Friday, 13 January 2017

Was Sri Adi Shankaracharya a Vaishnava? What is Mayavada philoshophy?

To understand the context of the question, we need to know how Adi Shankaracharya was a Vaishnava and how His philosophy is Mayavada:-


Adi Shankara was a Vaishnava or not?


Vaishnavas, particularly those from ISKCON, believe that Adi Shankaracharya was a Vaishnava by heart, since He used the names of Vishnu in many of His literary works:



नारायणः परोऽव्यक्तादण्डमव्यक्तसम्भवम् ।  
अण्डस्यान्तस्त्विमे लोकाः सप्तद्वीपा च मेदिनी ॥” (Bhagavad Gita Shankara Bhashyam 1:1)

“अहं परं ब्रह्म वासुदेवाख्यं सर्वस्य जगतः प्रभव उत्पत्तिः । मत्त एव स्थितिनाशक्रियाफलोपभोगलक्षणं विक्रियारूपं सर्वं जगत्प्रवर्तते । इत्येवं मत्वा भजन्ते सेवन्ते मां बुधा अवगतपरमार्थतत्त्वाः । भावसमन्विता भावो भावना परमार्थतत्त्वाभिनिवेशस्तेन समन्विताः संयुक्ताः इत्यर्थः ॥” (Bhagavad Gita Shankara Bhashyam 10:8)

“भज गोविन्दं भज गोविन्दं गोविन्दं भज मूढमते ।सम्प्राप्ते सन्निहिते काले नहि नहि रक्षति डुकृङ्करणे ॥” (Moha Mudgara Verse 1)

In the aforementioned verses, Adi Shankaracharya has used names like “Narayana” (BGSB 1:1), “Vasudeva” (BGSB 10:8) and “Govinda” (MM 1). These names are in general taken to be names of Vishnu, who is a Saguna deity, holds conch & discus, resides in Vaikuntha and is consort of Lakshmi.


Vaishnavas are Sagunopasakas and hence by default they assume that since Adi Shankaracharya used the names of Vishnu in His literary works, then He must have been a Vaishnava (worshiper of Saguna deity Vishnu). However, this is a folly on their part, for Adi Shankaracharya was a Nirgunopasaka, and the names of Saguna deities are Upadhis of Brahman according to Advaita point of view.



Adi Shankaracharya was an anti-Vaishnava:


On a stark contrast to the views of Vaishnavas and their accidental/wishful misreading of Adi Shankara and Kevaladvaita, Shankaracharya was an anti-Vaishnava. He criticized Bhagavata (Vaishnava) sect for their adherence Pancharatra Agamas in His Brahmasutra Bhashyam and condemned Vaishnavism as “Veda Virodha” (anti-Veda):



