Understanding Advaita Vedanta
Clearing Accusations and Doubts
Updated on 2012
Part I, Page 10 - Clearing Accusations and Doubts
This is Page 10/10 of Part I.
This part attempts to clear doubts, accusations and correct misunderstandings.
Advaitins are taught to remain calm and neutral when someone verbally attacks them. Every sincere seeker practices his / her path with full faith and devotion. Personal attack can be ignored, but what if it someone attacks the very faith you are practicing? For new comers this will be quite a shock.
Vaishnavas wrongly accuse Adi Shankaracharya being a mayavadi and a hidden Buddhist.
They accuse of Advaita being non-vedic.
They incorrectly say that Avaita is maayaavaad, though it is brahmavaad (niraakaara and vivarta and ajaata vaad)
Some of them even go on to say that Adi Shankara was a demon who walked on earth and anyone following his teachings will be doomed.
Some even go further that followers of Shankara as "tyrannical people who burned down monasteries, destroyed cattle and killed women and children" - source Wikipedia article on Advaita Vedanta, refer to Dvaita --> search for 'kill' and you will find the above statement
The purpose of writing this article is that I tried to find the truth and had to spend much time to collect facts that conclude: Advaita, as taught by Adi Shankara is authentic and is consistent with Vedas, upanishads, Puranas and Bhagavad Gita.
Hitting back at accusers is avoided, as we are taught to feel compassion and not hatred. One cannot have lower animal emotions if one wants to progress in spirituality.
I just want to convey the correct understanding to fellow advaitins so that when anyone tries to defame or accuse Advaita or Adi Shankara, they know it’s a strawman. No one correctly practising Advaita, as taught by Adi Shankaracharya and his preceptors and vedic Rishis will be doomed, in fact, he will be freed from the miserable cycle of birth and death and will sit on the pinnacle of truth.
Table Of Contents
Updated on 2012
A Note to Readers
Pranams. Before beginning this section, I would like to request readers to understand some facts. The very purpose of spirituality and of Upadesha-s is to uproot Ego. An Upadesha is anything which is done or said with the intention of lifting a disciple to the highest truth. Kanchi Paramacharya says, an upadesha can be maun (silence), a mantrOpadesha (initiating disciple by giving a mantra), sparshadikshA (touching a disciple and blessing him), smaraNadikshA (remembering disciple from distance), rising kundalini of disciple, imparting spiritual instruction or even a prayer by Guru for disciple to help him rise above ocean of samsAra. True saints do not speak ill of anyone, nor do they teach something and live a different life. Their life itself is a teaching, an updesha. As one progresses in spirituality, one becomes very soft from within. All paths, including advaita, depend upon God's grace. One who has surrendered to God and meditates on him with full faith, God gradually removes devotee's ego. God also makes one experience that the progress is only and only due to his grace and Guru's grace and a seeker has no control over his progress. As one progresses, lower emotions gets replaced by higher emotions. Intolerance, accusations, cannot dwell in any true saint, no matter whatever sampradAya he belongs to. I personally believe that none of AchArya-s have actually accused each other. This is because our shastra-s do not teach us to accuse. Gita does not teach us to accuse, hence an AchArya who writes commentaries Gita and other shruti-s cannot write anything negative, specially when Bhagavan in chapter 2, 55-59, describes sthitapraGYa laxaNa (qualities of a Self Realized person). AchArya-s praise their chosen deity and ask for one-pointed devotion, but themselves do not denigrate other deities. Unfortunately immature disciples, who are not free from lower emotions wrongly or purposefully interpret commentaries in convoluted way. In this process, they defame their own AcArya. My personal opinion is that to live in communal harmony, it is best to adopt nAhI nindA nyAya, meaning not to criticize anyone. This does not mean one should not praise own sampradAya or chosen deity. If you are convinced, there is no need to read any further, as reading accusations might upset you. Even though I have attempted to answer them, still it will only increase discomfort, as one becomes aware that there are people who accuse our sampradAya and so we need to defend ourselves. There would be a permanent change in the behaviour, as now you have passed through a through patch. In this context, if you are 'Mind your own business' type, it is better not to read any further. Feel Compassion for accusers, pray to God to show them correct way and the truth and move on. Good luck for your spiritual progress.
If you are the one who thinks that we should know about accusations by rival sampradAya-s and you should be prepared for them, then continue to read on.
For a laymen, it is very difficult to counter arguments. A laymen does not study tons of SAStra-s of their and rival sampradAya-s. I am such laymen. When I first read accusations, I was a bit hurt and spend a lot of time collecting information. Not being blessed by sharp intellect and retention power made things difficult for me. Lack of sanskrit knowledge added the difficulty, as laymen would not bother studying sanskrit and keep piling up layer and after layers. We do not study shastra-s for intellectual gain, but for our inner progress and Atmic upliftment. Hence meaning of verse is more important, which can be conveyed by reading proper translation and listening to audio / video discourses. But to defend our faith and sampradAya, one needs to dig a little deep, which is time consuming. It also derails us from our path. Continuous critical examination a verse or a canonical text like purana or a granth or independent works of a saint and thinking like a historian may result in losing one's bhakti. Lastly I would say that if I could manage and reply to accusations and general doubts, then, with little effort, anyone can do. Reading further is left to you, but as said, if you do not mind others speaking anything and do not take it to your heart, i.e. you are easy-to-go guy, then you may not read any further.
If you have taken resolve to read further, well, it's not that dangerous, then should I say, 'Let's begin' :)
Quoting Padma Purana to accuse Adi Shankara - Refutation of mAyAvAdam asatSAstraM Praccanam baudham uchyate
Vaishnava-s have raised logical objections to philosophy of Advaita. Logical objections raised by Vaishnavas are already successfully replied by
Adi Shankara's work vAkya Vritti in which Adi Shankara explains two mAhA vAkya-s - Tat Tvam Asi and Aham Brahmasmi. Adi Shankara's sutra bhAshya also refutes other systems.
VidyaraNya Swami in his work PanchAdasi, and Jivan Mukti Viveka
Sureshvaracharya's Naishkarmya Siddhi and
Madhusudan Saraswati's celebrated works Advaita Siddhi and Siddhanta Bindu, a commentary on Shri Adi Shankara's Dasa Sloki
Swami Sacchidanandendra Saraswati's critical Study 'Vedanta PrakriyA Pratyabhigya' (Method of Vedanta in English - A critical Study) and 'Shuddha Shankara PrakriyA BhAskara'
We will move to refuting accusations.
In the Padma Purana, there are verses wherein Shiva tells Parvati that he will appear in the age of Kali as a brahmana (Brahmin) to preach asat-sastra. Vaishnava-s Specially Gaudiya-Vaishnava-s use this verses to accuse our acharya and Advaita Vedanta.
mAyAvAdam asachchAstraM prachchannaM bauddha ucyate |
mayaivakathitaM devikalau brAhmaNa rUpiNA || Pa Pur 6.236.7 ||
The doctrine of MAyA (illusion) is a wicked doctrine (preaching false shastra) and said to be pseudo-Buddhist. I myself, of the form of a brAhmana, will proclaim it in Kali (age). (Padma PurANa, uttara-khaNDa, 6.236.7)
vedarthan maha-sastram mayavadam avaidikam
mayaiva kathitam devi jagatam nasakaranat || Pa Pur 6.236.11 ||
This powerful doctrine of Mayavada resembles the Vedas, but is by nature non-Vedic. O goddess, I propagate this philosophy in order to destroy the world. (Padma Purana 6.236.11)
For time being, we will consider these verses are authentic and not an interpolation as a result of hatred against Advaitins and Shankara.
Using these verses Vaishnava-s accuse our acharya and Advaita Vedanta.
They conclude that
Vaishnavas say that Lord Shiva will incarnate by the will or order of supreme personality of Godhead (Lord Krishna).
Lord Shiva will come to destroy the world and will spread mAyAvAda which is an asata shAstra and nothing but hidden Buddhism.
Vaishnava-s argue that, the Brahmin described in these verses is none other than Adi Shankaracharya.
Recently, reformists and ISKCON leaders also accuse that Shankara was biased with Brahmins.
Hence they accuse our acharya and Advaita as
Adi Shankara's Kevala Advaita is nothing but mAyAvAda. Hence, Adi Shankara was spreading Asat shastra and those who follow him will be doomed. Some even go on to say that he was demon who walked on earth.
Adi Shankara and his Grand Guru (Param Guru) Shri GauDapadAcharya were hidden Buddhists. Philosophy of ajAta vAda was adopted from a famous Buddhist NAgArjuna.
Adi Shankara's teachings are non-vedic.
There are many more accusations and objections. They are dealt later in this section.
We will take some logical arguments with relation to accusations.
1. None of the verses directly name Adi Shankaracharya.
2. Kaliyug (Kali Yuga) has not ended and so before it ends we cannot conclude that Shankara was teaching maayaavad. It’s too early to conclude anything before Lord Kalki appears. According to Brahma-vaivartana Purana, Kali Yuga will last for 10,000 years, which starts after Bhagavan Krishna left his physical body i.e. returned to Vaikuntha, which happened 5400 years ago. Hence, we are in later half of Kali Yuga. According to bhAgavat purANa, the age of kAlI is 432,000 years. Hence we are in first phase of kAlI yuga.
3. If Lord Shiva is given the task of misleading this world to begin it’s destruction, then why would other avatars, i.e. Vaishnav acharyas and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would incarnate after Adi Shankaracharya? If it is the will of God to destroy this world, then none can stop it. Krishna said that the whole Yadav dynasty will be whitewashed and Dvarka will be submerged under water. That’s what happened. None would stop this destruction. None could Stop Bhagavan Parashurama who killed kshatriyas for 21 generations.
4. varNA is by guNa but guNa is inherited by birth is accepted by all major acharya-s.
5. Atleast 3 Matts of Adi Shankara are build in NArAyaNa dham - Joshi Matt at Badrinath, Dwarka Matt at Dwarka and Puri Matt dedicated and build in memory of Jagannatha Puri. To add to it, Kanchikoti peetha is dedicated to KAmAkhyA Devi, Sharada matt, as the name indicates is dedicated to Sarada Devi. This sows that Adi Shankara was absolutely neutral and not against idol worship.
6. Devotional hymms composed by Shri Adi Shankara are proofs of him being a Vaishnav, a Shaiva, a Shakta all at a time by being an advaitin.
7. Siddhanta Shaiva-s do not believe in AvatarvAda. According to them, Shiva Does not take any avatAra. Shiva Appears and disappears, but does not take birth like Rama and Krishna. They do not believe that Adi Shankara was an Avatar of Lord Shiva. In support of their theory, they say that, if Adi Shankara was an Avatar of Shiva than who was Chandala (Chandala was Lord Shiva who appeared in disguise. After Adi Shankara knew his mistake, Lord Revealed his true form. Four dogs he carried, transformed into four veda-s). According to this theory, Adi Shankara cannot be accused of preaching mAyAvAda.
8. According to the legend, Adi Shankara's Guru was an avatar of Lord Vishnu's Shesha nAga. How can he teach asat shastra or mAyAvAda. GovindapAda, in his earlier avatar was Maharshi Patanjali. We have Adi Shankara's beautiful commentary of 28 verses on Patanjali Yoga Sutra-s
We will later talk about interpolations in Padma Purana, where the verses which categorizes different purANa-s are of dubious of being interpolations.
Lets explore related verses from Padma Purana for better understanding
To understand the verses targeted against us and our acharya, Lets analyze more verses i.e. 3.236.7 to 3.236.11 for better understanding and see if they point to our acharya Sri Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedanta.
mAyAvAdamasachchAstraMprachchannaMbauddha ucyate |
mayaivakathitaMdevikalaubrAhmaNarUpiNA || Pa Pur 6.236.7 ||
The doctrine of MAyA (illusion) is a wicked doctrine and said to be pseudo-Buddhist. I myself, in the form of a brAhmana, proclaimed it in Kali (age). (padma puraaNa, uttara-khaNDa, 236.7)
svakarmarUpaMtyAjyatvamatraivapratipaadhyate || Pa Pur 6.236.8 ||
It shows the meaninglessness of the words of the holy texts and is condemned in the world. In this (doctrine) only the giving up of one's own duties is expounded. (padma puraaNa, uttara-khaNDa, 236.8)
pareshajiivapAraikyaMmayAtupratipAdhyate || Pa Pur 6.236.9 ||
And that is said to be religiousness by those who have fallen from all duties. I have propounded the identity of the Highest Lord and the (individual) soul. (padma PuraaNa, uttara-khaNDa, 236.9)
brahmaNosyasvayaMmrUpaMnirguNaMvakshyate mayA |
sarvasyajagatopyatramohanAarthaMkalauyuge || Pa Pur 6.236.10 ||
mayaivakalpitaMdevijagatANAshakAraNAt || Pa Pur 6.236.11 ||
I stated this Brahman's nature to be qualityless. O goddess, I myself have conceived, for the destruction of the worlds, and for deluding the world in this Kali age, the great doctrine resembling the purport of the Vedas, (but) non-Vedic due to the principle of Maayaa (illusion) (present in it). (Padma PuRANa 6.236.10-11)
Lets analyze important words:
The doctrine of MAyA (mAyA vAdam asat SAstraM)
Advaita is not mAyAvAda, It is BrahmavAda. To understand this we will analyze our mahAvAkya-s
1. प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म Prajñānam brahma
Consciousness is Brahman - Rig Veda, Aitreya Upanishad 3.3
2. अहं ब्रह्मास्मि Aham brahmāsmi
I am Brahman - Yajur Veda, bruhadAraNyaka (Brihad-araNyaka) Upanishad - 1.4.10
3. तत्वमसि Tattvamasi - Tat Tvam Asi
That thou art - meaning That (Brahman) is you) - Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanishad - 6.8.7
4. अयमात्मा ब्रह्म Ayamātmā brahma
This Atman is Brahman - Atharva Veda, Mandukya Upanishad 2)
Nowhere in these mahAvAkya-s the word mAyA appears. Word Brahman appears in all the mahAvAkya-s. mAyA is not given importance, but it is Brahman that is given importance. We will understand later as why advaita vedanta is BrahmavAda. Since four mahAvAkyA-s are from four different upanishads, which are Jnana-kand, associated with four different veda-s, we can conclude that shruti teaches unity of Atman and Brahman. Earlier in section Understanding Advaita, we have studied that why concept of mAyA is important, why mAyA is talked too much (in the beginning) and that finally mAyA is neglected and renounced to enter into non-dual state.
All AcArya-s (including mAdhvAcArya) agree that there are two realities
1. Independent Reality - ISvara
2. Dependent Reality - Creation of ISvara
Advaita also accepts both these realities. The independent reality is called as Absolute reality and in reality, it is the only one which exists. The dependent reality is the one which is created by ISvara. It is relative reality. Advaita also accepts jIva and the world as real, but only on the plane relative reality. From absolute POV, only brahman exists. Since mAyA or it's creation, jIva bhAva is not experienced in nirvikalpa samAdhi, hence following the definition of real and unreal as per BG 2.16, we consider everything other than brahman as mithyA. Things are taken as negatively and mAyA, as ilusion is an overblown concept. mAyA is mithyA from absolute standpoint. From practical POV, we do feel it, hence it is not completely false.
Pseudo-buddhist (prachchannaM bauddha)
The doctrine shares some common terminology with Buddhism. Still it holds major difference. We will see it later in this section.
Of the form of Brahmana (Brahmin): (brAhmaNa rUpiNA )
It is true that Adi Shankara was born as a Brahmin. SanyAsin is above varNa. while taking sanyAsa, it is customary to drop all kAmya karma (sacrifices, rituals and so agni). When Adi Shankara went to his guru GovindapAda, his guru asked him his introduction. Adi Shankara did not say that he was Brahmin, but he expounded Advaitic verses describing the Brahman. This sloka-s are famous as dasa-sloki meaning ten verses.
