saguNa and nirguNa are the same

Sankaran Jayanarayanan sjayana at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 10 12:33:00 CST 1999

Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:


>   See what Shankara says in the sUtra bhAshhya (1.2.14)
>   nirguNamapi sadbrahma naamaruupagataiH guNaiH saguNaM upasanaarthaM
>   tatra tatra upadishyate...
>   Even though Brahman is nirguNa, yet It is instructed as possessing
>   qualities of name and form, ie. saguNa, for the purpose of meditation
>   by various texts.
>    and
>   sarvagatasyaapi brahmaNa upalabdhyarthaM sthaanavisheshho na
>   viruddhyate, shaalagraama iva vishhNoH...
>   It is not contradictory to assign specific places to Brahman,
>   which is Omnipresent, just as it is (not contradictory to
>   think of ) VishhNu as specifically residing in the shaalagraama.
>   This seems to be the point in the text of the prabodha-sudhAkara
>   as well. Even though Brahman is present everywhere, for the purpose
>   of meditation, there is no harm in treating It as if It were endowed
>   with form and other attributes. The moment we do this, we are "reducing"
>   Brahman to saguNa form. But in reality, Brahman does not transform
>   Itself into saguNa. This is clear. Shankara cites the example of the
>   shAlagrAma and VishhNu. VishhNu, by definition, is all-pervading and
>   omnipresent, but for purposes of worship one may think of Him as
>   specifically residing in the shAlagrAma-shilA.

This may be slightly steering away from the topic, but I believe the term
"shaalagraama" referred to by Shankara was NOT the "shilaa" (the stone
which is worshipped as a representation of VishNu) but a tiirtha (holy
spot) where VishhNu is said to reside. In the translation of the Vishnu
Purana by H.H.Wilson, in the story of JaDa Bharata, it is described that
Bharata performed penances at the "Holy place of Shalagrama". The
translator explains in a footnote that although in present-day India the
exact location of this holy place has become obscure, there may have been
such a pilgrimage spot in ancient India. In the entire Vishnu Purana,
there is not a single reference to the shaalagraama-shilaa, but to the
shaalagraama pilgrimage spot *only*. The shaalagraama-shilaa may have
been a later development :-)


>  Anand


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