[Advaita-l] viShNu and caturbhuja viShNu
V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Sun Sep 14 03:16:27 CDT 2014
You may also note the following details:
Viṣṇu’s status as a created deity
The Rgvedic mantra: *सोमः पवते* जनिता मतीनां जनिता दिवो जनिता पृथिव्या:।
जनिताग्नेर्जनिता सूर्यस्य जनितेन्द्रस्य जनितोत विष्णोः 9.5
has been commented upon by Sāyaṇācārya as Soma who is praised is the
creator of the intellects, the heavens, the earth. Also he is the
originator of sūrya, indra and viṣṇu, the all-pervading.
In the subsequent mantra we have:
*ब्रह्मा देवानां*पदवीः कवीनामृषिर्विप्राणां महिषो मृगाणाम् . श्येनो
गृध्राणाँस्वधितिर्वनानाँसोमः पवित्रमत्येति रेभन् 9.6
In this mantra which continues from the fifth mantra, Sāyaṇācārya says:
Soma, of the earlier mantra, is assuming the post of brahmā in a sacrifice.
Alternatively, the commentator says: soma is the head, ‘king’, of all the
deva-s such as indra, stated in the previous mantra.
Thus, from a study of these two mantras/commentaries we conclude that
according to Sāyaṇācārya, viṣṇu is a created deity.
In the Taittiriyopaniṣad shanti mantra bhāṣya, Shankaracharya has said that
viṣṇu is the abhimānidevatā, presiding deity, for the limb, leg. Also,
Shankara in that bhāṣya has said that vāyu is the one responsible for
delivering the fruits of actions to all, thereby placing vāyu above viṣṇu.
At the beginning of the bhashyam for the Prashnopanishat 2nd chapter,
प्राणोऽत्ता प्रजापतिरित्युक्तम् । तस्य प्रजापतित्वमत्तृत्वं
चास्मिञ्शरीरेऽवधारयितव्यमित्ययं प्रश्न आरभ्यते ।
Prāṇa the consumer is stated to be the Prajāpati. This, its being the
prajāpati and the consumer, is being demonstrated in this body.
In the 9th mantra of this Chapter we have:
इन्द्रस्त्वं प्राण तेजसा रुद्रोऽसि परिरक्षिता ।
त्वमन्तरिक्षे चरसि सूर्यस्त्वं ज्योतिषां पतिः ॥ ९ ॥
9 Indra thou art, O Prana, and Rudra, too, in prowess. Thou art the
Protector. Thou movest in the sky; thou art the sun, the lord of lights.
The bhāṣya says:
किंच, इन्द्रः परमेश्वरः त्वं हे प्राण, तेजसा वीर्येण रुद्रोऽसि संहरन्जगत् ।
स्थितौ च परि समन्तात् रक्षिता पालयिता; परिरक्षिता त्वमेव जगतःसौम्येन रूपेण
। त्वम् अन्तरिक्षे अजस्रं चरसि उदयास्तमयाभ्यां सूर्यःत्वमेव च सर्वेषां
ज्योतिषां पतिः ॥
Further, O Prana, you are Indra, the Supreme Lord. By valour you are
Rudra, engaged in destroying the world. Again, during the time of the
existence of the universe, you, in your benign aspect, are the preserver
(of the universe) on every side. You move for ever in the sky by rising
and setting. You are the sun, the lord of all the luminaries.
For the above highlighted portion, Anandagiri, the authoritative
sub-commentator, says: विष्ण्वादिरूपेण इत्यrथः । ( You, through the form of
Now, this upanishad itself stated that Prana is Prajapati., the Creator.
And in this mantra we have Rdura, another form of prāṇa, being stated as
the world-destroyer. And Vishnu (the benign form, as opposed to the
valorous form of Rudra) is the Protector of the world. Since the Creator,
Protector and Destroyer are all said to be the forms of Prana we see that
Rudra, named in the mantra itself, Vishnu not named in the mantra as well
as the bhashya but named by Anandagiri, on the implication of the word
'vishnu' are all 'created' ones.
The sequence is thus: The PuruSha, Supreme Brahman, creates prāṇa, called
Hiraṇyagarbha. From this Hirānyagarbha, the creator of all the objects,
names / forms, both sentient and insentient, the deva-s too are created.
The mantra that we saw above lists these. Indra, etc. including Rudra, for
destruction function and Vishnu for protection function, are all
manifestations of this Prana (Hiranyagarbha). While up to this it is all
within the realm of creation, the ONLY entity that transcends creation is
the Puruṣa who is the subject matter of the Sixth Praṣna, the final chapter
of this upaniṣad.
