[Advaita-l] shabdabrahman

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Nov 3 01:57:14 CST 2008

On Sun, 2 Nov 2008, Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> Hello,
> The following quotation is from 'Auspicious Wisdom' by Douglas Renfrew 
> Brooks; page 44:
> "The author of the Prapacasara Tantra is not likely the "original 
> Shankara," for a host of reasons including his acceptance of 
> shabdabrahman, a position which Shankara the Brahmasutrabhashya author 
> rejects."
> Would the members please elucidate the position of Shankara on 
> shabdabrahman based on Brahmasutra. Apart from shabdabrahman what other 
> brahmans (?) are rejeted by Shankara.

>From the very beginning, the heirs of the rshis placed a lot of emphasis 
on the mystical nature of sound.  For example both the Mundakopanishad and 
the Gita speak of Omkara as brahman.  Among the Vaiyyakaranas or 
grammarians, speculation on these lines led to what some term 
Shabdadvaita.  The roots of this are hinted at in Patanjalis' mahabhashya. 
Bhartrahari developed the idea more systematically in vakpadiya and 
Mandana Mishra wrote sphotasiddhi which went further.

The main feature of this darshana was sphotavada, the idea that meaning 
occurs in a "burst" of comprehension upon hearing a sentence rather than 
word-by-word. Shabdabrahman is the most subtle form of sphota.

In later times Kaunda Bhatta (vaiyyakaranabhushanasara) and Nagesh Bhatta 
(vaiyakkaranalaghumanjusha) were proponents of this theory and their works 
are still studied by pandits today.

I'm not sure Shankaracharya criticised shabdabrahman per se. (It does have 
a vedic basis after all.)  Sphotavada itself is out and later Advaitins 
have criticised it but I don't recall reading about it in the 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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