[Advaita-l] A study of a chapter of the book `BhAmatI-samAlochanam'.
v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Apr 15 05:48:24 CDT 2010
This book is authored by Swami JnaanAnandendra SaraswatI, in
Sanskrit, published in 1982 in Mysore. Copies of the book are
available at the AdhyAtma PrakAsha KAryAlaya office, T.R.Nagar,
Bangalore. Price: Rs.Six only.
He is apparently a disciple of Sri Sachidanandendra Saraswati Sawaminah,
perhaps having studied under him and later taken to the order of Sanyasa.
About the book:
The author has listed many instances of `blunders'
committed by Sri VAchaspati Mishra, the renowned author of the
monumental work `BhAmatI', a gloss on the Brahmasutra Bhashya of
Acharya Shankara, which is being studied, taught and venerated in
the Advaita shastra sampradaya for the last several centuries.
While several of such instances of `mistakes', `misunderstandings',
etc. on the part of the BhAmati are listed in this book under
several heads, here, in the sequel, just one portion from the book
is taken up for analysis.
The author has listed several instances of one word, rather a
concept, used by the Bhaamati in many places with one connotation
and `contradicting' this very connotation in several other places
while using this same word, or concept.
(The Author has said in the prelude to this chapter, `Sri Vachaspati
Mishra has said `anEkArthasya anyAyyatvAt' [`gjving several meanings
is inappropriate'] and has himself flouted this rule')
[On a search in the BhAmati, my sincere thanks to Shri Sunder
Hattangadi ji for helping me locate this, this is one place where
we come across the quote the author has provided, as said by BhAmati:
In the commentary to the Acharya's bhashyam for the Sutra:
| ta indriyANi tadvyapadeshAt anyatra shreShThAt
(the BhAmati says)
//mâ bhût prâNo vrittirindriyâNâm /indriyâNyevâsya jyeShThasya
shrereShThasya ca prâNasya vrittayo
prâNashabdasyaikasyânyâyyamanekârthatvam na bhaviShyati //
The gist of the above is: There is a discussion as to whether the
senses are different from the vital force, prANa. For, sometimes,
the senses are also termed `prANAH'. The prima facie view is that
the senses are NOT different from the Vital Force, for they are only
particular modes of the vital force. ….as such, moreover, the
meaning of one word `prANa' cannot have many meanings, it being
improper to ascribe so. The BhAmati is considering this objection
and sets about to refute this view and establish that the senses ARE
different from the vital force. This was mentioned just to show in
what context the BhAmati has said that `it is improper to ascribe
many meanings to one word/concept.']
Now, we shall revert to our main discussion of the book in question.
In substantiation of this `flouting', the author has listed the
following on page 46:
`sAkShAtkAro bhAvikaH, na asau kAryaH, tasya brahmasvarUpatvAt'
(Realization is innate, it is not to be effected since it is of the
very nature of Brahman). (p.99 of the BhAmati – the book with the
Bhashya, Ratnaprabha, Bhamati and Nyayanirnaya published by Motilal
Yastu brahma-svabhAva- sAkShAtkAro asau na kAryaH, tat-svabhAvatvAt
(the realization which is of the nature of Brahman, is not to be
effected, as it is of Brahman nature.)p.377
(Note: In fact, in this very place, in the just previous sentence
and after, the Bhamati talks about the vritti-rupa sAkshAtkAra. It
only differentiates the one from the other by admitting that one is
required for eradicating ignorance, happening in the realm of
ignorance, vyavahara alone, and the other is nitya.)
Brahma sAkShAtkArAya mokSha-apara-nAmne kalpate. Brahma-
sAkShAtkArasya svabhAvatvena nityatvAt akAryatvAt. Yastu
sAkShAtkAro bhAvikaH, na asau kAryaH. (meaning same as the
foregoing) p. 30
Another instance on page 31 is paraphrased. The author inserts a
In these above sentences, the BhAmati has clearly said that
realization is of the nature of Brahman (eternal). But in other
places (the Bhamati) says that realization is of the nature of a
mental mode (antaHkaraNa vritti), that it is to be effected, born.
