R Venkataramanan

R Venkataramanan

R Venkat's Blog

R Venkat's Blog
"To be an Inspiring Teacher,one should be a Disciplined Student throughout Life" - Venkataramanan Ramasethu



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rehabilitation programmes for leprosy -afflicted persons

For the 24th consecutive year, Sri Ramakrishna Mutt Charitable Dispensary and Diagnostic Centre organised a special health camp for leprosy-afflicted persons on Saturday.

The centre, which works for the benefit of people from economically weaker sections, started its rehabilitation programmes for leprosy -afflicted persons in the year 1988. Till date, around 1,098 patients have been treated by the centre.

Around 23 leprosy-afflicted differently-abled patients have received welfare assistance such as cycles, culinary products for starting tiffin centres and so on. Financial aid are also handed over to some of the patients. Around 13 children of differentlyabled persons were given educational support.

Dr N Sundaradevan, Additional Chief Secretary, and Chairman, Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited, was the chief guest on the occasion. In his address he said, “Leprosy is now curable. But even today some sections of the media are spreading wrong informations about this defect. It must be changed. When you see people with disabilities standing on their own feet, it has been proved that disability is not in the body, but in the minds of the people.”

Mutt chief Swami Gautamananda graced the occasion. V Srinivasan, General Manager, Chennai Petroleum Corporation, and Dr Bhaskaran, Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya, were also present. Earlier, special eye and general health checkup camps were conducted for the leprosy-afflicted patients.

Rajasthani Community is well known for three sterling qualities

The Rajasthani Community is well known for three sterling qualities, their enterprising spirit, philanthropy and for endearing themselves to their place of relocation, by identifying themselves totally with the people and causes of the place they have chosen as their second home. The Rajasthani Community of Tamilnadu is an outstanding example of these great qualities. The Association renders yeoman service to the downtrodden and economically weaker sections of society through its various charitable measures. The community drinking water booths providing cool drinking water to thirsty passersby, dotting the roads and public utility points like railway stations and bus terminals of the city is an example of the thoughtful generosity of the Rajasthanis. Old residents of the city would recall ‘The Book Bank’ on Mint Street, the innovative brainchild of the Rajasthani Association through which generations of bright students hailing from economically backward families benefited. The Book Bank enabled poor students, regardless of the community they belonged, to borrow school/college books which they could not afford to buy and complete their studies successfully. The Association has risen to the occasion remarkably during natural calamities and on very many occasions the Rajasthani Association has reached relief in the form of food packets, clothes, milk and medicines to poor people displaced by cyclones and floods, especially in the low lying areas of North Chennai, even before official government relief could reach the victims.

The Rajasthani Association of Tamil Nadu signed a MoU with Sankara Nethralaya on the 18th of September 2012, identifying it as the preferred eye care provider for its members, under the provisions of the memorandum, members of the Association needing eye care would be referred to Sankara Nethralaya. In the case of poor and needy members identified for treatment the association will issue a letter certifying that they may be provided cost free treatment and the cost incurred on the same would be borne by the association. The MoU was signed by Shri S. Vijaikumar Bafna, President of the Association accompanied by Shri Kantilal D.Shah, Treasurer and Shri Jagadish Prasad Sharma, Chairman, Health Services, Rajasthani Association. Shri PR.Ravindran, Chief General Manager signed the MoU on behalf of Sankara Nethralaya in the presence of Shri N.Sugal Chand Jain, Honourary Treasurer, Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Dr S.Bhaskaran, Chairman and Dr KS.Vasan, Managing Director. After the signing of the MoU and exchanging of documents, the office bearers of the Association honoured the senior management members with a Ponnadai and presented a memento to Sankara Nethralaya on behalf of the Tamilnadu Rajasthani Association. The function was attended by Shri Thiagaraj Thomas, Senior Manager and Shri R. Subramanian, Manager, Corporate Services, Sankara Nethralaya who had played a key role in the signing of the MoU.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

“We should aim at reducing visual impairment by 50 per cent within the next eight years by the year 2020”

Calls for increased targets to address the problem in the next eight years

Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has called for reducing visual impairment and blindness by 50 per cent each by 2020 as against the targets of 14 per cent and 20 per cent respectively set in the WHO Zero Draft.

Delivering the key note address at the opening ceremony of the 9th General Assembly of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) here on Monday, he referred to the targets mentioned in the WHO report and said, “I am of the opinion that this is a very small target.”

He said that with the development of technology, improvement in infrastructure, advocacy missions by social and government organisations, “we should aim at reducing visual impairment by 50 per cent within the next eight years by the year 2020”. He said that countries should take up population surveys once in two years to understand the present state of visual impairment and work for reducing the gap.

Surgical simulator

For improving the availability of eye surgeons, the former President suggested to the IAPB to bring forward a proposal for having surgical simulator for eye in every medical college.

This would facilitate training of even general practitioners to get trained in cataract surgery and they could be authorised to carry out such surgeries.

Awards given away

Dr. Kalam later presented ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ to Christian C. Garms, president, IAPB Germany, ‘Global Achievement Award’ to Dr. G.N. Rao, Chairman, L.V. Prasad Eye Institute and ‘Global Partnership Award’ to Merck & Co. Inc. USA.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, Peter Ackland, CEO, IAPB, said around 285 million people were visually impaired worldwide and 80 per cent of them were unnecessarily affected .

He said it was estimated that the various health and social costs on account of the visual impairment were to the tune of $ 1 trillion annually.

The Hyderabad Declaration to be adopted on the concluding day on September 20 would call for an action plan to eliminate avoidable cases of visual-impairment .

President IAPB, Bob McMullan, urged the governments in various countries to give priority to eye health and bring it on to their national agendas.

Dr. G. N. Rao said cataract and uncorrected refractive errors were the major problems in India. He said that 65-70 per cent of the problem could be combated if these two were addressed.

Santiago Carrillo, a Spanish Communist Leader, Dies at 97

Santiago Carrillo, who evolved from a bomb-throwing opponent of Gen. Francisco Franco and his fascist forces into a Spanish Communist leader who promoted a more moderate, democratic European Communist Party independent of the Soviet Union, died on Tuesday at his home in Madrid. He was 97.

The cause was heart failure, his son Santiago said.

Born into a socialist family in dynastic Spain, Mr. Carrillo converted to Communism and fought Franco’s fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War, leaving him haunted by a massacre on his watch. When Franco came to power, Mr. Carrillo was forced to retreat to Paris, but he continued to manage the Spanish Communist Party from there, becoming its secretary general in 1960.

Over the next two decades in exile, he distanced the party from the Soviets, having grown disenchanted with their repressive system of government. He sneaked back into Spain after Franco’s death in 1975 and later lobbied successfully for the Communist Party to be allowed to compete in elections.

During this period he became the face of a new, moderate Communism through his book “Eurocommunism and the State” (1977) and his convening of a summit meeting of Western Europe’s Communist leaders.

Democracy, however, was not so kind. After his party performed poorly at the polls in 1982, he was forced to resign as party leader. His critics said that while promoting the cause through democracy, he ruthlessly stifled dissent within his own ranks.

Mr. Carrillo was expelled from the party leadership altogether in 1985. He sensed the end of the era.

“Now the only debate is what to do with the body,” he said of the Communist Party in an interview with The New York Times, “whether to bury it forever or to have it embalmed.”

His enemies maintained that his softened rhetoric and avuncular looks masked an unrepentant ideologue. Even as he was rebuilding a democratic Communist Party in Spain in 1978, he told The Times that he viewed Soviet practices as an understandable evil.

“There were political police, concentration camps, etc., but those institutions were necessary, and I am not sure they won’t be in other social revolutions” he said.

Santiago Carrillo Solares was born into a radical political family on Jan. 18, 1915, in Gijón, on Spain’s north coast. His father, Wenceslao, a metal worker, was a rising agitator in the Socialist Workers Party. The family moved to Madrid so Wenceslao could edit the party’s newspaper.

The young Mr. Carrillo became secretary general of the United Socialist Youth, which had tens of thousands of members. When the monarchy collapsed in 1931, he enlisted many of the youths to form an antifascist militia that bombed bridges and disrupted Franco’s attempts to organize and rally support.

After the civil war began and the new Republican government fled Madrid, Mr. Carrillo, just 21 and with a well-armed militia at his command, found himself in charge of security for the besieged city. Franco’s army was at his doorstep, and with concerns about a fifth column aiding it from within, Mr. Carrillo moved to relocate thousands of imprisoned rightists from the capital.

Taken by bus to the villages of Paracuellos del Jarama and Torrejón de Ardoz, several thousand prisoners were shot in what is remembered as the Republicans’ single greatest crime of the war, the Paracuellos massacre. Mr. Carrillo and his allies long insisted that they had had no role in the killings, that the buses had been waylaid by mobs.

“What was happening outside of Madrid was completely out of control and beyond my responsibility,” he said in a 2010 interview with The Times.

Historians have been skeptical of that claim, however. And Francoists, who also committed wartime atrocities, continued to blame Mr. Carrillo, calling him guilty of “red barbarism.”

In Paris, Mr. Carrillo lived in semi-secrecy. Financed by the Soviets and other Communist governments, he kept an office around the corner from the Paris stock exchange and was chauffeured to and from his home in the suburbs, where he lived with his second wife, Carmen Menéndez, also a party stalwart, and three children. The family vacationed on the Black Sea in Romania, where he spent time with the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. In 1956, he defended the Soviet invasion of Hungary and continued to argue that Stalin’s savagery had been an aberration for an otherwise sound Communist system.

But after becoming secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party in 1960, he began drifting from Moscow’s orbit as he built alliances with others opposed to Franco, including members of the middle class. Such were his new allegiances that when the Soviets invaded Prague in 1968, he had no choice but to issue a formal protest.

After Franco died and Mr. Carrillo had returned to Spain, his presence there and the dissent and discussion it provoked were credited with helping to move the successor government away from authoritarianism toward democracy.

Beside his son Santiago, Mr. Carrillo is survived by his wife and two other sons, José and Jorge.


