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

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Tue Jan 3 11:58:38 CST 2017

Great observation, Subbuji. Another pillar supporting the different author
theory falls.

This is why I find the determination of authorship based on linguistic
styles, fraught with difficulties. It's subjective, immensely hard to
prove, and as has been demonstrated, quite easy to disprove.


On 3 Jan 2017 5:43 p.m., "V Subrahmanian" <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:

In the Karmarkar paper, the author, at the beginning makes an observation
about the first-person usage by Shankara and says (apart from the
Gitabhashua introduction) nowhere is such a usage made.  However, we find
in the Taittiriya bhāṣya Shankara refers to himself in the first person

एतदेव *मे *स्वस्त्ययनम् - *यन्मामे*कयोगिनमनेकयोगिबहुप्रतिपक्षमात्थ । अतो
*जेष्यामि* सर्वान् ; *आरभे* च चिन्ताम् ॥

Translation: This itself is a benediction to me that which you proclaim
that I am a monist confronted with a number of dualists opposed to me.
Hence I shall win all of them and shall commence the discourse.

The highlighted words are all in the singular first person usage, whether
it is a noun or a verb.

This and the Gita instance are the only two of this type, in my


On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 2:50 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste Sri Vidyasankar,
> Thanks for your comments. The reference to devatA mArga in the gIta bhAshya
> does address Prof. Karmarkar's comment.
> The common wording between the adhyAsa and kshetrajna bhAshyas is also
> noteworthy. Thanks for pointing out.
> Another recurring theme that comes to mind is the "whose is avidya"
> discussion that occurs in the gIta (13.2), BrihadAraNyaka (4.1.6) and sUtra
> bhAshyas (4.1.3). Prof Ingalls has written a paper on this very topic.
> Regards,
> Venkatraghavan
> On 3 Jan 2017 2:10 a.m., "Vidyasankar Sundaresan" <svidyasankar at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> Dear Sri Venkataraghavan,
> Thank you for the detailed analysis of the points raised by Karmarkar's
> paper.
> For the last point in your list, please note that the gItAbhAshya 8th
> chapter says, devatA eva mArgabhUtA iti sthito (a)nyatra. Thus, the author
> is here making a reference to another work where the devayAna and pitRyAna
> are discussed. That work has got to be the brahmasUtra bhAshya or one of
> the upanishad bhAshyas.
> And I would also like to draw attention to the wording used in the kshetra
> kshetrajna yoga chapter, which mirrors that of the adhyAsabhAshya -
> yushmadasmad pratyaya, tamaHprakASavad viruddha, etc.
> As such, my considered view is that no careful or impartial scholar can
> ever conclude that the gItAbhAshya could have been written by someone else!
> Best regards,
> Vidyasankar
> On Jan 3, 2017 5:26 AM, "Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l" <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> > Dear all,
> > Firstly, here is wishing everyone a very happy new year.
> >
> > Good news. I have managed to find the ABORI edition where Prof.
> Karmarkar's
> > paper on the authorship of the Gita was published. Here is the link
> > http://www.dli.ernet.in/handle/2015/97593
> >
> > I was initially reluctant from sharing my thoughts on the paper with the
> > group as I am in no way to qualified to question the erudite Professor,
> but
> > I am doing so having consulted with some esteemed list members, who
> thought
> > this may be of interest to a broader group. At the outset, I want to
> > clarify that no disrespect whatsoever is intended to the Professor or his
> > learning.
> >
> > Having read the paper, I am sorry to say that I do not find the
> objections
> > to Shankara's authorship of the gIta bhAshya convincing at all. I have
> > tried to present the summary conclusions of Prof. Karmarkar and my
> replies
> > below.
> >
> > 1) One of Prof. Karmarkar's objections is that in the introductory
> portion
> > of the Gita bhAshya, the whole description of Ishvara as NArAyaNa,
> VishNu,
> > etc., the reference to the six-fold jnAna-aishvarya shakti of Ishvara and
> > vaishNavIm svAm mAyAm,  do not appear quite in line with Shankara as an
> > advaitin. The passage, he says, looks more apt in the mouth of a
> > Vaishnavite or some follower of the Bhakti school proper.
> >
> > This does not seem to take into account the practice of advaita vedAnta
> at
> > all - bhakti is very much accepted within the sphere of advaita practice
> > and is viewed as a means for chitta shuddhi which is a necessary
> > pre-requisite for the gain of advaita jnAna. The acknowledgment of Vishnu
> > as Bhagavan occurs in the Brahma sUtra bhAshya itself.
> >
