchArya, in tattva traya, Isvara prakaraNam, and mAmunigal in the bhAshya for this work, say that the forms of rudra, vyAsa, arjuna etc are not worthy of meditation as they are jivAs with prakrtic sharIra and are only invested with the powers of bhagavAn (AvEsa avatAra). He also says in his other rahasyAs like mummukshupadi that prapannas must wholesale abandon worship of brahma, rudra, etc as they are jivas.

      Was srI pillai lOkAchArya, who clubbed shiva with arjuna, a “neo-sri vaiShnava”?

      5) srI vedAnta desikan in the “paradevata paramArthya adhikAra” of srimad rahasya traya sAram shows that nArAyaNa is the supreme brahman and establishes the jivatva of all other devas. Incidentally, this AchArya quotes “mahAdevas sarvamedhE…” to show that the position of shiva can be attained by a meritorious jivAtma.

      Was srI vedAnta desikan a “neo-sri vaishnava”?

      Note that the commentaries of srI ranga rAmAnuja muni, etc only follow the works of these pUrvAchAryAs. Most of the material on ths blog is taken from the works of the above mentioned acharyas only. vedArtha sangraha, gita bhAshya and srI bhAshya establish the jivatva of shiva in many places.


    5. Contd..

      Lme conclude with the majestic words of srI vedAnta desikan regarding this issue. One slOka from sharanAgati deepika with the vyAkhyAnam of srI PBA Swami should rest all such stupid claims.

      kAshI vR^ikAndhaka sharAsana bANa ga~NgA sambhUti nAmakR^iti samvadanAdi udantai: |
      svokti ambarIShabhaya shApamukhaishcha shambhum tvannighnamIkshi tavatAm iha kashsharaNya: || (Sharanagati Deepika – 19)

      Meaning: For those in this world who understand, through the history of Kasi, Vrukasura, Andhakasura, the bow, Banasura, Ganga, his own birth, getting a name, dialog with others, by his own words; through the fear of Ambarisha; and by being cursed, etc; that Shiva is subject to You (nArAyaNa), who else is there to surrender to?

      Commentary based on srI pba swami’s tika (source:

      There are many ways to determine the supremacy of Sriman Narayana. One of them is the events in itihasas and puranas. Therefore, Swami Desikan takes a few events in this shloka and establishes His supremacy.

      The phrase 'udantai:' should be taken with each of Kashi, Vruka, Andhaka, etc. These events are taken by Thirumazhisai Azhvar in his prabandhams - "kAysinaththa kAsi mannan vakran pavuNdiran", "muNdan nIRan makkaL veppu mOdiyangi Odidak kaNdu nANi vANanukku iranginAn em mAyanE", etc.
      Through these events, Vedanta Desikan shows that Shiva is subject to the Lord and shows that He is the only one to whom one can surrender as said in "kaNNan allAl illai kaNdIr saraN".

      The events described in this shloka are:

      Kashi - An asura called Paundarika carried a conch and a discus and went around claiming that he was Vasudeva. Sri Krishna killed him with His Sudarshana discus. Sudarshana also cut the head of the king of Kashi who had come in support of Paundarika. The son of the king of Kashi became upset and performed penance to Shiva. Through Shiva he obtained a demon and tried to burn Dwaraka with it. Sudarshana defeated the demon who turned back on the prince of Kashi and killed him. Sudarshana then burned the city of Kashi. Thus the boon of Shiva to the prince of Kashi failed.

      Vrukasura - This asura was also known as Bhasmasura. He prayed for a long time to Shiva and obtained the boon that if he placed his hand on anyone's head that person would be destroyed. To test the boon, he then attempted to place his hand on Shiva's head. Shiva surrendered to the Lord. Sriman Narayana then asked the asura to test the boon by placing his hand on his own head. The asura did so and was destroyed.

      Andhakasura - This asura went into battle with Shiva. Shiva killed him with his weapon. From the blood of the asura, many more asuras came forth and attacked Shiva who then surrendered to Sriman Narayana. The Lord then created a creature that drank the asura's blood and Shiva was thereby saved.


    6. Andhakasura - This asura went into battle with Shiva. Shiva killed him with his weapon.


      Bow - This is the event of the Shiva and Vishnu bows in Sri Ramayanam. It is also the event of Shiva burning Tripura with his bow through the aid of Sriman Narayana. (visNor cAtma bhagavatO bhavaH is quoted by srI rAmAnuja to show that vishNu was the antaryAmin of shiva who held the bow to destroy tripurA.

      Banasura - Banasura's daughter Ushai fell in love with Sri Krishna's grandson Aniruddha. Through her friend Chitralekha's help, she carried away Aniruddha and kept him with her. Hearing about this, Banasura became angry and attacked him. He then tied Aniruddha with the nagastra. Hearing this from Narada, Sri Krishna attacked Banasura's city with His army. To aid Banasura, Shiva gave him his armies and also came to support him in person, along with his children. Sri Krishna defeated them all and cut all but four of Banasura's thousand hands with His discus. He then pardoned Banasura due to the prayer of Shiva to spare him.

