A Myth About Sankara (was Re: [Advaita-l] jnAna-vijnAna, ...)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 10 22:20:33 CST 2007

--- bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com wrote:


> Ofcourse, you do agree Sri SSS
> perspectives are always backed with bhagavapAda's comments from
> prasthAna
> trayi..if SSS's views donot get entry into the orthodox shrungeri
> math
> list, I dont think I have anything worthy to offer to this list. 
> can
> saMpradAya supercede the doctrine of shankara ??  Kindly confirm
> your
> opinion.

Let me first clarify that I agree with Jaldhar's characterization of
some as "Loyal Opposition". Perhaps this is possible in the context
of Advaita Vedanta also.

But I'm interested in mainly answering Bhaskar's question -- "Can
Sampradaya supersede the doctrine of Sankara?" It seems to have
connotations that Sankara is the "highest" authority in Advaita

For example, Stig Lundgren says in his posting at
"For the followers of the Advaita Vedanta tradition, Adi Shankara is
the authority No.1...If we consider Shankara as the greatest
authority within the Advaita tradition..."

Is the above really true? I don't think so.

"Sankara is the greatest authority in the Advaita Vedanta tradition."

No doubt Sankara is considered one of the greatest Advaita Vedanta
Acharyas to ever grace the earth. But the above statement that he is
the "greatest authority" is definitely a myth.

There are several reasons for this:

1) Sankara is not the greatest authority in the Advaita Vedanta
tradition -- the Sruti is. In spite of the fact that Sankara is
accorded the highest respect for his commentaries, there is no doubt
that his writings occupy a status lower in authority to that of the

2) Just as Sankara's commentaries are considered the greatest
*extant* authorities on the Prasthana-trayi (there may be earlier
bona fide commentaries now lost), so too are Sankara's disciples
considered the greatest authorities on the interpretation of
Sankara's commentaries.

What does this mean? This means that if we have doubts regarding the
correct interpretation of a Sruti statement, we accept Sankara's
interpretation of it as the correct one. Similarly, if we have doubts
regarding the correct interpretation of Sankara's statements, we
accept Sankara's disciples' interpretation of it as the correct one.
And so on down to the present Acharya. This is the very essence of
what a Sampradaya is!

Therefore, there is no question of "Sampradaya superseding Sankara",
just as there is no question of "Sankara superseding the Sruti" --
because the correct import of Sankara's works itself is possible only
in the context of the Sampradaya.

In other words:

* Sruti is the highest authority.
* Sankara's interpretation of Sruti is the correct interpretation of
the Sruti.
* Sankara's disciples' interpretation of Sankara's writings is the
correct interpretation of Sankara's writings.

And so on, down to the present Acharya.

As Sankara says in his Gita Bhashya:
"asampradAyavit sarva-SAstravid api mUrkhavad upekShaNIyaH"

3) Considering the individual's viewpoint, Sankara is certainly not
the greatest authority for any individual -- it is the individual's
personal Guru, *** himself part of the Sampradaya ***, who is
considered the greatest authority for that particular individual.

Hope that clarifies.

But what amazes me in the case of SSS is that SSS's personal Guru --
Sri Virupaksha Sastri -- refused to endorse SSS's work! This is
noteworthy, because such an instance of the Guru not endorsing the
disciple's work is unknown in the unbroken Sringeri tradition.


"This Sanksrit text was written in 1930 by Yellambalase Subramanya
Sharma, who was none other than Sri Sri Swami Satchidanandendra
Saraswati before his initiation into Sannyasa.  It was the product of
his years of concerted study into the true import of Shankara's
bhashya's, under the support and guidance of Krishnaswamy Iyer.  In
fact, its publication was delayed, as his own Guru refused to endorse
the work charging it to be "against the genuine sampradaya


"When SSS wrote his book "Mulavidya nirasa" in 1929, his Guru Sri
Virupaksa Shastri said that "The style of the writing of the treatise
is good, but the exposition of the subject matter is against the


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