Shankaracharya Misinterpret Vedas Misled, Shiva In Padma Purana?

Not for nothing Dr. Radhakrishnan, former President of India and a Philosopher said that ,


‘Indian Philosophy is not a view of Life, but a Way of Life’.

Shankaracharya on Shiva


Shankaracharya in Bhaja Govindam

It is one thing to read,study the Vedas and other Hindu Texts but it is another proposition to understand its soul and ethos.

Mere Intellectual or Bhakthi approach would not help one to understand the spirit of Hinduism.

Hinduism should be lived and practiced for years  to understand it in its multifarious aspects.

Mere abstraction would remain just that, an intellectual Narcissism..

Mere Bhakthi, or total surrender to God , though highly recommended, is likely to lead one into disappointment as this path is, though seems easy to say, is the toughest to practice.

One must understand that Hinduism is a personal Religion in the sense that one can practice it the way it suits him, so long it is in conformity with the Vedas.

As individuals are numerous, so are their mental attitudes.

Shankaracharya on Nirguna Brahman

Hence Hinduism provides four paths to follow so that people of different mindsets can follow Spirituality.

They are,

Karma Yoga, Path of Action,

Gnana Yoga, Path of Knowledge,

Raja Yoga, Path of Mental and Physical Discipline and

Bhakthi Yoga, the Path of total surrender.

The fact that one is emphasized in the Vedas and other Hindu texts, when they speak of a particular path, does not mean that the other Paths are inferior.

They are spoken this way so as to instill in the mind the conviction to follow the path that appeals to them and such sayings reinforces the attitude.

The same logic applies to Nirguna Brahman,Reality without Attributes and Saguna Brahman,Reality with Attributes.

(for details  please read my article God with names and forms Yes and No)

This one can understand from the Vedas, Puranas, Ithihasas and the Slokas /Mantras.

One would, in the same breath, the Vedas talk about Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman.

One would find the Reality being described as a principle, Nirguna, in the Mahavakyas thus,

  1. prajñānam brahma – “Prajña is Brahman” or “Brahman is Prajña”(Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 of the Rig Veda)
  2. ayam ātmā brahma – “This Self (Atman) is Brahman” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda)
  3. tat tvam asi – “Thou art That” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7 of the Sama Veda)
  4. aham brahmāsmi – “I am Brahman”, or “I am Divine” (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 of the Yajur Veda)

Then you find in the Narayana Suktha.

Narayanam mahagyem Viswaathmaanam Parayanam,

Vishnu Suktha,

Vishnornukam veeryani pravosam..

or the Sri Rudram,

nama sivaya cha, Sivadharaaya Cha,

where the Individual deities are  praised.

or look a the Lalitha Sahasranama, where a portion is allotted for worshiping the Devi as Nirguna, the chapter being Nirguna Upasna and another Saguna Upasna where personal deity is worshiped.

So both options are provided.

Reading one and discarding the other is not compatible with the Vedas.

Quoting Vedas in isolation lands one into situations and interpretations that run counter to Vedas themselves, as it has happened in the case of the Mimamsa.

The Karma Kanda, the portion of the Vedas that deal with duties and performance of Yagas and Yagnyas, was carried to such an extreme that only the Karmas in the form of Yagnyas were followed and the Gnana and Bhakthi were totally omitted..

And the performance of only Yagnas and sacrifices caused a revulsion among people and this one of the reasons for the raise of Buddhism.

And many Gods were worshiped in the Yagnyas.

It took all the Life of Shankaracharya to set matters right and establish the authority of the Vedas, by systematizing  worship into Shanmaha, Six systems of worship.

And he reestablished the concept of Nirguna Upasna and also provided room for Saguna Upasna.

Iswara concept found in Patanjali’s yoga Sutra was reinforced by him.

Such being the case I was shocked to find an observation by Stephen Knapp who has done yeoman service to Hinduism by propagating Sanatana Dharma concept that Shankaracharya misinterpreted the Vedas!


he quotes Padma Purana and Siva Purana.

