Brahma Sutra contains 50 lapidary verses wrote by Badarayana, resuming the Upanishads. Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are the three central scriptures of the various interpretations of the Vedantic scriptures.
The sages Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva wrote commentaries on these books, deriving from here three philosophies almost different from one another: the non-dualism, the limited non-dualism, and the dualism, all based on the same texts.
Each pretended that theirs is the correct interpretation of the Veda-s and rejected vigorously the others. Shankara was a monist and granted a lower value to the worship of a personal God.
On the other hand, Ramanuja and Madhva, developed their philosophies in which the devotion towards God in His aspect of Vishnu was considered the highest path. At that time there was no Vedantic school established, at least there was no school that would bring the devotion to similar heights.
Yet, Srikantha filled in the gaps. The resulting philosophy was named Shiva Vishishtadvaita and as appearance it is not very different from Ramanujas limited non-dualism.
In his commentary, Shrikantha transferred the Shaiva philosophy in a Vedantic terminology. Shrikantha lived in the XI-th century, our era. We know almost nothing about his personal life, so this aspect will remain a mystery forever.
Moreover, the fact that he catalyzed or not a social movement that could have rivaled with the Vira Shaivism or with the Shaiva Siddhantha; still, from his writings one thing is clear: he was a brilliant orator and a master in debates, and maybe the most important, he was a devoted worshipper of Shiva.
His influence was greater due to another commentator of the texts, Appaya Dikshita, who wrote a detailed commentary on the work of Shrikantha in the XVI-th century, as part of a serious attempt to defend Shaivism from the proselyte intrusions of the Vishnuism from the Southern India.
According to Shrikanthas philosophy, Shiva created the world with no other purpose than a divine game. Shiva is the effective cause of creation, as His Shakti; He is also its material cause.
Shiva takes on the form of the universe, He transforms Himself into it (the universe) but not directly, but through His Shakti.
Thus, He is transcendent, glorious and unaffected by His creation. Shiva has a spiritual body and lives in a paradise that is more luminous than a thousand suns, paradise that can be attained only by the liberated souls.
Shrikantha, in his work Brahma Sutra Bhasya, said: “In the moment of the creation, preceded by the first vibrations of His energies, through a simple impulse of His will, independent from any material cause, and from His own substance, He creates all the conscious and unconscious creatures and things.”
The purification, devotion, and meditation on Shiva as the Self from the void of the spiritual heart (daharakasha) define the path. The meditation is directed towards the Supreme Self, Shiva, the only existence that has evolved through all the manifested forms.
The freedom appears only after a few preliminary realizations, including inner peace, unbending faith, and detachment. The bonds that keep the soul in chains can be broken in the torrent of the continual contemplation and identification with Shiva. The liberation depends on the grace, not on the facts.
According to the same philosophy, after death the liberated soul goes to Shiva the path of the gods, with no possible return to the terrestrial life.
The individual soul continues to exist in the spiritual level, enjoying the ecstasy of knowing God, enjoying all experiences and powers, except that of creating the universe.
Finally, the individual self does not become one with Brahman, or Shiva, but shares all His qualities and attributes.
The human being is responsible, free to act at ones own free will, and Shiva fulfills ones needs in accordance with ones karma.
Shrikantha wrote in Brahma Sutra Bhasya: “Shiva associates His three energies (iccha – will, jnana – knowledge, kriya – action), enter in the conglomerate of effects and comes out as Universe, comprising the triad of the deities (Brahma -creation, Vishnu – preservation, Rudra – resorbtion). Who can understand Shivas greatness, the Almighty, the All-knowing?”
Appaya Dikshita (1554-1626) remains one of the most unusual persons in the history of the Hindu philosophy. Appaya Dikshitas commentaries on the various philosophical schools were so deep and profound, that these schools claimed his commentaries, even if Appaya Dikshita never adhered to these philosophies.
Ardent devoted of Shiva, he compiled manuals of ritual worship (puja) that are still being used to this day by the Shivait priests.
Moreover, he was an excellent devotional poet. From a philosophical point of view, he adhered to the Advaita school of the sage Adi Shankara. In his debates to re-establish the worship of Shiva against the Vishnuism of those times, he had his life threatened on countless occasions.
The Shaivism had been constricted in the XVI-th century Southern India, due to the “generous” patronship of Ramaraja , king of the Vijayanagar, and continued after his death.
However, Appaya Dikshita managed to gain the grace of the vassal king, then independently Chinna Bomman from Velore, influencing thus the state doctrine.
Appaya Dikshita has perfected the composition of certain commentaries on the various philosophies of the time, including that of Shrikantha. The adepts of this spiritual line claim Appayas commentaries on the writings of the dualist Madhva to this very day.
Through his 104 books, Appaya Dikshita has created many harmonious relationships with the other systems of thinking, has promoted the Shaivism among other philosophical approaches and has contributed to the re-establishment of the norms of devotional worship of Shiva.
The leadership of the king Chinna Bomman of Velore ensured the wide spreading of Appayas ideas through conferences especially prepared to which took part up to 500 students, and great travels for Appaya and his followers, who served as Shaiva missionaries.
Appaya Dikshita wrote in one of his texts: “since the torrid heat of the malevolent critics against Shiva and His worship waits to destroy and burn the offsprings of Shiva-bhakti, (devotion for Shiva) that might appear in the minds of the devotes (for whom the existing seed is the merit accumulated during their previous births), this work, Shivakarnamrita, with its verse created as if from nectar, is written precisely to help the salvation of these offsprings.”
Appaya Dikshita concluded that Shrikantha’s philosophies, as well as those of other dualists, or monist-dualists were necessary steps in order to recognize the truth of monism, advaita.
He argued that Shrikantha’s accent on Saguna Brahman (God with qualities) more than on Nirguna Brahman (God beyond any quality) was meant to create for the time being the faith and devotion within the Shaivite adepts, because such devotion is a prior element to the knowledge of the Transcendent Absolute, ParamaShiva, Nirgua Brahman.
Appaya Dikshita said in his work Shivarkamanidipika: “Even if Advaita was the accepted religion, impressed on us by great teachers of the past, such as Shri Shankara (and in many other scriptures as well), the spiritual bend towards monism (Advaita) is produced only by Shiva’s grace.”
Shiva Advaita appears to have no community of adepts or any formal association these days. However, historically, it can be understood as a profound reconciliation between the Vedanta and Siddhanta. Its major importance lies in the promotion and revigoration of the Shaivism in the XVI-th century, century of great ideological turmoil.