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Sridhara, Anugita, and Miscellaneous topics: Part 1

Sridhara Swami’s stance in the Vishnu Purana Bhashya


Introduction
There are certain elements on the cyberspace attempting to show legitimacy to their Hari-Hara abheda and trimUrti aikya vAda, by drawing from works of ancient advaitins.   We have written many articles covering this issue by showing that their imaginations were rejected by ancient preceptors of all three schools of Vedanta. However, there is a need from time to time to address specific allegations. It helps us bring out new information from Vedantic works of different schools; hence we feel it is worthwhile and there is no risk of repetition.
The case at hand is that certain statements from Shridhara Swamin’s Vishnu Purana and Srimad Bhagavata commentaries seem to endorse Shiva’s supremacy/Hari-Hara abheda vAda, and this has been exploited by Vishnu/Vaishnava haters in criticising our blog. A careful reading of the context will reveal that Sridhara did not intend Shiva to be equated with Vishnu.
The central point addressed in this article is Sridhara’s commentary to the shloka “jitaM te puNDarIkAkSha”. One of the meanings Sridhara gives refers to an incident in the tAmasa purANas -- the worship of Shiva by Vishnu with His eye. Our detractors say that Shridhara is endorsing the fact that Vishnu worshipped Shiva by plucking out his eye, obtaining the sudarshana chakra as a result. We shall address this point in detail later in this article.
But first, let us understand the context, by starting with the mangala shloka of the bhAShya:
śrībindumādhavaṃ vande paramānandavigraham ।
vācaṃ viśveśvaraṃ gaṅgāṃ parāśaramukhān munīn ॥1॥

Meaning: I salute Shri Bindu-mAdhava (viShNu’s name in kAshI), who is of the form of the Highest Bliss. I also salute saraswati (vAk), shiva (vishveshvara), the river (gangA), and the seers beginning with parAshara.
In this mangala slOka itself, Sridhara uses the epithet “paramAnanda vigrahaM” to denote “bindumAdhava” identifying him as saguNa Brahman. In contrast, vAk, vishvEshvara (shiva) and Ganga are saluted without any such adjectives. This itself proves that Hari alone is the saguNa ishvara here (of course, Shiva is a vishva guru).
Shridhara Swamin’s clear pronouncements of Vishnu’s supremacy
We have already shown in a previous article that in the Shrimad Bhagavatam commentary, Shridhara holds Vishnu as the Supreme, and Brahma and Rudra as subordinate to Keshava. How about the Vishnu Purana commentary? Does it show any change in Shridhara’s stance? The answer is negative. In fact, Shridhara refers to his own Bhagavatam commentary in a few places. But let us consider some specific statements in the body of Vishnu Purana. We have given below what the commentator says at certain verse numbers as indicated:
VP 1.2.12:
“paramAtmaiva ca sAttvatatantravidbhirvAsudeva ityucyate ityAha”
Meaning: The Supreme Atman alone indeed is called Vasudeva by the knowers of the (pA~ncarAtra) tantras such as sAttvata

VP 1.2.15
“tathaiva nAradIyatantre ‘viShNostu trINi rUpANi puruShAkhyAnyatho viduH | prathamaM mahataH sraShTR^i dvitIyantvaNDasaMsthitam | tR^itIyaM sarvabhUtasthaM tAni j~nAtvA vimucyate’”.
Meaning: Thus says the nAradIya tantra: ‘...therefore, the wise know the three forms of Vishnu called Purushas. The first is the creator of mahAn, the second is the one situated in the cosmic egg. The third is the one inside all beings. Knowing these three, one is liberated’

In these two places we see that Sridhara highly endorses pA~ncarAtra texts. In an earlier article too, we have seen Sridhara holding pA~ncarAtra texts as authority.