“उत्पत्त्यसंभवात् ।” (Brahmasutra Shankarabhashya 2:2:42)
शाङ्करभाष्यम्॥
येषामप्रकृतिरधिष्ठाता केवलनिमित्तकारणमीश्वरोऽभिमतः तेषां पक्षः प्रत्याख्यातः। येषां पुनः प्रकृतिश्चाधिष्ठाता च उभयात्मकं कारणमीश्वरोऽभिमतः तेषां पक्षः प्रत्याख्यायते। ननु श्रुतिसमाश्रयणेनाप्येवंरूप एवेश्वरः प्राङ्निर्धारितः प्रकृतिश्चाधिष्ठाता चेति श्रुत्यनुसारिणी च स्मृतिः प्रमाणमिति स्थितिः तत्कस्य हेतोरेष पक्षः प्रत्याचिख्यासित इति उच्यते यद्यप्येवंजातीयकोंऽशः समानत्वान्न विसंवादगोचरो भवति अस्ति त्वंशान्तरं विसंवादस्थानमित्यतस्तत्प्रत्याख्यानायारम्भः।।
तत्र भागवता मन्यते भगवानेवैको वासुदेवो निरञ्जनज्ञानस्वरूपः परमार्थतत्त्वम् स चतुर्धात्मानं प्रविभज्य प्रतिष्ठितः वासुदेवव्यूहरूपेण संकर्षणव्यूहरूपेण प्रद्युम्नव्यूहरूपेण अनिरुद्धव्यूहरूपेण च वासुदेवो नाम परमात्मा उच्यते संकर्षणो नाम जीवः प्रद्युम्नो नाम मनः अनिरुद्धो नाम अहंकारः तेषां वासुदेवः परा प्रकृतिः इतरे संकर्षणादयः कार्यम् तमित्थंभूतं परमेश्वरं भगवन्तमभिगमनोपादानेज्यास्वाध्याययोगैर्वर्षशतमिष्ट्वा क्षीणक्लेशो भगवन्तमेव प्रतिपद्यत इति। तत्र यत्तावदुच्यते योऽसौ नारायणः परोऽव्यक्तात्प्रसिद्धः परमात्मा सर्वात्मा स आत्मनात्मानमनेकधा व्यूह्यावस्थित इति तन्न निराक्रियते स एकधा भवति त्रिधा भवति इत्यादिश्रुतिभ्यः परमात्मनोऽनेकधाभावस्याधिगतत्वात् यदपि तस्य भगवतोऽभिगमनादिलक्षणमाराधनमजस्रमनन्यचित्ततयाभिप्रेयते तदपि न प्रतिषिध्यते श्रुतिस्मृत्योरीश्वरप्रणिधानस्य प्रसिद्धत्वात्। यत्पुनरिदमुच्यते वासुदेवात्संकर्षण उत्पद्यते संकर्षणाच्च प्रद्युम्नः प्रद्युम्नाच्चानिरुद्ध इति अत्र ब्रूमः न वासुदेवसंज्ञकात्परमात्मनः संकर्षणसंज्ञकस्य जीवस्योत्पत्तिः संभवति अनित्यत्वादिदोषप्रसङ्गात् उत्पत्तिमत्त्वे हि जीवस्य अनित्यत्वादयो दोषाः प्रसज्येरन् ततश्च नैवास्य भगवत्प्राप्तिर्मोक्षः स्यात् कारणप्राप्तौ कार्यस्य प्रविलयप्रसङ्गात् प्रतिषेधिष्यति च आचार्यो जीवस्योत्पत्तिम् नात्माश्रुतेर्नित्यत्वाच्च ताभ्यः इति। तस्मादसंगतैषा कल्पना।।
Translation by Swami Vireshvarananda of Ramakrishna Mission:-
“The origination (of the individual soul from the Lord) being impossible (the Pancharatra doctrine is untenable).”
Commentary:-
The Pancharatra or the Bhagavata school is now taken up for examination. It recognizes the material and efficient causality of the Lord, but propounds certain other views that are objectionable. According to it Vasudeva is the Supreme Lord, the material and the efficient cause of the world. By worshiping Him, meditating on Him and by knowing Him one attains Liberation. From Vasudeva is born Shankarshana, the Jiva; from Jiva Pradyumna, the mind; from mind Aniruddha, the Ego. These are the fourfold form (Vyuha) of Vasudeva.
Of these, the view that Vasudeva is the Supreme Lord, to be worshiped and so on, the Vedantin accepts, as it is not against the Sruti. But the creation of the Jiva etc., he rejects, as such creation is impossible. Why? Because if the soul be created, it would be subject to destruction, and so no Liberation can be predicated of it. That the soul is not created will be shown in Sutra 2. 3. 17.
“न च कर्तुः करणम् ।” (Brahmasutra Shankarabhashya 2:2:43)
शाङ्करभाष्यम्॥
इतश्चासंगतैषा कल्पना यस्मान्न हि लोके कर्तुर्देवदत्तादेः करणं परश्वाद्युत्पद्यमानं दृश्यते वर्णयन्ति च भागवताः कर्तुर्जीवात्संकर्षणसंज्ञकात्करणं मनः प्रद्युम्नसंज्ञकमुत्पद्यते कर्तृजाच्च तस्मादनिरुद्धसंज्ञकोऽहंकार उत्पद्यत इति न चैतद्दृष्टान्तमन्तरेणाध्यवसातुं शक्नुमः न चैवंभूतां श्रुतिमुपलभामहे।।
