[Advaita-l] [advaitin] Works of Sri Vidyashankara

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Sat Dec 31 12:06:25 CST 2016

One thing we can use to determine objectively if Shankara bhagavatpAda
wrote the gIta bhAshya, or if it was a later advaitin in his tradition, is
to see if there is any evidence from other commentators that are
chronologically proximate to him.

It is widely accepted that BhAskara, a bhedAbhedavadin, who is said to have
lived around c. 800 AD ("BhAskara the VedAntin", Daniel Ingalls), is a
close contemporary of Shankaracharya. BhAskara quotes Shankara's brahma
sUtra bhAshya quite extensively in his own bhAshya to this prasthAna.
BhAskara, in turn, is quoted by VAcaspati Mishra in BhAmati. Therefore, he
must have lived between Shankara's and VAcaspati's lifetimes.

Now turning to the question if there are any references to Shankara's gIta
bhAshya in any of BhAskara's works. Unfortunately, not too many surviving
works of BhAskara are available to us. Thankfully, there are some fragments
available from his gIta bhAshya (9 chapters of his gIta bhAshya are
published by the Benares Sanskrit University, edited by Dr.
Subhadropadhyaya, 1964).

In the few fragments of the BhAskara gIta bhAshya available today, there is
one interesting comment he makes when commenting on sloka 2.21:
वेदाविनाशिनं नित्यं य एनमजमव्ययम् ।
कथं स पुरुषः पार्थ कं घातयति हन्ति कम् ॥ २१ ॥

These are Shankara's words in his commentary to the bhAshya: हेत्वर्थस्य च
अविक्रियत्वस्य तुल्यत्वात् *विदुषः सर्वकर्मप्रतिषेध एव प्रकारणार्थः
अभिप्रेतो भगवता* ।

Turning to BhAskara, he quotes Shankara in the bhAshya to the same verse:
अत्र क्लेशभीरव: केचित् स्वमतं भगवत्यारोप्य वर्णयन्ति *विदुष:
सर्वकर्मप्रतिषेध एव प्रकरणार्थोSभिप्रेतो भगवता* इति.

In commenting on this verse, BhAskara criticises Shankara's bhAshya by
saying that Shankaracharya is simply attributing his own views onto Lord
Krishna when he says "in this context, Krishna's view is that for the wise
person total renunciation of karma is prescribed".

Its quite clear here that BhAskara is quoting Shankara's gIta bhAshya
verbatim. Given that BhAskara also quotes Shankara in his Brahma sUtra
bhAshya, we can conclude that the Shankara that wrote the gIta bhAshya must
have lived at the same time as the Shankara that wrote the brahma sUtra
bhAshya. A reasonable simplification to make is that it is indeed the same

(The above references to BhAskara's bhAshya and his quotation of Shankara's
bhAshya are from T.K. Gopalaswamy Aiyengar's paper titled "BhAskara on the
Gita" presented at the GIta SamIkshA conference held in Tirupati on March
1970. The proceedings of the conference have been published by Sri
Venkateswara University, Tirupati. It is available in electronic form at


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