[Advaita-l] Without Shakti, Brahman has no role

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed May 31 07:16:57 EDT 2017

In the Brahmasutra bhashya 1.4.3 तदधीनत्वादर्थवत् ॥ ३ ॥, Shankara makes a
very far-reaching statement:

अत्रोच्यते — यदि वयं स्वतन्त्रां काञ्चित्प्रागवस्थां जगतः
कारणत्वेनाभ्युपगच्छेम, प्रसञ्जयेम तदा प्रधानकारणवादम् ; परमेश्वराधीना
त्वियमस्माभिः प्रागवस्था जगतोऽभ्युपगम्यते, न स्वतन्त्रा । सा
चावश्याभ्युपगन्तव्या ; अर्थवती हि सा ; न हि तया विना परमेश्वरस्य
स्रष्टृत्वं सिध्यति, शक्तिरहितस्य तस्य प्रवृत्त्यनुपपत्तेः ।

If we admit an independent latent power as the cause of the world, then we
will be giving occasion to the Sankhya's pradhāna-as-the-cause doctrine. We
do accept a power that is subservient to Brahman and not something that is
independent. Such a latent power has to be necessarily admitted; it is with
purpose. Without that power Brahman's creatorship cannot be admitted since
a Brahman without such a power is completely non-functional.

The idea conveyed here is very nicely presented by Shankara in the very
opening verse of the Soundaryalahari:

शिवःशक्त्यायुक्तो यदि भवति शक्तःप्रभवितुं
न चेदेवं देवो न खलु कुशलः स्पन्दितुमपि।
अतस्त्वाम् आराध्यां हरि-हर-विरिन्चादिभिरपि
प्रणन्तुं स्तोतुं वा कथमकृतपुण्यः प्रभवति॥

Shiva united with Shakti becomes able to manifest
If otherwise, this god knows not even how to pulsate.
How then could one of ungained merit be able to bow to, or even praise
One such as you, adored by Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.

In the above verse the greatness of Shakti is brought out by stating that
Shiva, Brahman, will be able to engage in cosmic activity only when united
with His power. Without so uniting with Her, it is impossible to do
anything for Brahman.

Shankara in the BSB implies that when it comes to creation, etc., Brahman
has to depend on Shakti. Without that Shakti, the Nirguna, Nishkriya
Brahman is incapable of engaging in any activity.

Thus Shankara conveys the Upanishadic message of the status and role of
Brahman and Shakti in the Brahmasutra and the Soundaryalahari.


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