[Advaita-l] Padmapada's invocation and commentaries

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Sep 4 03:11:11 CDT 2016

On Sun, Sep 4, 2016 at 1:06 PM, D Gayatri via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> There has been some discussion about padmapada's iinvocation verse
> here and one particular member accused me of misleading the "gullible"
> readers (as if readers are not intelligent enough!). I have been
> accused of distorting the meaning of the commentaries.
> A good friend of mine has sent me link to the commentaries on
> Padmapada's verse in Sanskrit, which explain the meaning of the verse.
> The friend also pointed to me, the relevant portions of the
> commentaries. I give full credit to my friend for this post.
> The commentaries can be found here and can be verified by anyone -
> http://www.dli.gov.in/data2/upload/0052/746/PTIFF/00000147.tif
> The readers can look at two of the commentaries 1. RujuvivaraNam and
> 2. tattvadIpanam
> Both the commentaries indicate that Shankara did not don bhasma and
> the last commentary states that Shankara is being differentiated from
> the other prasiddha Shankara (Shiva).
> 1. RujuvivaraNam
>  For “nirastabhUtim”, the explanation given is “bhasmarahitaM
> nirastaishvaryaṃ  vA” (bhasmarahitam means without ashes,
> nirastaishvaryam means without wealth). Thus the RujuvivaraNam is
> saying that (Adi) Shankara did not don the bhasma and he is also
> without wealth.
> 2. tattvadIpanam
> This one says - "prasiddha Shankara vilakshaNam paramahamsa parAyaNam
> ShankarAchAryam namAmi....". The commentary then goes on ....
> “vailakshaṇyamAha...."
> Thus the commentator is clearly differentiating the prasiddha Shankara
> (Shiva) from (Adi) Shankaracharya.
> For bhUtih, the commentator says -
>  bhUtiḥ -- bhasitam (ashes), tadanuliptagAtraḥ saḥ (sah here refers to
> prasiddha Shankara or Shiva) । ayaṃ (this refers to Adi Shankara)
> tvaiSvaryalakshaNabhUtividhuraH”
> (Adi) Shankara is bhUtividhurah - i.e, he is devoid of ashes.

The above is a patently wrong translation of the commentary. The correct
translation is:

While* that* Lord Shiva was donning the ashes, *this*, Shankaracharya, is
bereft of the vibhūti called aishvarya: aishvaryalakshanavibhūti vidhuraḥ.
Anyone with elementary Sanskrit knowledge will be able to see this.

> Over all we must note two things -
> 1. Both commentaries say that (Adi) Shankara did not don the bhasma

No. Only the first commentary suggests that and the second never says that
and that too as an alternative.

> 2. The second commentary explicitly says that (Adi) Shankara is being
> differentiated from the other prasiddhi Shankara (Shiva)

That differentiation is only for the purpose of showing that the Original
Lord Shiva alone has incarnated as Shankaracharya. That vailaksanya is also
only done when the two individuals have something in common.  Here both
Shiva and Shankara are one entity but only appearing in different forms.
While so incarnating Shiva alone is found here without what he is found in

> Therefore, neither did (Adi) Shankara don the bhasma, nor was he
> considered an incarnation of Shiva by Padmapada.

This conclusion is wrong.

A human, Shankara Acharya or anyone, can be compared with God only when
there is a very special accomplishment with that human.  Just because two
individualṣ share the same name that does not warrant a

We have examples of Vāchaspati Misra being compared to Brahmā, Vācaspati,
by Amalananda in the Kalpataru.  There too there is the double meaning:
Misra is such an accomplished scholar that he is a god among all other
scholars, vibudhāḥ (which also means gods).

We have another famous case of Vidyaranya in the Mādhaviya Shankara Vijayam
where he says: Lord Shiva, gave up the Mouna (Dakshinamurti) Silence and
the abode under the Banyan Tree and came down to the earth as
Shankaracharya (to speak, write etc.)

Thus, only when an extraordinary accomplishment is seen in a human a
comparison with God is made.  That is what is made by Padmapada and
Sureshwara.  Everyone knows, without being informed specially, that the
name 'Shankara' is a name of Lord Shiva. Yet, Sureshwara says twice that
Shankara bears the name of Lord Shiva only to signify that he is an


> Regards
> Gayatri
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