[Advaita-l] Misinformation about Advaita/Advaitins

V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Tue Sep 16 01:59:54 CDT 2014

In the following blog there are some comments/replies which portray
'ancient'/early Advaitins as vaishnavas:


The purpose of posting these responses here is solely to bring to the
attention of students of advaita that there are views unathenticated that
are floating in the public domain and it is possible that one takes them to
be genuine and led astray.

The blog's claims are shown between // - // and my responses are given
beneath each of them:

//Historically, you are right in saying that vidyAraNya was the first to
introduce worship of other deities in the advaita tradition. Later came
appayya dikshita who forced this direction into a full blown shaiva
siddhAntha way.//

This is wrong. First of all, there was no rule for 'worship this deity
only' in Advaita.  There is no evidence to the above claim.  Nowhere in the
Shankara bhashya and other works is the identification of any particular
deity as the saguna brahman.

//Prior to vidyAraNya, there were some free thinkers like vAchaspati mishra
and shriharsha. These scholars were anya devata worshippers who had no
specific affliation and dabbled in several systems of philosophy, of which
advaita was one that they had a compelling interest in. Some of their works
are famous in the advaita tradition.//

It is immaterial as which deity one worships for Advaita knowledge to
arise.  The various deities authors invoked in their works are purely
IshTadevatA based.  Do not conclude from that about the advaitin-deity
connection.  The Advaita system of philosophy is not any deity-specific; it
adopts a deity for practice of karma yoga and upasana and gives up
deity-specific affiliations in the jnanayoga. The very idea of a deity is
in the realm of avidya in Advaita.

//Also, though ancient advaitins were vaishnavas, they worshipped shiva and
other deities as gurus who provide knowledge of vishNu. Even sarvajnAtman
salutes saraswati and vinAyaka in his work and madhusudhana saraswati in
his vyAkhyAna, says that sarvajnAtman is saluting vishNu, the antaryAmin of
these deities. In this respect, they are like mAdhvas who worship all
deities as hari bhaktas.//

This is wrong.  There is no such thing as 'knowledge of Vishnu' in
Advaita.  The advaitic paramarthika liberating knowledge is not any
knowledge of Vishnu, the resident of Vaikuntha and the consort of Lakshmi,
etc.  For Shankara 'VasudevaH sarvam' /; na anyo'ham vAsudevAt' (For
Madhusudana: sarvam idam aham cha VasudevaH) is not any saguna brahman
realization/identification.  That Vasudeva / Vishnu is not any saguna
brahman.  For Shankara it is the same as 'ShivaH kevalo'ham' of the
Dashashloki for which Madhusudana has composed the Siddhanta bindu
commentary, acknowledging Shankara's authorship of the dashashloki.  The
Shiva there is also not any deity but Pure Consciousness/Bliss.

The Dakshinamurty, a form of Shiva, is not worshiped as a 'mere Guru' but
the very substratum of the creation.  If Madhusudana said that Vishnu is
the antaryamin of Saraswati and Vinayaka, he has also said in the
commentary to the Shivamahimna stotram that Shiva is no different from
Vishnu.  In advaita the antaryamin is no deity but Pure Consciousness.  See
Br.up. bhashya on antaryamin where Shankara takes the name of Narayana and
in the same breath says: it is the nishkriya controller, no other than the
jiva's pratyagatman, free of all samsara dharmas.

There is no evidence in the advaitc tradition to concocted idea  that
advaitins are like mAdhvas who worship all deities as hari bhaktas.
Advaitins worship Vinayaka, Saraswati, etc. during particular occasions in
the year.  In not a single place in their ashtottaram is a name that these
deities are worshipers of or subordinate to Hari.

//Overall, traditional advaitins were vaishnavas before the period of
vidyAraNya and even after this period, there were some who still remained

There is absolutely no substance in this claim.  Advaitins cannot be
Vaishnavas nor vaishnavas can be advaitins.  The term 'vaishnava' as is
understood popularly means unrelenting allegiance to that deity who is a
resident of vaikuntha, whose bears the conch, etc. and is the consort of
Lakshmi.  The Advaitin never regards this deity to be the Supreme Reality.
For the Advaitin the Supreme reality is the Pure Consciousness devoid of
all attributes.  Nor will a vaishnava be an advaitin where he has to negate
all such attributes as  superimposed.  The very idea of vyavaharika and
paramarthika is anathema to the vaishnava.  Hence there is no way advaitins
were/are/will be vaishnavas.


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