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Preceptors of Advaita

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22

CHITSUKHA
by
S.KRISHNAMURTI SASTRI
Nyaya Siromani

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Chitsukha is one of the outstanding acharyas who contributed to the development of the dialectical phase of Advaita.  The background to his distinctive contribution may be stated in brief.
                        From the time of Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, and Aryadeva, the Bauddhas had taken to the use of the dialectical method of logical discussions.  In the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries, the Naiyayikas also adopted this method, and Nyaya authors such as Jayanta, Udayana, Vatsyayana, and Uddyodakara vigorously introduced them in philosophy.  But though these writers utilized the dialectical method of Nagarjuna’s arguments, there was little attempt on their part to develop the formal side as such of the method.  It was only the later Nyaya writers that began to devote special attention to the dialectic as a method and develop it with rigorous attention to its form.  This they sought to do by formulating definitions for the various categories of experience and offer criticisms with emphasis on the formal and scholastic side of arguments.  This movement, namely logical formalism, which was steadily growing among the Naiyayikas in the tenth and eleventh centuries attained its culmination in the works of writers like Raghunatha Siromani, Jagadisa Bhattacharya, Mathuranatha Bhattacharya and Gadadhara Bhattacharya.  One notable instance of this over-emphasis on formalism and scholasticism is the formulation of the maha-vidya modes of syllogism by Kularka Pandita in the eleventh century.
                        The maha-vidya modes of syllogism were invented by Kularka Pandita for refuting the Mimamsa arguments for the eternality of sounds and proving the non-eternality of sounds.  But if these modes of syllogism could be regarded as valid, they would have a general application, i.e. they could be used for proving or disproving any theory or doctrine.  The special feature of the maha-vidya syllogism was that it attempted to formulate definitions for all that is knowable.  Kularka Pandita’s Dasa-sloki-maha-vidya-sutra contains sixteen different types of definitions for sixteen different types of maha-vidya syllogisms.  Such an attempt naturally produced a reaction on the Advaitic doctrine that all that is knowable is indefinable and unreal, which consequently appeared to be losing ground.  In the eleventh century and in the early part of the twelfth century writers like Anandabodha and his commentator, Anubhutisvarupa attempted to uphold the Advaitic doctrine on logical grounds.  But it was Sri-Harsha who in the third quarter of the twelfth century for the first time effectively refuted the entire logical apparatus of the Naiyayikas.  With Sri-Harsha thus began the special study of the dialectical method among Advaitic writers––though the use of the dialectical method in Advaita could be traced back even to acharya Sankara who utilized it in the refutation of the Bauddha, Jaina, Vaiseshika, and other systems of philosophy.  Sri-Harsha’s work was carried on by Chitsukha in the early part of the thirteenth century, by Anandajnana or Anandagiri in the latter part of the same century and subsequently by a number of minor writers, by Nrisimhasrama Muni in the sixteenth century followed by his pupil Narayanasrama, and by Madhusudana Sarasvati in the seventeenth century.
                        The formal criticisms of Sri-Harsha produced a new awakening among the Naiyayikas who began to devote their whole attention to perfecting the formal accuracy of their definitions and methods to the utter neglect of the development of the content of their philosophy.  This naturally enabled the Naiyayikas to employ their tools successfully in debates.  But as a result of this it became essential for Advaitins also to master the methods of this new formalism for the defence of their own views to the neglect of new creations in philosophy.  Thus in the history of Advaita dialectic we can find two stages.  In the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, when the controversies of the Advaitins were mainly with the Bauddhas, Mimamsakas, and Naiyayikas, the element of formalism in the Advaita arguments was at its lowest, and the arguments were based largely on the analysis of experience from the Advaita standpoint and its general approach to philosophy.  But in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the controversy was largely with the Nyaya and Vaiseshika schools and was based on considerations of logical formalism more than anything else.  For the most part criticisms were nothing more than criticisms of Nyaya and Vaiseshika definitions.  From the thirteenth century onwards the Advaitins’ attack was directed against the followers of Ramanuja and later of Madhva, who, themselves adopting the method of dialectic, were strongly criticizing the arguments of the Advaitins.  But this change of target for the Advaita writers meant little change in their strategy.  The method of dialectic had attained such an importance that though the Vaishnava critics brought many new considerations into the controversy, the dialectical method never lost its high place in the argument of the Advaita thinkers.
