Preceptors of Advaita
Sadananda Kasmiraka is the author of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi, one of the standard works on Advaita Vedanta of post-Sankara school. This work is published in the Bibliotheca Indica series by the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The author has written another work called Svarupaprakasa and he refers to this work in the Advaita-brahma-siddhi1. Prof. M. Hiriyanna, in his edition of the Vedantasara of Sadananda, says that that author is different from Sadananda, the author of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi. Very little is known about the author. Madhusudanasarasvati does not refer to Sadananda Kasmiraka by name. But there are passages in the works of Madhusudanasarasvati which are identical with those found in the Advaita-brahma-siddhi. But we cannot say whether Madhusudanasarasvati quotes these passages from the Advaita-brahma-siddhi or Sadananda quotes from the works of Madhusudanasarasvati.
The arrangement of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi materially differs from that of Advaitasiddhi of Madhusudanasarasvati. The latter is written with the sole view of answering the objections raised against Advaita by the dualistic school of thought. The former, on the other hand, gives a succinct account with all fairness to the hostile schools and then proceeds to refute them. For a student of Advaita who has not independently studied the other schools of thought through original texts, the present work is very useful. It consists of four chapters. In the first chapter the author criticizes the Nyaya-vaiseshika views of arambhavada, atoms, samavaya, etc., and also the Samkhya views of Pradhana and satkaryavada. The second chapter is devoted to a critical review of the four schools of Buddhism and also of the Jaina and the Materialistic schools. In the third chapter, our author mainly discusses and refutes the nature of difference and also the concept of difference-cum-identity. He also deals with the indeterminable character of the universe and proves that the objects of the universe though not real can be adapted to the practical needs of life. The nature of the removal of avidya is also incidentally discussed. In the fourth chapter he critically examines the theory that jnana associated with karma is the means to liberation and sets forth in detail all the important concepts of Advaita.
According to Advaita there are two categories, drik and drisya. The other categories accepted by different schools of thought can be brought under these two. Of these, drik is Atman which is Absolute. Although immutable, it appears to be threefold owing to its unaccountable association with maya or avidya as Isvara, jiva and sakshi. As regards the nature of Isvara and jiva, three theories are put forth by the Advaitins and they are–– pratibimbavada, avacchedavada and abhasavada. Of these pratibimbavada is propounded by Padmapada and is elaborately dealt with by Prakasatman in his Vivarana. The avacchedavada is advocated by Vachaspatimisra and the abhasavada by Suresvara in his Brihadaranyaka-vartika2. According to pratibimbavada, the consciousness, that is, Brahman associated with, but transcending avidya, is Isvara and the pure consciousness that is reflected in the intellect in its gross and subtle states is jiva. The intellects are many and consequently the individual souls also are many. According to this view Isvara is a complex of avidya and consciousness. Jiva is a blend of consciousness and intellect in its gross and subtle states associated with avidya. The conscious element is real by being identical with the original. The insentient element of avidya or intellect is indeterminable either as real or as unreal3. According to the avacchedavada, consciousness unconditioned by avidya is Isvara and the consciousness conditioned by avidya is jiva. And in this view, jiva is the locus of avidya4. According to the abhasavada the consciousness reflected in avidya is Isvara and the consciousness reflected in the intellect is jiva. But while according to the pratibimbavada the conscious part in the reflection is real, according to this view, the conscious part in the reflection is neither sentient nor insentient, neither real nor unreal. However, the reflections, namely, the jiva and Isvara are identified with the pure consciousness and are respectively viewed as the agent or enjoyer and the creator of the universe5. And according to the other views the consciousness that underlies both the jiva and Isvara is sakshi. And in all these three views, the individual souls are many owing to the plurality of intellect.
Apart from these three views, there is another view known as drishti-srishti-vada. This is identical with the ekajivavada. According to this view, the consciousness when reflected in avidya is jiva and since avidya is one, the jiva also is one. And the other individual souls and the insentient universe are like objects in a dream state; they have only apparent reality. The one and the only individual soul attain liberation after getting the intuitive knowledge of Brahman from the preceptor who is also fancied by him as an omniscient being. This view is said to be the principal view of the Vedanta6. Our author deals with all these four views and he seems to favour the drishti-srishti-vada. He observes:
According to Advaita the infinite Brahman when associated with avidya undergoes transmigration and when freed from avidya attains liberation. And avidya could be removed only by the intuitive knowledge of Brahman. Here arises the question of some importance––whether meditation is the real cause of the intuitive knowledge or whether it is merely an aid to the mahavakyas leading to that result. The prevalent view in Advaita is that the mahavakyas directly lead to the knowledge of Brahman. And our author holds this view. The objection to this view is that the innate nature of a sentence is to give rise to only mediate knowledge. Hence the Upanishadic texts also, in view of their being sentences, give rise to only mediate knowledge of Brahman and not to the intuitive knowledge of Brahman. This objection is not valid because whether a sentence gives rise to mediate knowledge or immediate knowledge lies in the nature of the object concerned. If the object is mediate, then the sentence gives rise to only a mediate knowledge of the object. But here Brahman is always immediate and hence the mahavakyas could give rise to the immediate knowledge of Brahman. And this intuitive knowledge annihilates avidya and Brahman which is self-luminous manifests itself. And Brahman free from avidya is liberation. This intuitive knowledge brings about the annihilation of all deeds except the fructified ones. Till the later are destroyed by experiencing their results, the realised soul continues to exist in the body. This is known as jivanmukti. When in the end a jivanmukta is dissociated with his physical accompaniments, he becomes Brahman itself and this is known as videhamukti.
The greatest contribution of Sadananda Kasmiraka lies in this that he had had access to all important Advaitic works of his predecessors and he had presented the Advaitic doctrines in a lucid way for the benefit of posterity. The style of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi is more lucid and less pedantic than that of the Advaita-siddhi. In simplicity of exposition and fairness to the other systems, it deserves to be placed with the Vivaranaprameyasamgraha of Vidyaranya and the Tattvapradipika of Chitsukhacharya.
1. Vide p. 247.
2. Advaita-brahma-siddhi, pp. 247ff.
3. Ibid., pp. 243ff.
4. Ibid., p. 250.
5. Ibid., p. 248.
6. Ibid., p.260.
7. Ibid., p.259.
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Preceptors of Advaita