BSB- Saxena - Part 1 (revisited)

Ravisankar S. Mayavaram miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM
Tue Sep 26 19:15:26 CDT 2000

Author:  Sri Subhanu Saxena (subhanu at
Copyright: Sri Subhanu Saxena (subhanu at
Note: Sanskrit text changed to ITRANS 5.2 by Ravi
Please refer to for details. Also
I am adding the orginal text of sha.nkara as it is.

Original document of shrI Saxena is at


sha.nkara.m sha.nkarAchArya.m keshava.m bAdarAyaNam.h |
sUtra bhAShya kR^itau vande bhagavantau punaH punaH ||

shruti smR^ti purANAnA.m Alaya.m karuNAlayam.h |
namAmi bhagavdpAda.m sha.nkara.m lokasha.nkaram.h ||

sUtra bhAShya praNetArau vedAntAbja prabhAkaru
vande parasparAtmAnau bAdarAyaNa sha.nkaru


In the canon of vedanta litarature, the brahma sUtram.h occupies a
unique position as the oldest systematic commentary on the
upaniShad-s. Of commentaries on the brahma sUtram.h, sha.nkara's
commentary stands pre-eminent in elaborating advaita vedAnta according
to his tradition, or sampradAya.  Whilst there is doubt regarding
authorship of some of the works attributed to sha.nkara, there is
universal agreement in the tradition that the bhAShyam.h on brahma
sUtram.h was compsed by Adi sha.nkarachArya. This is evidenced by the
fact that the genesis of post sha.nkara schools arises from
sub-commentaries on primarily his brahma sUtra bhAShyam.h. In these
sub-commentaries (of which the so-called bhAmati and vivaraNa schools
are most recognised), the authors profess to be elaborating on
sha.nkara's system of advaita, and clearly identify sha.nkara as the
author of the bhAShyam.h.

His astonishing introduction to his brahma sUtra bhAShyam.h (BSB),
often called the adhyAsa bhAShyam.h, is, in my view, one of the
greatest texts written on vedAnta, and holds the status for me of a
shruti. For in it, we find no quotation from other shAstra in this
introduction to support his statements. They are simply outpourings
from anubhava, or experience, of an enlightened sage, and which appeal
to that sArvatrika-anubhava, or universal experience, that belongs to
each and every one of us.

sha.nkara's adhyAsa bhAShyam.h fully serves the purpose of an
introduction. He succintly manages to summarise all the key points
that will unfold in his brahma sUtra bhAShyam.h, and connects them to
the central underlying theme.  The them of is work is: "My commentary
will explain how the brahma sUtram.h identifies the fundamental
obstacle to knowledge, and how the it explains the method used in the
shruti to remove this obstacle, so that ultimate knowledge (which will
be defined), is acquired". At one stroke he covers the aim of the
work, its purpose, and what the answer is to the basic question above.

In summary, sha.nkara clarifies for us that the obstacle to
enlightenment is a misconception on our part, which superimposes
(mixes up) up the real and non-real, which drives an empirical view of
the world as an apparent duality of subjects, objects, and means of
knowing these objects. The misconception is innate to us, and
tradition gives the technical name adhyAsa to this
superimposition. sha.nkara further defines the avidyA in the Sruti as
this adhyAsa. Once this avidyA is removed, what is left is vidyA or
knowledge that is the experience of brahman, the Ultimate
Reality. Therefore, sha.nkara says, the purpose of the shAstra is to
reveal brahman by identifying and removing avidyA or misconceptions,
so that brahman can shine of its own accord.

In so doing, in his adhyAsa bhAShyam.h, sha.nkara sows the seed for all
the important aspects of his tradition of advaita:

1) What knowledge gives us knowledge of Ultimate Reality?

2) What is the obstacle to knowledge?

3) What is the nature of this obstacle?

4) How is knowledge of brahman attained? What are the means of
and why is shruti the ultimate means of knowledge?

5) What is the role and purpose of shAstra in revealing this knowledge?

6) What is the method used by the shAstra to reveal brahman?

If one had the time, one could take each statement in the adhyAsa
bhAShyam.h and unravel it to reveal all of sha.nkara's tradition of
advaita. In this article I will simply give a guided tour of the
contents of the adhyAsa bhAShyam.h line by line, and highlight the key
messages. My rendering of the bhAShyam.h will be as literal and
transparent as possible, so the readers scan judge themselves the true
meaning for them.

adhyAsa bhAShyam.h is a short text, and one can read it in about 10
minutes or so. I have found it invaluable committing it to memory, so
it constantly flows through all my thoughts. I hope by the end of the
article the reader has the same feeling about this text as I.

I have referred in brief to the portions of the bhAShya discussed at
the start of each section. I have followed the bhAShyam.h in the order
was written.


yuShmat.h asmat.h pratyaya gocharoH viShaya viShayinoH tamaH
prakAshavat.h viruddha svAbhavayoH itara itara bhAvAnuppattau
siddhAyA.m tat.h dharmANaM api sutarA.m itara itara bhAvAnupattiH,
ityato asmat.h pratyaya gochare viShayaNi chidAtmake yuShmat.h pratyaya
gocharasya tat.h dharmANA.m cha adhyAsaH, tat.h viparyayena viShayinaH
tat.h dharmANA.m cha viShaye.adhyAsau mithyeti bhavitu.m yuktam.h |

(Next part: Nature of Confusion)

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