[Advaita-l] The 'Parabrahman' of Advaita

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Jan 11 05:15:30 CST 2016

In the following blog is a comment which says:


//Many articles in this website provide a lot of pramanas from vedantha and
puranas. But they do not mention one of the most ancient ideas that the
brahmanas have been implicitly following for ages and which demonstrate the
vishNu tatvam. That is why I am citing atreya brahmana verse 1 and
sandyAvandana mantra. They explicitly portray what the vedic tradition
emphasizes – vishNu aka nArAyAnA is saguna parabrahmam.//

A response to the above:

While the person who comments there and the bloggers might have their own
idea of what the term 'saguna parabrahmam' means, for Advaitins such a term
is an oxymoron.

For Shankara the saguna Brahman is also kāryam, aparam [created, lower]:
BSB 4.3.7 [kāryādhikaraṇam]

‘स एनान्ब्रह्म गमयति’ (छा. उ. ४-१५-५)
 इत्यत्र विचिकित्स्यते — किं कार्यमपरं ब्रह्म गमयति, आहोस्वित्परमेवाविकृतं
मुख्यं ब्रह्मेति । कुतः संशयः ? ब्रह्मशब्दप्रयोगात्, गतिश्रुतेश्च । तत्र
कार्यमेव सगुणमपरं ब्रह्म एनान्गमयत्यमानवः पुरुष इति बादरिराचार्यो मन्यते ।
कुतः ? अस्य गत्युपपत्तेः — अस्य हि कार्यब्रह्मणो गन्तव्यत्वमुपपद्यते,
प्रदेशवत्त्वात् ; न तु परस्मिन्ब्रह्मणि गन्तृत्वं गन्तव्यत्वं गतिर्वा
अवकल्पते, सर्वगतत्वात्प्रत्यगात्मत्वाच्च गन्तॄणाम् ॥ ७ ॥

Shankara distinguishes the saguna Brahman which is also a kāryam, created,
and aparam, lower, from the mukhyam brahma which is the Nirguna Brahman
that alone is not created and thus, the Supreme tattva of the Vedanta. If
Nārāyaṇa is admitted as one of the deities that can be the saguna Brahman,
then as per advaita, that Nārāyaṇa is essentially a created one. Anything
saguna is a created one.

The commenting person does not perhaps realize this anomaly. If X is
designated as 'Para Brahman', then it cannot be saguṇa.  If it is saguṇa,
then it is kāryam, created, and therefore, of a lower status than the
Nirguna Brahman, which alone is Para Brahman. Since the bloggers also are
ignorant of these terms and their meanings as per Advaita, they endorse
such ignorance coming from their followers.

The above is only to bring to the notice of the followers of the Advaita
bhāṣya the particular, rare, instance from the bhāṣyam where the three
terms,* saguṇam, kāryam and aparam*, are used in one place, in
sāmānādhikaraṇyam to denote that Brahmā,  who is the lord and resident of
Brahmaloka.  It can also be noted that generally, perhaps exceptionally,
Advaitins alone use the adjective 'saguṇa' for Brahman since they alone
distinguish it from their Nirguna Brahman. For non-advaitins what advaitins
consider saguna, created and lower brahman, is the supreme. They may object
saying: 'No, for us the Supreme Brahman, Vishnu, is not a created one or a
lower one and is definitely different from the chaturmukha brahmā. '
However, for advaitins, if it is saguṇam then there is no way it cannot be
kāryam and lower, being aupādhika.

In the above cited comment, he also says:

//Also vedanta has been indicated to be the crest jewel in the
sarvadarsanasangra of Vidyaranya. //

Response to the above: What Sāyaṇa (Vidyāraṇya) has said for this mantra
that Tamil smartas recite during their sandhya worship thrice a day:

ऋतँ सत्यं परं ब्रह्म पुरुषं कृष्णपिङ्गलम्*।* ऊर्ध्वरेतं विरूपाक्षं
विश्वरूपाय वै नमो नमः ॥ This occurs in the Mahanarayana upanishat of the
Taittiriya āraṇyaka 1.12. Sāyana says that the deity here is Umāmaheśvara.
This adds to the point that 'the sandhyāvandana mantras are not completely
Viṣṇu-specific' as the commenting person claims. This is in addition to the
information given in the recent article:

Also, Sāyaṇa does not give the impression, as the commentator of the blog
claims, that the Aitareya brāhmaṇa first mantra is anything about the
supremacy of Vishnu. It is about a ritual where offerings are made to
various deities, including Viṣnu, like all other deities, in a certain
order, which no way means any supremacy of Vishnu.


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