Those who are followers of the Śaṅkara cult are generally known as Vedāntists. This does not, however, mean that Vedānta is a monopoly study of the Śaṅkara-sampradāya. Vedānta is studied by all the bona fide sampradāyas, but they have their own interpretations. But those in the Śaṅkara-sampradāya are generally known to be ignorant of the knowledge of the Vedāntist Vaiṣṇavas. For this reason the Bhaktivedanta title was first offered to the author by the Vaiṣṇavas.
The Lord agreed to take lessons from Bhaṭṭācārya on the Vedānta, and they sat together in the temple of Lord Jagannātha. The Bhaṭṭācārya went on speaking continually for seven days, and the Lord heard him with all attention and did not interrupt. The Lord's silence raised some doubts in Bhaṭṭācārya's heart, and he asked the Lord how it was that He did not ask anything or comment on his explanations of Vedānta.
The Lord posed Himself before the Bhaṭṭācārya as a foolish student and pretended that He heard the Vedānta from him because the Bhaṭṭācārya felt that this was the duty of a sannyāsī. But the Lord did not agree with his lectures. By this the Lord indicated that the so-called Vedāntists amongst the Śaṅkara-sampradāya, or any other sampradāya who do not follow the instructions of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, are mechanical students of the Vedānta. They are not fully aware of that great knowledge. The explanation of the Vedānta-sūtra is given by the author himself in the text of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One who has no knowledge of the Bhāgavatam will hardly be able to know what the Vedānta says.
The Bhaṭṭācārya, being a vastly learned man, could follow the Lord's sarcastic remarks on the popular Vedāntist. He therefore asked Him why He did not ask about any point which He could not follow. The Bhaṭṭācārya could understand the purpose of His dead silence for the days He heard him. This showed clearly that the Lord had something else in mind; thus the Bhaṭṭācārya requested Him to disclose His mind.
Upon this, the Lord spoke as follows: "My dear sir, I can understand the meaning of the sūtras like janmādy asya yataḥ, śāstra-yonitvāt, and athāto brahma jijñāsā of the Vedānta-sūtra, but when you explain them in your own way it becomes difficult for Me to follow them. The purpose of the sūtras is already explained in them, but your explanations are covering them with something else. You do not purposely take the direct meaning of the sūtras but indirectly give your own interpretations."
The Lord thus attacked all Vedāntists who interpret the Vedānta-sūtra fashionably, according to their limited power of thinking, to serve their own purpose. Such indirect interpretations of the authentic literatures like the Vedānta-sūtra are hereby condemned by the Lord.
The Lord continued: "Śrīla Vyāsadeva has summarized the direct meanings of the mantras in the Upaniṣads in the Vedānta-sūtra. Unfortunately you do not take their direct meaning. You indirectly interpret them in a different way.
"The authority of the Vedas is unchallengeable and stands without any question of doubt. And whatever is stated in the Vedas must be accepted completely, otherwise one challenges the authority of the Vedas.
"The conchshell and cow dung are bone and stool of two living beings. But because they have been recommended by the Vedas as pure, people accept them as such because of the authority of the Vedas."
The idea is that one cannot set his imperfect reason above the authority of the Vedas. The orders of the Vedas must be obeyed as they stand, without any mundane reasoning. The so-called followers of the Vedic injunctions make their own interpretations of the Vedic injunctions, and thus they establish different parties and sects of the Vedic religion. Lord Buddha directly denied the authority of the Vedas, and he established his own religion. Only for this reason, the Buddhist religion was not accepted by the strict followers of the Vedas. But those who are so-called followers of the Vedas are more harmful than the Buddhists. The Buddhists have the courage to deny the Vedas directly, but the so-called followers of the Vedas have no courage to deny the Vedas, although indirectly they disobey all the injunctions of the Vedas. Lord Caitanya condemned this.