We see more about lord Shiva while knowing about Adi Shankaracharya and more about lord Vishnu while knowing about Ramanujacharya.

Is it because lord Shiva is advaitin god and lord Vishnu is dvaitin god?

if yes, then how come Shankaracharya wrote kanakadhaara stotram on Laxmi devi who is wife of lord Vishnu?

I wanted to know who is lord Vishnu as per Shankaracharya and who is lord Shiva as per Ramanujacharya and why they worshipped only one god anf not other god?

  • 2
    They are all forms of Iswara - Saguna Brahman. Adi Shankaracharya did not limit the form of Iswara to Vishnu, or Shiva, or any specific form. They are all just forms of Iswara. May 3, 2020 at 4:38

2 Answers 2


First of all, it's incorrect to say Advaitins (atleast the modern ones) only worship Lord Shiva. In fact, they believe six deities namely- Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Ganesha, Kartikeya and Surya- are supreme. It is only that most modern Advaitins worship Shiva as their Ishta Devata. Historically speaking, there were numerous Advaitins who had Vishnu as their Ishta Devata. Madhusudana Saraswati is perhaps the best example of a Vishnu worshipping Advaitin. It is only after Appayya Dikshitar, Advaitins became similar to Shaivites.

There have many devotional works ascribed to Adi Shankara whose authenticity is questioned. The following is the complete list of devotional works on Vishnu that are ascribed to Adi Shankara:

  1. achuthAshtakam
  2. ardha dhrAna nArAyana sthOthram
  3. baja gOvindham
  4. dasAvadhAra sthOthram
  5. gOvindhAshtakam
  6. hari mIdE sthOthram
  7. hari nAmAvali sthOthram
  8. hari saranAshtakam
  9. jagannAthAshtakam
  10. krishnAshtakam
  11. lakshmi nrusimha pancha rathnam
  12. nArAyana sthothram
  13. pAndu rangAshtakam
  14. rAma bhujanga prayathA
  15. ranganAthAshtakam
  16. sankata nAsana lakshmi nrusimha karAvalamba (karunArasa) sthOthram
  17. shatpathI sthOthram
  18. vishnu bhujanga prayathA
  19. vishnu pAdhAdhi kEshAntha sthOthram

In addition to this, Adi Shankara himself even wrote a commentary on the Vishnu Sahasranama. So there is no way, Adi Shankara was a Shaivite exclusively.

However, if you examine Adi Shankara's Prasthanatrayi works (commentaries on Bhagavad Gita, Mukhya Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras) which are considered authentic unanimously, you wouldn't really find a clear reference to any of the deities as supreme with the exception of Vishnu, as I discuss here.

Coming to Ramanujacharya, He considered Shiva inferior to Vishnu. This is what Ramanujacharya writes about Shaivism while extolling Vishnu alone as supreme, in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras:

