|| shrIviTThalaM namAmi ||


  The advaita-siddhi is regarded as one of the most important  polemical works of advaita. It is MadhusUdana sarasvatI's  brilliant and successful defense of advaita  in response to  the objections of the MAdhvas, the dualists. Shankara states that his   doctrine of brahmajnAna (brahmajnAnamapi vastutantrameva - brahma-sUtra-  bhAshhya 1.1.2) is a "vastu-tantra", a doctrine based on facts, as  opposed to a "purushha-tantra", a doctrine based on the knowledge of an individual. One can raise objections against individual opinions  but facts cannot be objected to; they can possibly be misunderstood.

  One can possibly express ignorance of  facts but not argue against  them. So one may ask: how is it possible for the mAdhvas to raise  objections against advaita that is based on facts? It is not  possible. What the MAdhvas, the dvaitins, have done is to express  misunderstandings, not objections.


  It is, therefore, proper to answer the so-called objections of the  mAdhvas by clearing their misunderstandings of advaita. But it must  also be mentioned that, in some cases at least, it appears that  the  misunderstandings are not genuine misunderstandings but  misunderstandings introduced on purpose to A) misrepresent advaita  first and then,  B) to try to refute the resulting misrepresentation.  Nevertheless, advaitins should remove all misunderstandings, whether  they be genuine or otherwise, and no advaitin has done this better  than MadhusUdana SarasvatI, the great logician from Bengal.


  I endeavor here to present some glimpses of the advaita-siddhi's   great treasures, treasures that are to be cherished for all time.  In a forum like this one, it is hard, if not impossible, to do  justice to such a monumental work as the advaita-siddhi. So I  will endeavor to present only a few discussions with translation,  consulting the explanations of Balabhadra BhaTTAchArya in his  advaita-siddhi-vyAkhyA, of BrahmAnanda in his GauDa-brahmAnandI  (laghuchandrikA) commentary on the advaita-siddhi, and of ViTThala  upAdhyAya in his commentary on the laghu-chandrikA. All these works, namely the advaita-siddhi, siddhi-vyAkhyA, GauDa-brahmAnandI,  and also the viTThaleshopAdhyAyI commentary on the GauDa-brahmA-  nandI, all in the original Sanskrit, have been edited by Pandit  Anantakrishna Sastri and published by Parimal Publications, Delhi,  in 1988.


  A few words about the authors. MadhusUdana sarasvatI is a towering giant  among advaitins. An oft quoted verse regarding him is:


   madhusUdanasarasvatyAH pAraM vetti sarasvatI |

   pAraM vetti sarasvatyAH madhusUdanasarasvatI ||


   (Only) the Goddess of Learning, sarasvatI knows the limits of   (knowledge of) MadhusUdana sarasvatI. And MadhusUdana sarasvatI   knows the limits of (knowledge of) Goddess sarasvatI!


  He is said to have had three illustrious gurus. He learned mImAMsA  from mAdhava sarasvatI, vedAnta from rAmatIrtha, and took sannyAsa dIxA  from vishveshvara sarasvatI. Apart from the advaita-siddhi which is MadhusUdana's "crest-jewel", he is said to have written numerous  other works, including a lucid commentary on the gItA called  gUDhArtha-dIpikA, and a work called "advaita-ratna-laxana", a refutation  of the work "bheda-ratna" by the logician shankara mishra.


  MadhusUdana demonstrates his ability as a master logician in the advaita-  siddhi, which he wrote as a response to the nyAyAmR^ita of the mAdhva  exponent, vyAsatIrtha. MadhusUdana was so accomplished in navya-nyAya  (logic) techniques that the following verse is quoted about him when he  visited navadvIpa, the center for learning in nyAya-shAstra.


  navadvIpe samAyAte madhusUdanavAkpatau |  chakampe tarkavAgIshaH kAtaro .abhUd.h gadAdharaH ||


  When MadhusUdana, the master of speech, came to navadvIpa, MathurAnAtha  tarkavAgIsha (who was the foremost navya naiyAyika during those times)  trembled (with fear) and GadAdhara (another logician of great repute)  became afraid.


  Balabhadra BhaTTAchArya, the author of siddhi-vyAkhyA, is said to have a  been a favorite student of MadhusUdana. BrahmAnanda, the author of  gauDabrahmAnandI (laghu-chandrikA), wrote the work as a response to  the nyAyAmR^ita-taraN^giNI of the dvaitin (dualist) rAmAchArya.  BrahmAnanda was the student of nArAyaNa tIrtha, a student of MadhusUdana.


  Finally, ViTThalesha upAdhyAya, a brAhmaNa of the Konkan region, has  also placed the followers of advaita under his debt for writing a lucid  commentary on the gaUDa-brahmAnandI.