Selections from the advaita-siddhi - 1

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 9 13:24:58 CDT 1999

|| shrIviTThalaM namAmi ||

  The advaita-siddhi is regarded as one of the most important
  polemical works of advaita. It is MadhusUdana sarasvatI's
  brilliant and successful defense of advaita  in response to
  the objections of the MAdhvas, the dualists. Shankara states that his
  doctrine of brahmajnAna (brahmajnAnamapi vastutantrameva - brahma-sUtra-
  bhAshhya 1.1.2) is a "vastu-tantra", a doctrine based on facts, as
  opposed to a "purushha-tantra", a doctrine based on the knowledge of an
  an individual. One can raise objections against individual opinions
  but facts cannot be objected to; they can possibly be misunderstood.
  One can possibly express ignorance of  facts but not argue against
  them. So one may ask: how is it possible for the mAdhvas to raise
  objections against advaita that is based on facts? It is not
  possible. What the MAdhvas, the dvaitins, have done is to express
  misunderstandings, not objections.

  It is, therefore, proper to answer the so-called objections of the
  mAdhvas by clearing their misunderstandings of advaita. But it must
  also be mentioned that, in some cases at least, it appears that  the
  misunderstandings are not genuine misunderstandings but
  misunderstandings introduced on purpose to A) misrepresent advaita
  first and then,  B) to try to refute the resulting misrepresentation.
  Nevertheless, advaitins should remove all misunderstandings, whether
  they be genuine or otherwise, and no advaitin has done this better
  than MadhusUdana SarasvatI, the great logician from Bengal.

  I endeavor here to present some glimpses of the advaita-siddhi's
  great treasures, treasures that are to be cherished for all time.
  In a forum like this one, it is hard, if not impossible, to do
  justice to such a monumental work as the advaita-siddhi. So I
  will endeavor to present only a few discussions with translation,
  consulting the explanations of Balabhadra BhaTTAchArya in his
  advaita-siddhi-vyAkhyA, of BrahmAnanda in his GauDa-brahmAnandI
  (laghuchandrikA) commentary on the advaita-siddhi, and of ViTThala
  upAdhyAya in his commentary on the laghu-chandrikA. All these
  works, namely the advaita-siddhi, siddhi-vyAkhyA, GauDa-brahmAnandI,
  and also the viTThaleshopAdhyAyI commentary on the GauDa-brahmA-
  nandI, all in the original Sanskrit, have been edited by Pandit
  Anantakrishna Sastri and published by Parimal Publications, Delhi,
  in 1988.

  A few words about the authors. MadhusUdana sarasvatI is a towering giant
  among advaitins. An oft quoted verse regarding him is:

   madhusUdanasarasvatyAH pAraM vetti sarasvatI |
   pAraM vetti sarasvatyAH madhusUdanasarasvatI ||

   (Only) the Goddess of Learning, sarasvatI knows the limits of
   (knowledge of) MadhusUdana sarasvatI. And MadhusUdana sarasvatI
   knows the limits of (knowledge of) Goddess sarasvatI!

  He is said to have had three illustrious gurus. He learned mImAMsA
  from mAdhava sarasvatI, vedAnta from rAmatIrtha, and took sannyAsa dIxA
  from vishveshvara sarasvatI. Apart from the advaita-siddhi which is
  MadhusUdana's "crest-jewel", he is said to have written numerous
  other works, including a lucid commentary on the gItA called
  gUDhArtha-dIpikA, and a work called "advaita-ratna-laxana", a refutation
  of the work "bheda-ratna" by the logician shankara mishra.

  MadhusUdana demonstrates his ability as a master logician in the advaita-
  siddhi, which he wrote as a response to the nyAyAmR^ita of the mAdhva
  exponent, vyAsatIrtha. MadhusUdana was so accomplished in navya-nyAya
  (logic) techniques that the following verse is quoted about him when he
  visited navadvIpa, the center for learning in nyAya-shAstra.

  navadvIpe samAyAte madhusUdanavAkpatau |
  chakampe tarkavAgIshaH kAtaro .abhUd.h gadAdharaH ||

  When MadhusUdana, the master of speech, came to navadvIpa, MathurAnAtha
  tarkavAgIsha (who was the foremost navya naiyAyika during those times)
  trembled (with fear) and GadAdhara (another logician of great repute)
  became afraid.

  Balabhadra BhaTTAchArya, the author of siddhi-vyAkhyA, is said to have a
  been a favorite student of MadhusUdana. BrahmAnanda, the author of
  gauDabrahmAnandI (laghu-chandrikA), wrote the work as a response to
  the nyAyAmR^ita-taraN^giNI of the dvaitin (dualist) rAmAchArya.
  BrahmAnanda was the student of nArAyaNa tIrtha, a student of MadhusUdana.

