[Advaita-l] Re: Vivekachudamani vs Bhashyas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 1 12:14:13 CDT 2003

S. Jayanarayanan wrote:

>Thanks for the translation of Sri sacchidAnandendra sarasvatI swamiji's
>work regarding the authenticity of the VivekachuDAmaNi (VC). Though the
>VC is very "practical" in its teachings, Adi Shankara never downplays
>shAstra, which the author of the VC does in verse 59:
>aviGYaate pare tattve shaastraadhiitistu nishhphalaa .
>viGYaate.api pare tattve shaastraadhiitistu nishhphalaa .. 59..
>"When the Supreme Truth is unknown, the study of scriptures is useless;
>when the Supreme Truth is known also, the study of the scriptures is

Without weighing in on the authorship of VC, I would like to point out that 
it is quite wrong to translate the above verse in this fashion. nishphalaa 
should be fruitless, not useless. What the author intends here is that if 
one merely studies the scriptures and does not realize the highest truth, 
then the study of the scriptures remains fruitless. After one realizes the 
highest truth, there is no further result to be realized, including from 
study of scriptures.

The intention is not to denigrate the study of the scriptures. Rather, it is 
the intention of the author to exhort those who study the scriptures to 
attempt to realize the highest truth. And there is nothing radically new or 
un-advaitic about this statement either. Compare gItA 2. 46 and commentary 
thereon. Here, the use of the veda for the brahmajnAnI is compared to that 
of a pot of water when there is a flood all around.

Venkata Subramanian quoted:

>thatvat, Bhuktaye na tu muktaye

These are two halves of two different verses, and if I remember right, it is 
SabdajAlaM mahAraNyam, not SAstrajAlaM ... Also, the verse that ends 
vaidushyaM vidushAM ... begins with a comment about vAgvaikharI and 
SAstra-vyAkhyAna. The intention of the author is to caution against 
excessive involvement in words in interpreting the scriptures, and not to 
denigrate the scriptures themselves.

Again, nothing new about this ... Compare bRhadAraNyaka bhAshya 4.4.21-22, 
where one is advised to leave all words aside and to do dhyAna only on auM, 
quoting muNDaka upanishat sentences, "anyA vAco vimuncatha" and "Om ity evaM 
dhyAyatha AtmAnaM" (2.2.5-6).

Bhaskar clarified:

>Yes, it was not the intention of swamiji to belittle the efficacy of VC.
>Infact at the very beginning in introduction swamiji clearly says VC is a
>must read grantha for any sincere advaita vedanta follower.  What swamiji
>trying to convey us here is *blind acceptance* of authorship of these
>granthas.  It does not mean anyway, swamiji pushing aside the validity of
>VC  with dubious intentions.  No need to mention, subjective attachment to
>authorship of these prakaraNa granthas prevents us from doing  objective

That is a  valid point, but may I point out that till very recently, the 
question of authorship as posed above was not even an issue in traditional 
circles? To a large extent, Indian traditions do not operate like modern 
critical scholarship does. This is not to say that traditional authors never 
identify specific authors. For example, writing in the 15th-16th centuries, 
madhusUdana sarasvatI considered daSaSlokI and pancIkaraNa as works of 
Sankara himself. Thus, he wrote a commentary called siddhAntabindu on the 
former and quoted the latter work in this commentary. And traditional 
authors can be extremely critical thinkers too. Again witness madhusUdana 
sarasvatI and his various texts ...

Now that we live in a time when the methods of critical scholarship have to 
be taken seriously, it becomes incumbent upon us to take its results into 
account. However, by the same token, different scholars come to different 
conclusions, at least in some details, if not in everything. We have to be 
aware of these too.


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