      Ganga - This can be taken as Ganga's birth or Ganga and Shiva's birth. For the former, when Sriman Narayan measured the worlds as Trivikrama, His feet was washed by Brahma in satyaloka. That water fell to earth as Ganga which was accepted by Shiva on his head.
      For the latter, Shiva was created by Brahma who was created by Sriman Narayana - "nAnmuganai nArAyaNan padaiththAn, nAnmuganum thAn mugamAych sankarnaith thAn padaiththAn".

      nAma - Shiva getting his name from Brahma as well as based on his qualities. (The reference is to the satapatha brahmaNa where rudra calls himself “anapahatapApma” and is named by Brahma. Also, he got the name “shiva” upon being cleansed of karmas by the ganga from the feet of vishNu.

      samvAdana - There are many places in itihasas and puranas where others came to Shiva with their difficulties and he along with them went to Sriman Narayana to get those difficulties removed.

      sva ukti - Shiva himself has said to Parvati and others about the supremacy of Narayana ("srIrAma rAma rAmeti").

      ambarISha bhaya - King Ambarisha was a devout devotee of Sriman Narayana. One time, Durvasa maharishi came to his place on the morning of Dvadasi. The king had fasted the day before and was waiting to break it. The rishi went to the river and took a long time to return. So, the king broke the fast with a sip of water within the nominated time and waited for the rishi. When the rishi came and figured out what had happened, he became very angry with the king. He created a demon from his hair and sent it after the king. The king prayed to Sriman Narayana who sent His Sudarshana discus to the aid of the king. To escape the discus, the rishi surrendered to Shiva for help. Shiva could not do that. So the king surrendered to Sriman Narayana. He asked the rishi to obtain his pardon from the king himself. Durvasa maharishi did that and was saved.

      shApa mukhai: - Shiva being cursed by Brahma for having cut one of Brahma's heads and having to beg alms in all worlds is a well known story. Azhvar too speaks of it as "piNdiyAr maNdai Endhi piRar manai thirithandhuNNum muNdiyAn sAbam".

      Adi - Gaining protection by staying in His stomach during praLaya etc.


      That should stop misinformation about sri vaishnavas spreading overmuch.

  2. Excellent work Prabhus.... Very very well done. Your knowledge of Shastra is outstanding and incredible.

    Were Nrishnashrama, Suresvara, Anandgiri, Sarvajnatmans, etc all direct disciples of Shankara? How many disciples did Shankara have?
    Also, who was the first Advaitin who started leaning towards Smartism and Shavism? I am thinking it was Vidyaranya, but I'm not sure.


    1. Sureshvara is a direct disciple of Shankara. Anandagiri came much later, in the 13th Century. Sarvajnatman belongs to the 10th century about 200-300 years after Shankara. In fact, Anandagiri has written commentaries on the works of Sureshvara and Sarvajnatman.

      Nrsimhashrama was a contemporary of Appayya Dikshita, and hence belongs to 15th/16th centuries.

      The word "smarta" actually means one who performs vaidika karmas and can be applied to all brahmins. Even sri vaiSnavas and mAdhvas are smArtas. Somehow, this usage has been restricted to only those who worship all deities.

      Historically, you are right in saying that vidyAraNya was the first to introduce worship of other deities in the advaita tradition. Later came appayya dikshita who forced this direction into a full blown shaiva siddhAntha way.

      Prior to vidyAraNya, there were some free thinkers like vAchaspati mishra and shriharsha. These scholars were anya devata worshippers who had no specific affliation and dabbled in several systems of philosophy, of which advaita was one that they had a compelling interest in. Some of their works are famous in the advaita tradition.

      Also, though ancient advaitins were vaishnavas, they worshipped shiva and other deities as gurus who provide knowledge of vishNu. Even sarvajnAtman salutes saraswati and vinAyaka in his work and madhusudhana saraswati in his vyAkhyAna, says that sarvajnAtman is saluting vishNu, the antaryAmin of these deities. In this respect, they are like mAdhvas who worship all deities as hari bhaktas.

      Overall, traditional advaitins were vaishnavas before the period of vidyAraNya and even after this period, there were some who still remained so.

  3. This article is really good because it shows that names like Vasudeva and Vishnu refer to 4 armed Lord. Advaitins of today love to interpret any name that is related to Vishnu to refer to the "all pervading Brahman who is above distinctions between Shiva and Vishnu". They even talk about Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita as being a mouthpiece of Nirguna Brahman (lol). They are on par with Shaivas who say that Shiva talked through Krishna in BG!

    1. nirguNa brahman has no names. Even names like vishNu or vAsudEva cannot be applied to that attributeless entity. Only saguNa iswara can possess such names.

      We have some upcoming articles which will address this issue in more detail.

  4. In Padma Purana, Bramha Kanda, chapter 9 verses 2 to 7 clearly indicates that Siva literally prayed to Narayana before consuming the halahala for protection.

    Given below is the rough transliteration in english of the verses from 5 to 7.

    Ithyukthva Parvathinatho dhayan Narayanam Hridi ! (Verse 5a)
    Mahamantrasamuccharya vishmadadhbhayakaram !! (Verse 5b)

    Mahamantra prabhavena visham jeernam gatham mahat ! (Verse 6a)
    ?Achyuthanathagovinda iti nama matrayam hareh !! (verse 6b)

    Yo japaythprayatho bhakthya pravanavadhyam namouthikam ! (Verse 7a)
    Vishabhogagnijanthasyanasthi mrityobhayam tatha !! (Verse 7b)

    Free translation in english is given below (Verses 2 to 7- Chapter 9, Brahma Kanda of Padma Purana).