                        When we consider the place of Chitsukha in the history of Advaita against this background, we find that he was one of the pioneers of dialectical AdvaitaChitsukha flourished in the early part of the thirteenth century.  He was a pupil of Gaudesvara acharya, also called Jnanottama.  (This Jnanottama was a sannyasin, and is the one who wrote Nyaya-sudha and Jnana-siddhi, and is different from the Jnanottama [misra] who wrote a commentary on Suresvara’s Naishkarmya-siddhi).  Chitsukha wrote a commentary on Anandabodha Bhattarakacharya’s Nyaya-makaranda and also on Sri-Harsha’s Khandana-khanda-khadya and an independent work called Tattva-pradipika or Chitsukhi.  In the Tattva-pradipika he quotes Udayana, Uddyodakara, Kumarila, Padmapada, Vallabha (Lilavati), Salikanatha, Suresvara, Sivaditya, Kularka Pandita, and Sridhara (Nyaya-kandali).  This work has been commented on by Pratyagbhagavan (A.D. 1400) in his Nayana-prasadini.  In addition to these Chitsukha produced a work called Vivarana-tatparya-dipika and an index to the adhikaranas of the Brahma-sutra, called Adhikarana-manjari, and wrote a commentary on the Brahma-sutra-bhashya of Sankara, called Bhashyabhava-prakasika, a commentary on the Pramanamala of Anandabodha, and a commentary on Mandana’s Brahma-siddhi, called Abhipraya-prakasika.
                        The writer with whom Chitsukha is intimately connected is Sri-HarshaSri-Harsha lived probably during the middle of the twelfth century.  His most important work is the Khandana-khanda-khadya.  In this he refutes all the definitions of the Nyaya system by which it justifies the reality of all that is known, and tries to show that the world which is experienced is purely phenomenal, having only relative existence based on practical grounds.  The essence of Sri-Harsha’s dialectic is this.  The reality of the things one defines depends upon the unimpeachable character of the definitions; but all definitions are faulty, as they involve the fallacy of argument in a circle (chakraka); and hence the real nature of things can in no way be defined.  Our world of experience consists of knower, known, and knowledge.  None of these can be defined without reference to the rest.  On account of this relativity, it is impossible to define the reality of any of these.  The only reality is the self-luminous Brahman of pure consciousness.
                        A characteristic feature of Sri-Harsha’s refutation is that while he showed that the formal definitions of the categories put forward by the Nyaya were faulty, he did not attempt to show that the concepts involved in those definitions were impossible.  The way in which a concept is presented may be faulty, but this does not mean that the concept itself is false.  If the concepts representing the world appearance are to be shown as false, they must themselves be analysed and shown to be fraught with such inherent contradictions that, in whatever way they are defined, they will not be rid of these contradictions.  Sri-Harsha does not seem to make any deliberate attempt to do this.  This deficiency is made good by Chitsukha.
                        In his Tattva-pradipika Chitsukha not only furnishes, like Sri-Harsha, a refutation of the Nyaya categories, thereby defending the doctrine of Advaita, but also gives us a very keen analysis and interpretation of some of the more important concepts of Advaita-Vedanta.  Thus Pandit Harinatha Sarma in his Sanskrit introduction to the Tattva-pradipika speaks of this work as being not only a defence of the philosophy of Advaita but also an exposition and interpretation of it: ‘advaita-siddhanta-rakshako’py advaita-siddhanta-prakasako vyutpadakas cha’.  The work is written in four chapters.  In the first chapter Chitsukha deals with the interpretation of the Advaita concepts such as self-revelation (sva-prakasatva), the nature of the self as consciousness (atmanah samvid-rupatva), and the nature of ignorance as darkness.  In the second chapter he refutes the Nyaya categories such as difference, separateness and quality.  In the third chapter he deals with the possibility of realizing Brahman and how release comes through knowledge.  In the fourth chapter he deals with the nature of the ultimate state of liberation.  The first two chapters form the major portion of the work, and the third and fourth are much smaller in size.  This may be taken as itself an indication of the main purpose of the work which was on the one hand to defend Advaita by the refutation of the Nyaya system and on the other to expound and interpret the Advaita concepts.
                        Chitsukha owes the basis of his work to the earlier contribution of Sri-Harsha, and the kinds of Nyaya categories discussed by Chitsukha are mostly the same as discussed in Sri-Harsha’s Khandana-khanda-khadya.  But the arguments of Chitsukha are in many cases new and different from those given by Sri-HarshaChitsukha’s general approach to the refutation of the categories is also slightly different.  For, as Dasgupta says, “unlike Sri-Harsha, Chitsukha dealt with the principal propositions of the Vedanta, and his refutations of the Nyaya categories were not intended so much to show that they were inexplicable or indefinable as to show that they were false appearances, and that the pure self-revealing Brahman was the only reality and truth.”1

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1.  See S.N. Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, pp. 46163.

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Preceptors of Advaita - Other Parts:

Preceptors of Advaita

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Vimuktatman Sarvajnatman Mandanamisra Vachaspatimisra Jnanaghanapada Prakasatman
Sri-Harsha Anandanubhava Anandabodha Chitsukha Anubhutisvarupa Amalananda
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Sankhapani Lakshmidhara Sadananda Sadananda Kashmiraka Prakasananda Ramatirtha
Nrisimhashrama Ranga Raja Nrisimha Bhattopadhyaya Appayya Dikshita Madhusudana Sarasvati Dharmarajadhvarin
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Anandagiri Brahmananda UpanishadBrahmendra Kalidasa Krishnamisra Jnanadeva
Nischaladasa Tandavarayar Potana SRI SANKARA AND SANKARITE INSTITUTIONS KAMAKSHI–-THE AMNAYA-SAKTI Kamakoti & Nayanmars
SRI KAMAKOTI PITHA OF SRI SANKARACHARYA Sage of Kanchi JAGADGURU SRI CHANDRASEKHARENDRA SARASVATI On Advaita JAGADGURU SRI CHANDRASEKHARENDRA SARASVATI On The significance of Shankara Jayanti    
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