The exclusive supremacy of Viṣṇu in the Vedas
The declaration of Bhāllaveya Śruti – “नामानि विश्वाऽभि न सन्ति लोके यदाविरासीदनृतस्य सर्वम् । नामानि सर्वाणि यमाविशन्ति तं वै विष्णुं परममुदाहरन्ति ।“ or “nāmāni viśvā’bhi na santi loke yadāvirāsīdanṛtasya sarvam / nāmāni sarvāṇi yamāviśanti taṁ vai viṣṇuṁ paramamudāharanti //‘’ – clarifies the Vedic usage of all non-Viṣṇu nouns and their primary + secondary imports. All nouns employed in Vedas for deities other than Viṣṇu – do, primarily, convey the supreme meaning of Viṣṇu, exclusively. Only secondarily, they convey the other deities as their import. This proves the primary usage of terms like ‘rudra’ as seen employed in the Vedic Rūdra-sūkta to denote to Viṣṇu, exclusively and to none else. However, if secondarily interpreted, Rūdra-sūkta applies to Śiva, too. Thus, the Vedic Śaivism holds its ground – but, only in subservience to the primary authority of the Vaiṣṇava interpretation.
For this reason, Śukla-yajurveda’s Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa 18.104.22.168 asserts as follows to assert the par-excelled supremacy of Viṣṇu on top of all other deities (it conveys the deity of Agni to be lowest and Viṣṇu to be highest among the hierarchy of devatās – with other devatās falling in the intermediate range) – “तद्विष्णुं प्रथमं प्राप स देवतानां श्रेष्ठोऽभवत्” or “tadviṣṇuṁ prathamaṁ prāpa sa devatānāṁ śreṣṭho’bhavat” and the assertion from the Ṛg-vedīya Śākala-śākhīya Aitareya Brāhmaṇa 1.1.1 – “अग्निर्वै देवनामवमो विष्णुः परमस्तदन्तरेण सर्वा अन्या देवता” or “agnir vai devatānām avamo viṣṇuḥ paramas tadantareṇa sarvā anyā devatāḥ”.
It is, only, because of the acceptance of such interpretation that the scriptural assertions like – “वेदे रामायणे चैव पुराणे भारते तथा । आदावन्ते च मध्ये च हरिः सर्वत्र गीयते ।।“ or “vede rāmāyaṇe caiva purāṇe bhārate tathā / ādāvante ca madhye ca hariḥ sarvatra gīyate //” (Harivaṁśa-upapurāṇa – the appendix of Mahābhārata) + Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 1.2.28 & 2.5.15 – “वासुदेवपरा वेदा../vāsudeva-parā vedā” + “नारायणपरा वेदा…/nārāyaṇa-parā vedā” – all, unanimously, declare Viṣṇu to be the sole import of all the Vedic canon (including the 4 Vedas, Mūla-rāmāyaṇam, Purāṇas, Mahābhārata etc.). How can Viṣṇu be, logically, understood to be the sole import of all Vedic canon? There are three ways to comprehend this.
Firstly, by taking the technique of the ‘primary convey’ as denoted by the Bhāllaveya-śruti statement. If Viṣṇu is considered to be the sole primary import of all Vedic nouns, all Vedic nouns (generally, seen as belonging to other deities) convey only Viṣṇu. In this way, Viṣṇu comes to be the primary meaning of whole Vedic corpus.
Secondly, by taking the technique of the ‘secondary convey’ as denoted by the Bhāllaveya-śruti proposition. If all Vedic nouns are interpreted to convey to deities other than Viṣṇu, even then, Viṣṇu remains the sole import of the Vedic corpus. How? By employing the technique of ‘bhagavad-vibhūti-rūpatva’ mentioned in Śrīmad-bhagavad-gītā 10.42 – “अथवा बहुनैतेन….विष्टभ्याहमिदं कृत्स्नमेकांशेन स्थितो जगत्” or “athavā bahunaitena…viṣṭabhyāhamidaṁ kṛtsnam ekāṁśena sthito jagat….”. Because all deities are, ultimately, vibhūtis of parabrahma Śrī Nārāyaṇa, even if the secondary meaning of Vedic noun conveys the deities other than Nārāyaṇa, the ‘bhagavad-vibhūti-rūpatva’ of those deities, ultimately, make Nārāyaṇa conveyed. For this reason, scriptures have asserted – “आकाशात्पतितं तोयं यथा गच्छति सागरम् । सर्वदेवनमस्कार: केशवं प्रति गच्छति ।।“ or “ākāśāt-patitaṁ toyaṁ yathā gacchati sāgaram / sarvadevanamaskāraḥ keśavaṁ prati gacchati //”.
Third technique of interpretation is to employ the ‘bhagavad-antaryāmitva’ within all deities other than Viṣṇu as substantiated in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad 1.6.6 (antar-āditya-vidyā) and for the same reason, scriptural statement goes – “ ॐ ध्येयः सदा सवित्र मण्डल मध्यवर्ती नारायण सरसिजा सनसन्निविष्टः…oṁ dhyeyaḥ sadā savitṛ-maṇḍala-madhyavartī nārāyaṇaḥ sarasijāsana-sanniviṣṭaḥ…”. The Mahābhārata 12.328.5-20 substantiates how Nārāyaṇa is the antaryāmī of Rūdra/Śiva (“…haras tathā nāryāṇātmako jñeyaḥ / हरस्तथा नारायणात्मको ज्ञेयः”). When Nārāyaṇa is antaryāmī of all deities, the Vedic scriptures depicting the eulogy of other deities – ultimately eulogizes Viṣṇu – the indweller monitor (antaryāmī) of those deities.
“अर्थोऽयं ब्रह्मसूत्राणां भारतार्थविनिर्णय: । गायत्रीभाष्यरुपोऽसौ वेदार्थपरिबृंहित: ।।….श्रीमद्भागवताभिधः ।।” or “artho ‘yaṁ brahma-sūtrāṇāṁ bhāratārtha-vinirṇayaḥ / gāyatrī-bhāṣya-rūpo ‘sau vedārtha-paribṛṁhitaḥ //….śrīmad-bhāgavatābhidhaḥ //” — is the technique for interpreting the Vedic corpus. All the three major granthas of the prasthāna-trayī viz., Upaniṣads or the śrauta-prasthāna, Gīta – the smārtta-prasthana and Brahma-sūtra/Vedānta – the nyāya-prasthāna – has been asserted subordinate to Śrīmad-bhāgavatam’s interpretation by this master-stroke verse by Vedavyāsa in Garūḍa-purāṇa for Śrīmad-bhāgavatam has been declared as the ‘tātparya-vinirṇāyaka’ or the ‘ascertainer of the import’ of the whole prasthāna-trayī.
It is not just the ‘sectarian’ tattva of the sectarian ‘Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Sampradāya’ – (a small and one among the too many sects within Sanātana-dharma) which accepts the exclusive supremacy of Viṣṇu (Kṛṣna) on top of other Vedic deities – but also, the ‘non-sectarian liberal’ tattva of the Aitareya and Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa texts – the core and highly regarded Vedic works – which affirm the same. Isn’t this quite interesting to the non-Vaiṣṇava Sanātanī camps?
— Gurupādācārya Svāmī