> > 2) Prof Karmarkar goes on to say that Shankara scarcely refers to
> VedavyAsa
> > as Bhagavan and sarvajna in the Brahma sUtra bhAshya but the author of
> the
> > gIta bhAshya does so. However, he does not provide the number of
> instances
> > where VedavyAsa is referred to as sarvajna BhagavAn in the gIta bhAshya
> vs
> > the sUtra bhAshya to prove his point - now, if the argument was based on
> > the usage of the epithet in the gIta bhAshya and the scarcity of its
> usage
> > in the sUtra bhAshya, then it would be important to justify that argument
> > with statistics. Prof. Karmarkar fails to do so.
> >
> > From my search, the usage of the epithet "Bhagavan" when applied to
> > VedavyAsa appears twice in the gIta bhAshya - once in the introduction
> > section (which is referred to by Prof. Karmarkar) and once in the bhAshya
> > for sloka 2.21 (which is not). In comparison, the number of occasions the
> > sUtrakAra is referred to as BhagavAn / Bhagavata in sUtra bhAshya is
> thrice
> > by my count (once in BS 1.1.1 when Shankara calls the sUtrakAra as
> > "भगवान्सूत्रकारः", once in BS 3.4.8 as "भगवतो बादरायणस्य" and  once in
> > 4.4.21 as "भगवान्बादरायण आचार्यः".) Prof. Karmarkar fails to mention the
> > other two occurrences in the sUtra bhAshya, and says that Shankara
> > uses this epithet in relation to BAdarAyaNa only once - in 4.4.21. Even
> > there he claims that, the use of Bhagavan is probably "an addition by
> some
> > copyist".
> >
> > In fact, as we have seen, Shankara uses this epithet thrice in the sUtra
> > bhAshya. One occurrence can be dismissed as the work of a copyist, but to
> > explain away three instances is difficult. Therefore, Prof. Karmarkar's
> > statement that "To Sankara, Upavarsa alone is Bhagavan proper" is
> unfounded
> > my view. Shankara's reference to vedavyAsa as Bhagavan is not out of
> > character, given what we see in the Brahma sUtra.
> >
> > 3) Prof. Karmarkar further states that the description of Ashvattha does
> > not tally between the gIta and KaTha bhAshyas. He says "the most
> important
> > point, however, is that 'अवाक्शाख:' is explained as
> > 'स्वर्गनरकतिर्यक्प्रेतादिभि: शाखाभि:' " in the KaTha bhAshyam, whereas
> the
> > same term is explained in Gita 15.1 as "अध:शाखं महदहङ्कारतन्मात्रादय:
> शाखा
> > इवास्यधो भवन्तीति". Prof. Karmarkar says "It appears there can be no
> > justification for such variation in the interpretations, if both the
> > Bhasyas were by the same author".
> >
> > However, in the next verse Gita 15.2, while explaining the line
> > "अधश्चोर्ध्वं
> > प्रसृतास्तस्य शाखा" of the sloka, the author of the gIta bhAshya gives
> the
> > meaning as "अधः मनुष्यादिभ्यो यावत् स्थावरम् ऊर्ध्वं च यावत् ब्रह्मणः
> > विश्वसृजो धाम इत्येतदन्तं", which achieves the same meaning as the one
> > given for the kaTha bhAshyam. Therefore, the difference in variations
> > perceived by Prof. Karmarkar is because the explanation of the next gIta
> > verse is not taken into account.
> >
> > 4) The Professor then says that the reference to जलसूर्यक दृष्टान्त in
> gIta
> > bhAshya 15.7 is not relevant and that it is not in keeping with
> Shankara's
> > tendencies, as he "usually uses  सृगजल, रज्जुसर्प and उपाधि दृष्टान्तs".
> > However, there is an important reason why Shankara gives this example in
> > this sloka. This is one of the bhAshya portions where Shankara presents
> > both the AbhAsa vAda and avaccheda vAda as acceptable prakriyas within
> > advaita siddhAnta. Therefore, the usage of जलसूर्यक दृष्टान्त should be
> > viewed in parallel with the usage of घटाद्युपाधिपरिच्छिन्नो घटाद्याकाशः
> > immediately afterwards, as two alternative views of the jIva acceptable
> > within advaita siddhAnta. To complain that Shankara never uses the
> जलसूर्यक
> > दृष्टान्त is failing to appreciate the true reason for the usage.
> >
> > 5) Prof. Karmarkar points to sloka 13.12 's bhAshya that Shankara has
> split
> > the word अनादिमत्परं occurring in the verse as अनादिमत् + परम् as opposed
> > to अनादि + मत्परं which is Ramanuja's preference. Through this, he argues
> > that the author of the shAnkara bhAshya did so in response to Ramanuja's
> > commentary which must have preceded his. Therefore, Adi Shankara cannot
> > have been the author of the gIta bhAshya.
> >
> > However, it is clear that the author of the gIta bhAshya is doing so in
> > response to a commentary that is earlier than his (and not Ramanuja),
> > because in the shAnkara bhAshya, the pUrvapaksha interpretation  is
> > described as अहं वासुदेवाख्या परा शक्तिर्यस्य तन्मत्परमिति. The
> pUrvapakshi
> > is saying by matparam, what Krishna means is "Me, the one endowed with
> the
> > highest power called paravAsudeva shakti". Shankar goes out of his way to
> > name the shakti as वासुदेवाख्या परा शक्ति.