VP 1.19.77 forms part of Prahlada’s praise of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha. It says:
yātītagocarā vācāṃ manasāṃ cāviśeṣaṇā /
jñānijñānaparicchedyā tāṃ vande ceśvarīṃ parām //
Meaning: I salute that (shakti of Vishnu) that is indescribable, beyond speech and mind, distinguishes the knower and the knowledge, who belongs to the Lord
To this, Sridhara Swami gives a pramANa from the shvetAshvatara upaniShat, and says that the shakti here refers to the Supreme Shakti of Sri Narasimha:
“tAm IshvarIM Ishvarasya tava svarUpabhUtAM parAM cicchaktiM vande | ‘parA.asya shaktir vividhaiva shrUyate svAbhAvikI j~nAnabalakriyA ca’ iti shruteH”
Meaning: I salute that shakti of You, the Lord, whose characteristic is the state of being Your Essential Nature, who is the Supreme shakti called the ‘sentient’ (cit). The Vedas say ‘His supreme power exists in many forms, as Essential Nature, Knowledge, and Potency’ (Shvetashvatara Upanishad)
In the astra-bhUShaNa-adhyAya (1.22), Sridhara avers that Sriman Narayana’s form is “kRRitsnabrahmarUpa” (complete form of Brahman) and not incomplete parts (aMshas) like the four-faced brahmA and the other devatAs:
[Note: The translations given below are based on Sridhara's advaitic interpretation of the mUla shlokas. Vishishtadvaitins interpret it differently, as provided by their Vishnu Purana commentator Engalazhvan/viShNucitta]
    Shloka:
sarvaśakti mayo viṣṇuḥ svarūpaṃ brahmaṇaḥ param /
mūrtaṃ yadyogibhiḥ purvaṃ yogārambheṣu cintyate // ViP_1,22.61
Meaning: Vishnu, who is of omnipotent form, is the supreme essential nature of Brahman. This form (of Vishnu) is the object of meditation of yogis of yore while starting their yoga
Commentary:
sarvashaktimayo viShNuH mUrtaM vishuddhorjitasattvAtmakaM brahmaNa eva |”
Meaning: The form of Vishnu, who is omnipotent, is of the nature of pure sattvic power, and is the form of Brahman alone
Shloka:
sa paraḥ paraśaktīnāṃ brahmaṇaḥ samanantaram /
mūrtaṃ brahma mahābhāga sarvabrahmamayo hariḥ // ViP_1,22.63 //
Meaning: He (Vishnu) is the Supreme of all powers of Brahman, being the closest to it. This is Brahman with form, oh great one, as Hari is Brahman embodied as a whole
Shridhara’s Commentary:
“hareH sarvashreShThatvamAha, sa para iti dvAbhyAm | brahmaNaH shaktInAM madhye sa paraH  shreShThaH | yataH samanantaraH atinikaTaH | yato mUrtaM ghanIbhUtaM brahmaiva saH | tatra hetuH, sarvabrahmamayaH kR^itsnabrahmarUpaH na tu brahmAdivat tadaMshaH |”
Meaning: (parAshara) states that Hari is Supreme above all, in this shloka. Of all the powers of Brahman, He is the Supreme, most excellent. This is because He is nearest to it. In turn, this is because He is indeed the embodiment of Brahman. The reason for this is -- He is the complete form of all of Brahman, unlike Brahma and others who are partial manifestations of Brahman.
Shridhara thus rips apart the trimUrti-aikyatva vAda of Vishnu-hating pseudo-vedAntins
In the fifth aMsha, shrIdhara svAmin shatters the hopes of shaivAdvaitins and hari-hara aikya vAdins, by showing that the shvetAshvatara upaniShad says Lord Vishnu is the progenitor of Brahma, and hence does not think that the shvetAshvatara is a shiva-para upaniShad:
    Shloka:
tvaṃ parastvaṃ parasyādyaḥ paraṃ tvattaḥ parātmaka /
parasmātparamo yas tvaṃ tasya stoṣyāmi kinnv aham // ViP_5,7.62 //
Meaning: You are supreme, you are the progenitor of the highest, from you (springs) the highest, Oh Lord! You are Higher than the highest, how indeed is it possible for me to praise you in full? (It is not possible to praise You in full)
Commentary:
“tvamiti tvaM paraH sarvotkR^iShTa etadevAha parasya hiraNyagarbhasyAdyo janakastvaM ‘yo brahmANaM vidadhAti pUrvam’ iti shruteH | tatra hetuH | paramavyaktaM tvattaH pravartate he parAtmaka |”
Note that shrIdhara quotes “yo brahmANaM vidadhAti pUrvam” from the shvetAshvatara as addressing Vishnu.
In the sixth aMsha, the commentator says that nindA of other devatAs is found in the shAstras to explain the Supremacy of Hari:
Shloka:
anye tu puruṣavyāghra cetaso ye vyapāśrayāḥ /
aśuddhāste samastāstu devādyāḥ karmayonayaḥ // ViP_6,7.77 //
Meaning: The others such as devAs, oh tiger among men (parAshara addressing Maitreya), are sentient beings who are impure and are impacted by their karma.
Commentary:
“arvAgdevatAnindayA bhagavanmUrttidhAraNAmeva dR^iDhIkaroti anye ceti dvAbhyAM”
Meaning: By censuring the lower devatAs, parAshara is emphasising that the form of Bhagavan (Vishnu) alone is fit to be fixed in one’s mind.
Note that Shridhara is saying “nindA of the lower devatas” and not just “nindA of other devatas”. This means that our commentator agrees on the devatA tAratamya, with Vishnu as the Highest. We have already seen this in the astra-bhUShaNa adhyAya commentary above.
Now, let us come to the verses in question:
puṇḍarīkākṣeti hṛdayākhyaṃ puṇḍarīkamaśnute vyāpnotīti tathā ।  yadvā puṇḍarīke iva akṣiṇī yasyeti । atra śvetatvamavivakṣitaṃ, lohitatvenaiva nayanotkarṣāt । śivārādhanārthaṃ puṇḍarīkīkṛtamakṣi yeneti vā "puṇḍarīkaṃ paraṃ dhāma akṣamavyayamucyate" ityādiślokoktavyutpattyā vā puṇḍarīkākśeti sambodhanamiti vā । te iti sambandhe ṣaṣṭhī ।
Sridhara quotes the Linga Purana incident here, that Hari worshipped Shiva by offering his eye as a lotus. Let us see why.
This statement is sandwiched between two other statements of his.
The statement of Sridhara preceding the Linga Purana reference says:
puṇḍarīkākṣeti hṛdayākhyaṃ puṇḍarīkamaśnute vyāpnotīti
The Lord is “PundarikAksha” as he is the one who pervades the lotus called 'hR^idaya'– Thus, he is the antaryAmin (saguna brahman).
As per advaita, saguNa Brahman is the antaryAmin since nirguNa brahman cannot be called by names like  “pundarIkAksha” or “nArAyaNa”. The alternative explanations below also show it refers to the Lord as saguNa ishvara only.
The statements of Sridhara succeeding the Linga Purana reference gives another alternative etymological interpretation for “Pundarikaksha”:
puṇḍarīkaṃ paraṃ dhāma akṣamavyayamucyate
“ He, the unchanging one, who is the eye of the supreme abode called pundarIkam” (this also validates the idea of krama mukti being “abhautika vaikuntha”)
Look at the above. When Sridhara says Hari is the saguNa ishvara who is in the heart lotus and the Lord of the supreme abode (krama mukti/vaikuntha), is there any place for suggesting he is inferior to Shiva here?
Therefore, using a little logic - The statement of Sridhara quoting the Linga Purana incident, which occurs between the above 2 sentences, should be seen in its’ entirety:
yadvā puṇḍarīke iva akṣiṇī yasyeti । atra śvetatvamavivakṣitaṃ, lohitatvenaiva nayanotkarṣāt
First, Sridhara says the Lord’s eyes are like a lotus in the sense that their whiteness is not expressed because the redness is more eminent. (This is explained by Vishishtadvaitins as follows – the eyes are white with criss-crossing red veins which arose from him constantly looking at the golden/fiery form of Lakshmi. We are not sure if Advaitins have the same definition as Sridhara has not specified it here).
Note the word “utkarShat” – He says, the redness of the Lord’s eyes is very celebrated or pre-eminent. And then, he logically follows it up by saying:
śivārādhanārthaṃ puṇḍarīkīkṛtamakṣi yeneti
“By whom the eye was made a lotus for the purpose of worshipping Shiva”.
Having said that the redness of his eyes is pre-eminent, Sridhara says, that he is called pundarIkAksha as in the context of shiva worship he offered his eye as a lotus.
Sridhara is not validating the tAmasa purANa incident, nor is he saying the Lord actually worshipped Shiva. How could he say that, when he clearly gave definitions of saguNa ishvara for “pundarIkAksha” previously?
Then what is the explanation for this statement? The idea is, bhagavAn’s eyes have been likened to a lotus even in the tAmasa purANAs within the context of Shiva-worship. This illustrates the overwhelming pre-eminence of their redness, ie, even a tAmasa purANa cannot help referencing it.
First, Sridhara says that the redness is pre-eminent and then says, it is offered as a lotus even within the context of shiva-worship (which is another example to prove its’ etymology and show how pre-eminent they are, that even shAstras not completely aligned to vishNu paratva speak of it).
The idea is, Sridhara is doing what even all sri vaiShnava pUrvAchAryAs have done. He is not validating a tAmasa story here, that is evident from his other interpretations of the word “pundarIkAksha”. The Linga Purana story is a valid pramANa for pundarIkAkshatva and therefore he is quoting it.
How is it valid?  Sri Vaishnava mahAvidvAn, shrI PBA Swami  explains it thus – The chAndogya Upanishad says “tasya yatha kapyasam pundarikam eva akshini:” - The being in the sun is lotus eyed. So how to identify who this being is? In the context of claiming Hari worshipped Shiva, the Linga Purana establishes that the name “pundarIkAksha” solely belongs to Hari and no-one else. Thus, by a twist, the Linga Purana itself has admitted that the being in the solar orb as per the Chandogya is Hari only and thus becomes an upabrahmaNa for the Upanishad vAkya.
The tAmasatva of this story is such that it is so absurd that it negates what it set out to achieve, viz, relegating Hari to a lower status. By its’ story of Hari worshipping Shiva, it establishes that Hari alone bears the name of pundarIkAksha and his eyes are like a lotus. This story is thus, a pramANa to prove that the Being in the Sun, described as possessing eyes like a lotus, is shrI hari only.
This pramANa was popular among vedAntins for proving the pundarIkAkshatva of Hari against the arguments even shaivas. Hence, just as sri vaishnavas quoted it, even Sridhara makes a reference to it. It enforces the fact that Hari alone is pre-eminently known as “pundarIkAksha” or lotus eyed and that the etymology is justified.
The story of Hari worshipping Shiva is not the focus here. The fact of the Lord’s eye being represented as a lotus - thus, the color is comparable to a lotus – in the context of shiva worship is what is being focused on here.
Let us also highlight the much clearer statements of Sridhara in the rest of his commentary to “jitaM te puNDarIkAkSha…” saying puNDarIkAkSha is saguNa Ishvara, paramAtmA, and not jIva:

