Sankhya vs. Advaita Vedanta

Shrisha Rao shrao at NYX.NET
Mon Feb 15 13:03:10 CST 1999

On Mon, 15 Feb 1999, Ashish Chandra wrote:

> Shrisha Rao wrote:
> > To the extent that Advaita *is defined by* what Shankaracharya wrote,
> > quoting him is indeed sufficient, as Ramakrishnan observed.  The point to
> > be made is that Advaita is not what someone would like it to be, or what
> > someone else believes it to be, but is exactly what is written in the
> > original texts of the tradition.
> I thought that Advaita stems from expositions like Neti Neti, Aham
> Brahmasmi and Soaham etc. Sri Shankara was the most brilliant
> philosopher that the world has ever seen but how can one make a statment
> like Advaita *is defined by* Sri Shankara's writings. His interpreted
> the Shrutis too. It might be the case that his methodical and piercing
> approach is not visible, or available, in writings prior to his coming.

Quite right, but that supports my point and does not invalidate it.  If,
as accepted by you, Sri Shankara's writings present Advaita clearly for
the first time in living memory although the concepts presented are not
his inventions, then too we must say that his writings, and those not in
contravention of them, are the real presentations of Advaita.

> Is it correct that if someone were to write Bhashyas on certain
> Upanishads and Brahma Sootra, that would also be considered Advaitam, if
> the sections of these texts were to be interpreted in the light of the
> concept of Brahma in the Upanishads ?

No, not necessarily, because there is no unanimity in respect of the
concept of Brahman, and dualistic interpretations are possible.  If
youwould consider Sri Shankara's non-dualistic view of Brahman as
canonical, and then ask if other presentations that accept the same view
of Brahman are also as authoritative in presenting Advaita, then too it
must be urged that you yourself place the original texts, which you
consider a canonical benchmark, at a higher plank than any latter-day

> >  It is easy to be misled by the writings
> > of Vivekananda, et al, but their relationship to the original Advaitic
> > tradition is quite tenuous, at best, and it is unclear why their opinions
> > should be considered binding on the authors of the doctrine.
> >
> To what is the nature of the relationship of Swami Vivekananda to
> Advaita been ascribed to as being tenous ?

Simply this -- he did not have a classical education in the doctrine, and
did not necessarily adhere to its precepts in his own writings.  (In the
sense that such adherence must not be casual, for a classicist, but must
be overt and painstaking, as seen in scholars coming from the mainstream.)


Shrisha Rao

> Ashish

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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