> >
> > Therefore, if the shAnkara gIta bhAshya had followerd RAmAnuja's, we
> > would expect the specific name of the shakti to be present in RAmAnuja's
> > bhAshya too. However, RAmAnuja does not specifically call this vAsudeva
> > shakti, he simply says अहं परो यस्य तत् मत्परं.  Therefore, this
> > specificity must have existed in some other pAncarAtra bhAshya of the
> gIta
> > that Shankara referred to when he wrote the gIta commentary.
> >
> > Further, vedAnta desika, in commenting on RAmAnuja's bhAshya, quotes
> > Shankara's bhAshya in introducing the section where RAmAnuja talks about
> > Brahman being endowed with guNas (बृहत्वगुणयोगि / स्वत: शरीरादिभि:
> > परिच्छेदरहितं), with a view to refute Shankara's point that nirguNa
> Brahman
> > is being referred to in this verse.
> >
> > Another point to be noted is that RAmAnuja translates sat and asat as
> kArya
> > and kAraNa, which is the meaning that Anandagiri gives - which is a
> simpler
> > interpretation of the sloka. Shankara could simply have used this
> meaning,
> > instead he takes a different meaning -  sat as existence and asat as
> > non-existence. Prof. Karmarkar states this must be from RAmAnuja's Brahma
> > sUtra bhAshya. He does acknowledge that it may be some other prior
> bhAshya
> > that Shankara had access to, but states there is no evidence of such a
> > bhAshya.
> >
> > Professor Daniel Ingalls, while remarking that BhAskara's commentary is
> > vociferously, even caustically different from Shankara's on certain
> sUtras,
> > also states that it is remarkably similar on several other sUtras. This
> > leads him to conclude that there must be a vrittikAra, a
> proto-commentator
> > which both of them have based their commentary on. This is in line with
> the
> > traditional view too. In my view, this could be the same source from
> which
> > RAmAnuja bases his brahma sUtra commentary too, explaining the similarity
> > of language between the gIta bhAshya and RAmAnuja's sUtra bhAshya.
> >
> > 6) Prof. Karmarkar also complains that the author of the gIta bhAshya
> > "ignores completely the first adhyAya of the Gita (46 slokas) and 10
> slokas
> > of the second Adhyaya" and that "this goes against Shankara's method of
> > explanation" as  "in the case of the various section of the Upanishads
> > where even small introductory AkhyAyikas are introduced". It is
> > unthinkable, he says that Shankara could have given only a very
> inadequate
> > and short reference to the introductory portion of the Gita.
> >
> > a) Firstly neither Shankara has ignored the stated portion nor has he
> > omitted giving an introduction to the gIta. In fact he has written an
> > upodghAta bhAshya introducing the gIta, after which he separately
> > summarises the verses that he has not commented upon, to present only the
> > message that is relevant to that topic at hand. What is the point in
> > writing page upon page commenting on which Kaurava and Pandava warrior
> blew
> > which conch, etc when that is completely irrelevant to the central
> message
> > of the Gita?
> > b) Secondly, Shankara does have form in ignoring portions of text that
> are
> > not of much relevance. For example, in the vaitathya prakaraNa of the
> > mANDUkya kArika, Shankara ignores kArikas 2.20 to 2.27 in his commentary
> > completely. Therefore, it would be incorrect to assert that Shankara
> > comments on every word of every text for which he writes a bhAshya.
> > c) Thirdly, the Professor remarks that some of the commentary of Shankara
> > in the gIta bhAshya is puerile, and that he is stating the obvious in
> doing
> > so. It appears that whatever the author of the gIta bhAshya does, he is
> > damned in the eyes of the Professor. If Shankara comments on obvious
> > passages where there is little room for commentary, the Professor remarks
> > that the commentary is puerile. If Shankara then ignores descriptions of
> > battle formation, names of warriors and their paraphernalia as
> irrelevant,
> > the Professor says that Shankara is ignoring the text.
> >
> > 7) Finally, there are a few minor nits that the Professor picks on, such
> as
> > Shankara not using the same name for the Gita in many places, or that he
> > does not name the devayAna / pitryAna in Chapter 8's commentary, or that
> he
> > sometimes refers to himself in the singular in the gIta bhAshya but at
> > least in my view, these are not major flaws that would necessitate a
> > conclusion questioning the authorship of the gIta itself.
> >
> > In light of the above, I believe that the objections of Professor
> > Karmarkar's to Shankara's authorship are not very convincing.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Venkatraghavan
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