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

In any case, in Adhyāya 2 Pada 2 of the Brahma Sūtras, Vyāsa discusses various rival schools to Vedānta. 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.
  1. And (the incongruity arises) because of the impossibility of a relationship.
  2. 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 (adhiṣṭhāna) is possible for Him.
  3. 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.
  4. God will be subject to finitude or loss of omniscience.

Topic 8: Bhagavata View Refuted

  1. (The Bhagavata view that Samkarsana and others originate successively from Vāsudeva and others is wrong), since any origin (for the soul) is impossible.
  2. And (this view is wrong because) an implement cannot originate from its agent (who wields it).
  3. Alternatively even if (it be assumed that Vāsudeva and others are) possessed of knowledge, (majesty etc.,), still the defect cannot be remedied.
  4. Besides, (in this scripture) many contradictions are met with and it runs counter to the Vedas.

Now most commentators on the Brahma Sūtras agree that Adhikaraṇa (Topic) 7 refers to the philosophy of the Śaiva Āgamas, the defining texts of Śaivism, and Adhikaraṇa 8 refers to the philosophy of the Pañcarātra Āgamas, the defining texts of Vaiṣṇavism. Where they differ is on how they interpret Vyasa's attitudes toward these two philosophies.

The Advaitin commentator Ādi Śaṅkarācārya argues that in Adhikaraṇa 7, Vyāsa is criticizing the Śaiva Agamas for their belief that Īśvara (The supreme lord) is only the efficient cause of the Universe, as opposed to the Vedānta school's view that Brāhmaṇa is both the efficient cause and the material cause of the Universe. And he argues that in Adhikaraṇa 8, Vyasa is criticizing the Pañcarātra Āgamas for their belief that the Jīva emerges from Brāhmaṇa, as opposed to the Vedanta school's view that the Jīva has always existed (as I discuss here).

Now as expected, Śaivite commentators dispute Ādi Śaṅkarācārya's interpretation of Adhikaraṇa 7, and Vaiṣṇava commentators dispute his interpretation of Adhikaraṇa 8. In each case, they either say that Vyāsa is criticizing people who misinterpret the philosophy in question, not the philosophy itself, or they say that the Adhikaraṇa is referring to a completely different philosophy than the one Ādi Śaṅkarācārya thinks it refers to. But my question is, is Ādi Śaṅkarācārya the only commentator on the Brahma Sutras that believes that the Brahma Sūtras are criticizing both the Shaiva Agamas & Pañcarātra Āgamas?

Now of course Ādi Śaṅkarācārya has had a lot of followers who have written commentaries based on his commentary, but I'm asking whether any non-Advaita commentators agree with his interpretations of both Adhikaraṇa 7 and Adhikaraṇa 8. To facilitate answering my question, I've compiled a table of commentaries and how they interpret these Adhikaraṇas, along with links to sources backing it up:

┃    Commentator       ┃     Philosophy       ┃ Reject ┃   Reject   ┃
┃                      ┃                      ┃ Shaiva?┃Pancharatra?┃
┃ Ādi Śaṅkarācārya     ┃ Nirviśeṣādvaita      ┃   Yes   ┃    Yes     ┃
┃ Rāmānujācārya        ┃ Viśiṣtādvaita        ┃  Yes   ┃    No      ┃
┃ Mādhvācārya          ┃ Dvaita               ┃  Yes     ┃    href="https://i.stack.imgur.com/mBzlv.jpg">No      ┃
┃ Baladeva             ┃ Acintya Bhedābheda   ┃  YesNo      ┃
┃ Nimbārka             ┃ Dvaitādvaita         ┃  YesNo      ┃
┃ Śrīkanṭha Śivācārya  ┃ Śivādvaita           ┃   NoYes     ┃
┃ Śrīpati              ┃ Śakti Viśiṣtādvaita  ┃   NoYes     ┃

As you can see, only Ādi Śaṅkarācārya answers "Yes-Yes". So are there other commentators that give the same answers?

There are some commentators who have no sectarian affiliations, like Bhāskara (whom I discuss here) and Vijñānabhikṣu, so how do they interpret these two Adhikaraṇas? What about commentators belonging to sects other than Vaiṣṇavism or Śaivism? Have any Śaktas, Ganapatya, Sauras, or Kaumaras written commentaries on the Brahma Sutras?

And what about the Vaikhanasas, who worship Viṣṇu but do not follow Pañcarātra Āgamas? Do they interpret Adhikaraṇa 8 as a criticism of the Pañcarātra Āgamas, or do they think it refers to their own Āgamas. Srinivasa Dikshitar wrote a Vaikhānasa commentary on the Brahma Sūtras, as I discuss here, so I'd be interested in hearing what he has to say on this issue.

Also, are there any commentators who would answer "No-No", i.e. who would say that the Brahma Sutras do not criticize either the Pañcarātra Āgamas or the Śaiva Āgamas? I assume that especially the sort of people who believe in religious unity would tend to believe that all the major sects following Āgamas are correct in their philosophical doctrines.

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    Incredible question. @KeshavSrinivasan please post this on your blog or website if you have one. Very very thorough question and so well thought out.
    – user3547
    Mar 1, 2016 at 8:27
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    @Tezz He doesn't discuss the Mahabharata quotes about Pancharatra, although Ramanujacharya and other commentators discuss them. In any case, Adi Shankaracharya makes clear that his only disagreement with the Pancharatra Agamas is their (apparent) views on the relation between the Jivatma and Brahman; he makes clear that meditating on Sriman Narayana using the Pancharatra Agamas is a valid path to Moksha. May 27, 2016 at 13:36
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    @KeshavSrinivasan, sincere advice - if you really serious about getting answers to most questions you ask on this website, and you can understand tamil, speak to your parents, get samashrayanam under acharyan, and listen to upanyasams and kalakshepams. there is treasure-trove of knowledge in velukkudi / karunakara / krishnapremi swamin's lectures, and then deeper under advanced vidwaans who teach brahma sutra bhashyams.
    – ram
    May 29, 2017 at 7:27
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    @KeshavSrinivasan, people as young as 7 and as old as 70 do it regularly if you go to mutt or ashram. it does not hurt much when it is done, it does hurt later as it heals. And that pain is seriously nothing compared to the rewards. Anuvaramban (bharath) was asking similar question to Karunakarachariar during a lecture in chennai.. he said it is for each individual atma to get it done, it is better if done with support of a family, but if circumstances don't allow it, it can be done on your own as well.
    – ram
    May 29, 2017 at 18:43
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    @Srinivas Did you forget to put the link? Dec 17, 2017 at 9:59

1 Answer 1


Actually Bhaskara and Vallabhacharya also say the same thing as Shankaracharya has said about this adhikarana: Not a wholesale rejection of Pancharatra but only a partial. The theology part is not rejected but only certain aspects are rejected. Nimbaraka, like Madhwacharya, has taken that adhikarana to be about Shakti philosophy and not Vaishnava Bhagavata Pancharatra as Shankara, Bhaskara, Ramanuja and Vallabhacharya have taken that to be. For Ramanuja, as I understand, there are a few purvapaksha sutras and a few siddhanta sutras in that adhikarana.

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