Padmapada was one of the favourite disciples of Sri Sankara, the others being Hastamalaka, Totaka and Suresvara. Towards the close of his career, Sri Sankara conceived the idea of perpetuating the doctrine of Advaita by establishing various Mathas in different corners of India for the propagation of Advaita. According to the Sankara-vijaya of Anandagiri, the manuscripts of which are available in the Madras and the Mysore Government Oriental Manuscripts libraries, Sri Sankara appointed Padmapada as the first Acharya at the Sringeri Matha. Under instructions from his preceptor Sri Sankara, Padmapada wrote a commentary on the bhashya of Sri Sankara on the first four aphorisms of the Brahma-sutra; and that commentary is known as Panchapadika. Being the earliest commentary on Sankara’s Bhashya, the Panchapadika deserves a careful study by every student of Advaita philosophy. It was commented on by Prakasatman in his Panchapadika-vivarana. The Panchapadika-vivarana was further commented on by Akhandananda in his Tattvadipana. Anandapurna, who wrote his Vidyasagari commentary on Sri Harsha’s Khandana-khanda-khadya wrote a commentary on the Panchapadika. Nrisimhasrama wrote a commentary on the Panchapadika-vivarana called the Panchapadika-vivarana-prakasika. Dasgupta mentions one more commentary on the Panchapadika-vivarana by one Sri Krishna. Vidyaranya wrote a separate monograph called Vivarana-prameya-sangraha in which the Vedanta doctrines are clearly set forth on the lines of the Panchapadika-vivarana. Ramananda Sarasvati, a pupil of Govindananda, the author of the Ratna-prabha commentary on the Sankara bhashya on the Brahma-sutra wrote his Vivarana-upanyasa, a summary of the main theses of the Vivarana. Dasgupta says that this work was probably the last important work on the Vivarana line.
The first four sutras on the bhashya of which Padmapada has commented set forth the quintessence of Advaita Vedanta. Each system of philosophy has to deal with three topics, those relating to God, Soul and the World. While the pluralistic and theistic schools regard these three as distinct realities, the Advaita teaches that the basic Reality, Brahman is one and non-dual. The truth of non-duality is the import of the Upanishads. And Brahman, owing to its association with avidya, appears as God, Soul and the World. Padmapada says that maya, avyakrita, prakriti agrahana, avyakta, tamah, karana, laya, sakti, mahasakti, nidra, kshara and akasa are the terms which are used in older literature as synonymous with avidya. Avidya, like knowledge, requires a substratum as well as a content. On this issue Padmapada’s view as interpreted by Prakasatman in his Vivarana is that Brahman is both the locus and content of avidya as against the view of Vacaspati Misra that avidya has Brahman as its object and jiva as its support. This is one of the fundamental points of difference between the Vivarana line of interpretation and the interpretation of the Vacaspati line. In this Prakasatman agrees with the view of Suresvara and his (Suresvara’s) disciple Sarvajnatman. Brahman associated with avidya is viewed as the source of the universe. On the subject of causality of Brahman, Padmapada says that that on which the world-appearance is manifested, that, the Brahman is the cause of the world. On this point three alternative views are offered by Prakasatman; and they are: (i) Just as two strands conjoined together make a rope, Brahman and maya are the material cause of the world, in a relation of equal primacy. The elements of reality and manifestation are caused by Brahman; and the elements of inertness and change are produced by maya. (ii) The potency of maya alone may be characterised as the material cause. But, since potency always depends on the potent, it would have to be said presumptively that even Brahman that possesses the potency is the material cause. (iii) Since Brahman is the substrate of maya, though material causality may belong directly to maya alone, for Brahman too material causality cannot be avoided. Of these three views, the first maintains that material causality in the principal sense belongs to Brahman qualified by maya; and the other two hold that it belong to maya alone. But on all the three views, Brahman is only figuratively the material cause1. As regards the nature of the universe, Padmapada holds that it is indeterminable in the sense of not being either real like Brahman or unreal like an absolute nothing. In other words, he defines mithyatvam or indeterminability as ‘Sad-asad-vilakshanatvam’
As regards the nature of the individual soul and the Supreme Lord, three theories are set forth by the Advaitic writers; and they are: pratibimba-vada, avaccheda-vada and abhasa-vada. According to the pratibimba-vada, the consciousness that transcends avidya and serves as the original is Isvara; and, the consciousness that is reflected in the intellect in its gross and subtle states is Jiva. Or, the consciousness reflected in avidya is Isvara, and in intellect is Jiva2. According to the avaccheda-vada, the consciousness conditioned by avidya is Isvara; and the consciousness delimited by avidya is Jiva3. According to the abhasa-vada the reflection of consciousness in avidya when identified with the original is Isvara; and, the reflection of consciousness in the intellect when identified with the original is Jiva4.
The difference between pratibimba-vada and abhasa-vada lies in this that according to the former the consciousness that is reflected and is present in avidya or intellect is real and is identical with the original. Only the state of reflection (pratibimbatva) is indeterminable either as sentient or insentient. But, according to the abhasa-vada, the consciousness that is reflected and present in avidya or intellect is indeterminable either as sentient or insentient5. The pratibimba-vada is advocated by Padmapada in his Panchapadika in the section which is designated by later Advaitic writers as Darpana-tika6. The avaccheda-vada is advocated by vacaspatimisra, and the abhasa-vada by Suresvara.
As regards the relation between the affirmative and negative Upanishadic texts, Padmapada has a theory of his own. Mandanam-misra holds that the negative Upanishadic texts are primary and the affirmative texts are secondary. Padmapada, however, maintains7 that the negative texts merely restate what is presumptively known from the affirmative Upanishadic texts. In the case of the erroneous perception of silver in the nacre, when it is said that ‘this is nacre and this is not silver’, the sentence ‘this is not silver’ merely restates the absence of silver which is presumptively known from the affirmative sentence ‘this is nacre.’ Similarly, the negative Upanishadic texts such as ‘neti, neti’ merely restate the absence of the universe in Brahman which is presumptively known from the affirmative Upanishadic texts that convey Brahman to be truth, consciousness and absolute. Thus the negative Upanishadic texts are subordinate to the affirmative ones. This view, according to Sarvajnatman is faultless, desirable, and commendable8.
The greatest contribution of Padmapada to Advaita lies in this that his interpretation of Sri Sankara’s bhashya served as the source of the most important school of Advaita, that is, the Vivarna School.

1 Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan, The Philosophy of Advaita, pp.228–229.

2 Siddhantabindu ( Kasi Sanskrit series), p.226.

3 Avidyavacchinna-anavancchinnau-eva jivesau iti pakshah Avaccheda-vadah, Narayani on the Siddhantabindu, p.232.

4 Siddhantabindu, p. 219.

5 Ibid., pp. 224–225.

6 Ratna–prabha on Sankara’s bhashya on the Brahma-Sutra, 2-3-50.

7 Pancapadika, p.499 [ Mm. Anantakrishna Sastri’s Edition].

8 Samkshepasariraka I, 257.


I bow down to that great Saint, Parasara, who composed the gem of a Purana (the Vishnu-purana) revealing therein faithfully the truths about soul, matter, God, their inter relationship, enjoyment of this world, freedom and the ways and means thereof.

--Stotra-ratnam by Yamunacharya

Vasishtha, the mind-born son of Brahma, begot Sakti. Saktibegot Parasara. Parasara begot Veda Vyasa. Vyasa begot Suka. And all of them were great seers and the earliest of the builders of the enduring edifice of Sanatana Dharma.
Parasara lived at the end of Dvapara-yuga, just before the Kali era set in. He was once crossing the Ganges in a boat plied by a fallen angel in the guise of a fisherwoman, by name Satyavati. Parasara fell in love with her and of their union was born a child of destiny. We are told that the birth of the child was mysterious, that he was no sooner conceived than he was born, ‘Sadyotpannah.’ He came to be known as Dvaipayana because he was born on an island. He was called Krishna because he was black. He earned the appellation of Veda Vyasa, as he became later on the Codifier of Vedic literature.
Perhaps the greatest glory of Parasara is that he gave Veda Vyasa to the world. A tree is known by its fruit. Speaking of Vyasa, Sri Aurobindo says, “A wide and searching mind, historian, statesman, orator, a deep and keen looker into ethics and conduct, a subtle and high aiming politician, theologian and philosopher, it is not for nothing that Hindu imagination makes the name of Vyasa loom so large in the history of Aryan thought and attributes to him work so important and manifold.”
Parasara is illustrious not only because he is the father of Veda Vyasa but on his own account as a Maharshi, as a law-giver and as a powerful writer. We owe to him the Parasara-smriti and the Vishnu-purana, called a gem among the Puranas.

The teachings of Parasara can be understood from a few quotations given below, culled from the Vishnu-purana:-
As the air blown through different holes of a flute produces different notes, the one Paramatman appears as many.
He who creates, sustains and destroys the worlds in the guise of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva is Bhagavan Janardana himself.
Whatever is seen is His manifestation but people who have no eyes to see the truth, see this manifestation as the universe.
The life of the world is His Kaustubha, Srivatsa is Prakriti, Buddhi is the mace; the Conch represents the Panchabhutas and the bow the Indriyas; the mind is the Chakra and the senses the arrows; the sword is Vidya and its sheath is Avidya. The Lord is Mayarupin. Though he has no form, he assumes a form and wears ornaments and weapons for the good of the creatures.
Word is Sri, meaning is Hari; Wisdom is Vishnu, Buddhi is Lakshmi; Dharma is Vishnu, Dharmic action is Lakshmi; Creator is Vishnu, Creation is Lakshmi; the earth is Sri and he who lifts the earth is Hari; joy is Vishnu and Gauri is Lakshmi; the Lord is the tree, the Mother is the creeper; the flag is Sri and the flagspot is Hari.
“I am Hari, all this is Janardana and apart from Him there is nothing, gross or subtle”-- He who realizes this will not be caught in the meshes of birth and death.
By performing sacrifices, one sacrifices to Him, by meditation one meditates on Him, by killing others one kills Him, for, Hari is all.
If one avoids calumny, envy, untruth, harsh words, He is pleased. If one extends the same love to others as to one’s self or to one’s own son, He is pleased.

The quintessence of Parasara’s philosophy of life is brought home to us in particular in his narration of the story of Prahlada. Through Prahlada, Parasara reveals his own heart.
Says Prahlada: Vishnu is not in my heart alone, he pervades the whole world. He is in me and in you and in every being and He stands revealed in all our actions. When He the dispeller of all fears is seated in my mind, how can fear find a place there? By the mere thought of Him, fear of birth, old age and death is immediately dissolved.
The best way of worshipping Him is the practice of equality and equanimity and to see Him equally everywhere and in all things.
Those who came to kill me, those who gave me poison, who threw me into fire, who set elephants to trample over me and serpents to bite me – to them also I have nothing but love. I cannot wish evil, do evil or talk evil, seeing the Lord is in everyone as in me. When the Lord is seated in the heart of every being, how can there be the distinction of friends and foes?
Unexpected good fortune, ruler ship and enjoyments come even to people who are unjust, unwise, foolish and cowardly. Therefore, one who desires the highest good should not crave for pleasures but should strive for holy things and the practice of equanimity.
The Lord is everywhere. I am He. From me has come everything, I am everything, in me is everything. I am the imperishable Pramatman called Brahma. I am the beginning and the end. I am the Parama Purusha
Realizing that he was not different from Vishnu, Prahlada forgot himself and he did not cognize anything else.
Coming down from that plane, he saw the world again and thought of himself as Prahlada. Then he sang the praise of Purushottama with a one-pointed mind. The Lord then appeared before him clad in golden silk. Prahlada uttered the following prayer: -- As I wander in the world taking numerous births, wherever I may be born, may I always have unswerving devotion of Thee. May I be attracted to you with that love which the foolish people have for the fleeting objects of the world?
This is the philosophy of Parasara.


