[Advaita-l] All gods are but forms of Brahman - Shankara

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Apr 17 06:40:21 EDT 2019

All gods are but forms of Brahman - Shankara

Shankara, in the HarisharaNaaShTakam, says in the very opening verse:


ध्येयं वदन्ति शिवमेव ही केचिदन्ये
शक्तिं गणेशमपरे तु दिवाकरं वै ।
रूपैस्तु तैरपि विभासि यतस्त्वमेकस्-

तस्मात्त्वमेव शरणं मम शङ्खपाणे ॥ १॥

// Some say only Shiva is to be meditted upon, others hold Shakti and yet
others Ganesha and still others Divakara.  But since the One, You, Shankha
PaaNin (Vishnu) are appearing in all these forms of deities  , my refuge is
Thee alone.//

In this verse we see Shankara holding Vishnu as the Brahman that appears as
all deities and thereby non-different from these. Hence alone he says that
meditating on you will not contradict non-meditating on any of the other
deities. Also, the meditating on the other deities is also not
contradictory since they are all admitted to be but forms of Vishnu,

Shankara's strong message of abheda is evident in the above verse.

The other point the verse brings out is that five deities, out of six, from
the Shanmata-s: Shiva, Amba (Shakti), Ganesha and Divkara and Vishnu. Only
Skanda is not named here.  The five, without Skanda, form the Panchayatana
worship set.

In this verse of the same text:

नीचोऽपि पापवलितोऽपि विनिन्दितोऽपि
ब्रूयात्तवाहमिति यस्तु किलैकवारम् ।
तं यच्छसीश निजलोकमिति व्रतं ते

तस्मात्त्वमेव शरणं मम शङ्खपाणे ॥ ७॥

Shankara is very clearly alluding to the Ramayana verse: “sakrudeva
prapannAya tavAsmi iti cha yAchate; abhayam sarvabhUtEbhyo dadAmyetad
vratam mama.. occurring in the context of Vibhishana sharanaagati.  The
Lord says:  Even if once someone were to say 'O Lord, I am Yours', I shall
grant him freedom from fear from all creatures. This is my vow.'  Shankara
says: To such a one you give your Loka, that is, your own true nature,

This, again, is in tune with the opening verse of the Shatashloki of

दृष्टान्तो नैव दृष्टः त्रिभुवन-जठरे सद्गुरोर्-ज्ञान-दातुः
स्पर्शश्चेत्-तत्र कल्प्यः स नयति यदहो स्वर्णतां अश्मसारम् ।
न स्पर्शत्वं तथापि श्रित-चरण-युगे सद्गुरुः स्वीय-शिष्ये
स्वीयं साम्यं विधत्ते भवति निरुपमस्-तेन वाऽलौकिकॊऽपि ॥ (१)
“There is nothing in all the three worlds that can be compared to the
Sadguru, who imparts Gnana. The philosopher’s stone may be considered for
comparison, as it transforms a piece of iron into gold (in the same way in
which Guru transforms an ordinary disciple into Gnani).  But this
comparison is not apt because while the Sadguru *bestows equality with
himself *on his disciple, who has taken refuge in his twin feet (the
disciple turns into Sadguru himself), the philosopher’s stone cannot render
a piece of iron into another philosopher’s stone. Hence Sadguru is beyond
comparison and out-of -the-world in glory.”

Om Tat Sat

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list