So far it has been shown that the doctrines of Kapila, Kanâda, Sugata, and the Arhat must be disregarded by men desirous of final beatitude; for those doctrines are all alike untenable and foreign to the Veda. The Sûtras now declare that, for the same reasons, the doctrine of Pasupati also has to be disregarded. The adherents of this view belong to four different classes--Kâpâlas, Kâlâmukhas, Pâsupatas, and Saivas.... With regard to these views the Sûtra says 'of pati, on account of inappropriateness.' A 'not' has here to be supplied from Sûtra 32. The system of Pasupati has to be disregarded because it is inappropriate, i.e. because the different views and practices referred to are opposed to one another and in conflict with the Veda. The different practices enumerated above, the wearing of the six mudrâs and so on, are opposed to each other; and moreover the theoretical assumptions of those people, their forms of devotion and their practices, are in conflict with the Veda. For the Veda declares that Nârâyana who is the highest Brahman is alone the operative and the substantial cause of the world, 'Nârâyana is the highest Brahman, Nârâyana is the highest Reality, Nârâyana is the highest light, Nârâyana is the highest Self'; 'That thought, may I be many, may I grow forth' (Kh. Up. VI, 2, 3); 'He desired, may I be many, may I grow forth' (Taitt. Up. II, 6, 1), and so on. In the same way the texts declare meditation on the Supreme Person, who is the highest Brahman, to be the only meditation which effects final release; cp. 'I know that great Person of sunlike lustre beyond the darkness. A man who knows him passes over death; there is no other path to go' (Svet. Up. III, 8). And in the same way all texts agree in declaring that the works subserving the knowledge of Brahman are only those sacrificial and other works which the Veda enjoins on men in the different castes and stages of life: 'Him Brâhmanas seek to know by the study of the Veda, by sacrifice, by gifts, by penance, by fasting. Wishing for that world only, mendicants wander forth from their homes' (Bri. Up. XI, 4, 22). In some texts enjoining devout meditation, and so on, we indeed meet with terms such as Pragâpati, Siva, Indra, Âkâsa, Prâna, &c., but that these all refer to the supreme Reality established by the texts concerning Nârâyana--the aim of which texts it is to set forth the highest Reality in its purity--, we have already proved under I, 1, 30. In the same way we have proved under Sû. I, 1, 2 that in texts treating of the creation of the world, such as 'Being only this was in the beginning,' and the like, the words Being, Brahman, and so on, denote nobody else but Nârâyana, who is set forth as the universal creator in the account of creation given in the text, 'Alone indeed there was Nârâyana, not Brahmâ, not Isâna--he being alone did not rejoice' (Mahopanishad I).--As the Pasupati theory thus teaches principles, meditations and acts conflicting with the Veda, it must be disregarded.

To simply sum up, Adi Shankara definitely considered Vishnu as Saguna Brahman while it is unclear if He really did consider any of the other five deities on an equal footing to Vishnu. On the other hand, Ramanujacharya considered Vishnu alone as supreme while Shiva as a devotee of Vishnu.

By the way, Ramanujacharya was a Vishishtadvaitin, not a Dvaitin.

  • The erroneous thinking that 'Shankaracharya considered Vishnu (alone) as saguna brahman' has absolutely no basis in his prasthanatraya bhashya-s. No one can ever succeed in showing even a single passage from the bhashyas to support that erroneous view. Neither the Upanishads (that Shankara cites or commented upon) nor the Bhashyas of Shankara identify Vishnu as the saguna brahman. May 3, 2020 at 4:22
  • The term Narayana/Vasudeva/Vishnu that occur in Shankara's Bhashyas is a technical term unique to Advaita which can't be understood by anyone outside the Advatic fold. Hence, these names connote only 'their' understa May 3, 2020 at 4:22
  • 3
    obfuscating the question and answer by the long quote from Sri Ramauja. He wasn't an Advaitan, not relevant to the question at hand. Also, the limit to the forms that Iswara is worshipped in is not limited to six.. May 3, 2020 at 4:33
  • I would suggest adding quotes from Shankara's brahmasutra bhashya to your answer.
    – user17987
    May 3, 2020 at 16:21
  • 2
    Actually, original Pasupati Shaivites were dualistic and regarded Brahman as only the efficient cause of the universe. It was only after Lakulisha, Pasupata Shaivites moved to Bhedabheda and regarded Brahman as both efficient and material cause of the universe. @johnyman
    – user9969
    May 5, 2020 at 17:11

Sruti is the final authority. In the Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya Swami (late 14th century), it says in Chapter VI. (Swami Swahananda translator):

verse 103: The Sruti declares that Isvara is the Lord of Jivas, and also Prakriti. He controls the Gunas too. In the Aranyaka part of the Sruti He is respectfully called the Inner Controller. (Svetasvatara Up. 6.14, Brhadaranyaka Up. 3.7, Katha Up. 2.33...)

verse 104: Here too there are many philsophers who by their arguments maintain different views about Iswara. They quote suitable texts from the Sruti and interpret them according to their light.

