[Advaita-l] Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 2 12:27:10 CDT 2016

Gerald Penn gpenn at cs.toronto.edu wrote:
> > Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu / Vishnu over Shiva are irrelevant 
> > topics in advaita.
> > And that is why, to sort of these petty issues, Acharya Sankara 
> > incarnated to unify us.
> That's what I had thought, but I was recently reading a summary of the
> arguments that Adi Shankaracarya was a vaishnava in Matthew Clark's
> recent book on the Dashanami samnyasis.  Some of them are more in the
> vein of absence-as-evidence, which I find rather specious, but others are 
> rather more affirmative:
> - an alleged refutation in the Brahmasutrabhasya (2.2.36-41) of shaiva
> (spec. Maheshvara) doctrine.
Sankara refutes the Vaishnava (spec. Bhagavata) position in the Brahmasutrabhasya (2.2.42-45).
> - Padmapada's expression of reverence in his Pancapadika to his teacher,
> who "had merely the name of Shankara, whom he contrasts with the real 
> Shiva.  He states that Shankara (the teacher) did not wear ashes smeared 
> over his body like Shiva and his ascetic devotees, nor does [his teacher]
> have any of the marks or emblems of Shiva."
Amazing that the authorship of the Panchapadika is not doubted, but one freely
doubts the authorship of the Sri Shiva Panchakshara Stotram, Dakshinamurthy Stotram, etc.!
> - the BSB refers to the shalagrama three times in the context of a 
> metaphysical analogy, but not the lingam.
The Shalagrama stone is a small stone that can be placed on one's palm,
whereas there are Lingams so large that it takes a person several seconds to go around!
Here's an example of Sankara using this as a mere analogy:
> - the BSB refers to the superimposition of the spiritual vision of Lord
> Vishnu onto idols (pratimaa) four times, as instances of religious ideas
> being superimposed on objects.
This "stock example is probably because the image of Vishnu closely resembles the Deity,
whereas the Lingam does not closely resemble Shiva Himself! In fact, the Mahabharata
(and probably other texts) claims that the worship of Shiva Lingam is superior to the
worship of Shiva's Image!
> - similar vaishnava imagery occurs throughout Adi Shankaracarya's 
> commentaries on the Upanishads.
In his commentary on the Kena Upanishad, Adi Sankara says that Uma, the daughter of Himavan,
is eternally associated with Omniscient Ishvara.
> - imaginary persons used by Adi Shankaracarya in explanations are 
> frequently vaishnava characters, e.g. Devadatta, Yajnadatta, Vishnumitra,
> Krishnagupta.
This is too silly! Devadatta is merely a "Placeholder name", like "Tom, Dick and Harry" in English!
> - in his commentary on the Gaudapada mandukyakarika, Adi Shankaracarya
> equates Sambuddha with Narayana.
The "Narayana" of the Narayana Suktam is (transcending) the Trinity of Brahma, Hari, and Shiva.
> - in the BSB (3.4.20), Adi Shankaracarya equates vanaprasthas with a
> group of orthodox vaishanavas called vaikhaanasas.
The commentary here is almost completely about Sannyasa, any references to Vaishnavism is beyond remote!
> - a disparaging remark that Adi Shankaracarya allegedly makes on the 
> worship of Vinayaka in his Gitabhasya, to the effect that it amounts to 
> the worship of a bhuta.
There is nothing disparaging here whatsoever. It's simply a matter of Karma vs. Jnana:
GOAL of svarga or "heaven" = GOOD in Karma-Kanda = LOW/CHEAP in Jnana-Kanda
Sankara says that although attaining the status of the Devas, Pitris and Vinayakas is indeed Karmically high,
it is not Moksha. Much like Gita 8.16, where even the status of Brahma the Creator is disparaged!
BTW, the word "Bhuta" is NOT a "bad" thing, as Vishnu Himself called by these "SACRED NAMES" in his Sahasranama:
5 OM bhUtakR^ite namaH . (Salutations to the One who Created Beings.)
6 OM bhUtabhR^ite namaH . (Salutations to the One who Sustains Beings.)
8 OM bhUtAtmane namaH . (Salutations to the One who is the Self of Beings.)
> What do the learned members of this list think of these observations?
> This matter is important, I believe, to advaita philosophy, particularly 
> as Clark adduces this evidence on the way to making a different point,
> namely calling into question the legitimacy of claims that Adi
> Shankaracarya had founded either the Sringeri or Kanchi maths, both
> of which Clark regards as predominantly shaiva institutions.
> Regards,
> Gerald

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