[Advaita-l] Shankara Vijayam - Chandala Episode

Venkateswaran N E venkatne2011 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 3 22:46:06 CST 2016



I have a question related to the chaNDALA episode in Shankara Vijayam and request the list members to clarify.

When AchArya and his shiSyAs ask the chaNDALA to move away, the chaNDALA expounds the vedanta tattva, and finally chides AchArya :


acintyamavyaktamantmAdyaM vismR^itya rUpaM vimalaM vimohAt |

kalevare.asminkarikarNalolAkR^itinyaha.ntA kathamAvirAste || 

vidyAmavApyApi vimuktipadyAM jAgarti tucChA janasa~NgrahecChA |

aho mAnto.api mahendrajAle majjanti mAyAvivarasya tasya ||  

Canto 6.31-32.

Swami Tapasyananda’s translation : 

“Forgetting out of infatuation one’s own true nature as the Spirit - beyond thought and words, unmanifest, beginningless, endless and pure - how have you come to identify yourself with the body which is unsteady like the ears of an elephant ?

If you say that your conduct is meant only for the guidance of the world, even then how can you explain such conduct in the light of the non-dualistic doctrine ?

Wonderful, indeed, is the magic of the great Magician which infatuates the ignorant and the learned alike !!”


Dhanapati Suri’s commentary on the 6.32  is given below for reference :

nanu yadyapyevaM tathA.api lokasa~NgrahecChayedaM mayoktimiti cettatrA.a.aha .

vimuktipadyAM vimuktimArgabhUtAM vidyAM prApyapi tucChA janasa~NgrahecChA kiM jAgarti |

aho atyAshcaryam . mAyAvinAM varasya shreSThasya tasya paramAtmano mahatIndrajAle bhavadAdayou mahAnto.api majjantItyarthaH ||  ## 6.32 ##


My understanding is that the AcArya though being a jIvanmukta, ensured he followed the niyamas of the dharmashastras as an example for others, whereas in the above shlokas the chaNDALA chides AchArya on this very same lokasamgraha approach.

It is also significant that AchArya does not contest or justify his action to the chaNDALA but says -

All that you have said is true.  You are, indeed, one of the noblest of men.. . . . .  “I am the same Pure Consciousness which shies alike in Mahavishnu as also in the flies.  All objective phenomena are false” - he who is ever established in this Consciousness is my Guru worthy of respect, be he an outcaste by birth.

Based on this episode, some say that AchArya had only book knowledge of vedanta and was not self realised (just a shrotriya),  till he met the chaNDALA and only this episode lead him to AtmAnubhava.

What is the traditional view of shAnkrAdvaitins on this ?

Warm Regards

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