The second pāda of the second adhyāya of the Brahma-sūtras is primarily concerned with the refutation of opponents to Vedānta, in the views of most commentators. In his Advaitin commentary, Śaṃkara c.700 A.D., makes this crystal clear in his vocabulary of rejection, invalidity and so forth. Even where he accepts that some of the opponent’s views may be acceptable, he is categorical in his rejection of what is incompatible with his Advaitin view. Under such circumstances, is it even possible to consider these arguments as ‘dialogues’? In this paper, I re-examine Śaṃkara’s approach to the Bhāgavatas in the light of work on Pāncarātra texts by Colas, Rastelli, Bock-Raming and others. Beginning with Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya 2.2.42-45, but considering this material in
the light of Śaṃkara’s broader corpus too, I argue that Śaṃkara is indeed
conducting a dialogue with different Vaiṣṇavas, not simply refuting them, in the context of contemporary brahminical repositionings. I go on to identify the group he addresses as akin to the brahminical Sātvatas mentioned in the Jayākhyā-Saṃhitā and suggest a pedagogical reason for his unusual engagement with them. Finally I suggest on the basis of a career's study of Śaṃkara why it was that he, an Advaitin, counter-intuitively included the Bhagavad Gītā in the so-called triple canon on which subsequent Vedāntins were required to comment.