In the history of Indian philosophy, the influence of Buddhism waned by the end of the tenth century and Advaita definitely triumphed over all the other schools–both heterodox and orthodox. Later, the theistic and pluralistic schools of Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhva developed and they turned against Advaita in a pronounced manner. Among the followers of the Madhva School, Sri Vyasatirtha is the most prominent. Adopting the Navya-nyaya method, he opposed the philosophy of Sri Sankara in his work Nyayamrita. Sri Madhusudana Sarasvati in his Advaita-siddhi answered all the objections raised by Sri Vyasatirtha. Later, the views set forth in the Advaita-siddhi have been criticized by Sri Rama Tirtha in his work Tarangini. And, Brahmananda answered the criticisms raised in the Tarangini in his commentary on the Advaita-siddhi known as Laghuchandrika. This work is also known as Gauda-brahmanandiya. Criticizing this work from the stand-point of the Visishtadvaita, Anantalvar wrote a work called Nyaya-bhaskara. The late Palamaneri Sri Panchapagesa Sastri, the preceptor of the present writer wrote a work called – Brahmanandiyabhavaprakasa1 criticizing the Nyaya-bhaskara. The work Laghuchandrika is widely read by all the students of Advaita. He wrote another commentary on the Advaita-siddhi; and, it is known as Guruchandrika. This commentary is available upto the first parichchheda of the Advaita-siddhi. Apart from these two works, he wrote other works also which are as follows:
Nyayaratnavali: Sri Sankara desirous of helping all human beings in attaining liberation composed the Dasasloki in order to impart briefly the knowledge of Atman. Sri Madhusudana Sarasvati wrote a well-known commentary on it entitled Siddhantabindu. Sri Brahmananda wrote Nyayaratnavali on the Siddhantabindu. In the beginning of the commentary, Sri Brahmananda says that a unique commentary is composed by him.
vichitrarachana kachit
brahmanandena rachyate.
All the theories of the Advaita-vedanta are set forth in this commentary with great clarity.
Vedanta-sukta-muktavali: This is a commentary on the Brahma-sutra. This work throws light upon the Brahma-sutra by clear and luminous exposition. The Navya-nyaya method is adopted in the interpretation of the Brahma-sutra.
Mimamsachandrika: This work is an authentic exposition of the adhikaranas of the Purva-mimamsa-sutra; and this work amply testifies to the fact that Brahmananda is an authority on the Purvamimamsa School also.
Advaita-siddhanta-vidyotani: This is at once a manual and a polemical work on Advaita. The important concepts of Advaita like anirvachaniya-khyati, bhavarupajnana, avidya-nivritti and similar other concepts are dealt with. This work follows the pattern of Tamovada, Saktivada, etc., of the great logician Gadadhara. Only the first parichchheda of this important work is available.
Apart from these six works, it is known that he wrote another work called Mithyatvanumanapakshavichara.
In the Advaitic tradition, it is often said that the systematic explanation of the Advaita starts from Gauda and ends with Gauda:
gaudadi gaudantam vedantadarsanam.
It was Gaudapada who at first set forth in his Karikas on the Mandukya Upanishad the quintessence of the Upanishads, that is, Advaita. Advaita-darsana is the most noteworthy among the darsanas. Sri Sankara enriched it by his commentaries on the Gaudapada-karika, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita, and the Brahma-sutra and also by various manuals on Advaita and hymns on the personal God (Isvara). Preceptors of Advaita wrote not only commentaries on Sri Sankara’s works, but independent treatises on Advaita. And, Brahmananda who hailed from Gauda-desa proved in his works the validity of the import of the Upanishads by refuting, on the basis of reasoning, the objections raised against Advaita by other opposing schools. It is with this in view that tradition holds that Advaita begins with Gauda, that is, Gaudapada, and ends with Gauda, that is Brahmananda who hailed from Gaudadesa.
Brahmananda has distinct views on the Advaita; Purvamimamsa and Yoga schools; and we shall now briefly set forth some of them.
In an erroneous cognition of silver in a shell, six factors are involved; and they are: (i) indeterminable silver, (ii) general characteristic of silver, that is, silverness, (iii) identity of silver with the object in front of the perceiver, that is, the this element, (iv) identity of silverness with the this element, (v) the knowledge of relation of the this element to the silver, and (vi) the knowledge of the relation of the general characteristic of the this element, that is, this-ness to silver. The Laghuchandrika and the Nyayaratnavali deal with this point in great detail.
When we comprehend the insentient objects, there arises manifestation in respect of them. This manifestation is not possible without the identification of the self which is pure consciousness. The superimposition of the self on the insentient objects is essential if the latter were to become manifest. The insentient objects become contents (vishaya) of knowledge only when they are identified with the self which is pure consciousness. Or to state the same in other words, insentient objects are objects in the sense that they are identified with consciousness. This is technically stated as chittadatmyam vishayata. In cognition of a particular object three factors are referred to; and, they are: prakarata, viseshyata and samsargata. These three factors come within the purview of the definition of vishayata referred to above. Brahmananda establishes this theory on the basis of reasoning; and, he cites the text of Udayana as authority. Udayana’s passage runs as follows:
prakasasya satah tadiyatamatranibandhanah svabhavavisesho vishayata.
We have already referred to a work on the Purva-mimansa by Brahmananda. As regards the process through which the sense of a sentence is conveyed the Prabhakara school of Mimamsa holds the theory of anvitabhidhana-vada and the Bhatta school of Mimamsa advocates the theory of abhihitanvaya-vada. According to the former school, a word conveys its sense as well as its relation to the sense of some act. And, the words themselves convey the sense of the sentence. According to the Bhatta School, words convey their senses and then cease to function. The senses of the words in combination convey the sense of the sentence. This view known as abhihitanvaya-vada is three-fold.

For example,
the suffix (pratyaya) conveys the sense of arthabhavana;
the root (dhatu) conveys the sense of arthabhavana and the suffix merely indicates it (dyotaka);
both the root and the suffix convey the sense of arthabhavana as associated with the sense of the root (dhatvartha).
Parthasarathimisra and other followers of the Bhatta School hold that the first view alone is correct. But Sri Brahmananda in the Nyayaratnavali proves that the third alternative alone holds good.
As regards the injunctive statements of the Veda, the Purvamimamsa School holds that arthabhavana alone is the mukhyaviseshya or the primary substantive. But Sri Brahmananda holds that artha-bhavana is only adjectival (viseshana) and sabda-bhavana alone is the primary substantive.
From a careful study of the Nyayaratnavali, it is known that Sri Brahmananda has distinct views on the Yoga system also. According to the Yoga school, asamprajnata-samadhi is the highest Yoga. Yoga means subjugation of all the mental states. In the asamprajnata-samadhi all the mental states are subjugated; this is the view of the followers of the Yoga school. Sri Brahmananda, on the other hand, says that even in the asamprajnata-samadhi there is the mental state in the form of Atman. But this mental state is not manifest then. This is the difference between asamprajnata-samadhi and sushupti wherein there is the manifestation of the avidya-vritti in the form of Atman.
Ancient preceptors wrote treatises on Advaita with a view to establish the unity of the self. In order to establish this they advocated several theories which differ among themselves. They do not, however, stultify the non-dual nature of the self. Sri Brahmananda does not have any leaning towards a particular theory. In fact he is more concerned with proving that all theories are correct in so far as they do not contradict the primary import of the Upanishads, namely, the oneness of the self.
Sri Brahmananda has the greatest respect for the ancient preceptors of Advaita. While interpreting the word vedantasastra occurring in the Siddhantabindu he says that five treatises constitute the vedanta-sastra; and, they are: the Brahma-sutra, Sri Sankara’s bhashya on it, the Bhamati, the Kalpataru and the Parimala.
vedantasastreti – sarirakamimamsa – rupachaturadhyayi – tadbhashya – tadiyatikavachaspatya – tadiyatika – kalpataru – tadiyatikaparimalarupa granthapanchaka ityarthah.
Sri Brahmananda is the disciple of Sri Narayanatirtha. In the preface to our author’s work Advaita-siddhanta-vidyotani, the editor says that Narayanatirtha flourished in 1790. We may, therefore, believe that Sri Brahmananda flourished during the last decade of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. Sri Vittalesa wrote a commentary on the Laghuchandrika. He is the preceptor of the great logician Krishnambhatta who wrote commentaries on Jagadisi and Gadadhari. He says:
sri pandurango hridaye
samvidrupah prakasatam
yena me samprasideta
Let Sri Panduranga who is pure consciousness shine in my heart; so that I could understand the import of the statements of Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati.
There could be no more fitting tribute to Sri Brahmananda than this one which emanates from the preceptor of Krishnambhatta one of the greatest logician than India has even produced.
This work has been published by The Private Secretary to His Highness The Maharaja of Cochin, (1961).


