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Refutation of Bodhendra Saraswati's objections against Vaishnavism in "Hariharadvaita Bhushanam"

Introduction
In this chapter on the refutation of Hari-Hara Aikyatva Vada, we consider the arguments of a relatively recent advaitin who was supposed to be of the “tolerant” kind, known as Sri Bodhendra Saraswati.
Bodhendra Saraswati is said to have been an advocate of nAma sankIrtanam, and chanted Rama nama one lakh times every day. He was a contemporary of the illustrious karnATaka-smArta devotee of Shiva known as Sridhara “Ayyaval” who lived in Tiruvisanallur. This advaitic personality who lived during/after Appayya Dikshita’s period, advocated that in the Vedas, both Hari (Vishnu) and Hara (Shiva) are praised as the One Supreme Being.

The book
We do not normally wish to confront those who believe in Hari-Hara-Aikya, but Sri Bodhendra Saraswati addresses Vaishnavas and objects to core Vaishnava tenets in one of his work known as “hariharAdvaita-bhUShaNaM”. He tries to argue that the position of Vaishnavas that Shiva is a Jiva is illogical and blasphemous. Hence, we are indebted to the Vaishnava community to present a refutation of this work in a manner that is accessible to all.
This work is divided into the following three chapters:
  1. The first chapter takes up a commentary on the Narayana Sukta and Mahopanishad, asserting that Narayana/Vishnu is praised as supreme in it. The opinions of hardcore Shaivas, recorded in Appayya Dikshita’s pro-Shaiva works, are condemned in this chapter.
  2. The second chapter takes up a commentary on Svetasvatara, Atharvashiras, Atharvashikha, and Kaivalyopanishad. Here is where the author attempts to refute Vaishnava tenets regarding Vishnu vs. Rudra.
  3. The third chapter takes up a study of all major Upanishads, and tries to show that in every Upanishad (including Mahopanishad, Narayana Suktam, Taittiriya Upanishad, Svetasvatara, Atharvasiras, Atharvashikha, and Kaivalya) **both** Shiva and Vishnu are praised as supreme.
Readers can read the whole of this work for free in the Digital Library of India web page [link].
This “hariharAdvaita-bhUShaNaM” is definitely a post-Appayya Dikshita work, since Dikshita and his pro-Shaiva works are refuted in it. The very fact that this work dates to recent times only, and that no such work establishing “hari-hara aikyatva” exists prior to the 16th Century in the advaita literature, adds credibility to our premise that the position of Vishnu vs. the position of Rudra advocated by Vaishnavas was never seriously contested before.
The first chapter seems to refute Shaiva interpretations of Mahopanishad and Narayana Suktam, and hence we have nothing to say here.
Since the second chapter is the one that addresses Vaishnavas directly, let us look at these objections against Vaishnavas first.
A refutation of the third chapter will be added subsequently in the near future in this blog.
The following sections in this article deal with the objections found in the second chapter of this work. Here, the opinion of Bodhendra Saraswati in “Hari Hara Advaita Bhushanam” is marked as “pUrvapaksha” and our pro-Vaishnava refutation is marked as “siddhanta”. 