verse 106: As person with special nature, Isvara rules the universe. Without His rulership there would be no to regulate bondage and release. (Svetasvatara Up. 6.16-17)

verse 107: The Sruti declares that Nature functions in fear of Isvara. He is the ruler though unattached. The rulership is appropriately vested in Isvara, who is not affected by sufferings, works, and so forth. (Vide Taittiriya Up. 2.8.1, Katha Up. 2.3.3, Nrsimhatapaniya Up. 2...)

verse 114: The Sruti says that the form of Virat is the form of the universe, extending in all directions with an infinite number of heads and eyes. So they meditate on Virat. (Rig Veda 1.10.90, Svetasvatara Up. 3.3) See also Gita 11. Virat is an aspect of Isvara.

verse 115. Then there are worshipers who object to the worship of Virat on the ground that according to this conception of Virat even insects and worms will have to be regarded as Isvara. Sp the four-faced Brahma, the creator, is Isvara and nobody else.

verse 117. The Bhagavatas call Visnu the only Isvara because the lotus-born Brahma issued from the navel of Visnu.

verse 118: The Saivas on the authority of their Agamas declare Siva alone to be Isvara, as according to a tradition in the Puranas, Visnu in spite of all his efforts could not discover the feet of Siva.

verse 119: The followers of the creed of Ganesa say that the elephant-faced Lord is the only Isvara for Siva in order to conquer the demons of the three cities worshiped Ganesa.

verse 120: There are many other sects which try to declare their own favorite deity to be the the Supreme. They quote hymns from the Sruti and alleged traditions in support to their views.

verse 121: So every entity form the Inner Ruler to inert objects is considered Isvara by someone or other, for we find that even the sacred fig tree, the sun-plant and the bamboo etc., are worshiped by the people as family deities.

verse 122: Those who are desirous of ascertaining the real truth study the Sruti and logic. Their conclusion is the same, that Isvara is one only, and this fact we have set forth in this chapter.

verse 124: The correct definition of Isvara is available from the Sruti text. Then there will be no clash with even the worshipers of trees and so forth as Isvara. (By this definition all views have been recognised and fitted in a scheme and they are shown to be in accord with the Vedic teachings.)

As can be seen from the above, there has been no consensus among some of the followers of the various names of the Lord. But for those that study Sruti, there is a consensus. And what does Sruti say? Sruti says:

Rig Veda 1.164.46

Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti, Truth is One, Men call It by various names.

Kaivalya Upanishad verse 8 (Swami Madhavananda translator):

He is Brahma, He is Shiva, He is Indra, He is the Immutable, the Supreme, the Self-luminious, He alone is Vishnu, He is Prana, He is Time and Fire, He is the Moon.

Niralamba Upanishad verses 6-20 (K. Narayanasvami Aiyar translator):

Who is the creator (Brahma)?

Who is the preserver (Visnu)?

Who is the destroyer (Rudra)?

Who is Indra?

Who is the god of death (Yama)?

Who is the sun (Surya)?

Who is the moon (Candra)?

Who is the gods (Devas)?

Who are the demons (Asuras)?

Who are the evil spirits (Pisacas)?

Who are the men?

Who are the women?

What are beasts, (pasus) etc.?

What are the fixed ones (sthavaras)?

Who are Brahmanas and others?

That Brahman is Brahma, Visnu, Rudra and Indra, Yama, Surya and Candra, Devas, Asuras, Pisacas, men, women, beasts, etc., sthavaras, Brahmanas and others. Here is there is no manyness in the least degree: All this is verily Brahman.

  • 1
    Please quote Shankara. OP is asking about Shankara's view.
    – user17987
    May 3, 2020 at 15:39
  • @idolworshipper Vidyaranya Swami was the Shankaracharya of the Sringeri Math - sringeri.net/jagadgurus/sri-vidyaranya/biography May 4, 2020 at 4:45
  • 1
    I think OP is asking for Adi Shankara's view.
    – user17987
    May 4, 2020 at 7:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .