[Advaita-l] Pancikarana vs. Trvrtkarana (Analysis)

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Mon Jul 20 17:43:53 CDT 2009

Dear Sri Devanathan,

I can only marvel at how thoroughly you have misunderstood the main
thrust of my paper on pancIkaraNa, as also very specific statements in
my discussion. I don't even know where to begin to respond to your post,
but I will try. I hope you are not being contrary just for the sake of
being contrary! If so, I see no point in prolonging this discussion in
sporadic fits and starts.

Firstly, the primary intent of my discussion of pancIkaraNa has been to
re-evaluate the academic "consensus" about the authenticity of texts
that are attributed to Sankara bhagavatpAda. It is not my goal to argue
about trivRtkaraNa vs. pancIkaraNa as cosmological processes, nor to
find fault with either the bhAmatI sub-school authors or the vivaraNa
sub-school authors.

Secondly, my aim is not to investigate the textual history between the
time of vAcaspati miSra and amalAnanda through anubhUtisvarUpAcArya. You
may perhaps be interested in such an exercise, to which you are welcome,
but please do not, in that process, attempt to read anything one way or
the other into my discussion. I have simply not touched upon it and my
paper would have nothing to add to or detract from a historical textual
analysis of the development of ideas.

You are putting the cart before the horse, if you think that I am
evaluating the authenticity of brahmasUtra bhAshya and chAndogya bhAshya
based upon mention or otherwise of pancIkaraNa. I try to minimize usage
of words of learned length and thund'ring sound, but my sentences do
tend to be long. That is the only charitable explanation that I can
think of, for why my paper has been misunderstood so completely by you.
So, I will try to clarify as clearly as possible and leave the rest with
a suggestion that you re-read my paper carefully.

Modern academic consensus - most prakaraNa grantha-s attributed to
Sankara are not originally from the pen of Sankara bhagavatpAda, but are
mistakenly attributed to him by the tradition. The bhAshya-s on the
primary upanishads, on the other hand, are genuine.

My counter-argument - Not so. In the case of the text called
pancIkaraNa, this prakaraNa grantha shows quite a few signs of being
internally consistent with Sankara bhagavatpAda's works. Acceptance by
modern academic scholars that the upanishad bhAshya-s are authentic is
not based upon extensive critical study of all these bhAshya-s. The same
tradition that has transmitted the bhAshya-s has also transmitted the
prakaraNa grantha-s. The academic rejection of all prakaraNa grantha-s
while accepting the bhAshya-s is often merely a restatement of scholarly
bias, not a conclusion based on complete and rigorous analysis.

Academic objection - the brahmasUtra and its bhAshya do not refer at all
to pancIkaraNa. Therefore, the prakaraNa grantha called pancIkaraNa is

My response - chAndogya bhAshya refers to pancIkaraNa. If the prakaraNa
grantha is suspect because brahmasUtra bhAshya does not talk of
pancIkaraNa, then BY THAT SAME LOGIC, the chAndogya bhAshya should be
suspect too. Conversely, if chAndogya bhAshya is not to be questioned,
then the prakaraNa grantha could also be accepted as genuine. Moreover,
as the chAndogya bhAshya is an authentic text, this only strengthens the
case FOR the authenticity of the prakaraNa grantha called pancIkaraNa.
The academic argument, ("the prakaraNa grantha on pancIkaraNa is not
authentic, because pancIkaraNa is not mentioned in the brahmasUtra
bhAshya") is hollow and internally inconsistent. It applies one set of
standards to the prakaraNa grantha-s and a different set of standards to
the bhAshya-s.

Thus it goes, with one point built upon another. Please note the force
of the phrase "by that same logic" in the above paragraph. I hope you
are following the trend of my discussion so far. In case it is still not
clear, I am raising objections with respect to textual authenticity a la
academic scholarship and then addressing these objections via rigorous
counter-arguments. Some of the objections that I address are
hypothetical ones, which could conceivably be raised by any average
scholar, while others have already been raised in the past, by various
scholars, great and small. In the latter cases, I have given extensive
references about who (e.g. Hacker), what, why and when (e.g. paper/book
title and date of publication), which you may peruse at your leisure.
Almost every single one of my arguments has the same construction as
above - "by that same logic".

It is an argumentation style based on what is called prasanga (I am sure
you are well aware of this term) in Sanskrit, very much similar to a
reductio ad absurdum argument in Western logic. I will not tax the
patience of readers by further explaining every single detail in my

You refer to the words of Sringeri Acharya re: amalAnanda, but seem to
be under a misconception (or are you deliberately insinuating thus?)
that I say something that is unacceptable to Sringeri tradition. Whether
you have merely misunderstood or are deliberately casting aspersions,
please re-read the first footnote in my paper. I am not one for
name-dropping and one-upmanship games, but I had the good fortune to
discuss the draft of this paper with my Acharya, Sri Bharati Tirtha
Mahaswamigal in Sringeri for more than an hour, when it was still under
review with the journal. Unlike you, my Acharya agreed that my
argumentation style and the points that I had made were sound. Moreover,
it was my Acharya who encouraged and advised me to read more of the
primary texts and also drew my attention to the reference in
siddhAntabindu. I got a chance to update my paper accordingly before it
got published. And you know fully well what SrI madhusUdana sarasvatI
has to say in the siddhAntabindu about the "trivRtkaraNam eva" camp, to
which you seem to squarely belong! I would encourage you to discuss the
paper with your teacher(s), but please be fair to me and share a
photocopy of the paper directly, rather than presenting only your
criticisms of it! 

Finally, rather than go on and on to address every single one of your
misconceptions, let me merely state that you have also forgotten what I
said about vAcaspati miSra and amalAnanda in this connection less than
3-4 months ago, on this very list. I specifically mentioned that at the
time I wrote my paper, I had not studied the bhAmatI in much detail, and
that what I attributed to vAcaspati was based on what scholars like S N
Dasgupta and Mayeda had attributed to vAcaspati. I also mentioned that I
discovered only later that vAcaspati himself does not pit trivRtkaraNa
and pancIkaraNa in opposition to each other and that I now think it is
wrong to attribute the "trivRtkaraNam eva" position to vAcaspati miSra.
Please re-read those posts on this list too.

Before I lay this matter to rest, I would ask you to properly understand
the meaning of Anandagiri's statement in nyAyanirNaya. What Anandagiri
is saying is that trivRtkaraNa in chAndogya should be understood with
reference to pancIkaraNa (abhiprAyam drashTavyam), because another Sruti
text (Srutyantare) talks of the creation (sRshTer uktatvAt) of all five
elements (pancAnAM bhUtAnAM). To me, what this means is very clear -
five elements evolve, and all five get intermixed with one another, not
just three. Sankara bhagavatpAda says something very similar in the
chAndogya bhAshya, which is why he tops off the discussion with a
statement that a samAna nyAya applies to pancIkaraNa theory also. It
seems to me that you just don't get the logic behind this, deliberately
or otherwise. The confusion about what to be for and what to be against
is clearly not at my end!

ity alam,

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