Preceptors of Advaita
S. R. KRISHNAMURTI SASTRI
Nyaya, Vedanta Siromani
In order to keep alive the Advaitic traditions for the benefit of posterity, many Advaitic preceptors wrote treatises on Advaita; and among them Pratyagsvarupa is prominent. His preceptor is Pratyak-prakasapujyapada and Pratyagsvarupa praises him as the source of the sacred river vidya that removes ajnana.
Pratyagsvarupa wrote only one work and that too is a commentary by name Nayanaprasadini on the PratyakTattvapradipika or Tattvapradipika of Chitsukhacharya. The title Nayanaprasadini is significant, as the study of this work leads to clear perception by removing blindness in the form of ajnana and brings forth delectation to the heart.
ajnanatimirajetri manasanayanaprasadini tika
The Tattvapradipika of Chitsukha closely follows the method of Khandana-khanda-khadya of Sri-Harsha. To appreciate the place occupied by Sri-Harsha, Chitsukha and Pratyagsvarupa in the history of Advaita in the post-Sankara period, it is necessary to consider some of the authors who preceded them in the immediate past–authors who were active in opposing the new philosophy of Sankara. The latter opponents of Sankara and his school fall into two main groups – the Buddhists and the Naiyayikas. These two formed the main targets of the criticisms of the Advaitins in the five or six centuries immediately following Sankara. In the field of Nyaya there was a revival of activity which was directed mainly against the concept of jagan-mithyatva. In the times before the 13th or 14th century, if we may draw a rough demarcation like that, the orthodox darsanas and particularly the Nyaya were concerned with opposing the Buddhist schools. After this period when the influence of Buddhism waned, the attention of the orthodox schools turned in a more pronounced manner against each other. Different schools of Vedanta developed and the controversies in the field of philosophy were concerned with these differing stand-points within the fold of Vedanta. The renewed activity in the field of Nyaya may be said to have received a fresh impetus from the new technique developed by one Kularka-pandita in his mahavidyanumana. Sri-Harsha, Chitsukha, Anandapurna, and Pratyagsvarupa appeared on the scene at this stage and opposed the Buddhistic and Nyaya schools. At the end of the 14th century, Advaita definitely triumphed over the other schools and reached its highest point.
While the Khandana-khanda-khadya following the vitanda type of discussion only refutes the view-points of other schools, the Tattvapradipika explains and establishes the Advaitic concepts also. It critically examines the view-points of the orthodox and heterodox schools. And, the Nyaya School comes in for a good deal of criticism. The prachina-nyaya works are replete with the discussions regarding the nature of the soul. The Tattvapradipika critically reviews them. While commenting on these portions, Pratyagsvarupa refers to the works, and the authors, and he cites the relevant passages. One Nyaya writer Vadivagisvara, the author of the work Manamanohara is severely criticised by Chitsukha and Pratyagsvarupa. The Tattvapradipika examines the views of the Nyaya works that are not examined by the Khandana-khanda-khadya. And, Pratyagsvarupa while commenting on these sections gives the names of the works and authors. While the Tattvapradipika refers to a particular view-point and criticises it, Pratyagsvarupa in his commentary gives all the possible arguments in favour of the opponent’s view-point and later proves them to be unsound. The greatest contribution of Pratyagsvarupa to Advaita lies in this that all the objections that are raised later by the dualistic schools have already been anticipated and answered by him.
Like the commentator Anandapurna-Vidyasagara, Pratyagsvarupa also is indifferent to the identity of the authors of the views he examines. For example, while examining the Nyaya conception of liberation in the fourth section of the Tattvapradipika, Pratyagsvarupa refers to a passage from the Yogasutra-bhashya and says that Patanjali is the author of that passage1, which he is not. At the end of each pariccheda, Pratyagsvarupa gives a verse summarizing the subject-matter of the entire chapter. Later Brahmananda in his commentary on the Advaita-siddhi adopts this method.
The Tattvapradipika freely uses the maha-vidyanumana. And Pratyagsvarupa employs this type of syllogism while discussing not only the Nyaya School but also the view-points of the other schools. As has been stated already, the Tattvapradipika deals with the views of the prachina-nyaya. And this provides an occasion for Pratyagsvarupa to explain the theories of prachina-nyaya. While dealing with the theory of error and the concept of liberation of the Buddhistic school, Pratyagsvarupa cites passages from the works of the Buddhistic school. A careful study of this work undoubtedly yields profound knowledge of both the orthodox and heterodox schools of thought. This author closely follows the Vivarana School. The Tattvapradipika establishes that tamas is an object of visual perception. Pratyagsvarupa raises the objection that this view is against the conclusive view of Advaita that tamas is an object of the witness-self(sakshi), and holds that the author Chitsukha shows his power of reasoning (yuktivaibhava) here.
Of all the concepts of Advaita, the concept of avidyanivritti is the most difficult one to understand. The Tattvapradipika deals with this. Three theories are prevalent in Advaita, and they are: (i) avidyanivritti is identical with Brahman. (ii) It is different from Brahman; but it is not real in the sense, in which Brahman is, nor unreal in the sense of an absolute nothing, or real and unreal at once. It is also not anirvachaniya because avidya is anirvachaniya ad so its removal must be something other than anirvachaniya. So avidyanivritti is a fifth kind. (iii) It is of the nature of the intuitive knowledge of Brahman that annihilates avidya. All these three theories are advocated by Vimuktatman. Mandana prefers the last view.
‘vidyaiva vadvaya santa
Pratyagsvarupa while commenting on this section sets forth an argument to prove the soundness of the last view. He says that annihilation of a particular thing as a separate category is neither seen nor intelligible except the rise of the annihilating factor. Knowledge of Brahman is the annihilating factor of avidya and avidyanivritti is identical with knowledge of Brahman.
na hi virodhyudayam antarena virodhinivrittirnamanya
drisyate yujyate va.3
Pratyagsvarupa wrote only one work and that too a commentary. But this commentary can be considered to be an independent treatise on Advaita. And thus he occupies a unique place in the history of Advaita.
1. Tattvapradipika, Nirnaya-sagar press, 1915, p.361.
2. Ibid., p. 381.
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