These `contrasting' instances are listed below:
sAkShAtkAro antaHkaraNasyaiva vritti-bhedaH (realization is a
special mental mode alone). P.31
avidyA-nivrittistu upAsanA-kAryAt antaHkaraNa-vrittibhedAt
sAkShAtkArAt iti draShTavyam (it has to be known that the
eradication of avidya, ignorance, however, is effected by the result
of meditation that is a special mental mode.) p.41
brahmopAsanAyaaH brahma sAkShAtkAraH kAryam abhyupeyaH (realization
has to be admitted to be the effect of meditation on Brahman). P.91
yadA sAkShAtkAraH upajAyate (when realization dawns…) p.429
brahma sAkShAtkAro…….AtmAnamapi prapanchatva-avishEshAt unmUlayati
(the gist of this long passage is: realization, a mental mode,
arises due to the culturing of the mind owing to shravaNa, etc. like
the realization of the sound `ShaDja, etc.' of the science of music,
where a person owing to hearing the nuances of the music science,
gets to the perfect realization of these notes. This mental-mode of
Brahman realization uproots the entire wrong cognition of this
imaginary world and finally eradicates itself as well.)p.94
sAkShAtkAro vijnAnam, vishiShTam hi taj jnAnam pUrvebhyaH
(realization is direct knowledge, being quite unlike the earlier
ones) p. 222
sAkShAtkAreNa vidyayA ..(by the knowledge of realization)..p.333
anubhavo antaHkaraNa vritti bhedo brahma sAkShAtkAraH (this special
mental mode of realization is experience).p.52.
RESPONSE (to the above objections):
This response is by no means a well documented/referenced one. It
is especially addressed to those who are familiar with the
Prasthanatraya and the Bhashya.
On a very general note, a response to the above could be made on the
It is the firm view of the Upanishads and Acharya Shankara that
although Atma Jnanam is eternal (vastu tantra) and need not be
brought about afresh, yet, in order to end the erroneous delusion of
samsara one has to specifically effect a `realization'. This
realization is of a special mental mode, vritti, that happens in
time. It is this vritti, called `akhandAkAra vritti', that arises,
destroys the basic ignorance along with its effects of samsara and
finally subsides. This is because, since shravana, etc. are
undertaken in the state of ignorance, the resultant mental mode that
arises due to these practices is also in the realm of ignorance
alone. The destruction of ignorance is also in the realm of
ignorance alone. The resultant liberation however, an experience,
is effected by destroying the ignorance/samsara. With this
background, we can see some specific cases where the (1) Upanishads
themselves talk about this specific knowledge, vritti, called
liberating knowledge and (2) Acharya Shankara Himself says
specifically these things.
In the Samanvaya Bhashya (i.i.4), for instance, the Acharya talks
about vastu tantra jnanam. We have recently seen this. He says
that this Atma jnanam is eternal, not to be brought about afresh and
never an effect of work, action, karma. Yet, He says, for example,
in the Bhashya for the sutra `lingAccha' (IV.i.2):
bhaved…..brahmAtmatvam anubhavitum shaknuyAt. (an experience of
Brahman-Atman is possible). Yadyapi pratipattavya Atmaa niramshaH (
even though the Atman that has to be `realized' is without parts….)
tattu pUrvarUpameva AtmapratipatteH (that, however, is before the
realization of Atman). yeShAm punaH nipuNamatInAm….tattvamasi
vaakyArtham anubhavitum (those endowed with a sharp intellect… it is
possible for experiencing the meaning of the sentence tat tvam asi
even when once taught). Sakrit utpannaiva hi AtmapratipattiH
avidyAm nivartayati (when this Atman-experience arises even just
once, it destroys ignorance).
In the Taittiriya Up. we have `Satyam, Jnanam, Anantam Brahma'.
Certainly, Satyam, and Jnanam are not the changing types. They are
eternal. Bhashya says this: That which is determined in such and
such way and never yields to any transformation, is Satyam. Again,
trikAla-abaadhyam satyam. So is Jnanam. It is the Svarupa of
Brahman/Atman. Yet, this very Upanishad teaches: tad vijijnAsasva =
seek to know It experientially. That means, although Jnanam is the
essential unchanging svarupa of Atman, a sadhana is required
to `know' It. The Upanishad ends with `Anando Brahmeti vyajAnAt'.
Bhrigu got the experience of Brahman. He `knew'. That means It
becomes known in a vritti. It is an anubhava. Is the
Upanishad/Bhashyam contradicting what was said earlier? No. This is
exactly what the Bhaamati also says.
In the above sample of the Bhashyam we saw:
1. Atman Knowledge is eternal. It need not be created afresh.
2. A specific Atman-experience is required to eradicate
Avidya. This is the result of shravana, etc. This experience is the
one that liberates the samsaari/sadhaka.
3. In the Mandukya Upanishad Bhashya for the seventh mantra, we
have (also seen recently) the Acharya speaks of this specific
akhandaakaara vritti which is of a momentary nature.
4. In the Brahmasutra itself we recently saw the sutrabhashya
for the sutra `api cha samraadhane…' where the aproksha anubhava
utpatti/saakshAtkara is spoken of. The bhashyam quotes the KAtaka
and Mundaka Shrutis in support.
5. The Kenopanishad II.i. 1 and 2 mantras speak of this.
Shankara describes the transformation the student/sadhaka undergoes
between the first mantra and the second one, dramatically: evam
AchAryoktaH shiShyaH yEkAnte upaviShTaH samAhitaH san, yathOktam
AchAryeNa AgamArthato vichaarya, tarkatashcha nirdhArya,
SVAANUBHAVAM KRUTVAA, AchAryasakAsham upagamya uvAcha : manye aham
atha idAnIm viditam Brahma iti. (After having been told so by the
Teacher, the disciple sat in solitude with his mind concentrated,
deliberated, made It a matter of personal experience and
approached the teacher (in the class) and said: `Now I think Brahman
Surely, Brahman which cannot become an object, is made an object of
experience to get liberated. Shankara stops short of giving
a `date and time' for this anubhava that arose in the Kenopanishad-
Again, in the Brihadaranyaka Bhashya for `shrotavyo mantavyo', the
Acharya's bhashya is: Atmaa darshana-vishayataam aapaadayitavyaH.=
Atman is to be made an object of realization/meditation.
In the Bhagavadgita too we have this kind of `dual' statements:
For example, in the II chapter we have seen the Atman being
described as Eternal, all-pervading, etc. In the 13th chapter we
have: na sat na asaduchyate, anAdi mat param Brahma, etc., meaning:
Brahman is Eternal, it is not said to be existent or non-existent,
etc. Yet, we have the `other, contrasting' statements like: jnAnena
tu tat ajnAnam yeshAm nAshitam AtmanaH'= `by realization the
ignorance pertaining to Atman is destroyed' showing that this
realization `arises'. In the 13th chapter we have a specific verse,
24, where it is said: by meditation some see the Atman in their
mind. This implies that this liberating realization, a mental
Sri Sureshvaracharya says:
avidya saha-kaaryeNa nAsIdasti bhavishyati
(Even as the Right Knowledge ARISES as a result of the sentence Tat
tvam asi, avidya, along with its effects gets eradicated.)
We have other smritis quoted by the Acharya too, perhaps:
jnAnam utpadyate pumsaam kshayAt paapasya karmanaH (Atman
Knowledge `arises' in those whose sinful tendencies/karma has come
to an end).
In Sutra bhashya: III.iv.26 there is a smriti quote:
kaShAya-paktiH karmANi jnaanam tu paramA gatiH |
kaShAye karmabhiH pakve tato jnAnam pravartate || (Performing of
ordained karma will purify the mind and GIVE RISE to the dawn of
Again, we find from the above quotes that although Atman Jnanam is
eternal, `sarvadA vartamAna-svarUpatvAt', still It is spoken of as a
specific realization arising and destroying the Avidya.
Now, are we to find fault with the Upanishads, the Gita and the
Acharya Shankara and Sri Sureshwaracharya for saying `Atman
Knowledge is vastu tantra, eternal, not to be brought about afresh'
in some places and averring in some other places,
quite `contradictory' statements like `liberating Atman
Knowledge `arises', it is an experience, that it is a mental vritti,
it destroys ignorance and subsides/gets destroyed itself' etc.?
There are several instances in the Upanishads, the Gita and the
Bhashya where one word carries different connotations, depending
upon the context. For example, the word `Atma'. In the
Kathopanishad mantra: Atmendriya-mano-yuktam bhoktetyAhur
manIShiNaH', the word Atma is used to mean the gross body. Atma is
used sometimes in the sense of the mind. In the Gita we see this.
