adhyaasa bhaashhya - Text of shrii Saxena - 1

Ravisankar S. Mayavaram miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM
Mon Sep 11 11:53:43 CDT 2000

Sri Subhanu Saxena kindly sent me his text on adhyassa bhaashhya this
morning. He gave me permission to post in parts or as whole. I have
decided to post it in parts. But to those who want to read the whole
thing ASAP, please find the texts at

I have kept the file in ascii and MS Word format. The text was
converted to txt from Word via a HTML interface to word provided
automagically by Yahoo mail service.

Please note that copyright of the text rests with Sri Subhanu Saxena
(subhanu at who is the author the text.

I thank Sri Saxenaji from my heart for this text.


Part 1

Author:  Subhanu Saxena

shankaram shankarAchAryam keshavam bAdarAyaNam
sUtrabASykrtau vande bhagavantau punah punaha

SrutismrtipurANAnAm Alayam karuNAlayam
namAmi bhagavdpAdam shankaram lokashankaram

sUtrabhASyapraNetArau vedAntAbjaprabhAkaru
vande parasparAtmAnau bAdarAyaNashankaru


In the canon of vedanta litarature, the Brahma Sutram occupies a
unique position as the oldest systematic commentary on the
Upanishads. Of commentaries on the Brahma Sutram, Shankara'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 shankara, there is
universal agreement in the tradition that the bhAsyam on brahma sUtram
was composed by Adi Shankaracharya. This is evidenced by the fact that
the genesis of post shankara schools arises from sub-commentaries on
primarily his brahma sutra bhASyam. In these sub- commentaries (of
which the so-called bhAmati and vivaraNa schools are most recognised),
the authors profess to be elaborating on shankara's system of advaita,
and clearly identify shankara as the author of the bhASyam.

His astonishing introduction to his Brahma Sutra Bhashyam (BSB), often
called the adhyAsa bhASyam, is, in my view, one of the greatest texts
written on vedanta, and holds the status for me of a Sruti. 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.

Shankara's adhyAsa bhASyam fully serves the purpose of an
introduction. He succintly manages to summarise all the key points
that will unfold in his Brahma Sutra Bhashyam, and connects them to
the central underlying theme.  The theme of is work is: "My commentary
will explain how the brahma sutram identifies the fundamental obstacle
to knowledge, and how the it explains the method used in the Sruti 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, Shankara 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. Shankara 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, shankara 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 bhASyam, shankara 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
knowledge, and why is Sruti 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
bhASyam and unravel it to reveal all of shankara's tradition of
advaita. In this article I will simply give a guided tour of the
contents of the adhyAsa bhASyam line by line, and highlight the key
messages. My rendering of the bhASyam will be as literal and
transparent as possible, so the readers scan judge themselves the true
meaning for them.

adhyAsa bhASyam 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 bhASya discussed at
the start of each section. I have followed the bhASyam in the order it
was written.

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