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 discusses 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.

Topic 8: Bhagavata View Refuted

  1. (The Bhagavata view that Samkarsana and others originate successively from Vasudeva 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 Vasudeva 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 Sutras agree that Adhikarana (Topic) 7 refers to the philosophy of the Shaiva Agamas, the defining texts of Shaivism, and Adhikarana 8 refers to the philosophy of the Pancharatra Agamas, the defining texts of Vaishnavism. Where they differ is on how they interpret Vyasa's attitudes toward these two philosophies.

The Advaitin commentator Adi Shankaracharya argues that in Adhikarana 7, Vyasa is criticizing the Shaiva Agamas for their belief that Ishwara (The supreme lord) is only the efficient cause of the Universe, as opposed to the Vedanta school's view that Brahman is both the efficient cause and the material cause of the Universe. And he argues that in Adhikarana 8, Vyasa is criticizing the Pancharatra Agamas for their belief that the Jiva emerges from Brahman, as opposed to the Vedanta school's view that the Jiva has always existed (as I discuss here).

Now as expected, Shaivite commentators dispute Adi Shankaracharya's interpretation of Adhikarana 7, and Vaishnava commentators dispute his interpretation of Adhikarana 8. In each case, they either say that Vyasa is criticizing people who misinterpret the philosophy in question, not the philosophy itself, or they say that the Adhikarana is referring to a completely different philosophy than the one Adi Shankaracharya thinks it refers to. But my question is, is Adi Shankaracharya the only commentator on the Brahma Sutras that believes that the Brahma Sutras are criticizing both the Shaiva Agamas & Pancharatra Agamas?

Now of course Adi Shankaracharya 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 Adhikarana 7 and Adhikarana 8. To facilitate answering my question, I've compiled a table of commentaries and how they interpret these Adhikaranas, along with links to sources backing it up:

Commentator | Philosophy | Reject Shaiva? | Reject Pancharatra?
Adi Shankaracharya | Advaita| Yes | Yes
Ramanujacharya | Visistadvaita| Yes | No
Madhvacharya | Dvaita | Yes | No
Baladeva | Achintya Bheda Abheda | Yes | No
Nimbarka | Dvaitadvaita | Yes | No
Srikantha Shivacharya | Shivadvaita | No | Yes
Shripati | Shakti Visistadvaita | No | Yes

 In Tabular Form:
┏━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┳━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┳━━━━━━━━┳━━━━━━━━━━━━┓
┃    Commentator       ┃     Philosophy       ┃ Reject ┃   Reject   ┃
┃                      ┃                      ┃ Shaiva?┃Pancharatra?┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Adi Shankaracharya   ┃ Advaita              ┃  YesYes     ┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Ramanujacharya       ┃ Visistadvaita        ┃  YesNo      ┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Madhvacharya         ┃ Dvaita               ┃  YesNo      ┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Baladeva             ┃ Achintya Bheda Abheda┃  YesNo      ┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Nimbarka             ┃ Dvaitadvaita         ┃  YesNo      ┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Srikantha Shivacharya┃ Shivadvaita          ┃   NoYes     ┃
┣━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━╋━━━━━━━━━━━━┫
┃ Shripati             ┃ Shakti Visistadvaita ┃   NoYes     ┃
┗━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┻━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┻━━━━━━━━┻━━━━━━━━━━━━┛

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

There are some commentators who have no sectarian affiliations, like Bhaskara (whom I discuss here) and Vijnanabhikshu, so how do they interpret these two Adhikaranas? What about commentators belonging to sects other than Vaishnavism or Shaivism? Have any Shaktas, Ganapatya, Sauras, or Kaumaras written commentaries on the Brahma Sutras?

And what about the Vaikhanasas, who worship Vishnu but do not follow Pancharatra Agamas? Do they interpret Adhikarana 8 as a criticism of the Pancharatra Agamas, or do they think it refers to their own Agamas. Srinivasa Dikshitar wrote a Vaikhanasa commentary on the Brahma Sutras, 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 Pancharatra Agamas or the Shaiva Agamas? I assume that especially the sort of people who believe in religious unity would tend to believe that all the major sects following Agamas are correct in their philosophical doctrines.

  • 6
    @Rickross Haha no, these are all things I'm deeply interested in, which is why I put so much effort into writing up each question. (Just look at how many quotes I've compiled in the "Yes-No" table above.) Before this site was created, I had so many questions about Hinduism but I didn't know anyone with the knowledge or interest to answer them. So this site has been a great opportunity to clear my doubts and confusions. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 15 '16 at 13:13
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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 '16 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. – Keshav Srinivasan May 27 '16 at 13:36
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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 '17 at 18:43
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    @Srinivas You mean to say that Vallabhacharya thinks Vyasa is criticizing the Pancharatra Agamas? That would be weird, considering that Vallabhacharya was a follower of Pancharatra as far as I know. In any case, where did you hear this? – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 17 '17 at 8:59

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