[Advaita-l] Two Sankara-bhashyas on Kena Upanishad

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 9 18:28:36 CDT 2009

I feel that as the Padabhashyas were written on all the major upanishads including the Kena, Adi Sankaracharya must have written the Vakyabhashya later. There seems to be not an iota of  doubt that he wrote both the bhashyas. After writing the sixteen bhashyas in all he must have given a lot of talks on them at different occasions to different disciples. It is a pity that the reason as to why he singled out Kena for writing two bhashyas on it seems to have been ignored throughout the centuries. Probably the immediate successors of Adi Sankaracharya knew about it but were mum on that due to some peculiar reason. After all these centuries the only option that we have today is probably to have  a careful scholastic approach to compare the two bhashyas and to discover what additional features were highlighted in the Vakyabhashya, even if that was done in  a subtle way.
Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Tue, 6/9/09, Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com> wrote:

From: Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com>
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Two Sankara-bhashyas on Kena Upanishad
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 11:50 AM

>Whether he wrote the Vakyabhashya to challenge the views of
>Brahmanadin or wrote it without referring to the Vakyabhashya of
>Brahmanandin there must have been some justifiable reason for Adi
>Sankarcharya, such as the need to convey some additional messages
>through another Vakyabhashya on top of what he conveyed through
>his Pada bhashya on Kena. Secondly it can also be that much after
>penning the Padabhashya Adi Sankaracharya realized some additional
>features of Kena, which made him feel the necessity of writng a
>Vakyabhashya on that. 

For whatever it is worth -

Sengaku Mayeda examined both the padabhAshya and the vAkyabhAshya
on the kenopanishat and came to the conclusion that both are genuine, as
per the criteria for textual authenticity advanced by Paul Hacker and

We can only speculate as to why there are two separate commentaries
There is no clear way to conclude whether padabhAshya was written first
vAkyabhAshya was written first. My own favorite approach is to assume
there were probably multiple methods of textual composition. The
in its introductory chapter, describes itself as a deliberate act of
to clear away confusing and mutually contradictory interpretations that
accumulated over time. However, it is quite possible that Sankara
did not always sit down with stylus and birch leaf to write down a
Different lectures and discussions at different points of time may have
come to
be collected by one or more disciples. Something as simple as that could
account for the existence of two bhAshya-s on the kenopanishat. 


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