[Advaita-l] For Shankara, Vishnu, etc. are only illusory forms of Brahman

sreenivasa murthy narayana145 at yahoo.co.in
Mon Jul 10 08:47:24 EDT 2017

Dear Sri Subramanian,Please permit me to quote mantra 3-9-23 of Bruhadaranyaka upanishad 
which reads as follows :
    ESha ta AtmAntaryAmamRutO^tO^nyadArtaM ||
RugvEda says : EkaM sat viprA bahudA vadanti ||
    How many texts one and commentaries upon them should one study to understand/realize the thought position as pointed out in the above mantra? How many mathematics text books one should study to know that 3x2=6? Is not one text enough?
With respectful namaskars,Sreenivasa Murthy

      From: V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
 To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>; Advaitin <advaitin at yahoogroups.com> 
Cc: V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
 Sent: Monday, 10 July 2017 3:11 PM
 Subject: [Advaita-l] For Shankara, Vishnu, etc. are only illusory forms of Brahman
For Shankara, Vishnu, etc. are only illusory forms of Brahman

For Shankara, Brahman is the Jagatkāraṇam, and not any finite deity which
is subject to vastupariccheda doṣa.  In other words, if he jagatkāraṇam is
held to be the deity Vishṇu, he will be different from Shiva and Brahma and
everything else in creation.  This will limit Vishnu on the basis of
object: this is vastuparicchedam.

In the VSN bhashya Shankara has said, with regard to the trimurtis:

  1. रजोगुणं *समाश्रित्य* विरिञ्चिरूपेण…
  2. तमोगुणम् *आस्थाय *स रुद्रात्मना..
  3. सत्त्वगुणम् *अधिष्ठाय* भूतानि

Now notice the three lyabanta avyayas Shankara has used that I have
underlined: All the three words mean the same: 1. By resorting to, 2. By
standing in it, literally, or ‘firmly taking up’ and 3. By keeping it as
the basis. And in all the three cases, the lyabanta applies, relates, to
Viṣṇu, as Brahman, only, ekakartṛkatvam. The characteristic of lyabanta or
ktvānta avyaya is this 'ekakartṛtaktam'. There are two acts, in sequence,
performed by the same person:It denotes that A, upon doing xxxx, does yyyy.
Aassume a guṇa and perform an act.  Viṣṇu, by resorting to the three gunas
is engaging in the three acts. None can break the above grammar rule and
show any other anvaya to those sentences. And he does this not by using
Rudra and Brahma as instruments, but *as themselves*. This tṛtīyā vibhakti
is called ‘itthambhāve’. One example where Shankara uses this form of the
instrumental case is the Taittiriya bhāṣya for the upanishadic words:
‘brahmaṇā vipaściteti’. The context and meaning there is: The Atmajnāni, in
Advaita, is Brahman itself. The Upanishad says: सोऽश्नुते सर्वान् कामान्
सह, ब्रह्मणा विपश्चितेति. While this sentence can mean: that jnani will
enjoy all bhogas *along with* Brahman (brahmaṇā saha) (as Dvaitins
interpret it), in advaita there are no two entities in mokṣa. So, Shankara
uses that instrumental case in which Brahman is used in the sentence as: *As
Brahman*, that is, being non-different from Brahman, he enjoys all bhogas.
For the how and what ‘enjoyment’ here means, one can look into the bhashya.
The point that is made here, in this VSN context is: Vishnu *as Rudra* and *as
Brahmā* engages in the respective acts. As for himself, there is no need to
mention as it is popular that Vishnu is one among the trimurtis, and hence
Shankara does not use the tṛtīyā. The pronoun ‘sa’ used by the bhāṣhyam
only in respect of Rudra, is to be applied in the other two cases too. It
is for any intelligent reader,to supply it along with the tṛtīyā ṭhere and
understand the bhāṣyam. Thus, the one Brahman, *as the trimurtis*, engages
in those acts, with the necessary guṇas. Shankara nowhere says here ‘as the
inner self’. Rudrātmanā does not mean ‘as the inner self of Rudra’ but ‘*as
Rudra*’ as I have explained above ('itthambhāve tṛtīyā).

This is beautifully explained by Sridhara swamin in the Bhagavata
commentary 2.10.40,42,43:

*sa vācya-vācakatayā bhagavān brahma-rūpa-dhṛknāma-rūpa-kriyā dhatte
sakarmākarmakaḥ paraḥ*

*That Lord, taking upon the form of Brahmā.....*

sa evedaṁ jagad-dhātā
bhagavān dharma-rūpa-dhṛk
puṣṇāti sthāpayan viśvaṁ

He, the Personality of Godhead, as the maintainer of all in the universe,
appears in different incarnations after establishing the creation, and thus
He reclaims all kinds of conditioned souls amongst the humans, the
nonhumans and the demigods.

*tataḥ kālāgni-rudrātmā yat sṛṣṭam idam ātmanaḥsanniyacchati tat kāle
ghanānīkam ivānilaḥ*Thereafter, at the end of the millennium, the Lord
Himself in the form of Rudra, the destroyer, will annihilate the complete
creation as the wind displaces the clouds.

The commentary of Sridhara Swamin for the above two verses:

*ब्रह्मरूपेण* स्रष्टृत्वमुक्त्वा *विष्णुरूपेण* पालकत्वमाह ।.....*रुद्ररूपेण*
संहर्तृत्वमाह ..। [After having stated the creatorship *as Brahmā, *the
sustainership* as vishnu *is being stated*.*]

This is very clear. What Shankara has said in the VSN Bhashya is exactly
this. In fact  in the Praśnopanishad 2.9 bhashya too Shankara employs this
itthambhāve tṛtīya only:

किंच, इन्द्रः परमेश्वरः त्वं हे प्राण, *तेजसा वीर्येण* रुद्रोऽसि संहरन्
जगत् । स्थितौ च परि समन्तात् रक्षिता पालयिता ; परिरक्षिता त्वमेव जगतः *सौम्येन
रूपेण*. The construct of the mantra itself is such, in the case of rudra it
says tejasā. ‘You, O Prāna, are Rudra, destroying the worlds.’ Shankara
follows exactly the construct and applies it to the rakṣaṇa act too even
though the mantra just said: परिरक्षिता without even specifying ‘as
whom/what’. ‘You alone are the protector/preserver of the world as the
benign-form (ed Viṣṇu): soumyena *rūpeṇa*.’ The reference is to Vishnu is
unmistakable. It is not meant or said by the mantra that Prāṇa is a
different entity and Rudra and the unnamed Viṣṇu are different entities.
Thus, Shankara explicitly uses the suffix 'rūpeṇa' with respect to Vishnu
as well, as he has done in the case of Rudra. Moreover, Anandagiri
clarifies there: विष्ण्वादिरूपेण [in the forms such as Vishnu].  Thus, for
the Upanishad and Shankara, Vishnu is just one of the many forms in the
cosmos that Brahman takes for the purposes of creation, etc.

It is at this juncture that the Bhagavatam itself says that there is no
true doership for Brahman; it is only stated as an adhyāropa in the śāstra
only with the view to negate it: pratiṣedhārtham. Such being the case, why
would Brahman really do anything by itself or cause anything to be done by
the agency of anyone else? If it considers really anything/anyone as
'other', then it ceases to be Brahman, for that very consideration limits
it: vastupariccheda.

This is a further confirmation of the Nr.Ut.Tā.Upanishad which teaches that
the trimurtis are only illusory creations of Brahman through the agency of
māyā. Shankara has very clearly elucidated this.

Om Tat Sat
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