We must point out that some spiritual authorities say that Shankaracharya was an incarnation of Lord Shiva who had been ordered by the Supreme Lord to cheat the atheists. The Shiva Purana quotes the Supreme Lord as ordering Shiva: “In Kali-yuga mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings from the Vedas [Vedic literature] to bewilder them”:

dvaparadau yuge bhutva

kalaya manushadishu

svagamaih kalpitais tvam ca

janan mad-vimukhan kuru 1


The Padma Purana also says that Lord Shiva would descend as a brahmana sannyasi and teach Mayavada philosophy in the verse:

mayavada ashat shastram prachchanna

boudhyam uchyate moya ebe godidam

devi kalou brahmana murtina


To do this, Shankara gave up the direct method of Vedic knowledge and presented an indirect meaning which actually covered the real goal of Vedanta. This is confirmed in the Padma Purana where Lord Shiva addresses his wife, Parvati:

shrinu devi pravaksyami

tamasani yathakramam

yesham shravana-matrena

patityam jnaninam api


apartham shruti-vakyanam

darshayal loka-garhitam


atra ca pratipadyate



naiskarmyam tatra cocyate

paratma-jivayor aikyam

mayatra pratipadyate


“My dear wife, hear my explanations of how I have spread ignorance through Mayavada philosophy. Simply by hearing it even an advanced scholar will fall down. In this philosophy which is certainly very inauspicious for people in general, I have misrepresented the real meaning of the Vedas and recommended that one give up all activities in order to achieve freedom from karma. In this Mayavada philosophy I have described the jivatma and Paramatma to be one and the same.” 2

The Padma Purana, in the quote that follows, describes how Lord Shiva tells his wife, Parvati, that he would appear in Kali-yuga to teach the impersonalistic philosophy, which is impious and merely a covered form of Buddhism. Yet, as explained next, there was a purpose for it.

mayavadam asac-chastram

pracchannam bauddham ucyate

mayaiva kalpitam devi

kalau brahmana rupini


brahmanas caparam rupam

nirgunam vaksyate maya

sarvasvam jagato’py asya

mohanartham kalau yuge


vedante tu maha-shastre

mayavadam avaidikam

mayaiva vaksyate devi

jagatam nasha-karanat

“The Mayavada philosophy is impious. It is covered Buddhism. My dear Parvati, in the form of a brahmana in Kali-yuga I teach this imagined Mayavada philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists I mislead them by describing the Supreme Lord to be without any personal form or qualities.”

Herein, Lord Shiva himself points out that to believe God has no form is not accurate and is equal to atheism. Even though this Mayavada philosophy was not good for pious people to hear because it would sway them toward an impersonalistic viewpoint, we should note that Shankara’s philosophy was just right for the time and circumstance. The Buddhists, who had spread throughout India and neglected the Vedas, believed in neither a soul nor a God and that, ultimately, the essence of everything is the nothingness or void wherein lies nirvana, freedom from all suffering. So considering how the Buddhists had followed a philosophy of what would generally be considered atheism for hundreds of years and would never have accepted a viewpoint which advocated a supreme personal God, Shankara’s was the only philosophy they would have considered. It was like a compromise between atheism and theism, but Shankara used portions of Vedic knowledge as the basis of his arguments. In this way, as Shankara traveled throughout India his arguments prevailed. Thus, Buddhism bowed and Vedic culture was brought back to prominence. Therefore, his purpose was accomplished, so much so that his Sariraka-bhasya is considered the definitive rendition of Vedanta even to the present day.’

Totally wrong interpretation.

If Bhaja Govindam is quoted to buttress the view that Shankaracharya was really only after

Bhakthi to Vishnu, what about his nirvana Shatgam ,Manisha Panchakam, Soundarya Lahari,Kanakadhara Sthavam,Subrahmanya Bhujanga,Ganesha Pancharatnam?

Shankaracharya should be studie in full an no in bits.

And if proof is needed that there are interpolations in the Puranas, Padma Purana and Shiva Purana, this is it.

This accusation against Shankaracharya is not new.

He was also called a Pseudo-Buddhist for His Advaita!

If Shankaracharya was misquoting the Vedas, then how come the Mahavakyas I have quoted above speak of Nirguna Brahmana and not Saguna Brahman, Reality without Attributes?