Gangadharendra Sarasvati is the author of the Svarajya-siddhi1, a manual of Advaita. In the concluding verse of this work he gives his date as 1748 Vikrama Saka (vasvabdhimunyavanimanasake). This corresponds to 1792 A.D. No further details of the author are available except that his guru was one Ramachandra Sarasvati and his parama-guru Sarvajna Sarasvati.
The work Svarajya-siddhi deals with all important concepts of Advaita especially with the means to realize the self-luminous Atman free from the veil of avidya. It consists of one hundred and sixty-five verses divided into three chapters which are termed adhyaropa-prakarana, apavada-prakarana and kaivalya-prakarana. The author himself has written a commentary on this work and it is known as Kaivalyakalpataru.
Brahman, the ultimate Reality, is one without a second and it is free from any attributes. The attributeless nature of Atman is arrived at by adopting the method of superimposition and negation (adhyaropa and apavada). This, in main, is the theme of the first chapter known as adhyaropa-prakarana. This chapter contains fifty-four verses. The author deals with the illusory nature of bondage and discusses in detail the sense of the words tat and tvam in the sentence tat tvam asi. Thirteen views as regards the nature of the sense of the word tvam are referred to and critically examined. And, the view of the Upanishads that the sense of the tvam is Atman which is identical with truth, consciousness and bliss is established.
As regards the nature of the sense of the term tat the author first states that it is Brahman which is the material and the efficient cause of the world. Of course, this is the primary sense of the term tat. He refers to the view-points of ten different schools of thought as regards the cause of the universe and then critically examines them. He concludes by pointing out that the secondary sense of the term tat is the attributeless Brahman which is truth, consciousness and bliss.
The second chapter entitled apavada-prakarana consists of sixty three verses. In this chapter, the author establishes the indeterminable character of the universe and the non-dual nature of Brahman; and he does so on the basis of the Chandogyopanishad text–– ‘vacharambhanam vikaro namadheyam, mrittiketyeva satyam.’ The universe appears owing to avidya which is present in Brahman or Atman. Brahman is the cause of the universe in that it is the substratum of avidya and its modification, the universe. Brahman is the transfigurative material cause (vivarto’padana) of the universe, while avidya is the transformative material cause (parinamyupadana). Avidya and the universe belong to the same order of reality; both have empirical reality. Brahman and the universe, on the other hand, belong to different orders of reality. While Brahman is absolutely real, the universe is only empirically real. Just as the snake superimposed on a rope disappears by the knowledge of the rope, so also the universe superimposed on Brahman disappears by the intuitive knowledge of Brahman.
The Advaitin postulates a two-fold definition of Brahman, one called svarupa-lakshana and the other tathastha-lakshana. The object of defining a thing is to differentiate it from everything else and this result is attained generally by reference to a property that is distinctive of it. To give an example, water is defined by reference to its liquidity–– a feature which is found in it and in none other. This is an instance of svarupa-lakshana; for this characteristic is an essential feature of the object defined. Tathastha-lakshana, on the other hand, differentiates an object from the rest by reference to a property which is not its essential nature. For example, a house of a person Devadatta is defined by reference to the crow perching on its roof—a feature which is only external to the house and not a part of the nature of the house. Though the two types of definition differentiate the object defined from the rest, yet the svarupa-lakshana alone gives us a notion of the nature of the object defined.
The Advaitin defines Brahman by utilizing the tathastha-lakshana as the source of the universe. The author has selected passages from the five principal Upanishads, namely the Aitareya, the Brihadaranyaka, the Taittiriyaka, the Chandogya and the Mandukya, to show that Brahman is the source of the universe. This is tathastha-lakshana in that the characteristic of being the source of the universe is not really present in Brahman, but is only brought about by avidya abiding in Brahman. This definition only distinguishes Brahman from certain entities, but does not give us a notion of its nature. And that is done svarupa-lakshana. The Upanishadic texts such as ‘satyam jnanam anantam brahma’ define Brahman as of the nature of existence, consciousness, etc.,
The author next proceeds to discuss the import of the five major texts of the Upanishads, namely, prajnanam brahma (Aitareya), aham brahmasmi (Brihadaranyaka), sa yaschayam purushe and yaschasavaditye, sa ekah (Taittiriyaka), tat tvam asi (Chandogya), and ayamatma brahma (Mandukya). The words such as tat and tvam etc., constituting the sentences primarily convey Isvara and jiva. Isvara is mediate and omniscient. Jiva is immediate and ignorant. In view of the conflicting attributes which they have, there cannot be any identification between the two. Hence secondary signification is resorted to. The two words secondarily signify the absolute consciousness which is the essential nature of both Isvara and jiva. The identity of the essential nature of Isvara and jiva is the import of the major texts of the Upanishads. This identity is not identity involving duality, but it is identity-in-itself (svarupabheda). In the Upanishadic text – ‘niranjanah paramam samyamupaiti’, the word samya conveys the sense of identity and the word paramam conveys that that identity is identity-in-itself. The intuitive knowledge of the identity of the essential nature of Isvara and jiva arising from the major texts of the Upanishads annihilates avidya along with its product.
The third chapter kaivalya-prakarana consists of forty five verses. This chapter deals with the nature of release. The intuitive knowledge of Brahman is the sole means to release. Vachaspatimisra, the author of the Bhamati holds that nididhyasana is principal among the means that gives rise to knowledge. Prakasatman, the author of the Vivarana, holds that sravana is principal and the other two are its auxiliaries. From this it is clear that Prakasatman holds that the Upanishadic sentences themselves give rise to the intuitive knowledge of Brahman. This is the prevalent view; and this author maintains the same.
One who has attained to the knowledge of Brahman continues to live till his prarabdha-karma is exhausted by experiencing its results. This state is known as jivan-mukti. Our author explains the state of jivan-mukti in this chapter known as kaivalya-prakarana. The outpourings of jivan-mukta are set forth in fifteen verses in this Chapter2 and these verses, according to the commentary Kaivalya-kalpataru constitute a section termed jivan-mukti-gita. These verses explain in an admirable way the highly evolved state of the infinite bliss enjoyed by the liberated souls. When the prarabdha-karma is exhausted by experiencing its results, the jivan-mukta is dissociated from his physical accompaniments and he becomes Brahman itself. This is known as videha-mukti.


*An adaptation of the paper The Advaitavidyamukura, published in collected Papers of Professor S. S. Suryanarayana Sastri, University of Madras, 1961.

Nilakantha Dikshita, the famous litterateur and minister of Tirumala Nayak, refers in his Nala-charitra-nataka1 to one of his ancestors, Ranga raja, as the author of several works, such as the Advaitavidyamukura and the Vivaranadarpana. This Ranga raja is none other than the son of Achan Dikshita and the father of the celebrated Appayya Dikshita. From the latter’s acknowledgement of indebtedness to his father’s instruction, it is evident that Ranga raja was a scholar of no mean order; but the only reference to his works seems to be in the nataka above-mentioned and there is little direct knowledge of the works themselves. The Oriental Manuscripts Library at Mysore has the proud distinction of owing a fragmentary copy of the Mukura, under the title Advaitamukura2. The Vivaranadarpana of which there is a single manuscript in Nandinagari script––again fragmentary––in the Tanjore Palace Library3, is probably the work of Ranga raja. It is here sought to give an account of the contents of the manuscript of the Advaitamukura as now available to us in the Mysore Library.
Like the Advaitasiddhi of Madhusudana, it is an attempt to reestablish Advaita by answering dualist attacks. The topics covered are almost the same as those treated in the Siddhi, in the first hundred pages (of the Kumbakonam edition). The arguments met are the same; and the similarity very often extends to the replies too. Such differences as there are belong to the order of treatment. The refutation of the superiority of perception, the application of the apaccheda-nyaya, etc., thus occurs at the very end of Ranga raja’s exposition, while Madhusudana finds a place for them early in his discussion. The purvapakshin’s position is stated in one lot by Ranga raja, while Madhusudana lets it develop gradually in answer to various replies of the Siddhantin. But the nerve of the argument is the same in both writers. It is impossible to judge conclusively on the material before us, which of these is indebted to the other; while the agreement not merely in the purvapaksha but also in the siddhanta precludes the position that each was absolutely independent of the other. It would appear necessary to postulate at least a common source of inspiration for both writers, a source we have so far not discovered.
Another tantalizing problem set by the manuscript is that of Ranga raja’s identity with the Advaitavidyacharya mentioned so frequently by Appayya in the Siddhantalesasangraha. The name might have been applied to Ranga raja, either because of his authorship of the Advaitavidyamukura or because Appayya got his Advaitavidya from his father4. The matter could be settled if one could trace to the Mukura any of the doctrines attributed distinctively to the Advaitavidyacharya. But the fragment we have of the Mukura does not treat any such topic and we are still left in the region of conjecture.
What we have of the first pariccheda is roughly divided into eleven sections. The first of these deals with the interpretation of scripture as favouring non-dualism. The well-known six marks of purport are mentioned and their consilience shown in respect of non-dualism. Duality though perceived is not ultimate. Scriptural affirmation of what is in the scope of perception would be repetitive and purposeless. It is not as though a new duality is affirmed; for there is no novelty about this duality; and the cognition of duality is fraught with evil besides, as made clear in more than one unambiguous scriptural text. Opponents of non-dualism who indulge in the distortion of patently non-dualist texts like tat tvam asi come in for severe criticism by our author.
The pluralist seeks to establish the reality of the world on the ground of its being known, on the analogy of Brahman. The difficulty in all such arguments is that the probans “being known by a pramana that apprehends absolute reality” is not established. Perception which apprehends the here and now cannot apprehend such reality as is unsublatable in all three times. That inference can apprehend it is yet to be proved. Scripture does apprehend it, but not as belonging to the world; further, it sublates any inferred absoluteness of the world. It is not as though Isvara’s immediate cognition of the world guarantees its reality; for His immediacy need to be no more than that experienced by the juggler in respect of his tricks; knowing the illusory as illusory, He is not deluded5.
The next task attempted is the establishment of illusoriness by inference grounded on cognisability, inertness and finitude. The five definitions of illusoriness are mentioned and explained in much the same way as in the Advaitasiddhi6. The discussion owes much to the Tattvapradipika and is much in the same style as the Siddhi.
The illusoriness of illusoriness is treated at some length. The sublator need not always be real, as, in the case of a rope, the snake-delusion is sublatable by a stick-delusion. The self too is the substrate of illusory illusoriness inasmuch as the Bauddhas and others have the delusion that it is illusory. But with this the self is not reduced to the same level as the world, since the reality of the former is due to self-hood and self-manifestation, not to sublated illusoriness. Illusoriness is on a par with knowability, etc., in its capacity to cover both itself and that of which it is predicated. Illusoriness is part of the world; when the world is shown to be illusory because of cognisability, etc., illusoriness which is a part of the world is also shown to be illusory.
The three probans–– cognisability, inertness and finitude ––are examined in some detail. The discussion is not very different from that of the Siddhi. A point of some interest relates to yogic perception. The dualist is fond of exploiting this type of perception to cover cases of impossibility like the perception of the tuccha; our author is willing to concede this; yogins may perceive the tuccha, but they would perceive it as tuccha; i.e., as not practically efficient, unlike nacre-silver, etc; in this there is no detriment of Advaita. It is true Chitsukhacharya seems to deny yogic perception, but that is only an abhyupetya-vada; for we must admit an omniscient Isvara to whom everything is immediate.
The next section relates to the refutation of the allegation that the Advaitin’s probans is affected by an adjunct. The matter covered is the same as that treated by the Siddhi, in the two sections on sopadhikatva-bhangah and abhasa-samyabhangah7. The arguments are almost identical. Are these probans themselves illusory or not? If not, there is failure of non-dualism. If they too are illusory, how can they establish anything? This discussion covers the same ground as two sections of the Siddhi8 and employs nearly the same arguments.
The Advatin seeks to strengthen his position by setting forth indirect arguments (tarka) in favour of the illusoriness of the world. One such argument is that if the world were independently real there would be no possibility of the cognition thereof, since no real relation is intelligible between knowledge on the one side and an inert reality standing over against it on the other. Our author is never tired of pointing out that Brahman’s reality is self-manifest; it does not depend on the illusoriness or non-illusoriness of relation to anything else; and the illusoriness of the world follow not because its relation to knowledge is illusory, but because it is cognisable, inert, and so on. This is the basic ground. Hence it is that no parity can be made out between Brahman and the world even on the ground of indeterminability.
The manifestation of particular objects at stated times and through specific means is held by the opponent to be a difficulty the Advaitin cannot lightly get over. The Advaitin replies that since self-manifest intelligence is beginninglessly obscured by nescience, whose existence is not inconsistent with svarupajnana, it is necessary for defined intelligence to go forth through sense channels in the form of a long ray of light as it were, in order to pervade and take on the form of each object so that the ignorance enveloping it may be destroyed. Since the generation, going forth and pervasion of the psychosis is spatially and temporally determined, there may be pratikarma-vyavastha. The position is not free from difficulties, but the Mukura successfully answers all the objections like the Siddhi. For a fuller discussion the author refers us to his Vivaranaprakasa.
The pluralist too has recourse to tarka to disprove non-dualism. The consideration of the pratikula-tarkas constitutes the next section. The purvapakshin also mentions conflict with scriptural texts about creation of the world, etc., by Isvara. This is met, in the same way as in the Siddhi, by the analogy of the juggler, who resolves on and creates his magic world in a certain order and so on. The author of the Mukura brings in here a discussion of the relation of Isvara and jiva, adopting the view of the first section of the Panchadasi, which treats both as reflections.
The final section of the first pariccheda is concerned with the refutation of the validity of perception, etc., in regard to absolute reality. Where there is perception of finites as real, it is the reality of Brahman that is manifest therein. Unsublatability in all three times cannot be known by perception which can tell us at best that sublation has not arisen so far, nor that it does not exist. Practical efficiency, as has been often said, is no warrant for absolute reality, as even the rope-snake causes fear and trembling. The difference between the empirically real and the merely apparent consists in sublatability by Brahman-knowledge alone or anything short of that. We do not subscribe to the view that all scripture is superior to perception, but only that purportful scripture is so superior; purportfulness is determined by non-subsidiariness to any other purpose.
Though the manuscript is fragmentary and the present account is but a meager outline, enough has been said; it is hoped, to show the great interest of the work both from the historical and the doctrinal sides. It is not improbable that other fragments at least exist elsewhere. Though much of the dialectic survives in the monumental work of Madhusudana, Ranga raja’s treatment has a directness and charm which make it worthy of being resuscitated and made better known. On the assumption that both derived from a common source of inspiration, the Mukura is likely to throw light on points that are obscure in the Siddhi despite Brahmananda’s voluminous comment. For this and other reasons, it is hoped that experts in the collection of manuscripts will bestir themselves to find a complete version of the Advaitavidyamukura.


