Preceptors of Advaita
V. SUBRAHMANIA SASTRI
Sri Badarayana set forth the Vedanta-darsana in his aphorisms by stringing together the flowers of the Upanishadic texts. And, this darsana is the most noteworthy among the darsanas. Sri Sankara enriched it by his commentary on it. Preceptors of Advaita wrote many commentaries on it; and these commentaries were supplemented by other commentaries.
In the Advaita literature there are many works which prove the validity of the import of the Upanishads by refuting, on the basis of reasoning, the objections raised against Advaita by other opposing schools. And these works are termed Vadaprasthana.
In the Vadaprasthana the most prominent one is the Khandana-khanda-khadya by Sri-Harsha. He proves on the basis of reasoning that the phenomenal universe is indeterminable either as real or as unreal. All the categories and their definitions admitted in the Nyaya system are proved to be riddled with inconsistencies. He says that if one repeats, like a parrot, his arguments against the Nyaya system then that itself is enough to make the realists dumb. Whether one who repeats his arguments knows the import of them or not–it does not matter much.
This work is so complex that it is exceedingly difficult to understand it. Not only this: the view-points that are set forth in the work are confusingly interposed. It requires profound scholarship to deal with the work.
Anandapurna wrote the commentary Vidyasagari on this work. And this commentary is superb. It solves all the intricate points deliberately introduced in the work. Further, it refers to the view–points of the Nyaya, the Prabhakara, the Bhatta and the Sugata schools and critically examines them. Thus what was once so complicated and so full of perplexities and hence so hard to follow, that work has been made much easier to understand by Anandapurna.
Varadaraja, the commentator on Udayana’s Kusumanjali speaks of Udayana thus:
audayane pathi gahane
videsikah pratipadam skhalati lokah.
This passage means that one who is a foreigner to the Nyaya system falters at every step in the impenetrable path of Udayana’s philosophy. Anandapurna reveals his profound scholarship by explaining the import of the complex statement of Udayana and the much more complicated points of Sri-Harsha, and by making clear the arguments used to refute the definitions of the categories of the schools opposed to Advaita.
Certain view-points of the Nyaya-Vaiseshika system which are not explicitly referred to and criticized in the Khandana-khanda-khadya are referred to and criticized by Anandapurna. The Khandana-khanda-khadya refers to the intrinsic validity of knowledge and further states that that validity can be removed only when there arises some counteracting factor–dhiyam svatah pramanyasyabadhakaikapodyatvat (p. 145). While commenting on this passage, Anandapurna refers to the inferential argument of Udayana that establishes the validity of knowledge to be extrinsic. And that inferential argument is:
“Validity of knowledge depends upon a cause which is different from the cause that gives rise to knowledge; because it is a unique kind of effect, like absence of validity.”
Yadapyudayano jagada – “prama jnanahetvatirikta hetvadina, karyatve sati tad viseshatvat, apramavat” (p. 147).
Anandapurna proves that this inferential argument is not valid. This inferential argument is again referred to and criticized on a different ground while commenting on the passage of the Khandana-khanda-khadya which refutes extrinsic validity to knowledge and which runs as follows:
“pramanyaparatastvavyudasti prastave.” (p. 445)
Again, in the Khandana-khanda-khadya it is said that a cause has a sakti to create an object and the characteristic that determines the existence of such a sakti is the effect that is going to be produced.
“karana-saktescha viseshakam asadeva karyam.” (p.76).
While commenting on this passage, Anandapurna refers to the passage of the Nyayakusumanjali of Udayana. The Naiyayikas do not admit sakti to be a separate category. Udayana holds that if a cause should produce an effect then what is necessary is only the absence of any factor that would prevent the origination of the effect and not the existence of sakti. And Anandapurna refutes the view of Udayana in detail. The Khandana-khanda-khadya text deals with the nature of the witness-self (sakshi). This provides an occasion for Anandapurna to refer to and criticize the objection of Apararka raised in his commentary Nyayamuktavali on Nyayasara of Bhasarvajna.
All the above references have been given to show that Anandapurna refers to and refutes the view-points of the schools opposed to Advaita although they are not referred to in the text on which he comments.
