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

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 15 23:36:47 CDT 2007

  I find it difficult to believe that a student of advaita can question Bhagawan Shankara's authority as a revealer of what Mother Shruti conveys.
  Bhagwan Shankara is shrutismrtipurananamaalayam - a shrine in which is ensconsed the entire words of the entire teachings of the vedas including the shrutis and smrtis.
  Shruti is apaurushya - it does not have a origin much less from a human being. It is a valid independent pramana which asserts a fact - "tat tvam asi" - this fact has to be understood by the jiva. This understanding requires an unfoldment of the teaching - else by itself is incomprehensible. For this unfolding a tradition of teaching has been established by Shankara and this tradition is what is the sampradaya. Anyone who stays true to both the message of the shruti as well as to this teaching tradition is very much in line with the sampradaya - in fact the sampradaya is nothing but a living tradition of a series of mahatmas who continue to bless us with their benevolence,
  I have not been fortunate to have had any exposure to HH Satchidanandendra Saraswati's (rather disrespectfully referred to as "SSS" by many in this forum - shouldn't we have the patience to at least type out a mahatma's name??) teachings, but from what i have heard from his students, He is certainly a follower of Shankara's teachings as well as his methodology and so by no means can be branded a as someone outside the fold of the sampradaya, and that too by people who havent even taken their babysteps in the direction of attaining mumukshutvam. It would be quite a different story if any of the revered Acharyas of either the Sringeri or Kanchi Mathas had so labeled Him or His teachings, but from what can be seen, such as not even remotely been the case.
  Now within this sampradaya authored by Bhagwan Shankara some differences in emphasis, terminology, and methodology may creep up with the passage of time.
  Let us ask ourselves do any of these for a nanosecond deviate from the central tenet of "brahma satyam jagan mithya jivo brahmaiva napara"?? Because ultimately this is what the teaching is about. Differences in husk are better discarded with the husk - what we are interested in is what is going to nourish us, enrich us. All these bhashyas,commentaries,vartikas,tikas - are for what? to help us better understand the truth, to help us accomodate, to help us evolve, broaden our minds. It is indeed sad if what they instead end up doing is throwing us into greater vortices of confusion.
  Some of this i humbly feel may be a result of getting too caught up on individual lines,sentences or even portions of these wonderful works and perhaps in the process losing sight of the overall import of the author, which is of course of paramount importance.
  Coming back to the stature of Shankara's works - these have to the summum bonum of the interpretation of the shruti. They cannot be placed in the same category as the shruti so there is no comparison between the two. One is a pramana - the other a means to understanding its meaning. the shruti does not develop the subject matter - it does not need to- it is a mere statement of fact. It is completely independent of any other means of knowledge. Hence understanding it correctly is of vital importance. In this Bhagwan Vyasa's sutras as well as Bhagwan Shankara's commentaries are indispensable. 
  If one takes the position that 
  "my primary allegiance is to the shruti and..
  I shall sit in judgement of Shankara and others' interpretation of the shruti, according all of them more or less an equal stature, and ..
  I, this great panditah that i am, shall decide which of these interpretations i feels best represents the shruti's import, and..
  I shall reject alternative positions on this issue even it is authored by Bhagwan Shankara Himself" 
  then i am afraid this person is rapidly digging his own spiritual grave.
  We are neither qualified nor worthy to judge the merit of how faithful Bhagwan Shankara is to Ma Shruti. Due to an extremely undeserving bounty of Grace are we even in the good fortune of uttering His name or reading His wondrous works. Let us not fritter away this by questioning his stature as a intepreter of the Shruti's blessed message. It is not in our own good.
  If portions of writings amongst latter-day Acharyas apparently seem to go against the spirit of what Adi Shankara has said, then these need to be understood in the context of what Shankara has affirmed. And if Shankara has decided to not expound greatly on certain concepts, then one can most certainly assured that these concepts are not central or paramount to the understanding of "aham brahmasmi". To say that latter day commentaries improve our understanding of vedanta over and above Shankara's exhaustive and elaborate bhashyas is indeed preposterous. Equally preposterous is to claim that this sampradaya is a self-correcting mechanism - directly implying that there are mistakes in the beginning which subsequently get "corrected" with the passage of time - please think about the implications here!
  As an example let us take "maya" As Swami Vidyaranya warn us : “Maya is an embodiment of marvellousness and doubt; the wise must carefully find out means and make effort to eradicate Maya by systematic enquiry. Further arguments are useless, so do not indulge in them.” In other words if we try to get tangled up in the labyrinth of a logical basis of maya we only fan the fuels our own ignorance. What is sat is One and is ever present – the only strain is to remove our own notional ignorance. Trying then to assign a locus to ignorance is an exercise in futility – “I” am the only locus for ignorance. Ignorance can never begin.
  In the example of the blue sky being an illusion, suffice to say it is a illusion - period. For some ignoramuses to then argue about the blue-ness, which itself is an illusion, and then contend that it is deep-blue or not deep-blue - is an exercies in vain futility and does nothing of consequence to help understand the main subject-matter-at-hand that the blueness of the sky is an illusion. 
  It is only for the benefit of some seekers that the Mahatmas come down to the level of indulging in hairsplitting discussions on some of these topics. Let these not become tangents from which we find ourselves launching away from the main goal.
  Humble Pranams
  Hari OM
  Shri Gurubhyo namah

