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Preceptors of Advaita

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56

SOME AUTHORS OF WORKS IN REGIONAL LANGUAGES

(iii)

TANDAVARAYAR
by
T. P. MEENAKSHISUNDARAN
M.A., B.L., M.O.L.

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Tandavaraya Svamikal is very popular among the Advaitins of Tamil land whether literate or illiterate.  His famous work in Tamil Kaivalya-navanitam (Butter of Kaivalya-Moksha) is so named as the author himself explains, because he has taken the cream of wisdom from the various pots of milk of jnana entrusted to succeeding generations by the great sages and seers of this sacred land.  Its language is so simple and its exposition is so concrete and full of homely illustrations, that it is so popular amongst even the illiterate men and women of Tamil land.  Many a widow and many an old man forget the miseries of this world and immerse themselves in the joy of this knowledge.  It is popular in the Kerala country and also on the borders of the Andhra desa.  In addition, there is a popular translation in Malayalam almost echoing the words and phrases of the original.  When in the last century somewhere in 1865, Murdock published for the first time a classified catalogue of Tamil printed books he assured us that this book was one of the highest authorities on Sankara’s Vedanta in the Tamil land.  There is also a translation in Sanskrit with the same name by one Sanku Kavi.  This Sanku Kavi states that he is a disciple of Krishnananda whom some identity with Krishnananda the author of Siddhanta-siddhanjana.  The German Missionary Dr. Graul considered this so very important as to be translated into German language.  The Ramanasrama has sponsored a translation into English thus placing this book before the International audience.
                        Tandavaraya Svamikal was called Tandava or Tandavamurti by his parents as is made clear by himself.  He speaks of Venkatesa Mukundan as his Guru.  But this refers to Vishnu, the lord of Venkata hills.  At the end of the book he speaks of Naranaguru of Nannilam, a place in the Tanjore district.  In the first verse of his work he uses Nannilam as referring to the highest of Sapta bhumis in the spiritual ascent.  In another verse the poet tells us that this Narayana or narana had come to reveal to the author the truth in the latter’s yogic state.  The Malayalam translation will explain it as the Guru revealing in the dream of the student.  The author has described how he has himself through the teachings of his Guru attained to the state of jivan-mukta.
                        The book consists of two parts, one tattvavilakkappatalam where the Vedanta truth is expounded and second sandeham telidal patalam where various doubts which arise are cleared.  He states that this book is intended for those who were not so intelligent as to be able to read the Sastra.  This book starts with a person who has achieved the sadhana chatushtaya and who thereafter rushes away from the world to his Guru who welcomes him with joy.  The Guru tells him that as soon as he knows himself he will be a free man.  Naturally the disciple raises the question “Do not I know myself?”   The Guru begins to explain the difference between the body and the one who has the body.  Through various examples the Guru convinces the student that the latter is not the body and proceeds to explain in a gross way by speaking of aropa which is the real bandha where one sees something else.  Apavada is the removal of this aropa and is therefore really moksha.  The real Brahman is mistaken for this world of the body in the aropa state.  The Guru thereafter described the evolution of the world emphasizing at every step the jiva in the body and Isvara in the Universe.  The samashti outlook leads us to Isvara: vyashti outlook leads us to jiva.  If this aropa of evolution is analyzed according to the sastras, moksha will result.  But one who cannot realize this is advised, to reduce the series of effects into the series of causes.  This aropa consists of two saktis, one which creates illusion–vikshepa sakti and the other avarana sakti which hides the real truth.  The adhara or the basis consists of two parts, what is common to all and what is special.  What is common is the meaning of what we denote by the usage of the word “this”.  This never disappears.  What is predicated of this is what is special and this will certainly disappear at the dawn of knowledge.  What really is, is the Brahman.  When this is hidden jivatma appears.  When this disappears then Brahman will be realized.  The various illusions may even lead to salvation and then disappear along with others.  You burn a corpse with a burning stick, but finally the burning stick is also reduced to ashes.  Therefore the vikshepa is not as bad as avarana which hides the truth.  Maya has to be removed by maya itself.  The Guru continues to describe the five avasthas and gives us the story of the dasaman or the tenth man found out after crossing a river.  Then begins the discussion about the meaning of mahavakya.  The identity of jiva with Brahman is asserted through bhagatyagalakshana.  Thus the student realizes the ananda of this unity.  Tandavaraya follows Vidyaranya’s exposition.
                        We are told that this book has really helped many a thirsting soul to drink deep of the Advaita truth.
                        If Krishnananda belongs to the eighteenth century Tandavarayar must be earlier and people see a reference to this book in Tayumanavar’s verses.  Tayumanavar belongs to the seventeenth century and if the above assumption is correct this book could not be later than the early half of the sixteenth century.

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Preceptors of Advaita - Other Parts:

Preceptors of Advaita

Vasishta Shakti Parasara Vyasa Suka Gaudapada
Govinda Bhagavatpada Sankara Bhagavatpada Padmapada Hastamalaka Totakacharya Survesvara
Vimuktatman Sarvajnatman Mandanamisra Vachaspatimisra Jnanaghanapada Prakasatman
Sri-Harsha Anandanubhava Anandabodha Chitsukha Anubhutisvarupa Amalananda
Anandapurna-
Vidyasagara
Ramadvayacharya Pratyagsvarupa Sankarananda Vidyaranya Govindananda
Sankhapani Lakshmidhara Sadananda Sadananda Kashmiraka Prakasananda Ramatirtha
Nrisimhashrama Ranga Raja Nrisimha Bhattopadhyaya Appayya Dikshita Madhusudana Sarasvati Dharmarajadhvarin
Mahadevananda Sarasvati Gangadharendra Sarasvati Paramasivendra Sarasvati Nallakavi Sadasiva Brahmendra Sarasvati Some Pre-Sankara Advaitins
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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