tava jitaM jayo.astvityarthaH | yadvA te tvayA jitaM sarvotkarSheNa sthitamiti | etena namaskAra AkShiptaH | vishvabhAvana vishvotpAdaka | hR^iShIkANAm indriyANAm Isha tatpravR^ittinivR^ittihetutvAt, “prANasya prANamuta cakShuShashcakShuH shrotasya shrotaH manaso ye mano viduH” iti shruteH | mahApuruSheti jIvavyavacchedAya | mahattva~nca “dvA suparNA sayujA sakhAyA” ityAdi shruteH | nityamuktasvabhAvatvAcca | puri sharIre shayanAttu puruShattvam | vishvotpAdakatve hetuH | pUrvajeti sR^iShTeH pUrvameva svataH prAdurbhUtatvenAnyathAsiddhatvena vA.anyeShAM tadadhInatvAt |

Gist: jitaM te - “May You be victorious”, is the meaning. Alternatively, it indicates His Supremacy over everything else. vishvabhAvana - “You are the creator of the Universe”. hR^iShIkesha - “(You are) the Lord of the indriyas known as ‘hR^iShIkas’. The shruti says ‘He is the prANa of the prANa, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind’. mahApuruSha - Means ‘Great Purusha’. The purpose of this name is to distinguish Him from Jivas. Greatness follows from the shruti - “dvA suparNAH” and also due to His nature of being ever out of the influence of samsAra. The ‘Purusha’ part follows from the fact that He resides in the body (of every being). His creatorship follows from it. pUrvaja - ‘The one who was born before’ implies that He was manifested by His own will before creation.

What is the proof that Sridhara did not consider this story of Hari worshipping Shiva as true? We have to consider what the eminent gurus of advaitins have mentioned regarding the tAmasa purANAs to understand this. Consider Sri Narayana Bhattadri, the author of nArAyaNIyam, who states this very clearly in his work, between the end of the 89th dashaka and the whole of the 90th dashaka. We shall translate these portions with Deshamangala’s commentary as a guide:

(Commentary)
eva~nca trimUrtiShu viShNoreva mahatvam iti asmin arthe sArasvatAH munivarAH nigamanivahAshca pramANamityapyuktaM veditavyam ||
Meaning: Hence (from what follows in the preceding sections), it is to be known that the author (Sri Narayana Bhattathiri) says that the proof for Vishnu being the Highest among the trimUrtis (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) rests on the testament of the sArasvata sages and the statements of the shruti.
Having summarised the 89th chapter thus, the commentator says:
    (Commentary)
nanu trimUrtiShu mahattvaM shrIsha~Nkarasyaiveti skAndAdau bahushaH shrUyata ityAsha~Nkya pariharati --
Meaning: The following objection arises: is it not true that Shri Rudra is praised profusely as the supreme in purANic texts like the skAnda? This objection is answered (and for this purpose the chapter is begun).
(nArAyaNIyam)
vR^ikabhR^igumunimohinyambarIShAdivR^itte
Shvyai tava hi mahattvaM sarvasharvAdijaitram |
sthitamiha parAtman! niShkalArvAgabhinnaM
kimapi yadavabhAtaM taddhi rUpaM tavaiva ||90.1||
(Commentary)
vR^iketi | mohinI viShNumAyA | tava viShNormahattvaM sarveShAM sharvAdInAM devAnAM jaitraM nyUnatApAdakam | tatra vR^ikAdicaturNAM cariteShu shivasya jaitraM tvanmahattvam | indrayAga nandaharaNa bAlAnayana analapAna vatsasteyAdiShu indravaruNayamAnalabrahmAdijaitraM tvanmahattvamiti sthitam atraiva dR^iDhIkR^itam | atra hetuH -- paramAtmanniti | nirupAdhikaparamAtmatvamevopapAdayati -- niShkaleti | niShkale paramAtmani tato.arvAk sakaleShu brahmaviShNugirIshAdiShu ca yat kimapyabhinnaM rUpaM paramAtmatattvam avabhAtaM, tadeva tava viShNo rUpaM tadrUpaM ca tavaiva, na teShAM (brahmagiriShAdeH) | hi yasmAdevaM viShNoravasthAbhedA girishAdayaH, tasmAt trimUrtiShu viShNoreva mahattvamuktamityarthaH | taduktaM shrIbhAgavate --
“sattvaM rajastama iti prakR^iterguNAstairyuktaH paraH puruSha eka ihAsya dhatte |
sthityAdaye hariviri~ncahareti saMj~nAH shreyAMsi tatra khalu sattvatanornRR^iNAM syuH ||” (1.2.23)
Meaning: From the stories of vR^ika (bhasmAsura), bhR^igu (in examining the trimUrtis to determine the sAttvika among them, mohinI (where Shiva was bewildered), ambarISha (where Shiva refused to protect the offender of a Vishnu-bhakta), it is clear that You are victorious against (i.e., surpass) devas such as Shiva. Of the forms that are next to the undivided nirguNa brahman (such as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, etc.), whatever form is praised as the Supreme is Yours alone, and not that of Brahma or Rudra. This is because Brahma and Rudra are different conditions of Vishnu only. Hence, it is clear that Vishnu is supreme among the trimUrtis. The bhAgavata says thus (SB 1.2.23):
The three guNas of prakR^iti are sattva, rajas, and tamas. Endowed with them, the Supreme Being assumes the forms of Hari (Vishnu), Virinchi (Brahma), and Hara (Rudra) respectively for the sustenance and other activities (i.e., creation and destruction of the universe).  For all beings, the form connected with sattva (i.e., viShNu) brings all welfare (in the form of liberation from saMsAra).”
Second shloka:
    (Commentary)
    nanu
    “evameko mahAdevo mAyayA guNarUpayA |
    nAmarUpakriyAbhedairbhinnavat pratibhAsate ||”
iti vacanAt shivasyaivAvasthAbhedo mUrtitrayaprAdhAnyaM cetyAsha~Nkya saMj~nAbheda evAyaM na saMj~nini vastusvarUpa iti pariharati --
Meaning: An objection is raised here -- From the shlokas (in purANas etc.) such that say “thus, one Mahadeva, due to association with guNa and rUpa, appears as various in name, form, and activity”. Does this not convey that the trimUrtis are forms of Shiva alone, and hence is the supreme among them? -- This objection is answered as follows: Such shlokas convey the difference in name (as ‘Mahadeva’ is applicable to Vishnu -- Adidevo mahAdevo deveshaH..) of the Supreme Being and do not intend to say that His real nature is such (as that of pArvatI pati rudra).
mUrtitrayeshvarasadAshivapa~ncakaM yat
prAhuH parAtmavapureva sadAshivo.asmin |
tatreshvarastu sa vikuNThapadastvameva
tritvaM punarbhajasi satyapade tribhAge ||90.2||
mUrtitrayeti | brahmaviShNugirisheshvarasadAshivAkhyamUrtibhedena pa~ncAtmakaH shiva iti yat prAhuH shaivAH, tatra shaivAnAM pakShe yaH sadAshivashabdavAcyaH so.asmin pakShe “viShNuM pa~ncAtmakaM vande” ityukte shrIbhAgavatapakShe parAtmavapuH paramAtmasvarUpastvaM viShNurevetyarthaH | evaM vikuNThapado vaikuNThavAsI tvameveshvarashabdavAcyaH | trayo bhAgA brahmaviShNushivalokA yasmiMstat tribhAgaM tasmin satyapade satyaloke trayo brahmaviShNugirishAH teShAM bhAgastritvaM satyalokasthabrahmaviShNushivalokeShu trimUrtitvamapi tvameva bhajasItyarthaH | yathA harivaMshe --
“ahaM tvaM sarvago deva ! tvamevAhaM janArdana ! |
AvayorantaraM nAsti shabdairarthairjagatpate ! ||”
Meaning: According to Shaivas, the Supreme Being called Shiva exists in five forms as Brahma, Vishnu, Girisha, Ishvara, Sadashiva. They say that the one called “Sadashiva” is supreme. According to us, this Supreme Being is none but Vishnu as per the statement “Vishnum pancAtmakaM vande” of the bhAgavatas, which conveys that the form of Paramatman in his essential nature is Vishnu alone. Thus, the word “Ishvara” also denotes Vishnu alone, who resides in Vaikuntha. In the satyaloka where there are three divisions of Brahmaloka, Vishnuloka, and Shivaloka, You alone reside there as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. To this end, we see the statement of Rudra in Harivamsha - “I am indeed you, who is all-pervading, oh effulgent one! You alone exist as me, oh janArdana! Between us, there is no difference in terms of words or meanings, oh  Lord of the universe!”
Note that Deshamangala the commentator totally destroys the views of Hari-Hara aikya vAdins who misinterpret this verse. Let us proceed to the next shloka’s commentary:
nanu yadi viShNushivayorabhedaH, tarhi kathaM viShNoH prAdhAnyamucyate | satyam | yadyapi tattvadR^iShTyA bhedo nAsti, tathA.api gauNo bhedaH utkarSho nikarShashcAnayorbhavatyevetyAha --
Meaning: To the objection -- If you say there is no difference between Shiva and Vishnu, then how is it that you claim Vishnu to be superior to Shiva --  we reply thus: Yes, it is true that there is no difference, as per the nature of tattva (i.e., its being one without a second). But there is indeed the difference in the qualities, manifesting as the superior and the inferior among them. This shloka conveys this message.
tatrApi sAttvikatanuM tava viShNumAhuH
dhAtA tu sattvaviralo rajasaiva pUrNaH |
sattvotkaTatvamapi cAsti tamovikAra
ceShTAdhikaM ca tava sha~NkaranAmni mUrtau ||90.3||
tatrApIti | tatra trimUrtiShu tava sAttvikIM shuddhasattvamayIM tanuM viShNuM kevalaviShNushabdavAcyAmAhurityarthaH | taduktaM --
    “rAjaso bhagavAn brahmA sAttviko viShNurucyate |
    IShattamoguNo rudraH sR^ijatyavatihantyajaH ||”
Meaning: Even so, Your sAttvika form is the one that is known as “Vishnu”. Brahma has less sattva and is full of rajoguNa. An abundance of sattva also is seen in your Rudra-form that is an effect of tamas. This is also supported by a shloka that goes “rAjaso bhagavAn brahmA… sR^ijatyavatihantyajaH”
nanu “tatreshvarastu sa vikuNThapadastvamevetyuktam | tadayuktam,
“ambikApatirIshAna upAsyo guNamUrtibhiH |
IshvaraH paramAtmaiko mAyayA sa tridhA sthitaH ||”
iti vacanAditi ced, netyAha --
Meaning: To the following objection -- it cannot be said that Ishvara is the one who resides in Vaikuntha i.e., Sri Hari. Because there is the pramANa “ambikApatir IshAnaH.. sa tridhA sthitaH” which means “The consort of Ambika, who is IshAna, is the one to be worshipped by the righteous. He is the one Lord, who is the paramAtman established as three”. This shows it is not Vishnu, but Shiva who is the supreme Ishvara -- the next shloka replies:
taM ca trimUrtyatigataM parapUruShaM tvAM
sharvAtmanApi khalu sarvamayatvahetoH |
shaMsantyupAsanavidhau tadapi svatastu
tvadrUpamityatidR^iDhaM bahu naH pramANam ||90.4||
