[Advaita-l] Shankara authenticates Shiva as the son of Brahma

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Aug 13 04:30:27 CDT 2016

The title to the post is definitely misrepresenting Shankara's position.
From the fact that Shankara has not quoted anything from the 'story'
part/background, and chooses only the Advaita tattva part, it is clear that
Shankara is not bothered about the part of Shiva being the son of  Brahma.
In many Upanishad bhashyas Shankara has explicitly said: the background
story is for the purpose of vidyā stuti, eulogising the Tattva Teaching.
In other words, it is arthavāda. The story is only incidental and therefore
not primary, to the tattva upadesha.

There are also other references in the MB where Shiva is shown as the
Source from which the trimūrtis arise.


On Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 2:35 PM, D Gayatri via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste
> In the Shanti parva of the Mahabharata, Krishna-Dwaipayana relates a
> conversation between Brahma and Shiva. Here it is revealed by
> Krishna-Dvaipayana, that Shiva is actually the son of Brahma and
> Brahma gives instructions to Shiva on the supreme purusha and brahman,
> who is none other than Narayana. This is another instance of Vishnu
> being praised as the vedAntic brahman in the Mahabharata.
> Now, the Shanti parva and Anushasana parva of the Mahabharata are
> widely believed to contain many interpolations, to the extent that
> even the critical BORI edition may not be free from interpolations as
> far as these two parva-s are concerned. Fortunately, the above
> instance of Brahma teaching his son Shiva about the nature of
> Narayana, the supreme Atman, is authenticated by none other than our
> own Shankara bhagavatpAda in his Brahmasutra Bhashya.
> Below, I will explain how Shankara bhagavatpAda authenticates this
> incident.
> Shankara's Brahmasutra Bhashya 2.1.1. contains the following
> quotations from the Mahabharata -
> महाभारतेऽपि च — ‘बहवः पुरुषा ब्रह्मन्नुताहो एक एव तु’ इति विचार्य,
> ‘बहवः पुरुषा राजन्सांख्ययोगविचारिणाम्’ इति परपक्षमुपन्यस्य
> तद्व्युदासेन — ‘बहूनां पुरुषाणां हि यथैका योनिरुच्यते । तथा तं पुरुषं
> विश्वमाख्यास्यामि गुणाधिकम्’ इत्युपक्रम्य ‘ममान्तरात्मा तव च ये चान्ये
> देहसंस्थिताः । सर्वेषां साक्षिभूतोऽसौ न ग्राह्यः केनचित्क्वचित् ॥
> विश्वमूर्धा विश्वभुजो विश्वपादाक्षिनासिकः । एकश्चरति भूतेषु स्वैरचारी
> यथासुखम्’ — इति सर्वात्मतैव निर्धारिता ।
> The above portion of the bhAshya contains 4 quotations from the
> Mahabharata -
> 1. बहवः पुरुषा ब्रह्मन्नुताहो एक एव तु
> 2. बहवः पुरुषा राजन्सांख्ययोगविचारिणाम्
> 3. बहूनां पुरुषाणां हि यथैका योनिरुच्यते । तथा तं पुरुषं
> विश्वमाख्यास्यामि गुणाधिकम्
> 4. ममान्तरात्मा तव च ये चान्ये देहसंस्थिताः । सर्वेषां साक्षिभूतोऽसौ न
> ग्राह्यः केनचित्क्वचित् ॥ विश्वमूर्धा विश्वभुजो विश्वपादाक्षिनासिकः ।
> एकश्चरति भूतेषु स्वैरचारी यथासुखम्
> The 4 quotations are found in the Shanti parva of the Mahabharata.
> Shankara himself says that all these quotations are from the
> Mahabharata.
> The first quotation of Shankara is from Mbh 12.338.1 in the critical
> edition. The complete verse is as follows -
> जनमेजय उवाच|| बहवः पुरुषा ब्रह्मन्नुताहो एक एव तु | को ह्यत्र पुरुषः
> श्रेष्ठः को वा योनिरिहोच्यते ||१||
> [Janamejaya asks Vaisampayana whether there are many purushas or
> whether there is only one. Who is the foremost of the purushas and who
> is the source of all?]
> (I have based my translations from the work of K M Ganguly)
> The second quotation of Shankara is from Mbh 12.338.2, the complete
> verse being -
> वैशम्पायन उवाच|| बहवः पुरुषा लोके साङ्ख्ययोगविचारिणाम् | नैतदिच्छन्ति
> पुरुषमेकं कुरुकुलोद्वह ||२||
> [Vaisampayana says, those who follow Samkhya and Yoga consider
> purushas as many. They dont think there is a single purusha]
> Shankara considers the above position of Samkhyas and Yogins as
> pUrva-paksha, which will be refuted in the subsequent sections of the
> Mahabharata itself.
> The third quotation of Shankara is from the Mbh 12.338.3 -
> बहूनां पुरुषाणां च यथैका योनिरुच्यते | तथा तं पुरुषं विश्वं
> व्याख्यास्यामि गुणाधिकम् ||३||
> [In the same manner in which the many Purushas are said to have one
> origin in the Supreme Purusha, it may be said that this entire
> universe is identical with that one Purusha of superior attributes.]
> (Now, before we come to Shankara's 4th quotation, we need to
> understand in what context it occurs, so I will explain the context.)
> Vaisampayana then goes on to relate a narrative about Brahma's
> instructions to his son Shiva, in this context. It is clearly
> specified in this section that Shiva is the son of Brahma.
> Mbh: 12.338.8 -
> अत्राप्युदाहरन्तीममितिहासं पुरातनम् | ब्रह्मणा सह संवादं त्र्यम्बकस्य
> विशां पते ||८||
> [In this connection is cited the old narrative of the discourse
