[Advaita-l] Brahma Sutra-supreme brahman

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Apr 3 17:48:04 CST 2004

On Fri, 2 Apr 2004, S Jayanarayanan wrote:

> 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.

Ok sorry I wasn't clear, let me try again.  Note that the specific phrase
is not viShnoH padaM but viShnoH _paramaM_ padaM.  The dwelling of Vishnu
can be Naraka (with Bali in chaturmasa), or Vaikuntha but the "highest"
dwelling is Moksha.  The Bhamatikara also emphasizes that this phrase
refers to Moksha not some intermediate place.  The rgvedic sukta I
mentioned treats the course of the Sun (sunrise, noon, and sunset) as the
three steps and three dwelling places of Vishnu.  It is from the highest
place that He brings down the madhu/soma.

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

In the bhashya itself, Shankaracharya considers the world of saguna
Brahman to be the world of Hiranyagarbha or Brahma.  This is contrasted
with the highest place of Vishnu.  Could this reflect some ancient
sectarian rivalry?  The Samkhya/Yogis preferred to refer to Ishvara as
Hiranyagarbha.  Kapila Muni was said to be the avatar or son of Hiranyagarbha.
Shankaracharya was a bitter critic of Samkhya/Yoga
doctrines, did he perhaps consider the worship of Vishnu to be more Vedic?
It seems unlikely due to the fact that his opposition to the Bhagavatas,
Vaishnavas though they may be, was partially on the grounds that they were
not Vedic.  Also there is shastric support for saying that Kapila was an
avatar of Vishnu Bhagavan.  Rather I think we have to look at another
shastraic story.  Brahma is said to be born at the beginning of creation
from a lotus growing from the navel of anantashayi Vishnu Bhagavan.  This
can be a metaphor for how Nirguna Brahman "produces" Saguna Brahman who is
the "golden womb" (hiranyagarbha) of creation.  All this talk of
saguna vs nirguna Brahman  shouldn't lead us to think they are two
seperate entities.  Just as when sannyasis use the greeting om namo narayana
the usage of narayana doesn't refer to the husband of Shri who carries
shanka, chakra, gada, padma etc., Bhagavan shouldn't imply any limited
entity.  It's a matter of context.  I suppose I should have been more
explicit to avoid confusion though.

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

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