Translation by Swami Vireshvarananda of Ramakrishna Mission:-
“Nor (is it seen that) the instrument (is produced) from the agent.”
Commentary:-
As an instrument, like an axe, is not seen to be produced from the agent, the wood-cutter, the Bhagavata doctrine-that from the individual soul is produced the internal instrument or mind, and from the mind the ego-cannot be accepted. Neither is there any scriptural authority of it. The scripture plainly says that everything originates from Brahman.
“विज्ञानादिभावे वा तदप्रतिषेधः ।” (Brahmasutra Shankarabhashya 2:2:44) 
शाङ्करभाष्यम्॥
अथापि स्यात् न चैते संकर्षणादयो जीवादिभावेनाभिप्रेयन्ते किं तर्हि ईश्वरा एवैते सर्वे ज्ञानैश्वर्यशक्तिबलवीर्यतेजोभिरैश्वर्यधर्मैरन्विता अभ्युपगम्यन्ते वासुदेवा एवैते सर्वे निर्दोषा निरधिष्ठाना निरवद्याश्चेति तस्मान्नायं यथावर्णित उत्पत्त्यसंभवो दोषः प्राप्नोतीति। अत्रोच्यते एवमपि तदप्रतिषेधः उत्पत्त्यसंभवस्याप्रतिषेधः प्राप्नोत्येवायमुत्पत्त्यसंभवो दोषः प्रकारान्तरेणेत्यभिप्रायः कथम् यदि तावदयमभिप्रायः परस्परभिन्ना एवैते वासुदेवादयश्चत्वार ईश्वरास्तुल्यधर्माणः नैषामेकात्मकत्वमस्तीति ततोऽनेकेश्वरकल्पनानर्थक्यम् एकेनैवेश्वरेणेश्वरकार्यसिद्धेः सिद्धान्तहानिश्च भगवानेवैको वासुदेवः परमार्थतत्त्वमित्यभ्युपगमात्। अथायमभिप्रायः एकस्यैव भगवत एते चत्वारो व्यूहास्तुल्यधर्माण इति तथापि तदवस्थ एवोत्पत्त्यसंभवः न हि वासुदेवात्संकर्षणस्योत्पत्तिः संभवति संकर्षणाच्च प्रद्युम्नस्य प्रद्युम्नाच्चानिरुद्धस्य अतिशयाभावात् भवितव्यं हि कार्यकारणयोरतिशयेन यथा मृद्धटयोः न ह्यसत्यतिशये कार्यं कारणमित्यवकल्पते। न च पञ्चरात्रसिद्धान्तिभिर्वासुदेवादिषु एकस्मिन्सर्वेषु वा ज्ञानैश्वर्यादितारतम्यकृतः कश्चिद्भेदोऽभ्युपगम्यते वासुदेवा एव हि सर्वे व्यूहा निर्विशेषा इष्यन्ते। न चैते भगवद्व्यूहाश्चतुःसंख्यायामेवावतिष्ठेरन् ब्रह्मादिस्तम्बपर्यन्तस्य समस्तस्यैव जगतो भगवद्व्यूहत्वावगमात्।। 
Translation by Swami Vireshvarananda of Ramakrishna Mission:-
“Or if the (four Vyuhas are said to) posses intelligence etc., yet there is no warding of that (viz. the objection raised in Sutra 42). 
Commentary:-
The Bhagavatas may say that all the forms are Vasudeva, the Lord, and that all of them possess knowledge and lordship, strength, valour etc., and are free from faults and imperfections. In this case there will be more than one Iswara, which is redundant and goes against their own assumption. Even granting all this, the origination of one from the other is unthinkable. Being equal in all respects, none of them can be the cause of another, for the effect must have some feature that is lacking in the cause. Again the forms of Vasudeva cannot be limited to four only, as the whole world from Brahma down to a clump of grass is a form of the Supreme Being. 
“विप्रतिषेधाच् च ।” (Brahmasutra Shankarabhashya 2:2:45) 
शाङ्करभाष्यम्॥
विप्रतिषेधश्च अस्मिन् शास्त्रे बहुविध उपलभ्यते गुणगुणित्वकल्पनादिलक्षणः ज्ञानैश्वर्यशक्तिबलवीर्यतेजांसि गुणाः आत्मान एवैते भगवन्तो वासुदेवा इत्यादिदर्शनात्। वेदविप्रतिषेधश्च भवति चतुर्षु वेदेषु परं श्रेयोऽलब्ध्वा शाण्डिल्य इदं शास्त्रमधिगतवानित्यादिवेदनिन्दादर्शनात्। तस्मात् असंगतैषा कल्पनेति सिद्धम्।। 
Translation by Swami Vireshvarananda of Ramakrishna Mission:-
“And because of the contradictions (the Bhagavata view is untenable).” 
Commentary:-
Moreover the theory involves many contradictions. Sometimes it speaks of the four forms as the qualities of the Atman and sometimes as the Atman itself.