In the above verse, it is said that Shiva in the form of Brahmana. This means that this avatar of Shiva will not take sanyas, but will preach asat shastra as a Brahmin. It should be noted that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was also eka-dandi sanyasin, while Vaishnava sanyasins are tri-dandi sanysins. This means that either Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a great Krishna Bhakta and an avatar of Bhakti, actually did not accused Adi Shankara and Advaita but were later interpolations by lesser evolved disciples. Even Jiva goswami and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu considered Sridhara Swami, who was a Rama Bhakta and an Advaitain as an authority on spiritual matters and his commentary on Srimad BhAgavatam should be revered by all.
It shows the meaninglessness of the words of the holy texts (shruti):
The great doctrine resembling the purport of the Vedas, (but) non-Vedic:
This is completely opposite to that taught by Sri Adi Shankara. As far as teaching brahma-vidya is concerned, Shruti, Smriti and Manudharma smriti teach us to renounce vedic rituals. Vedic rituals are done so that a person becomes fit to realise Brahman. Hence a sanyAsin renounces the very activity with the help of which he gained inner purity.
By the study of the Veda, by vows, by burnt oblations, by (the recitation of) sacred texts, by the (acquisition of the) threefold sacred science, by offering (to the gods, Rishis, and manes), by (the procreation of) sons, by the great sacrifices, and by (Srauta) rites this (human) body is made fit for (union with) Brahman - Manu Smriti 2.28
Adi Shankara in his sutra-bhAsya says, "PasvAdibhiscAviswsat' It means, "Human beings and animals have the same urges. They eat and sleep and copulate and, besides, the feelings of fear are common to both. What, then, is the difference between the two? it is adherence to dharma that distinguishes human beings from animals. Without dharma to guide him man would be no better than an animal. Bhagavan in Gita says the same thing. Adi Shankara revered veda-s as supreme authority. Paramacharya, Shri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati of Kanchi Kamakoti peetham, says that , Acharya (Adi Shankara) has commanded us to hold on to our old dharmic traditions and keep them alive.
It is noteworthy that an Advaitin SAyanAchArya with help from his brother VidyAraNya Swami has written full commentary on all 5 veda-s (with Krishna and Shukla Yajurveda as two). No other acharya of any sampradAya has accomplish this feat. Both eastern and western scholars uninanimously agree that SAyanAchArya's commentary is the most authentic.
It is a well known fact that our shastra-s are extant because of Adi Shankaracharya. How can a man, who is responsible for bringing back the vedic dharma and reviving the tradition alive be accused of teaching asat shastra? It is unfortunate that Vaishnava-s and other non-advaitins do not give him his due credit.
In this (doctrine) only the giving up of one's own duties is expounded.
And that is said to be religiousness by those who have fallen from all duties.
Adi Shankara in his Gita BhASya teaches us not to leave our svadharma. This is reflected in his commentary on verses 3.35, 4.13, 18.41 - 46,48 which talk about varNa dharma.
Lets talk them in brief w.r.t. Shankara BhASya
BG: 3.35: Doing svadharma, though done defectively is superior (sreyas) than performing another's (another varNa's) in a better way. Even death is better while engaged in sva-dharma, as compared to remaining alive while engaging in another (varNa's) duty.
BG 4.13 & 18.41: (Essence): varNa is by guNa, but guNa is inherited by birth.
BG 18.42-45 talk about duties of 4 varNa-s
BG18.46: A human being achieves success, merely in the form of the ability for steadfastness in Knowledge; by adoring, worshipping svakarmana, with his own duties stated above, as allotted to each caste
BG 18.48: O son of Kunti one should not give up the karma, duty to which one is born, which devolves from the very birth even though it be faulty,
VarNa by birth is also supported by Manusmriti. See verses 87-100 in Chapter 1. Also note that Sri RAmAnuja, Sridhara Swami, Keshav Kashmiri of Kumar VAishnav (NimbArkAcharya) also speak the same.
We will take another verse from Gita:
Bhagavan in Gita BG 18.66 says
सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज।
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः।।18.66।।
sarvadharmānparityajya māmēkaṅ śaraṇaṅ vraja.
ahaṅ tvā sarvapāpēbhyō mōkṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ..18.66..
18.66 Abandoning all forms of rites and duties, go to my refuge alone. I shall free you from all sins. (Therefore) do not grieve.
Adi Shankara in his Gita BhASya says,
18.66 Sarva-dharman, all forms of rites and duties: Here the word dharma (righteousness) includes adharma (unrighteousness) as well; for, what is intended is total renunciation of all actions, as is enjoined in Vedic and Smrti texts like, 'One who has not desisted from bad actions' (Ka. 1.2.24), 'Give up religions and irreligion' (Mbh. Sa. 329.40), etc.
In Taittiriya Bhasya, our acharya explains the importance of duties in Taittiriya Upanishad 1/11.
In simple words, TAi. Up. 1/11 Shankara BhaSya says, that Follow and practice Truth, follow dharma, do your duties properly. Just by performing vedic rites once, do not consider that karma kand is over for you. Keep doing karma kand and keep following smriti-s which are moral and ethical codes for harmonious living. Practice non-violence, speak truth, speak without hypocrisy, do not have a motive to harm others.
Let us take a little excerpt form Tai. Up. 1//11 BhaSya by Adi Shankara and his disciple SureSavarAcArya.
Sloka begins with - ‘वेदमनूत्व्याचार्योऽन्तेवासिनमनुशास्ति’ – ‘Vedamanoochyãchãryo’ntevãsinamanushãsti’ – ‘The teacher instructs the students who have completed their study of the Vedas’ (Taittireeya Upanishad: 1/11). He instructs them, ‘सत्यं वद। घर्मं चर। स्वाध्यायान् मा प्रमदः।’ ‘Satyam vada; dharmam chara; ...
Shankara Bhasya of Tai. Up. 1/11 with commentaries by Sureshvara and sayana (vidyaraNya) says
Duties briefly stated.
2, Speak the true. Follow Dharma.
Speak the true: give utterance to what them comest to know by proper evidence and what is worthy of utterance. And thou shalt follow Dharma, too. 'Dharma' here stands for duty in general, inasmuch as the several duties, such as truth-speaking, are particularized below.
The wise who know all Dharma lay down that truth - speaking consists in giving utterance to a thing as it is perceived, without hypocrisy or a motive to do injury.
The wise say that Dharma consists in the observance of Agnihotra and other works. (S).
Truth-speaking stands also for other virtues mentioned along with it, such as "harmlessness, truth, the abstaining from theft," etc.* 'Dharma' means Agnihotra and other sacrificial rites enjoined in the extant srutis. Jaimini has defined it thus; " Dharma is the thing taught in (the word of) command (Veda)"t Thus the two comprehensive sentences teach that all duties enjoined in the sruti and the smriti should be observed.
Duties never to be neglected.
On the principle that " Once done, the command of the scriptures has been observed," one may suppose that after a single performance of the works enjoined in the sruti and the smriti they may be abandoned. To prevent this supposition the sruti commands as follows …
For full commentary, refer his bhasya.
source: refer page 178
References from Gita and Tai. Up. Bhasyas clearly shows that Adi Shankara did not teach anything non-vedic or against dharma.
Is Advaita Non-Vedic?
Now let us try to understand that Advaita is vedic or not. Several quotes from Shastra-s both Smriti and Shruti are mentioned in next section Advaita in Shastras. Apart from this, earlier in Understanding Advaita, it was explained that Advaita is the only Vedantic branch which accepts full shruti and veda-s. It is also well known that Advaita accepts all 6 pramANa-s of KumArila BhaTTa school of pUrva mimAmsA. Vaishnava-s do not accept that Shiva is a Supreme God and Shaivas do not accept Krishna as Supreme God. Vaishnavas even go as far as downgrading the Status of Shiva as just a demi-god and in this claim they quote some verses from BhAgavatam and the quote from Gita in which Bhagavan talks about 'anya-devata'. They forget that all 18 purANa-s were written by Bhagavan Ved Vyas who is an avatar according to Bhagavatam. They also do not accept the verses from Bhagavatam and other purANa-s like pamda purANa, kurma purANa, Brahma purANa which says that there is no difference between Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Rudra). This means direct insult to Bhagavan veda vyas. If Bhagavan Ved Vyas has written 18 purANa-s then there must be some purpose behind them. Rejecting them on the basis of categorization (sattvik, rajasic and tamasic), as done in Padma Purana is nothign but childish. No Acharya is above Bhagavan Veda Vyas. It should also be noted that it was Bhagavan Veda Vyas who blessed Adi Shankara and extend his life for 16 more years to uproot adharma and teach the correct Shastra.
Rudra is mentioned in veda-s as veda-purusha, but Vaishnava-s do not accept it. Same is the case with Shaivas. They do not accept Vishnu or NArAyaNa as Ved-purusha. Shaktas believe that only Adi Shakti is supreme and all incarnation including Krishna and Rama come under Adi Shakti. Advaita is the only vedantic school which accepts all forms of God as supreme and gives equal status to them. It says they are all manifestations of NirguNa Brahman. Ishvara is not mAyA, but mAyApati i.e. controller of mAyA.
Advaita do not consider vedic rituals and Vedanta as opposite to each other, but considers them an important step for inner purification. Advaita also do not discard dvaita and idol worship. Advaita considers it as an important step for inner purification. Advaita only teaches that having divine vision of God is not the final state. It is Nirvikalp SAmAdhi. This is in accordance to Shruti and Smriti which teaches Brahma-vidya. Unlike other schools, Advaita correctly teaches that Brahman is supreme. Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1 says satyam, Jnanam Anantam Brahma. Adi Shankara in his bhasya teaches us that it is a definition of Brahman (brahmanah lakshanaartah vakyam)
Sri Ramanuja in Gita 13.13 interprets Brahman as individual soul, while Adi Shankara interprets Brahman in this verse as it should be - Supreme Brahman. It is unknown to me if Brahman is ever defined as Individual soul in Upanishads.
After careful studying of Shatra-s, it will be clear that it is only Advaita, as taught by our Acharya which fully complies with shruti and smriti. Advaita, and the teaching style of Adi Shankara is not of his own but is passed on to Adi Shankara by Guru-Shishya parampara. Acharya's method of teaching, adhyAropa apavAda, is the only traditional consistent method.
Acceptance of all six pramanas of Mimamsa
Unlike other non-advaita schools, Advaita accepts all 6 pramANa-s as prescribed by mimAmsA of KumArila Bhatta. The six pramANa-s are
"pratyaksa", "anumana", "upamana", "sabda" "arthapatti" and "anupalabdhi".
Ramanuja's qualified non-dualism accepts only three- pratyaksa, anumana and the Veda (sabda)
We need all types of Knowledge
We must make good use of our brain and mind. Indeed, we must make them sharp as if by frequent honing so that they will help us in finding the truth. Why did Sankara master all the sastras, all the arts, all the sciences, Sankara who thought the world was Maya? Why did he ascend the "sarvajna-pita" (seat of omniscience)?
I said Nyaya was also known as Tarka, "Anviksiki". We learn from the Sankara-Vijaya that the Acarya mastered Nyaya or Anviksiki, Kapila Maharsi's "Kapilam" (Sankhya), Patanjali's Yoga-sastra ("Patanjalam"), Kumarilabhatta's Mimamsa ("Bhatta-sastra").
Anviksikyaiksi tantre paracitiratula
Kapile kapi lebhe
Pitam Patanjalambhah paramapi viditam
Advaita embraces even those sastras that apparently do not speak about it. That is why I am speaking about all such sastras though I am called "Sankaracarya". Non-dualism inheres dualism, qualified non-dualism, Saivism, Vaisnavism and so on. It enfolds even those systems that are critical of it. Advaita does not state that other systems are totally false. If it opposes them it is only to the extent needed to counter their argument against itself. It concedes them the place they deserve.
Further Paramacharya says
The purpose of exalting a particular deity over the another is not to depreciate the latter. The underlying idea is that a person who worships his chosen god has unflinching faith in him and becomes totally devoted to him. Such exclusive devotion is called "ananyabhakti". The idea here, however, is not to regard other devatas as inferior to one's own chosen deity- an example of "nahi ninda nyaya".
Last message of Adi Shankara BhagavadpAda
Last Message or parting instructions of any saint is considered as extremely important. Adi Shankara at the request of his disciples gave instructions in 5 stanzas to his beloved disciples which are called as SopAna Panchakam or Updesha Panchakam
The first verse says
वेदो नित्यमधीयतां तदुदितं कर्म स्वनुष्ठीयतां
तेनेशस्य विधीयतां अपचितिः काम्ये मतिस्त्यज्यताम् ।
पापौघः परिधूयतां भवसुखे दोषोऽनुसन्धीयतां
आत्मेच्छा व्यवसीयतां निजगृाहात्तूर्णं विनिर्गम्यताम् ॥ १ ॥
Study the Veda every day; do properly the karma prescribed therein; through that (act), worship the Lord; give up the thought of doing an act with desire (for its fruit); shake off the group of sinful deeds; consider (mentally) the defect in worldly pleasure; strive for the desire (for the knowledge) of the Átmán (Self); get out of your home without delay.
From the above analysis, it can be safely concluded that neither our acharya Sri Adi Shankara nor his Advaita is non-vedic.
Adi Shankara - A Jagadguru
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Another Accusation on our acharya is that - Adi Shankara became Vaishnava during his last years.
Some also accuse Adi Shankara that though he was spreading Asat Shastra, in the end of his life, he become a Vaishnava and composed Bhaja Govindam. Bhaja Govindam was not his last composition. They miss the purpose and incident that let to spontaneous creation of beautiful hymm. Bhaja Govindam stress on surrender to the Lotus feet of Lord and on VairAgya (dispassion). This means that Adi Shankara was not against sAkAra upAsanA.
The first and the last composition of Adi Shankara is a proof that he taught Advaita from the beginning to end, yet he did not defamed or denigrated other paths. According to Swami Sacchidananadendra Sarasvati, Advaita was the only school which was extant during Adi Shankara Bhagavadpada's time. All schools agree on union of Jiva with Brahman as final release. They only differed in their approaches, which lead to same truth. Swamiji has written extensively in his work Shuddha Shankara Prakriya Bhaskara booklet Series.
First composition was Dasa sloki, which talks about Advaita. It shows the method of Neti-Neti. Madhusudana Saraswati wrote an extensive commentary called 'Siddhanta Bindu'. Last composition, Upadesa Panchakam. is also of Advaitic nature, giving step by step instructions from following injunctions of Veda-s to Self Realization.
Fourth verse of Dasasloki says
न साख्यं न शैवं न तत्पाञ्चरात्रं
न जैनं न मीमांसकादेर्मतं वा
तदेकोऽवशिष्टः शिवः केवलोऽहम् ॥४॥
There is no Sankhya nor Saiva, nor that Pancharatra  nor Jaina. The conception of the Mimamsaka and others does not exist. For, through the direct realisation of what is qualified, the Self is known as of the nature of the Absolutely Pure. The One, the Residue, the Auspicious, that Alone, am I. (4) Source
 Ramajuna and Madhva say that they follow PanchrAtra Vaishnavism
Second verse of Upadesha Panchakam is
saN^gaH satsu vidhIyataaM bhagavato bhaktirdR^iDhaa.a.adhIyataam.h .
shaantyaadiH parichIyataaM dR^iDhataraM karmaashu santyajyataam.h .
sadvidvaanupasR^ipyataaM pratidinaM tatpaadukaa sevyataam.h .
brahmaikaaxaramarthyataaM shrutishirovaakyaM samaakarNyataam.h ..
