[Advaita-l] Pa~nchapAdikAchArya

venkata subramanian venkat_advaita at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 17 02:21:06 CDT 2006

Rama Ji,
  Can we first have a concensus on what we mean by tradition.   If Traditional teaching is to necessarily come in an unbroken chain and it cannot get cut or miscarried - why then Bhagavan Krishna Himself says in Chapter 4 of Gita - that he had again and again given this knowledge (Brahma Vidya) to the earth - something not necessary if the traditional teaching always goes in a chain clearly.  Thus, i feel that as a matter of fact - tradition comes in a chain and whenever it is broken or miscarried there is a correction inspired from the Highest level. 
  Teaching may come in an unbroken line but it is certainly probable that the understanding is *miscarried*.  Whatever is the glory of tradition, "Knowledge" is ultimately "right understanding" which happens at the intellect (budhi) of the sishya who ultimately turns into a Guru.  This right understanding has its importance in the whole scheme.
  Post Sri Shankara sub-commentaries may have added logical explanations like Mulavidya etc. which in their view was necessary to make the bhashya time-less and correct.   SSS is trying to explain that without these additional paraphernalia it is possible to have a self explanatory "darshana" that the Bhashya portrays.
  Now the tradition is again - Pure Brahma Vidya.  what i mean by pure is that the we can consider only the "Brahma Nishta" borne out of Shravana is the real tradition that is handed over in a Guru Sishya Parampara.  This Vidya which is the tradition, cannot be got by any other means.  Logical explanations (Manana sadhana) is an "aid" in the tradition and not the "end".    This is what i understand so far, may be i am wrong and learned members may correct me if so.
  Mulavidaya and the argument against it - both are in the sphere of "logic".  Logic is absolutely necessary in the tradition, Upanishad itself says Mantavyaha, but that need not necessarily be "tradition"  itself.     Manana aids to get wrong views corrected and puts the student in the right perspective.    In this phase, if there are corrections, they can be done, and this is what i understand as the necessity for so many lengthy arguments in the Bhashya and Vartika to discount contrary schools - all on logical grounds so that the right prespective is obtained; which aids the student to have a firm grounding (Nishta) on the Brahma Vidya obtained by Sharavana, which is tradition.
  Coming to your question - whether tradition can be got from books after 1200 years by self study - i cannot say yes to this.
  Any student of advaita will understand that without a Guru's teaching in the traditional way, it is impossible to have Brahma Nishta - for Shravana is the only direct means to Nishta and Shravana can be had only from a Guru (See Jagadguru Sri Sachidanandedra Nrisimha Bharathi's commentary on Vivekachudamani Sloka 1).  SSS has also learnt in the traditional way from traditional Gurus.   He has only after a devoted study - drawn up his theme that the sub-commentaries are not "sub" commentaries to the main.  If we can accept Bhamati and Vivarana Schools fighting with each other over which faction is correct; then how come Acharya's school broke into two, when only one can be correct - which is handed over in tradition ?   Cant we see Jagadguru Vidyaranya himself adding new examples and models to drive home the point.  Thus, within the tradition, innovation and new thoughts have always been a welcome.
  As explained above, it is tradition that is handed over continuously and the vehicle that it is carried on through - language and logic both are overhauled in time to ensure that the timeless content is carried in tact.
  Now whether SSS is correct in his arguments - i agree that is a separate question in itself.  

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com> wrote:
  Dear Sri Venkat,

You can't have it both ways regarding tradition.

Can traditional teaching be obtained from a set of books which can be
examined at any point of time and doing textual analysis and ***self
study*** on them 1200 years later?


Are books a supplement to actual instruction by a teacher, since
everything cannot be put down in a book? Especially something such as
brahma-vidyaa. According to me Shankara is clear you have to go to a
**brahmavit** to learn and not consult **books** written by a putative
brahmavit (be it shankara himself or anyone else).

If you think the first is true, let's stop the discussion along this
line, clearly it's of no use. If not we can continue further. The
point about varying traditions (within the advaita umbrella or
outside) is *completely* irrelevant to the discussion here, as you may
be able to see now.

It's of course a different matter whether the interpretations of SSS
themselves make logical sense. That's a different matter altogerther.
I owe you a revised copy of my paper. That will come soon.

Best regards,


Thanks & Regards,

Sadgurubhyo Namah.
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