[Advaita-l] Shankara and Jayatirtha

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Apr 10 12:20:24 CDT 2010

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

Shankara and Jayatirtha

While Sri Shankaracharya does not need any introduction, for the sake of
many, Sri Jayatirtha needs a brief introduction.  Sri Madhvacharya’s seminal
commentaries have been elucidated by Sri Jayatirtha, popularly known in the
Madhva tradition as ‘TeekAchArya’.

In the sequel is taken up a short study of a commentarial passage each of
Shankara and Jayatirtha for a comparative purpose.
Shankara BhAShya passage:

In the Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6 is the ‘sadvidyA’ where occurs the
dialogue between UddAlaka, the father-Teacher and Shvetaketu, the
son-disciple. The Upanishad, at the outset, presents three examples, of the
clay-clay products, gold-gold ornaments and iron-iron implements, to enable
understanding the primary teaching: ‘knowing the all through knowing the
one’ or एकविज्ञानेन सर्वविज्ञानम्.  The ultimate purpose of this knowledge,
vij~jaanam, is liberation from the ignorance, aj~jaana-born samsara.  The
Shruti passage relevant for our purpose is:

यथा सोम्यैकेन मृत्पिण्डेन सर्वं मृन्मयं विज्ञातं स्यात्, वाचारम्भणं विकारो
नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् (6.1.4)

// O good looking one, as by knowing a lump of clay, all things made of clay
become known:  All transformation has speech as its basis, and it is name
only.  Clay as such is the reality. (Here it is to be noted that Shankara
has commented: एकेन मृत्पिण्डेन *घटशरावादिकारणभूतेन
विज्ञातेन*सर्वमन्यद्विकारजातं मृन्मयं विज्ञातं स्यात् -
 This crucial passage of Shankara is overlooked by his critics.  Here
Shankara says: the lump of clay is itself an effect; it is made of the
material clay.  So, first one has to know that the lump itself is having the
clay as its material cause.  This clay-lump is the cause of the pot, saucer,
etc. Once this knowledge is there, one can extend it to anything made of
clay and determine that ‘all products of clay are only clay substantially.’
So is the case with the gold-nugget.  The nugget itself is to be known as an
effect of gold.  The Upanishad uses the word ‘pinda’, ‘maNi’ etc. to enable
us to appreciate these materials as the cause of objects that are made with
them.  For, it is impossible for anyone to observe ‘clay’ or ‘gold’ without
any form, it their natural form. Again, we are left with no choice in using
the word ‘form. These have to be encountered only in some ‘form’.  And a
‘lump’  or ‘maNi’ is one such form.  With this starting point the Upanishad
proceeds with the analogy.  Shankara’s comment shown above has all this
explanation embedded in it. ) If anyone misses this point, the examples
become incomprehensible.  Not being able to appreciate this, the
non-advaitins have missed the whole purport of the Upanishad and ended up
giving inappropriate and inconsistent meanings to the analogies.//

The Shankara Bhashya portion, relevant for the present purpose, of this
passage is:

वागालम्बन*मात्रं* नामैव केवलं, न विकारो नाम वस्त्वस्ति परमार्थतो,
मृत्तिकेत्येव तु मृत्तिकैव सत्यं वस्त्वस्ति ।

// It is only a name dependent *merely *on speech. (Apart from that) there
is no substance called transformation.  In reality clay as such (is the
thing that) truly exists.//
Jayatirtha’s TeekA passage

Here is a passage from Sri Jayatirtha’s gloss *TattvaprakAshikA* to the
Brahmasutra Bhashya of Madhva:

Sutra: 1.1.2: JanmAdyasya yataH  :  In his commentary to this very second
sutra, Madhva quotes a Rg.Mantra:  ‘chaturbhiH saakam navatim cha naamabhiH
chakram na vRttam..(Rg.samhitA 1.155.6).’  Jayatirtha comments on this quote

//chaturbhiriti: - sa bRhacchareero mUlarUpI chaturbhiH
*vAsudevAdinAmabhiH nAmamAtraiH
**svarUpabhedashUnyaiH* ..//

The meaning of Jaytirtha’s passage is:  ‘He, the One that originates, is of
a huge form, with four names of ‘VAsudeva’, etc. which are *mere *names and
are *devoid of essential difference.*’

The four names referred to could be: वासुदेवः, संकर्षणः, अनिरुद्धः and
प्रद्युम्नः.  We get these names from the commentary of Shankara to the
Brahma sutra उत्पत्त्यसंभवात् (2.2.42) where the ‘bhAgavata’ school is taken
up for refutation.  The relevant portion is:

तत्र भागवता मन्यन्ते – भगवानेवैको वासुदेवो निरञ्जनज्ञानस्वरूपः
परमार्थतत्त्वं, स *चतुर्धा* आत्मानं प्रविभज्य प्रतिष्ठितो वासुदेवव्यूहरूपेण,
संकर्षणव्यूहरूपेण, प्रद्युम्नव्यूहरूपेण, अनिरुद्धव्यूहरूपेण च । वासुदेवो नाम
परमात्मा उच्यते । संकर्षणो नाम जीवः । प्रद्युम्नो नाम मनः । अनिरुद्धो
नामाहंकारः ।

The entire adhikaraNa in this section deals with this school and
Bhagavatpada has shown several defects in the tenets of this school and
ultimately how this school is not in complete accordance with the Vedic

Be that as it may, what is noteworthy here is Sri Jayatirtha’s comment on
this Rg Vedic mantra.  He says (1) the four entities ‘Vaasudeva’, etc.
are *mere
*names, नाममात्रैः... and (2) the four entities have no essential
differences from each other, स्वरूपभेदशून्यैः.

We can understand these two features with the analogy provided by the
Chandogya Upanishad:  The various clay-products namely pot, jar, saucer,
etc. are essentially non different from their material cause clay and also
essentially non-different from each other, all of them being essentially
clay alone.  Also, consequently, they are not any real entities; they are *
mere* names, वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् (6.1.4).
as per Jayatirtha, the four vyUha-s ‘vAsudeva’, etc. are non-different from
the परवासुदेवः, the Supreme Cause, VAsudeva (Brahman); they are
*mere*names; नाममात्राः.
Also, the four entities are devoid of any essential differences;
just like the clay products are devoid of any essential differences.  Even
as the clay pot, the jar and the saucer are essentially clay alone, so too
the four entities ‘VAsudeva’, ‘SankaRShaNa’, etc. are essentially their real
svarUpam: Para-vAsudevaH.

Having presented the two passages, one of Sri Shankara and the other of Sri
Jayatirtha, we find these common features between them:

·         The ‘वाचारम्भणश्रुति’ does not have the word ‘मात्रम्’ in it.

·         The Rg.Vedic passage does not have the word ‘मात्रम्’ in it.

·         Shankara finds it fit to use the word ‘maatram’, which means *mere
*to effectively bring out the purport of the Shruti passage.

·         Jayatirtha finds it fit to use the word ‘maatram’, which means *
mere *to effectively bring out the purport of the Shruti passage.

·         The Chandogya passage has the Advaitic purport that is brought out
by Shankara.

·         The Rg Vedic passage has the Advaitic purport that is brought out
by Jayatirtha.

·         The ShAnkaran commentary, on the strength of the Shruti
words मृत्तिकेत्येव
सत्यम् *implies *that the clay-products are devoid of any essential

·         Jayatirtha’s comment brings out *explicitly, *by the
wordsस्वरूपभेदशून्यैःthat the entities ‘Vaasudeva, etc.’ are devoid of
any essential differences.

·         In the ShAnkaran passage the two essential features are: 1.The
clay-products are *mere* names. And, 2. They are devoid of svarUpa bhEda.

·         In the scheme of Jayatirtha, too, the two essential features are:
1. ‘vAsudeva’, etc. are *mere* names. And 2. They are devoid of svarUpa

It would be pertinent to note that the purport of what Sri Jayatirtha has
said is already available in the Brahmasutra Bhashya of Shankara for the
sutras: 2.2.42, 43, 44 & 45.For instance, in the bhashyam for 2.2.44
Shankara says:

न च पञ्चरात्रसिद्धान्तिभिः वासुदेवादिष्वेकस्मिन् सर्वेषु वा
ज्ञानैश्वर्यादितारतम्यकृतः कश्चिद्भेदोऽभ्युपगम्यते । वासुदेवा एव हि सर्वे
व्यूहा निर्विशेषा इष्यन्ते । नचैते भगवद्व्यूहाः चतुःसंख्यायामेवावतिष्ठेरन्,
ब्रह्मादिस्तम्बपर्यन्तस्य समस्तस्यैव जगतो भगवद्व्यूहत्वावगमात् ।

//But the followers of the Pa*ñcharaa*tra do not acknowledge any difference
founded on superiority of knowledge, power, &c. between Vâsudeva and the
other Lords, but simply say that they all are forms of Vâsudeva, without any
special distinctions. The forms of Vâsudeva cannot properly be limited to
four, as the whole world, from Brahman down to a blade of grass, is
understood to be a manifestation of the supreme Being.//

One can easily see how the above passage reflects the purport of Sri
Jayatirtha’s commentary.  And also the clay-clay products example of the
Chandogya Upanishad so strikingly explains the purport of Jayatirtha’s
words: ‘maatraiH’ and ‘svarUpabheda-shUnyaiH’.

The translation for the entire adhikaraNa covering the above subject is
available here:


For a discerning reader it would have become obvious by now that while Sri
Jayatirtha is talking pure Advaita in the realm of Brahman, Shankara is
demonstrating, through the Chandogya Shruti, the Advaita of Brahman, as
non-different from the universe,  that is the effect, product, a vivarta, of
Brahman.  The logic underlying the stand of both Jayatirtha and Shankara is
the same: नाममात्रत्वम् , स्वरूपभेदशून्यत्वम्. In other words, the
multiplicity is mere name alone; in substance there are no multiple effects.
And, within, between, across the ‘apparent’ effects, there is no difference
in substance, svarUpa.  In Jayatirtha’s words this स्वरूपभेदशून्यत्वम् is
applicable to Brahman’s, ParavAsudeva’s four manifestations.  In Shankara’s
scheme this स्वरूपभेदशून्यत्वम् is applicable to the entire universe that is
Brahman’s manifestation; not just the four.  Thus, the logic is the same for
both Jayatirtha’s and Shankara’s assertions through the common word
मात्रम् ‘mere’
that they have used.

  In plain words, for Dvaitins it is Advaita only with regard to
Brahman (ब्रह्मणि
मात्रं अद्वैतम्); for Advaitins it is Advaita irrespective of Brahman or the
world (सर्वथापि अद्वैतमेव).  To further elucidate, for Dvaitins there is a
real difference between Brahman and the world; for Advaitins the world is
Brahman only in the absolute terms.

The significance of Jayatirtha’s use of the word मात्रैः to bring out the
Advaitic nature of Brahman could be better appreciated in the background of
the Dvaita school faulting Shankara for ‘introducing’ the word मात्रम् in
the commentary in order to ‘somehow’ give the वाचारम्भणश्रुति an advaitic

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