[Advaita-l] Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Fri Sep 2 18:57:12 CDT 2016

Unfortunately even the arguments classified as affirmative are specious
too. Classifying Shankaracharya's vision as Vaishnava or Shaiva based on
stray quotations is missing the wood for the trees.

The tAtparya of his bhAshyas is very clear - that the one, limitless
nirguNa Brahman is the highest reality established in the Upanishads, and
the understanding of oneself to be that reality is the highest, most
glorious goal worth striving for.


On 1 Sep 2016 8:39 p.m., "Gerald Penn via Advaita-l" <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu / Vishnu over Shiva are irrelevant topics
>> in advaita.
>> And that is why, to sort of these petty issues, Acharya Sankara
>> 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 Clark's
> 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 Shankaracarya's
> commentaries on the Upanishads.
> - imaginary persons used by Adi Shankaracarya in explanations are
> frequently vaishnava characters, e.g. Devadatta, Yajnadatta, Vishnumitra,
> Krishnagupta.
> - in his commentary on the Gaudapada mandukyakarika, Adi Shankaracarya
> 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 observations?
> This matter is important, I believe, to advaita philosophy, particularly
> as Clark adduces this evidence on the way to making a different point,
> namely calling into question the legitimacy of claims that Adi
> Shankaracarya had founded either the Sringeri or Kanchi maths, both
> of which Clark regards as predominantly shaiva institutions.
> Regards,
> Gerald
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