That supreme Brahman is infinite, and this conditioned Brahman is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from infinite.
Then through knowledge, realizing the infinitude of the infinite, it remains as infinite alone-

Mundaka Upanishad.

Great indeed are the devas who have sprung out of Brahman.-Atarva Veda.

‘satyam jnanam anantam brahman
“Brahman is of the nature of truth, knowledge and infinity” -Taittriya Upanishad.

Reference and citation.

Images credit.


18 thoughts on “Shankaracharya Misinterpret Vedas Misled, Shiva In Padma Purana?

  1. Shocked to read bd go thr the mind blowing nd mind zingling information full of excitement thanks Sir z i m facing crisis of two blk mgk spells since yr 2004 /5 .1) voddo spell 2) siflee spell isthere any help as i m living life of hand to mouth plz help


  2. Given the fact that the Respected Blogger has on some occasions libelled the eternally blissful Kanchi math, I did not feel like to reply here. But the topic caught my attention. I fully acknowledge Dr. Ramani’s devotion and I have tremendous respect for all good information he is trying to disseminate through this very important blog. Having consulted a great number of granthas and Rishis of today, I shall like to voice my opinion as well. Stephen Knapp has done a tremendous service, in the intellectual and Ved-supporting manner to spread, as far as he can, the true import of Hindu History and by debunking Aryan-Invasion Theory( his booklet: Death of the Aryan Invasion Theory). So, at least, let us try to be fair. Knapp, for this very reason alone, should not be bracketed alongwith other disgraceful American ( Dongier, Pollock) and Indian (Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Mridula Mukherjee) stooges of Macaulay. Now, let me address as to Knapp’s insult of Bhagvan Adi Shankara. Well, to put the records straight, Knapp owes allegiance to ISKCON Movement and Dvaita Philosophy of Jagadguru Madhvacharya. Actually, I endorse Dr. Ramani’s view that to understand Hindu Dharma is through living it and not merely being debating it. To understand what Bhagvan Shankara and Jagadguru Madhvacharya meant in their respective expositions of Brahma Sutras unquestionably calls for Motiveless Grace of Lord Hari. Rare have been such exemplary instances. In fact, only two. They are Ayyappa Dikshitar and Madhusudan Saraswati. They had settled the debate of the blog long back. (In fact, they both, in their own ways, brought a harmonious union amongst the four Sampradayas of Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva and Nimbark that is visible even today in various Hindu Sant Sammelans. I have witnessed many such congregations.) Having taken their names, that in fact purify my writing and my mind and my tongue, I simply wish to add that when mere ordinary people like us (Knapp included) are unable the fathom the infinite depths of Bhagvan Shankara, what to say of various other anti-Adi Shankara opinions. I know that Knapp is completely incorrect, like many other followers of ISKCON movement, in going against Bhagvan Shankara, but let us not club him with the colonised school of historians. ISKCON has its very significant importance and Adi Shankara is the re-presenter of the Eternal Truth in All Its Ultimate Pristine Pure Form. This is the conclusion of Chatur Mat Sara Sangrah of Bhagvan Ayyappa Dikshitar and Advaita Siddhi, Gudarth Dipika of Jagadguru Shankaracharya (and Beloved Sakha of Goswami Tulsidasji Maharaj) Madhusudan Saraswati. So let us not quibble over such issues. Let us learn to respect and preserve the tremendous heritage that these and many such other Avataras of Lord Hari have blessed us with.


  3. It looks like a good article of compilation of opposition put to Shankara and his Advaitha.

    Being a student of Hinduism I am still finding were it has been stated that Purana can be coated to understand Vedas. If puranas are used what is the purpose of Vedangas.

    There are many contradictions in puranas Eg the birth of Ganapathi is stated differently in various puranas. Most of the puranas talk about bhakthi and not gnana.

    It would have been good if more explanation was provided for “Shanmaha, Six systems of worship” which has been mentioned has Shankara establish as most of Shankara related books refer of Panchayatana Krama introduced by Shankara

    I hope the blogger is aware of purpose of puranas and knows difference between Veda, Vedanga,Vedanta, Itihasa , Purana.