Another evidence of Adi Shankara’s rejection of Vaishnavism and Pancharatra texts:


“न साख्यं न शैवं न तत्पाञ्चरात्रं न जैनं न मीमांसकादेर्मतं वा विशिष्टानुभूत्या विशुद्धात्मकत्वात्त देकोऽवशिष्टः शिवः केवलोऽहम् ॥” (Dashashloki Verse 4)

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. That One, the Residue, the Auspicious, the Alone, am I.

So, the above evidences clearly show that Adi Shankaracharya was a Kevaladvaitin and not a Vaishnava, for a true Vaishnava would never reject Pancharatra texts and condemn Bhagavata (Vaishnava) sect.


Let us now see why the same Vaishnavas, who believe Adi Shankara too was a Vaishnava, call His philosophy Mayavada and condemn Him as a covered Buddhist. They claim that in Padma Purana, Shiva reveals to Parvati that He would incarnate as Shankaracharya and propagate Mayavada (Advaita Vedanta). The philosophy would be hidden Buddhism, and Shiva would preach it to delude sinful people (i.e., Advaitins are sinners in Vaishnava POV):-



Padma Purana predicts Adi Shankara’s birth:



“mAyAvAdamasachchAstraMprachchannaMbauddha ucyate | mayaivakathitaMdevikalaubrAhmaNarUpiNA ||” (Padma Purana 6.236.7)
Mayavada (referring to Advaita Vedanta) is a wicked doctrine and said to be pseudo-Buddhist. I (Shiva) myself, in the form of a Brahmin, proclaimed it in Kali.

“apaarthaMshrutivAkyAnAMdarshayanlokagarhitam |svakarmarUpaMtyAjyatvamatraivapratipaadhyate ||” (Padma Purana 6.236.8)It shows the meaninglessness of the words of the Vedas and is condemned in the world. In this (doctrine) only the giving up of one's own duties is expounded.

“sarvakarmaparibhraShTairvaidharmmatvaMtaduchyate |pareshajiivapAraikyaMmayAtupratipAdhyate ||” (Padma Purana 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.

“brahmaNosyasvayaMmrUpaMnirguNaMvakshyate mayA |sarvasyajagatopyatramohanAarthaMkalauyuge || vedArthavanmahAshAstraMmAyayAyadavaidikam |mayaivakalpitaMdevijagatANAshakAraNAt ||” (Padma Purana 6.236.10-11)I stated this Brahman's nature to be formless. O goddess (Parvati), 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 Maya.


 Questions:

  • In verse 6:236:7, Shiva says He would incarnate as a Brahmin and preach Mayavada philosophy. Fine. Although Adi Shankara is considered an incarnation of Shiva and He was a Brahmin by birth, the verse doesn’t mention Him specifically. How do we verify that Shankaracharya is that incarnation of Shiva, who would preach Mayavada (covered Buddhism)?
  • The verse 6:236:7 also says that “Mayavada”, the wicked doctrine is covered Buddhism. Now Buddhism is a Nastika (atheist) religion, while Advaita is an Astika (theist) school. Isn’t that a contradiction?
  • The verses 6:236:8–9 say that Mayavada rejects Vedas and is followed by people who give up their duties. But we see that Shankaracharya in His literary works stresses upon the study of Vedas and declares enlightenment as the highest duty. Again, isn’t that a contradiction?
  • The verse 6:236:9 says that people who identify the non-duality of soul and God are fallen (sinners). In that case, why do the Mahavakyas from each of the four Vedas attest monism?
  • The verses 6:236:10–11 say that for the destruction of the world, Shiva would found Mayavada (Advaita) philosophy. However, according to the Puranas, the next apocalypse is to come 108000 years later. Besides, these verses also say that Shiva’s incarnation (Shankaracharya) would be the “founder” of Mayavada. But we see that Advaita Vedanta preexists Him. Adi Shankara’s Guru was Govindapada, Govidapada’s Guru was Gaudapada, Gaudapada’s Guru was Suka, Suka’s Guru was Vedavyasa, Vedavyasa’s Guru was Parashara, Prashara’s Guru was Shakti, Shakti’s Guru was Vashishta, Vashishtha’s Guru was Brahma, and Brahma’s Guru was Vishnu. Again, since “Mayavada” traces it’s route in Vishnu, the patron deity of Vaishnavas, isn’t it a contradiction that Padma Purana speculates Shiva to be founder of “Mayavada”?


We see that the analysis of the very verses that Vaishnavas quote to downgrade Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedanta refutes their hateful claims.

Besides, the authenticity of the above verses from Padma Purana is also questionable, since Padma Purana has various recessions across India due to interpolations made by Vaishnavas from time to time.



Conclusion:


Neither Adi Shankaracharya was a Vaishnava, nor Advaita philosophy is Mayavada. It is ridiculous that Vaishnavas piggy back the monist saint whom their own founding Acharyas viz. Ramanuja and Madhva rejected and demonized.


He wasn’t a Mayavadi either, for the whole “Mayavada” scenario is a myth that was engineered by rival Vaishnavas to condemn Adi Shankara and Advaita philosophy.


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