Form association with good; entertain firm devotion for the Lord; practise Ùánti (calmness of mind) and so on; give up at once the fast-binding karma (action); approach the good, wise person (for knowledge); serve (worship) his sandal (feet) every day; seek (from him knowledge of Brahman, symbolized by the single Syllable (Om); listen to the Vedánta-vakya dealing with Brahman.
Last verse of Upadesha Panchakam is
ekaante sukhamaasyataaM paratare chetaH samaadhIyataam.h .
puurNaatmaa susamIxyataaM jagadidaM tadbaadhitaM dR^ishyataam.h .
praakkarma pravilaapyataaM chitibalaannaapyuttaraiH shliShyataam.h .
praarabdhaM tviha bhujyataamatha parabrahmaatmanaa sthIyataam.h ..
Sit comfortably in a lonely (quiet) place; fix the mind on the Higher (Supreme) Self; seek the full (all-pervading) Átman within; consider this Universe as sublated by it; melt away (destroy) the effect of karma already done by dint of discriminating knowledge; get detached from future actions; go through the effect of karma which you have begun to experience here; finally remain (peacefully) in the exalted state of the Supreme Self (Para-brahman).
OM represents NirAkAra, NirguNa Brahman. No where in the first or last composition, our acharya tends to preach Vaishnava bhakti, specially in the form that we see today.
We can conclude that our beloved acharya never became Vaishnava.
BrihadAraNyaka upanishad says jIva is destroyed
vidyAraNya svAmI in panchdaSI 8.36 cites Br. Up. 2.4.12 and 4.5.13 by saying that yaGYAvAlkya taught to maitrI that jIva is destroyed after GYAna.
II-iv-12: As a lump of salt dropped into water dissolves with (its component) water, and no one is able to pick it up, but from wheresoever one takes it, it tastes salt, even so, my dear, this great, endless, infinite Reality is but Pure Intelligence. (The Self) comes out (as a separate entity) from these elements, and (this separateness) is destroyed with them. After attaining (this oneness) it has no more (individual) consciousness. This is what I say, my dear. So said Yajnavalkya.
IV-v-13: As a lump of salt is without interior or exterior, entire, and purely saline in taste, even so is the Self without interior or exterior, entire, and Pure Intelligence alone. (The Self) comes out (as a separate entity) from these elements, and (this separateness) is destroyed with them. After attaining (this oneness) it has no more (individual) consciousness. This is what I say, my dear. So said Yajnavalkya.
Sankara bhASya on above verses is worth reading for more clarity. Adi Sankara says that Parabrahman by association with panch-mahAbhUta comes to be known as jIva. jIva is like reflection of sun and moon is seen in water, similarly reflection (AbhAsa) of Brahman is known as jIva. When water is removed, the reflection vanishes and what remains is un-touched supreme brahman.
Shiva Gita, a part of Padma Purana teaches advaita, says jIva is destroyed
For more details, please visit here.
Sri Abhinava Nrisimha Bharati has written a wonderful Sanskrit commentary on Shiva Gita.
Sri Sri Paramasivendra Saraswati II, Guru of Sadashiva Brahmendra wrote a commentary on Shiva Gita
Shiva Gita is referred by Sadashiva Brahmendra of Kanchi Kamakoti Math.
Chapter 10 teaches Jiva Brahma Aikya. It says that Jiva is destroyed in 10.37, 10.38. Vaishnavas believe that Jiva is not destroyed even after liberation.
तत्तत्कर्मानुसारेण जाग्रभ्दोगोपलब्धये ।
इदं लिग्ङशरीराख्यमामोक्षान्न निवर्तते ॥ ३७ ॥
अपने किये उन कर्मो के अनुसार जाग्रतादि अवस्था में सुख-दुःख का साक्षात्कार जीव करता रहता है । सम्पूर्ण वृत्ति लिंगशरीर से उठती है । जब तक मोक्ष न हो, लिंगशरीर का नाश नहीं होता ।
According to the karma done in waking consciousness, one experiences pleasure and pain. all vrriti-s (thoughts arising in mind) arise due to ling sarira (jiva / subtle body). Until moksha is not achieved, linga sarira is not destroyed. (Shiva Gita 10.37)
आत्मज्ञानेन नष्टेनऽस्मिन्साविद्ये सशरीरके ।
आत्मस्वरुपावस्थानं मुक्तिरित्यभिधीयते ॥ ३८ ॥
जिस समय ज्ञान द्वारा जीव और ब्रह्म का भेद मिट जायेगा और अविद्या सहित इस लिंगशरीर का नाश हो जायेगा उस समय केवल आत्मा का अनुभव मात्र 'अहं ब्रह्मास्मि' इस स्वरूप में स्थिर होने से ही मुक्त होता है ।
Moment when, due to Jnana, the difference between Jiva and Brahman will be removed and avidya (ignorance) including ling sharira will be destroyed. At that time there will be the experience of only Atman in the form of 'I am Brahman' will be stabilized. Due to stabilizing or staying in this experience, one become mukta (free). (Shiva Gita 10.38)
Note: Definition of Ling Sarira is given in Shiva Gita 10.15, 10.16 and 10.17
नानाविध्यासमायुक्तो जीवत्वेन वसाम्यहम् ।
पच्चकर्मेन्द्रियाण्येव पच्च ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि च ।
मनोबुद्धिरहंकारश्चित्त वेति चतुष्टयम् ॥ १५ ॥
वयवः पच्च मिलिता यंति लिङ्गशरीरताम् ( लिग्ङशरीरताम् ) ।
तत्राविध्यारिकमायुक्तं चैतन्यं प्रतिबिम्बितम् ॥ १६ ॥
व्यावहारिकजीवस्तु क्षेत्रज्ञः पुरूषोऽपि च ॥ १७ ॥
अनेक प्रकार की अविध्या के साश्रय होकर जीवरूप से भी मैं ही निवास करता हूँ । पाँच कर्मेन्द्रियाँ और पाँच ज्ञानेन्द्रियाँ, मन, बुद्धि, अहंकार, चित्त इनका चतुष्टय और पाँच प्राण यह सब मिलकर लिंग शरीर को उत्पन्न करते हैं । उसी लिंग शारीर में अविद्ध्यायुक्त यह चैतन्य का प्रतिबिम्ब पड़ता है, उसी को व्यवहार में ‘जीव', ‘क्षेत्रज्ञ' और ‘पुरूष' करते हैं ।
Taking aadhaara (support) of Different types of avidya (ignorance), only I reside in Jiva-rUpa
Associating with different types of ignorance, only I (Bhagavan Shiva) reside in Jiva-rUpa.
5 karmendriya-s (parts of action) and
5 jnanendriya-s (5 senses of knowledge),
Collection of 4 - mind, intellect, ego, chitta and
5 prana (vital air)
- Locus of all the above rise rise to ling sharira.
in this ling sharira, due to adivya (ignorance), there is a reflection of this chaitanya (consciousness).
This in relative terms is called as 'Jiva', 'Kshetragya' and 'Purusha'.
Also note that Here the word vyavahAra (व्यवहार) is used. Here vyavahAra means 'in practical reality'.
This also indicates that there are true truth, Relative truth and absolute truth. Relative truth is not eternal.
Pre Shankara Advaitins
Vaishnavas and dvaitins also accuse that ajaata vaada was adapted from nAgArjuna, a famous buddhist.
Pre shankara Advaitins are Rajarshi Janak, his Gurus, Shri sulabhA (maid servent), Rishi Yajnavalkya and Rishi Ashtavakra and his disciple Rishi Sukadev (son of Ved Vyasa)Sri Krishna in Gita says live like Janak (BG: 3:30).
To understand Janak, you will have to know the philosophy of Janak, which can be known by reading Ashtavakra Gita, which is based on Ajaata vaada, which is spoken from the grave of karma.
CAUTION: DO NOT READ ASHTAVAKRA GITA. It is not for masses.
You cannot ignore Janak, as he was chosen by Maa Sita as her father. He was also spared by Lord Parshurama, even though he was a kshatriya and was also given Shiva's bow.
You also cannot ignore the teachings of Yog-Vasistha, as VasisTa was Rama's guru, and is also one of the sapta-rishis. Yog vasistha talks about Advaita, which is not worship of personal God.
Both Rama and Krushna accepted Guru. So Guru must have capacity to teach avatars and so their teachings cannot be ignored. Rama's guru was Brahmarshi VasisTa and Krishna's Guru was sAndipanI. Infact Yog-Vasistha, which talks about advaita nd ajaata vaada, starts with the request of MAharshi Valmiki and Brahmarshi VishvAmitra who requested Brahmanshi VasisTa to teach a varAgi disciple (Rama), Tatva Jnana, as he was fit for it.
So if advaita is mayavad, then all of these advaita teachers were mayavadis and so taught wrong things to both Rama and Krushna.
For the follower of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana Maharshi, both practiced Advaita and reached highest goal. So the question that Advaita is not vedic and authentic is out of question.
Brahmarshi Vasista is Bhagavan Brahmaji's mAnasa purtra (mind born son), and so existed with the beginning of this world. So were 4 kumars, who were tatva jnanis. nArada asks his brother Sanat kumar who taught him Tatva Jnana (advaita). All are Bhagavan Brahma ji's sons so Brahma ji is also a tatva jnani. So is Bhagavan Shiva, who is a pratik (symbol) of Jnana, the one without beginning. Bhagavan Vishnu is the sustainer of this universe and so he is beyond the realms of Maya. The trimurty represents the very essence of Tatva Jnana.
Advaita and ajAta vAda has been there since the beginning of this world. Brahman can stay without maya, even after dissolution of this world, Brahman, the un-destructive, beyond time and space, untouched by creation, preservation and dissolution, in the purest form will stay on.
ajAta vAda will never be popular and laymen will never understand it. Both advaita and ajAta vAda are not for laymen. They are for pure minds. For more details please visit is Advaita for everybody?
In Sutra Bhasya, Adi Shankara mentions names of teachers prior to him like Brahmanandin, Dravidacharya (different from Dramidacharya which Ramanuja mentions) and Upavarshacharya.
Further according to Madhaviya Digvijay, Gaupadacharya is disciple of Sukhacharya (sukh dev), the one who has narrated puranas to sages, who is the disciple of Bhagavan Veda Vyas, who authored both Puranas and Brahmasutra. Adi Shankaracharya has commented from Brahmasutras according to the knowledge passed from Bhagavan Veda Vyas.
Shankaracharya is accused as hidden-Buddhist.
Lord Buddha is glorified as an avatar of Lord Vishnu in Srimad Bhagavat Purana. If you consider Lord Buddha as an avatar of Lord Vishnu, then he could not go against our Vedas and Vedanta. It is also well known that Sidhartha studied Hindu Shastras, meditated and went on till the extreme before he found the ‘middle path’. It is evident that Buddha was well versed with sanskrit and vedas. Hence sanskrit words could well be used by him and his disciples. Both Hindus and Buddhists have studied each others shastras in-depth so that they could refute them. It is possible that both use each others way of expression freely to convey the message, and talk in the language of their time. Infact buddha chose to teach in the local language (mostly Pali) and not in Sanskrit as Sanskrit was not day-2-day language. So Lord Buddha and their disciples may have used both local and sanskrit words to convey their message. In return Hindus, in order to explain people influenced by buddhists would have also explained using buddhists terms. Technically, words used by Buddhist are that of indian origin. So using them would not do any harm.
Another Point is that Lord Buddha had himself declared that his teachings will not last more than 500 years. Hence, during Gaudpadcharya, Govindacharya and Shankaracharya’s time, actual teachings of Lord Buddha must not have been sustained. Buddhist and Advaita Vedanta philosophy have much in common. So rather than accusing Shankara as hidden Buddhist, we can say that Naga-Arjuna was a hidden-Advaitin, as by that time also original teachings of Buddhism would have perished.
We do not have all and full accounts of debates of Shankaracharya. Not all is documented. So we cannot say how he refuted jains, buddhists, dvaitins, vaishnavas, ritualists (mimamsis), shaktas, kapaalikaas, shaivas, chaarvaakas, etc. Quoting from commentaries is not good enough, as in commentaries you will find that it is concentrated on the verse. Only if that verse is wrongly explained, then a saint will make an attempt to clarify and refute false argument.
Further, before refuting one has to study in-depth the philosophy, like Kumaril Bhatt studied buddhism. Before thorough study, one should refrain making wrong statements. It's all human ego that accuses. Bhakta does not waste time in nonsense, as he is only concerned with his God. There is an incidence in the life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu where he transformed 2 dreadfull sinners into bhaktas. He could have accused them and could have made people against them, but he did not do such a thing. Do you think such a noble personality will accuse Adi Shankara. Infact not much has been written by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself including his charitramruta. Surely it is the human hand, as avatars cannot behave in such a way. Anyone on the pada while addressing the crowd will always be descend in action and speech. Do you still think that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Madhva had actually accused the way it is told today with rubbish translations. Logical contradiction is fine, but it is always polite. True Saints will never feel lower emotions like hatred and will accuse others. They only feel compassion. Further, English translations make mess or even mockery. I have seen in one commentary of Bhaja Govindam in which ‘mUDha’ is translated as foolish, rascal, idiot, etc.
An acharya is considered as a strong logician if s/he can use the same logic, same ideoms, same examples to explain vedAnta and find fault in the explanation of opponents GAudapadacharya, Adi Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya all did the same. That is why they commented on the same verse but from different point of view and in this process refuting the logic and point of view of other school of thought.
GauDapAda is accused as hidden-Buddhist
Even Sri GauDapAda, Great Guru, Guru of Shankaracharya's Guru GovindpAda is being accused to be a hidden buddhist. Word like NirvaNa are also found in shastras. NirvAna PrakaraNa is the 6th chapter of Yog-Yasistha. Buddha is found in many places meaning baudho or baudhyo (know), buddha means the awakened. 'alAta shAnti PrakaraNa' is the forth prakaraNa. The word alAta is used by buddhists. alAtacakra is a peculiarly buddhist one. The alAtacakra is a burning firebrand that is waved in a circle, creating an impression of a continuous circle of fire. It is interesting to note here that gauDapAda characteristically inverts the use of the buddhist metaphor. The buddhist uses the metaphor to insist that the impression of a continuous circle is an illusion, there being nothing more than the momentary spatial positions of the burning brand. Hence, from the buddhist prespective, it is plainly an error to see the burning circle as having any svabhAva - "own-nature". gauDapAda on the other hand points out that the burning brand is itself the substratum of its momentary spatial positions and the illusion of a burning circle caused by waving the brand. Hence, according to him, even if the burning circle is an illusion, its svabhAva is nothing other than that of the burning brand. Source. Also note that the word 'alAta' circle is used in MaitraiNi Upanishads (4-24). Another example of 'magical elephant' is accused to be adapted form Buddhist. But it can be adapted from Shri Bhashe played as a drama, covering famous or popular incidents in the life of King udayana also has these words. (Source: Swami Chinmayananda's commentary of Shri gauDapadAchArya's karika on MANdukya Upanishad, alAta SAnti prakaraNa)
GauDapAda took the very example of buddhist monks, who, actually took our siddhanta and examples to convey their philosophy, was correctly put forward. Even if some words are purely of Buddhist origins, GauDaPada took the some example to point the error in interpretation and to project it correctly from vedic standpoint. This is not being hidden-buddhist. Even if you thin that the words are purely of buddhist origin, to use enemies weapon (example or draSTAnta, logic and grammar) to hit back at them is very effective method to prove your point. This in no way makes you a hidden-buddhist, but in turn glorify you of being a true vedantin who took the very example, which was strongly embedded in the minds of common people and point out the logical and grammatical error in them.
One the other hand, if the logical conclusion of any monk is true, then that has to be accepted. It is mark of humility. If the concept does not clash or dis-approve Vedantic concept, when why will anyone refute it? ajaata vaada is age old tradition, so ajaata vaada is not not refuted, but it is projected correctly from vedic standpoint. Again, this does not make you Hidden-Buddhist.
