[Advaita-l] Shankara's Māyā panchakam idea endorsed by other Advaitins

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Dec 15 22:27:43 EST 2017

In the Māyā panchakam is this verse:


विधिहरिहरभेदमप्यखण्डे बत विरचय्य बुधानपि प्रकामम्।
भ्रमयति हरिहरविभेदभावानघटितघटनापटीयसी माया।।५।।

Alas! Maya (माया) makes the impossible possible. It creates the division of
Brahmadeva (ब्रह्मदेव), Visnu (विष्णु), and Rudra (रुद्र) even in the
undivided Brahman. It indeed deludes even the scholars such that they
practice devotion divided between Visnu (विष्णु) and Rudra (रुद्र).

The Upanishads present the Reality clearly as akhanda vijatiya sajatiya
svagata bheda rahitam (अखण्ड विजातीय सजातीय स्वगत भेद रहितम्), free from
divisions in terms of those obtaining between different classes, free from
divisions as are seen between those of the same class, and free from
individual divisions that may exist within the same entity. Unfortunately,
even scholars are not only confused but also totally deluded regarding
this. Some of them subscribe to the devotion of Vi.s.nu as opposed to
Rudra, and vice versa. “Worship this god,’ ‘No, worship that god.’ Vedanta
is above all such divisions. In the Brahmasutras, we do not find even one
word that supports such division. Those who pursue or promote devotion
steeped in division are not philosophers; they are mere theologians and
totally deluded. They simply don’t know the truth. They cannot ever know
the truth either, because their minds are deeply indoctrinated into
falsehood. There is another kind of division in which the devotee and God
are considered to be ever separate. They say that even to think of oneness
between the individual and the Godhead is blasphemy. Such a formulation of
extreme duality is against the spirit of the Upanishads. The truth of
oneness can only be gained through abiding in one’s own inner being.

This idea of Shankara is based on the words of Vedavyāsa:
Quite interestingly, the non-shruti scripture too, sometimes offers the
correct position, voicing the Shruti-stand. Shankara cites verses that
teach non-difference across the tri-mūrtis and the identity, abheda, of
Hari and Hara, by bringing out the criticism of upholding the distinction
across the three forms and also by extolling the vision of non-difference.
Here is a sample that Shankara cites in the VSN Bhāṣya:

Two seminal verses from the Bhaviṣyottara purāṇa in the introduction to the

Maheśvara (Śiva) says:

विष्णोरन्यं तु पश्यन्ति ये मां ब्रह्माणमेव वा ।

कुतर्कमतयो मूढाः पच्यन्ते नरकेष्वधः ॥

[Those fools who, devoid of proper thinking, consider Me and Brahmā as
different from Viṣṇu, will be baked in the lowly hells.]

ये च मूढा दुरात्मानो भिन्नं पश्यन्ति मां हरेः ।

ब्रह्माणं च ततस्तस्माद् ब्रह्महत्यासमं त्वघम् ॥

[Those fools, wicked ones, by seeing Me and Brahmā as different from Hari
are committing the heinous sin of brahmahatyā.]

One can recall a similar verse in the Śrīmadbhāgavatam (Dakṣayajña section)
as said by Viṣṇu: such jiva-s will not attain liberation.

Clearly, such verses of the scripture are never a favorite of non-advaitins.

Sureshvaracharya has also reiterated the non-difference of the trimūrti-s:
यः पृथिव्यामितीशोऽसावन्तर्यामी जगद्गुरुः ।
हरिर्ब्रह्मा पिनाकीति बहुधैकोऽपि गीयते ॥

[The Br.Up. 'he who, stationed in the pṛthvī devatā impels the
mind-body-organs of that devatā....' who is the antaryāmī, jagadguru, even
though one, is variously spoken of as Hari, Brahmā and Pinākī (Śiva).]

Anandagiri: कथं श्रुत्यवष्टम्भेन ईश्वरस्य कारणत्वं, मूर्तित्रयस्य इतिहासादौ
सर्गस्थितिलयेषु यथायोगं कर्तृत्वश्रुतेः, अत आह । यः पृथिव्यामिति । प्रकृतो
हि ईश्वरः स्वरूपेण एकोऽपि मूर्तित्रयात्मना बहुधा उच्यते पृथिव्यादौ तस्यैव
अन्तर्यामित्वेन स्थितिश्रुतेः, न च तद्विरोधे पुराणादिप्रामाण्यं
सापेक्षत्वेन दौर्बल्यादिति भावः । स पूर्वेषां गुरुरितिन्यायेन अन्तर्यामी
इत्यस्य व्याख्या जगद्गुरुरिति ।

Anandagiri says: How is it that while Isvara  is the jagatkāraṇam according
to the Shruti,  the itihāsa, etc. say that there is the causehood as
appropriately assigned to the trimūrti-s in creation, sustenance and
dissolution? [the idea is: while the shruti says Brahman, Ishvara, is the
jagatkāraṇam, we find the itihāsa, purāna, etc. distributing that to three
different entities functionally?] The above verse of Sureshvara is
answering this question: Even though Ishwara is one only, he is spoken of
as many, Hari, Brahmā, Pinākī. Why is it that Ishwara is admitted to be one
only? Since it is one Ishwara alone (not many) that is taught in the shruti
as the antaryāmin. If the purāṇa-s, etc. say something different (three
different individuals performing distinct functions), then since these
texts are dependent on the Shruti for their prāmāṇya, they do not enjoy the
status of the shruti; they are durbala, weak, only when they say something
contradictory to the Shruti. Since He, Ishwara, is the Guru of everyone
(including devatā-s) this antaryāmin, Ishwara, alone gets the epithet of

This statement of Sureshwara and the explanation of Anandagiri tell us
clearly that the idea of classification of purāṇa-s as sāttivka, etc. is
shruti viruddha and not to be adhered to by Vedantins. This is because, as
Sureshwara says, all the three, Hari, Brahmā and Pinākī, are verily one
Ishwara, the antaryāmin, the jagatkāraṇam, with only different names, and
it is a case of 'one only, only spoken of as several entities.'  Even the
Guru is verily Ishwara, the jagatkāraṇam, antaryāmin.

It is like Vāmana, Trivikrama, Nṛsimha, Mādhava, are different names of
only one Viṣṇu, and not that they are distinct individuals.

We have another Advaitin, Sri Nṛsimhāśrama, the famous commentator of the
11 CE Advaitic work 'Sankṣepaśārīraka' of Sarvajñātman, opening his very
invocation thus:

यस्मिन्सत्यसुखानुभूतिमहिमन्यारोपिता वादिभि-
र्विष्णुः शंकर आत्मभूरितिभिदा तत्संनिधत्तां महः ॥
[....In that Infinite Truth, Bliss, native to one's Self, the difference
across Viṣṇu, Shankara and Brahmā is superimposed by disputants.]

The 16th CE author is very clear that such a difference is only
superimposed even by Vādins, who are not unlettered, by even scholars who
have the benefit of studying the scriptures. Even they, deluded by
ignorance, argue that one or the other deity alone is supreme.

Thus, we have Advaitins of all times, right from Shankara, Sureshwara,
Anandagiri, onwards, even Appayya Dikshita, etc. never upholding a real
difference, as done by non-advaitins, among the deities. Shankara says in
the BSB that Parameshwara, owing to his Will, takes māyic forms to bless
the aspirant. Thus all deities are only forms of Brahman.  No Advaitin of
any period can be claimed to support such trimūrti-differentiating views
that are against the Veda. These Acharyas can never be supportive of
Viṣṇu-alone superior idea.

Om Tat Sat

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