taM ceti | trimUrtyatigataM mUrtitrayAt paraM taM shaivAnAmIshvarashabdavAcyaM paraM brahmANDAd bahiShThaM puruSham ekAMshena puraM brahmANDaM pravishya ca sthitam  antargatAnekabrahmANDaM tvAM khalUpAsanavidhau shaivAn prati sharvAtmanA shivasvarUpeNApi shaMsanti paurANikAH | sarvamayatvahetoriti | tava trimUrtyadhiShThAnatvAt tadapi nAtyantamayuktamityarthaH | tadapi tathApi svataH paramArthatastvadrUpameva tad, na brahmashivayorityatra bahu  naH pramANamiti | shrutipurANavacanapratyakShAdipramANAni bahUni santItyarthaH | shrutistAvat puruShasUktAdau | ‘kvedR^igvidhAvigaNita’ ityAdIni purANavacanAni | evaMrUpasyArjunAdibhirdR^iShTatvAt pratyakShamapi pramANamityalam ||
Meaning: For the sake of the shaivas, the paurANikas have created injunctions to worship You in the form of Rudra/Shiva, as the One who is beyond the brahmANDa. You are indeed the “Purusha”  (as You enter into the universe and establish Yourself there). Hence, You are the in-dweller in all of the different cosmic brahmANDas. Since you are the cause of all i.e., since the trimUrtis are established in You, the existence of such injunctions is not exceedingly inappropriate. Even so, from the paramArtha state, those forms are all Yours alone and not those of Brahma or Shiva. We have many pramANas that state so. In the shruti, we have the puruSha sUkta. In the purANas, we have the Srimad Bhagavatam stating (in 10.14.11): “And what is Your glory? Unlimited universes pass through the pores of Your body just as particles of dust pass through the openings of a screened window.”
shrIsha~Nkaro.api bhagavAn sakaleShu tAvat
tvAmeva mAnayati yo na hi pakShapAtI |
tvanniShThameva sa hi nAmasahasrakAdi
vyAkhyad bhavatstutiparashca gatiM gato.ante ||90.5||
shrIsha~Nkara iti | ki~nca shrIsha~NkaraH bhagavatpAdAcAryaH | tvanniShThaM viShNuparam | nAmasahasrakAdIti | Adishabdena shrIgItAdi gR^ihyate | so.api tadubhayamapi shivaparatayA vyAkhyAtuM shakyamapi viShNuparatayaiva vyAkhyAtavAn | ante ca bhavatstutiparaH shrImatpAdAdikeshastutiM kurvan gatiM mokShaM gataH, na tu shivastutiparaH ||
Meaning: Not only what has been stated (in the previous shlokas), but also Shri Shankara Bhagavatpadacharya who is impartial considers You as stated above (as the Highest among the trimUrtis and the source of the Universe) out of all devatA forms. For the Vishnu Sahasranama and other texts like Bhagavadgita, he wrote commentaries indicating Vishnu as the Highest, even though it is possible to make them show Shiva as the highest (by contradicting shAstras and dressing up illogical conclusions with laborious wordplay etc as Appayya Dikshita did). In the end, Shri Shankara worshipped You in the form of Vishnu only and attained liberation. He was not involved in any shiva-stuti.
(Readers should note that we, as visishtadvaitins, do not subscribe to the view of desha mangala that it is possible to make some shAstras show Shiva as the highest. This is not true, for the moment anyone attempts that, the shAstras fall apart. However, desha mangala is an advaitin and as advaita maTha in our opinion is incorrect and lacks a proper grasp of the shAstras even for fully establishing vishNu paratva, it is likely that desha mangala himself did not realize how strong vishNu paratva is and how utterly incapable it is to prove otherwise. The proof of vaishnavas who are visishtadvaitins is stronger and more water-tight than that of vaishnavas who are advaitins).
sakaleShu tvAmeva mAnayatIti yaduktaM tadevAha --
Meaning: To show support for the fact that Shankara considered only Vishnu as the Highest Brahman with form, Narayana Bhatta produces evidence.
mUrtitrayAtigamuvAca ca mantrashAstra-
syAdau kalAyasuShamaM sakaleshvaraM tvAm |
dhyAnaM ca niShkalamasau praNave khalUktvA
tvAmeva tatra sakalaM nijagAda nAnyam ||90.6||
mUrtitrayeti | mUrtitrayAtigaM caturthaM parameshvaraM tvAM kalAyasuShamaM shrIkR^iShNamuvAca | praNave praNavArthatvena tatra niShkaladhyAnA~Ngatvena sakalaM tvAmeva nijagAda, nAnyaM shivamityarthaH ||
Meaning: As the Fourth entity higher than the trimUrtis, i.e., as the Supreme Lord, Shankara stated You, Sri Krishna. Having described the nirguNa upAsana on the praNava (omkAra), Shankara described only Your form for the saguNa upAsana on praNava. He did not recommend the other form i.e., Shiva.
purANAnAM viShNumahimaparatvaM purANasaMgrahe spaShTamityAha --
Meaning: The next shloka illustrates the case of the work called ‘Purana Samgraha’, wherein Vishnu’s supremacy in all purANas is discussed.
samastasAre ca purANasaMgrahe viMsashayaM tvanmahimaiva varNyate |
trimUrtiyuksatyapadatribhAgataH paraM padaM te kathitaM na shUlinaH ||90.7||
samasteti | nanu vaikuNThalokaH satyalokAntargataH brahmANDAd bahiShThastu nahi loka iti ced naivamityAha -- trimUrtIti | mUrtitrayayuktebhyaH satyalokasthalokatrayebhyaH paraM brahmANDAd bahiShThaM yat padaM lokaH, tat te tava vaikuNThaloka eveti purANasaMgrahe kathitam
Meaning: To the following objection -- that Vaikunthaloka is located inside the Satyaloka only, there are no lokas beyond the brahmANDa -- the reply is as follows: The loka that exists beyond the satyaloka where the trimUrtis are situated is indeed the Vaikuntha loka. This is shown in the purANasaMgraha work.
yadbrahmakalpa iha bhAgavatadvitIya
skandhoditaM vapuranAvR^itamIsha ! dhAtre |
tasyaiva nAma harisharvamukhaM jagAda
shrImAdhavaH shivaparo.api purANasAre ||90.8||
yaditi | yasmin brahmAbhUt sa brAhmaH kalpaH, tasmin bhagavatA dhAtre pratyakShIkR^itaM yad vapuH, tasya vapuSha eva harisharvamukhaM nAma jagAda shrImAdhavAcAryaH purANasAre | yadyapyasau shivaparastathA.api purANasAre dhAtre darshitasya vapuSho na shivamUrtitvamuktavAn, sarvamayastu tvameveti ca tvAmevoktavAnityarthaH ||
Meaning: The kalpa in which Brahma was born is known as “Brahma Kalpa”. In that kalpa, bhagavAn showed His form to Brahma. That form alone was described by mAdhavAcArya using the epithets “Hari”, “Sharva” etc in the work “purANasAra”. Even though he was devoted to Shiva, he showed in the purANasAra that the form shown to Brahma was not that of Shiva. He agreed that You are sarva-maya i.e., everything, and only mentioned You in that context.
nanu,
    “goptA viShNustamomUrtirvyApAreNa tu sAttvikaH: |”
    “tadadhIno hariH sAkShAt”
ityAdivacanairharernikR^iShTatA vyAsenaivoktetyAsha~Nkya tasyArthavAdatvenAtatparatvamAha ‘ye svaprakR^ityanuguNam’ iti dvAbhyAM --
Meaning: The next two shlokas answer the following objection -- That there are also shlokas in purANas that say things like “the protector, Vishnu is in reality of the form of Tamas. His sattva is only an outer appearance meant for fulfilling some purpose”, “Vishnu is subject to his (Shiva’s) will”.
ye svaprakR^ityanuguNAM girishaM bhajante
teShAM phalaM hi dR^iDhayaiva tadIyabhaktyA |
vyAso hi tena kR^itavAnadhikArihetoH
skAndAdikeShu tava hAnivacho.arthavAdaiH ||
ya iti | “yasyecchA jAyate yasmin taM devaM sa samAshrayet” iti nyAyena svaprakR^ityanuguNaM prAgjanmavAsanAnusAreNa | teShAM dR^iDhayA tadIyabhaktyaiva phalaM bhaviShyatIti yat tena hetunA vyAso hyadhikArihetoH girIshabhajanAdhikAriNaM prati arthavAdaiH tava hAnivaco nyUnatAvacanAni kR^itavAn | arthavAdAshca girishabhajanarucyutpAdanArthAH |
Meaning: There is the nyAya “one should take refuge in that devatA which one desires”. There are also upAsakas who need to worship Shiva (rather than Vishnu) as the highest due to their inner nature born of pUrva-janma-vAsana. To satisfy their need for unwavering devotion (to Shiva), and considering that only by worshipping Shiva they can attain the necessary fruit (of progressing further into a mumukShu), vyAsa himself has composed verses (in purANas etc.) that teach inferiority to You (Vishnu). These are arthavAdas, i.e., verses meant for the specific purpose of engendering a desire to worship Rudra as the highest.
nanu rucyutpAdanArthaM cedgirishaM stUyAdeva, nAnyahAnivacaH kuryAdityatrAha --
Meaning: To the following objection -- if the purpose is to engender a desire, then why not just praise Shiva in these works? There is no need to belittle others -- the following shloka responds:
bhUtArthakIrtiranuvAdaviruddhavAdau
tredhArthavAdagatayaH khalu rocanArthAH |
skAndAdikeShu bahavo.atra viruddhavAdAH
tvattAmasatvaparibhUtyupashikShaNAdyAH || 90.10 ||