The very purpose of great saints and avatars is to sustain and propagate Vedanta.
There are two types of teachings
1. Keeping srotA (listeners) in center
2. Keeping truth in center
1. keeping listeners in center
When you want to explain to laymen, one should come down to their level, talk and explain them in a way they understand. This is the reason why Lord Buddha preferred to preach in local language pAlI (paali). Hence our acharyas explain fro practical standpoint. they try to explain concepts in day-2-day language using day-2-day words connecting them to our shastras. Here, care is been taken that SrotA (listener) should understand the concept. If the concept is not clear fro m direct translation of a verse, an example (draSTAnta) is given. If one example is not enough, another is given. Later on same thing is repeated in another way and may be using another example, so that concept is refreshed, all for the good of listeners and devotees.
In Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asks same question again in different ways like which is better Jnana or karma yog, sanyasi or yogi, etc. Bhagavan patiently listens to Arjuns doubts and then peacefully replies to all the doubts. This goes on upto chapter 18 when Arjuna becomes Self Realized. Gita starts with a mohandha (dhrutraShTa), who is blind, symbolizing blinded by emotions, me and mineness. So he asks, what have, my children and pAndu putra have done. pAndu putras are sons of his younger brother Pandu i.e. Pandavas. So here is I nad mineness. Last verse by Arjuna is naSTo moha, smrutir landhA, meaning that my moha is destroyed and I have got back my knowledge i.e. know my true nature (Atman / Brahman). Arjun represent disciples and Krishna is an AdarSa Guru.
2. Keeping truth in center
In this type of pravachana or upadesha, the truth is kept in center and not the disciple. Earlier, Guru came down to the level of disciple. Here, Guru talks from his standpoint, expecting disciple t raise to his level. those who can understand can grasp the meaning, while those who cannot cna stay confused. Hence this type of teaching is not for the masses. Truth is expounded in naked form and not everyone can digest it.
ashTAvakra gItA is one such dialog in which truth is kept in center. Infact, after the first chapter, there is hardly any upadesha is given. ti is the masti (ananda) of two tatva Jnanis. Janak was instantly realized after giving upadesha, as Janak listened without any doubt or fear or objection. All that was being said by his guru aShTAvakra was directly absorbed by the mature disciple. Hence in second chapter, he became realized.
Krishna is the best guru, but even bhagavan could not get such a disciple like Janak. The best disciple is rAjA janak.
gauDapAda, Adi shankara and other acharyas were first type of gurus and so they took the very own words and concepts of buddhists to refuge their philosophy.
What matters is the intention. The fact remains that Shri gauDapdAcharya, Shri GovindpadAcharya and Shri Adi ShankarAchArya, all remained stuck with one point, Atman is not Shunya. They all were hardcore Advaita Vedantins. Vedanta was flowing through their veins.
Two types of Granths and Commentaries are created
Commentaries or any shastras, granthas are written from two points
1. To give clarity of Vedantic concepts
2. To refute any objections raised upon Vedanta
Commentaries on Upanishads are generally not of second type, though at places an acharya may clarify the correct meaning of a verse, which was being targeted by opponents. But not the whole commentary is written to prove any point.
The second type of grantha take up the the issues and objections and refutes them. Classic example 'Advaita Siddhi' by Shri Madhusudan Saraswati is the celebrated work refuting Shri Vyastirth's logical objection to Advaita Vedanta,
Dogmatic sects take the commentaries of first type, contain very few clarifications / refutations from buddhist philosophy say conclude that there was no objection from Shri gauDapAda or from Shri Shankara. Adi Shankara walked length and breath of India, and had many many verbal duels. The arguments, objections and their refutations are not at all documented. Only a select few remain. If everything was documented, it would fills thousands of pages.
Adi Shankara's teachings are not consistent.
This is often the logical conclusion that non-advaitins make which at times even advaitins find it difficult to give satisfactory answer.
Adi Shankara did not formulated his own teaching style that which ever existed prior to him. Infact Adi Shankara followed a unique teaching method which was passed down to him via Guru-Shishya paramparA (guru -Disciple tradition).
The unique method of Teaching, as taught by wise men and Jnani-s representing Traditional System of Teaching is called by Adi Shankara as 'adhyAropa apavAda' meaning False Superimposition followed by Retraction. This method can also be found in Shri GauDapadAcharya's KArikA on Mandukya Upanishad.
This method of teaching was rediscovered and propagated by Swami Sacchidanandendta Saraswati.
A separate Page has been dedicated to explain this method. Please visit adhyAropa apavAda - A Consistent Traditional Teaching.
Once this method is understood, all doubts about inconsistency will be uprooted.
Shankara was Dogmatic & Sectarian
Such persons have not read Shankara charitramrita. If time permits I will try to write something about it in future. I will try to explain in brief.
Devotional Works by Adi Shankara
Shankara is also well known for propounding a system of bhakti (selfless devotion) and composing several bhajans (devotional songs), which he believed brought one closer to God. Some of his well-known bhajans are Bhaja Govindam, Saundaryalahari and Śivānandalahari. Infact he has written more hymms and stotras than any other acharya, that too in a very short life span of 32 years.
Advaita parampara starts with NarayaNa as first guru
nArAyaNam. padmabhuvam. vasishTham. Saktim. ca tatputra parASaram. ca
vyAsam. Sukam. gauDapadam. mahAntam. govindayogIndram athAsya Sishyam. |
SrI Sam.karAcAryam athAsya padmapAdam. ca hastAmalakam. ca Sishyam.
tam. toTakam. vArttikakAramanyAn asmad gurUn santatamAnatosmi ||
padmapAda, hastAmalaka, toTaka, sureSvara (vArttikakAra),
and others (anyA:).
Advaita paramparaa starts with NarAyaNa as their Adi Guru. This clearly shows that Adi Shankara did not try to defame NaaraayaaNa. Adi Shankara also did not defame idol worship, infact he repaired many temples including jaganathpuri. the second verse says that Shiva (sadASiva) is the first Guru.
sadASiva samArambhAm. SankarAcArya madhyamAm.
asmadAcArya paryantAm. vande guru paramparAm. ||
"We salute the lineage of masters starting with Sada-Shiva,
with Shankaracharya in the middle and my own guru at present."
Not Afraid to write about praises to VAsudeva
If you have read Shankara bhasya on Gita, Adi Shankara has many times mentioned the word Vasudeva (vishnu) in his bhasya (commentary) in the verse like one who has surrendered (e.g. 7:14, source: http://184.108.40.206/acquia/?q=node/22).
Adi shankara proudly writes the name vasudeva / vishnu in his Gita bahsya.
Humility of Adi Shankaraa
In commentary on Hastamalaka hymm, Adi Shankara refers to Hastamaka as an acharya, eventhough he was his disciple. This shows his humility. Taking to dust of feet of Chandala is also a sign of humility.
Harmonizing all paths - Smartism
Smarta dharma is an e.g. of an attempt to harmonize all paths.
Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada taught us the truth that all the deities we hereditarily worship are but the manifestations of the One supreme Paramaatma. He established the worship of the moorthies of Siva, Vishnu, Ambika, Surya and Vinayaka all sanctified in the Vedas, and each having a specific Gayatri Mantra. South Indian hav added and Subrahmanya making it six deities of worship. Some replace any one God, mostly Surya deva with and Subrahmanya. Subramanya or Kartikeya also has specific Gayatri mantra. If worshipped with devotion. all of them will enable us to attain the paramaatma, proclaimed by the Vedas as Sat Purusha, or Brahman. In that way he established the practical interpretation of the Gita teaching. Yo yo yaam Yaam tanum bhaktah
sraddhaya architum icchati;
Tasya tasyaachalaam shraddhaam
Taam eva vidadhaamyaham
and came to be known as Shanmatasthaa-panaacharya. He traveled in all the 56 kingdoms of this country, where the Vedas were prevalent, and proclaimed the Advaitic principle of Oneness of God. Like the same God who is within us and within everything we perceive, the seer, the seen and the seeing (drashta, drisyam and drishti) are all aspects of the same paramaatma. One Deity is the main deity of worship and is kept in center, rest are kept in sides. Other deities help devotee to reach the supreme. This attempt looks to harmonize all paths and bring unity among all Hindus.
Extracted from http://www.kamakoti.org/souv/1-1.html
Ved Vyas extending life of Shankara for 16 more years
Like Vaishnavas strongly believe in Chaitanya and so in chaitanya-charitramrita, so do we believe in authenticity of Shankara charitramrita and it says that Ved Vyasa (krishna dvaipayana) after having intense debate for 3-4 days was very satisfied with Adi Shankara and blessed him to live for futher 16 years. The very request by Shankara to Ved Vyasa to end in life here and now shows that he was not interested in being victorious.
It was Adi Shankara who is credited of reviving our dharma and vedic texts. He could have altered the mool slokas, but he did not alter them. It was he who wrote all shastras. We have Gita and other shastras because of Adi Shankaracharya. No one can take away this credit from him.
Adi Shankara Never Rejected Dvaita
Adi shankara never rejected dvaita philosophy, but in fact he considered it important for purification of mind. His hymms, and compositions to various deities is the proof. Swami Chinmaya, in his book, on Shankara's Jivan charita, mentions 108 works.
A website dedicated to Kanchi Kamkoti Peetham has also a list of Shri Adi Shankara works here.
In shri Shankara Digvijay by MAdhava VidyAraNya swAmI, in 6th Sarga sloka 41 says,
दास्स्तेऽहं देहदृष्ट्याऽस्मि शम्भो जातस्तेंऽशो जीवदृष्ट्या त्रिदृष्टे ।
सर्वस्याऽऽत्मन्नात्मदृष्ट्या त्वमेवेत्येवं में धीर्निश्चिता सर्वशास्त्रेः ॥ ६ - ४१ ॥
O Shambho ! from SarIra-bhava i.e. from standpoint of physical body, I am your servant, in that manner, O Trilochana (Lord Shiva) ! from Jiva-bhava I am your part (Ansh) and you are my anshi (whole). O the Atman of the whole jagat (Universe) ! from Atma-bhava, I am not different from you (abhinna, a-bhinna, bhinna = different). In this way, my intellect decides (is determined), in view of all shastras
In simple words:
1. From Sarira Bhava, I am servant of Lord Shiva
2. From Jiva-Bhava, I am part (ansh) and you are whole (anshi)
3. From Atma Bhava, I am not different from you.
Same is said by Sri Ramakrishna when he gives an e.g. of Lord Hanuman
Once Sri Rama asked Hanuman, how do you see me? Hanuman replied,
1. From Sarira Bhava, I am servant of thy.
2. From Jiva-Bhava, I am part (ansh) and you are whole (anshi)
3. From Atma Bhava (Jnana drisTi), I am not different from you., You are I are one.
Advaita is not in conflict with anyone and fights with no one
Even Gaudpada did not reject dvaita or wished to refute any other faith. Same is said by a great vedantin and devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan. Shri S. N. Shastri in Intro to Vedanta says:
Dr. T.M.P.Mahadevan, the great Vedantic scholar, says in his book `Ramana Maharshi and His Philosophy of Existence'– "We believe that Advaita is not a sectarian doctrine. It is the culmination of all doctrines, the crown of all views. Though other views may imagine themselves to be opposed to Advaita, Advaita is opposed to none.
As Gaudapada, a pre-Sankara teacher of Advaita, says, Advaita has no quarrel with any system of philosophy. While the pluralistic world-views may be in conflict with one another, Advaita is not opposed to any of them. It recognises the measure of truth that there is in each of them; but only, that truth is not the whole. Hostility arises out of partial vision. When the whole truth is realised, there can be no hostility. (Mandukya Karika, III. 17 & 18; IV. 5)".
In words of Paramacharya, from the book, Acharya's Call, chapter Advaita Vedanta
Though other systems quarrel with Advaita, Advaita has no quarrel with any.
Paramacharya further adds
According to Shri Adi Sankara, no school of thought is foreign to Advaita. In the scheme of the path to realise Adviataanubhava, every system contributes an essential step and so Shri Sankara used the truths of each of them and pressed them into his service. By its very name, Advaita negates duality and dissension and comprehends every warring sect and system into its all-embracing unit. In fact, the survival of Hinduism is itself due to this Advaitic temper, which sees no distinction between Saivam, Vaishnavam and other denominations. Shri Adi Sankara underlined the essential unity of all Sampradaayas and sects and saved Hinduism from disruption. All denominations have the common Vedic basis. By bringing to our minds all the great Acharyas, we can acquire that peaceful frame of mind and develop that catholic temper and universal accommodation characteristic of Shri Adi Sankara and of the Advaita Vedanta he expounded, which will enable us to live in peace and amity, so essential for securing universal welfare.
Even the current Shankaracharya Matt have temples and perform daily worship. Here is a explanation from website dedicated to Shrengeri Matt.
Establishing 4 maths in the four quadrants of our country
Establishing 4 maths in the four quadrants of our country, opening temples, organizing halls of education, this mighty master left nothing undone in maintaining what he achieved. Among the four Maths two of them in the East and West were set up on the sea shore, while the Maths in the North and South were set up in the mountain regions. Sri Sureshwaracharya, who hailed from the north was placed in charge of the Math in the South, while Totaka from the South was sent to Badri in the North. He made it mandatory that the Nampootiris from Kerla should perform Pooja at Badri, while the Brahmins from Karnataka were assigned for Nepal. Likewise He ordained Maharashtra Brahmins to do Pujas at Rameshwaram. This shows what a broadmind He had when it came to leadership in matters of national interest.
Adi Shankara's message in a nutshell
The message that is contained in elaborate discussions in the Bhashyas of Sri Shankara is often succinctly expressed in a century of verses, in ten verses, in one verse or even half a verse. He has reconciled the seemingly contradictory conclusions of the Upanishads and in the integrated view that He has presented the eternal, impersonal, consciousness Absolute is the Brahman, the one without a second. By His power which is inscrutable ( अनिर्वचनीया ) and called maya, or mitya, He appears as the universe, conditions by space, Time, etc., that are ever changing. The jiva is not different from the absolute Brahman, but due to Upadhis appears to be different and subject to limitations. The Upadhis limit comprehensions and are unreal like limitless space appearing like room space, pot space, etc…
Once the conditioning factors vanish, jiva is seen as one with Brahman as taught in the Mahavakya of the Upanishads. The Knowledge of this oneness is liberation or moksha. Karma and Bhakti help from a distance in the attainment of Jnana by bestowing the needed mental purity when done in a spirit of dedication to Iswara.
In His Bhashya on the topic of meditation, Sri Shankara clearly differentiates the qualification between “seeking to scale yoga’s peak ” and “having scaled the same”. He maintains that one who has ascended the yoga has to simply maintain this equipoise, i.e. till chitta shuddhi is ripe enough to maintain the meditational equipoise, karma has to be done by all in nishkama spirit as a dedication to God.
He has also declared in many places that even the obligatory works done in Nishkama spirit have punya as the fruit. He said that any karma done, having been dedicated to God may not bear fruit is improper, indeed such dedication should make work non-fruitful besides bestowing the required mental purity. He Uses the word “फलसंकल्पस्य चित्तविक्षेपहेतुत्वात्”,- in this Geeta Bhashya i.e. mental clinging to the fruits of actions distracts. Therefore any doer of actions who has given up mental clinging to the fruits is a yogin, his mind concentrated, not being distracted. Hence Karma Must not be neglected.
Though Brahman alone is Absolute Truth (Paramarthika), the knowledge of the objective universe - erroneous form the highest stand point - can still be considered as a relative kind of truth for worldly transactions e.g., a mud pot, though a mud, can still be retained for keeping the water in it.