Apart from his superb commentary on the amazingly logical treatise of the Khandana-khanda-khadya, Anandapurna wrote a commentary on Suresvara’s Vartika on the Brihadaranyako’panishadbhashya of Sri Sankara. The Brihadaranyako’panishad is replete with reasonings, vast in extent and great in sense. Sri Sankara wrote his bhashya on it, and Suresvara wrote his Vartika which consists of more than eleven thousand verses. Suresvara was mainly concerned with refuting the concept of difference, the views of Bhartriprapancha, and the theory of jnana-karma-samuchchaya, and also with establishing the indeterminable nature of the universe and oneness of the self. And on this Vartika, Anandapurna wrote his commentary which is known as Nyaya-kalpalatika. In this work he explains the Purvamimamsasutras in the order in which the followers of the Prabhakara School have arranged them into adhikaranas; and this shows his profound knowledge of the Purvamimamsa School. Although he criticizes the view-points of both the Nyaya-vaiseshika and the Purva-mimamsa, yet his antipathy is more deep-rooted towards the Purvamimamsa School than towards the Nyayavaiseshika. And the chief reason for this is that the Purva-mimamsa school, unlike the Nyaya-vaiseshika school does not admit the existence of God.
avidyaratanam tarkikanam isvarakaraninam aviveko bahutarah mimamsakanam tu nirisvaranam bahutamo’vivekah (Nyaya-kalpalatika).
He is always averse to any digression from the subject on hand. That is why he does not explain each and every word of the Vartika which, by itself, is elegant in style. He interprets only the important words and he gives the construction of the sentences only wherever necessary. He prefaces a succeeding Vartika by the sense of an earlier Vartika. He does not thrust upon the original verses the several theories of Advaita if they are not relevant. He does not cite the passages that set forth the views of the schools criticized. In the Vartika the philosophy of Bhartriprapancha comes in for a good deal of criticism. But very rarely he cites the passages of Bhartriprapancha. He is rather indifferent in identifying the authors of the schools who are referred to either directly or indirectly in the Vartika. For example, in his commentary on the Khandana-khanda-khadya he says that the aphorism “yugapat jnananutpattih manaso lingam” is that of Kanada. In fact this is the aphorism of Gautama (1.1.16). Kanada’s aphorism runs as follows:
“atmendriyarthasannikarshe jnanasya bhavo’bhavascha manaso lingam” (3.2.1).
But as the intended sense is the same and both the systems are more or less similar, he takes the one for the other.
While commenting on the Brihadaranyaka text
“tameva dhiro vijnaya prajnam kurvita brahmanah,”
Suresvara refers to the view of Mandana.
anye tu panditam manyah
vijnayeti vachah srautam
idam vyachakshate’nyatha (4.4.796)
While commenting on this verse, Anandapurna says that the view of Vachaspatimisra is referred to here. Suresvara who flourished before Vachaspati could not refer to him. But since Vachaspati is considered to be a close follower of Mandana, Anandapurna might have identified the two. This is as it should be, because while commenting on the Vartika.
prajnatah karanam tasyah
bhuyah kasmanna vidhiyate (4.4.798),
he says that the view referred to herein is that of Mandana.
While commenting on the Brihadaranyako’panishad text “brahmaiva san brahmapyeti” (4.4.6) Sri Sankara says that those who hold that in moksha there is the manifestation of a unique kind of knowledge and bliss must explain the sense of the word ‘manifestation.’
yepi achakshate mokshe
cha abhivyajyate iti taih vaktavyah abhivyaktisabdarthah
Here the Vartika is:
yetu vyachakshate mokshe
Anandapurna says that the view-point of Bhasarvajna is stated here. It is wrong. The view of Bhasarvajna who came after Sankara and Suresvara cannot be referred to by both. All this shows that Anandapurna is more concerned with the view-points than with their authors.
Anandapurna while refuting the Purva-mimamsa school observes that if it is said that the Upanishads are not valid on the ground that they are contrary to the Sabarabhashya, then it can very well be said that the ritualistic section of the veda is not valid because it is contrary to the import of the Sankarabhashya. Thus he shows his greatest respect towards Sankara.
Anandapurna wrote ten works; and they are:
- Khandanatika (vidyasagari)
- Brihadaranyakavartikavyakhya (Nyaya-kalpa-latika)
- Kasika-vyakhya (Prakriyamanjari)
By writing commentaries on the works on important school of Advaita he provided much material for manana, arguing within oneself about the validity of the import of the Upanishads. Thus he rendered a valuable service to the cause of Advaita, particularly to those who long for liberation.
His Vidyaguru was an ascetic by name Svetagiri. In the beginning of the Nyaya-kalpa-latika and the Vidyasagari he salutes him.
1. Srimate gurave
svetagiraye sthannamaskriya” (Nyayakalpalatika)
2. vande munindran yatibrindavandyan srimadgurun
svetagirin varishthan (Vidyasagari).
At the end of the Nyayakalpalatika also he salutes him.
“srimad svetagirim vande sishyadhipadmabhaskaram.”
At one place he refers to himself as Abhayananda-pujyapadasishya. From this we may take that Abhayananda was his Dikshaguru. Both at the beginning and at the end of the Nyayakalpalatika, he offers his salutations to Gokarnesvara; and from this it is known that he lived in Gokarnakshetra.
In the Prakriyamanjari he says that he wrote the work when the king Kamadeva was ruling over Gokarna. This king flourished in 1350 A.D. And we may take that Anandapurna flourished in 1350 A.D.
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