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I read in an answer, that Shripaada Ramanujacharya and his disciples proved the Supremacy of Shri Vishnu using the Vedas, Upanishads, Smritis, Puraanas and other texts. Also, Shripaada Ramanujacharya says in his Brahma Sutra Bhaashya, that the Veda declares Naaraayana to be Brahman. My question is:

  • Does only the main Vedic literature (Veda Samhitas, Braahmanas and Upanishads) provide sufficient proof for Vishnu being the ultimate Eeshwara? Can this be done without the involvement of any other Shaastras, such as the Shaiva and Vaishnava aagamas, Ithihaasas or Puraanas?
  • How do Vaishnava Aachaaryas, like Shripaada Ramanujacharya or Shripaada Madhvacharya, prove the Supremacy of Vishnu, even when the Vedas say in certain places, that "there is no one mightier than Rudra"?
  • I have also heard of a grammatical trick used by Sri Vaishnavas, through which one can use certain names of Shiva to refer to Naaraayana. How is this done and is this interpretation valid as per other Shaastras, such as the Smritis?

Hope to get a proper answer.

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    – Vivikta
    Mar 11, 2022 at 2:03
  • @Keshavsrinivasan Sir could you answer this question? May 13, 2022 at 8:42

1 Answer 1

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There are several words in the Vedas that are used to mean different things in different contexts. However if you look at the word "Narayana", it is always found to be consistently used to only refer to Sriyahpati and nothing else.

Even today (1000 years after Ramanujacharya) if you pick up a Sanskrit Dictionary and look at the size of the entry for the word "Narayana", you will find a very small number of entries when compared to other terms like Sat, Brahman, Shambhu, Agni, etc.

Therefore when interpreting Upanishad verses which follow this pattern:

  • A is X
  • B is X
  • C is X
  • D is X
  • Narayana is X

then one has to interpret that X is Narayana only (as Narayana is the most specific entity whereas A, B, C, D can refer to more than one thing). This principle of Mimamsa interpretation is called chAga-pashu nyAya.

Vedanta Desika establishes this in his Tattvamuktakalapa and SarvarthaSiddhi texts. I have given details about the relevant verse here.

The specific example given by Vedanta Desika in above link: Consider the following upanishad sentences:

  • In the beginning only Sat existed, one without a second.
  • In the beginning only Brahman existed.
  • In the beginning only Narayana existed, neither Brahma nor Isa.

Vedanta Desika says that in such places, one has no choice but to accept that Narayana existed at the beginning and Sat and Brahman are referring to Narayana.

Grammatical tricks are not necessary given the above.

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  • @SK - antaryami brahmanam resolves these contradictions of names. when I call "hey SK get over here", am i calling you (atma), who I can't see with my eyes, or your body (deha), which I can see with my eyes? it is implied that i'm calling both. but the visible deha is a conduit to call atma who then orders deha to move. so when I say SK-body, i mean SK-atma. similarly, when someone says A=B, it is in the atma-deha bhava. extending this to Chit, A=B is in the parmatma-jivatma bhava.
    – ram
    Apr 24, 2022 at 15:13
  • Thanks for answering. Yes, I am well aware about the word 'Naaraayana' being a proper noun and specific name of Shri Vishnu, as well as Chaaga Pashu Nyaaya, as I had read parts of Shri Vedanta Deshika's works as well as Shripaada Vijayeendra Tirtha's works on the same. My question is: how do Vaishnavas interpret the sections of the Vedas, where it is said that "there is none greater than Rudra"? Is it applied to Vishnu, as 'Rudra' is not a proper noun and is one of the names of Vishnu, too? May 8, 2022 at 15:59
  • Looks like you have not read my answer or the linked answer deeply enough. I am not saying that the word "Narayana" is a proper noun. In fact, I explicitly say that "Grammatical tricks are not necessary" and the argument "Narayana is a proper noun" is a grammatical trick. I am saying (or rather Vedanta Desika says) that one can consistently find the word Narayana used only to refer to the Parabrahman whereas other words are applied in multiple senses.
    – hashable
    May 8, 2022 at 17:23
  • Regarding interpretation of "there is none greater than Rudra", one has to see if there is some other Vedic verse directly or indirectly meaning "there is none greater than X". If (1) there exists such a verse and (2) X is more narrowly defining than what is defined by the term "Rudra", then one can take "Rudra" to mean X. It so happens that the term "Narayana" appears in such contexts and therefore Srivaishnavas could interpret "Rudra" in such contexts as "Narayana.
    – hashable
    May 8, 2022 at 17:26
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    On the other hand, if there is a Puranic legend describing the story of Shiva-Parvati and the term "Rudra" appears there, then there would be no opportunity to interpret "Rudra" as Narayana there.
    – hashable
    May 8, 2022 at 17:26

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