  Finally, ViTThalesha upAdhyAya, a brAhmaNa of the Konkan region, has
  also placed the followers of advaita under his debt for writing a lucid
  commentary on the gaUDa-brahmAnandI.

    || shrIvishhNave namaH ||

   Verse 1 of the advaita-siddhi

  satya-GYAna-sukhAtmakaH shruti-shikhottha-akhaNDadhIgocharaH |
 mithyA-bandha-vidhUnanena paramAnandaika-tAnAtmakaM
  mokshhaM prApta iva svayaM vijayate vishhNur-vikalporjjhitaH ||1 ||

  Translation based on siddhivyAkhyA of Balabhadra bhaTTAchArya
  and GauDa-brahmAnandI (laghu-chandrikA) of BrahmAnanda

 VishhNu shines supreme, He who is the substratum (basis) of
 the world of duality beginning with the notion of cognizer (mAtR^i),
 of duality that is false and fabricated by mAyA, He whose nature is
 Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss, He who is realized by the
 undifferentiated (undivided) direct experience arising from the
 mahAvAkyas of vedAnta, He who by shaking off the false bonds (of
 mAyA) has attained, as it were, mokshha wholly consisting of
 supreme bliss, and He who becomes free from all variety,
 manifoldness (vikalpa).   (1)

 BrahmAnanda clearly identifies VishhNu with jIva, the individual
 soul, the pervader. vishhNuH vyApakaM jIvasvarUpam.h |
 This individual soul (jIva) attains as it were, mokshha or liberation
 and shines as VishhNu, the supreme Brahman.

 What is mokshha and what is bandha (bondage)? The vArtikakAra
 has said: "avidyAstamayo moxaH sA cha bandha udAhR^itaH"
 Mokshha is the complete dissolution of avidyA, and bondage is that

 BrahmAnanda interprets "mithyAbandhavidhUnanena - vikalpojjhita"
 as brahmAtmaikya-aGYAnarUpabandhasya tAdR^ishhAstamayena
 dR^ishyashUnyaH. Bondage is the ignorance of the identity of
 Brahman and Atman (individual self). Once such ignorance is
 fully removed, there is nothing "seen" (as only the seer dR^ik

 Balabhadra interprets shrutishikhottha-akhaNDadhIgocharaH as
 vedAnta-janya-akhaNDasAxAtkAravishhaya, that thing which is
 the content of the indivisible (undifferentiated) direct experience
 arising from the (mahAvAkyas) of vedAnta.

 viTThaleshopAdhyAya explains the whole process described in the
 first verse of the advaita-siddhi as follows:

 vishhNuH (jIvaH) vastutaH satyaGYAnasukhAtmako .pi san.h,
 mAyAkalpitamAtR^itAmukhamR^ishhA-dvaitaprapaJNchAshrayo jAtaH,
 mukto .api san.h aGYAnena baddhatvena bhrAnta ityarthaH |
 tatashcha vastuto baddhasya tattvena bhrAntasya mumuxAsaMbhavAt.h
 sa mumuxu san.h gurumanusR^itaH tataH tadupadishhTa-shruti-shikho-
 ttha-akhaNDadhIgocharo .abhUt.h |  nishhkAmakarmopAsanAnushhThAn-
 ena shraddhaikAgrachittaH san.h AtmAnaM satyaGYAnasukharUpabrahm-
 atvena sAxAtkR^itavAn.h | tatashcha mithyAbandhavidhUnanena
 vikalpojjhitaH mithyAbandhApagamAt.h tatprayuktavikalpena duHkhena
 rahitaH san.h paramAnandaikatAnAtmakamoxaM prApta iva |
 avAstavasaMbandhabhramasyaiva satvAt.h moxarUpasya tatsaMbandha-
 abhAvAchcha iva ityuktam.h | IdR^ishaH san.h vijayate svaprakAsha-
 rUpotkarshhavAn.h ityarthaH |

 VishhNu (as the jIva), even being actually of the nature of Reality,
 Consciousness, and Bliss, is the substratum of the false world of
 duality beginning with the notion of cognizer that is fabricated
 by mAyA. Even though He (the jIva) is liberated, due to being bound
 by ignorance, He is under delusion. (If) He is actually bound
 and (really) deluded by reality, from that (it follows that)
 desire for liberation is impossible. (But this is not so.) Being
 desirous of liberation He follows a (worthy) Guru. From the vedAntic
 teachings of that (Guru), He has comprehended the undivided Brahman.
 By performing actions without desire for fruits thereof and by
 performing upAsana (worship and meditation), being of one-pointed
 mind and dedicated, He has directly realized the Self as the
 Brahman which is essentially Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss.
 Thereupon, by the removal of the false bonds (of mAyA), and being
 freed from the associated sorrow, (He) has attained mokshha or
 liberation which is wholly bliss. Because of the presence of the
 illusion of being related (to duality in the state of bondage),
 which is not real, and because of the absence of that relation
 in mokshha, the (word) "iva", as it were, is stated. Being so
 (liberated and in His real state), He (VishhNu) shines supreme
 by His own brilliance.

 (To be continued)


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