Advaita and Vaishnavam

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Jul 30 07:07:41 CDT 1999

On Thu, 29 Jul 1999, Vivek Anand Ganesan wrote:

> Hello all :
>    I have two questions tangential to an on-going discussion.
> 1. What is the place of Agama-s in Vedanta, esp. Advaita?
>   The reason for this question is that I am under the impression that traditional
> instruction also includes the Agamas. If this is indeed the case, is it only studied
> to be refuted as pUrvapaksha?

My impression, I could be wrong, is that the Acharyas think the Agamas are
fine for temple worship etc. but not as a means of Brahmajnana.
> 2. Why is there an "Advaita vs. Vaishnavam" debate?
>   To the best of my knowledge, there are non-vaishnava sects that also reject Advaita.
> I believe that there is atleast one school that has a philosophy similar to VishishTadvaita,
> but is a Shaiva sect. Saiva Siddanta in the South, is also Dualistic (AFAIK).
> So, why are Vaishnava sects singled out?

Well in Gujarat where I'm from the only significant non-smarta sects are
Vaishnava but what I said applies to Shaivas and Shaktas too.  However it
does seem that Shaivism is a bit more amenable to Advaita interpretation.
The Kashmir Shaivas also follow Shaivagamas but interpreted in an Advaita
way and the Tantras are usually interpreted that way too.

>   Another request for clarification. Atleast, in the South ( I hail from TN ), Smarthas
> have a decidedly Shaiva slant. In TN, most Smarthas that I have seen wear Shaiva sectarian
> marks on their foreheads. In fact, growing up, I was always told that the primary difference
> between Iyers( Tamil Smarthas) and Iyengars( Tamil Sri Vaishnavas) is that the former
> is Shaiva and the latter is Sri Vaishnava. Why is this so?

One of the nityakarma prayogas I have (Shuklayajurvediya
Brahmanityakarmasamucchaya of Durgashankar Shastri) says Brahmans should
always wear rudraksha mala and do tripundra even if they are Vaishnavas.
Only difference is if they are Smartas the tilaka looks like this:


while if they are Vaishnava it shold look like this


Even a Vaishnava like the 19th Century Saint Swami Sahajanand who founded
the Swaminarayana Sampradaya (Which follows Ramanujacharya) says

Tripundrarudraakshadhrtiryesham syaatsvakulaagataa |
taistu vipraadibhih kvaapi na tyaajyaa sa maadaashritaih ||

None of my Brahmana followers should ever give up their family traditions
of tripundra and rudraksha.

But as this shloka shows it is mostly a matter of family tradition.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list