The point to be noted is: This upaniṣad provides a very interesting
instance of Rudra and Vishnu as particular functionaries, with allotted
portfolios, along with Indra, etc.
AppayyaDikṣita in his works on portraying Shiva as the Supreme has cited
the above Rg. Vedic mantra as authority for the created nature of Viṣṇu and
asked, if Rudra has birth, why not Viṣṇu?
The sūtasamhitā, which is a part of the skandapurāṇa, too shows Viṣṇu as
one of the deities who get instructions from the Supreme Shiva.
It should also be kept in mind that in Advaita the saguna brahman is a
superimposition on Nirguna Brahman. And as such the saguna brahman derives
its consciousness and power from Brahman and māyā. In the absence of these
two, the consciousness and power, saguṇa brahman is a non-entity.
It follows from the above that whenever it is said that all the j'iva-s
(including devatās like Shiva, Indra, Brahmā) are controlled by Viṣṇu as
the antaryāmin, it is also to be kept in mind that Viṣṇu the antaryāmin too
has Nirguṇa brahman as his antaryāmin chaitanya. On the basis of the
kenopanishad initial mantras, no entity in creation can act without the
backing of the Pure consciousness. So, if Viṣṇu were to be regarded as the
antaryāmin of all else, then even Viṣṇu has / gets the power to do so only
from Nirguna Brahman Pure Consciousness. The name-formed Viṣṇu as the
Parameshwara being a superimposition on Nirguna Brahman, it is essential
that the Consciousness/power of Viṣṇu is derived from NB and māyā.
Vaiṣṇavas might not like this explanation but Advaita has no problem in
having it this way.
On Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Sujal Upadhyay <sujal.u at gmail.com> wrote:
> Namaste Subramaniam ji,
> Yes. That is what I have understood too. The reason for saying viShNu as a
> person in 11th Chapter is because our AcArya has faithfully explained what
> arjuna had said.
> I went ahead quoting viShNu and bhAgavat purANa for understanding that
> viShNu is not caturbhuja viShNu.
> Conclusions in brief
> 1. Whenever any form of ISvara is described as 'that which is
> worshipped as AtmasvarUpa in heart', it is always nirguNa brahman.
> 2. brahman is GYanasvarUpa and is nirguNa only, but is seen by 5
> senses as having guNa-s due to faulty vision.
> 3. viShNu is not always carutbhUja viShNu. viShNu or nArAyana when
> described as substratum of entire universe as the sole creator, preserver
> and destroyer, and as the source of all avatAra-s then not catur-bhUja
> viShNu, the deity of preservation, but brahman.
> 4. viShNu is sometimes taken as pradhAna prakruti meaning it is
> feminine form, SAkti of nirguNa brahman.
> 5. viShNu or any form of ISvara is saguNa brahman and is the closest
> manifested form of brahman, and hence this all-powerful form 'viShNu' is
> worthy of worship
> 6. When is it said, 'I am you *and* you are me', then it confirms
> non-duality. e.g. if viShNu bhagavAn says that I am Siva', but Siva never
> says that 'I am viShNu', then one can understand that Siva is a part of
> viShNu, but when viShNu says, 'I am you and you are me', then it confirms
> non-duality. In the same way, at one instance, viShNu says 'I am Siva,
> brahmA, etc' and at a separate instance, Siva says, 'I am viShNu, brahmA,
> etc', then this too confirms non-duality.
> 7. 'I' or 'Me' in gItA can be taken as 'brahman'
> Thank you for the link. I was very buy these days and so skipped that
> article. I will surely read it.
> On Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 11:24 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>> Shankara has not referred to 'Viṣṇu' and other names as the one with
>> chaturbhuja, etc. The only reference is in the BG 11th chapter end where
>> Arjuna, unable to bear the fearsome viśwarūpa, wants Krishna to resume His
>> benign chaturbhuja form and this is specific to the Krishna avatāra.
>> A detailed analysis of the question as to whether Shankara identified or
>> preferred any deity as saguṇa brahman, be it Viṣṇu or Śiva or any other, is
>> available in an article I posted a few weeks ago:
>> On Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 5:54 PM, Sujal Upadhyay via Advaita-l <
>> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>>> || Hari OM ||
>>> Please read article viShNu and caturbhuja viShNu
>>> We can understand from the commentaries by Sri Adi SankarAcArya ji that
>>> use to refer to kruShNa, nArAyaNa, viShNu, hari as brahman. Did our
>>> really meant caturbhuja viShNu or is it something different.
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