    Blogger should understand the high level nexus of foreign authors to bringdown Hinduism. I would prescribe book Being Different , and Indra’s Net from Rajiv Malhotra for better understanding of Hinduism and nexus of foreign authors. Also know more about fight between Rajiv Malhotra and Sheldon Pollack.

    Request you to please get your blogs verified from a knowledged person and then post rather than posting directly and spreading lies and non sense. Actually in another blog the horoscope of Hunuman was given I am still thinking how it can be and authenticity of it. Hunuman is considered as chiranjeevi and if there is jataka he has to die I don’t still understand these contradictions.


      1. It took long time for our people to understand double standards . Even today few schools quote Max Muller. The effect of Max Muller can be seen in writings of people like S Radhakrishn(second president of India) in his book Indian Philosophy where he uphelds aryan theory of Max Muller.

        Later on when people started exposing Max Muller foreign authors also changed their positions. Even Wendy Doniger school also opposes Max Muller but Wendy’s school itself is spreading lies(recently one of the Wendy’s book was in controversy)

        Its not that all foreign authors are coverts but its important to differenciate them.


      2. Yes, Knapp is one such who has contributed to Hinduism.please check my posts on Wendy.On Hinduism Prof,Hiriyanna’s Essential indian Philosophy is the best, .Regds


      3. If Knapp would have contributed to Hinduism then he wouldn’t have denigrated Hinduism in front of Buddhism.
        Even when Max Muller wrote about Hinduism people though he has contributed but it took time for truth to come out.

        Prof Hiriyanna a pre-independence writer who has tried to be fair for Britisher(I am not prejudiced even though Prof Hiriyanna is from my place🙂 )
        I prefer DM Dutt who has atleast tried to rise voice in his book during pre-independence.

        Please try to read original books for different philosophical systems has complied books gives ides of author rather than original thoughts. These compiled books are good for exams.


  4. Advaithme paramasathyam Lord Siva proclaimed at Madhyarjunam.This the highest ideal for life and essential for lifting the veil of agnam or ignorance.and circumvent the birth and death cycle.The Karma of past life is an impediment. Till the last iota of karma is destroyed the realisation is impossible.So we have to surrender to Sakuna Brahmam who is the arbitratrator of the Karma mukthi. and do Bakthi sadhanam With His karunyam only karma will be annihilated. Then only gnanam will be full blown and make way for full realisation. ISAVASYA UPANISHAD shows this only as propounded by our rev GURU Adi Sankaracharya


  5. First of all you think all the people following Adi Shankaras Advaitha , including the four amnaya mutts, are mere mislead people, and all the pontiffs presiding over these mutts are nothing but deluded people??? Seriously???

    Before making such claims can you please site the verses and verse numbers of padma purana??? and about the authenticity of that ??!!!

    Let me tell you one thing you are no where close to even commenting about our Acharya, rather than running a full scale analysis on him and his work.

    And this is such a CHEAP work, it holds Adi Shankara an incarnation of Shiva and yet somehow tries to conclude that, much of his teaching are wrong and were done with the intention of misleading people. And it’s a double cheat technique, it says that he was divine but with an intention of misleading people.

    What is your qualification? From whom did you learnt this? Or you came up with this “Genius” explanation?? Hold it right there, if you belong to another school of philosophy, write about your philosophy, but dont try to demean others philosophy.


  6. Devi is responsible for creating this world for us through her Maya Sakthi. The same Devi is responsible for overcoming this Maya Sakthi to realize the Brahman. It is all the play of Brahman. The conversation between Lord Shiva and Devi is not contradictory to Vedic Philosophy enlightened to us by Shankara Bagavathpadha. When great learned Mimamsakas could not reveal the full import of Vedas, there is nothing new or surprising that people like Mr Stephen Knapp resort to such weird explanations by quoting out of context


    1. This is probably due to passionate attachment to Krishna and nothing more. Knapp is to be lauded for his very illustrative articles and Books on Sanatana Dharma.As I said in the post Sanatana Dharma is to be lived. Give him more time.


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