    Then the glorious (Srimaan), kind (Dayalu), ancient (sanatanam) lord of the world (Vishnu as Kurma avatara) supported on his back the bottom of the mountain. Then the other gods churned the milky ocean. When it was being churned on Ekadasi day, Kalakuta poison emerged seeing which all the gods started running away. Seeing them running away, Sankara said “Please hand over the poison, I will consume the poison”. Saying so, the lord of Paravati meditated in his heart on Narayana by uttering a great hymn on Lord Narayana and took the dreadful halahala.

    By the power of the great hymn addressed to Narayana by Siva, the terrible poison was controlled by Siva.

    Those who, being complete control, utter devoutly the names like Achyutha, Anantha and Govinda of Vishnu with pranava at the beginning and namaha at the end, has no fear of taking poison, or fire and also from death.

    The actual Sanskrit verses can be checked on the following link

    Thanks & Rgds,

  5. We have a veerashaiva attempting futile refutations of our work here on the
    blog on another site. It is the same veerashaiva who posted here as "adbhutam" or "subbu" and claimed krishNa's rAsa leela was immoral and nArAyaNa bhattAdri was "peddling his wares" (hence, disrespecting this vedAntin's stand that Shankara was a vaiSnava).

    Now, we have bigger fish to fry and more articles to come on this subject, but in case anyone thinks his arguments are even worth considering, perish the thought. A small breezy answer to his weak objections (future articles will establish this soundly). I am quoting from said website and replying as below:

    Veerashaiva says: First of all, there was no rule for 'worship this deity only' in Advaita. There is no evidence to the above claim. Nowhere in the Shankara bhashya and other works is the identification of any particular
    deity as the saguna brahman.//

    Our reply: We have already given sufficient proof and more will follow in future articles regarding Shankara. But even so, it is interesting that the veerashaiva fails to see what NrsimhAshrama, in his commentary to samkshEpa shAriraka, has said regarding Shiva, which we showed in the above article:

    "The Lord of sages such as kaNAda and akShapAda, who is inferred as the Lord by virtue of creatorship of earth and the rest of the universe according to their philosophy, who bears the bull as his flag, who is called Shankara (i.e., Shiva/Rudra), is excellent in his knowledge compared to us and in our opinion. However, he does not possess unbounded prowess, rulership, or knowledge. Hence, he cannot have established the connection
    between the words of the Veda and the sense/object conveyed by the

    Wonder if the Veerashaiva is blind to this fact. No he is not. Selectively ignoring pramAnAs is his forte!

    Veerashaiva says: It is immaterial as which deity one worships for Advaita knowledge to arise. The various deities authors invoked in their works are purely IshTadevatA based. Do not conclude from that about the
    advaitin-deity connection. The Advaita system of philosophy is not any deity-specific; it adopts a deity for practice of karma yoga and upasana and gives up deity-specific affiliations in the jnanayoga. The very idea of
    a deity is in the realm of avidya in Advaita.

    Our Reply: 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. This will be elaborated in future articles.


  6. Contd...

    Veerashaiva says: There is no such thing as 'knowledge of Vishnu' in Advaita. 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. For Shankara it is the same as 'ShivaH kevalo'ham' of the Dashashloki for which Madhusudana has composed the Siddhanta bindu commentary, acknowledging Shankara's authorship of the dashashloki. The
    Shiva there is also not any deity but Pure Consciousness/Bliss.

    Our Reply: If there is no such thing as "knowledge of vishNu" in advaita,
    wonder why Sureshvara said the following:

    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, whois 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.

    This shows two things: 1) Shiva meditates on saguNa brahman (hence is not
    saguNa brahman), vishNu by the referencevto ganga etc and hence, 2) Shiva is compared to Adi Shankara, who meditates on Brahman. So, anya devatas are worshipped as gurus in
    advaita for attainment of saguNa brahman as well. Madhusudhana Saraswati identifies vishNu, the lord of lakshmi, the lord of vaikunta and as superior to Shiva in his works everywhere. nirguNa brahman, being
    attributeless, cannot be given names like nArAyaNa, vishNu, vAsudeva. More
    on that in future articles.

    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.


    1. Excellent responses, Aaryamaa. One addition from my side to our readers:

      // 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 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

      "nArAyaNaH paro'vyaktAt"... "tasmai namo'stu devAya nirguNAya guNAtmane, nArAyaNAya vishvAya devAnAM paramAtmane" etc.

  7. Contd...

    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!

    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. 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).

    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!

    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".

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

    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.

    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.

    1. Our favorite Veerashaiva has replied again. He has an obsessive compulsive disorder to "finish last" in a debate even if proven wrong and beaten. The same old arguments again:

      1) Vishnu, Vasudeva, Narayana are names of Nirguna Brahman.

      2) Sureshvara's sloka does not imply Shiva received Ganga from Vishnu. "visnor pAdanugam" refers to reality of nirguNa brahman.

