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As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school, which bases its tenets on the doctrines laid out in the Brahma Sutras, a work by the sage Vyasa which summarizes and systematizes the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads. You can read the Brahma Sutras here.

In any case, in Adhyaya 2 Pada 2 of the Brahma Sutras, Vyasa refutes various rival schools to Vedanta. In particular, he says this:

Topic-7: God Is Not a Mere Superintendent

  1. For the Lord there can be no creatorship, for that leads to incongruity.
  2. And (the incongruity arises) because of the impossibility of a relationship.
  3. And (the position is untenable) because of the impossibility of (Nature) coming under (His) direction. (Or) And (God cannot be proved), since no physical support (adhisthana) is possible for Him.
  4. Should it be argued that God will direct Nature like (a man directing) the organs, then it cannot be so, for that will result in God’s having experiences (of happiness, sorrow etc.). (Or) If a body, equipped with sense-organs, be assumed for God, (we say that) this is not possible; because of (consequent) experiences etc.
  5. God will be subject to finitude or loss of omniscience.

Now as I discuss in this question, most commentaries on the Brahma Sutras interpret these Sutras as a refutation of the views expressed in the Shaiva Agamas, aka the Shaiva Tantras; for instance see this chapter of Adi Shankaracharya's Brahma Sutra Bhashya and this chapter of Ramanujacharya's Sri Bhashya. Specifically, the Brahma Sutras are criticizing the view expressed in the Shaiva Agamas that Ishwara is the operator (efficient cause) of the Universe but not the material cause.

But the Shaiva Agamas are the core texts of Shaivism. So my question is, how do Shaivites, most of whom belong Io the Vedanta school, make sense of the Brahma Sutras' criticism of the Shaiva Agamas?

So far I've come across two Shaivite commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. In this excerpt fron Srikantha's Shaiva Siddhanta commentary on the Brahma Sutras, he argues that Vyasa is just criticizing other Shaivites' misinterpretation of the Shaiva Agamas, not the Shaiva Agamas themselves:

The Tantrikas, the so-called orthodox, those who profess to follow the Parameshwara Agamas, without knowing the real import of their teaching, hold that Pati, the Parameshwara, is the mere efficient cause, though, according to Shruti, he is both the material and the efficient cause of the universe.

I posted a question here about who these supposed misinterpreters are, by the way. In any case, the other Shaivite commentary on the Brahma Sutras I know of is Shripati's Lingayat commentary which I discuss here. This excerpt from a journal paper says that Shripati claims these Sutras are actually referring to the Pancharatra Agamas that Vaishnavas follow:

Shrikara thought this [set of Sutras] is the refutation of dualistic view of Bhagavatas and Pancharatra, i.e. Vaishnava view point.

I've never heard of any Vaishnavas who believe that Ishwara is not the material cause, but Shrikara is employing the same tactic that Madhvacharya uses to tackle a similar issue, which I discuss here. In any case, are these the only two strategies Shaivites use to interpret these set of Sutras? Hopefully my request here for Shaivite commentaries on the Brahma Sutras will yield more responses to this issue.

Also, there are some Shaivites who don't align themselves with the Vedanta school, like the Shaiva Siddhanta Church as I discuss here. So have any of them written rebuttals of the Brahma Sutras' criticism of the Shaiva Agamas?

  • Where does Shaiva Agama say that "Ishwara is the operator (efficient cause) of the Universe but not the material cause."? – Amit Saxena May 30 '16 at 15:52
  • What is the material cause for those who donot believe Ishwara is material cause..? – Tejaswee May 31 '16 at 2:22
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    @Tezz For those who don't believe that Ishwara is the material cause, which applies to followers of the Samkhya school, the Yoga school, and the Shaiva Agamas, they believe that Prakriti is the material cause of the universe. In the Samkhya world view, you have a bunch of Purushas and then you have Prakriti which is completely separate from Purushas. According to the Yoga school and the Shaiva Agamas, there is one special Purusha called Ishwara who controls the behavior of Prakriti, but Ishwara is still completely separate from Prakriti. – Keshav Srinivasan May 31 '16 at 2:48
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    @Tezz Well, my question is about how the Shaivite philosophers respond specifically to the Brahma Sutras' criticism of the Shaiva Agamas, so your answer may not be relevant to my question. But yeah, personally I am interested in any criticism of Vedanta. For instance I posted a question here about the Shaiva Siddhanta sect criticizing the Brahma Sutras: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/10296/36 And I discuss here the claim that the Shaiva Agamas lead to a higher state of realization than than the state the Upanishads discuss: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/8944/36 – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 3 '16 at 14:19
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    @Tezz Also, I have a work called the Paramoksha Nirasa Karika which was written by the ancient Shaiva Siddhanta philosopher Sadyojyoti. In that work Sadyojyoti criticizes all the major rival philosophical schools to Shaiva Siddhanta, and in the course of doing that he criticizes the Vedanta school. Interestingly Sadyojyoti lived over a century before the time of Adi Shankaracharya, so the version of Vedanta he was familiar with was more of a Bhedabheda-type philosophy than an Advaita philosophy. Sadyojyoti's work is one of the few indications we have of what pre-Shankara Vedanta was like. – Keshav Srinivasan Jun 3 '16 at 14:28

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