[Advaita-l] Traditional Scholarship vs Modern Pseudo-Intellectualism

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 14 14:00:15 CST 2011

> > Vidyasankar ji wrote: Not necessarily so. With the right attitude and the right inputs, B can > come to a state of personal conclusion, but still possess the ability to teach others what
> > they need to know and to let others come to their own conclusions at their own
> > pace. He or she can see perfectly well what the determination is according to
> > one school. In Indian intellectual history, we have had many master scholars
> > who were capable of doing just that. For example, vAcaspati miSra, who wrote
> > with as much authority on nyAya and yoga as on mImAMsA and vedAnta.
> >
> I am not too sure what exactly you meant Vidyasankar ji.
> vAcaspati miSra never said "it's
> >> > impossible to say that one school got it right everywhere, and others
> >> > didn't." His (vAcaspati miSra's) position is surely the traditional position that the conclusions of Vedanta on Advaita etc are true and the rest of the schools are only provisionally true (for some adhikArI-s) to the extent that they fill in the details of various sAdhana-s (yoga) and upAsanA (mImAmsa) and nyAya (yukti-s employed in various contexts).
> It does not seem maintainable to say that "there are places or
> contexts where Vedanta gets it wrong and some other school gets it
> right. " which would be the implication of the first position of "B".

The following are the works of vAcaspati miSra - nyAya-sUcI-nibandha and
nyAya-vArttikA-tAtparya-TIkA on the nyAya darSana, tattvabindu and nyAya-
kaNikA on pUrva mImAMsA, tattvakaumudI on sAmkhyA, tattva-vaiSAradI on
pAtanjala yoga, bhAmatI and tattva samIkshA on the vedAnta. The last title
is a commentary on maNDana miSra's brahmasiddhi, presumed lost for a 
long time, but recently discovered in fragmentary form as a manuscript from
Nepal and critically edited by Divakar Acharya, published from Stuttgart,
Germany (note the geography from which such results come out today, for
the most part!).
Now, in each one of the works above, vAcaspati miSra was capable of
being true to that system on which he wrote. He did not compromise his
commentary on nyAya thought because of his yoga/sAMkhya/mImAMsA/
vedAnta credentials, nor did he compromise his vedAnta expositions by his
nyAya/yoga/sAMkhya/mImAMsA credentials. Of course, there are some
who argue that he does show unnecessary influence of yoga in his vedAnta
commentary, but let us leave that line of argument aside for now. If none
of his works except the tAtparya TIkA had survived, vAcaspati miSra would
have been called only a naiyyAyika, not a vedAntin. It is possible to learn
nyAya from vAcaspati's works without ever getting an indication that the
same scholar was the author of bhAmatI. On the other hand, it is impossible
to dismiss vAcaspati as not having had a determination for his own on what
truth is nor a having had no determination on the diverse systems of thought
that he handled.
That is the kind of scholarship that I am talking about. I hold that not only is
such kind of scholarship possible, but also that it is possible here and now,
not just in the ancient past. Moreover, it is highly desirable today. However,
the prime requirements for such scholarship to flourish is a readiness to
learn and the openness to shed one's preconceptions when approaching a
new subject. This attitude is nowadays possible only within academia, but
unfortunately, it seems to happen largely in Europe, USA and Japan, not in
India. We either have the blanket "right-wing" dismissal of all such scholarship
that we have seen on this list recently, or we have the "left-wing" dismissal of
all such scholarship, which controls the fate of academia in India today.
Finally, advaita vedAnta as a system of thought has no monopoly on the 
dictum, "paramatam apratishiddham anumataM bhavati". The freedom to 
incorporate aspects of other systems of thought into one's own should be
allowed to all serious thinkers, by default.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list