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

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 13 20:00:15 CDT 2007

My reply to this posting will not contain anything concerning
SSS-and-the-Sampradaya, but only some clarifications to Bhaskar's

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

> praNAms Sri Karthik prabhuji
> Hare Krishna
> Karthik prabhuji :
> "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.
> bhaskar :
> Are you sure you are saying this!!! do you mean to say *in the
> advaita
> vEdAnta tradition* shankara IS NOT the authority No.1??!!  quite
> surprising
> indeed.

The fact that you find this surprising says a lot about the kind of
propaganda you've been subject to.

> Karthik prabhuji:
> Myth:
> "Sankara is the greatest authority in the Advaita Vedanta
> tradition."
> bhaskar :
> my stand is that *within* advaita vedanta tradition shankara
> bhagavadpAda
> is the greatest authority & his bhAshya is *shruti samAna*

Not so.

There is a definite hierarchy of the texts within the Advaita Vedanta

1) Sruti
2) Smriti
3) Bhashyas on the above by various Acharyas **of the Sampradaya**.

There is no doubt that Sankara's commentaries occupy a lower status
compared to Sruti and Smriti.

I will now delete most of your ill-informed facts about authority in
the Advaita Vedanta tradition. You have asked/raised only one
legitimate question/objection in your posting which I will cover.


> Karthik :
> 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
> Prasthana-trayi.


> Karthik prabhuji:
> 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!


> Karthik prabhuji :
> 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.
> Karthik prabhuji:
> In other words:
> * Sruti is the highest authority.
> * Sankara's interpretation of Sruti is the correct interpretation
> of
> the Sruti.


> Karthik prabhuji:
> * Sankara's disciples' interpretation of Sankara's writings is the
> correct interpretation of Sankara's writings.
> bhaskar :
> how about if a desciple himself says he is going *against* his
> AchArya's
> teachings?? what would be the treatment that he is going to receive
> within
> saMpradAya??

Good question.

What happens if a disciple of Sankara argues against the Sankara

The answer:

* IF AND ONLY IF there is a contradiction between the views of
Bhashyakaras, belonging to the Sampradaya, on a specific issue
***that cannot be resolved by any amount of interpretation***, that
Bhashyakara's view will be accepted as valid **on this specific
issue**, which tallies with reasoning based on the higher authorities
-- Sruti and Smriti.

Note the phrase "IF AND ONLY IF" -- there will be no "independent
analysis" done in the case that two Bhashyas are not obviously
contradicting each other, or that their doctrines can be interpreted
to be in harmony with one another by a certain amount of

Some examples:

1) Sankara says in his Brihadaranyaka Bhashya that only Brahmins are
eligible for Sannyasa.
Sureshvara contradicts Sankara and says that all Dvijas are eligible
for Sannyasa, and quotes a Smriti to prove his point.
In the above case, Sureshvara's views are accepted as valid, since it
has support in the Smriti.

2) The Jivanmuktiviveka considers two kinds of students of Vedanta:
the Kritopasti and the a-Kritopasti, and says that the former's Jnana
is the same as mukti, while the latter's is not (i.e. further effort
is required in this particular case to attain mukti).
Now, it is futile to quote a thousand Sruti statements proclaiming
that Jnana=mukti and claim that this contradicts the
Jivanmuktiviveka, because these Sruti statements can easily be
interpreted as the Jnana of the Kritopasti. Therefore, in order to
truly disprove the doctrine of the Jivanmuktiviveka, there must exist
a reference from the Sruti or the Smriti to the effect that even in
the case of the a-Kritopasti, the Jnana dawned is the same as mukti.
Since no such reference is available, the Jivanmuktiviveka's doctrine
stands unrefuted.

Hope that clarifies,

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