[Advaita-l] BrahmaGYAna and jIvanmukti - 5 (Other References)

Stig Lundgren slu at bredband.net
Wed Feb 14 21:32:15 CST 2007

Dear Rama,

Thank you for your input and your interesting viewpoints. I will try to
answer your questions as follows:

You wrote:
Is the "standard" advaita tradition composed of Vidyaranya,
Madhusudana Saraswati, Abhinava Vidyatirtha, Ramana Maharshi, etc.,
who do accept the pa~ncapaadikaa derived doctrines, sampradaayavits or
not? The answer should be in the binary - yes or no, it cannot have
Clintonian wafflings. My reading of SSS is that he think they are NOT.

My reply:
I´m afraid that my reading of SSS is that he think they ARE, although many
later advaitic authors have (in SSS:s opinion) deviated from Shankara on
certain points. But the sampradAya is certainly not any monolithe where
every acharya has said exactly the same thing on every matter. Hence, one
can be a part of the sampradAya without fully agreeing with all the other
acharyas. SSS, though, is concerned that the original teachings of
Gaudapada, Shankara and Sureshvara have been in certain aspects
reinterpretated by later commentators in a way not faithful to the original.
But this does not put those commentators outside the sampradAya (although
those specific deviating parts are, according to SSS, not in line with

In SSS:s small ashram in Holenarsipur there are numerous photographs still
hanging on the walls from the time when Swamiji lived there. For instance,
there is a photograph of Swami Shivananda Saraswati. And there are several
photos on the Sringeri Shankaracharyas Swami Satchidananda Shivabhinava
Narasimha Bharati (who formally initiated SSS into the studies of Shankara
Bhashya), Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati and Swami Abhinava Vidyatirtha. A
picture of Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati can also be seen in the Rama-temple
connected to the ashram. In the Bangalore karyalaya there is for instance a
huge portrait of Sri Ramana Maharshi. I would assume that this indicate that
Swamiji and the people at the ashram consider those great teachers to be

You wrote:
Would any man call the standard tradition a procession of the blind
leading the blind in that case? Let's just have some plausibility
here. We need explanations, and not explaining away differences.

My reply:
You are referring to page 43 of Satchidanandendra Saraswati Swamiji´s work
"Essays on Vedanta", right? There, Swamiji quotes a portion of Shankara´s
introduction to Brahma Sutra Bhashya in order to show Shankara´s definition
of avidyA. Thereafter SSS claims that in spite of this definition, "the
sub-commentaries on Sankara-Bhashya, have started a procession of the blind
led by the blind". So what SSS actually says here is not that the whole of
post-Shankaran tradition is a procession of the blind leading the blind. The
sub-commentators interpretation of avidyA have blurred Shankara´s original
understanding of avidyA. And those who lean solely on the sub-commentators
will therefore have to rely on a definition of avidyA not found in
Shankara´s work.

You wrote:
Simply put, if they are indeed sampradaayavits, and we are to believe
that they attained brahma-j~naana,

My reply:
I remember when i spoke to my guruji Sri K.G. Subraya Sharma and he referred
to Sringeri Shankaracharya H.H. Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati as the very
epitome of a jivanmukta. I also know that SSS held Swami Chandrasekhara
Bharati in the highest esteem.

You wrote:
it is a self defeating proposition to
claim that they are sampradaayavits, but can cause "needless
confusion". It goes against their very *nature* of being

My reply:
But there are many standpoints and theories put forward by different
acharyas within the sampradAya throughout the centuries. One might argue
that those standpoints and theories are or are not in line with Shankara. In
any case, those later additions may no doubt make it difficult for those
trying to figure out what Shankara actually said. I remember myself when I
began studying Advaita. It didn´t took very long before I was entangled in
confusions regarding if Vivarana or Bhamati where right in their
interpretations. Where they both right somehow? Where they both wrong? What
did really Shankara said, and how to interpretate him in the light of those
subtraditions? I asked one very knowledgeable person (not a follower of SSS)
here in Sweden for help, and he told me to study "The method of Vedanta" by
one Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati. That´s how it all started out for me.

You wrote:
BTW, what did post Sankara-Sureshvara authors understand correctly?
Let's see: they did NOT understand avidyaa, maayaa, role of shruti vs
reason, they did not do the three-state analysis correctly, their
doctrines were tainted by yoga and nyaaya. Ooops - that covers pretty
much the entire advaita doesn't it? So what is it that is useful in
Post Sankaran authors?

My reply:
Well, Shankara and post-Shankaran authors have in common the fundamental
outlook on Brahman as advaita; the general smartha outlook on the shastras;
the interpretation of shruti from the empirical and absolute standpoints
respectively; dharma; the final goal of man etc. etc. etc. It is no doubt
true that SSS is highly critical about the later commentators interpretation
of avidyA, but regarding the role of shruti vs reason and the three state
analysis, he is critical about some parts of later interpretations of those
doctrines and not on the whole.

You wrote:
The question may be put in the reverse to the best representatives in
the standard tradition. As a matter of fact the question regarding
SSSs works was put to Sri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal himself (related to
be by a very reliable source) and Shriisannidhaanam basically said
that it is not of the sampradaaya. This happened about 3 years back.

My reply:
I am in fact really sorry to hear this, and I have no reason to disbelieve
your source of information. But I would be much interested to know in which
way this question was put to the Sringeri Shankaracharya. For instance, a
question such as "Is it in line with tradition to refute the idea that
avidyA is neither existing or non-existing?" would perhaps render a
different answer than "Is Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati alien to the
sampradaya?". Perhaps Swami Bharati Tirtha would have said "yes" to the
first question but "no" to the second one.

In any case, when the 50th birthday of my guruji Sri K.G. Subraya Sharma was
celebrated a few years back, a book was released at the event. This book
"Viveka BhAskara" consists of essays written by friends and followers of
K.G. Subraya Sharma. There is also a greeting from a very prominent person,
namely no one less than H.H. Sringeri Shankaracharya Swami Bharati Tirtha.
There´s also a big photo of Bharati Tirtha. Now, would really Swami Bharati
Tirtha have shown his support openly like this, if he believed K.G. Subraya
Sharma to be an asampradAyavit? After all, K.G. Subraya Sharma is probably
the most well-known of all disciples of Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati.

Moreover, K.G. Subraya Sharma has been lecturing at Sringeri Peetham on
numerous occassions, and he has also been invited to mathas connected to
Sringeri, like for instance Chitrapur Math and Hariharapura Math.
Hariharapura Math, by the way, recently celebrated him and gave him the
title "vedantasAratilkaH" (all in all, K.G. Subraya Sharma has now been
celebrated with no less that 32 titles!). The Chitrapur Math Shankaracharya
highly praised his rencent book "vedAnta samvatsara".

As have been mentioned earlier on this list, the Sringeri Shankaracharya
H.H. Swami Abhinava Vidyatirtha visited Holenarsipur and Swami
Satchidanandendra Saraswati back in the 1960´s. After having studied SSS:s
magnum opus, "The Method of Vedanta", the Shankaracharya offered financial
aid for the publication of the book. Would the Shankaracharya have done so
if he felt that the book and its author was not of the sampradAya? I doubt
that very much.

Warmest regards
Stig Lundgren

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