      3) Anandagiri meant "nirguna brahman can be known by shruti, puranas and agamas".

      4) Shiva Mahimna Stotra authored by Madhusudhana Saraswati shows hari-hara abheda.

      5) Prashnopanishad bhashya equalises Rudra and Vishnu, etc.

      6) Krama mukti is satya loka (brahma) and not vaikunta (vishnu)

      And since we have given him a pet name, he decides to retort by calling us "pseudo vaishnavas". Well, I think he was arguing against us so far considering us as Vaishnavas, so it makes no sense to now dub us as "pseudo vaishnavas". Whereas, it makes perfect sense to call him a Veerashaiva!

      Anyway, future articles will address this in detail. Veerashaiva seems clueless about the fact that nirguNa brahman cannot be given names - it is saguNa isvara, identified as the deva vishNu, who pervades (hence he is vishNu), and rules (hence he is vAsudeva, nArAyaNa, etc).

      Veerashaiva does not also realise that by quoting Shankara's Prashnopanishad Bhashya, he has effectively ensured the demise of his own arguments. That bhashya regarding "functionaries" alone is crystal clear that everything is a vibhUti of vishNu who alone is parishuddham. Our articles will reveal it.

      We will cover all the above 6 points in the upcoming articles. HBB will address the Sureshvara sloka alone in the comments itself perhaps later. Of course, Veerashaiva is a lost cause, as we said earlier, replying to him is useless since a donkey cannot understand rocket science - we are doing this for genuine readers.

    2. It is clear Subbu/Adbhutam the Veerashaiva has no knowledge of his own tradition. He claims we are "twisting" Sureshvara's words. Well, as always, he is mistaken. Subbu is clueless in understanding word-plays employed by advaitins. He does not even know that all we did was quote the commentary to this verse by another advaitin, jnAnottama misra who clearly refers to Ganga here!

      The above verse by Sureshvara is a beautiful word-play comparing Ganga to spiritual knowledge, and is also a double entendre on the name 'Sankara', which stands for both the name of the Acharya as well as Lord Siva who bears the Ganga as his crown.

      "padAnuga" too, is a double play on two meanings as well - Ganga's abiding place (lotus feet of vishNu) as well as the supreme inherent nature (adhiShThAnam) that the saguNa brahman (vishNu) abides in (by virtue of sattva upAdhIs), which is nirguNa chaitanya. "vidyA" refers to both Ganga and the knowledge of the Upanishads.

      Sri Jnanottama Misra, the advaitic commentator who wrote the "Candrika" gloss expanding on the Naishkarmya Siddhi, explains here --

      viSNor-vyApino jagat-kAraNasya padamadhiSThAnaM saccidAnanda-eka-rasam-anugacchatIti viSNoH padAnugA vidyA | ga^ngApi viSNoH puruSottamasya caraNam-anusRtya gacchatIti "vAmapada-a^nguSTha-nakha-sroto-vinirgatAm"-iti smaraNAt |

      [ By "viSNoH pAdAnuga vidyA", (it is meant) -
      vishNu - refers to the the all-pervading creator of the Universe (saguNa brahman);

      padam - refers to seat or base (adhiSthAnam) of this saguNa brahman (adhiSthAnam) that is the reality-consciousness-bliss, ie, paramArthika sath/nirguNa (sacchidananda), that single essence (ekarasam).

      Hence, "padAnugA" refers to that brahma vidyA that "follows" (figuratively, as it were) the reality-consciousness-bliss, the true nature of (viShNor vyApanashIlasya jagatkAraNasya) the saguNa-brahman Lord Vishnu, who is the all-pervading creator of the universe. (nirguNa brahman cannot have attributes such as sarvavyApakatvam and jagatkAraNatvam)

      The supreme bliss in advaita is always referred in conjunction with the Shankha-Chakra dhArI viShNu because of his shuddha-sattva nature which made Him the object of worship of ancient advaitin mumukShus. Recall Sridhara Swami's verse in the bhAgavatam commentary:

      nāti-bhedo bhaved bhedo guṇa-dharmair ihāḿśataḥ
      sattvasya śāntyā no jātu viṣṇor vikṣepa-mūḍhate

      rajas-tamo-guṇābhyāḿ tu bhavetāḿ brahma-rudrayoḥ
      guṇopamardato bhūyas tad-amśānāḿ ca bhinnatā

      ataḥ samagra-sattvasya viṣṇor mokṣa-karī matiḥ
      aḿśato bhūti-hetuś ca tathānanda-mayī svataḥ

      We should also recall Shankara's commentary in the kAryAdhikaraNam of Brahma Sutra Bhashya:

      "paraM eva hi brahma vishuddhopAdhisaMbandhaM kvacit kaishcid vikAradharmair manomayAdibhir upAsanAya upadishyamAnam aparam iti sthitiH" (here, Anandagiri explains "vishuddhopAdhisaMbandhaM" as "shuddha-sattva-upAdhi sambandham")

      Coming back to jnAnottama's explanation, "vyApanashIlasya jagatkAraNasya" also refers to the saguNa-brahman, the deity of the Vaishnavas Lakshmipati only. Compare with Shankara's introduction to the bhagavad-gItA:

      "sa bhagavAn sR^iShTvedaM jagat... Adi kartA nArAyaNAkhyo viShNuH bhaumasya brAhmaNo brAhmaNatvasya ca abhirakShaNArthaM devakyAM vasudevAd aMshena kR^iShNaH kila sambabhUva"

    3. contd from previous comment...

