[Advaita-l] Brahma Sutra-supreme brahman

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 2 18:46:19 CST 2004

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:
> On Wed, 31 Mar 2004, Ramesh Badisa wrote:
> > My question is why the highest place here is referred as place of
> Vishnu,
> This is not some invention by Swami Shivananda.  Shankaracharya does
> indeed call moksha ViShnoh param padam and Swami Shivananda has
> accurately
> translated it as "the highest place of Vishnu"
> Why describe Brahman with this particular formulation?

Jaldhar, there is no doubt that the "highest place of VishhNu" can be
taken as the place of Ishvara, etc. But the question was:

"The Sutra declares that at the dissolution of Brahmaloka the souls,
which by that time have attained knowledge, along with the Saguna
Brahman attain what is *** higher than the Saguna Brahman, i.e., para
Brahman or the pure highest place of Visnu ***"
...But how come, Sri AdiShankaracharya mentioned supreme brahman in the
form of Vishnu in IV.3.10 commentry, which is a Saguna form of Brahman?

I find it extremely strange that Shankara would choose the term
"VishhNu" to refer to the nirguNa Brahman when specifically
DIFFERENTIATING it from saguNa Brahman! I think the question asked is
very valid and still unanswered. 


PS: In your own reply, you've repeatedly spoken of "VishhNu Bhagavan" -
NOT nirguNa Brahman.

> One theory is based on the tradition that Shankaracharya himself had
> Vishnu Bhagavan (Bhagavan Lakshmi-Nrsimha to be precise) as his
> ishtadevata.  Although today most smartas are shakta/shaivas (and
> indeed
> confused with such) we actually revere all the Vedic Gods so this
> indeed
> is possible.
> Another possible reason is Shankaracharya is showing the depth of his
> Vedic knowledge.  The avatara of Vishnu Bhagavan as Vamana is an
> ancient
> one.  I don't have access to the Rgvedic text itself but here is
> Prof.
> Wendy O'Flahertys' translation ("Hindu Myths" P. 176) of Rgveda
> I.154.5
> Would that I might reach his dear dwelling place, where men who love
> the
> Gods, become intoxicated; there one is joined with the
> wide-strider,Vishnu,
> in His highest place, the fountain of honey.
> "Honey" -- Madhu refers to the secret of immortality.  In
> Brhadaranyakopanishad Madhukanda tells how Rshi Dadhichi taught the
> madhuvidya to the Ashvins and became immortal even though Indra cut
> off
> his head for it.  The intoxication is that caused by Soma which is
> also
> honey.  In this sukta, Vishnu Bhagavan is compared to the Sun who in
> three
> steps (sunrise, noon, and sunset)  leaps up the highest heaven,
> brings
> down the soma and plants in the ground (where it grows in the
> moonlight.
> Soma is identified with the moon.)
> That book also mentions a passage from Shatapatha Brahmana where it
> says
> the Asuras had overcome the Devas and reduced them to poverty.  They
> begged for enough land for Vishnu Bhagavan to take three steps in
> order to
> perform the yajna.  (For the vedi or altar is three paces in length.)
> They granted it thinking Vishnu is a dwarf how much land could it be?
> but
> Vishnu Bhagavan stretched out to cover the whole earth (Recall also
> from
> the Purushasukta: "He covers all this and ten fingers beyond.")
> thereby
> tricking the Asuras out of their conquests.
> You are probably familiar with the Puranic version of this story. 
> The
> Asura king Bali took up Dharma and thereby overcame the Devas. 
> Vishnu
> Bhagavan came to his court in the form of a Brahmana boy (or dwarf)
> and
> asked for a boon of three steps of land.  It was granted and He
> immediately expanded covering the worlds in two steps.  The wise
> Asura
> Bali realized who his visitor was and humbly offered his head as the
> third
> step.  Now Bali reigns in naraka where Vishnu Bhagavan joins him
> during
> chaturmasa.
> So viShnoh paramam padam can be read in two ways.  As the "highest
> place"
> from which Vishnu Bhagavan brings the soma or amrta that confers
> immortality.
> As the upanishad makes clear this madhu is jnana.  Or it means the
> "ultimate step" of Vishnu.  Bali became immortal not by becoming a
> world
> conqueror (chakravarti) but by shedding ego and offering everything
> to
> Bhagavan including his very head.  You can see that this seemingly
> simple
> phrase is actually rich in Vedantic meaning.
> > Interestingly enough, in second chapter of Brahma Sutras, some
> sutras refute
> > both pasupata (the Mahesvara) II.2.37 onwards and  the Bhagavata
> systems,
> > II.II.2.42 onwards.
> I translated the bhashya on the sutras related to the refutation
> of the Bhagavatas a while back, check the archives.  It is
> interesting to
> note that Shankaracharya refutes the 4 vyuha theory and the non-Vedic
> origins of the Pancharatra Agamas but is quite conciliatry taking
> pains to
> note that he is not criticizing the idea of worship but only the
> philosophical aspects.  In the same vein, his main problem with the
> Pashupatas is that they do not consider Ishvara to be the creator
> only the
> observer of the world which is a kind of dualism similiar to the
> samkhya/yoga type.
> Incidently tomorrow is Vamana dvadashi and the story of Vamana avatar
> from the Bhagavata etc. should be read.
> -- 
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
> It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/
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