[Advaita-l] RE: On the parakAyapraveSa legend about Sankara

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 26 20:17:07 CDT 2007

It seems that many people doubt if the Madhaviya Sankara Digvijayam
(SD) can be accepted as advaitic in its purport, with reference to
the legend about Sankara's demonstration of his yogic powers in
inhabiting a king's body and learning sexuality.

Here are some points to be noted:

Before Sankara sets out to inhabit the king's body, Padmapada tells
him how sexuality is evil and has brought down many a great person.
Sankara in reply says that he is equal to Mahavishnu himself, giving
the analogous situation of Krishna among the Gopis, and hence will
remain unaffected by the episode.

In this context, it is relevant to point out that the Vishnu Purana
speaks of Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, as having several wives,
and also narrates the story of Krishna "kidnapping" Rukmini to marry
her, even begetting a son (by name of Pradyumna) by her. Is it
conceivable that Vishnu Purana's portrayal of Krishna is "stupid or
"criminal"-like (two words which have been used in this list to
describe Sankara's portrayal in the SD) because Krishna, the Supreme
Lord himself, is said to have begotten sons after kidnapping a chaste

The Advaita Vedanta tradition does not distinguish between Shiva and
Vishnu, and no harm comes to the tradition by considering Sankara as
equally capable as Krishna in the demonstration of his yogic powers.

BTW, the Vishnu Purana's status as authentic scripture is beyond all
dispute, as Sankara himself quotes the Purana as an authority on
several occasions in his Bhashyas.

Let us be reasonable in our assessment of great texts like the SD,
and if there are some minor issues that are not obvious to us, we
should try to understand what the intention of the author might be,
instead of nitpicking and pointing out flaws (which is actually
mighty easy to do).


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