[Advaita-l] Is Sri Dhara Suddhadvaitavadi not Advaitavadi?

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Feb 14 16:09:20 EST 2024

On Fri, 2 Feb 2024, swagata chowdhury via Advaita-l wrote:

> Was Sridhara Swami a non-dualist?
> Answer: Many people believe that Sridhara Swami was a non-dualist because
> the 10th, 51st, 68th, and 116th Shankaracharyas of Puri Govardhan Mutt were
> all named Sridhara Swami. They believe that the Srimad Bhagavatam and Gita
> commentator Sridhara Swami was a non-dualist and the 116th Shankaracharya
> of Puri

There many more reasons to believe it than just his position in Govardhana 

>. And since Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said to follow Sridhara Swami,
> many people conclude that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu meant that non-dualistic
> conclusions should be followed.

Look, the basic problem is that Chaitanya was driven purely by emotion. 
He took his inspiration from here or there without any care because he was 
not a systematic thinker.  This causes headaches for later Gaudiya 
thinkers who felt that he shoud have been a systematic thinker.

> However, the Srimad Bhagavatam and Gita commentator Sridhara Swami and the
> 116th Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Mutt were not the same person. The
> Srimad Bhagavatam and Gita commentator Sridhara Swami was a member of the
> Vishnu Swami tradition of Rudra Vaishnavism.

Highly doubtful.  The first problem is that very little is known about 
this Rudra Sampradaya.  It is acknowledged that Shri Vishnuswami is the 
founder but no works by him have been found.  The only pre-Vallabhacharya 
work from this sampradaya that exists is the Govindadamodara stotra ("He Krshna 
Govinda Hare Murari...") of Bilvamangala.  According to the 
Vallabhadigvijaya, His ancestors (who where Telang or Andhra Brahmanas) 
were followers of Vishnuswami but Vallabhacharya does not mention him at 
all.  In his tika on a minor work of Vallabhacharya called Jalabheda, Pt. 
Shrinath Bhatt says the sampradaya of Vishnuswami was reduced to dust 
until rejuvanated by Prabhuji (i.e. Vallabhacharya.)

> Sridhara Swami's Guru Lineage
> The Srimad Bhagavatam and Gita commentator Sridhara Swami's guru's name was
> Paramananda. He mentions his guru's name in many places in his works.
> However, the 10th, 51st, 68th, and 116th Shankaracharyas of Puri had gurus
> named Govinda Swami, Bodhayan Swami, Jagannath Swami, and Sutapanand Swami,
> respectively.

It is not uncommon for Vidyaguru and dikshaguru to be separate persons. 
e.g. Swami Vidyaranya was the successor of Swami Bharatitirtha on 
Shringeri Pitha but he also salutes Swami Vidyashankaratirtha as a guru.

Or I consider go. vA. Krshnashankara Shastriji who was a Pushtimargi as a 
guru.  It was from his writings I learned what I know about Pushtimarg but 
nevertheless it is not my sampradaya at all. I still pay my respects to 
his memory on Guru purnima etc.

> Sridhara Swami was a member of the Vishnu Swami tradition
> Sridhara Swami's membership in the Vishnu Swami tradition is supported by
> the following evidence:

If Shridharaswami, a person of all-India fame and influence belonged to 
Vishnuswamis' tradition, how could it be considered "reduced to dust." 
That Vallabhacharya was from this sampradaya is acknowledged by all 
parties.  He wrote His own commentary on the Bhagavata Purana.  Wouldn't 
He have at least acknowledged the existence of a prior commentary from His 
own school?

> In the Ballabh Digvijay, a text of the Vallabh Sampradaya, a non-dualist
> Vaishnava tradition, there is a mention of a disciple of Vishnu Swami named
> Paramanand. However, since Vishnu Swami lived much earlier than Sridhara
> Swami, it is unlikely that this Paramanand was Sridhara Swami's guru.
> Sridhara Swami's works cite Vishnu Swami's Sarvajna Sukta and other texts
> from the Vishnu Swami tradition.

I am not aware of this Sarvajnasukta.  Has it been published?  As I said, 
Govindadamodara stotra is the only pre-Vallabhacharya work of Rudra 
Sampradaya that exists. At least this is what Pushtimargis say.

> In his commentary on the Bhagavatam, Sridhara Swami criticizes the
> non-dualist view of moksha, or liberation, as being hypocritical.

Where?  Because in the commentary on Bhagavata Prathama shloka, 
Shridharaswami clearly states that the jagata is mithya.  That is an 
Advaita view only. The jagata is a false superimposition upon Brahman due 
to maya.

Vallabhacharya believes that the jagata and all its contents are 
emanations of Krshna Bhagavan.  Maya is not a force that creates ignorance 
of the world-appearance but Bhagavans power that he employs to create the 
jagat for His own lila.

This is the shuddha in shuddhadvaita.  It is Advaita purified from 
"Mayavada". Shridharaswami is definitely a Mayavadin.

> In Shree Jiba Goswami's Tattva Sandarbha he ccalls Shree dhara swami a
> param Baishnaba.

Many Advaita acharyas and vidvans have been Vaishnavas.  Only people like 
Jiva have a problem with that.

> Certain individuals posit that Sridhara Swami may have held non-dualistic
> views due to his reference to Shankaracharya in his commentary on the Gita.
> However, the Sanskrit term "Bhashyakara" can denote both "teacher" and
> "commentator." It is plausible that Sridhara Swami was alluding to a
> previous commentator like Vishnu Swami. The Geeta Press Translation is
> erroneous, contributing to confusion among devotees.

No such bhashya by Vishnuswami is known to exist or has been quoted by 
other writers.  On the other hand, the use of bhashyakara as a title for 
Shankaracharya is very common.

> Sridhara Swami's main deity was Narasimha, the man-lion incarnation of
> Vishnu. The Vishnu Swami tradition's main scripture is the Nrisimha Tapani
> Upanishad.

Shankaracharyas' own Kuladevata is said to be Lakshminrsimha and He has 
written several stotras on that subject (and a Nrsimhapurvatapanyupanishad 
bhashya) so this proves nothing.

Once again, it should be noted that no tika or other writing linking 
Vishnuswami to any scripture is known to exist.

> Sridhara Swami's conclusion
> Based on the evidence presented above, it is clear that the Srimad
> Bhagavatam and Gita commentator Sridhara Swami was a member of the Vishnu
> Swami tradition of Rudra Vaishnavism. He was not a non-dualist, but rather
> a follower of the Shuddh Advaita, or pure non-duality, school of thought.

In his tika on Bhagavata 3rd skandha 32:37 which deals with four-fold 
bhaktiyoga Shridharacharya calls three of them tamasik, rajasika and 
sattvika and claims the nirguna ("impersonal"!) form is the highest of 

> Written by Arjun Sakha( Iskcon)

I'm sorry but nothing written by ISKCON is worth the paper its printed on.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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