Every one of the several schools which developed in the past Shankara age, bears the influence of Sri Shankara’s teachings in one form or other. His message boils down to the formula - natural growth, assimilating what is compatible and `co-existence’ with what is incompatible.
Why Temples are needed if God is omnipresent?
This doubt arises in some people. God is omnipresent - this is the Truth. God is everywhere, God exists in every particle - this is the Truth. Please visit this link for explanation.
Also please refer to this link for further understanding.
Introducing Chapter of 13 Gita, Madhusudan Saraswati in his Gita Bhasya, GuDhArtha DIpika, says
ध्यनाभ्यासनवशीकृतेन मनसा तन्निर्गुणं निष्क्रियं ज्योतिः किंचनं योगिनो यदि परं पश्यन्ति पश्यन्तु ते | अस्माकं तु तदेव लोचनचमत्काराय भूयाच्चिरं कालिन्दीपुलिनोदरे किमपि यन्नीलं महो धावति ||
dhyanaabhyaasanavashiikR^itena manasaa tannirguNaM nishhkriyaM jyotiH kiMchanaM yogino yadi paraM pashyanti pashyantu te | asmaakaM tu tadeva locanachamatkaaraaya bhuuyaachchiraM kaalindiipulinodare kimapi yanniilaM maho dhaavati ||
If the yogis, with their minds which have been brought under control through the practise of meditation, see some such transcendental light that is without qualities and action, let them see!
But, for filling our eyes with astonishment, let there be forever that indescribable Blue (Light) alone which runs about hither and thither on the sands of the kaaLindi (Yamuna)!
This shows that Advaitins are not against Dvaita and Krishna Bhakti.
People who do not understand Advaita, stick to the famous sloka - Brahma Satyam Jagat MithyA. For this we will have to look from a top down perspective. Also it is to be noted that upadesha-s are given from Adhikara bheda, as explained in the answer given in response of creating temples.
There are different vAda-s and different bhAva-s and laxaNas which have to be considered for better understanding of the subject.
Four vAda-s are
1. Arambha vAda:
God is the kartA and he created this universe. Like potter creating pot. Nyaya-vaisheshikA adopt this vAda.
This vAda is for the ones who believe in karma and cannot believe that God does not do any karma. They believe that without karma nothing is possible.
2. pariNAma vAda
In this something changes into something else. The change is visible and real.
e.g. is milk turning into curd.
sAnkhya Adopt this vAda. They say that Sun which does not do any work but under it's influence we find transformations like water vaporizing into steam, plants growing, etc.
It is for subtle intellect. VisisTadvaita and dvaita adopted this vAda.
3. Vivarta vAda
This vAda is adopted by Adi Shankara to explain the concept of mAyA as mithyA.
e.g. snake-rope. Snake does not exist but is super imposed on rope. Without rope there is no snake. As one sees rope, snake vanishes without any trace. If it was real, the transformation would have left traces e.g. cloth burned in fire reduces to ash, which is permanent, real and inconvertible back into cloth.
As the mind is purified, one is taken a step further, more closer to reality. sAdhaka keeps moksha as the only goal in life and meditate on supreme brahman, thereby uprooting all other desires except one - I want moksha.
4. ajAta vAda
Non existence of mAyA and so this world. Only Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman exists - Pure Non-duality experience.
This path is for the ones who are eligible for Self Realization i.e. they have all desires up-rooted except the one - I want moksha. Now this desire also has to be dropped. AshTAvakra Gita talks about this vAda. If bandhan (bondage) is brahti (illusion), then moksha is mahA-brAnti (great illusion).
To make him quit this last desire questions are asked to sAdhAka:
1. Who wants moksha?
2. Who is the one who meditates?
3. Who am I?
If I am Sat-Chit-Ananda then I do not need to sit in meditation and then establish myself in samadhi. Now the effort drops and one becomes free from last desire of moksha. sAdhaka enters into samadhi without making any effort spontaneously (sahaj). that is why it is said that Jnana cannot be obtained by karma, without Jnana there is no mukti (liberation), liberation is here and now (as there is no time lag after one realizes - Who Am I - after the enquiry, one enters into non-dual state and seeking ends here and now - immediately and not after some seconds, minutes or years).
One can become detached with this world and withdraw senses and become and observer, but not enter into samadhi, as one is still observing. hence it is said to drop the process of observation,
GauDapadAcharya adopted this vAda.
The great e.g. is Lord Buddha. He got enlightened when he dropped everything. Please note that he is called as buddha - the enlightened. Bodh means Jnana and not void or zero state. One cannot negate existence of oneself.
But for laymen, this is not possible. So now we move from Top to Bottom
Since one cannot stay in atma sthiti, one has to make effort to realize. The make effort one has to meditate. To know how to meditate and to know the real nature or it's qualities or a way to reach one has to take AdhAra of Shastras and a Self Realized Guru. But one cannot stay detached for 24 hours so the concept of mAyA and this world as mithya is brought. The concept of PratibhAsika satya is created for satisfying the doubts.
Still some may not be able to detach themselves and withdraw 5 senses.Such a person cannot believe that this world is illusion and feels that everything is real. Hence the concept of vyavahArika satya is created. sAkAra bhakti is preached for mental purity. For those who would doubt that why Self Realized Saints suffer from illness and bad circumstances, a concept of prArabhdha is created to satisfy them.
All this is created to temporarily calm the mind and purify the mind. Upon maturity, old gross concepts are replaced by new subtle concepts. Gita says that Jnangni sarva karmaNi bhasmasAta krute tatha, meaning that fire of wisdom burns (up roots) all karma. All means prArabhdha, AgAmi and sanchit. All includes prArabhdha. Earlier disciple was convinced that prArabhdha is like arrow that has left it's bow. Now it cannot be stopped and will hit the target with full force. Saints ma not have done any pApa karma in this life. But they are suffering due to their pApa karma in past life (lives).
Some people cannot believe that one can stay in a-kartA bhavA. So niSkAma-karma is prescribed.
There are 3 types of disciples, muDha, madhyam and uttam adhikAri. Upadesha-s are given according to mental purity and ability to grasp and understand subtle concepts. All is done with intention to rise above until one reaches last stage.
All the different means by which people can attain knowledge of the self should be understood to be valid. These means are unlimited in number
Madhusudan Saraswati in Siddhanta Bindu says:
81. Thus, everywhere in Vedanta, when there are such contradictions, this is the answer. The Vartikakara (Sureshvaracharya / Vartika-kara) says: “All the different means by which people can attain knowledge of the self should be understood to be valid. These means are unlimited in number”.
Note by Shri S. N. Shastri: Different Acharyas have expressed different views about how the mahavakaya is to be understood. The followers of Sureshvara say that jahallakshana is to be adopted. The followers of Sarvajnatmamuni and Vachaspatimisra adopt ajahallakshana. Dharmaraja Adhvarindra, the author of Vedantaparibhasha interprets the vakya without resort to lakshana. But there is no difference as far as the ultimate import of the vakya is concerned. All agree that the vakya declares the identity of the jiva and Brahman. So all these methods of interpretation are acceptable.
Sureshvaracharya specifically says about this in Br.Up.bhAshyavArtikA- ""All the different means by which people can attain knowledge of the self should be understood to be valid. These means are unlimited in number". (1.4.402).
Other Sources: Meaning of Mahavakya - Tat Tvam Asi and Brahman cannot be described by any word whatsoever
Vivarta vAda is explained by Paramacharya, Sri Sri Chandrashekhara (Indira) Saraswati, 68th Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti peetha says in his book Hindu Dharma chapter - Cause of Creation
Note here 'our acharya' means Adi Shankara
"Causes" or "karanas" are divided into two categories: "nimitta" and "upadana". You need earth or clay as a material to make a pot. So earth is the upadana for the pot. But how does it become a pot? Does it become a pot by itself? It has to be shaped by a potter. So the potter is the cause- he is the nimitta. (The "nimitta" we spoke about in jyotisa is different. )
Nyaya and Vaisesika believe that Isvara created the universe with the ultimate particles called "anu-s". Here Isvara is the nimitta-karana and the "anu-s" are the upadana-karana. To shape the clay into a pot a potter is needed. Without him there is no earthen pot, or in other words, the pot without the potter is non-existent. So when he shapes it out of clay he is the cause and the pot the effect. This is called "arambha-vada" or "asat-karya-vada". "Sat" means that which exists (the real) and "asat" that which does not. There is no pot in mere clay. The non-existent pot is produced from the clay. It is in similar fashion that Isvara created the universe with the "anu-s" - what he created did not exist in the particles. This is the doctrine of Nyaya.
Adherents of Sankhya, as we know, do not believe in an Isvara. According to them Prakrti itself exfoliated into the universe. Such a belief is not to be mistaken for the contemporary athestic view. I say so because Sankhya also postulates a Purusa who is jnana, similar to the Nirguna-Brahman. According to it the inert Prakrti can function in such an orderly fashion only in the presence of Purusa. The presence of Purusa is the cause but he is not directly involved in creation. Crops grow on their own in the sunshine. Water dries up, clothes become dry and it is all because of the sun. Does the sun worry about which crop is to be grown or which pond is to be dried up? Your hand becomes numb when you hold a lump of ice in it. Is it right to reason that it is the intention of ice to benumb your hand? Similar is the case with Purusa for he is not attached to creation. But with the power received from him, Prakrti creates the world out of itself. There is no Isvara as a nimitta-karana. According to Sankhya, Prakrti has transformed itself as the created world. This is called "parinama-vada".
While asat-karya-vada is the principle on which the naiyayikas base their view of creation, supporters of Sankhya base their theory on sat-karya-vada. Adherents of the former believe that the clay is the upadana(material cause) for the making of the non-existent pot while the potter is the nimitta or efficient cause. The sat-karya-vadins belonging to Sankhya argue thus: "The pot was there in the clay in the beggining itself. The oil-monger presses the sesame seeds to extract the oil that is already present in them. Similarly, the pot concealed in the clay emerged as a result of the work of the potter. It is only by using the clay that you can make the pot. You cannot make a pot with sesame seeds nor do you get oil by pressing the clay. The pots are all anu-s of the clay; they came into existence by the anu-s being shaped.
"Our acarya says: "There is neither arambha-vada nor parinama-vada here. It is the Brahman, with its power of Maya, that appears in the disguise of creation. For the potter who is the Paramatman there is no other entity other than himself called clay. So the arambha-vada is not right. To say that Paramatman transformed himself into the cosmos is like saying that the milk turns into curd. The curd is not the same as the milk. Would it not be wrong to state that the Paramatman became non-existent after becoming the cosmos? So the parinama-vada is also not valid. On the one hand, the Paramatman remains pure jnana, as nothing but awareness, and, on the other, he shows himself through the power of his Maya as all this universe with its living-beings and its inert objects. It is all the appearence of the same Reality, the Reality in various disguises. If a man dons a disguise he does not become another man. Similar is the case with all these disguises, all this jugglary of the universe. with all the apparent diversity, the one Reality remains unchanged. " This argument is known as "vivarta-vada".
There is vivarta in the phenomenon of a rope appearing to be a snake. The upadana-karana(material cause) that is the rope does not change into a snake by nimitta-karana(efficient cause). So the arambha-vada does not apply here. The rope does not transform itself into a snake; but on account of our nescience (avidya) it seems to us to be a snake. Similarly, on account of our ajnana or avidya the Brahman too seems to us as this world and such a vast plurality of entities.
Nyaya lays the steps by which we may go further to realise the truth on which our Acarya has shed light.
Nyaya and Vaisesika teach us how we may become aware of padarthas (categories) through reasoning and become detatched from them to realise "apavarga" in which there is neither sorrow nor joy. But they do not take us to a higher realm. Dualism also has it's limitations thus. To grasp the One Reality that is non-dual and realise inwardly that we too are that Reality is to experience absolute liberation.
It must be said as one of the distinctive features of Nyaya that it inspires us to go in quest of apavarga by creating discontent in in our worldly existence. Another of its distinguishing features is that it employs all its resources of reasoning to contend against the doctrines of the Buddhists, the Sankhyas and Carvakas to establish the principle of Isvara as Karta(Creator).
Shankaracharya only wanted us to rise above dvaita.
Adi Shankara used Vivarta Vada, where any duality is due to the error in perception. If Brahman is unchanging, as said by shrutis, then it cannot change into anything else i.e. jagat and Jiva. Even In Gita Lord says, I live in everybody's heart (18:61), hence duality is ruled out. Even PariNamam vAda is ruled out as nothing is a result of something. e.g. milk turning into curd. It is just error in perception.
ईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेऽर्जुन तिष्ठति।
भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया।।18.61।।
18.61 The Lord dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, causing all beings, by His illusive power, to revolve as if mounted on a machine.
अविभक्तं च भूतेषु विभक्तमिव च स्थितम्।
भूतभर्तृ च तज्ज्ञेयं ग्रसिष्णु प्रभविष्णु च।।13.17।।
13.17 And the Knowable, though undivided, appears to be existing as divided in all beings, and It is the sustainer of all beings as also the devourer and originator.
13.17 And undivided, yet it exists as if divided in beings; It is to be known as the supporter of being; It devours and It generates.
In this verse, Bhavana Krishna, AS Brahman / Atman) is undivided. If it divides, then this statement is refuted or becomes false. Hence when Bhagavan says by his yog-maya or maya, he means by the illusionary power of maya. Hence actually there is no second personality i.e. Jiva created.
In Parinam vada milk turns into curd and is different though it is made up of milk. So here there is final product that is different from milk.
In Vivarta Vada, snake disappears after the rope is seen. No trace of snake is found. The substratum i.e. Atman as rope is only present. It is only due ot the error in perception that one sees snake. It is nothing but illusion.
But for a beginner, all students live in dvaita, hence at times Adi Shankara explains concepts that help one rise above dvaita. Initially it is said that no one can live without karma, then later on it is said that Jnanagni (fire of wisdom) destroys all karma. All means Prarabhdha, sanchit and agami. Hence even prarabhdha is destroyed. But beginners may raise doubts about why saints and realized souls suffer from dis-ease. So a concept of prarabhdha is derived (Refer: VC 452). The intention is the calm the mind so that one can advance in spirituality and later on destroy all karmas. For mature student such question do not arise at all.
Some more accusations are
If you walk of Advaita path you will lose all your rasa and Ananda.
Adi Shankara BhagavadpAda in Vivek Chudamani, 227 describes Brahma as full of rasa.
सत्यं ज्ञानमनन्तं ब्रह्म विशुद्धं परं स्वतः सिद्धम् ।
नित्यानंदैकरस प्रत्यगभिन्नं निरन्तरं जयति ॥ २२७ ॥
Brahma is satya (truth), Jnana svarUpa, ananta (infinite), viSuddha (pure), shresTha (best) and svataH siddha (self evident) , nitya (eternal), ananadrUpa (full of Bliss), full of rasa, inseparable from antarAtmA, nirantara (continuous), and makes one victorious.
Brahman is ananda rUpa or ananda svarUpa is given at various places in Vivek Chudamani. e.g. 225, 301, 306, etc
ब्रह्मभिन्नत्वविज्ञानं भवमोक्षस्य कारणम् ।
येनाद्वितीयमानन्दं ब्रह्म संपद्यते बुधैः ॥ २२५ ॥
The Jnana, 'Brahman is not different from me', is a tool (sAdhana) of freeing from bondage, with the help of which Jnani-s obtain / achieve advitiya (second-less), anandrUpa (full of Bliss) Brahman.
Brahman is also said to be full of peace. One attaining Brahman rests in peace or becomes peaceful. (Since there is no duality, there is no activity, there is no sorrow, hence there is peace and bliss.
Finally, followers of Adi Shankara are accused as "Tyrannical people who burned down monasteries, destroyed cattle and killed women and children"
Such an accusation is completely out of sheer jealousy, ignorance and intolerance.