      The second meaning given by jnAnottama is as follows:

      The river Ganga is known to flow from the Divine Feet of Lord Purushottama (another appellation of the Lord, meaning 'best among men'). We read thus in the scriptures: "(The river Ganga) flows from the left toenail (of Lord Vishnu)".]
      (ekarasam - ekaH means chief, ie, shruti and rasam means best portion which is the upanishad)

      So, jnAnOttama explains the word play as follows-

      vidyAm gangAm iva - refers to the comparison between the knowledge of the Upanishads (which is ekarasam) and Ganga.

      Double meaning for padAnugA - following/flowing from the pAramArthika state of that saguNa brahman (vishNu) in which He abides in, just as the Ganga follows/flows from the feet (caranam) of Bhagavan.

      Sankara - a double meaning obviously follows that Adi Shankara bears the knowledge of the Upanishads just as Shiva bears this Ganga.

      To make this even clearer, the full version of the verse quoted by Jnanottama occurs in the Vishnu Purana, the "Gem of all Puranas" (purANaratna), and is given below:

      vAma-padAmbuja-a^nguSTha-sroto-vinirgatAM | viSNor-bibharti yAM bhaktyA shirasAharniSaM dhRvaH ||

      If double meaning was not intended, jnAnottama would never quote the viShNu purAna which says the Ganga flows from the left toe-nail of vishNu. Incidentally, this quashes the stupid claim that nArAyaNa to be known by veda, purAna and Agama as per anandagiri is nirguNa brahman and not saguNa.

      But here, a doubt may be raised. Is it not possible to say that the double meanings imply that the creator of the Universe is not the same as the deva viShNu, just as Shiva is not the same as Adi Shankara?

      That doubt is dispelled, because it is not possible to associate two different entities with the term "viShNu" on account of comparison - the river Ganga has sin cleansing nature, as does Vidya and hence, these are two different entities with similar natures. Adi Shankara is a Guru who bears vidyA of such a nature, just as Shiva bears the Ganga of a similar nature. So, Adi Shankara and Shiva are also two different entities whose actions of bearing sin-cleansing entities are similar. But in the case of Vishnu, We have one as the all-pervasive creator, whose nature is nirguNa chaitanya and the other is necessarily taken as the deva vishNu, for whom the etymology can only be "all-pervading". Thus, for vishNu alone, the same Being is denoted in both meanings.

      Neither can our Veerashaiva claim that the first "viShNu" means nirguNa brahman because - 1) names cannot be attributed to nirguNa brahman, 2) nirguNa brahman does not possess jagat kAraNatva, 3) jnAnottama says that the nature of reality-consciousness-bliss is the adhiSthAnam or base of this vishNu (the all-pervasive creator the Universe), thus showing nirguNatva as the higher (paraM) nature and viShNu as the lower (aparaM) nature (though purer – shuddha sattva – compared to other entities in the vyAvahArika realm possessing triguNa-upAdhis).

      And sarvajnAtman too compares the Ganga to Knowledge in the Samksepa shAriraka as follows,

      avirala-pada-paN^ktiH padmanAbhasya puNyA
      caraNa-kamala-dhUligrAhiNI bhAratIyaM |
      ghanataraM upaghAtaM shreyasaH shrotRisaN^gAt
      surasaridiva sadyo mArShTu mAN^galya-hetuH ||
      (Samksepa-Sariraka, IV. 61)

      [Like Ganga -- the river of the celestials, let these words running to several thousand lines, rendered auspicious from its association with the dust of the lotus feet of Lord Padmanabha (another name of Lord Hari meaning, 'one who has the primordial lotus -- the source of the universe -- springing from his navel'), immediately release one from darkness and ignorance upon hearing them, and serve them as a means for reaching auspiciousness.]


    4. (contd. from previous comment)

      Srimad Ramatirtha, who wrote a sub-commentary "anvayArtha-prakAshikA" to the Samksepa Sariraka, explains here that the author, Sri Sarvajnatma Muni, is dedicating his work to Bhagavan Narayana, the Lord. (etA kRt^iiM bhagavati nArAyaNe samarpayan svakR^iter maN^galaM prArthayate).

      Ramatirtha says further that Sarvajnatman is presenting this work to all, after having dedicated it to Lord Narayana in the form of Sri Padmanabha -- the form of the Lord residing in the city of Anantapuri, the modern-day Trivandrum/Tiruvanantapuram of Kerala -- by which process the book carries the dust of the lotus-feet of the Lord (padmanAbhasya shrImad-anantapurI-vAsinaH sheshAN^kashayAnasya nArAyaNasya caraNa-kamala-dhUli-grAhiNI taccaraNayoH samarpitA satI tathAvidhA).

