[Advaita-l] The great depth of meaning of a sentence of Shankara's Brahma sutra bhashya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Jan 11 07:03:50 EST 2019

In the bhashya to the 4th sutra (tat tu samanvayaat), Shankara is
concluding a discussion by saying 'The Atman of the Vedanta is not known to
all those outside the Vedanta'.
न ह्यहंप्रत्ययविषयकर्तृव्यतिरेकेण तत्साक्षी सर्वभूतस्थः सम एकः कूटस्थनित्यः
पुरुषो विधिकाण्डे तर्कसमये वा केनचिदधिगतः सर्वस्यात्मा ।

The Ratnaprabha comments in a encapsulated way:  तत्तन्मते
आत्मानधिगतिद्योतकानि विशेषणानि ।   [The epithets given in the Bhashya (for
the Vedantic Atman) are indicative of the unfamiliarity of the different
non-Vedantic schools of the Vedantic Atman]

Expounding on the above comment of the Ratnaprabha, the Purnanandi gloss
names each of the schools that are indicated by each of the epithets in the
Bhashya. The image of the gloss is posted elsewhere. Only when the original
gloss is read one can truly appreciate the import and impact of the Bhashya:


Shankara lists a few visheshanas, attributes, to the Vedantic Atman:
1.अहंप्रत्ययविषयकर्तृव्यतिरेकः (the one that is the ego endowed with
doership, purva mamsaa)
2.तत्साक्षी the witness of the ego, etc., (uninformed lay people take the
ego, etc. alone as the Atman and not the witness thereof)
3. सर्वभूतस्थः enshrined in all beings (Buddhist who denies the Atman)
4. समः Equally existing in all beings (Jains who admit the Atman of
middling varying size, to fit each body like ant, elephant, etc.)
5. एकः One without a second (Tarkika-s who admit of many selves)
6. कूटस्थः Immutable (The pariNAmavAdin does not admit an unchanging self
but something subject to transformations)
7. नित्यः eternal (the Kshanikavijnanavadin bauddha admits of a momentary
consciousness as the self)
7. पुरुषः (पूर्ण) Complete, Full (Those who admit of the Self as limited do
not hold it to be all-pervading.

Each of the above epithets represents the opposite of the nature of Atman
as admitted by schools opposed to Vedanta. The schools/persons are
indicated in brackets above.

warm regards

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