bhUtArtheti | bhUtArthakIrtiH yathAvasthitArthakIrtanam, anuvAdo.aviruddhaguNAropaH, pramANAntaraviruddhArthakathanaM viruddhavAda iti tredhArthavAdasya gatayo mArgAH | trayo.api rocanArthA eva | tatra teShAM madhye tvattAmasatvAdayo viruddhavAdAH pramANAntaraviruddhavacanAni te ca rocanArthAH | viShNurapi yatprasAdamapekShate, aho girishasya prAdhAnyamiti girishabhajanarucyutpAdakA evaite, na tu viShNostAmasatvaparAjayAdij~nApanAdau pramANabhUtAH ||
Meaning: There are three types of arthavAdas (euology of the subject matter enjoined). (1) Praising the true nature of the subject as it exists, (2) Praising with good qualities that are in addition to those that truly exist, in a manner that does not contradict other pramANas, and (3) Describing something with the intention of encouraging it, in a manner that contradicts other pramANas. Of these three classes, the verses in skAnda purANa etc. that teach tAmasatva to You (Vishnu) belong to the third class. In other words, they are contradictory to established pramANas but serving to exhort the worshipper to worship Shiva. That is, verses like “Even Vishnu desires Shiva’s feet… what then to say of Shiva’s greatness?’ are meant to encourage Shiva worship, but are not intended to show Vishnu in lower stature.
ukte.arthe svakapolakalpitatvasha~NkAM vArayan kaviH shrotR^ishraddhAM sampAdayati --
Meaning: In the concluding shloka, the author Shri Narayana Bhatta shows that whatever he has stated thus far is not his own figment of imagination, thereby intending that those who read his work should have faith in those words:
yatki~ncidapyaviduShApi vibho ! mayoktaM
tanmantrashAstravacanAdyabhidR^iShTameva |
vyAsoktisAramayabhAgavatopagIta !
kleshAn vidhUya kuru bhaktibharaM parAtman || 90.11 ||
yatki~nciditi | vyAsoktayaH purANAni teShAM sAramayaM shrIbhAgavataM, shrIvedavyAsasya kR^itakR^ityatApAdakatvAt, tadupagIta ! tatpratipAdya!
Meaning: Whatever has been stated by even me who is not knowledgeable, is actually corroborated by statements in works like the “mantrashAstra”. You (Vishnu) are the One who is praised by Shrimad Bhagavatam which forms the essence of all of vyAsas works, i.e. all purANas. This is so because Shri Veda Vyasa attained the satisfaction of having completed all that he intended to do only from authoring the bhAgavata purANa.
This concludes the whole of our translation of the 90th dashaka of nArAyaNIyam. From it, we see how advaitins viewed the tAmasa purANAs.
Therefore, neither of these advaitins considered this incident as a true story but treated it as arthavAda for shivOpAsANa for those people with different inclinations (ie, they are for those with abundance of tamO guNa). In contrast, these same advaitins when referencing incidents such as brahma and rudra being born of nArAyaNa, treat it as history/fact and not as arthavAda.
Considering - 1) Sridhara is not going to differ in opinion from these advaitins 2) Sridhara himself has declared brahma and rudra as inferior to nArAyaNa in his bhAahyas, 3) Sridhara has already identified pundarIkAksha as saguNa ishvara here -- one can safely conclude that Sridhara merely quoted the incident for the etymology of pundarIkAksha and not to imply Hari really worshipped Shiva in that manner. Since advaitins in general have scant regard for saguNa brahman, it is likely Sridhara did not take the trouble to explain why he quoted it -- or his intentions were very well-known in those times.
Certain incidents/quotes from the tAmasa purANas (besides sAttvic portions of these purANas) are quoted by AchAryAs of all 3 traditions, because they offer a good vedAntic explanation.
In addition, Sridhara did not advocate hari-hara aikya either. In his bhAgavataM commentary, there are innumerable places where he says Rudra and Brahma and rajo-tamo guNa associated and cannot grant moksha like Hari. Sridhara,in such places in Srimad Bhagavatam (bhasmAsura episode/bhrigu curse episode), says that Vishnu is the only sAttvika form to be worshiped for mumukShus and that the worshipers of shiva attain liberation only slowly (as opposed to "tēṣāmahaṅ samuddhartā mṛtyusaṅsārasāgarāt. bhavāmi nacirātpārtha mayyāvēśitacētasām" in Bhagavad Gita, 12.7). These have all been quoted in the blog already.
This settles the matter. Some of these tAmasic stories do have this sort of value. Other stories like lingOdbhava, etc are utterly useless and contrary to shAstras, so they haven’t even been referenced.
Now, let us move on to another small issue in Sridhara’s bhAshya that miscreants can misinterpret. Regarding the birth of Rudra, Sridhara writes,
parameśvaratvādapi sato rodanādi -- śiśutvanāṭyaṃ lokasaṃgrahāya pitṛpāratantryadyotanārtham । ata eva āścaryatvād rodanādernāmaniruktihetutvādrodanādināmopādhibhedādaṣṭānāmityucyate ॥ 5 ॥
Meaning: Even though Rudra is “paramEshvara”, he cried – acting like a child for the welfare of the world and for the purpose of exhibiting dependence on his father. The cause for wonder here is that by virtue of the nirukta which specifies "crying", etc (as a meaning for rudra and other names), you have become qualified by locations differentiated by those names (rudra and others)"
One needs to understand a basic tenet of advaita here. In advaita, a jnAni never exhibits symptoms like crying. And the problem for them is, Shiva, who is hailed as “paramEshvara” which is interpreted by advaitins like jnAnottama as “one who has the supreme knowledge of vishNu”, is actually said to have cried upon his birth. This is the dilemma for Sridhara that he seeks to address.
As shiva is a form of nirguNa brahman under tamO guNa upAdhis, the advaitins have no problem accepting his birth and his anapahatapApmatva. But they find it difficult to accept he cried, as he is a jnAni for them.
So, what Sridhara says is, even though Rudra is a jnAni by birth (paramEshvara), he cried and acted like a child for purpose of the welfare of the worlds and illustrating dependence on his father. In other worlds, he is no child --- he is a jnAni, and he does not need to cry. It is not possible to interpret “paramEshvara” as saguNa Brahman for two reasons here – 1) Advaitins like jnAnOttama and indeed, Sridhara himself, have clarified elsewhere that it only alludes to Shiva’s jnAna, 2) The commentary also treats him as a jIva under upAdhis.
We have followed shrI shankara’s explanation of “lOkasamgraha” to understand how Sridhara uses it – In gita 3.20, Shankaracharya explains the term as follows (just a gist) – even though Janaka and others were fully realized, they still continued to be associated with action to prevent mankind from going astray. They performed their duties to set an example for others.
Thus, though Shiva is “paramEshvara” as he has the knowledge and like Janaka, etc is fully realized, he knew that he would have to perform his duty (of begetting progeny, destruction, fulfilling duties to Brahma who is his father etc) to set an example for others. He thus acted like a child (though he is not a child by maturity) and cried, as he knew that he would gain abodes and names by virtue of his crying itself. The usage of “lokasamgraha” by Sridhara in his commentary itself proves Shiva is being compared to jnAnis like Janaka here and is not being hailed as paramAtma.
Therefore, it is not remotely possible to explain Shiva as paramAtma here merely on the basis of “sisunAtyaM”. Sridhara’s commentary does not allow it. The advaitins have the same view as other vedAntins – that shiva is not the SaguNa Brahman and has a birth, but they differ from vishishtadvaitins and dvaitins in only one aspect – that shiva’s crying was an act as he was born a jnAni and completely free of such emotions.
Some later day hari-hara aikyavAdins like Bodhendra misunderstood this interpretation of ancient advaitins and tried to use it as an argument against vishNu sarvOttama.
Sridhara continues:
dīkṣito brāhmaṇa iti sadharmānuṣṭhātari kṣetrajñe paramātmābhivyaktestanmūrtitvam
Meaning: Specification of the brAhmaNa as one of (the previously mentioned) rudra's forms (tanmUrtitvam) is due to paramAtman (the saguNa iSvara) manifesting (abhivyaktaH) in the individual self (kShetraj~na) who performs his svadharma (svadharmAnuShTAtA)