Lakshmidhara, the author of the Advaitamakaranda, a prakarana work on Advaita Vedanta, has to his credit two other works, namely, a commentary on Srimad Bhagavata and Bhagavannamakaumudi dealing with namasamkirtana as a means of attainment of purusharthas and with the meaningfulness of the Puranas. This is evident from the author’s own statement in the latter work which is as follows:
yena bhagavatavyakhya kritamritatarangini
advaitamakarandascha so’karonnamakaumudim
Since Bhagavannamakaumudi is commented upon by Anantadeva Bharati who lived in the 17th century, Lakshmidhara could not have flourished later than this period. Brahmananda Bharati, the author of the Purusharthaprabodha has commented upon the work of Bharatitirtha, guru of Sri Vidyaranya who lived towards the close of the 14th century A.D. Lakshmidhara is quoted by Brahmananda Bharati in his commentary on the Vakyasudha and hence the author may be placed in the early half of the 15th century.
It is suggested by the editor of the Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts of the Tanjore Sarasvati Mahal Library (Vol. XIII, No. 7635) that Lakshmidhara was the disciple of Anantananda Raghunatha Yati and that after taking the order of sannyasa he was known as Krishnendra as is made out by a manuscript of Advaitamakarandavyakhya (No. 7641).
Sri S. Srikantha Sastri states that Lakshmidhara was the son of Simhala, sister of Sri Vidyaranya and that he was probably identical with the patron of the Kannada Poet Madhura in the time of Devaraya I (1406 A.D.).
Ishtarthakalpavalli, a commentary on Anargharaghavanataka refers to the fact that Lakshmidhara, the commentator came to be known as Ramanandasrama when he became a sannyasin. He is described there as Mimamsadvayaparagah and son of Yajnesvara and Sarvambika of Charakuri family in Guntur district. He is also credited with the authorship of Srutiranjani, a commentary on Prasannaraghava and Shadbhashachandrika, a Prakrit grammar and a few other works. But whether this Lakshmidhara who flourished in the court of Tirumalaraya of Vijayanagar (1567–1575 A.D.) is identical with Lakshmidhara, the author of Advaitamakaranda as claimed by the editor of the Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts of the Tanjore Sarasvati Mahal Library (Vol. XII, p. 5102), needs examination, as the above information regarding his parentage, name of preceptor, name in sannyasasrama, names of works and the period in which he lived does not agree with the information contained in other manuscripts and printed work of Advaitamakaranda.
The author himself in the colophon to Bhagavannamakaumudi gives the name of his father as Narasimha and of his guru as Anantananda Raghunatha. In the same work he mentions his other two works that have already been referred to.
From the above facts it appears that Lakshmidhara, the author of Advaitamakaranda, son of Narasimha and disciple of Anantananda Raghunatha assigned to the 15th century by the editor of Vani Vilas publication is different from the Lakshmidhara of Cherukuru family who flourished in the court of Tirumalaraya of Vijayanagara in the latter half of the 16th century.
The work bears a felicitous name, Advaitamakaranda, which as the author himself describes towards the end of the work, is sweet like the honey collected from the autumnal lotus (Saradambhojasambhrita), capable of delighting the bees, viz., those learned in the sastras (vidvadbhringah). ‘Advaitam’ is Brahman and ‘makaranda’ is rasa and the title gives the subject-matter of the work, the nature of Brahman that is identical with rasa, ‘raso vai sah’. The nature of Brahman can be known only by ‘anubhava’ as the sweetness of honey is experienced only by one who tastes it and not by one who listens to an exposition about its nature.
The work contains twenty-seven verses dealing with the nature of Brahman that is not different from the soul. These verses are commented upon by Svayamprakasayati, disciple of Kaivalyananda Yogindra, in a lucid and authoritative manner. The author invokes the blessing of his ishtadevata Sri Krishna, the Blissful and Eternal (anantananda Krishna), a term which can be taken to make an oblique reference to his teacher Anantananda Raghunatha, though the commentator takes it only as a devatanamaskara presumably because he was not aware of this fact, being separated by several centuries from the period of the author.
The central thesis of this work is ‘brahmaivaham’. The scriptural statements ‘aham brahmasmi’, ‘anandam brahma’; etc., find effective support in the reasoning contained in the second verse of this work. The non-difference of the soul and Brahman is often challenged by the realists on the ground of perceptual testimony like ‘naham isvarah’. The commentator clearly beings out that there is no possibility of either the bahya or manasa type of perception relating to the soul as it is formless and beyond even the reach of mind.
That the soul is indestructible is established by the author after examining the several ways in which destruction of a thing can be brought about. According to Bauddhas, a thing is destroyed by itself (svato nasah). Secondly, a thing is destroyed by contact with something else as a pot is destroyed by a stick. Thirdly, a thing is destroyed when its substratum ceases to exist as the colour of a cloth when the cloth is destroyed. The first is countered by the ‘pratyabhijna’ that everyone experiences in forms like ‘yo’ham suptah svapnam adraksham sa eva idanim jagarmi’. The second type of destruction also is not possible because the soul is all-pervasive and impartible. The third type of destruction also is inconceivable because there is no substratum for the soul. It is only guna, kriya, jati, etc., that have an asraya or substratum and the soul is not any of these.
That the knowledge of the universe is rendered possible only by association with an intelligent being is elucidated by the analogy of a pot, the existence of which is cognised only in the presence of light.
The author sets forth how the state of wakefulness, dream and sleep pertains to the ego (ahamkara) and not to the soul, the witness (sakshi) of those states. The commentator cites the vyapti, the invariable concomitance ‘yo yajjanati na sa taddharmavan’ in dissociating the soul from the sixfold transformation, viz., origin, existence, growth, change, decay and cessation. Kartritvam, sakshitvam, etc., are only apparent attributes, the soul in reality being attributeless.
On the validity of karmakanda of the Veda that speaks about sacrifices and heaven, the author as an Advaitin can only concede a lesser degree of reality to such things, Brahman being the ultimate Reality.
As Dr. S. Radhakrishnan observes, “In later Advaita the comparison of the world to a dream has been stretched to the breaking point.” Advaitamakaranda says, ‘In this protracted dream which the world is, projected in that great sleep of ignorance reading the self, flash forth the glimpse of paradise, emancipation and so forth.’
The distinction of ‘bhogya’ and ‘bhokta’ is held to be a sort of fictitious superimposition on the intelligent soul which is none other than Brahman. Any change noticed in the universe is of no consequence so far as their adhishthana, the Brahman, is concerned in the same way as the waves on the surface of the ocean do not produce any the least effect on the deep and calm ocean, their substratum. As Bharatitirtha puts it ‘Let the cloud of nescience break and pour the rain of universe. There is neither loss nor gain to the ether of consciousness––
‘mayamegho jaganniram varshatvesha yatha tatha
chidakasasya no hanih na va labhah iti sthitih.’
‘Satta (existence) is not an attribute of soul, says the author because there is no reality besides the soul which being one, cannot be supposed to have satta as its attribute in the same way as there can be no ‘nabhastva’ in ‘nabhas’, space being one. ‘Chit’ (knowledge) is not an attribute of soul but is the very nature of it. The knower and knowable are the same because the soul is self-luminous. ‘Ananda’ is not an attribute of soul but is the very nature of it. Rasa is equated with that. In fact Sat, Chit and Ananda are not mutually exclusive aspects of Brahman, though the terms denote different meanings primarily; the one is non-different from the other and the whole is understood in their secondary sense, one ‘Sacchidanandaghana.’
The author concludes by reiterating the non-difference of the soul and Brahman by alluding to the mahavakya ‘tattvam asi’ which conveys the grand truth of the Advaita, viz., the soul that is divested of the obsession about the remoteness of perception of Isvara, the delimited nature of the soul and maya-ridden diversity of worldly phenomena is that Brahman.