The Issue of mahOpanishad vAkyas
pUrvapaksha: The objection is that “eko ha vai nArAyaNa AsIt, na brahma nEshaNa” does not imply the non-existence of Shiva during praLaya. Rather, it only refers to the shUlapAni form of Shiva that was absent during this time. The bimba chaitanya (form of consciousness) of Shiva existed during this time; this is confirmed by the theory that Brahman does not have a form during creation. Since “IshAna” implies the sarvEshvaratva of Shiva, it denies the jIvatva of Shiva. Hence, the formless nature of nArAyaNa and Shiva as a single entity is the Cause of the Universe.
siddhAnta:  Such an interpretation overlooks various anomalies in favour of a biased mindset. Firstly, “nEshaNa” occurs squarely after “na brahma” and before “na chandro sUrya” thus implying that it indeed is talking about the absence of the entity known as “IshAna” before shrShti. Ie, the occurrence of this “IshAna” amidst other jivAs itself proves that this “ishAna” is also a jivA that was existing as a sUkshma sarIram of Brahman prior to shRshti. The succeeding statement regarding the birth of a being with 3 eyes and holding a shUla describes the sthUla sarIram of this jivA.
Secondly, if the interpretation of the opponent was to be accepted, then one would note that the shruti vAkya does not say “na vishNu” or “na hari” . If shiva is identical to nArAyaNa and “ishAna” implies the absence of shrimUrtitva, then the vAkya must also include the reference to the absence of the chaturbhuja shankha-chakra-gadAdhara shrimUrtitvam of nArAyaNa. And the succeeding vAkya must also say, “puNDarIkAkSha-shArngapAni purushO jAyatE” along the lines of “tryAkshashUlOpAni jAyatE”. The very fact that 1) “IshAna” occurs amdist Brahma, Surya, Chandra, etc, 2) The name of vishNu is absent, 3) The succeeding mantra talks of the birth of a three eyed, shUlapani, 4) The mantra does not talk of vishNu being born – show that nArAyaNa is parabrahman and ishAna is a jivA.
Shruti vAkyAs declare that Brahman indeed creates with a form, but even if we assume that he does not have a form, it still does not result in identity of Shiva with Brahman (vishNu).
There is no doubt that “IshAna” refers to Shiva based on the description of the succeeding mantra as well as the fact that Shiva possesses that name. The opponent has assumed beforehand that “IshAna” refers to the sarvEshvaratva of Shiva when such a meaning is not accepted by vaishnavas. “IshAna” implies sarvEshvaratva (controller of baddhas, muktAas and nityAs), the name in the case of Shiva implies “Ruler of the mind” – he is the presiding deity of the mind in the context of the Satapatha BrahmaNa. Even if it is taken in the sense of ruling over beasts (as in the case of paShupati) or ruling over devas (as indicated by him being referred to as devadeva), it only implies rulership at a lower degree, like a King or Master and not sarvEshvaratvam in the sense of Paratva.
The atharvasikha quote will be explained later.
pUrvapaksha: The atharvasikha talks about the creation of vishNu. Various purAnic statements attribute ignorance and other doShas to avatArAs. Therefore, the birth of Rudra and the declaration of “anapahatapApmatva” must be taken in the manner of leela and arthavAda in the same way that statements regarding vishNu are taken. This is also not possible as it is a weak statement (of play) throwing out the stronger statement of creation.
siddhAnta: The opponent is oversimplifying our position, as if to gain an unfair advantage in debate.  There are two particular aspects of our position that the opponent has failed to look at:
(1) Vaishnava AcAryas have given several arguments that Linga, Skanda and other purANas, in which Shiva is extolled at the expense of Vishnu, are of tAmasic nature. In fact, there are statements in the Puranas themselves to that effect. Nowhere are Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Padma Purana etc. are condemned as tAmasic even in the Shaiva purANas. On the other hand, purANas which deal with Vishnu's greatness as their main subject are praised as sAttvika purANas. The opponent has conveniently bypassed this argument of ours, either deliberately or because they are not familiar with our reasoning.
(2) There is another very important point to note. The hari-hara-abheda-vAda opponent seems to think that “there are texts that declare that Vishnu is superior to Shiva, and then there are other texts that declare Shiva is superior to Vishnu”. This is fundamentally incorrect and paints a false picture in which there is equality of some sort between the purANic statements that glorify Vishnu and glorify Shiva. The fact is that there are innumerable portions even in the rAjasa/tAmasa purANas such as Brahma, Brahmanda, Skanda, Linga and other Puranas where Vishnu is said to be The Supreme and superior to Shiva. Many such statements have been quoted from these purANas by Vedantins such as Vedanta Desika, Madhva, etc. See Madhva’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya for a collection of such statements.
Note further following extract from Madhva's Brahma Sutra Bhashya (Translation by Prof. Pandurangi) first adhyaya, first pada, first sutra (1.1.1) :
"Also in the Skanda Purana celebrating the supremacy of Siva, this is said:
'O, Undecaying One, the moment thou shouldst, in wrath, turn thy face away from them, Brahma, Isana, and other gods would be doomed to miseries worse than those inflicted upon the basest of the base';
and in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana which seeks to extol Brahma, it is said:
'Neither I nor Siva nor others can lay claim to even a small fraction of his power. As a child sports with its toys, so does Achyuta with us.'
And no such statement is to be found in the works declaring the supremacy of Vishnu,...
In addition to being silent to these massive evidences, the opponent claims that we are also "unfairly biased as we accept word-for-word purANic statements that relegate Shiva as subordinate to Vishnu, while ignoring at the same time various purANic statements that attribute ignorance and other doShas to Vishnu and avatArAs, showing Vishnu as created, having partial/imperfect knowledge, powerless, sorrowful, lustful, angry, conquerable, punishable, worshiping Shiva/others etc.”

Regarding these alleged statements in purANas where Vishnu is declared as inferior, one needs to look no further than Shankara to easily conclude that Vedantins of yore were of the conviction that these portions from tAmasa purANas, in which Vishnu’s alleged imperfections are alluded to, are to be totally rejected and do not deserve even passing mention. Note Shankara’s commentary for the following nAmas  in Vishnu Sahasranama:
ajitaH” – na kenApyavatAreShu jita iti ajitaH

[one who is not conquered by anyone in His avatAras].
jitakrodhaH” – jitaH krodho yena saH jitakrodhaH ; vedamaryAdAsthApanArthaM surArIn hanti , na tu kopavaSAditi

[jitakrodha means one who has conquered anger. He kills the enemies of devas for the purpose of establishing Vedic honour, not as a result of being led astray by anger].
akrUraH” – avAptasamastakAmatvAt kAmABAvAdeva kopABAvaH ; tasmAtkrauryamasya nAstIti akrUraH

[He is eternally the one who has already achieved every one of his own desires. Since there is no desire (kAma), there is no anger (krodha). Because of that, he has no cruelty (krUratva) and hence he is called akrUraH].
stavyaH” – sarvaiH stUyate na stotA kasyacit (api) asau iti stavyaH

[One who is praised and worshiped by all, but is the worshiper of none.]
“amUrtimAn”, “anekamUrtiH”karmanibandhanA mUrtirasya na vidyata iti amUrtimAn| avatAreShu svecChayA lokAnAmupakAriNIH bahvIH mUrtIH bhajata iti anekamUrtiH | 

[He is called amUrtimAn which means formless, because He does not have any form that is dictated by karmas (since he is free of karmas). He is called anekamUrtiH since He takes up many forms (aneka mUrtiH) out of His own will in order to grace the universe.]

Our opponent will note that Shri Shankara does not even make a passing comment that the statements in other purANas declaring the superiority of Rudra etc. over Vishnu and various imperfections (doShas) to Vishnu's avatAras are to be discarded as arthavAda. Does this not hint at the very high likelihood that Shankara considered it unbecoming, frivolous, and unworthy even to talk about these statements to discard their validity?

On the other hand, our opponent, who claims to be Shankara's follower, says that such statements have some value in making an upAsaka develop devotion to Shiva (which in our opponent's opinion, is as important as devotion to Vishnu) the all-important (in the opinion of our opponent) "realization" that Shiva and Vishnu are equal.

The issue of the Atharvasikha
siddhAnta: The atharvasikha does not talk of the creation of vishNu. Neither is it an arthavAda or something said in play. It talks about the manifestation of vishNu, out of his own will, among the effects such as Brahma and Rudra who are born of karma. The pramAnAs for this include:
  • Statements in the vishNu purAna that justify this.
  • Statements in the gita such as “paritrAnAya sAdhunAm….sambhavAmi yugE yugE”.
  • “ajAyamAno bahuda vijAyatE”.
The opponent can argue that this could be applied for Rudra. That is not possible because:
  • The atharvasikha does not talk about “anapahatapApmatvam “ of vishNu. The purusha suktam says that  Brahman is born out of his own will. The subalOpanishad talks about the “apahatapApmatvam” of nArAyaNa. The vishNu gAyatri equates nArAyaNa to vishNu. Thus, it establishes that vishNu is alone born of his own will.
  • In the case of Rudra, the usage of “anapahatapApmatva” is present. The mahOpanishad distinguishes Rudra from nArAyaNa (who is apahatapApma) by the “eko ha vai…” vAkya. There are no upabrahmaNas like the Gita where Rudra says he is born of his own will. Therefore, it is established that the birth of Rudra is a product of karma.
To this, the opponent may argue that “anapahatapApmatva” is spoken in arthavAda just as rAmAyaNa talks of srI rAma as possessing karma. As mentioned before:
It is not possible to compare rama and rudra. Rama did lament that he may have had papa karmas,etc. But he is referred to as sAkshAt nArAyaNa by brahma, as beyond prakrti (tAmasa paramO dhata) by mandodari and hence, his statements about karma are taken as leela.
In addition, KrishNa clarifies the true nature of rAma by saying “janma karma ca mE divyam” and “avajAnanti mAm muDah”. Both rAma and krishNa have been referred to as sAkshAt nArAyaNa. No such clarification exists for Rudra. The opponent cannot argue that the clarifications given by krishNa can be applied to Rudra because he has not yet established the identity of the two and neither do the purAnAs anywhere refer to Rudra as an avatArA of vishNu (other than shaktyAvEsa). Whereas rudra is declared as different from nArAyaNa in the mahOpanishad and as a creation in the nArAyaNopanishad.
If our opponent argues that the rudra of the rudram and satapatha be taken as the same personalities, hence “anapahatapapma” in the brahnana is nullified by “ agorApapakashini” in the rudram, it needs to be said that such an identity is the subject of debate and has not been established. Whereas, it is certain that the rama hailed by mandodari and the rama who lamented about his births are the same; this cannot be proven of rudra in shruti. In fact, according to krishNa, “vedais ca sarvair aham evA vedyAH” – he alone (eva) is praised by shruti. It has already been established that names like “Rudra” and “Shiva” are names of vishNu.
Finally, shruti would not include such playful statements of brahman made in leela. Because it is from shruti we understand the nature of brahman. That allows us to understand the Ithihasa. If rudra was saying “anapahatapapma” out of play,then shruti would be deemed a confusing picture of reality. And if so, anything would be open to interpretation as arthavada. One can say the same for Indra, Vayu, Varuna and all the other devas as well. This would lead to the mimAmsa position of claiming even upanishadic statements on brahman as spoken out of play or arthavada!
While some statements in the context of phalans are arthavAda, the nature of Brahman is never dealt with in the realm of arthavAda by shruti or Gita or Brahma sutrAs. These shAstras actually exist to clarify the arthavAdas seen in the ithihAsA, such as the case of srI rAma lamenting about his karmas or Brahma praising Shiva in the Karna Parva of mahAbHArata in the context of “loka hitam”!
The context of Rudra asking for boon, declaring himself as “anapahatapApma” are thus, not arthavAda.
