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The Padma Purāṇ states:

yannakhenduruchir brahma dhyeyaṁ brahmādibhiḥ suraiḥ guṇatrayamatītaṁ taṁ vande vṛindāvaneśhvaram (Patal Khand 77.60) [v21]

“The light that emanates from the toenails of God’s personality is worshipped as the Brahman by the jñānīs.”

It seems to support the claim of Dwaita philosophy that the god is personal and the effulgence emanating from his body is conceived as Brahman by the Advaitian. How does Advait philosophy explain it?

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  • It's simple. They're not the part of Paramarthika Reality as per Advaita. They (all the realms) belong to "Vyavaharika level", with a same homogeneous paramarthik background of Supreme Nirguna Brahman.
    – Vivikta
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 16:19

3 Answers 3

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There is nothing to explain from the Advaitic perspective

The Saguna Deities are nothing but Nirguna Brahman under the effect of Maya. The light that emanates from Krishna's feet is as much Brahman as the Sun, the moon or the stars.

Citing from

Are saguna deities part of Maya in Advaita?

Sankara also says that Saguna Brahman is for purpose of meditation.

Brahman is only formless to be sure, for that is that dominant note (of the Upanishadic teaching).

...Hence in sentences of this kind, the formless Brahman has to be accepted. But the other texts, speaking of Brahman with form, have the injunctions about meditations as their main objectives. So long as they do not lead to some contradiction, their apparent meanings should be accepted. But when they involve a contradiction, the principle to be followed for deciding one or the other is that, those that have the formless Brahman as their main purport are more authoritative than the others which have not that as their main purport. It is according to this that one is driven to the conclusion that Brahman is formless and not its opposite, though texts having both the purports are in evidence.

Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya, III.ii.14

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There are three main points you need to keep in mind before interpreting Puranas and concluding big philosophical things from them.

  1. Puranas contain many interpolation, later edits, so you have to be careful while concluding things on which Puranas disagree with each other

Puranic lore available to us in their present form were all composed by these ancient Rishis. In the medieval period when the Shaiva and Vaishnava sects were engaged in intense sectarian conflict, some unethical adherents composed scores of Slokas and slipped them into the Puranas. In an era when printing had not been invented, making such interpolations was an easy matter. Here we find the answer to the objection that there are many internal conflicts in the Puranic lore. The prefaces and epilogues to Puranas must have been added much later. Whether they were written by the original Purana authors or were interpolated is difficult to say. Refer: Link

एकार्थानि समग्राणि बहुपाठानि मेऽनघ ।

पुराणानि प्रवर्तन्ते प्रसृतानि युगंप्रति ॥

O sinless saint! The puranas also though they agree in the main substance, are so full of interpolations, that they have been greatly multiplied in successive ages

6.22.20 Yoga Vasistha

  1. Puranas disagree with each other, some profess Vaishnavism some Shaivism and some Shakthism. So naturally you could find some Puranas which support Dwaita, Achintya BhedaBhedha and some Puranas support Advaitha. So you use this Purana and support Achintya Bhedabheda and Dwaita and someone else uses another Purana to support Advaitha. Again people say there are Sathvic, Rajasic and Tamasic Puranas. But again different Puranas give different lists.

The Yoga discussions, Dattatreya's portrayal and his yoga-teachings within the Markandeya Purana, states Rigopoulos, are essentially those of Jnana yoga, and this emphasis on Jnana within a nondual (Advaita Vedanta) framework characterizes Dattatreya throughout the text.[28] More generally, the Markandeya Purana, along with Vishnu, Vayu, Narada and Kurma Puranas, states Sahasrabudhe, have "unmistakingly the Advaita" (non-dualistic) premises, which likely reflect the Advaita tradition before the times of Adi Shankara. Refer: Link

  1. The translation and interpretation can be different from scholars to scholars. Even Vedanta is interpreted differently by different Acharyas. So here is one translation which translated 'Brahman' as 'Lord Brahma' which fixes the problem it has with Advaita.

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Refer: Link

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The Same Padma Purana also states this -

मायामयमिदं देवि वपुर्मे न तु तात्विकम् सृष्टिस्थित्योपसंहारक्रियाजालोपबृंहितम् १६

[Lord Visnu Says to Laxmi]: O goddess, this my body is maayaamaya (illusory) and not tattvika (real), and is augmented with the mass of the acts of creation, maintenance and withdrawal.

अतोऽन्यदात्मनोरूपं द्वैताद्वैतविवर्जितम् भावाभावविनिर्मुक्तमाद्यंतरहितं प्रिये १७

O dear one, the nature of the soul is different from this. It is without duality and unity. It is free from existence and non-existence; and without beginning or end.

शुद्धसंवित्प्रभालाभं परमानन्दैकसुंदरम् रूपमैश्वरमात्मैक्यगम्यं गीतासु कीर्तितम् १८

It is pure consciousness, has acquired lustre, is beautiful due to great joy, is the form of lord, can be known only through the oneness of the soul, and is told in the Gītā.

~ Padmapurana Uttarakhanda Chapter 175 verses 16 to 18.

This verse from the same purana itself disables the claim that brahman is some sort of light coming out of the body of a personal God.

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