After Understanding Advaita and Meditative Journey of an Advaita Vedantin, one can easily understand that Advaitin are peace loving people.
Cause of any kind of hostility (emotionally charged behaviour) is due to attachment with any object, person or due to likes and dis-likes (rAga and dveSa). Advaitins are taught to be neutral to likes and dislikes. PrakaraNa Granth like Tatva Bodh and Vivek Chudamani explains qualifications required to learn advaita. One of the ShaTasampatti (6 virtues) is titkSA,titikshA means to be neutral to likes and dislikes and remain calm in good (anukuLa) and bad (pratikuLa) situations. Any person sincerely meditating i.e. doing japa will know that mind calms down after chanting God's name be it Rama, Krishna or OM. Less the number of desires more is the peace. Vivek Chudamani says destruction of desires is nothing but liberation. When renunciation is one of the pre-requisites of learning advaita, who can one think of doing such a heinous crime. It is unimaginable. Advatins are peace loving as peace the true nature and very tolerant and of non-sectarian belief respecting all systems of Vedanta. Infact as stated above Adi Shankara was prophet of love, peace, harmony and establisher of Vedic Dharma. He not only preached advaita, but also preached bhakti, shakti upasana (tattra and Yog sadhanA). Yes Adi Shankara was a maser of Mantra sAdhaNa and in Sri Vidya, which was passed down to him by his revered Guru GovindpadAcharya ji, who himself was a mater of these vidya-s. Adi Shankara focused more one advaita, but did not reject any path and discarded them as non-vedic.
Advaita Jnana needs no Bhakti
This is a common assumption that Non-Advaitins believe. As explained above, Advaita does acknowledge bhakti. I will directly quote Paramacharya's words from the book, Acharya's Call.
Chapter: Advaita Vedanta
It is worthy of note that whatever their mutual differences may be, all thinkers belonging to schools other than Advaita, are one in their attack on Sri Adi Sankara's views. This should be regarded as a tribute paid by them to Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada. Each of them singled out Advaita, as expounded by Sri Acharya, as the only system worthy of taking notice of for the purpose of criticising. According to Advaita, the ultimate bliss is the experience of non-difference between the Jivatma and the Paramatma. Acharyas of other schools of thought would wish to have at least a tract of distinction between the two so that the Jivatma, standing apart, may be able to enjoy the realisation of the Paramatma. Thus the difference between the several systems of Hindu religious thought is slight, as all are agreed upon the ultimate realisation of the Supreme. But when it comes to a question of expounding each system, this difference got magnified to the point of violent opposition. And yet we find that in their ultimate reaches, all of them speak the language of Advaita. This shows that the expansive heart of Sri Adi Sankara accommodated all views of the ultimate reality and all approaches to it. Though other systems quarrel with Advaita, Advaita has no quarrel with any.
The catholicity of Advaita is also evident from the fact that pronounced Advaitins like Vachaspati Misra, who lived about one thousand years ago, Vidyaranya and Appayya Dikshitar wrote encyclopedic works on other systems with the fidelity of exposition rarely equaled and much less excelled by the protagonists of those systems themselves. Appayya Dikshitar says that as God's grace is required to reach the Ultimate Reality, and as that grace can be obtained only through Bhakti, he was expounding the other systems which promoted this Isvara-bhakti.
Chapter: Importance of Bhakti
But mere intellectual comprohension of it is not enough. It must be realised as a fact in one's own experience. For such realisation grace of God is a pre-requisite. Isvaraanugrahaadeva Pumsaam Advaita Vaasana. We begin with a feeling of distinctness from God. The predicament of worship is one of duality of Deity and Devotee. But even then the devotee does not feel that God is external to him and to the Universe; He has the consciousness that God is imminent in himself and in every particle of the world, in-dwelling every where and in everything, how ever minute. Our duty is worship Him in this way with devotion, and if we do so, He reveals His true nature to us. Bhagavan says :
BHAKTYAA MAM ABHIJANAATI YAAVAAN YASCHAAMI TATVATAH
The word, BHAKTYAA, meaning through devotion, shows that bhakthi is the means for the realisation of the truth of God's nature. Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita are one in this emphasis on Bhakti to obtain God's grace. To whatever school we belong, we should invoke that grace through Bhakti, leaving it to Him to reavel the truth of His nature. All Achaaryas have stressed this need for Bhakti.
Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita are one in the emphasis on Bhakti to obtain God's grace.
In advaita, we have to surrender to Guru and to the words of the Guru. We have to stay in duality i.e. as a servant in front of a Guru. Brahman is indescribable, but the path to reach it can be taught. To teach one needs someone who has experienced Brahman. Guru is the one who has realized Brahman and hence the disciple must always approach him with reverence as a servant.
Svetasvatara Upanishad says (6.23)
6.23: These truths, when taught, shine forth only in that high-souled one who has supreme devotion to God, and an equal degree of devotion to the spiritual teacher. They shine forth in that high-souled one only.
Guru Gita has many verses in support of this
Therefore discarding all kinds of contacts with people, by all possible means, giving up all conflicts of the scriptures; one should take refuge in the Guru. (103)
On the advice of the Guru, if one meditates with firm determination on the principle of “I am one without duality” need not resort to forest for penances, and the constant practice of the above principle brings about samadhi and his sins are burnt instantaneously. (94 & 95)
Katha Upanishads says
1.2.9 This knowledge is not attainable by logical reasoning. It is of easy comprehension only when instructed by another. O! Dearest one! O! Nachiketa! let there be seekers like you! You are truly resolved in your desire.
Acharya while explaining this verse (Ka. Up. 1.2.9) uses the word 'abheda-darshi AcArya' meaning - a Guru who know the non-dual Atman. Here Darshan is taken as 'to know' and not 'to see'. In other words, Self Realized Guru.
Acharya explains that - This Atman cannot be known by 'tarka'. Tarka means inference, logical reasoning or thought process, nor it can be learned from an Acharya who is well versed in shastra-s ...
Ka. Up. 1.2.16 says that - this Om is Brahman, this Om is Param, the one who wishes to know OM, becomes Brahman.
This verse instructs one to Meditate on om with a firm conviction or wish or one and only goal to know 'Brahman'.
Atman cannot be realized without the grace of Atman.
1.2.23 By study of the scriptures, lecturing one's own intellectual enquiries or by wide learning or listening, this Atman cannot be realised. Whomsoever, it chooses alone, is attainable that realisation about It, as It reveals Its own nature to him.
Guru is the one who is one with Ishvara.
Our acharya comments on Ka. Up. 1.2.23 as
This Atman is not realized (prApta) by pravachan (discourse) meaning This Atman is not realized by accepting many [statements of ] veda-s, nor it can be intellectually meaning nor it can be known with the power of retention of various grantha-s (shastra-s), nor it can be achieved [realized] just by attentively listening to discourses (sravaNa). Then how can it be achieved [realized]? for this they say -
A sAdhaka who prays Atman, achieves (realizes) the very Atman by itself i.e. because of the (grace of) Atman, one knows Atman 'this Atman is like this'
If one asks - How one realizes Atman?, they say - For that AtmakAmi (the one who wishes to know Atman), the Atman reveals it's pArmArthika svarUpa (Absolute, true nature) i.e. Atman reveals it's own pure nature as it is (in true sense)
Note: Words in square brackets are that of author.
This is clear that Student is surrendered to Guru and Prays to Atma Tatva,
One has to meditate on Atman with abheda bhakti i.e. with a feeling that 'I am not different from Atman / Brahman', as per instruction of Guru.
To understand further lets have a brief understanding of difference between buddhism and advaita vedanta.
Difference between Buddhism and Advaita
From my limited knowledge, difference between buddhism and advaita is that advaita accepts brahman as substratum of entire universe while buddhism does not. Other than that there are many thoughts similar and common to both.
Adi Sankara in his Chandogya up. bhAShya 6.2.1 says
asattvamAtrAbhyupagamo api ayukta eva, abhyupagantuH anabhyupagamAnupapatteH
And their admission of mere non-existence is also illogical because the existence of the person who denies existence, cannot be denied.
Sri Ramakrishna says that there is no difference between (original) teachings of Lord Buddha and Advaita. But the original teachings have only been sustained upto 500 years after Buddha’s samadhi.
Sri Ramana Maharshi in his 40 verses on reality has refuted the zero state.
12. That alone is true Knowledge which is neither knowledge nor ignorance. What is known is not true Knowledge. Since the Self shines with nothing else to know or to make known, It alone is Knowledge. It is not a void (zero state, sunya).
This is confirmed in Ribhu Gita which is quoted later on.
So if someone is talking that, ’According to Advaita, Brahman is nirguna (without any qualities). But logically speaking, something that is without any attributes whatsoever is as good as nothing (sunya)’, you do not take him / her seriously.
You simply cannot negate your own existence.
Infact, since Buddha was an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the zero, from Advaita angle would be the non-existence of mAyA and not the negation of Self (Brahman). After that there is only maun. So buddha did not answer when one asked to him if there is existence of God. In this state, there is no duality and no expression (except maun) can explain it. So by taking maun, which is the only expression capable of expressing Atma-sthiti, Buddha, in practice, taught conveyed the meaning. Also in this state, which is the very essence of vedas, there is no need to accept any vedas, as one has already achieved what vedas want us to achieve.
But VAishnavas, look to vedanta from buddhist view, while it should be opposite, as a person in whom vedas flows in his veins can only look through an eye of vedas. A true vedanting will say that Buddhist teachings are like Advaita and not the opposite. It is our vedanta that is older and eternal. Buddhism was born with Lord Buddha and already it's essence had perished after 500 years. Buddhism was invariable mixed with tantric practices.
Now, lets understand mayavad and brahmavad (mAyAvAd, maayaavad and brahmaavaada, brahmavAda)
mAyAvAda and brahmavAda
Updated it to iTrans format on 01-04-2022
(First and so the oldest article written before 2012, It was not in iTrans form. As thimore content was added, it was decided to publish this article and other similar articles as website)
Vaishnavas believe that Vishnu (naarAyaNa, kruShNa) is the supreme God to be worshipped and one can attain moksha only by worshipping him. Krushna is the creator of this universe and the ultimate reality.
Shaivas believe that Shiva is the supreme God to be worshipped and one can attain moksha only by worshipping him. Shiva is the creator of this universe and the ultimate reality.
Similarly, Believers of gaNesha and shaktas have same thoughts.
chArvAkas believe that lust is the reason for the creation of universe.
mAyAvAda means any talk or belief in which maayaa is in the center and the ultimate. mAyA is the cause of this creation.
BrahmavAda means any talk or belief in which brahman is in the center and the ultimate. maayaa is the illusionary power of nirguNa brahman. Due to the power of maayaa, the world which is technically not different than brahman itself is perceived in a false way, as if it is dual with attributes. Brahman is the substratum of entire universe and the only reality. Maayaa has to be neglected and one has to rise above maayaa and it’s 3 gunas to be one with Brahman or simply to be Brahman or better know and abide in True Self (BG 7:1 to 7:13).
Ultimate Advaita state does not talk about maayaa. It is called ajaata or ajaati vaada, which means not-born. Maayaa does not have the existence. But this is difficult to explain. So Adi Shankara and other pre - shankara advaita proponents introduced the concepts of maayaa.
Sri Ramana Maharshi in 40 verses on Reality says the following:
3. 'The world is real.' 'No, it, is a mere illusory appearance.' 'The world is conscious.' 'No.' 'The world is happiness.' 'No.' What’s the use in arguing this way? Leave this jagat-drishti (make oneself introvert), know yourself (your True svarupa, nature), beyond advaita and dvaita, without ‘I’ (without ego), this sthiti (state) i.e. param sthiti (ultimate state), is agreeable to all.
Final advaita state is just maun, there is no experiencer. Classic e.g. is Lord DakshiNaamurti. So ‘just be’, says Sri Ramana Maharshi, be as your are, always abiding in Brahman. Brahman alone exists. Mind of Jnani is brahman says Sri Ramana Maharshi. Atman is not void, zero or sunya, it is sat-chit-anand, but you are not separate from them so as to experience them separately from you.
Practically, a matured advaita sadhaka does not think about mAyA. It is by thinking of Brahman (and not maayaa) that one becomes Brahman i.e. becomes aware that ‘I’ is nothing but pure consciousness (Brahman).
maya is a concept, which is only true in one state at a time, i.e either in waking or in dream. It is not present in all 3 states (waking Dream, deep sleep). So it is not real (SASvata, eternal truth or reality). The very meaning of maayaa is: yaa is 'that which is not' maa is feminine. In simple words maayaa is the one which is not there.
Infact, Advaita teaches us to neglect maayaa and rise above it. It does not give importance to maayaa
Sri Ramana Maharshi referred to Study Ribhu Gita. Please find the link here and here. Ribhu Gita, actually talk about maun, takes us beyond duality and non-duality into the realm of Brahman.
Brahman / Atman is not Shunya says Ribhu Gita, Anu Gita and Yog Vasistha
Verses from Ribhu Gita confirm that Self is not Shunya or void or zero state (slokas 11 - 22).
10. Then, addressing Nidagha, Ribhu said: I shall tell you about the definition of the Self, which is not available in all the triad of time--past, present, and future--
11. ever the most secret of the secret, by summarizing what has been expounded by Siva. There is nothing that can be talked of as non-Self, neither the mind as the non-Self, nor the world as the non-Self. Be of the certitude that there is nothing that is non-Self.
12. By the absence of all sankalpas, by the elimination of all forms, by the conviction of there being only Brahman, be of the certitude that there is not anything that is non- Self.
13. In the absence of mind, there is no thinking; in the absence of the body, there is no aging. With the conviction of there being only Brahman, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
14. Because of the absence of feet, there is no walking; because of the absence of hands, there is no work. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
15. Because of the absence of Brahma, the Creator, there is no world; in the absence thereof, there is no Hari, the sustainer. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
16. In the absence of aging, there is no death; nor is there the world or the Vedas or the gods. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non- Self.
17. There is no dharma (righteous conduct), no purity, no [concept of] truth, no fear. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
18. Because there is no decay, there is no movement. Because there is no decay, there is no insentience. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
19. The Guru, indeed, does not exist; truly, there is no disciple. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
20. There being nothing that is the first, there is nothing that is the second; there being no second, there is nothing as the first. If there is the concept of truth, something as nontruth will also arise.
21. If there be any concept of nontruth, a concept of truth will also arise, with it. If there is inauspiciousness, know that there is a notion of auspiciousness. Likewise, if there is auspiciousness, there will be inauspiciousness.
22. If you think of fearlessness, fear is postulated; fear is concomitant with fearlessness. There being only Brahman alone, be of the certitude that there is no non-Self.
23. If there is bondage, there is liberation; in the absence of bondage, there is no liberation. If there is death, there is birth; in the absence of birth, there is no death either.
To know what is Ribhu Gita, please visit wiki and Sivanandaonline.
Also refer to Upadesha Saram, which in 30 verses incorporates the very essence of 700 verses of Bhagavad Gita. Karma Kand is finished in just 3 verses.
Bhagavan in Anu Gita says
Seeing the self void of smell, void of taste, void of touch, void of sound, void of belongings, void of color, and unknowable, he is released. He who sees the enjoyer of the qualities, devoid of qualities, devoid of the qualities of the five elements, devoid of form, and having no cause, is released. Abandoning by the understanding all fancies bodily and mental, he gradually obtains tranquility, like fire devoid of fuel. He who is free from all impressions, free from the pairs of opposites, without belongings, and who moves among the collection of organs with penance, he is indeed released. Then freed from all impressions, he attains to the eternal Supreme Brahman, tranquil, unmoving, constant, indestructible.
The observer is not the object. This clearly indicates that Atman is void of anything 'else' i.e. mAyA, but not void of itself.