> between Brahma, O king, and the Three-eyed Mahadeva.]
> Mbh: 12.338.11 -
> अथ तत्रासतस्तस्य चतुर्वक्त्रस्य धीमतः | ललाटप्रभवः पुत्रः शिव
> आगाद्यदृच्छया ||११|| आकाशेनैव योगीशः पुरा त्रिनयनः प्रभुः ||११||
> [While the four-faced Brahma of great intelligence was seated there,
> his son Mahadeva, who had sprung from his forehead encountered him one
> day in course of his wanderings through the universe. In days of yore,
> the Three-eyed Siva endued with puissance and high Yoga, while
> proceeding along the sky, beheld Brahma seated on that mountain and,
> therefore, dropped down quickly on its top.]
> In the above, Shiva is called as lalATaprabhavaH putraH - the son who
> arose from the forehead of Brahma. This is also confirmed by the next
> few verses, where Shiva pays respects to Brahma, by touching his feet.
> Mbh: 12.338.12-15 -
> ततः खान्निपपाताशु धरणीधरमूर्धनि | अग्रतश्चाभवत्प्रीतो ववन्दे चापि पादयोः
> ||१२||
> तं पादयोर्निपतितं दृष्ट्वा सव्येन पाणिना | उत्थापयामास तदा प्रभुरेकः
> प्रजापतिः ||१३||
> उवाच चैनं भगवांश्चिरस्यागतमात्मजम् | स्वागतं ते महाबाहो दिष्ट्या
> प्राप्तोऽसि मेऽन्तिकम् ||१४||
> कच्चित्ते कुशलं पुत्र स्वाध्यायतपसोः सदा | नित्यमुग्रतपास्त्वं हि ततः
> पृच्छामि ते पुनः ||१५||
> [With a cheerful heart he presented him before his progenitor and
> worshipped his feet. Beholding Mahadeva prostrated at his feet, Brahma
> took him up with his left hand. Having thus raised Mahadeva up,
> Brahma, that puissant and one Lord of all creatures, then addressed
> his son, whom he met after a long time, in these words. "The Grandsire
> said, 'Welcome art thou, O thou of mighty arms. By good luck I see
> thee after such a long time come to my presence. I hope, O son, that
> everything is right with thy penances and thy Vedic studies and
> recitations. Thou art always observant of the austerest penances.
> Hence I ask thee about the progress and well-being of those penances
> of thine!']
> The discussion between Brahma and his son Shiva progresses and Brahma
> explains the meaning of Purusha to Shiva. The discussion continues
> into the next chapter (here is where we will find the 4th quotation
> from Shankara).
> Mbh 12.329.1-5
> ब्रह्मोवाच||
> शृणु पुत्र यथा ह्येष पुरुषः शाश्वतोऽव्ययः | अक्षयश्चाप्रमेयश्च
> सर्वगश्च निरुच्यते ||१||
> न स शक्यस्त्वया द्रष्टुं मयान्यैर्वापि सत्तम | सगुणो निर्गुणो विश्वो
> ज्ञानदृश्यो ह्यसौ स्मृतः ||२||
> अशरीरः शरीरेषु सर्वेषु निवसत्यसौ | वसन्नपि शरीरेषु न स लिप्यति कर्मभिः
> ||३||
> ममान्तरात्मा तव च ये चान्ये देहसञ्ज्ञिताः | सर्वेषां साक्षिभूतोऽसौ न
> ग्राह्यः केनचित्क्वचित् ||४||
> विश्वमूर्धा विश्वभुजो विश्वपादाक्षिनासिकः | एकश्चरति क्षेत्रेषु
> स्वैरचारी यथासुखम् ||५||
> (The fourth quotation from Shankara comprises the verses 4 and 5
> above. These are the words of Brahma addressed to his son Shiva).
> ['Brahma said,--'Listen, O son, as to how that Purusha is indicated.
> He is eternal and immutable. He is undeteriorating and immeasurable.
> He pervades all things. 1 O best of all creatures, that Purusha cannot
> be seen by thee, or me, or others. Those that are endued with the
> understanding and the senses but destitute of self-restraint and
> tranquility of soul cannot obtain a sight of him. The Supreme Purusha
> is said to be one that can be seen with the aid of knowledge alone.
> Though divested of body, He dwells in every body. Though dwelling,
> again, in bodies, He is never touched by the acts accomplished by
> those bodies. He is my Antaratma (inner soul). He is thy inner soul.
> He is the all-seeing Witness dwelling within all embodied creatures
> and engaged in marking their acts. No one can grasp or comprehend him
> at any time. The universe is the crown of his head. The universe is
> his arms. The universe is his feet. The universe is his eyes. The
> universe is his nose. Alone and single, he roves through all Kshetras
> (Bodies) unrestrained by any limitations on his will and as he likes.]
> The discussion continues and a few verses later, Brahma reveals that
> the Purusha is Narayana -
> Mbh: 12.329.14
> तत्र यः परमात्मा हि स नित्यं निर्गुणः स्मृतः | स हि नारायणो ज्ञेयः
> सर्वात्मा पुरुषो हि सः ||१४||
> [The truth is that he who is the Supreme Soul is always divested of
> attributes. He is Narayana. He is the universal soul, and he is the
> one Purusha.]
> Thus, Brahma reveals to his son Shiva that Narayana is the supreme
> Purusha and the Atman of all. Since Shankara quotes this incident from
> both these chapters (328 and 329 of Shanti parva), these incidents are
> not interpolations as they have been authenticated by the great
> Shankara himself, who stands in greatness, next only to
> Krishna-Dvaipayana (vyasa).
> Thus, this is another instance in the Mahabharata, where Vishnu has
> been praised as the Vedantic brahman.
> Regards
> Gayatri
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