A question may be raised that Rudra was named paShupati at birth itself. Why then would he ask for a boon of the same name, does this not prove his names are eternal? The answer is that he was named paShupati at birth because he possessed (pati) attachments or anger (paShu) that are the cause of the mind. When he asks for the name “paShupati” now, it is to become the ruler of beings/animals. Incidentally the inner meaning is that the upAsaka needs accessories like cattle, wealth etc to perform kAmya karmas that are ancillaries to upAsaNa. Similarly does Rudra need this name to defeat the tripurAsurAs.
pUrvapaksha: Vaishnavas consider the declarations of rAma as a karma vasya, etc as weak statements and the vAkyAs declaring paratva as strong statements.
siddhAnta: It cannot also be said that vaishnavas favour certain statements over others. Full authority is given to all statements. There are strong upabrahmaNas explaining the statement that vishNu is born of his own will and also other pramAnAs that declare the atharvasikha to be referring to nArAyaNa as parabrahman.
When nArAyaNa is declared apahatapApma, etc, and is equated to vishNu, that statement stands on its own weight. When rAma says he is suffering the fruits of his karma, this statement is seen in the light of the rAmAyaNa text itself which has such declarations like “tAmasa paramO dhAtA” by mandOdari and “bhavAnti nArAyaNo dEva” by Brahma. Hence, the statement of rAma is also given its own weight by taking the rAmAyaNa text only as pramAna in the first stage. Since rAma is equated to nArAyaNa who is apahatapApma, his declaration is now seen in the light of purusha sukta vAkya, “rtam brAhmaNya jananam” (the wise know the nature of his births) and “avajAnanti mAm muda”, “janma karma ca mE divyam” which explain that these words were spoken by rAma out of his sousIlya and not because he was really suffering from karma.
At this, one more pUrvapaksha can be raised – There are statements in the purAnas etc where Rudra is hailed as supreme by the devas. Instead of interpreting it as a stuti of the antaryAmin nArAyaNa, why not take it directly and see it in the light of shruti vAkyAs like “purushO vai rudrO…”, etc. This way, the statements ascribing doshas to Rudra can be explained in a similar way as the rAmAyaNa.
Answer to this is that this is untenable. The Vaishnava stand on srI rAma is based *solely* on him being equated to nArAyaNa by Brahma and Mandodari in the rAmAyaNa itself. Only after this is done, are the pramAnAs from Gita and Purusha Sukta taken. It is agreed that only when a deity is equated to nArAyaNa, can any credence of Brahmatva be given to that deity. Rudra on the other hand, like Brahma and the other devas, is declared as different from nArAyaNa everywhere in the shruti and smritis. Thus, it is impossible to use the same logic for devas other than vishNu.
pUrvapaksha: The opponent states that a similar situation (as that of srI rAma) exists for Rudra as well since the shruti passages in the shvetAsvatArA, atharvasikha, atharvasiras, etc eulogise Rudra as supreme and support the 6 characteristics of truth whereas the statements declaring Rudra’s birth do not possess these characteristics and hence, are weaker.
siddhAnta: The said Upanishads do not eulogise pArvati pati, but only vishNu, who is well-known by the name of Rudra (rudrO bahushIra babhru: ~ sahasranAmA). It is wrong to assume that these Upanishads talk of pArvati pati when it has not even been established yet that pArvati pati is remotely close to Brahmatva.
The following pramAnAs also declare that vishNu alone is addressed by these Upanishads:
rudra-japaka-shatam ekam ekena atharvashirah-shikha-adhyapakena tatsamam atharvashirah- shikha-adhyapaka shatam ekam ekena tapaniyopanishad adhyapakena tatsamam tapaniyopanishad-adhyapaka-shatam ekam ekena mantraraja-adhyapakena tatsamam (~Narasimha pUrva tApanIya upanishad).

