[Advaita-l] Who Is the Ultimate GOD in Vedic dharma ?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 17 07:03:40 EST 2018

Dear Shrinivas,

Your post represents the correct Vedantic view of Ultimate God. It is
endorsed by Sri Sureshwaracharya in his Brihadaranyaka Vartika where he
says: The One Ishwara alone is variously spoken of as Brahma, Vishnu,
Shiva, Guru.  Sri Anandagiri in his commentary says that this is the Vedic
way of looking at it and if the puranas give the impression that the
Trimurtis are different from each other, such is not the Vedic view.

Taking Surya as the ultimate God is also correct. Some might not accept
this since in their view Surya is a god who is born, etc. cannot be the
Supreme. But Vedanta has a different take on this.  Surya is a Jnani as
clearly stated Bhagavan in the BG: इमं विवस्वते योगं प्रोक्तवानहमव्ययम् |
विवस्वान् मनवे प्राह मनुरिक्षाकवेऽब्रवीत् || at the 4th Chapter start. Even
Indra is a Jnani and he is an Acharya for Brahmavidya in the Brahmasutra
Pratardana adhikarana, from an upanishad. The Mundakopanishat  3.2.1
teaches that a Jnani, when worshiped by a mumukshu for liberation, will be
blessed with that Great Purushartha.

स वेदैतत्परमं ब्रह्म धाम यत्र विश्वं निहितं भाति शुभ्रम् ।
उपासते पुरुषं ये ह्यकामास्ते शुक्रमेतदतिवर्तन्ति धीराः ॥ १ ॥
यस्मात् स वेद जानाति एतत् यथोक्तलक्षणं ब्रह्म परमं प्रकृष्टं धाम
सर्वकामानामाश्रयमास्पदम् , यत्र यस्मिन्ब्रह्मणि धाम्नि विश्वं समस्तं जगत्
निहितम् अर्पितम् , यच्च स्वेन ज्योतिषा भाति शुभ्रं शुद्धम् ,
तमप्येवंविधमात्मज्ञं पुरुषं ये हि अकामाः विभूतितृष्णावर्जिता मुमुक्षवः
सन्तः उपासते परमिव देवम् , ते शुक्रं नृबीजं यदेतत्प्रसिद्धं
शरीरोपादानकारणम् अतिवर्तन्ति अतिगच्छन्ति धीराः बुद्धिमन्तः, न पुनर्योनिं
प्रसर्पन्ति । ‘न पुनः क्व रतिं करोति’ ( ? ) इति श्रुतेः । अतस्तं
पूजयेदित्यभिप्रायः ॥

Shankara says above, giving the Brahma lakshanam as 'the abode of all
desires, where all creation rests...and when a mumukshu worships a knower
of Brahman as 'the Supreme God', *param iva devam*...will not return to

In fact the very earlier mantra there says: He who longs for worldly
wealth/position, etc. bhUti, by worshiping a Jnani, will accomplish all
that. Thus a Jnani is Para Brahman, the Supreme God, that can bestow all
purusharthas.  In this manner Subrahmanya, Surya, Ganapathi, Devi (Uma
Haimavati who taught Brahmavidya to Indra in Kenopanishat), Shiva, Vishnu,
are all fit for the status of Supreme/Ultimate God. The above list covers
both the Panchayatana Puja and the Shanmatha-s that are believed by many as
initiated by Shankara.  Nobody can object to this since the basis for
treating all these deities as Brahman is well established on the authority
of the Veda.

The vishishtadvaitin author of the Tamil book 'Sankararum Vainavamum', on
page 11 objects that Surya, who has been depicted as someone who is
'afraid' of Brahman, keeps doing his duties of rising and setting without
break in the Taittiriya Upanishad, cannot be Brahman. Such an objection
stems from not knowing the purport of that mantra there. Shankara has
explained that the very statement of creation, cosmic management, etc. is
taught by the Shruti only with a view to teach the Nirguna Brahman that is
beyond words and thought. So it is wrong to imagine that the deities such
as vayu, surya, agni, yama, varuna, etc. are literally under fear of
Brahman. It only means that the cosmos functions in a certain order. The
Jnani Surya can always continue in a portfolio as Adhikarika Purusha, just
as Jnani Yama was in the Nachiketas Brahma vidya.


On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 12:18 PM, Shrinivas Gadkari via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste,
> Over the last several months, we have seen many posts
> on this forum showcasing Shiva as the Ultimate GOD in
> Vedic dharma. I understand that most of these posts
> were largely motivated by a desire to counter posts
> in other forums where Vishnu is showcased at the
> Ultimate GOD in the Vedic dharma. I would like to
> present a view point wherein these differences can be
> easily resolved.
> To begin with, please do not comment by saying "brahma
> which is non dual is the only reality and hence the
> only GOD". We all are well aware of this "para tattva".
> These type of discussions certainly fall in the realm
> of dvaita - advaita. That is, that realm of vyavahAra
> where knowledge and working of para tattva is integrated
> with the knowledge and workings of other tattva-s.
> While there is enough evidence in our Puranas that
> glorify viSNu or shiva or gaNapati or any other deity,
> as the Ultimate GOD, there is also equally compelling
> evidence to start thinking that none of these are the
> Ultimate GOD.
> Who then in the Vedic dharma is the Ultimate GOD?
> Here is my understanding:
> - The "Adi-puruSa" who is glorified in the puruSa sUkta is the
>   most promising candidate for the Ultimate GOD of Vedic dharma.
> - Very likely, this is the uttama puruSa of gitA chapter 15.
> - Even bhAgavatam clarifies in Book 1, Chapter 3, Shloka 1,
>   (and indirectly at other places) that puruSa is the original
>   avatAra of bhagavAn (the GOD of bhAgavatam). And all other
>   avatAra-s of bhagavAn are parts of this puruSa avatAra.
> - brahmA, viSNu, shiva, gaNapati are major avatAra-s of this
>   puruSa avatAra.
> For sake of completeness, upAsanA texts of the any specific deity
> include a reference to puruSa avatAra as the supreme form of their
> chosen deity (which is not incorrect), and also the source of
> "other" deities (this is also not incorrect).
> For example, a vaiSNava text would use a term like "mahA viSNu"
> to refer to the puruSa avatAra, and go on to say that brahmA,
> and shiva are parts of "mahAviSNu". On the other hand a shaiva
> text would use a term like "sadAshiva" or "paramashiva" to refer
> to puruSa avatAra, and go on to say that brahmA, and viSNu are parts
> of "sadAshiva" or "paramashiva". Note that, in principle this is
> accurate, however for most of the people, these statements can be
> the primary source of misunderstanding or confusion.
> With regards,
> Shrinivas Gadkari
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