[Advaita-l] Question on Samadhi

Stig Lundgren slu at chello.se
Sun Jul 27 05:53:59 CDT 2003

> > >  Kindly pardon my intrusion here prabhuji.  Though
traditional advaitins
> > hold lot of prakaraNa granthas as genuine works of Sri
Shankara.  Some
> > scholars through the in-depth analysis of these prakaraNa
grantha-s have
> > decided that methods & doctrines contained in these grantha-s
are quite
> > contradictory to the purports of shankara's original
prasthAna trayi
> > bhAshya.
> To illustrate the drawbacks of such methods, let me give an
example. One
> of my other interests is the Linux computer operating system.
Let's say
> 1000 years in the future three articles about Linux are all
that survive
> of my literary output.  Some historian of that era might
conclude "This
> Jaldhar was an atheist.  He only talks about computers not
God."  Then
> perhaps one of my advaita-l articles might turn up and the
historian might
> say "This is obviously a forgery because it doesn't match up
with the
> themes of the know genuine works of Jaldhar Vyas."

Dear Jaldhar,

Nevertheless, there is a difference here. There´s no necessary
contradiction between being a Linux operator and being a
religious person. So if someone in the future finds your postings
on Advaita-list, there are no reasons to conclude that you could
not have been a Linux operator.
   But if there are contradictions between different works
ascribed to Adi Shankara, we have to conclude that either 1) his
works and his teachings are self-contradictory, or 2) that some
of these works are actually not from the pen of Shankara himself.
There are several reasons to go for alternative 2).

Regarding Shankara´s works, there are differences between the
doctrines propagated in - on one hand - his Bhashyas on the 10
major upanishads, Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Bhagavad Gita, and many
of the prakarana granthas on the other hand. His U-bhashyas, the
BSB, BGBh (and also Upadesha Sahasri) makes a consistent whole,
and together they represent a non-contradictory doctrine.
Moreover, these works are referred to by other authors very soon
after the time of Adi Shankara. For instance, Shankara´s own
disciple Sureshwara referers to Brihadaranyaka Up. and Upadesha
Sahasri in his writings.
   This is not the case with the prakarana granthas. As far as I
know, there is no mentioning of works like Vivekachudamani or
Atma Bodha until several hundred years after the time of
Shankara, so they obviously did not play a part of the Advaita
tradition before more recent times.
   Regarding the doctrinal differences, I refer to what Bhaskar
has already written.

> I'm not one to simply dismiss the views of historians but we
need to
> soberly assess what they are capable off.  In many cases they
> "decide" emphatically but only suggest probabilities.

I agree with you to 100 percent. There are many strange and
stupid theories propagated by Western scholars regarding Vedanta
philosophy and also Hinduism in general. But the question
regarding the genuine works of Shankara is possible to approach
also from within the tradition. Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati
is an example of this.

>  But as I pointed out
> for hundreds of years learned people from all over the country
> accepted VC as a genuine work of Shankaracharya and a valuable
work of
> Advaita Vedanta.  If there were huge flaws surely someone would
have said
> something?

I assume also Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati considered
Vivekacudamani a valuable work of vedanda, although he didn´t
agree with some of its teachings, which he believed contradicted
what Shankara said in his bhashyas. If you disagree with some of
the contents of a book, this doesn´t necessarly make the book
worthless. In fact, Satchidanandendra Swamiji edited and
translated VC into Kannada, together with many other prakarana
granthas usually ascribed to Shankara. He also edited and
published the Panchapadika, although he didn´t approve of the
Vivarana interpretations of Shankara.
   Regarding the "huge flaws": According to Satchidanandendra
Swamiji, since people are studying vedanta with the help of later
popular vedantic works like Vedantasara, and also with the help
of the subcommentaries of Padmapada, Vacaspati Mishra etc., they
are actually learning the doctrines of the post-Shankara era
rather than the original teachings of Adi Shankara. So for them -
while studying for instance the VC - there are no contradictions
between the doctrines of the VC and other teachings known to them
as vedantic.

Very best wishes
Stig Lundgren

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