      The commentator explains the comparison with the river Ganga next: "Indeed, the river Ganga also carries the dust of the same Lord Padmanabha, the one who bore the form of Trivikrama -- the form to which the Lord expanded himself to measure the entire universe by three steps, during the divine VamanaavatAra. Hence, the sin-cleansing auspicious nature of the river Ganga is also meant. (gaN^gA tu padmanAbhasya trivikramarUpaM dhR^itavataH caraNa-kamala-dhUli grAhiNI prasiddhA, ata eva puNyA pAvayitrI bhAratI gaN^gA ca ityarthaH).


    5. (concluding comment, continued from previous post).

      The commentator explains the comparison with the river Ganga next: "Indeed, the river Ganga also carries the dust of the same Lord Padmanabha, the one who bore the form of Trivikrama -- the form to which the Lord expanded himself to measure the entire universe by three steps, during the divine VamanaavatAra. Hence, the sin-cleansing auspicious nature of the river Ganga is also meant. (gaN^gA tu padmanAbhasya trivikramarUpaM dhR^itavataH caraNa-kamala-dhUli grAhiNI prasiddhA, ata eva puNyA pAvayitrI bhAratI gaN^gA ca ityarthaH).

      Next, our Veerashaiva foolishly argues "murAri" must only be interpreted etymologically as "destroyer of ignorance" and not as krishNa since the subodhini, as a commentary on samshepa shAriraka gives that meaning. Now, nobody is denying that this is indeed the meaning. But then, it is saguNa brahman who bears such names. Subbu is hiding facts from his audience by quoting the subodhini partially. Just before explaining the inner meaning of “murAri” as the “destroyer of ignorance”, agnicit-puruShottama-mishra, the author of subodhini, writes:

      “atra murAriH sattvapradhAna-mAyA-pratibiMbitaM caitanyaM jagatpAlakaM viShNvAkhyaM tasya paramaM mAyAsaMbandharahitaM bimbAtmakaM padaM padyate gamyate j~nAyate vA mumukShubhiriti tat…”,

      Which means “Here, paramaM padaM of murAri refers to the Highest State, the true from (bimba), devoid of the influence of prakR^iti, entered/known by those who wish for liberation, belonging to the reflection of pure consciousness in shuddha-sattva mAyA, who is murAri, known by the name “viShNu”, the protector of the universe”.

      These two lines are enough to destroy subbu’s theory that “viShNu” in advaita does not refer to the saguNa-deity possessing four arms etc. but applies strictly only to the nirguNa-caitanyam.

      Also, we have already said the following in the blog:

      "The commentators on this work, Ramatirtha, Madhusudana, and Nrsimhashrama unanimously agree that "murAri" refers to bhagavAn viShNu only. See for example Ramatirtha's commentary: "Shri Krishna, the one who slayed the asura named 'mura' is called 'murAri', a famous name specified by all purANas. That this is Lord Vishnu Himself, who descended for the protection of the earth, is shown there itself.(muranāmno asurasya hantā śrīkṛṣṇo murāririti sarvapurāṇeṣu prasiddham । sa ca jagatpālanāya kṛtāvatare bhagavān viṣṇureveti ca tatraiva nirṇītam ।)"

      So, while murAri does indeed mean destroyer of ignorance, this particular interpretation is the inner meaning of krishNa's act of killing the asurA murA. So, saguNa brahman is the destroyer of asura mura and by doing so, he shows that he is the destroyer of ignorance.

      Our veerashaiva seems unable to understand that all etymological meanings apply to bhagavAn only. It is not that krishNa is called murAri simply because he destroyed mura; rather, the etymology "destroyer of ignorance" also denotes only him as that is the inner meaning of that incident of the destruction of the asurA. This is what all commentators intend even while interpreting vishNu - ie it refers to the all pervasive being who is the deva vishNu.
      It is not just advaitins, but us Vishishtadvaitins as well as the mAdhvAs, who give etymological meanings to vishNu, vAsudeva, etc. That lord of vaikunTha is indeed called viShNu because it is all-pervading and vAsudeva because it is in everything and everything resides in him. It is only that he is not shiva.

      Subbu also fails to understand sarcasm and takes our sentences such as "so dakSinamUrthy, the substratum of the universe" is meditating on vishNu seriously, as though I really meant shiva to have that attribute (it was said in jest). A duller head cannot be seen anywhere!


    6. // It is clear Subbu/Adbhutam the Veerashaiva has no knowledge of his own tradition. //

      Clarification... By the word "tradition", I mean the original Vaishnava-advaitic tradition of Shankara and his ancient followers, clearly evident in their authentic works. Not the popular shaivAdvaitic / shAktAdvaitic one that Subbu claims to have been favored by Shankara.

