saguNa and nirguNa are the same

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 11 12:53:21 CST 1999

On Wed, 10 Nov 1999 10:33:00 PST, Sankaran Jayanarayanan
 <sjayana at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>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
>>   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 :-)

 Although there may have been a shAlagrAma tIrtha, apart from the
 shAlagrAma shilA, it seems more likely that Shankara is referring
 to the latter (shAlagrAma shilA) rather than to a shAlagrAma tIrtha.
 To see this, examine the context of the quote in the sUtra-bhAshhya.
 The context is the sUtra "sthAnAdivyapadeshAchcha" (1.2.14) which
 appears immediately after "antara upapatteH", a sUtra which points
 out that what is referred to as occurring in the eye is Brahman.

 Shankara begins the commentary on "sthAnAdivyapadeshAchcha" thus:

  kathaM punarAkAshavatsarvagatasya brahmaNo .axyalpasthAnamupadyata iti |

  (Shankara raises a doubt which he then answers:)

 How can Brahman that is everywhere like space said to occur (specifically)
 in a small place such as the eye?

 It is in reply to this doubt that Shankara says essentially that Brahman
 may be said to specifically occur in some places (for the sake of
 upAsana) just as VishNu is said to reside in the shAlagrAma. At this
 point, the analogy of Brahman <-> VishhNu and eye <-> shAlagrAma shilA
 is more appropriate than an analogy with eye <-> a holy place shAlagrAma,
 because VishhNu can also be said to reside specifically in a small place
 such as the shAlagrAma shilA even though He pervades everything

 Further, at least according to some, Shankara started the practice
 of the panchAyatana pUjA of which worship of the shAlagrAma shilA is a
 part. So he must have known about the shAlagrAma shilA. I am not
 denying that he could have known about the shAlagrAma tIrtha too.

 Also, neither the bhAmati of VAchaspati Mishra nor the nyAyanirNaya
 of Anandagiri says anything about the shAlagrAma.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

Archives :
Help     : Email to listmaster at
Options  : To leave the list send a mail to
           listserv at with
           SIGNOFF ADVAITA-L in the body.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list