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

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 5 11:39:36 CST 2017

Dear Subbuji,

Yes, in the beginning  it appeared like that to me also and that is why I wondered if Sri Vidyashankara, considered by many to be an avatara of Adi Shankara, could have been the author of the Bhagavadgitabhashya. Thanks to a member of the group, who let us know about the paper of Aiyengar, On going through that I realized that it was not Sri Vidyashankara, but Sri Abhinava Shankara (also considered an avatara of Adi Shankaracharya), was the person, who composed the Bhagavadgitabhashya. I understand some advaitins consider Sri Abhinava Shankara to be no lesser scholar that Adi Shankara.

Sunil KB

On Thu, 1/5/17, V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com [advaitin] <advaitin at yahoogroups.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] [advaitin] Works of Sri Vidyashankara
 To: "Venkatraghavan S" <agnimile at gmail.com>, "A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>, "Advaitin" <advaitin at yahoogroups.com>
 Date: Thursday, January 5, 2017, 9:09 AM
       The concluding observations of
 Prof. Karmarkar clearly show that he was convinced that the
 Advaita Gita commentary had come later than that of
 Ramanuja. But we have seen that is not true since there is
 incontrovertible evidence in Ramanuja's commentary to BG
 2.12 criticizing the Advaitin's view of that very verse.
 This is enough to show that the Prof's conclusions are
 not worthy of serious consideration.
 On Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at
 12:31 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
 It is to be further pointed out that
 the following instances of Shankara using the first person
 singular are also to be noted:
 Mandukya upanishad bhashya
 commencement invocatory verse:
 परममृतमजं ब्रह्म
 यत्तन्नतोऽस्मि ॥ १
 Mandukya upanishad
 bhashya conclusion benedictory verse:
 यत्तन्नतोऽस्मि ॥ १
 पादपातैर्नतोऽस्मि ॥ २
 त्रासने मे । 
 पावनीयौ भवभयविनुदौ
 सर्वभावैर्नमस्ये ॥
 ३ ॥
 the above verses are commented upon by
 also the verses at the beginning of the Taittiriya bhashya
 that Karmarkar thinks are suspect:
 गुरुभिः पूर्वं
 पदवाक्यप्रमाणतः ।
 प्रणतोऽस्म्यहम् ॥ २
 On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at
 11:28 PM, Venkatraghavan S <agnimile at gmail.com>
 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
 On 3 Jan
 2017 5:43 p.m., "V Subrahmanian" <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>
 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
 मे स्वस्त्ययनम् -
 क्षमात्थ । 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
 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 observation. 
 On Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 2:50
 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedan
 ta.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.
 On 3 Jan 2017 2:10 a.m., "Vidyasankar Sundaresan"
 <svidyasankar at gmail.com>
 Dear Sri Venkataraghavan,
 Thank you for the detailed analysis of the points raised by
 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,
 On Jan 3, 2017 5:26 AM, "Venkatraghavan S via
 Advaita-l" <
 advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedant
 a.org> wrote:
 > Dear all,
 > Firstly, here is wishing everyone a very happy new
 > 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
 > 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
 > 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
 > pre-requisite for the gain of advaita jnAna. The
 acknowledgment of Vishnu
 > as Bhagavan occurs in the Brahma sUtra bhAshya
 > 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
 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
 शाखाभि:' " in the KaTha bhAshyam,
 whereas the
 > same term is explained in Gita 15.1 as
 > 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
 > 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
 > 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
 > viewed in parallel with the usage of
 > 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
 > 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
 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
 > 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:
 > 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
 > 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
 > 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
 > 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
 > In light of the above, I believe that the objections of
 > Karmarkar's to Shankara's authorship are not
 very convincing.
 > Regards,
 > Venkatraghavan
 > ______________________________ _________________
 > Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.o
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         Posted by: V Subrahmanian
 <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>        
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