atharvazirasA caiva nityam AtharvaNA dvijAH
stuvanti satataM ye mAM te 'pi bhAgavatAH smRtAH (Mahabharata, Ashvamedhika Parva, BORI 14_004_3378 - 14_004_3379)

Meaning: (You must) know that those AtharvaNa brAhmaNas who chant the atharvashiras daily as part of their worship of Me (KrishNa) are also bhAgavatas, my devotees.

Here a doubt may be raised – why does bhagavAn say “api”, they are also bhAgavatAs? Does this not indicate that there is a difference between the atharvaNa brahmaNas (ie, that perhaps they worshipped a different deity) and the vaishnavas?

The answer is given by srI yAmunAchArya and srI vedAnta desikan in their defence of the pAncharAtra. During the course of refuting pUrvapakshAs, it is mentioned that by profession, bhAgavatAs are invested of panchasamskArA, perform the five-fold activities, and look after the temple, so they are different. But the atharva veda refers to a class of people known as vrAtyas who are pure by nature and require no samskArA. Atharva veda also says that anyone who perform services to a vrAtya will gain the archirAdi mArga.
Thus, krishNa is alluding to the difference of duties (chanting the atharva veda, etc) as opposed to the regular duties of bhAgavatAs/pAncharAtra followers (who place more emphasis on kaimkaryam) and yet says that all are the same class of devotees with different functions.
Thus, it is established that these Upanishads do not talk about pArvati pati and only refer to nArAyaNa, refuting the assumptions of the opponent.
Shri Ramasubba Shastri, a smArtha paNDita who lived in late 19th century till the first few decades of the 20th century, has rejected the pUrvapakShin’s position in the following works, establishing that only viShNu/nArAyaNa is the object of these shruti portions:
(1) shvetAshvatAropaniShad vilAsa
(2) kaivalyopaniShad vilAsa
(3) atharvashiropaniShad vilAsa
(4) pancarudratAtparya sangraha (dealing with atharvashikhopaniShad)
These works are out of print, but a general idea about their contents have been described in various catalogues of institutions such as the Government Oriental Manuscript Library of Madras.

The issue of comparing the incidents of name-giving
pUrvapaksha: Vaishnavas state that Shiva was given eight names by Brahma during his birth (as stated in the Satapatha Brahmana). We say that these names and stations are eternal, but Shiva accepted them when brahmA gave them to him. This is just as Krishna accepted the names (i) vAsudeva -- given by gArgAcArya, (ii) govinda -- given by Indra after He protected cows with the govardhana mountain, (iii) keshava -- given by nArada for killing the demon keshi. These names are also eternal to Shriman Narayana.

The Vaishnavas also point out the following incidents as a further proof that Shiva is a Jivatma: That he was given the title of "pashupati" by the devas, and that he obtained half their strength in order to destroy the Tripurasuras and their three cities. We agree these incidents are indeed mentioned in the Veda (Taittiriya Samhita) and in the Mahabharata (Karna Parva). But according to us, the purpose of these pastimes of Shiva was to give anugraha to devas. This is similar to Krishna stealing butter etc. to bestow his grace on Gokula, and just as he obtained the name govinda by gracing devendra, after protecting cows and citizens by lifting up the govardhana mountain. Just like these incidents do not go against the Lordly nature of Sriman Narayana, so also these incidents that happened during the Tripura Samhara incident do not go against the Lordly nature of Shiva and show he is a Jivatma.

