[Advaita-l] Is vishnu a Jeeva?

Kaushik Chevendra chevendrakaushik at gmail.com
Fri Sep 23 13:55:41 EDT 2022

A shaiva(apparently an advaitin) claims that shankara considered vishnu to
be a jiva. Ironically we have the vaishnavas claiming the other side and
shaivas claiming this. Both unable to see the high view of
bagavan shankaracharya.
 He writes-


Supporting the above point, Sayanacharya in his Purusha sukta bhashya says
that positions of Samashti Jivas like Prajapati/Hiranyagarbha (Brahma) and
Virat (Vishnu) can be obtained by different sadhanas.


My response-

   - Its well known that isvaras position cannot be attained through some
   sadhana or upasana. Acharya has clearly said in bsb that whatever power a
   jiva attains through sadhana its dependent on isvara only. Its also very
   clear that the power of creation is never given to jiva as stated by
   - So is vishnu isvara?
   - Acharya has already stated that narayana is "adi kartha" in his gita
   bhasya. While its true that Narayana is used to denote nirguna isvara only.
   - Then in preface to gita he writes “आदि कर्ता नारायणाख्यो विष्णुः
   भौमस्य Braahmanaha Braahmanasya च अभिरक्षणार्थं देवक्यां वसुदेवादंशेन
   कृष्णः किल संबभुव”
   - (The first cause of universe Vishnu who is called Narayana ,in order
   to protect braahmanaas & braahmanatvam was born as Krishna to Devaki &
   Vasudeva) thus upholding the paratatvam of Vishnu).
   - So its apparent that 'narayana"(nirguna isvara) who is adi kartha has
   come as devaki putraa. In the gita 6.1 acharya shankara says
   Vishnu(krishna only because it's Krishnas answer to arjunas question) is
   the lord of all beings starting from blade of grass to brahma. So even if
   it's said that he came through brahma it can be assumed as just a
   manifestation like rudra has come form eye brows of brahma(satapatha
   - Also acharya says he is lord of "sarva butha" agreeing with Krishnas
   statment in gita 9.11.
   - But it appears as acharya has identified vishnu as Virat(a Jeeva). The
   answer has to be provided so that it doesn't contradict gita and other
   bhasyas of acharya otherwise it would mean he had conflicting views.
   - One of the answer given is that Vishnu purana says that lord vishnu is
   brahma at creation and Rudra for destruction. As hiranyagarbha is Jeeva, it
   can be understood that its through the power of isvara he creates and not
   that Rudra and vishnu are jeevas.
   - Same is the case with Virat. He is vishnu because his power too
   depends on isvara(Narayana).
   - Hence holding Narayanas state as attainable is ridiculous and veda

Shaiva writes-

"Shankara also says Vishnu is a samashti aupādhika devata who has a
material body.

एष देवो विष्णुरनन्तः प्रथमशरीरी त्रैलोक्यदेहोपाधिः सर्वेषां
भूतानामन्तरात्मा । स हि सर्वभूतेषु द्रष्टा श्रोता मन्ता विज्ञाता
सर्वकरणात्मा ॥

This god Vishnu or Ananta, is the first embodied existence with material
form, one with the three worlds as his upādhi and is the self of all beings
(pancha bhūta-s). He is the seer, hearer, etc. in all beings."

   - My response-
   - Here upon close verification we can see that here acharya has
   identified him with virata Purusha who has come through Viraj who has sun
   and moon as his eyes etc. And its isvara alone who is sakshi in every
   being. And acharya has identified vishnu as such.
   - And saying Narayana is a samadhi devata is not right. Why?
   - In gita Krishna says that " I know the past, present and future" in
   7.26 Indicating sarvajnata.
   - Further in 7.14 acharya says- "7.14 ,since; esa, this, aforesaid;
   daivi, divine; Maya mama, of Mine, of God, of Visnu, which (Maya) is My
   -  Acharya has above clearly said the Maya is of god vishnu. One might
   cleverly say that vishnu is Nirguna. Not so, here acharya uses "Maya
   mama" here "mama" is Krishna only as he is the speaker. So vishnu is
   controller of Maya. Every advaitin knows the control of Maya rests with
   isvara alone.
   - Hence both sarvajnata and control of Maya rests with isvara alone and
   he is Krishna.

He continues
"Narayanashrama (12 CE), an Advaita Vedantin who was co-disciple of Swami
Vidyaranya's guru Shankarananda has written Dipikas on 4-5 Vedāntic Shaiva
Upanishads from Atharvaveda namely Katharudra upanishad, Atharvarshika
Upanishad, Atharvarshira Upanishad etc: which says Lord Vishnu and his
existence (abode/Vaikuntha) is non-eternal (just like how Shankara
maintained his stance in SVSSS) and is subjected to destruction"

My response -

   - There is nothing called "Shaiva upanishads". Such names are given by
   - By the above stupid logic, we have Narayana upanishad saying there was
   no shiva and brahma and only Narayana existed. And dont argue that
   its Nirguna Narayana only. If so why doesn't the Shruthi quote vishnu in
   the list of devatas who weren't existing.
   - What our Shaiva friend hasn't recognised is that even Rudra won't have
   his form at the end of the pralaya according to Advaita. Only Nirguna
   isvara is present.
   - And going by this shaivas logic  vidyaranaya acharya has
   quoted Narasimha tapaniya upanishad in his panchadasi. Which says all the
   names of Rudra,umapati etc refer only to Narasimha swamy. Going by this
   logic Rudra can be taken to mean only vishnu. And dont argue that Narasimha
   is Shankara. Not in a single purana has Shankara taken the form of "half
   lion and half man". Ironically he denies the upanishad.
   - What this person fails to understand is that Shankaracharya in
   his vsn bhasya has already stated all the names of vishnu apply to Rudra
   and Rudra to vishnu. Only a true advaitin can see this and understand its
   - Not only Vaikunta but also his favourite Kailasha is mithya and is
   - Madhusudhana acharya has already said that lord Narayan exists above
   brahma in his bhasya. If you choose to ignore our shistas, it is your
   ignorance. What logic can be expected from people who think shiva spoke
   the bagvad gita through Krishna?
   - Finally statments such as vishnu being a Jeeva is veda virudha,
   sampradaya virodha. Such secretarian beliefs aren't encouraged by our
   - One is reminded by bagavans words here-
   - avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣhīṁ tanum āśhritam
   paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto mama bhūta-maheśhvaram.
   - *fools deride the lord not **knowing** him to be the supreme isvara.*
   - *While fights of shiva supremacy and vishnu supremacy are for only the
   shaivas and **Vaishnavas , the advaitin **shouldn't** engage so. *
   - *Remembering* *Madhusudhan* *Saraswati** acharya and **Sridhar** swains
   statment that **Hari** and **hard** are **the same isvara. Who are lords
   of the world.*

*name** narayana*

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