    7. ADDENDUM: Jnanottama says further to the above Naishkarmyasiddhi verse, showing that the comparison is between Brahma-vidyA and Ganga, and Shankara and Shiva obtaining them respectively through yoga-sAmarthya which is the result of sAdhana:

      yAmevaMvidhAM vidyAM gaN^gAM ca bhagavatpAdAcAryaH parameshvarashca yogasAmarthyAdavApa tamAcAryaM sarvaj~naM brahmasaMsthaM munigaNaiH sahitaM bhaktyA samyagabhyarcya tasmAtpravaraguNanidher AcAryAt tAM vedAntadIptAM parameshvaraM samabhyarcya tasmAdbhagIratho vedAntadIptAM sitAsite "imaM me gaN^ge" ityaadi vedAntapratipAdyAM gaN^gAmiva sAkalyena ahaM prApya ArthibhyaH sakAraNasaMsAra nivR^ittaye avocam ityarthaH |

    8. Readers should note that the appellation of "paramesvara" to shiva is because of his vishNu jnAnam here only and not indicative of any supremacy. Shiva's names like "isvara" and "paramesvara" are mentioned in the sAstras to be the outtcome of his devotion to vishNu. Indeed, these names are used in sAstra especially in sections where shiva performs upadesha - such as "isvara uvaca - srI rAma rAma rAmEti". The context of using paramesvara here is that he gets the Ganga from vishNu, obviously a metaphor for his knowledge of Brahman.

      The same jnAnottama and others like Shankara, Ramatirtha use "paramesvara" to denote vishNu as saguNa brahman.

  8. A final blow to subbu's position to settle everything once and for all:

    // 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. //

    In addition to designating the chaturmukha-brahmA to be saguNa brahman, while Shankara says that chaturmukha-brahma is given powers by the Supreme Lord (see Brahma Sutra Bhashya 1.3.30 as we have pointed many times before), the Veerashaiva makes the tall claim that Vaikuntha, which is spoken of in many places in the shAstra (Bhagavatam etc.), is denied in advaitam. There is nothing in the prasthAnatrayi bhAShyas of Shankara or any work of any ancient advaitin to deny the existence of an eternal loka called Vaikuntha.

    Further, this shows that Veerashaiva subbu has hardly read advaitins like Madhusudana and others:

    A relevant quote in Madhusudana Saraswati's Gudartha Dipika (Gita 8.15):

    यतो महात्मानः रजस्तमोमलरहितान्तःकरणाः शुद्धसत्त्वाः समुत्पन्नसम्यग्दर्शना मल्लोकभोगान्ते परमां सर्वोत्कृष्टां संसिद्धिं मुक्तिं गतास्ते। अत्र मां प्राप्य सिद्धिं गता इति वदतोपासकानां क्रममुक्तिर्दर्शिता ।।

    Meaning: (Krishna says) "The great souls, whose antaHkaraNa-s are devoid of the impurity of rajas and tamas, who are of pure sAttvika nature, and who have obtained a clear vision, at the end of their enjoyment in My (Vishnu's) world, go to the Highest Perfection of Mukti." Here, by saying "after attaining me, they go to the state of Perfection", krama-mukti is shown.

    Madhusudana clearly says here that "Attaining me" refers to krama mukti since "attaining me" is the penultimate step to Perfection. Also clearly note the reference to "end of their enjoyment in My world".

    Kindly also take a look at this comment of Madhusudana for the next shloka (8.16) "A brahma-bhuvanAl-lokAH...". Here Madhusudana says that "the *other* lokas including brahma's satya loka are contrasted against attaining Vishnu". This shows that Vishnu has an eternal loka which is attained by mumukShus, as per madhusUdana:

    "तुशब्दो लोकान्तरवैलक्षण्यद्योतनार्थोऽवधारणार्थो वा। मामेव प्राप्य निर्वृतानां हे कौन्तेय मातृतोऽपि प्रसिद्धमहानुभाव, पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते"

    And one more quote from Madhusudana Saraswati where he says that the Lord's form in Vaikuntha is fit for meditation by Yogis (Gita, 7.25):

    "जन्मकालेऽपि सर्वयोगिध्येयं श्रीवैकुण्ठस्थमैश्वरमेव रूपमाविर्भावितवति संप्रति च श्रीवत्सकौस्तुभवनमालाकिरीटकुण्डलादिदिव्योपकरणशालिनि कम्बुकमलकौमोदकीचक्रवरधारिचतुर्भुजे श्रीमद्वैनतेयवाहने"

    showing that Lord Vishnu's form as it exists in the Vaikuntha is the favored form of meditation by yogis.


    1. (contd. from above)

      Let us also juxtapose this with Maheshvara Tirtha (another advaitin who was probably the grand-disciple of Madhusudana according to some) commenting in two places in the Ramayana:

      ब्रह्मैव लोकः तं परमात्मस्वरूपं सगुणस्य ब्रह्मणो विष्णोः स्वस्य लोकं वैकुण्ठाख्यं च (Bala Kanda, 1.92)

      Note clearly here that "saguNa brahman" is equated to Lord Vishnu, and "brahma loka" is equated to "the loka called Vaikuntha".

      In Ayodhya Kanda, 40.9:

      यद्वा रामं दशः पक्षी रथो यस्य तं दशरथं विष्णुं विद्धि । "दशः पक्षी विहङ्गमः " इति हलायुधः । जनकात्मजां मां लक्ष्मीं विद्धि । अटवीम् अयोध्यां योद्धुमशक्याम् विष्णुपुरीं विद्धि । "देवानां पूरयोध्या" इति श्रुतेः ।

      The commentator is saying that additionally sumitrA is telling Lakshmana to consider Rama as Lord Vishnu, Sita as "Maa" Lakshmi, and the forest as the Vishnu-purI/vaikuNTha which is described as unconquerable in the shrutis.