siddhAnta: The act of shiva asking for half the strength of devas and the name of paShupati cannot be compared to acts of krishNa stealing butter and gaining the name of “govinda” from Indra
Firstly, all the reasons given in the previous section apply. Secondly, if we study the inner meaning of the acts, they come out different. The incident of tripurAsura vadham is that of upAsaNa in its inner meaning. During upAsaNa, the upAsaka cannot  stay doing nothing and expect the upAsaNa to succeed. This is because upAsaNa, which is adopted by him as the means, is not sentient to guide him. He needs to use his own intellect and strength, adopt the upAsaNa vidhi prescribed by the shAstras and perform the ancillories to upAsaNa. In the case of prapatti, the means adopted his bhagavAn himself, who is sentient and hence can do the work himself. So the prapanna can sit back doing nothing. Of course, Brahman is still the indirect means in the upAsaNa; his grace is needed to succeed there as well.
Thus, the devas were unable to bear the power of shiva. Similarly, upAsaNa is insentient and cannot carry the burden of the jivA. The devas gave half their power to Shiva; similarly does observance of the upAsaNa vidhi increase  splendour, youth, vigor, intellect etc in the jivA giving the latter the tools to succeed. The devas gave Shiva the name of paShupati; similarly does the upAsaka need wealth, cattle, etc as ancillaries to upAsaNa.
In the butter stealing incident, KrishNa is paramAtma who breaks the body (pot) and steals the jivAtma (butter). He steals because the jivA is unwilling to accept his grace. And so on.
The inner meaning of one incident is that Shiva is a jivAtmA, a yogi and the other incident is that krishNa is paramAtma, hence the two cannot be compared.
Even the name “govinda” is more significant than “paShupati” in terms of meaning.
krishNa’s names were given by, 1) devotees out of love, 2) devas like Indra who recognised his supremacy after being defeated. Whereas, Rudra was given names when, 1) he cried because of being born of karma and openly declared so, 2) When he made a deal to help the devas and in exchange got the name.
Same holds for other names. The vAsudEva and kEshava nAmas were given out of devotion. Rudra’s names were given when he was born. The vAsudEva and kEshava nAmas also contain more pregnant meanings of brahmatva as opposed to names like paShupati, Ugra, etc which can be interpreted in many ways, for Brahman as well as for other entities as well
Lastly, the narasimha tApanIya Upanishad declares umApati, paShupati, pinAki, nIlalohita, etc to be names of narasimha. Having already established Rudra as different from nArAyaNa and the latter to be parabrahman, this shows that these names were existent before the birth of Rudra. Also, it is well-established that names like vAsudEva, krishNa, govinda, etc were already names of nArAyaNa prior to krishNa avatArA. VarAha is referred to as krishNa in the mahAnArAyaNa Upanishad and as Govinda elsewhere. vAsudEva is a name of Hayagriva. And so on.
Since Rudra’s birth is proven, the same cannot be said of him.

Shiva accepting Brahma as his Superior compared with Krishna and kAlayavana incident
pUrvapakSha: You Vaishnavas point out that in the Karna Parva section of Mahabharata, Shiva accepted brahmA as his superior by accepting the latter as a charioteer. This is supported by the fact that Shiva initially asked the Devas for a charioteer who was greater than himself. We say that this was Shiva's play to make Brahma and others happy by making Brahma think that he was stronger than Rudra. This is similar to Krishna confessing to kAlayavana that he is weaker by running away when kAlayavana came to conquer, in order to make kAlayavana believe that Krishna is weaker than himself, in accordance with kAlayavana's wish.

siddhAnta: The opponent once again argues that Shiva accepting Brahma as his superior is arthavAda, similar to various incidents where krishNa accepted others as superior, exhibited fear, etc.
The previous arguments all apply and this has already been sufficiently addressed. As in the case of srI rAma, KrishNa is also equated to nArAyaNa in the mahAbhArata and has spoken about his true nature in the Gita. Whereas, the same cannot be said of Shiva.
Furthermore, the context and inner meaning of the incident itself makes the statement true and not arthavAda. Because this incident was narrated by Duryodhana to make Shalya the charioteer of Karna. Since Shalya was superior to Karna, Duryodhana was pointing out that it is not a dOsha if the charioteer is superior to the combatant, since Brahma was superior to Shiva and became his charioteer.
Secondly, if we take the inner meaning of upAsaNa for Tripura samhArA, the vedas are the chariot and Brahma, senior to Shiva, is the charioteer. Similarly, the shAstrAs are like the chariot and the AchAryA, senior to the jivAtma doing upAsaNa, is the charioteer to guide the upAsaka.
Thus, all objections in the second chapter of "Harihara Advaita Bhushana" have been addressed.