[Advaita-l] Iswara Worship

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Fri May 23 23:36:29 CDT 2003

Rev. Varghese Mathew wrote:

> I would like to know the place that Sri Shankaracharya gave to Isvara worship
> or devotion. Did He gave approval to the Worship of Ishvara in the form of
> Avatars of God.


Vishwanathan Krishnamoorthy wrote:

> [is] bhakthi is a dualistic means to a non dual goal (lead to a
> realization of advaita) or is it an end in itself.

I've mentioned Shankaracharyas' comments on Brahmasutra 2.2.42 before
but they bear repeating.  2.2.42-44 are a refutation of the vyuha theory
of the Pancharatra Agamas.

"...Concerning this system we remark that we do not intend to controvert
the doctrine that Narayana, who is higher than the avyakta, who is
the paramatma, and the sarvatma, reveals Himself by dividing
himself in multiple ways; for various Shruti passages such as 'He is
onefold, He is threefold'[1], teach us the highest Self appears in
manifold forms.  Nor do we mean to object to the inculculation of
unceasing concentration of mind on the highest Being which appears in the
Bhagavata doctrine under the forms of reverential approach, etc.[2] for
that we are to meditate on the Lord we know full well from Smrti and
Shruti.  We, however, must take exception to the doctrine that
Sankarshana springs from Vasudeva, Pradyumna from Sankarshana, and
Aniruddha from Pradyumna..."

[1] Ch. U. 7.26.2

[2] Mentioned earlier in the same passage.  They are "...approach to the
temple (abhigamana), procuring of things to be offered (upadana), oblation
(ijya), recitation of prayers etc. (svadhyaya), and devout meditation

[note: translations taken from G. Thibauts translation with some amendment]

Thus you can see that far from being some sort of atheism as some
unscrupulous modern interpreters would have you believe, Advaita Vedanta
places full importance on the necessity for worship of God.  However we
can make a distinction between our brand of Bhakti and that of the
ordinary theist.  We believe the highest goal of Bhakti is the realization
of oneness with the God we worship.  So in that sense Bhakti is ultimately
the same as Jnana.  As the above passage shows, Shankaracharya did not
hesitate to criticize even "Hindu" religions which fell short of the Vedic
teachings.  But those parts of those religions which are in line with
Advaita Vedanta and help the devotee develop oneness are acceptable.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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