Ramadvayacharya belongs to that galaxy of medieval authors who wrote independent dialectical works called prakaranas connected with the Vedanta Sastra. Vedanta-kaumudi, published by the Madras University (1955) and an unpublished commentary on it by himself are the only works available in his name. A prakarana may be smaller or bigger than the Sastra to which it is connected, but it elaborates a few topics dealt with there. Vedanta-kaumudi fully answers to this definition.
His Date
Appayya Dikshita of the 16th Century quotes from Vedanta-kaumudi thrice, once by the name of the author and twice by mentioning his work. Brahmananda (17th century) the author of Laghuchandrika discussed his anumana in the establishment of mithyatva (illusoriness) of the universe. Moreover Dr. Dasgupta who was the first to notice the importance of Vedanta-kaumudi refers to two manuscripts of the commentary of the work, one in Asiatic Society of Bengal and the other in the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. In both these manuscripts the copying date given is 1515 A.D. We can therefore take it that the upper limit of the date of Vedanta-kaumudi and its commentary (which are by the same author) is 1500 A.D. His reference to Janardana who later became Anandagiri and his reference to later authors show that he probably lived about 1515 A.D.
Ramadvaya in his discussions mostly follows the Siddhantas of the Vivarana school, but whenever he finds any difficulty he adopts the views of Vachaspati. Following the Siddhanta of the Vivarana school he adopts:

(i) niyamavidhi in respect of injunctions regarding sravana;
(ii) rise of Brahman-realization directly from the Vedantas;
(iii) jivas as reflections of Brahman.

Following Vachaspati he accepts nescience as many and its location in jivas.
Contents of Vedanta-Kaumudi
The work is divided into four chapters. Brahman-inquiry, the subject-matter of the first Brahman-sutra, is elaborated in the first chapter. Following the Khandana-khanda-khadya of Sri-Harsha, the author establishes the eligibility of the Advaitin who views the world as unreal, for taking part in philosophical discussions. He says that what is required in the discussions is only the acceptance of categories as they are and not their absolute reality. Explaining the self-validity of the pramanas he thinks that though the absence of defects is useful it does not conduce to validity being extrinsic. After an elaborate discussion he supports Vachaspatis view that mind is the means of Brahman-knowledge; but finally he approves the position taken by the author of the Vivarana that Vedantas directly give rise to the intuitive knowledge. Taking up the Advaitin’s stand in respect of illusion, the author condemns all other khyatis and supports anirvachaniyakhyati. Maya as a positive entity is established by perception, inference and scripture. Among the qualities necessary for eligibility for Brahman-inquiry the author lays stress on vairagya (freedom from desires). This he says is to be attained not only by performing the obligatory rites prescribed in the Vedas but also by voluntary charity of food and clothing beyond one’s means. Interpreting the agelong saying that by death in Varanasi, one gets final release as he says that death there leads to final release through different phases and not directly. After an extensive discussion, the author establishes that sannyasa asrama is essential for Brahman-knowledge and is so taught in the scriptures. But once taken, there is no going back. Taking up the subject-matter of the Brahma-sutra the author states that the identity of jiva with Brahman is the subject and the whole inanimate world with the multiplicity of the jivas is unreal. The unreality of the universe is established on the ground that it is inexplicable either as different or as non-different from Brahman, its cause. In chapter-II the author takes up the second Brahman-sutra for discussion. He declares that the fact that Brahman is the cause of creation, sustentation, and dissolution of the world is to be established only by scripture and not by inference as held by the Naiyayikas. The author condemns the inferences of the Naiyayikas establishing Isvara as the cause as fallacious. Elaborating causality, the author rejects the views (i) that karma is the cause, (ii) that time is the cause, (iii) that nature is the cause, (iv) that prana (vital air) is the cause and (v) that pradhana is the cause. Incidentally he criticises the views of the Buddhists, the Jainas and the Pasupatas in respect of causation.
After thus explaining the tatasthalakshana he takes up the svarupalakshana and establishes on the basis of scripture and reasoning that Brahman is of the nature of reality, intelligence and bliss. He also establishes the Vedantic theory that the mahavakyas give rise to an impartite sense (akhandartha).
In the third chapter, the author discusses the proofs for the existence of Brahman. He holds that Vedantas alone are the proofs. Incidentally he takes up other pramanas and discusses their definitions and scope. He rejects the anumanas given by Udayana in his Kusumanjali as fallacious. As regards verbal knowledge resulting from Vedic and non-Vedic texts the author favours abhihitanvayavada of Kumarila in preference to anvitabhidhanavada of Prabhakara. Taking up the subject of authorship of the Vedas the author declares that the Vedas are not of human origin; even God cannot interfere in their subject-matter or sequence. They are beginningless. Though they perish in the deluge, there is God who remembers the Vedas of the previous creation and teaches them to Brahma at the time of the first creation after the deluge.
In chapter IV the author takes up the fourth Sutra for discussion. In reply to the contention of the Mimamsakas that Vedic injunctions which tend to human activity (towards good) or abstention (from bad) alone are valid, and the Upanishads which reveal the ever-existent Brahman are not valid, the Sutrakara says that the Upanishads which are not connected with any karma and which do not set forth any activity are also valid since they also reveal Brahman whose knowledge gives the final purushartha. The author incidentally defines the sixteen categories enumerated by Gautama. As regards the nature of Isvara he accepts the Vivarana theory that he is the pratibimba (reflection) of Brahman in maya; he is all-pervasive.


Anandanubhava has written three valuable treatises on Advaita Vedanta. The Ishta-siddhi-vivarana, as the name indicates, is a commentary on the Ishta-siddhi of Vimuktatman. The Nyayaratnadipavali and the Padartha-tattva-nirnaya are his independent works. In addition to these Advaita works, he has also written a commentary on the Nyayasara of Bhasarvajna. Anandagiri has written a commentary, Vedantaviveka, on the Nyayaratnadipavali. The Padartha-tattva-nirnaya has been commented upon by Anandagiri and Atmasvarupabhagavan.
In the colophon of the Nyayaratnadipavali, Anandanubhava is described as pupil of Narayanajyotis. We come across in this work references to Kumarila, Prabhakara, Visvarupa, Mandana, Vachaspati, Sucharitamisra, Anandabodha and others. Anandabodha, a celebrated teacher of Advaita, has written the Nyayamakaranda, the Nyayadipavali and the Pramanamala. It is believed that Anandabodha must have lived about 1100 A.D. Anandanubhava has written a commentary on the Ishta-siddhi of Vimuktatman. The latter is assigned to the period between 850 A.D. and 1050 A.D. From these it is clear that Anandanubhava must have lived after Vimuktatman and Anandabodha. Chitsukha in his Tattvapradipika refers to Anandanubhava. The date of Chitsukha is said to be 1220 A.D. And so, Anandanubhava could not have been later than Chitsukha. Most probably, he must have lived in the second half of the twelfth century A.D.
The padartha-tattva-nirnaya seeks to refute the categories of the Vaiseshika system and also the views of the Bauddhas, the Sankhyas, the Mimamsakas and others. The work is divided into two chapters. The prima-facie view (purva-paksha) is cogently explained in the first chapter, while the final view (siddhanta) is established in the second chapter. Anandanubhava vindicates the Advaita view that Brahman alone is real and that the phenomenal world of diversity is just an appearance.
The Nyayaratnadipavali is one of the authoritative, polemical treatises on Advaita Vedanta. Anandanubhava establishes the fundamental standpoint of Advaita not only on the authority of the Upanishads but also by reasoning. According to Advaita, Brahman or the Self which is the ultimate reality is one only without a second (ekameva advitiyam). The real nature of the non-dual Brahman is missed due to the beginningless avidya. Coming under the spell of avidya, we look upon the pluralistic world as real; and we are deeply attached to it. Bondage is our attachment to the non-real. If the ignorance of the real is responsible for our bondage, it can be removed only by the knowledge of the real. In other words, liberation can be attained only by the knowledge of Brahman. It is wrong to think that Advaita Vedanta which maintains that moksha can be attained by the right knowledge of the Self belittles the importance of karma and upasana. Karma purifies the mind and the knowledge of the Self is manifested in such a pure mind. It cannot directly lead to moksha. The function of karma is restricted to the preparatory stage. Control of intellect, external senses, etc. (samadamadi), have to be practised, as they are also useful to the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman. While the help of karma is indirect, those of practices like control of intellect, external sense, etc., are direct to the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman.
Following the arrangement of chapters in the Brahmasutra of Badarayana, Anandanubhava has divided the Nyayaratnadipavali1 into four chapters. The first chapter begins with the discussion about the validity of the Vedic testimony. By means of elaborate discussions, Anandanubhava establishes the view that the Vedas, which are apaurusheya are a source of valid knowledge. This is followed by a discussion about the validity of knowledge. After refuting the views held in other system, Anandanubhava establishes the Advaita view that (i) truth is intrinsic, and that error is extrinsic and that (ii) the validity of knowledge is due to conditions which are intrinsic to knowledge itself. In the course of the discussion of the causality of the universe, Anandanubhava maintains the view that the blend of pure Brahman and maya (maya-sabalita-Brahman) is the material cause. By elaborate arguments, he proves that the Self is of the nature of existence (sat), knowledge (chit) and bliss (ananda).
On the model of the second chapter known as avirodhadhyaya of the Brahmasutra, Anandanubhava shows in the second chapter of the Nyayaratnadipavali that the so-called scriptural contradictions do not exist with regard to the Vedantic view and that all other views are incorrect. There is an elaborate discussion of the different theories of error. After refuting the views of others, he establishes the soundness of the anirvachaniyakhyati of Advaita. His discussion of the paramanuvada of the Vaiseshikas is important as well as interesting, for he proves in the course of the discussion that atoms must have parts.
The third chapter of the Nyayaratnadipavali is mainly concerned with the means to the realisation of Brahman. He argues that karma is not directly conducive to the attainment of liberation, and that the combination of knowledge and action (jnana-karma-samuchchaya) is untenable. In this chapter, the scriptural sanction with regard to sannyasa of the ekadandin type and of the tridandin type is also discussed. Anandanubhava points out that sruti and smrti texts lend support to the sannyasa of the ekadandin type followed by Sankara.
Anandanubhava discusses in the fourth chapter the nature of liberation, the removal of avidya and jivanmukti. Though like other Advaitins he admits jivanmukti, he points out that from the ultimate point of view even jivanmukti must be considered to be maya. Brahman which is non-dual can never be said to be born or destroyed. In the absence of creation and destruction, there is no bondage; and in the absence of bondage, there is no seeker after liberation, and there is none free from bondage. In support of his stand he quotes from Gaudapada’s Mandukyakarika2.

