[Advaita-l] ब्रह्मविद्या सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठा - Brahman-knowledge is the culmination of all knowledge

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Sep 16 06:53:41 CDT 2011

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

In the MundakopaniShat occurs this line as part of the frst  mantra:
ब्रह्मविद्यां सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठामथर्वाय ज्येष्ठपुत्राय प्राह (मुण्ड. १.१.१)

[sage angiras gave to atharva the first son the BrahmavidyA which is the
basis/culmination of all vidya-s.]

How do we understand the term 'sarvavidyA pratiShThaa' with reference to
brahmavidyaa?  It would be fruitful to consider the various commentaries in
the Advaita system:

Shankara's words:

तां  सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठां सर्वविद्याभिव्यक्तिहेतुत्वात्
सर्वविद्याश्रयामित्यर्थः ।
[the basis of all knowledge, i.e. the support of all kinds of knowledge,
since it is the source of manifestation of them all.]

सर्वविद्यावेद्यं वा वस्तु अनया एव विज्ञायत इति ।

[or since through it alone is known that which all kinds of knowledge aim

'येनाश्रुतं श्रुतं भवति अमतं मतं अविज्ञातं विज्ञातम्’ इति श्रुतेः ।

[Through which the unheard of becomes heard, the unthought of becomes
thought of, the unknown becomes known' (Ch.up. 6.1.3)]

सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठाम् इति च स्तौति ।

[By the phrase 'the basis of all kinds of knowledge' the knowledge is again
being praised.]

Anandagiri says:

वाक्योत्थबुद्धिवृत्त्यभिव्यक्तं ब्रह्मैव ब्रह्मविद्या । तच्च ब्रह्म
सर्वाभिव्यञ्जकम् । ततः सर्वविद्यानां व्यञ्जकतया आश्रीयते इति
सर्वविद्याश्रया, अथवा सर्वविद्यानां प्रतिष्ठा परिसमाप्तिः भवति
अस्यामुत्पन्नायां ज्ञातव्याभावात्सा सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठा इत्याह -
सर्वविद्यावेद्यं चेति ।

[Brahman that becomes manifest in the mental mode that comes about upon the
strength of the upaniShadic brahman-instructing sentence is known as
brahmavidyaa. Such Brahman is the illuminator/manifestor of all/everything.
Therefore, being the *illuminator/manifestor* of all vidyas, knowables,
BrahmavidyA is the support, source of all vidya-s. OR it, brahmavidyA, is
the support being the *culmination *of all vidya-s.  Why is it so? It is
because when this brahmavidyA is attained/arises there remains nothing to be
known. This is the idea behind Shankaracharya's words: 'since through it
alone is known that which all kinds of knowledge aim at.']

Amalananda in the work 'kalpataru' (on the Bhaamati) says:
सर्वविद्यावेद्यवस्त्वधिष्ठानत्वाच्च ।

[Also because Brahman is the *substratum *of all things that is aimed at
being known through their respective disciplines.]

The Editor Sri Subrahmanya Sastri (sss) (of the book on the eight upanishads
published by Mahesh Research Institute, Varanasi)  says (for the
Mu.shruti/bhashyam) taking the Shankara-quoted Chandogya shruti:

एकविज्ञानेन सर्वविज्ञानप्रतिज्ञा छान्दोग्यषष्ठे सम्यगुपपादिता
शिष्यप्रश्नोत्तरत्वेन । तत्र हि ’'येनाश्रुतं श्रुतं भवति’ इत्यादिना ...’...एकेन
मृत्पिण्डेन सर्वं मृन्मयं विज्ञातं स्यात्’ इत्यादिना उपादानज्ञानेन उपादेयं
सर्वं विज्ञातं भवति । उपादेयं मिथ्या उपादानमेव तु सत्यं तदेव   चोपादेयस्य
तत्त्वम्, ततश्च उपादानज्ञानेन उपादेयं सर्वं *तत्त्वतो* विज्ञातं
भवतीत्युक्तम् ।

The essence of the above is: In the Chandogya up. the method of 'the
knowledge of all accruing through the knowledge of one' is demonstrated. By
the knowledge of one lump of clay everything made of clay is known whereby
by the knowledge of the material cause the effect in its entirety is known
in its *essence. *

From this study we conclude:

   1. The term 'सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठा' means that brahman-consciousness
   (vRtti) is the agent by being the illuminer/manifester of all things
   knowable in the world. Thereby it gets that name: सर्वविद्याप्रतिष्ठा.
   2. All things to be known through each of those disciplines individually,
   become known by this very brahmavidyA.
   3. It is this no.2 stated above that gets clarified by the Anandagiri and
   the words of sss.
   4. We see a consistency across the commentaries in holding that
   'BrahmavidyA is that which brings about the knowledge of all things *in
   their essence*'.  Not one commentator has given even a hint that upon
   realizing Brahman all things, in their details, becomes known automatically.

   5. That is, by the enlightenment taking place, everything in the world
   becomes known in its essence.  Everything becomes known essentially. Also,
   everything, for being known, depends on this light of Brahman. Therefore it,
   brahmavidyA, is termed the 'aashraya' for all knowledge-s.
   6. It would also be useful to remember the KenopaniShat mantra 2.4:
   प्रतिबोधविदितं मतम् अमृतत्वं हि विन्दते. See for a detailed
exposition: http://adbhutam.wordpress.com/2011/05/
   7. Thus, EITHER as the *illuminator/manifestor *of everything knowable in
   the universe OR as the *culmination* OR as the *substratum* of all
   knowledge fields, of all knowing effort, as 'after having known This,
   nothing else remains unknown as something to be known' brahmavidyA is
   8. It is noteworthy that none of the commentaries quoted above seeks to
   even hint at the thinking 'all disciplines in the world like sciences, arts,
   etc. become automatically known when Brahman is realized.'  Nor do we get
   any hint from the above commentaries that 'upon realizing Brahman one
   becomes especially capable of exploring the
   depths/details/nuances/intricacies of all worldly disciplines.
   9. We might also take note of the fact that with respect to great persons
   like Varahamihira or Aryabhatta or Charaka or Shushruta whose names are
   associated with scientific disciplines we do not have any proof in the
   vedantic tradition of their having been BrahmajnAni-s prior to their
   engagement in these sciences.
   10. That shows that there is no need for someone to be a brahmajnani to
   do remarkable/pioneering work in any worldly discipline. Nor is there proof
   to show that with brahmajnana there comes about a special ability for anyone
   to carry out research bringing about breakthroughs in those disciplines.



More information about the Advaita-l mailing list