Guru Vasistha in Yog VAsistha (Vasistha Gita) says:
Ch1:1. Salutations to that calm effulgence which is endless and unlimited by space, time etc., the pure consciousness which can be known by experience only.
Ch1:17. Even the slightest thought immerses a man in sorrow; when devoid of all thoughts he enjoys imperishable bliss.
Ch1:21. On the dissolution of the body, the ether (consciousness) limited by the heart (hridayam) alone ceases to exist. People lament needlessly that the Self is extinct.
Advaita is not a negative state:
Ch2:19. The bliss of a man of discrimination, who has rejected samsara and discarded all mental concepts, constantly increases.
As sadhaka progress, bliss increases. It is only in the beginning that one feels no enjoyment, as the senses are being pulled back or withdrawn. Life becomes joyless. One feels lack of interest in anything and feels insecurity. But if one jumps into this insecurity, one feels that he / she is most secured. Since advaita demands renunciation from beginning, it is not easy for beginners. Struggle decreases, as one progress and finally sadhana transforms from effort to effortless. Advaita does depends upon grace, for sadhana to become effortless. In fact everything depends upon God's and Guru's grace.
mahAvAkya - Sarvam khalu-idam brahma is bramavAda and not mAyAvAda
Adi Shankara did not stop at 'Brahman Satya, Jagat Mithya'. He went on to say 'Jagat satyam'. mAhAvAkya is 'sarvam khalu-idam brahma' Which means everything 'Else' is brahman or can be said that Everything 'Else' is (also) brahman. So if Advaita was mAyAvAda and Adi Shankara wanted to preach a-sat-shastra, he would hav said everything else is maya. This statement would not be selected or propogated by him.It shows that Advaita is about brahmavAda and not mAyAvAda
नित्यं ब्रह्म निराकारं निर्गुणं बोधयेत् परम् |
भासयन् ब्रह्मभावं च दीपो दीपान्तरं यथा ||
The Guru is one who instructs the disciple about attributeless, eternal Brahman, and there by reveals the Brahmanbhava (feeling of being Brahman) in his heart just like one lamp kindles another lamp is the Guru. (75)
Lets recollect the verse from padma purANa
This powerful doctrine of Mayavada resembles the Vedas, but is by nature non-Vedic... (Padma Purana 6.236.11)
Now you know that there is subtle difference between maavaada and brahmavaada.
It is clear that Advaita is not maayaavaad (mayavad) and advaita is brahmavaad (brahmavad). Adi Shankara did not stopped at mAyA, but went on to reach Brahman. Shankaracharya was not hidden buddhist, but a true vedantin who propagated sacred doctrine of Advaita vedanta. Infact, Advaita is the oldest tradition, surviving from the beginning of creation. Brahma dev’s maanas putras (mind born sons), 4 kumaras, were also tatva Jnanis.
Importance of Guru Tatva (Atma Tatva, Brahman)
वेद्शास्त्रपुराणानि चेतिहासादिकानि च |
शैवशाक्तागमादिनि ह्यन्ये च बहवो मताः |
अपभ्रंशाः समस्तानां जीवानां भ्रांतचेतसाम् ||
जपस्तपोव्रतं तीर्थं यज्ञो दानं तथैव च |
गुरु तत्वं अविज्ञाय सर्वं व्यर्थं भवेत् प्रिये ||
The Vedas, the Shastras, Puranas, the Itihasas etc., the science of Mantras, Yantras Mohana, Uchatana etc., cults like the Shaiva, Agama, Shakta, etc., and other cults existing in the world today are merely false theories expressed in corrupted words which confuse the ignorant and deluded Jivas. Japa austerities, observances, pilgrimage sacrifice, charity - all these become a mere waste without understanding the Guru Tattva. (19, 20, 21)
For more slokas, please visit Advaita in Shastras: Guru Gita
Another Inference is that Atman is prakash or the effluence of Jyoti of Krishna
Atman is not Prakash (light) or Jyoti (flame or point of light) or Lord's Effulgence
Bhagavad Gita says:
यथा सर्वगतं सौक्ष्म्यादाकाशं नोपलिप्यते।
सर्वत्रावस्थितो देहे तथाऽऽत्मा नोपलिप्यते।।13.33।।
13.33 As the all-pervading ether is not tainted, because of its subtlety, so the Self seated everywhere in the body is not tainted.
13.33 Yatha, as; sarva-gatam, the all-pervading; akasam, space;-though pervasive, still, na upalipyate, is not defiled, does not come into contact; saukmyat, because of its subtlety; tatha, similarly; atma, the Self; avasthitah, present, sarvatra, everywhere; dehe, in the body; na, is not; upalipyate, defiled.Further,
Simplified Shankara bhAsya
13.33 As the all-pervading akash (space), though pervasive, still, is not defiled, does not come into contact because of its subtlety, similarly, atma (the Self) which is present everywhere in the body is not defiled. Further,
यथा प्रकाशयत्येकः कृत्स्नं लोकमिमं रविः।
क्षेत्रं क्षेत्री तथा कृत्स्नं प्रकाशयति भारत।।13.34।।
13.34 Just as the one sun illumines the whole world, so also the Lord of the field (Supreme Self) illumines the whole field, O Arjuna.
13.34 Yatha, as; ekam, the one; ravih, sun; prakasayati, illumines; imam, this; krtsnam, whole; lokam, world tatha, similarly;-who?-ksetri, the Knower of the field, i.e. the supreme Self, though one; prakasayati, illumines; krtsnam, the whole; ksetram, field, from the 'great elements' to 'fortitude' (cf. 5-6).Here the illustration of the sun serves to highlight two aspects of the Self, viz that, like the sun, the Self is one in all the fields, and that It remains unaffected.This verse is meant for summarizing the idea of the whole of this chapter:
Simplified Shankara BhAsya
13.34 as one sun illumines this whole world similarly, ksetri, the Knower of the field, i.e. the supreme Self, though one, illumines the whole field, from the 'great elements' to 'fortitude'. Here the illustration of the sun serves to highlight two aspects of the Self, viz that, like the sun, the Self is one in all the fields, and that It remains unaffected. This verse is meant for summarizing the idea of the whole of this chapter:
भूतप्रकृतिमोक्षं च ये विदुर्यान्ति ते परम्।।13.35।।
13.35 They who, by the eye of knowledge, perceive the distinction between the field and its knower and also the liberation (moksha) from the Nature of being, go to the Supreme.
13.35 Ye, those who; viduh, know; evam, thus, in the manner described above; jnana-caksusa, through the eye of wisdom-the eye is the realization in the form of the knowledge of the Self, which arises from following the instructions of the scriptures and teachers; through that eye of wisdom; antaram, the distinction, the particular mutual distinction; ksetra-ksetrajnayoh, beween the field and the Knower of the field as they have been explained; and bhuta-prakrti-moksam, the annihilation of the Matrix of beings-the Matrix of beings is that which is described as ignorance and is called the Unmanifest; (those who know) the annihilation (moksanam) of that Matrix of beings; te, they; yanti, reach, go to; param, the Supreme, to Brahman, the Reality which is the suprme Goal. The idea is that they do not take up a body again.
Simplified Shankra BhAsya
13.35 those who know thus, in the manner described above, through the eye of wisdom-the eye is the realization in the form of the knowledge of the Self, which arises from following the instructions of the scriptures and teachers through that eye of wisdom, the particular mutual distinction (ksetra-ksetrajnayoh), between the field and the Knower of the field as they have been explained and the annihilation of the Matrix of beings, described as ignorance and is called the Unmanifest, (those who know) the annihilation (moksanam) of that Matrix of beings they reach the Reality, get liberation, which is the supreme Goal. The idea is that they do not take up a body again.
Ashtavakra Gita also says the same thing
kva tamah kva prakaso va
hanam kva ca na kimcana .
niratankasya sarvada ..
For one who knows, unaltering,
beyond all trace of doubt or fear,
where is there dark? Where light? Where
giving up? Where anything at all?
Clearly the Atman is Prakashak and not prakash itself. Prakash means knowledge. It is also not lord's effulgence.
Likewise, shastras teach us, atman is AkASa-vat and not AkASa (akasha) i.e. like AkASa is omnipresent, invisible and is very subtle (sukshma) and uneffected by other 4 elements (earth, water, fire and wind) and like everything is within AkASa i.e. AkASa gives space to everything, similarly, Atman, which is subtlest, subtle than even AkASa, This comparison is to give us a visualization or create a picture or an imagination.
Atman is prakASa-svarupa. prakASa, light, has the nature of giving knowledge. Suppose you enter into dark room and want to find your wrist watch, you cannot find it in dark. By switching on tube light, you can easily find your watch. So the nature (svabhAva) of prakASa is to give knowledge.
In the snake-rope analogy, snake, which is an illusion, caused by wrong perception in dark, vanishes when one throws some light on it and it turns out to be a harmless rope. Snake was wrongly superimposed on rope. Here light symbolizes knowledge. So does in Gita say that sadhaka knows atman by Jnana ChakShu. Jnana-ChakSu is not different than Jnana i.e. Atman. Jnana-ChakSu is different than Divya Chakshu, which was given by Bhagavan to Arjun (chapter 11) so that he can see bhagavan's virATa (cosmic, mega) svarupa (form).
Refuting authority of scripture on basis of dating and classification
Some people make ill attempt to refute authenticity of scripture if it does not fit one's ideology. Attempts to date scripture is useless as they are 'apaurusheya' (unauthored). Rishis saw the words and slokas or heard them. It is only because that they have written down or spread the teachings, they may have become famous in their name. A Rishi im[parting Brahma-vidya in any Upanishad does not mean that that particular Rishi created or authored upanishads. They only passed on to his disciple, who in turn passed on to his disciple when he assumed the role of Guru. Dating is useless for an oral tradition.
Also some sources say that some puraNas are not authentic or up-puranas and some Gita's are minor, so they are not authentic. Major or minor does not make difference. Their quality of content is what is important. Even a small samvAda (dialog) of just few slokas is equally potent and may contain the very essence of vedantic teachings. Being a minor gita or a minor purana does not take credit away from them e.g. devi-bhagavat is not one of the major 18 purANAs but is highly respected and is worshipped like that of bhagavat worshipped by vaishnavas by shaktas.
Shiva Rahasya an up-purana, which contains Ribhu Gita is considered important and revered by Shaivas. Shakras revere Devi Bhavagat though it is not one of 18 major puranas
All 108 upanishads are authentic (for an advaitin) as a great advaitin Upanishad Brahma Yogin has written commentaries on them. There are some more upanishads which are revered by a particular sect. We cannot discard them, as genuine sadhakas study them for their personal spiritual progress.
The Great VidyAraNya svAmI in his prakaraNa granth PancadaSI has cited a verse from MuktikA Upanishad 2.64
दर्शनादर्शने हित्वा स्वयं केवलरूपतः .
य आस्ते कपिशार्दूल ब्रह्म स ब्रह्मवित्स्वयम् .. (2.64 Muktika Upanishad, 1.4.68 PanchdaSI - dvaita viveka)
O Brahman! The one leaving both darSana (GYAna, knowledge) and adarSana (aGYAna, ignorance), abides only in Self (svarUpa), he himself is Brahman only, not just knower of Brahman.
(in other words, Knower of Brahman is Brahman itself, Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati, Mund. Up. 3.2.9). Sri Ramana Maharshi also says the same thing. According to Swami Shankarananda of Chinmaya Mission, who has Translated PancadaSI in Hindi and have commented on it says that this verse occurs in Yog VAsisTa too.
Note: PancadaSI in English (html, pdf), Hindi (archive.org, scribd by Pt. RAmAvatAra vidyAbhAskara)
Tamil scriptures are not universally accepted and / or quoted by all Hindu schools, yet some like Thirumandiram, Thirukkural and Periya PurANa.
Lingayas do not worship according to vedas but according to their agamas.
If by referring to Purana, Adi Shankara means only one purana – Vishnu Purana, does this mean that other puranas were written after Adi Shankara?
Refuting is generally motivated by intolerance and fear of insecurity. Not accepting anything that you do not know or that contradicts your belief and philosophy may look fine, but it has to be peacefully neglected. The commentaries on Upanishads and Brahmasutra by Shri Madhvacharya and Shri Ramanujacharya may be done due to the reason which are unknown by laymen whose whose consciousness is strongly embedded in physical body. If anyone is refuting any philosophy, I would ask, do you practice what is written in Upanishads like Mandukya, Prasna and Katha? Is it a part of daily worship or chanting of verses? Do you meditate on OM? if no then why are you so much concerned about it. Bhagavatam and Gita is enough for a laymen to progress in spirituality.
Upanishads are not for the masses. Still people pick up books, as now-a-days they are freely available. Upanishads are commented and translated by the ones who have not realized Brahman. It is mentioned in Katha Upanishad (quoted in Advaita in Shastras and in Understanding Advaita) that only knower of Brahman can impart Brahma-vidya and only a disciple who does not long for worldly desires but only longs for Brahman is only fit to study Upanishads which impart brahma-vidya. Same is same in Guru Gita, that if a guru is immature, then both Guru and disciple undergo endless sufferings. So please do not pickup any upanishad commented by a scholar or a fact finder or a historian. Only one who has realized Brahman can understand Brahman and hence can understand essence of Upanishads thereby fit to write a commentary if God orders him to do so. Same is said by Bhagavan Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavan Krishna in Anu Gita (also known as Brahman Gita) says that he has established himself in Brahman and then imparted brahma-vidya to Arjun and now it is not possible to repeat it entirely, but I will give you knowledge through which you can attain Brahma-vidya (Anu Gita 9-15).
It is fine of 2 advaitins discuss to clear their doubts or 2 dvaitins discuss shastras to clear their doubts, but debating with other paths is not good for spiritual progress.
Have you seen any kind of debates in upanishads. It is always Q & A system. Disciple asks and Guru replies. There is no discussion, forget argument and refutation.
To add to it, commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam titled Bhavartha-dipika, by Rama Bhakta and an Advaitin Sridhara Swami was very popular and even appreciated by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who considered it as authentic and the best known full bhasya till date (i.e. till date of chaitanya Mahaprabhu).
In Caitanya-caritamrta, Caitanya directly speaks about Sridhara Svami, a devoted Advaitin and Sankara’s follower. When a Vaisnava named Vallabha Bhatta approached Caitanya with a new Bhagavatam commentary wherein he apparently refutes Sridhara’s explanations as inconsistent Caitanya become very displeased:
You have dared criticize Sridhara Svami, and you have begun your own commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam, not accepting his authority. That is your false pride. Sridhara Svami is the spiritual master of the entire world because by his mercy we can understand Srimad-Bhagavatam. I therefore accept him as a spiritual master. Whatever you might write due to false pride, trying to surpass Sridhara Svami, would carry a contrary purport. Therefore no one would pay attention to it. One who comments on Srimad-Bhagavatam following in the footsteps of Sridhara Svami will be honored and accepted by everyone. Put forth your explanation of Srimad-Bhagavatam following in the footsteps of Sridhara Svami. (Bhaktivedanta, 1975, 63).
This shows that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu only stressed on Krishna Bhakti and did not spread hatred against Advaitins. Such high souled person an avatar of Bhakti, cannot have negative emotions. They only put things their way. Indeed bhakti is for masses. Better learn and practice then just speaking 'I am Brahman' and not experiencing anything, not even detaching ourselves of sara-bhava. Sri Ramakrishna says that for this yuga (Kali Yuga), bhakti is the best (that suits), Naradiya Bhakti. This is general statement applicable for masses and does not say that Advaita is fake. At other times, Sri Ramakrishna says that Advaita is difficult to practice. Bhakti is the best.