na nirodho na chotpattir
na baddho na cha sadhakah,
na mumukshur na vai muktah
ityesha paramarthata.\

In the remaining part of this paper let us consider in detail Anandanubhava’s explanation of the locus of avidya (avidyasraya) and of the removal of avidya (avidya-nivritti).
The post-Sankara Advaitins take sides in answering the question regarding the locus of avidya. While Prakasatman holds the view that Brahman, the pure impartite consciousness, is the locus of avidya, Vachaspati argues that the jiva is the locus. Anandanubhava follows the standpoint of Prakasatman, which has come to be known as the Vivarana view.
The four possible alternatives that one might think of with regard to this question are: (i) that Brahman is the locus of avidya, (ii) that Isvara who is omniscient, etc., is the locus of avidya, (iii) that an insentient object is the locus of avidya, and (iv) that the jiva is the locus of avidya. By showing the untenability of the last three alternatives, Anandanubhava maintains the view that Brahman, the pure consciousness alone, is the locus of avidya3.
Isvara who is omniscient cannot serve as the locus of avidya, for Isvara Himself comes into being as a result of the association of avidya with the self-luminous consciousness. Since avidya is posited even prior to Isvara, the latter cannot be the locus of the former.
It may be argued that Brahman or the Self cannot be the locus of avidya, as the two are diametrically opposed to each other. Brahman is of the nature of knowledge; and avidya is just the opposite of it. If so, how can Brahman be the locus of avidya? Anandanubhava answers this objection by pointing out that there is no opposition between the self-luminous Brahman and avidya. It is only the knowledge which arises from pramana (pramana-jnanam) which being opposed to ignorance (avidya) removes it. The Self which is self-luminous consciousness is not only not opposed to it, but reveals it, as a lamp reveals the existence of an insentient object, say, pot. Anandanubhava cites the case of deep-sleep to show how avidya can co-exist with the self-luminous consciousness (svarupa-jnana).
The view that an insentient object can serve as the locus of avidya is untenable. For one thing, there is no pramana which reveals the existence of avidya in an insentient object; nor is it made known through sakshin, as there is no relation between consciousness and the insentient. Secondly, the positing of avidya in an insentient object does not serve any purpose. The two–fold work of avidya is concealment and projection: that is to say, avidya conceals the true and projects the false. What is by its very nature insentient and therefore does not reveal itself need not be concealed. So it is impossible to think of an insentient object as being the seat of avidya.
Let us now consider the view that the jiva is the locus of avidya. There are two reasons which contribute to the plausibility of this view. First, the jiva is sentient, and so while an insentient object cannot be the seat of avidya, the jiva can. Second the experience of ‘I am ignorant’ shows that the jiva is the seat of avidya. Anandanubhava argues that this view, too, is not acceptable. The jiva is what it is because of the association of the internal organ (antahkarana) which is itself a product of avidya. How can the jiva, being dependent on a product of avidya which is therefore earlier, be the locus of avidya? Further, those who uphold the view that the jiva is the locus of avidya must clearly specify whether the jiva as qualified by the internal organ (ahamkaradi-visishta-jiva) is the locus or the jiva as indicated by the internal organ (ahamkaradi-upalakshita-jiva) is the locus. The jiva is a complex of consciousness and internal organ. The former view considers the relation between the two as that of the qualified and the qualifier, similar to the relation between rose and the red colour. The latter view takes the internal organ as a mark (upalakshana) indicating consciousness in the same way as a crow serves to indicate the house on the top of which it is perched. Anandanubhava argues that the former view is untenable, for it seeks to rest avidya on the internal organ too, which qualifies consciousness, and this amounts to maintaining that the cause, viz., avidya is seated on its own effect, viz., the internal organ.
It may be argued that avidya and its product, viz., the internal organ, form a series in such a way that the one is preceded by the other alternatively constituting a continuous chain backwards like the seed-sprout series; and so the difficulty of the cause (avidya) resting on its own effect (internal organ) does not arise. And also the objection of infinite regress is not possible, since the series is anadi. This argument, according to Anandanubhava, overlooks an important point of difference between the two. In the case of seed-sprout series, there are individual differences (vyakti-bheda) with regard to seeds and sprouts. But this is not possible in the case of avidya. It is true that erroneous cognitions and their impressions are many; but all of them are the product of avidya which is one and the same.
Anandanubhava brings out the difficulty involved in this view in another way also. If it be said that the jiva qualified by the gross body (sthula-sarira-visishtah) is the locus of avidya, then the gross body differs from birth to birth, and so it will result in different centres of consciousness. Such a consequence is undesirable, for there will not be any continuity between one life and another life; and in the absence of continuity, one will not reap the consequences of the deeds done in the previous birth and one may get certain good or bad results, without being the merit of the earlier deeds. If, on the other hand, it be said that the jiva qualified by the subtle body (sukshma-sarira-visishtah) is the locus of avidya, the destruction of the subtle body in the state of liberation will also involve the destruction of consciousness of the individual. If it is argued that the subtle body is not destroyed in the state of liberation, then there is no difference between liberation and bondage. For all these reasons, the view that the jiva qualified by the internal organ is the locus of avidya is untenable. The view which considers the internal organ as a mark (upalakshana) will lead to Anandanubhava’s standpoint; for the internal organ as a mark is separated from consciousness which it serves to indicate, and so avidya is seated only in consciousness.
After refuting the explanation of the nature of liberation given by the Naiyayikas, the Sankhyas and others, Anandanubhava sets forth the Advaita view that the removal of avidya (avidya-nivritti) is liberation. He states the possible objections against the view, criticises them and finally establishes the soundness of the Advaita view of liberation4.

The critics are interested in proving the untenability of the very conception. They argue that avidya-nivritti cannot be said to be real (sat) or unreal (asat) or both (sadasat) or indeterminable (anirvachaniya). If it be said to be real, is it other than Brahman or identical with Brahman? If it is other than Brahman, it will give rise to dualism which is not acceptable to the Advaitin. The other alternative, so the critics argue, fares no better. In what sense can it be said to be identical with Brahman? There are two possible alternatives here: either avidya-nivritti gets itself merged in Brahman or Brahman gets itself merged in avidya-nivritti. If the former, then it is eternal in as much as Brahman is eternal, and so knowledge (jnana) is not required; if the latter, Brahman has to be treated as a negative entity in as much as avidya-nivritti is negative. Can it be said to be unreal (asat)? Even this possibility is ruled out by the critics. If it is unreal like the sky-flower, there arises again the futility of knowledge. If it is unreal, it cannot be brought into being. If it be argued that it can be brought into being, then sky-flower, etc., which is unreal, can also be brought into being; and this is absurd. It cannot be both real and unreal at the same time, as it goes against the law of contradiction. Since avidya is said to be anirvachaniya, avidya-nivritti too cannot be anirvachaniya.
The critics further point out that it is not possible to explain avidya-nivritti as a fifth mode (panchama-prakara) as other than the four possibilities mentioned above. First, there is no pramana which would justify it. For the sake of argument, let us suppose, so the critics argue, that there is avidya-nivritti which is a fifth mode. It is incumbent upon the Advaitin to say whether it is removable or not. It cannot be removed by jnana; the latter can remove only ajnana; and there is no other means available to the Advaitin to bring about its disappearance. There is also another difficulty here. The disappearance of avidya-nivritti will mean the re-emergence of avidya, which is not desirable. The other alternative, viz., that it is not removable, may now be considered. The question that arises here is whether it is knowable or not. If it be said that avidya-nivritti which is not removable (i.e. which is eternal) is knowable, the Advaita view that “whatever is perceived is illusory” has to be given up. If avidya-nivritti is said to be eternal and also is knowable, the world also which is knowable may be said to be eternal. It is not open to the Advaitin to formulate the vyapti as “whatever is perceived other than avidya-nivritti is illusory.” To the Advaitin there is no real other than avidya-nivritti. If it be said that it is not knowable, then no efforts need be taken for attaining it. The critics, therefore, argue that it is impossible for the Advaitin to show that the conception of avidya-nivritti is intelligible and tenable. The untenability of the conception of avidya-nivritti will, according to the critics, undermine the central thesis of Advaita, viz., that the Self is non-dual and that the world which is a product of avidya is illusory.
Anandanubhava argues that the explanation of avidya-nivritti as a fifth mode (panchama-prakara) is quite sound and that the critics have not really shown the conception to be unintelligible and untenable. Since avidya is indeterminable, its removal has to be explained only as a fifth mode. It cannot be real, for in that case avidya too will become real. Since it has avidya as its pratiyogi and also since it is brought into being, it cannot be unreal like the sky-flower. Nor can it be both real and unreal as it amounts to breaking the law of contradiction. It cannot be indeterminable (anirvachaniya), since avidya is indeterminable. So, it has to be explained as a fifth mode, as something other than all the four mentioned above.
It is true, says Anandanubhava, that avidya-nivritti is different from real and unreal in the same way as avidya is different from real and unreal. But that is no reason for characterising it as anirvachaniya. If avidya is said to be anirvachaniya, it is not because of its being different from real and unreal (sadasatvilakshana), but because it is removable by knowledge. In other words, anirvachaniya, according to Anandanubhava, is to be explained in terms of removability by knowledge (jnananivartyatva)5. Avidya is anirvachaniya, because it is removable. But avidya-nivritti is not removable by knowledge. On the contrary, it is brought into being by knowledge. It is knowable in as much as it falls within the scope of experience. It is wrong to think that it is not removable. Only if it is maintained that it is not removable, it will be prejudicial to the inference by which the Advaitin proves the illusoriness of the world. Anandanubhava cites the authority of Scripture to show that avidya-nivritti too is removable. The Brihadaranyaka text says: “In it there is no diversity”6. The purport of this text is to show that there is nothing else, either positive or negative, other than Brahman; and in this total denial avidya-nivritti is also included. Anandanubhava takes pains to show that his stand-point is quite consistent with the view of Vimuktatman, the author of the Ishta-siddhi. The explanation of avidya-nivritti as a fifth mode (panchama-prakara) is acceptable to Vimuktatman7, as he himself adopts this mode of interpretation in the Ishta-siddhi. It is true that he equates avidya-nivritti with the non-dual Self subsequently in the same work8. Anandanubhava’s elucidation of Vimuktatman’s position makes it clear that any suggestion that Vimuktatman is vacillating between these two explanations and that he is not consistent is unwarranted. Since there is nothing else, either positive or negative, other than the Self, avidya-nivritti cannot be given a permanent standing as a negative something coeval with the Self. If Vimuktatman seeks to equate avidya-nivritti with the Self, it is to show that the Self, indicated by avidya-nivritti, is bereft of everything, positive as well as negative.


