[Advaita-l] Supreme Brahman - the Ruler in Advaita?

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Tue Apr 9 17:10:27 CDT 2013

Dear Friends,

We had discussions on whether Ishwara is Turiya based on Gaudapada  as well
as BhG 8th and 15th chapters.  When I first read Sankara bhashya, it was
clear to me that he did not differentiate between Brahman and Ishwara. It
became much clearer when I read Madhsudana Saraswati. However, the popular
opinion on this forum seems to be that Ishwara is mithya (a-brahman) in
Advaita. We have to examine and understand truths rather than blindly go
with an opinion based on its popularity alone because we have a duty to
understand what Gaudapada, Sankara, Madhusudana etc. had to say. For
example, one of the famous swamijis quoted often on this forum talks about
gopis as bhaktas - not atma jnanis - who will attain brahma-loka. I
discussed offline with a scholar and pointed out that such an opinion
contradicts what Madhusudana Saraswati says in Gudarthadipika 18.66 and
7.17. Even great scholars can make mistakes and sometimes quite fundamental
ones especially when they get in to simplifiied pedagogy.

In BhG 15th Chapter, Sankara explicitly talks about nirupadhika brahman as
Ishanashila or Narayana. The following should make it very clear.
Madhsudana says in BhG 15.7, "Of what nature is He? He is immutable, free
from all kinds of transformations; He is the isvarah, the ruler of all,
Narayana. He who is the supreme Purusha is called the transcendental Self.
This follows from the Shruti, 'He is the Supreme Purusha (Ch. 8.12.3)"  He
continues in BhG 15.8, "He is refered to in the Vedas "He is the Supreme
Person (Ch.8.12.3)" and in poetical works "Hari alone is known as the
Supreme Person".  The glory of Narayana, the supreme Purusha, whose body is
made of existence -  knowledge - bliss, who out of compassion, acting like
a human being taught to Partha supreme realities and His own Godhood,
indeed baffles comparison." .... In BhG 15.19 "O you who are conversant
with good works, worship again and again the Light which is by nature
Consciousness and Bliss, which has the colour of a rain cloud, which is the
quintessence of the Vedic utterances, which is the necklace of the women of
Vraja, which is the other shore of the sea of the world to the wise and
which repeatedly incarnates to remove the burden on earth!". ... In Bh
15.20, "I do not know any reality othern Krsna whose hands are adorned with
a flute, whose lustre is like that of a new rain cloud, who wears a yellow
cloth, whose lips are reddish like the bimba fruit, whose face is beautiful
likee the full moon and whose eyes are likee lotusses. The mind that is
ever engaged in the state of constant bliss removes all mental
modifications and by eradicating the sorrows consequent on repeated births
and deaths it attains at once reality transcending cause and effect. I am
that supreme auspicious one in whome get identified the followers of Siva,
Surya, Ganesa, Vishnu and Sakti. Those fools go to hell who cannot tolerate
the wonderful glory of Krishna which is ascertained through valid means of
knowledge as well"

In BhG 8.3, Madhusudana says "By the word brahman here is meant the
unconditioned brahman alone, not the conditioned. .... 'Under the mighty
rule of this Immutable, O Gargi, the sun and moon are held in position (Br.
Up. 3.8.9)'. .. 'There is no other witness but This'. ... 'By this
Immutable, O Gargi, is the akasa pervaded'. *That which is free from all
limiting adjuncts, which is the ruler of eveything, the support of the
entire phenomenal world up to the unmanifested akasa, which is the knower
in the aggregate of body and organs and is the absolute Consciousness is
what is meant by brahman here. ... the characteristics or ruling over and
supporting the entire gamut of insentient things becomes justifiable with
regard to That alone" *
Clearly, there is no room for any difference between Brahman and Ishwara.
This Ishwara or akshara is different from akshara Om or pranava as
clarified by Madhusuda. However, this akshara is the same as Lord Vishnu.
In BhG 8.4 Madhsudana says, "Adhiyajnah ... is the God called Vishnu, who
identifies Himself with all sacrifices as it is statef in the Sruti,
'Sacrifice is indeed Vishnu' (Tai Sam. 1.7.4). And that Vishnu, who exists
in sacrifice is aham eva who am Vasudeva, not any one other than Myself.
... The adhiyajna has ot be understood as absolutely non-different from the
supreme Brahman".

Best Regards
Rajaram Venkataramani

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