[Advaita-l] Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 1 18:30:11 CDT 2016

Dear friends,

The Vedanta equates Shiva and Vishnu (e.g., Shivasya Hrdayam Vishnu, Vishnoccha Hrdayam Shiva) and that is exactly what it is for Adi Shankara and the other advaitins at the paramarthika level. Lord Krishna himself was initiated by his guru Sandipani  into the Mahapashupata doctrine, according to which Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are equal.  One who has read the Mahabharata well,  knows that in the Mahabharata (which has the Bhagavad Gita in it),  Arjuna prayed to Lord Shiva by Chanting " Namah Shivaya Vishnuroopine, Vishnave Shivaroopine. . . . . .". 

At the vyavaharika level there are pujas for the different deities and one may have more devotion to one's favored deity, one's Ishtadevata. . Though the general impression of the people is that at the Vyavaharika level, Adi Shankara is considered as a Shaivite, it is also quite natural for scholars like  Matthew  Clark to observe that Adi Shankara appears to be more Vaishnavite than a Shaivite he was. That is because Adi Shankara wrote bhashya on Vishnusahasranama but not on Shivasahasranama, on Bhagavad Gita but not on Shiva Gita,  on Bhajagovindam but not on Bhajamaheshwaran etc. It is believed that Adi Shankara's mother was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and his father was a devotee pf Lord Shiva. I can personally understand the situation as my mother was from a Vaishnava family and my father from a Shaivite family and I worship both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. One can argue till the cows come home, but what is important for the advaitins is that Shiva and Vishnu are the same.

As regards the Dashanami Samprdaya, I have not read Matthew  Clark's recent book on the Dashanami samnyasis, but to my knowledge nowhere did Adi Shankara mention that he created the Dashanami sects. This being the case, many people may think  that the Dashanami sects could have been established by another Shankaracharya. May be, the scholars of this list have the answer to this. 

Sunil KB

On Thu, 9/1/16, Gerald Penn via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu
 To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
 Date: Thursday, September 1, 2016, 12:39 PM
 > Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu / Vishnu over Shiva are
 > topics in advaita.
 > And that is why, to sort of these petty issues, Acharya
 > incarnated to unify us.
 That's what I had thought, but I was recently reading a
 summary of the
 arguments that Adi Shankaracarya was a vaishnava in Matthew
 recent book on the Dashanami samnyasis.  Some of them
 are more in the
 vein of absence-as-evidence, which I find rather specious,
 but others are 
 rather more affirmative:
 - an alleged refutation in the Brahmasutrabhasya (2.2.36-41)
 of shaiva
 (spec. Maheshvara) doctrine.
 - Padmapada's expression of reverence in his Pancapadika to
 his teacher,
 who "had merely the name of Shankara, whom he contrasts with
 the real 
 Shiva.  He states that Shankara (the teacher) did not
 wear ashes smeared 
 over his body like Shiva and his ascetic devotees, nor does
 [his teacher]
 have any of the marks or emblems of Shiva."
 - the BSB refers to the shalagrama three times in the
 context of a 
 metaphysical analogy, but not the lingam.
 - the BSB refers to the superimposition of the spiritual
 vision of Lord
 Vishnu onto idols (pratimaa) four times, as instances of
 religious ideas
 being superimposed on objects.
 - similar vaishnava imagery occurs throughout Adi
 commentaries on the Upanishads.
 - imaginary persons used by Adi Shankaracarya in
 explanations are 
 frequently vaishnava characters, e.g. Devadatta, Yajnadatta,
 - in his commentary on the Gaudapada mandukyakarika, Adi
 equates Sambuddha with Narayana.
 - in the BSB (3.4.20), Adi Shankaracarya equates
 vanaprasthas with a
 group of orthodox vaishanavas called vaikhaanasas.
 - a disparaging remark that Adi Shankaracarya allegedly
 makes on the 
 worship of Vinayaka in his Gitabhasya, to the effect that it
 amounts to 
 the worship of a bhuta.
 What do the learned members of this list think of these
 This matter is important, I believe, to advaita philosophy,
 as Clark adduces this evidence on the way to making a
 different point,
 namely calling into question the legitimacy of claims that
 Shankaracarya had founded either the Sringeri or Kanchi
 maths, both
 of which Clark regards as predominantly shaiva
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