There is a popular saying that, when one fills water in empty pot from river, the half filled pot makes too much of noise, while the fully filled does not. Often disciples make mess and in harming others, due to their immaturity and not reaching ultimate goal of life, they harm themselves by increasing negativity within themselves and giving bad name of their acharya. Lord buddha says, 'Anger is like holding hot coal with the intent of throwing at others'
People talking about interpolation, refutation on basis of authority, etc reflect their own mindsets. Ones wearing blue glasses can only see everything in blue colour. Person having jaundice sees yellow tinge in everything. In the same way, people talking about this stuff may actually be the ones who does such infamous deeds. Have a look at all 108 Upanishads most of them talk about Advaita and if Advaitins could manipulate upanishads or create new upanishads, that is every possibility that the ones accusing others are involved in such infamous business.
All 108 Upanishads are authentic
Non-advaitins argue or believe that only the Upanishads that are commented by Adi Shankara and Vaishnav acharyas are authentic. This is a false assumption.
If you study Sankara's texts closely, you will notice that he has a way of being concise and to the point. If the reference is to a text X, he will not quote texts Y and Z that are similar. If the reference is to a particular term or concept, he won't wander into discussions of things that are only peripherally related. He gives you the essence, without going into other things. So, if he has not referred to a text, that does not mean that he was unaware of it, nor does it mean that he did not recognize its validity. (Credits: Sri VidyAsankar ji of advaita-vedanta.org)
For an Avaitin, if an advaitin or present Shankaracharya would make a comment that 'x' upanishad is not valid even though it looks like it is of advaitic nature, then we can accept that such an upanishad has to be discarded. Again, Vaishnav panth Does Not represent the entire Hinduism. There is Shakta, Shaiva, Advaita, Tantra, Purva Mimamsa which are also according to vedas and are authentic. So all acharyas must unanimously say that 'x' upanishad is fake e.g. Allopanishad (Allah Upanishad) then we, all Hindus, can discard it.
Niralamba Upanishad is revered by Advaitins, and may not be quoted by Vaishnav acharyas, but Lahiri Mahashay has written a commentary on it. Uttara Gita is also revered by Advaitins as Shri Gaupadacharya has written commentary on it.
Same goes true for Vaishnavas, Shaivas and Shaktas
A List of authentic Upanishads can be found here
Some say that bhasya on Svetesvatara Upanishad is not made by Adi Shankara but by later acharyas. the reason for this argument is that in the beginning many references to purANa-s and longer verses are given. Adi shankara in rest of his bhasya-s give very apt verse, at times half verse and not more than one verse for one sloka.
On the other hand, it is believed that Sri Ramanuja has given reference of Mudgal Upanishad, which is one of 108 upanishads, as listed in Muktika Upanishad.
While prasthantraiyi which includes Gita, Upanishads and Brahma Sutras was studied prior to Adi shankara by Dvaitins, Visistadvaitins or advaitins has to be found out. Other acharyas followed footsteps and wrote bhasya-s on prasthantraiyi, which contains same upanishads (10 principle upanishads, as mentioned in Muktika Upanishad), as commented by Shri Adi Shankara.
A point to be noted is that are there any documented facts available in which Authenticity of any upanishad is questioned by any of the acharyas?
Paramacharya Sri Sri Chandrashekhendra (Indira) Saraswati if Kanchi Kamkoti Peetham in his book Vedas, chapter 11, The Ten Upanishads, page 68 mentioned the name of 10 mukhya (main) upanishads. The book vedas is an extract of the larger book 'Hindu Dharma'. Same passage and chapter occurs in the book, 'Hindu Dharma', Part 5, Chapter 33, The Ten Upanishads, page 219. Also note that the book, Hindu Dharma' is only 2 volumes of the larger book, 'Deivaththin Kural' in Tamil, translated in English in the name 'The Voice of God'
In the book he says,
The following sloka enumerates the ten upanishads:
Isa Kena Kathaa Prasna Munda Maandukya TAithari
Aitareyam Cha Chaandogyam Brahadhaaranyakam Dasa
ईसकेनकथाप्रश्न मुण्ड माण्डूक्य तैत्तिरी ।
एइतरेयंच छान्दोज्यं ब्रहृदारण्यकंदश ॥
Adi Shankara has written his commentary also in the above order of texts.
Muktika Upanishads says
The list of 108 Upanishads is introduced in verses 26-29,
"But by what means is the Kaivalya kind of Moksha [= Mukti] got? The Mandukya is enough; if knowledge is not got from it, then study the Ten Upanishads. Getting knowledge very soon, you will reach my abode. If certainty is not got even then, study the 32 Upanishads and stop. If desiring Moksha without the body, read the 108 Upanishads. Hear their order" (trans. Warrier)
Isa Kena Kathaa Prasna Munda Maandukya TAithari
Aitareyam Cha Chaandogyam Brahadhaaranyakam tathA - 30
ईसकेनकथाप्रश्न मुण्ड माण्डूक्य तैत्तिरी ।
एइतरेयंच छान्दोज्यं ब्रहृदारण्यकं तथा ॥ ३० ॥
Note: The word tathA appears instead of word dasa in online copy found at sanskritdocuments.org
For convenience they are put as Numbered List:
Isha / Isa / Isavasya Upanishad
If you have noticed, not only the upanishads but their order exactly matches with what Paramacharya says. Paramacharya is an authority on almost all spiritual matters and is revered by all. Being a Shankaracharya, he sticks to traditional method. If Muktika Upanishad is not an authority, then Paramacharya would certainly not have quoted it.
At other places like in Part 5, Chapter 27, The Vedas, Page 196, Paramacharya says that
It is believed that those who seek liberation need nothing to realise their goal other than Madukya Upanishad.
In Page 195 of same chapter, Paramacharya again uses the word 'Dasopanishad'.
Another distinction of the Yajurveda is that of the ten Upanishads ("Dasopanishad") the first and the last are from it - the Isavasyopanishadnand the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.
At another instance, Paramacharya mentions the name of 'Nrsimha Tapini Upanisad' in Part 5, Chapter 38, Page, 261
This indicates that the direct successors of Adi Shankaracharya ji and one of the most revered names among Shankaracharyas, Paramacharya, as he is fondly called out of respect and reverence, considers Muktika Upanishad as genuine and hence all 108 upanishads mentioned in Muktika Upanishad are authentic.
On another instance, Paramacharya considers Upanishad Brahma Yogin or Upanishad Brahman, who was from same Kanchi Matha, as a great ascetic and informs his followers about his achievement of writing commentaries on 108 upanishads and explaninig that due to his achievement, he was honoured with title of 'Upanishad Brahmendra'. Paramacharya himself says that his math is in close contact with Upanishad Brahmendra's Math.
The Upanisads are believed to have been large in number. Two hundred years ago, an ascetic belonging to Kancipuram wrote a commentary on 108 Upanisads. He earned the name of "Upanisad Brahmendra". His monastic institution is still to be seen in Kanci.
Source: Veda and Vedanta : Are They Opposed to One Another?, Part 5, Chapter 32, page, 215
Another info about the close association or contact with Upanishad Brahmendra Math can be found here and here.
There are 1180 shaka-s of vedas. Each shakha has one upanishad (essence - jnana Kand), hence there are 1180 upanishads. Most of them are extinct.
It can be concluded that
1. Since 10 upanishads commented by all Acharyas are the exact 10 as mentioned in Muktika Upanishad
2. Brahma Upanishad mentioned in Chandogya Upanishad (3.11.3)
3. Other Upanishads like Atma Upanishad has similar verses as found in Bhagavad Gita
4. KarikA on Maudukya by Shri GauDapada, thereby giving importance to Mandukya Upanishad
are all found in Muktika Upanishad. Hence Muktika Upanishad and all 108 mentioned in Muktika Upanishad are authentic.
PurANa-s and Upa-purANA-s are authentic too
<articles shifted to Authenticity of Puranas, Up-puranas and Sthala Puranas>
It is clear from the definition of Shiva that Shiva is none of than Brahman.
Article on Anya-devata worship, and other related articles are shifted to new page Musings - Another Side of Coin
Veda or Agama, which one is supreme authority?
PanchrAtra and Vaikhanasa are agama-s. What are agama-s? Swami Sivananda explains:
The Agamas are theological treatises and practical manuals of divine worship. The Agamas include the Tantras, Mantras and Yantras. These are treatises explaining the external worship of God, in idols, temples, etc. All the Agamas treat of (i) Jnana or Knowledge, (ii) Yoga or Concentration, (iii) Kriya or Esoteric Ritual and (iv) Charya or Exoteric Worship. They also give elaborate details about ontology and cosmology, liberation, devotion, meditation, philosophy of Mantras, mystic diagrams, charms and spells, temple-building, image-making, domestic observances, social rules, public festivals, etc.
In short, agama-s are composed by Sages keeping in mind certain Veda ShAkhA-s. Just like great Rishi-s who had mastered veda-s composed Smriti-s, great Rishi-s also composed Agama-s. Since they are not a part of veda-s, but compliment veda-s, they are secondary in authority as compared to Veda-s which are topmost authority. When they contradict veda-s they have to be discarded.
Lets take an arbitrary example.
Suppose an agama states that - 'Vishnu is supreme', then we will have to find pramANa from veda-s. If pramANa-s are found, then we can accept this statement.
Suppose an agama states that - 'Only Vishnu is supreme and none else', still we can take 'and none else' as indicating one-pointed devotion. Should we take it that agama implies that Rudra is not supreme or that Rudra / Shiva is a Jiva and not Brahman, specially we find pramANa from veda-s which says - 'Purusho vai Rudra' ?
Do agama-s say, 'Only Vishnu is supreme and none else, Rudra is NOT supreme'? They do not speak negatively. It is our mind that takes it negatively. Instead of ignoring other deities, one denigrates them.
What if an agama says the above statement?
In this case, we will have to find pramANa from veda-s. If we find a pramANa from veda-s stating supremacy of Rudra, then we will have to discard this statement as it contradicts veda-s. Veda-s do not eulogize one deity.
I think that this is the reason why acharyas do not denigrate other deities, as denigration is not found in their commentaries on PrasthAntrayi. They are projecting one-pointed devotion by stating supremacy of one deity.
To repeat again, supremacy of one deity does not mean that one has to denigrate another deity. It only means to have one-pointed devotion to a supreme deity, else it would contradict veda-s, which eulogize another deities.
The problem comes when one keeps agama-s in center, consider them as supreme authority and then go on to interpret veda-s in a way that it does not contradict their agama-s.
Similar is the case with PurANa-s and itihAsa (MahAbhArata). Both are often eulogized as the '5th Veda'. It should be taken in literal sense. It means that they are not to be neglected and that they speak the same truth of veda-s but in a very friendly way.
All acharya-s unanimously agree that veda-s are considered as supreme authority, then comes smriti-s (which includes Bhagavad Gita) followed by purANa-s. This gradations does not imply that purANa-s are weak or do not speak truth. Whenever one finds contradiction, one should consider the view of veda-s as final. Perhaps purANa-s are not preserved as very well and are said to contain interpolations here and there.
There are Vaishnava agamas, Shaiva agamas and Shakta agamas, each citing reference from Veda-s and complimenting Veda-s. If at all you call them as vedic, at most they can be called as anSa vedic (partly vedic) and not pUrNa vedic (fully vedic), as they only concentrate on parts of veda-s. Sadly, in present times, Pancaratra-s (Vaishnavas) and Pashupata-s (Shaivas) denigrate rival deities.
All schools during Adi Shankara's time were advaitic
According to Sacchidanandendra Saraswati, during Adi Shankara's time, all school of thoughts agreed on unity of Brahman and jiva as final release. They only differed in approaches like dvaita, Visistadvaita, etc According to Swamiji, the then Panchratra Vaishnavism was different then it is today. Sir Vaishnavas and Madhvas claim to follow the Panchratra Vaishnavism, who are accused for interpolating pancharatra agamas to suit their needs. Many samhitas, aganas and sutras relating to Pancharatra VAishnavism are now extinct.
Swamiji has done research work and is found in book Shuddha Shankara Prakriya Bhaskara Booklet Series
According to popular belief, Adi Shankara was an avatar of Shiva (Dakshinamurty). Hence it is natural to be a Vishnu devotee. Vishnu avatars are devotees of Lord Shiva - Parashurama, Rama and Krishna. I have written on it here.
Not going deep, as per their philosophy, only one God and one path is true. There are 4 Vaishnava sampradaya-s with Gaudiya Vaishnava as the 5th.
Some believe that Krishna is original source of all avatars (Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Nimbarkas and Vallabhacharyas), some say Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu (Madhvas and Ramanujas). So what is the truth? Both cannot be true.
Again, there are basic differences between core philosophies / beliefs of all 5 sampradayas. All cannot be true. which one of them is true?
This automatically disqualifies all other sampradayas except one as non-vedic.
The very philosophy of discarding whole shruti or even parts of authentic shruti / smriti / purana is dreadful. Vaishnavas discards Shiva being praised as supreme Godhead by Brahma-dev, but when same Brahma-dev in chapter 10 praises Vishnu / Krishna as supreme, it is acceptable.
In this context, I think that Nahi Ninda Nyaya is the best approach.
So they even discard a part of Bhagavat Purana. Such is their rigidity and accuse us of being rigid. It reflects their own mental status.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Eka Dandi Sanyasi and his guru was Ishvara Puri. As the name suggests his guru was an advaitin. Vaishnava sanyasins are tri-dandi sanyasins. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came after Ramanuja. It means that there were already established Vaishnava Mathas. As we know that Ramanuja and Madhva were eka dandi sanyasins and were initiated into Advaita. If Ramanuja wished he could have changed the rules of Sanyasa as per Vaishnava guidelines. This indicates that all Gurus of Vaishnava, who are revered as avatars may have also experienced and preached Advaita as final release, which in time got corrupted by his followers. They only put their philosophy in their way and only differed in the initial approach.
Another great Vaishnava saint who is revered as avatar preached Krishna bhakti as the easiest way but preached that Advaita is the final state. Avatars cannot be wrong nor can they contradict each other as far as final release is concerned. All avatars Govindpada and Patanjali (avatars of Shesha Naga - reference in Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya), Adi Shankara, 5 Vaishnava Acharyas and Sant Gyandev (Gyaneshwar) would not preach anything contradictory as far as final release or final state is concerned.
What we know about these sampradayas might be a myth, who knows.
Dvaita, Visistadvaita and Advaita are steps leading to ultimate truth
Dikshitar graphically describes dvaita as the lowest step, vishishtadvaita as the middle step and sivadvaita and advaita which are very close to each other as the highest steps. He makes it clear in his work that Srikantha-Bhashya on the Brahmasutra has been written in very close approximation to the trend of thought of Adi Sankara in his own bhashya. Srikanta, according to Dikshitar, propagated his cult on the understanding that sagunopasana (Worship of name and form) is only the first step to nirgunopasana (Propitiation of the nameless and formless), and that it was the real intention of Srikanta that the final truth lies only in Shuddhadvaita. Dikshitar's great dialectical skill is fully reflected in the work called 'Anandalahari chandrika', where he tries to narrow down the differences between the apparently divergent schools of thought and tries to show that the advaita of Sankara is the real eternal truth to which all others try to approximate.
Starting from the basics Understanding Advaita to other articles in the Section 'Advaita Vedanta' up to Musings - Other Side of Coin,
Finally, we conclude that,
Their logical fallacy is a strawman.
By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone's argument, it's much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate.
They have attacked strawman. Attacking a strawman is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position. This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged, emotional issues.
So, they, accusers have created a false identity and then knocked it down, giving a false sense of victory.
Logical arguments put forth by Vyasatirth are successfully refuted in the celebrated with ‘Advaita Siddhi’ by Madhusudan Saraswati (links given on References and Sources Page)
After dispelling doubts, lets see scriptural evidences of Advaita. Lets see Advaita in Shastras.