Among the abodes Brahma gave Rudra, one was the form of a brAhmaNa. Why was rudra given the form of the brAhmaNa? It is because the brAhmaNa is a kshetrajna, who is involved in executing his svadharma, desireless action (karma yOga). According to advaitins, the Lord is the kshetrajna and this truth is realised by those involved in nishkAmya karmas. This is mentioned by the Lord in gIta 13.3.
Thus, Brahma gave Siva the form of the brAhmaNa so that he becomes a kshetrajna executing his svadharma and thus realises paramAtma, the saguNa ishvara (as non-different to himself).  Note that Rudra is already a realized soul according to Sridhara, this is just for “lOkasamgraha”.

Has Siva realised his identity with paramAtma? To answer that Sridhara quotes the vAyu purANa which says:

ātmā tasyāṣṭamī mūrttiḥ śivasya paramātmanaḥ । vyāpiketaramūrttīnāṃ viśvaṃ tasmāt śivātmakam । sthānedheteṣu ye rudraṃ dhyāyanti praṇamanti ca । teṣāmaṣṭatanūrdevo dadāti paramaṃ padam" iti vāyūkteḥ ।

Advaitic Meaning: Know those 8 forms of Siva who is paramAtma in nature (sriman nArAyaNa, the saguNa ishvara under tamO guNa upAdhis). As he (Siva) fully pervades all the forms,(vyApikEtaramUrtinAm visvam), the Universe is thus having the nature of Siva, ie, Siva’s nature is saguNa iShvara, thus the Universe is having his nature (sivAtmakaM). Meditate and pay respects to that Rudra who has been given these places (in such a manner). That deva who has those 8 bodies will give paramaM padaM (the nirguNa or highest nature of vishNu).

In summary, what Sridhara is clarifying is this –

1) Siva is a jnAni and his crying, acting like a baby etc was for loka-samgraha, to show others the way. Similar to personalities like Janaka etc who are described to be doing works for "loka samgraha" despite being realised. However, he is not saguNa ishvara.

2) The brAhmaNa rUpa was given to Siva to enable him (a kshetrajna) to execute his svadharma which would grant him the realisation that he is verily saguNa ishvara in nature (under tamO guNa upAdhis).

3) This is proven by the vAyu purANa as translated above, as it claims the nature of Siva to be paramAtma (saguNa ishvara, vishNu) and also says that since the former is true, the universe, which is pervaded by saguNa ishvara, can be said to be the nature of Siva as he has pervaded these 8 bodies.
This ends the explanation of some complicated parts of Sridhara’s vishNu purANa vyAkhyAna. Now, let us look at some parts of his bhAgavata commentary.
EXPLANATION OF SRIDHARA’S BHAGAVATA COMMENTARY
In the stuti of Vishnu by Daksha and others (occurring after Daksha's sacrifice and after Shiva is pacified), Sridhara comments as follows. We will provide the text and the explanatory meaning below:
Sridhara’s Commentary: Daksha now answers the following potential objection from bhagavAn - 'Why do you disrespect Rudra with bheda-dR^iShTi? Is he not verily “paramEshvara”? His jIvatva from being Brahma's son is only a play-act.' To this objection, Daksha's reply carries the following meaning: 'The possibility of play-acting like a jIva arises only for You, who never fall from Your true nature. Not for others.
Explanatory notes:  Sridhara interprets bhagavAn’s questioning as follows - 'Why do you disrespect Rudra by seeing him as different from Brahman/saguNa ishvara (vishNu) and yourself? Is he not verily “paramEshvara”, one whose knowledge of Brahman is so complete that he identifies himself as Brahman? Because of his supreme knowledge, you should not see him as different from Brahman. His jIvatva from being Brahma's son is only a play-act for the sake of the welfare of the world. As he was born a jnAni, he is not bound to carry out duties like that, but he does so for lOka samgraha.”
To this objection, Daksha's says: 'The possibility of play-acting like a jIva arises only for You, who never fall from Your true nature (nirguNa) as you are saguNa ishvara under sattva upAdhi. Not for others. (So, Rudra is not play-acting and is not a jnAni).'
Thus, this explains clearly that Sridhara is not advocating Rudra as verily saguNa Brahman, but as a realized soul who identifies himself as Brahman on that account. A realized soul, while identical to Brahman, cannot be meditated upon like saguNa ishvara, otherwise even Adi Shankara would be saguNa brahman for advaitins.
We cannot interpret “paramEshvara” used by bhagavAn to denote “supreme lord” here, but only as one with supreme knowledge. Not only does the context suggest it, but it is confirmed by Sridhara’s commentary as follows:
Sridhara’s Commentary: Thus, the verse is explained as follows:
(Daksha continues) "You (vishNu) are the shuddha-cinmAtra-caitanya, who abides permanently in Your own true nature. The reason for the shuddhatva is that You are ever free from all conditions of buddhi. You are moreover free from difference. Hence, You are fearless. 'From a second entity indeed is fear born', says the shruti."
Now, even though the jIva is of the same nature in reality, for the purpose of stating its difference (from the above), the following is stated:
"The independent one (You), avoiding (the influence of) mAyA, i.e. surpassing it, You having taken up a human form and behavior, standing upon mAyA, act as if you have attachments, etc." The meaning is, You act thus in avatAras such as Rama, Krishna, etc. The essence is this: "Others, on the other hand, possessing the upAdhi of avidyA, are subdued by the influence of mAyA and hence wander about. Hence, You alone are Ishvara, not Brahma, Rudra, etc.".
Explanatory Notes: This should be clear. The difference between jIvAs and Brahman as per advaita is explained by Sridhara.
The idea is, Sridhara envisages a question by bhagavAn whereby it is asked, “Rudra has the supreme knowledge of Brahman, thus he has realized his identity with Brahman. How then can you consider him a jIva, as Brahma’s son, which is only a play-act to set an example to the world? To that, according to Sridhara, Daksha clarifies that only nArAyaNa is saguNa ishvara and the rest are jIvas under upAdhIs.
Sridhara’s Commentary: Hence, Sri bhagavAn forbids this dR^iShTi by stating subsequently in his reply by the words: "I am Brahma, Sharva (Rudra), and the supreme cause of the cosmos." etc.
Our Explanatory Notes: One should not think Sridhara is claiming that bhagavAn is forbidding Daksha to consider Rudra, Brahma, etc as jIvAs under upAdhIs or negating Daksha’s explanation. For the explanation given so far as the words of Daksha by Sridhara is perfectly in line with advaita philosophy and it is illogical to think that all of the above is being entirely refuted. For even Sridhara himself added the lines, “Now, even though the jIva is of the same nature in reality, for the purpose of stating its difference (from the above), the following is stated” earlier which shows that Sridhara considered this to be the truth. However, to differentiate this truth from the higher level of truth in advaita, the corrective statements below are mentioned.
Notice what Sridhara says: “bhagavAn forbids that “dR^iShTi”. He does not say that whatever was said earlier is false. Rather, such a bhEda dR^iShTi in advaita is the lowest level of realization. So, what Sridhara is saying is as follows –
srI bhagavAn forbids the bhEda dR^iShTi and asks Daksha to see that Brahma, Rudra, etc are the same as the saguNa iShvara under limiting adjuncts. The idea is this – Daksha saw vishNu as saguNa Brahman devoid of avidyA whereas he saw brahma, rudra, etc as jIvAs under avidya. BhagavAn says, “No, don’t look at them that way. Rather, see it this way – I am saguNa iShvara, who, under avidyA, becomes differentiated as jIvAs like brahma, rudra, etc. Ie, I am the jIvAs, I am not different from them.”
This is proven by the fact that the relevant bhagavata slOka which Sridhara is commentating on is as follows:
śrī-bhagavān uvāca - ahaṁ brahmā ca śarvaś ca jagataḥ kāraṇaṁ param
So, according to Sridhara, bhagavAn is saying – “Don’t see them as jIvAs under avidya and me as saguNa Brahman under avidya. That implies bhEda. Rather, I alone am the jIvAs like brahma, rudra, etc under avidya and also the saguNa iShvara who is free of avidya (jagataH kAraNam paraM).”
So, in a nutshell, Sridhara thinks one should think of all jIvAs as saguNa iShvara under upAdhis, which implies abhEda in essence, rather than saying, “there are jIvAs under upadhIs and iShvara without upAdhis”, which implies duality.  This of course, implies that saguNa iShvara without upAdhIs is nArAyaNa, whereas brahma, rudra, etc are saguNa iShvara under upAdhis and hence, jIvAs and not worthy of worship as Brahman.
Now, we come to one small aspect of Sridhara’s bhAgavata commentary that some try to wring out of context:
guṇāḥ sattvādayaḥ śānta-ghora-mūḍhāḥ svabhāvataḥ
viṣṇu-brahma-śivānāḿ ca guṇa-yantṛ-svarūpiṇām

