Location: India

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Different sub schools of Advaita

Hari OM,

We will try to analyze the jeeva as per the different sub schools of Advaita Vedanta. Before entering into that, let’s see in general what are the three sub schools of Advaita Vedanta.

1) Bhaamathi Prasthaana – Bhamathi sub school bases itself on the Bhamathi sub commentary of Vachaspathi Mishra on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya. Scholars opine that there was an advaitin Mandana Misra who was a contemporary of Sankara and wrote the work Brahma Siddhi. The means propounded by this Mandana Mishra in his Brahma Siddhi (independent work) is different from Sankara and traditional Advaita Vedanta. Thus there are differences of opinion on this (many places Sureshwara too refutes the views of Mandana Mishra in his Naishkarmya Siddhi) (Sankara’s and Mandana Mishra’s means to the final goal of Advaita). Vachaspathi Mishra wrote the first complete commentary on Sankara’s BSB titled Bhamathi (there was Panchapaadika of Padmapada acharya but this work analyzes only the first four sutra bhashyas (but there are proofs from Bhamathi that Padmapada had written an entire commentary on Sankara’s BSB and Madhava vidyaranya’s Sankara dig vijaya too tells it the same way – but scholars differ on this). Scholars thus opine that Vachaspathi tried to harmonize Sankara with Mandana Mishra – thus in many places, he uses Brahma Siddhi means which might seem to be against Sankara’s means. Even in some places, vachaspathi goes against Sankara’s bhashya to interpret in a different way which is supported in Amalananda’s Kalpatharu sub-commentary on Bhamathi (it is interesting to note that Prakataartha Vivarana of Anubhooti svaroopacharya refutes the places where bhamathi goes against Sankara - but the views of this acharya is refuted and bhamathi supported by Amalananda). It finally ends up in Appayya Dikshitar’s parimala sub commentary on Kalpatharu where dikshitar supports Sankara while refuting Bhamathi in those places. Enough of this too much explanations ---- this sub school is based on Bhamathi mainly and Kalpatharu-Parimala secondarily to interpret Bhamathi properly. This is the first sub-school of Advaita Vedanta. There are less number of followers for Bhamathi school these days (most followers are in north I believe) but still it is interesting to note that Gauda Brahmananda Saraswathi in his Nyaaya Ratnaavalee on Siddhanta Bindu of Madhusudana Saraswathi says that Vedanta shaastra includes the five works of Brahma Sutra, Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Bhamathi, Kalpatharu and Parimala. It is generally held that there are very few who have read all the five works and mastered them (the entire five works are published by Nag Publishers in two volumes for 400 Rs. Chaukhambha Press too have brought out the five works for 650 Rs.).

2) Vivarana Prasthaana – As mentioned earlier, Padmapaada had written Panchapadika on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya which was again explained in detail by Prakaasaatman in Panchapaadika Vivarana. There are many sub commentaries on Vivarana of Prakaashaatman. The school which bases itself on Vivarana of Prakaasaatman is called Vivarana school. The important sub commentaries on Vivarana are Akhandaananda Tattva Dipana and RjuVivarana of Sarvajna Vishnu – there are as well sub commentaries on it by Chitsukha and Nrsimha ashrama. Amalananda has also written Panchapaadika Darpana. This school is very famous and has many acharyas following it. Two of the three complete commentary on Sankara’s BSB (one being bhamathi) follow Vivarana school only – these are Anandagiri’s Nyaaya Nirnaya and Govindananda’s Bhashya Ratna Prabha. We can very clearly say that this school bases on one of Sankara’s direct shishya or disciple (Sachidanandendra Saraswathi does show in some work that this school differs from Sankara’s BSB but it is worthy enough to analyze on that – might be we can take that up for Ph. D when lot of free time is there).

3) Vartika Prasthaana – Sureshwaracharya, after being guided by Sankara, wrote vartikas on Sankara’s Taittiriya and Brihadaranyaka Bhashyas. Vartika is that commentary in which ukta, anuktha and duruktas are mentioned – ukta is explaining in detail whatever the original work does – anuktha is explaining that which has been left out in the origin – duruktha is making correct whatever has been explained either wrongly/incompletely in the original work. Sureshwaracharya thus differs in almost 4-5 places in the Brihadaranyaka Vartika from Sankara’s Brihadaranyaka Bhashya. The Brihadaranyaka Vartika consists of as much as 12,000 slokas which has been further commented by Anandagiri and vidyaasagara. Vidyaranya has condensed the vartika into a work called Vartika saara. The school based on Vidyaranya’s as well as Bharathi Teertha’s works (which themselves base on Vartika of Sureshwara) is called Vartika school. We can thus very well clearly find differences between ishwara in vivarana and this school. Vivarana considers ishwara as Bimba Chaitanya (that original consciousness which is reflected and becomes jeevas) whereas vartika school considers both ishwara and jeeva as illusory and not real at all (this is clearly found in Panchadashi many places). But we have to remember that Vidyaranya and Bharathi Teertha have written vivarana prameya sangraha which is summarizing Vivarana of Prakaasatman where they follow the vivarana school very clearly. I have also found in one place in panchadashi where vidyaranya refutes bhamathi view of jeeva.

Thus we have seen in general the three sub schools of Advaita Vedanta. We will see in the coming days, the differences in concept of Jeeva in these three schools (as well as Ishwara). We will be learning this as per Madhusudana Saraswathi’s Siddhanta Bindu (along with Brahmananda’s Nyaaya ratnavali) which is a sub commentary on Sankara’s dasa sloki and Appayya Dikshitar’s Siddhanta Lesha Sangraha (if possible, will try to quote the original Sanskrit text in these works and explain on the same).

We will try to analyze the concepts by removing all doubts that can arise & finally will conclude with that view of jeeva which seems right.

Hari OM


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