[Advaita-l] Re: Appayya dikshitha

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 26 09:42:46 CDT 2006

Namaste all.

(This is a repost of what I posted on the advaitin list on 9th Feb.2005)

I recently came across a 150-pagebook titled "Sri Appayya Dikshita"
by Dr N. Ramesan, published in 1972 by Srimad Appayya Dikshitendra
Granthavaliu Prakashana Samithi, Hyderabad. Here are some extracts
that I think may give the readers a glimpse of the personality of
Appayya Dikshitar:

>From the sapta rishis downward, there have been great (i.e.,
spiritually great) householders in the Indian tradition. One such
was Shri Appayya Dikshidar (1520 - 1593 A.D.) As the true advaitin
that he was, he saw no differences in the different manifestations
of the Supreme Absolute. Stemming the tide of Vaishnavite attacks on
Saivism during the one century prior to his times, one of his
missions in life turned out to be a reconciliation of creeds, cults
and philosophy. He did not think that rival interpretations of the
vedas and puranas were entirely in the wrong. He says: ` na sUtrANAm
arthAntaram-api bhavad-varyam-ucitaM' (Who can prevent different
interpretations when the sUtras themselves are capable of different
meanings?). Such was his tolerance in religious beliefs and his
ardent desire for the reconciliation of philosophic thoughts. He
wrote the `Chatur-mata-sara' to illustrate the philosophical
thoughts of the four prominent schools of interpretation of
Brahmasutras. The `Naya-manjari' deals with advaita, the `Naya-mani-
mala' with Srikanta mata, the `Naya-mayukha-malika' with Ramanuja's
philosophy and the `Naya-muktavali' with Madhva's philosophy. His
remarkable catholicity of outlook, his thoroughness in writing, his
impartiality, his unerring sense of values and his passionate search
for truth are all so evident in these writings that the Vaishnavas
have adopted the `Naya-Mayukha-Malika' as their manual for their
careful and reverent study and the Madhvas the `Naya-Muktavali'.

He was well read in every branch of Samskrit learning and wrote as
many as 104 works, large and and small. Only 60 of these works are
extant now. These include works on Vedanta, Siva-advaita, Mimamsa,
Vyakarana, Kavya vyakhyana, Alankara and Devotional poetry. By
conviction he was an advaitin and true worship of Lord Siva was the
religion of his heart. Though the followers of the Siva-advaita
school claim him as belonging to their school, it is not so easy to
determine whether he was more inclined to Sivadavaita or advaita.
Sivadvaita is very much akin to vishishhtadvaita of Ramanuja, except
for the role of Vishnu being taken by Shiva.

Among the Vedantic works of Appayya Dikshitar, the `Siddhanta-lesha-
sangraha' is most famous. In this elaborate and original treatise,
he brings together in one place, all different dialectical thinking
belonging to the advaitic school. Traditional students of Vedanta
begin their study of Bhashyas only after studying this Siddhanta
Lesha sangraha. All the different views of different subschools of
advaita, like those of `eka-jiva-vada', `nana-jiva-vada', `bimba-
pratibimba vada' `sakshitva-vada' etc. are all discussed and the
contrary views properly explained in this work with Appayya
Dikshidar's masterly touch. And in his characteristic eclectic
style, he answers the question "How can there be contradictory views
among the advaita acharyas themselves on the same point?" He says:
All the acharyas agree in affirming the unity of the soul and the
unreality of the phenomenal world. For the world of fiction
different explanations are given according to the ingenuity of each
acharya. What if different explanations are given for a mere
fiction? !

Another famous Vedantic work of Appayya Dikshitar is the commentary
known as the `Parimala'. It is an extremely readable commentary on
the very difficult commentary called Kalpataru by an advaitic
teacher named Amalananda. That Kalpataru is itself a commentary on
Bhamati by Sri Vacaspati Misra which in turn is the famous
commentary on the Sutra-Bhashya of Sri Sankara.

