Questions on History of Advaita

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Thu Aug 8 02:38:59 CDT 1996

On Wed, 7 Aug 1996, Giri wrote:

> On Wed, 7 Aug 1996, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:
> > had been consulted. But unfortunately the kaarikaa has not received much
> > attention, till this century. Most of the attention was given to the brahma
> > suutra.
>         I am quite surprised since it is said in the muktika upanishhad
> that reading (and practising) mandukya upanishhad alone is enough if the
> aspirant is unable to master the 108 upanishhad-s. Naturally, I thought
> people would have paid special attention to this upanishhad.

The advaitins always have. The other schools have a tough time explaining
it. Even so, it is a question of definition, isn't it? If you define the
upanishad to consist of the prose sentences only, all the verses of the
karikas are not "unauthored." But if you define the upanishad to consist
of the prose sentences + the first n karikas, you have the dvaitin

Personally, I think the dvaitin stand is highly mistaken. The first book
of the karikas has 29 verses in it. Only 27 of these 29 are said to be
unauthored Sruti, by the dvaitins. Sure enough, the 28th verse leads up
to non-duality, and the 29th verse explicitly talks of the "cessation of
all duality." In the first 27 verses, various theories of creation are
considered, most of which based on some dualistic viewpoint. If we look
at the four books of the karikas as a consistent whole, it is clear that
these theories are considered as other views, each of which has some
problem or the other with it. Technically, this statement of another's
views is called pUrvapaksha, in Indian philosophical writing. The
dvaitins take all these creation theories that are described in the first
book as endorsing dvaita. According to me, this is a highly mistaken
approach. However, a comprehensive comparative analysis of both dvaitin and
advaitin positions on the text needs to be done. This is one deficiency
of the modern literature on the Gaudapadiya Karikas. Except for B. N.
Krishnamurthy Sarma, nobody seems to have analyzed Madhva's commentary to
the Mandukya upanishad. And Sarma just present Madhva's interpretation as
the right one, without comparing it with the advaita position critically.

S. Vidyasankar

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