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian <rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com> wrote: Take the following scenario.Just suppose Vidyasankar, Kartik and I
converged at some place and make the following statements:

Vidyasankar: The blue color of the sky is an illusion.
Kartik: The blue color of the sky is an illusion and the blue is a
deep-blue today
Me: The blue color of the sky is an illusion and I wouldn't categorize
the blue as a deep-blue

Are Kartik and I disagreeing with Vidyasankar, although we are
disagreeing with each other?

The fact that Sankaras commentaries allow for different
interpretations has been note by many, including notably S. S.
Surayanarayana Sastri (vide Collected papers of ...).

While the two schools have produced scholars who have defended their
positions, how both views fit with sidhhaanta has been shown by many
including Citsukha.

"What if" is not a reasonable option, only "What is". Any amount of
"What if" scenarios, can be dreamt up. What if a manuscript is
unearthed in which Sankara says that he was playing a massive joke,
and that he was actually a vaisheShika?

"What is" is clear enough - the views of Sampradaayavits such as
ViruupakSha Saastri and Sri Sannidhaanam on SSSs works.

I like to think of the sampradaaya as a self-correcting mechanism.
Whether two seemingly disconsonant views are against tradition is
known from tradition itself. Not by picking up two books and comparing
them. Giving more weightage to the printed word is a Western notion of
analyzing things.


On 3/14/07, Jaldhar H. Vyas  wrote:
> On Wed, 14 Mar 2007, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:
> > No, No, No! Both the Bhamatikaara and Viavaranakaara themselves say
> > that they AGREE with shankara. It is *misinformed* people who claim
> > that they disagree with sankara.
> >
> > At the risk of repeating myself for the 50th gazillionth time,
> > citsukhaacaarya has shown how they BOTH agree with Sankara, although
> > the expositions are indeed different.
> >
> Given that the bhamati and vivarana disagree with each other obviously
> only one can agree with Shankaracharya.  Now you say Chitsukhacharya
> reconciled bhamati and vivarana  with each other and with Shankara.  Well
> who is to say some recent Chitsukhacharya couldn't also reconcile Swami
> Sacchidanandendra too?
> > The case of Sureshvara is quite different, he explicitly says that
> > what Sankara said about sannyaasa was ***durukta*** and proceeds to
> > give an explanation based on smR^iti.
> >
> Which is further proof that shastra not a personality is the pramana
> doesn't it?
> And tell me if a person can go as far as to say use a phrase like durukta
> without being disowned by his Guru or drummed out of town by that Gurus
> followers what exactly did SSS do which was so unforgivable?
> > Two quite different situations indeed, and clearly "both sides  are
> > not wrong" as you claim. Only one side is wrong, and I know who it is
> > : -).
> >
> Both sides are wrong but in different ways.  Your side is wrong because it
> is making a tempest in a teapot.
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