      Lastly, take a look at Sridhara's commentary on the bhAgavatam. Sridhara was another advaitin:

      Sridhara explains the term "brahmalokaH" in Srimad Bhagavatam 2.5.39:"ब्रह्मलोको वैकुण्ठाख्यः सनातनो नित्यः न तु सृज्यप्रपञ्चान्तर्वर्ती इत्यर्थः", clearly stating that Vaikuntha is not inside the created universe and is eternal.

      Three advaitins have accepted the existence of saguNa-brahman, Vishnu, in Vaikuntha. Also, Madhusudana and Sridhara say that Vaikuntha is eternal. This clearly destroys subbu's arguments.

  9. --FINAL REPLY--

    Dear Readers - those unbiased people who agree with us and even those who disagree,

    This exercise should show that we do not talk about anything without proof in the first place. As sri vaishnavas, we have been isntructed by our preceptors to speak only that which is supported by facts, logic and also that which has already been stated by ancient scholars. We are not like our veerashaiva opponent who speaks whatever comes into his mind, out of desperation and shaiva leanings. In other words, we *NEVER* say anything that is of our own invention or speculation. Only hard proof will do.

    We will no longer respond to our opponent's childishness, as we have better things to be doing than dealing with a desperate old man on the internet who is half out of his mind in hatred of vishNu and spends his whole day writing long winded gibberish (that he calls "refutations") devoid of substance in any manner. However, if our readers *STILL* feel we have not covered anything, they are welcome to pose challenges and ask queries via comments and contact form. We shall be happy to oblige.

    We shall certainly be continuing to write articles on ancient advaitins and their vaishnava affliation. In addition, other articles on shruti and ithihAsa/purAna are also lined up. The intent is now to simply expose the truth even further than we have already and I am sure what we have in store will definitely be of interest to unbiased readers.

    Therefore, we thank you for your interest in our blog and humbly ask your patience and further interest for our future write-ups.

  10. A small note on "tad visnoh paramam padam".

    It is well known that this line occurs in the Upanishad. While acharyas of all 3 schools - advaita, vishishtadvaita and dvaita - have taken it correctly as referring to the God Vishnu (after all, who else is the Supreme Brahman of the Veda?), the 20th and 21st century shaivAdvaitin kudRshtis have, in their desperation, attempted to interpret "Vishnu" etymologically rather than admitting it talks about bhagavAn.

    This is easily refuted. If you notice, the line says "paramam padam" and not "vaishnava padam". The word "paramam" is significant in both advaita and vishishtadvaita as follows -

    1) In Vishishtadvaita, bhagavad divyAtma svarUpa is the highest state realized by nirAlambana yoga, whereas his divine body is the lower state of meditation (sAlambana yoga). Thus "tad visnoh paramam padam" means , "that highest nature (divyAtma svarUpa) of the (otherwise well known) god Vishnu.

    2) In advaita, the nirguNa/saguNa dichotomy is well-known. So it means, "the highest nirguNa state of the (otherwise well known saguNa) Vishnu.

    Note that for both these schools, it is imperative to take "Vishnu" as referring to a well known god, because the word "Paramam" later on indicates that though Vishnu as such is well known, there is more to him than meets the eye, ie, his truly highest nature is not easily comprehended. Which in turn implies that "Vishnu" as such refers to his manifestation as a god with a divine body (Vishishtadvaita) or Saguna Brahman (Advaita) and thus is an easily understandeable lower reality.

    Thus, it is impossible to merely interpret "Vishnu" etymologically only. Of course, it means he is "all-pervading", but the usage of "paramam" indicates that it refers to the well-known God Vishnu who is also all-pervading. The vishNu dvEshis are stumped by the fact that it says "paramam padam" and not merely "vaishnava padam".

    This is recognized by advaitins in the above article, where Sarvajnatman substitutes "Vishnu" for "Murari" here:

    "...murāreḥ paramapadaṃ..."

    And for which Rama Tirtha comments that it refers to Krishna only as follows:

    Shri Krishna, the one who slayed the asura named 'mura' is called 'murAri', a famous name specified by all purANas. That this is Lord Vishnu Himself, who descended for the protection of the earth, is shown there itself.(muranāmno asurasya hantā śrīkṛṣṇo murāririti sarvapurāṇeṣu prasiddham । sa ca jagatpālanāya kṛtāvatare bhagavān viṣṇureveti ca tatraiva nirṇītam ।)

    Not to mention the various other references, requoting:

    1.239 – "paramake viṣṇoḥ pade śāśvate"

    1.248 – "paramaṃ viṣṇoḥ padam"

    1.265 – "bhagavato viṣṇoḥ paramaṃ padam"

    1.266 – "paramaṃ padaṃ murāreḥ"

    3.55 – "hareḥ paramaṃ padam"

    3.144 – "viṣṇoḥ paraṃ padam"

    3.291 – "anādy anantaṃ mahataḥ paraṃ dhruvaṃ nicāyanīyaṃ padam īdṛśaṃ hareḥ"

    Citsukha, the guru of Sridhara, even says "tad nRsimhasya paramam padam"!!

    Thus, be it advaita or Vishishtadvaita, "Vishnu" in that Upanishad line refers to Lord Vishnu, who is also all-pervading, only.


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