While the Parimala follows the advaitic approach, Appayya Dikshidar
has written another commentary `Sivaarka-mani-deepika' on the
Brahmasutras. But this is written from the point of view of Siva-
visishtadvaita.. These two works - Sivaarka-mani-deepika and
Parimala - are his magnum opus both in bulk and importance. Though
both are commentaries on the Brahma sutra, Parimala aligns itself
to the advaitic interpretation while the other work expounds the
Sivadvaita philosophy of Srikanta-acharya. Appayya Dikshidar's
patron, King Chinna Bomma Nayak of Vellore made endowments for the
maintenance of a college of 500 scholars who studied Sivaarka mani
Dipika under Sri Dikshidar himself, thus equipping themselves for
the Saivite propaganda work, which had been organised with a view to
stemming the tide of Vaishnavite attacks and encroachments.

Dikshidar threw himself heart and soul into this mission for several
years and often had to face grave personal danger, which he did with
courage and faith. He preached, organised and wrote incessantly,
enlisting the cooperation of several enlightened monarchs. He
undertook frequent travels and challenged his adversaries to open
disputation, as was the custom of those days. He brought to bear on
his widespread activities, his resourceful personality and created
an atmosphere of tolerance and goodwill, in the place of the
prevailing antipathies and narrow-mindedness.

Dikshidar graphically describes dvaita as the lowest step,
vishishtadvaita as the middle step and sivadvaita and advaita which
are very close to each other as the highest steps. He makes it clear
in his work that Srikantha-Bhashya on the Brahmasutra has been
written in very close approximation to the trend of thought of Sri
Sankara in his own bhashya. Srikanta, according to Dikshidar,
propagated his cult on the understanding that sagunopasana is only
the first step to nirgunopasana, and that it was the real intention
of Srikanta that the final truth lies only in Shuddhadvaita.
Dikshidar's great dialectical skill is fully reflected in the work
called Anandalahari chandrika, where he tries to narrow down the
differences between the apparently divergent schools of thought and
tries to show that the advaita of Sankara is the real eternal truth
to which all others try to approximate.

In addition to his poetic skills and achievements on the
philosophical propagations and Saivite missionary work, Dikshidar
was a great Siddha-yogi. One of his yogic experiments was as great
as it was thrilling. In the later years of his life, he was subject
to attacks of colic pain. He was convinced that it was due to his
Prarabdha and past karma. Whenever he wanted to meditate deeply or
worship the Almighty, he made a bundle of his towel and put it in
front of him. By his yogic power he transferred his melody to the
towel and sat in meditation. His disciples watched the towel jumping
about the place. To them he explained later that he transferred his
ailment which was in the form of an evil spirit to the cloth and
then took it back soon after his meditation was over!

About his mystic devotion,there is another thrilling story that is
related to his work called Atmarpana-stuti. In this small work of
fifty stanzas he makes the inner self melt as it were by his
exquisite mystic poetry. We can see here the profound maturity of
true devotion to the Supreme. It reflects the inner mental state of
a great devotee, in whom the ego has become fully distinct. There is
a traditional account of how this work came to be written. It
appears once he wanted to test the maturity of his own devotion to
the Lord. Hence he swallowed the juice of the `datura' fruit, which
introduces intoxication, and told his disciples that they should
write down whatever he says, during the stage when his consciousness
was disturbed. In the stage of inebriation generally all suppressed
ideas would find release and come out into the open. And in his case
it was the Atmarpana-stuti that came out! It is therefore also
called `Unmatta-panchasati'.

Dikshidar is said to have travelled widely in the manner of those
days, entering into philosophical disputations and controversaries
in many centres of learning. He had the rare good fortune of being
revered and patronised in his own life-time by kings of Vellore,
Tanjore, Vijayanagar and Venkatagiri. A mighty intellect and
peerless sage, he led a life of karma, bhakti and jnana - a model
for posterity to follow.

PraNams to Shri Appayya Dikshitar and all advaitins

Latest on my website is an article on Krishnavatara, the Miraculous. See

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