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

aḿśatas tāratamyena brahma-rudrādi-sevinām
vibhūtayo bhavanty eva śanair mokṣo’py anaḿśataḥ”

Here, Sridhara says that the trimUrtis are associated with sattvam, rajas, and tamas. From the pAramArthika point of view, these are like reflections of the same  reality (vastu) on mAyA (this explanation is as per the tenets of the ‘bimba-pratibimba-vAda’ branch of advaita-matam). Though Vishnu is saguNa and is associated with Sattva, He is in essence the very parabrahman. Hence, He does not display the characteristics of restlessness (rajas) and delusion (tamas). However, the same can not be said of Brahma and Rudra, who are re-reflections of the shuddha-chaitanyam on rajas and tamas, and hence are affected by triguNas. Therefore, one should focus their mind entirely on Lord Vishnu, who is the embodiment of sattva, leading one to liberation. This brings material comfort too as a by-product. Worshipping Brahma or Rudra on the other hand, one only obtains material wealth quickly. They may become moksha-adhikaris only very slowly.
Very clear, is it not? However, vishNu dvEshis ignore the above and twist what Sridhara writes as a concluding statement to the above paragraph:
“tattadbhaktAnAm tu kalaho vyAmohamAtramiti”
“The quarrels between the devotees of the respective deities are only due to delusion (not knowing the above truth).”
Ignoring the fact that Sridhara just described Brahma and Rudra as lower to vishNu, the vishNu dvEshis take this line and interpret it as “Sridhara is saying all deities are equal and so the devotees should not fight”.
That is a load of nonsense. This statement concludes the passage by Sridhara describing vishNu as saguNa brahman and brahma/rudra as being under rajO/tamO guNa upAdhis. Thus, the concluding statement should be interpreted in the light of what Sridhara has already said and not contradict the prior statements, as follows:
  1. Sridhara first says, the trimUrtis though indeed are one  brahman in essence (nirguNa), viShNu alone is shuddha sattva and hence grants liberation directly, while brahmA and rudra give bhoga quickly.
  2. Following that immediately, he says this stance clarifies  also statements in bhAgavata that appear to state aikya of trimUrtis. Meaning, this advaitic view of trimUrtis being identical in essence and differentiated by limiting adjuncts reconciles statements of identity of the differentiated trimUrtIs in the shAstras.
  3. Then he says, “the quarrels between the devotees of the respective deities are only due to delusion (not knowing the above truth).” This statement does not include vaishnavas, because Sridhara has already said vishNu alone is the one who is to be worshipped for moksha.
  4. Therefore what he means is this - Those who do not know the deities like brahma and rudra are verily vishNu (saguNa ishvara under rajo and tamo guNa upAdhis), identical in essence (nirguNa), claim that vishNu is subordinate to their deities, or differentiate between their deities as “this is different from that”. Not understanding that their deities are also the same saguNa ishvara vishNu under upAdhis, they quarrel -- they are thus deluded. To an extent, this statement of Sridhara can even be a critique of realist schools like Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita who consider Vishnu as permanently and inherently different in essence from these deities. For in advaita, the essence of all 3 is only one.
  5. Thus, the statement condemns the philosophies of the devotees of gods other than vishNu, and perhaps the realist schools of Vedanta. While Advaitins are Vaishnavas at the lower level of reality, they realise that though the trimUrtis are differentiated by upAdhis, this is mithya and the reality is One.
We have been absolutely honest with the translation. If any miscreant tries to interpret this portion of the commentary as pertaining to shiva-paratva, then he truly can be considered to have selective amnesia, for there are several places where Sridhara has clearly established that Shiva is lower than nArAyaNa. Thus, understanding his commentary should be done by assuming Sridhara had a unified thought process and did not randomly contradict himself. This is the real intent of his commentary.


2 comments :

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    1. You are yourself completely wrong when you say "vishnu is the indweller of Rama, Krishna//Vishnu supports Rama, Krishna". Because Rama and Krishna are verily Vishnu himself and there is no difference. Even the most unintelligent person probably knows that, so I am puzzled as to how you made this statement.

      Before railing on other sampradayas, please educate yourself on the nature and qualities of the Lord.

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