In order to keep alive the Advaitic tradition for the benefit of posterity, Sri Sankara established Mathas or centres of religious learning and practices in various parts of India. Badari, Dvaraka, Puri, Sringeri and Kanchi were his far-flung spiritual capitals. Of these, the Matha at Kanchi is the foremost and is termed the Kamakoti-pitha. And, Sri Sankara himself assumed the headship of this pitha. Ordained as Sannyasin by Sri Sankara himself, Sarvajnatman was nominated successor to the Kamakoti-pitha with Suresvara – his preceptor, as his protector.
In the history of the Kamakoti-pitha and in the Advaita literature, Sarvajnatman stands out as a prominent figure. He is well known to be the author of the work Samkshepasariraka which is a succinct exposition in verses of the views of Sri Sankara as stated in his bhashya on the Brahma-sutra. He also wrote another work on Advaita entitled Panchaprakriya which is divided into five sections. The first of them deals with the different kinds of meanings which a word may have. The next three sections treat of what are described as the ‘great-sayings’ of which ‘tat tvam asi’ is a familiar example and point out how they should be interpreted. The last section is devoted to the elucidation of the nature of bondage and release. This work summarizes the teachings of the Samkshepasariraka.
Apart from his works on Advaita, he wrote a short treatise –- Pramanalakshana on the Mimamsa system. This work deals with the various pramanas of the Mimamsakas and closes with an estimate of their epistemological doctrines and it is available in manuscript in the Madras Government Oriental Manuscripts Library.
The Samkshepasariraka has one thousand two hundred and forty stanzas in various metres and consists of four chapters. The first comprises five hundred and sixty three verses and corresponds to the first adhyaya of the Brahmasutra termed ‘samanvayadhyaya’, and as such it is the most important adhyaya. It is devoted to the correct interpretation of the different texts of the Upanishads pointing to the attributeless Brahman.
The second comprises two hundred and forty eight verses and it corresponds to the second adhyaya of the Brahmasutra termed ‘avirodhadhyaya’. It shows that the Upanishadic teaching is not stultified by other proofs like perception, etc., or by the views of other philosophical systems.
The third contains three hundred and sixty six verses and it corresponds to the third adhyaya of the Brahmasutra termed ‘sadhanadhyaya’ and it is devoted to an exposition of the means to the realization of Brahman.
The fourth contains sixty three verses and it corresponds to the fourth chapter of the Brahmasutra termed ‘phaladhyaya’ and it deals with the nature of liberation.
Though the titles of the four adhyayas of this work correspond to those of the Brahmasutra, and the subject-matter treated off in each is the same as in the bhashya of Sri Sankara on the corresponding chapters of the Brahmasutra, all reference to the nature of the qualified Brahman, the methods of meditative worship there-off and the result arising therefrom, is avoided. On this ground, the title Samkshepasariraka (the gist of the Sarirakabhashya of Sri Sankara) is significant.
This work Samkshepasariraka has eight commentaries. The earliest of them seems to be the Siddhanta-dipa by Visvaveda and it is available in manuscript [R. 1558(b)] in the Madras Government Oriental Manuscripts Library. Another commentary called Sambandhokti is by Vedananda and it is also available in manuscript [R. 2919] in the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras. Ramatirtha, the disciple of Krishnatirtha, wrote a commentary known as Anvayarthaprakasika published in the Anandasrama Sanskrit series, Poona. He has based his commentary on the commentary Siddhantadipa already referred to. His disciple Purushottama wrote a commentary called Subodhini. This also has been published in Anandasrama Sanskrit series, Poona. Nrisimhasrama, the disciple of Jagannathasrama who was a contemporary of Krishnatirtha, the preceptor of Ramatirtha referred to above, wrote a commentary called Tattvabodhini published in the Princess of Wales Sarasvatibhavana texts series. Madhusudanasarasvati wrote an authoritative commentary Sarasangraha and it is published in the Kasi Sanskrit series. This commentary is based on the one by Visvadeva referred to above. Apart from these commentaries, Aufrecht mentions one more commentary known as Vidyamritavarshini. Another commentary by one Pratyagvishnu is referred to by Madhusudanasarasvati in his Sarasangraha.
Sarvajnatman has distinct views on the important Advaitic concepts, and they have considerable importance in the historical development of Advaita. His merits appear most clearly when he is contrasted with other Advaitic writers like Padmapada, Suresvara and Vacaspatimisra.
Sarvajnatman’s most important contribution is his view regarding the locus and content of avidya. He holds1 that the pure consciousness is the locus and content of avidya as against Vacaspati who maintains that the individual soul is the locus of avidya, while Brahman is its content. The latter view is refuted by Sarvajnatman on the ground that the notion of individual soul derives its existence from avidya and as such it is posterior to avidya. The latter cannot abide in a substratum which is decidedly subsequent to it. Sarvajnatman further contends2 that the pure consciousness is the locus and content of avidya neither in its absolute form, nor in its blissful form, but in the form of inner self (pratyakchaitanya). This he proves on the basis of the experience ‘I do not know myself.’ It is Sarvajnatman who explains the apparently contradictory statements of Sri Sankara regarding the presence of avidya in Brahman in deep sleep. To any serious student of Advaita, the contradiction in the statements of Sri Sankara, viz., avidya does not exist in the state of deep sleep and avidya exists in Brahman in that state3 remained unsolved. And, Sarvajnatman explains4 this view of Sri Sankara by stating that avidya is not determinately perceived in the form of ‘I do not know myself’ in the state of deep sleep and it is with this view that Sri Sankara has said that avidya does not exist in that state. Really it exists in that state in Brahman, as it is evident from the reminiscent experience in the form ‘I did not know anything when I was asleep’5. Similarly Sarvajnatman explains Sri Sankara’s statement6 that the individual soul is the locus of avidya, by contending7 that avidya though present only in the pure consciousness is revealed in the form ‘I am ignorant’ by the intellect which is the limiting adjunct of the individual soul. It is well-known that the nature of a revealing medium is such that what is revealed through it appears as though present in the medium itself. The mirror which reflects the face appears to contain the face. In the same way, the intellect which is the revealing medium of avidya reveals it as present in itself and consequently in the consciousness delimited by it, that is, the individual soul. Avidya, however, is present in the pure consciousness.
Sarvajnatman’s contribution to the theory of the nature of Brahman also is noteworthy. Relying on the method of gathering the unrepeated words found in the affirmative Upanishadic texts to arrive at the exact nature of Brahman–the method prescribed by the author of the sutras in the aphorism ‘anandadayah pradhanasya’ (III, iii, 11), Sarvajnatman affirms that, on the whole only ten words convey the essential nature of Brahman in an affirmative manner. And those words are: nitya, suddha, Buddha, mukta, satya, sukshma, sat, vibhu, advitiya and ananda8. This same method is adopted in the case of the negative texts also. But, Sarvajnatman suggests that as the elements that are to be negated in Brahman are numerous, the words found even in all the negative Upanishadic passages are not exhaustive and hence many words should be gathered. Herein arises the question of relation between the affirmative and negative Upanishadic passages. Sarvajnatman says9 that the negative Upanishadic texts, by denying all duality, confirm the knowledge of the absolute nature of Brahman arisen from the affirmative Upanishadic passages.
The question whether lordship is natural to Brahman or not is answered10 in the negative by Sarvajnatman, on the ground that lordship involves a reference to the controlled beings; and whichever is dependent on something else is illusory, and hence lordship, being illusory, cannot be natural to Brahman. This conclusion seems contrary to the view of the author of the sutras, who in the aphorism ‘parabhidhyanattu tirohitam tato hyasya bandhaviparyayau’ (III, ii, 5) holds that lordship is natural to Brahman. Sarvajnatman, with a refreshing independence of judgment, points out11 that the author of the Sutras has said so from the opponent’s stand-point and it is not his final view. And to substantiate this point, he refers12 to the other aphorism ‘kamaditaratra tatra cayatanadibhyah’ (III, iii, 39) which treats lordship on a par with attributes like possession of desire, etc., which cannot be said to be natural to the attributeless Brahman. Hence, Sarvajnatman holds13 that Brahman is eternal, pure, consciousness, ever-released, truth, subtle, existent, all-pervasive, absolute, and bliss. And herein lies Sarvajnatman’s contribution to the theory of the nature of Brahman.

As regards the elucidation of the nature of the supreme lord and the individual soul, Sarvajnatman adopts the well-known theory, the pratibimba-vada, and in this he seems to have been influenced by the views of Padmapada.
Coming to the practical side of Advaita, Sarvajnatman speaks14 of asceticism as a necessary condition for attaining the knowledge of Brahman. He holds15 that the remote means such as the performance of rituals including the optional ones (kamya-karma) lead to the desire to know Brahman; and after this result is achieved the remote means should not be pursued. Again, Sarvajnatman holds16 that the Upanishadic texts alone give rise to the intuitive knowledge of Brahman; and sravana, manana, and nididhyasana remove the impediments which are present in the intellect of the aspirant who has such a knowledge and which hinder the knowledge from becoming effective in dispelling avidya.

Summing up, Sarvajnatman as a philosopher has a considerable historical importance. His main contribution to Advaita rests in his clear exposition, in verses, of Sri Sankara’s views as stated in his bhashya on the Brahmasutra. His work is entitled Samkshepasariraka; and the title is very significant, as throughout the work, Sri Sankara’s phrases and arguments recur. He is most concerned with finding a way of reconciling the apparent contrary statements of Sri Sankara. His treatise is systematic, critical, and without any trace of dogmatic assertion. He does accept the foundations laid by his predecessors, yet he makes improvement on them. He is best in detail and in criticism. His style is easy and unpedantic. He has an admirable literary sense, and in fact, only several centuries after Sarvajnatman the world could produce Vidyaranya, who like Sarvajnatman, wrote in verses on the Advaitic concepts in an admirable way. Sarvajnatman is a great philosopher who has influenced profoundly the Advaita-thought in the subsequent ages. As Madhusudanasarasvati characterizes him, he knows the traditional interpretation of the Advaita Vedanta. His views are very respectfully cited by Appayya Dikshita, Madhusudanasarasvati and Brahmanandasarasvati.

srikanchikamakotyakhya –
pithadhishthitam adbhutam,
bhavaye ’ham maha-moha –
dhvantasanghataham mahah.