Was ShrI Shankara a Vaishnava?

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Thu Aug 12 20:57:30 CDT 1999

Vivek Anand Ganesan <v_ganesan at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> 1) What exactly is the concept of an isshTa-daivam among advaitins?
>     The reason I ask is that I have often heard slants( from
sectarians of course) that
> Advaitins
> do not actually have bhakti firmly established in one deity. One
detractor went so far as to
> call
> Advaitam crypto-polytheism, as they "tolerate" worship of many
forms. Are SmArtha-s required to
> worship multiple deities? Does Advaitam advocate monolatry at any

What is this Christian obsession with "monotheism"? Let's get rid of
the shackles of  this nonsensical missionary myth of the superiority
of  "monotheism"  and proudly proclaim ourselves as polytheists. Why
are modern Indians so taken in with this kind of rhetoric? It is well
known that eko devaH viprA bahudhA vadanti.

First, remember that the so called monotheists, worship garuDa,
sheshha and others and invent handwaving explanations that they are
bhAgavatas and hence can be worshiped. And big AchAryas in their line
write poems on garuDa and so on. But the statement of the purANa-s
including the bhAgavatam that shiva is a supreme bhAgavata is
blissfully ignored. If they were really monotheists, then they should
not worship *anyone* except vishhNu. They should be like bR^i.ngi muni
who refused to worship anyone except shiva, not even pArvatI and
pierced the ardhanAri form to circumambulate only shiva! The position
of the mAdhvas in this regard is much more logical. rudra is indeed
lower than vishhNu, but is also worshiped.

We smArtas are not  "crypto-polytheists", we _are_ polytheists.
Advaita does say that when the name and form of any deity, be it
vishhNu or shiva, is removed, the supreme reality is intuited.
advaita, per se does not have anything to do with worship of deities.
Worship is useful for attaining purity of mind only. The supreme
reality is intuited by means of the veda after attaining this purity
of mind.  But this supreme reality is not something to be "worshiped".
neha nAnAsti ki.ncana. See also sha.nkaras bhAshhya on the kena
upanishhad. Anyway, advaita has nothing to do with either polytheism
or monotheism in as much as they refer to worship of a God separate
from oneself.

Let us sincerely worship the pa.ncAyatana, the same reality with five
different adjuncts. To quote the great vAcaspati mishra (tattvabindu,
verse 1)

ahayebudhnyAya namo bhradhnAya namo namo.astu gaNapataye |
AryAyaibhAratyai namo namo vishhTarashravase ||


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