Preceptors of Advaita
Anandagiri, otherwise known as Anandajnana, is an erudite commentator on Sri Sankara’s bhashyas on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-gita and the Brahma-sutra. It is a matter of satisfaction that we are able to get some information about the author from his works themselves. In his Isavasya-bhashya-tippana, Anandagiri says that the parinama-vada of Bhaskara has been rejected by him in his Tattvaloka.
Bhaskarabhimatah parinama-vadah tattvaloke nirasta eva asmabhih1.
Again in his Taittiriya-bhashya-tippana he refers to Tattvaloka2.
From these we may conclude that Anandagiri and Janardana are identical. And, Janardana must have been Anandagiri’s name in his previous stage of life (asrama).
Apart from Tattvaloka, he wrote another work entitled Tarkasangraha published in the Gaekwad Oriental series. It is a critical examination and a systematic refutation of the Vaiseshika system from the stand-point of the Advaita School. The Vaiseshika School has been the pioneer of all the dualistic philosophers. Anandagiri himself in the Tarkasangraha observes that this effort is to establish on the basis of reasoning and scripture the one without a second.
ekarasam hi vastu pramanato nyayatascha pratipadayitum prayatnah3.
And, at the end of this work he affirms that his arguments against the Vaiseshika school could very well be extended to the other schools of thought and it would be clear then that their theories and definitions of the categories accepted by them are false4.
Following Chitsukha, the author of the Tattvapradipika and Sri Harsha, the author of the Khandana-khanda-khadya, Anandagiri in his work Tarkasangraha is mainly concerned with proving the non-real character of the phenomenal universe. It is one of the maxims of the Nyaya-Vaiseshika school that an object is real if it can be defined and proved. Anandagiri, therefore, in order to prove that there is no reality apart from Brahman, takes up each and every object admitted by the Vaiseshikas for critical examination. He refutes all definitions of the Vaiseshika system intended to justify the reality of the categories of experience and shows that the world and all world-experiences are merely appearances and are indescribable either as real or unreal. Now, since all appearances must have something for their cause and since that which is not a real thing cannot have a real thing as its material cause and since they are all indescribable in their nature, their cause must also be of that nature, the nescience of the substratum.
He then proceeds to point out that nescience which is the material cause of the universe is associated with Brahman, the pure consciousness. And, owing to its association with Brahman, Brahman appears as the all (sarva) and it becomes as the all-knower (sarvajna). Brahman could not be regarded as omniscient or the knower of all (sarvajna) without its association with nescience. Thus there is the one Brahman and there is one beginning-less nescience in connection with it, which is the cause of all the infinitely diverse appearances through which the former appears impure and undergoes transmigration, as it were and again appears liberated, as it were, through the direct experience of the real nature of the self. In fact there is neither bondage nor emancipation.
Anandagiri refers to Khandana-khanda-khadya of Sri-Harsha in his Taittiriya-bhashya-tippana. Sri-Harsha flourished in the latter half of the twelfth century. We may take Anandagiri as having flourished in the beginning of the thirteenth century. At that time, the Nyaya-Vaiseshika school was active in opposing the jagan-mithyatva-vada of Sri Sankara. By proving on the basis of reasoning that the universe is indescribable either as real or as unreal, he rendered a solid service to the cause of Advaita. His position as an interpreter of Sri Sankara’s philosophy is evident from the number of excellent commentaries which he wrote on the commentaries of Sri Sankara.
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