Is there a consensus between

  • Followers of Vishnu,
  • Followers of Shiva,
  • Followers of Brahma,
  • And adherents of Advaita Vedanta

Concerning the conclusion from the quarrel between Vishu and Brahma and the test proposed by Shiva to decide: Who is the greatest? see Shiva Purana: Vidyeshvara Samhita.

Note: I do not ask for an interpretation from each group or school, but whether a consensus exists.

  • No, a consensus doesn't exist. Shaivites say Shiva is supreme and Vaishnavas say Vishnu is supreme. Shaivites say Shiva Purana is the proof and Vaishnavas generally refer to this verse of the Bhagavad Gita. Advaitins say Atman = Brahman, you are Shiva, you are Vishnu.
    – Pinakin
    Dec 22, 2015 at 13:03
  • 1
    @AnilKumar You may think that there is a subtle difference between Atma and Brahman, and I agree with you. (I follow Ramanujacharya's philosophy of Visistadvaita, which says that Paramatma is the Antaryami or inner self of your Atma.) But Adi Shankaracharya's philosophy of Advaita says there is no difference at all between Atma and Brahman. Dec 22, 2015 at 16:41
  • 1
    @AnilKumar You are right that we cannot call ourselves God in the literal sense. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are usually called Saguna Brahman or Ishvara. Ishvara is like the Ocean. We are like waves. One cannot equate the waves with the Ocean. The waves are always separate and exist as a part of the Ocean. The waves are depended on the ocean for their existence, and the ocean itself contains the waves. However Advaita is different. It says that both the ocean and its waves are 'Water'. Brahman i.e. We are all Brahman. Ayam Atma Brahman. Soham. All the best.
    – Sai
    Dec 22, 2015 at 16:42
  • 2
    @AnilKumar The difference is what you mean by God. If by God you mean Ishvara, the God with form, the One who has Infinite attributes, and the God of all, then to say that I am God implies duality. Because attributes are a quality of ignorance. You say 'He is beautiful and Powerful' because you are aware of those that are not beautiful and not powerful. All attributes are result of Maya (advaita). However if by God one is talking about the attributeless, qualityless, absolute divine principle of Satchidananda, then to say I am God implies non-duality. I believe all paths as true. All the best.
    – Sai
    Dec 22, 2015 at 16:46
  • 1
    @JoWehler It is like asking certain Christians and certain Muslims if they worship the same God - which they will say no. Fanaticism is its own religion. There is a good book you should read, "Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization" by Heinrich Zimmer, edited by Joseph Campbell. btw, Sruti (vedic text, revealed by God) is considered primary. Smriti (inference by man) and Puranas are secondary. When there is a conflict between Sruti and the others, Sruti always takes precedence. There is no conflict in veda between Siva and Vishnu as they are the same Saguna Brahman. Dec 25, 2015 at 6:06

2 Answers 2


The question is framed in such a manner that there is no answer. It is asking for a consensus among devotees, and Sruti is the final authority, not consensus among devotees. Any answer of consensus is opinion based as such and does not meet the guidelines for a question.

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.

  • Why do you write: "The question is framed in such a manner that there is no answer. It is asking for a consensus among devotees,..." - The simple answer to the question is "no, there is no consensus".
    – Jo Wehler
    May 1, 2019 at 7:47

My question

Is there a consensus between devotees of different deities and the followers of Advaita Vedanta concerning the question Who is the supreme deity?

has found a clear answer:

There is no consensus.

Thank you all for your comments, explanations and answers.

  • 1
    There is an old story that Siva, who is the guru of Vishnu, and Vishnu, who is the guru of Siva, had a quarrel. The two made peace with each other, but the followers of Siva and the followers of Vishnu never made peace and continue to quarrel to this day. Dec 31, 2015 at 9:55

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