Katha or Brhadaranyaka?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Wed Feb 4 18:10:22 CST 1998

> Historical question :
> Various books have differing opinions on who Gaudapada is saluting in his
> karika (Can someone explain the exact Sanskrit words?). Some say Buddha and
> others, Narayana. If it's the former, then is he the first Advaitic teacher
> (OK, after Vyasa and a nastika one at that)?

The traditional opinion is that the salutation is to nArAyaNa. Modern
research has various opinions about it. To begin with, most do not think
that all four books of the kArikAs were written by the same person, and
especially with respect to the fourth book, where the salutation is
found, most think that it is a separate work in itself, which has got
attached to the kArikAs.

Even if the salutation is a direct reference to the historical buddha,
that would not necessarily make gauDapAda a nAstika, by any definition of
the term. The first and third book of the kArikAs clearly refer to brahman
as AptakAma and as bhagavAn. The kArikAs are also attached to a vedic
text, which suffices to classify them as the work of Astika author(s?).
Note that in this early period, it was not necessary to be theistic in a
bhakti-oriented sense, to be an Astika. pUrva mImAmsA and sAmkhya, both of
which are Astika darSanas, are both either pronouncedly non-theistic or
have no use for a Creator God. And strictly speaking, advaita vedAnta also
discounts the ultimate reality of a Creator God, although a concession is
made for the sake of upAsanA.


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