[Advaita-l] Pancikarana vs. Trivrtkarana (was Re: Dr Mani Dravid)

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Wed Apr 1 13:49:17 CDT 2009

Dear Sri Devanathan,

>The main points pertaining to the issue of Trivrtkarana vs Pancikarana
>found in Sankara's Brahma Sutra bhasya and the Chandogya bhasya in my
>reading do not stand in conflict with each other.

That is precisely my point too. However, you and I take home different
messages from the "non-conflict" in the two texts. I am not committed
to seeing trivRtkaraNa and pancIkaraNa in opposition to each other,
so I see the "no conflict" as implying other things than what you infer.

>Further augmenting the issues on
>authorship over the topic under discussion is a desperate mismatch. 

Please refer to my earlier cited paper for the full discussion, when it
reaches you in the mail soon, and do not prejudge the mismatch or
the desperation of it! All I am saying is, for me, a priori,
is authentic and chAndogya bhAshya is equally authentic. If you want
to talk about trivRtkaraNa and pancIkaraNa, you should not ignore the
latter text and what the bhAshyakAra says there. This applies to the
sAmpradAyika authors. Coming to modern academic scholars, if you
want to further discuss what text is authentic and what is not, you
again have to take the chAndogya bhAshya into account, instead
of basing all your arguments on sUtrabhAshya alone. This applies
to Ingalls, Nakamura, Hacker, Mayeda, Mahadevan etc.

>You are not wrong in saying that Sankara is not against
>'Pancikarana process' but Sankara delineates at length only
>throughout his prasthana traya bhasya-s while he makes a mere passing
>reference to Pancikarana to say, 'Pancikarane'pi samanonyaya' - as a
>off-shoot. You cannot attribute something to an author just for the
>that he has not spoken anything against it; for am afraid it poses
>hermeneutical problems. 

There would be serious hermeneutical problems if an author is
completely silent about an issue and a later interpreter reads
something into that silence. However, Sankara bhagavatpAda is
NOT completely silent about pancIkaraNa. And whatever little he
says is not against it. His passing reference to pancIkaraNa could
have been to the effect - "yat tu pancAnAM bhUtAnAm melanaM
pancIkaraNa-nyAyena uktaM, tad asat. iha tu trivRtkaraNam eva
Srutam." If he had said that, then yes, we can make a big deal
out of it from a hermeneutical standpoint.

On the other hand, that he says one should apply a samAna-nyAya
to pancIkaraNa means something quite different. In fact, what I see
as a serious hermeneutical problem is the way this sentence gets
devalued as a "mere passing reference". In my book, that is the
absolutely wrong way to understand our bhAshyakAra.

Coming to other side issues related to this, amalAnanda is the first
person to see a conflict between the sampradAya acceptance of
pancIkaraNa and the Sruti description of trivRtkaraNa. It is not
vAcaspati miSra who makes that distinction. With all due respect
to brahmAnanda sarasvatI and vAsudeva SAstrI abhyankar, they
are wrongly attributing to vAcaspati an opinion that is expressed
only in the kalpataru, not in the bhAmatI itself. madhusUdana
sarasvatI himself does not indicate vAcaspati by name, does he?
But he makes a very clear case about the trivRtkaraNam eva
camp. As you can see, an opinion held in the "bhAmatI school"
may derive not from bhAmatI itself but from later authors in that
school. Similarly with the "vivaraNa school" - what is attributed
to it may not be original to either the pancapAdikA or its vivaraNa,
but may derive only from later authors in that tradition.

Finally, there is no "pancIkaraNa-only-not-trivRtkaraNa" camp, as
far as I can see. The vivaraNa authors consider the Sruti description
of trivRtkaraNa as an upalakshaNa of pancIkaraNa. They are true to
the spirit of Sankara bhagavatpAda's "samAna nyAya". There is,
however, a trivRtkaraNa-only-not-pancIkaraNa camp, whom they
differ from. amalAnanda's verse that you quote is no doubt pithy,
but the issue does not end there, because he attributes to vAcaspati
miSra a view that is not found in the bhAmatI, and in the process, I
am afraid, he misinterprets both Sankara and vAcaspati in this regard.
By pointing this out, I am really "rescuing" bhAmatI from an unfair
charge laid against its door for centuries, if you will. I have far too
much respect for vAcaspati miSra's wide-ranging scholarship to do

Unfortunately, at the time I wrote the paper on pancIkaraNa, I had
not read the bhAmatI carefully enough to see this subtle distinction,
so the published paper places vAcaspati miSra squarely in the
trivRtkaraNa-only-not-pancIkaraNa camp. Obviously, I have revised
my thoughts on the bhAmatI on this issue since then and I have
learnt to investigate primary texts more thoroughly before coming
to strong conclusions on contested issues.

With nArAyaNa smRti and guru vandanam,

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