[Advaita-l] Vivekachudamani Vs Bhashyas

Stig Lundgren slu at chello.se
Wed Jul 30 20:39:25 CDT 2003

Nanda Chandran wrote:

> Vivekachoodaamani stands almost unrivalled in its pre-eminence
in the
> subject of Advaita commented upon by such jnaanis as Ramana
Maharishi. Even
> if it wasn't composed by Shankara, it is a measure of its
validity that its
> authorship is ascribed to the aachaarya and is unopposed by

Doubting the authorship of Vivekachudamani is not to deny the
fact that it is a very popular and important book within the
Advaita tradition. But is Shankara´s interpretations of Advaita
fully in line with the different interpretations within the
Advaita tradition after him? Has nothing at all happened to the
tradition for the last 1200 years? Of course it has. There are
even different subtraditions within the Advaita tradition itself,
and considering this fact maybe we should ask if all the
post-Shankara advaitins are completely faithful to the the
teachings known to have been propagated by Adi Shankara. If they
are, then what about these subtraditions and different schools of
interpretating? And if they are not, then why simply dismissing
the question regarding the authorship of Vivekachudamani. If this
book contains doctrines opposed to the prasthana traya, then is
it not reasonable to conclude that it was actually not written by
Shankara himself? Particularly considering the fact that VC is
not mentioned by any acharya before several hundred years after

> Questions disputing its authorship can only have dubious

It would be interesting to know what you mean by this

For the followers of the Advaita Vedanta tradition, Adi Shankara
is the authority No.1. Then is it really a "dubious motive" to
question whether a book is actually from his pen or not? If we
consider Shankara as the greatest authority within the Advaita
tradition, then the question regarding his genuine doctrine is a
fundamental one. And if different books attributed to Shankara
contradicts each other, then the question regarding his doctrine
is in fact also a question regarding which books where actually
written by him.

> For the serious Advaitin such questions are irrelevant.

But the question is if there are teachings in the VC that
contradicts the prasthana traya of Adi Shankara. And if VC
contradicts prasthana traya, is it still probable that VC
actually was written by Adi Shankara? I don´t think such a
question is irrelevant. Is it irrelevant to study which doctrines
was actually propagated by Adi Shankara? And is it irrelevant to
know if there are other doctrines, for one or another reason
wrongly attributed to him?

It is well-known, I guess, to the main part of the members of
this list that there are several subtraditions (such as for
instance the Vivarana and Bhamati schools) within the broad
spectrum we call the Advaita tradition. Since different
interpretations has become a part of the tradition over time,
this may lead some people to the conclusion that differences
doesn´t matter, and that Adi Shankara would have accepted them
all. But I think such a conclusion is wrong. There where several
different interpretations of Advaita Vedanta known to Adi
Shankara, and he refuted them all, except for the tradition
represented by Gaudapada. He was very careful to make a
distinction between his own tradition and the (in his opinion)
faulty advaitic interpretations.

Just as an example, there is no doubt that Shankara´s teachings
are different from those of Mandana Mishra (probably a
contemporary of Shankara, and a forerunner of the Bhamati
school), and Mandana Mishra himself refutes important parts of
Shankara´s teachings in his work Brahma Siddhi. Nevertheless, the
Bhamati school is today considered a part of the Advaita Vedanta
tradition. Today, the Advaita Vedanta tradition is often referred
to as simply "Shankara´s Vedanta school" or the like. But it is
highly questionable that Shankara would have approved of this.

Very best wishes
Stig Lundgren

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