So too, the word `Jnanam.' Even the word `Brahman' is sometimes
used as saguna Brahman, the Cause of the universe along with
Maya. `Yoga' is another word that has several meanings. Again,
there is the instance of the word `samAdhi'. Shankara uses this
word in different senses. In the Bhashya to the Mandukya kArikA
III.37, for the word `samAdhi' occurring in the verse, the Acharya
gives two meanings: //Samaadhi: divine absorption – so called since
It (Atman) is realizable through the insight ARISING out of the
deepest concentration (samaadhi). OR It (Atman) is called `samaadhi'
because It is the object of concentration.// (Here, the latter
meaning gives the idea that the Self is `fixed', being an object of
concentration. The former meaning, however, gives the idea that
Self-realization is an `effect', result, of absorption.)
If stating - `brahma-sAkshAtkAra' is natural, eternal and also
saying that it has to be brought about through a vritti - is a
reason to reject the BhAmati, then we have no option to rejecting
the Shruti, the Gita, Shankaraacharya and Sri Sureshwaraacharya. It
is true that ascribing several meanings to one word is improper as
it would lead to confusion. But where context demands, one will
have to ascribe different meanings to the same word. The several
instances of this we saw above in the prasthana traya/Bhashya.
In conclusion, what we can say about the book/chapter under
The author has either not cared to know the Vedanta/ShAnkara
prakriyaa for Atma/Atma jnana/avidya/avidyaa nivritti/ avidyaa
nivritti upaaya/saakshatkaara/ and the saakshaatkaara prakaara OR
that he has known about these but written this book/chapter out of
mere prejudice against the Bhaamati.
For, how could one who has studied the prasthAnatraya missed this
seminal statement of Acharya Shankara in the Mandukya Upanishad
bhashya for the Seventh mantra detailing the culmination of sAdhana in
ज्ञानस्य द्वैतनिवृत्तिक्षणव्यतिरेकेण क्षणान्तर-अनवस्थानात् । अवस्थाने च
अनवस्थाप्रसङ्गात् द्वैत-अनिवृत्तेः ।
[Knowledge, as a mental state, vRtti, does not continue for a second moment
following that of the cessation of duality. Should it, however, continue,
it will lead to
infinite regress resulting in non-cessation of duality. ]
In this bashya, the Acharya uses a word 'jnAnasya'. And says that it does
for even a second after it has arisen and has effected the cessation of
duality. Why should a
jnAna arise for the cessation of duality and why should it cease to continue
after it has done its
job? Why does the Acharya call this a 'jnAnam' when Brahman/Atman is Itself
Jnanam that will
never cease to be? The Acharya is limiting the experience to a 'kShaNa'
after which it ceases to
be, thereby specifying a 'kAlaparimiti' to the avidyA-nivAraka vRtti.
[Therefore, the conclusion arrived at is that all evils, such as being
'conscious of the internal world',
superimposed on the Self, cease simultaneously with the application (i.e the
birth) of the instrument
(of illumination) which is nothing but a valid knowledge arising from
negation of duality.]
Why does the Acharya talk about a samakAlam, time, here? Why is this
vijnAna called a 'pramANa'
while it is Vedanta that is the pramANa?
Evidently, the author has not deliberated on these questions and tried to
know what it means in ShAnkara
Vedanta to dispel avidya. This has resulted in his not being able to
appreciate the various statements of
the BhAmati and conclude that there is a contradiction.
He has even appealed to the teachers of the Acharya's Bhashya to go about
teaching without taking recourse
to the commentaries.
I read those portions in the Bhamati that the author has taken so much
pains to annotate with
page number references. It was, (my sincere thanks to the author) a
wonderful experience, nay, a lovely spiritual tour, of the Bhamati
teachings. One can gain a wealth of information about sadhana, the
shastra, etc. In no place could I find any misunderstanding/misrepresenting
on the part of the Bhamati that
could be seen as being against the shastra or the revered Shankara.
It gives a deeper insight into the Bhashyam/Shruti/Sutra.
Some eminent scholars (both living and of the past) have contributed
commendations to this book. Except one the others have put
themselves on the side of the author. I humbly feel that if only
these renowned scholars had taken the pains to verify the statements
made by the author, they would have certainly distanced themselves
from this publication. They have had the audacity to implicate the
Author of the Bhaamati, Sri VAchaspati Mishra, of `committing
blunders', `being ignorant of the Shastra despite being a great
scholar of not just one, but four disciplines'.
While every chapter could be shown to be of the nature of wrongly
understanding the Bhamati/Advaita, I have limited my observations to
just this one chapter. This is because, in my humble opinion, here
contains the vital Atman Knowledge, liberation etc, subject
With humble pranams to all and to the learned, respected Sannyasi-
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