[Advaita-l] Re: Questions on Isavasya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 5 10:01:59 CDT 2006

Dear Sri Reddy,

I am afraid you are being taken in a bit by your dvaitin friend. Whether 
this person is merely quoting from some source like BNK Sharma's books or 
whether he is personally analyzing the bhAshyas, I would suggest the 
following. When discussing with dvaitins, be aware that their logical 
technique is adept at leading the other side into logical traps.

For example, what was,

"If the above hypothesis was true that shaN^kara gave more weight to 
particular parts of the upaniShats, then isn't that the wrong approach?"

in one post, gives way to,

"... would that not automatically undermine shaN^kara's claim that not all 
of GYAna kAnDa should be given equal importance?"

in another post. In other words, what was originally a hypothesis about 
Sankara's method has somehow morphed into something that Sankara himself 
claims! Without your being aware of it, the dvaitin's criticism that 
advaitins do not give equal importance to all of the jnAna kANDa has become 
an advaita "claim" that not all of the jnAna kANDa needs to be given equal 

In an earlier mail, I have already touched upon how it is not an issue of 
equal literal importance to every word in the upanishads, but one of 
extracting a consistent interpretation of all of the jnAna kANDa. This means 
that we take each text not in isolation but against the background of all 
the other relevant texts. The brahmasUtra provides the traditional framework 
in which we interpret all the upanishad statements, by taking one vishaya 
vAkya (topic under discussion) at a time.

In this mail, let me address a couple of the questions you have asked about 
the ISAvAsya bhAshya and take up the rest in follow-up posts.

"-- Are there any vArttikas on the IshAvAsya bhAShya btw?"

No, but there are vRtti-s and TIkA-s, e.g. the one by Anandagiri, on this 

"-- The bhAShya does not have a mangalAcharaNa shlOka. Was this normal? Do 
all the other bhAShyas of shaN^kara have mangalAcharaNas? Could it be 
possible that the bhAShya was not originally written by shaN^kara (Is there 
any section of advaitins who believe this)?"

Again, the answer would be, NO.

This debate about whether such and such a bhAshya was originally written by 
Sankara bhagavatpAda can be a  completely separate discussion altogether, so 
let's not go into it right now. Let me just say that these sorts of reasons 
to doubt authorship are really among the flimsiest. As for comparing the 
various bhAshyas and categorizing one as inferior with respect to the 
others, well, I would like to know the level of competence of the person 
making that judgment call.

In fact, brahmasUtra bhAshya does not have any Sloka, bhagavadgItA bhAshya 
quotes an older Sloka, taittirIya bhAshya has original Slokas and 
bRhadAraNyaka bhAshya has one prose line as mangalAcaraNa. As you can see, 
there is a good amount of stylistic variation within four primary bhAshyas 
that have to be accepted as authentic, even by the most skeptical critic.

More in subsequent posts,

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