[Advaita-l] Shankara authenticates Shiva as the son of Brahma

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Sun Aug 14 17:41:11 CDT 2016

First of all, I apologise about the hair splitting that is to follow.

If you are saying that because the neuter gender is used in the pronoun
(एतत्), Siva cannot be referred to because he is male, and no masculine
entity can be referred to, then by that logic, the Upanishad cannot be
referring to ईश्वर as that Yaksha either - because the word ईश्वर is
masculine in gender too.

However, that interpretation would be wrong, because Shankara repeatedly
says that the Yaksha is indeed ईश्वर only.

Why did Agni, Vayu and Indra use the neuter then? Because they did not see
chaturbhuja Vishnu or PinAkapANi Shiva or any "person", they saw a pillar
of light. It is therefore natural for them to ask "What is this pillar of
light", rather than "Who is this pillar of light". Just because they did
not know it was Ishvara, causing them to use the neuter gender, does not
mean that it wasn't Ishvara.

Indra had a pratyaksha darshana on the other hand of the lady in front of
him and realised it was Uma devi. He also knew that She was Rudrapatni
(Kena vAkya bhAshya) and as a consequence, that She was always associated
with the Sarvajna Ishvara (Kena pada bhAshya). Being associated with
sarvajna Ishvara, she is also knowledgeable, and She was likely to know
what this pillar of light was.  Hence, Indra sought her help in discovering
what this Yaksha was.

The relevant thing for our discussion is not who that Yaksha is, but that
Shankara in commenting on the same mantra, referred to Umadevi as
Rudrapatni and forever associated with Sarvajna Ishvara, in two different
places. Therefore, Shankaracharya is equating sarvajna Ishvara with that
Rudra only. This conclusion would contradict your claim that nowhere in
Shankara bhAshya, does Shankaracharya say that Lord Shiva is Ishvara.

If this reasoning is incorrect, then what is the alternative explanation?
Why else in your opinion, does Shankaracharya say in the Kena pada bhAshya
(whose authorship I assume you do not dispute) that Umadevi, daughter of
HimavAn, is forever associated with sarvajna Ishvara?

Now coming to your question on the authorship of the Kena vAkya bhAshya -
there is an Anandagiri Tika to it, it is included in the Sri Vani Vilas
Press 1910 edition of the works of Shankaracharya as commissioned by HH
Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Swaminah, and occurs in the
Sringeri Sharada peetham's Advaita Sharada database.

These are pretty good reasons to attribute the Kena vAkya bhAshya to
AchArya in my book, but if you wish to  disagree, that is indeed your


On 14 Aug 2016 9:40 p.m., "D Gayatri via Advaita-l" <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> So, Shankara uses the masculine for that entity, yaksham, now revealed as
> Brahman (neuter). So, there is nothing wrong in Indra understanding Uma as
> the consort of Ishwara.

If the Ishwara is Shiva, neuter gender cannot be used *at all*. It is
Indra who has used neuter gender when talking to Uma. The fact that
Indra uses neuter gender is significant. There is no way Indra could
have thought that Uma was associated with a male companion, since he
has used neuter gender to refer to the yaksha.

The use of masculine, Atm;a (mandukya 7th mantra),
> feminine 'devatā' (chandogya 6th chapter) and neuter 'Brahman' (Br.up.
> 1.4.10 aham brahma asmi) are just a few examples where all three genders
> used across the upanishads to denote the Ultimate Truth.

Do you mean Shankara is referring to nirguNa brahman (ultimate truth)
when he uses sarvajna Ishwara? Then Shiva, as the husband of Uma, is
ruled out because nirguNa brahman is nobody's husband.

 In fact Shankara
> cites a Jabala upanishad where occurs 'tvam  vā ahamasmi devate
> for feminine), aham vai tvamasi' in the nirguna brahma context of
> realization.

But we are not talking about nirguNa brahman here. We are talking of
Shiva who is very much masculine.

> In the famous chandogya tat tvam asi, the other part of the sentence is:
> satyam, sa ātmā tat tvam asi. Here, the sentence starts with the subject
> tat, satyam, in neuter and says, sa ātmā, in the masculine. This is
> explained as, since the Tat is taught as the self, atmā, the masculine is
> used.

Yes, masculine, feminine, neuter can all be used when referring to
nirguNa brahman, but here we are talking of Shiva and not nirguNa

> Shankara's comment for the earlier mantra: अथवा उमैव हिमवतो दुहिता हैमवती
> नित्यमेव सर्वज्ञेनेश्वरेण सह वर्तत इति ज्ञातुं समर्थेति कृत्वा तामुपजगाम ।
> Also denotes a masculine 'Ishwara'. Indra thought 'Because Umā is forever
> with the Sarvajna Ishwara, therefore (the particle 'iti' has that meaning,
> iti kāraṇāt), she will know the identity of the yaksham. This, Shankara
> gives as an alternative meaning, after having first said 'Vidyā,
> appeared there in the feminine form of Uma.' So, even if Umā is not vidyā
> itself, yet by her very eternal association with the Omniscient Ishwara
> knows' that is the thinking of Indra, according to Shankara.

If Indra really thought of a masculine Ishwara, he would not have used
the neuter gender when asking about the yaksha to Uma. Indra would
have asked about a masculine yaksha. The fact that Indra asks about a
neutral Yaksha shows that Indra never thought this Ishwara was
masculine. Hence, there is no way this Ishwara could be Shiva. Indra's
very own question proves that.
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