Various vAda-s in advaita (was Re: A few questions)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Fri Jan 31 10:54:24 CST 1997

Anand wrote:

>  I have only an introductory understanding of Kashmir Shaivism, so
>  my comments below are to be understood with that in mind.

My knowledge of Kashmir Shaivism is rudimentary too, so the same caveat
applies :-).

>  A reading of the maanasollaasa shows that the author accepts that
>  kriyaa (activity) is in Brahman. From what little I know of Kashmir
>  Shaivism, kriyaa is said to be in Shiva (Brahman). But this is not
>  the position of advaita according to which Brahman is nishhkriya,
>  actionless. In fact, Shankara goes to great lengths to deny _any_
>  semblance of activity in Brahman in his major works. So on this point
>  alone, one could argue that the author of maanasollaasa was not
>  Sureshvara or if he was, he probably wrote it under the influence of
>  Kashmir Shaivism.

I am not sure which verse you are talking about. One thing of course is that I
have skipped all sections which talk about the chakras, siddhis etc. Of course
I may have misunderstood the mAnasollAsa verses also. In one place the author
talks about the "variety" in this world exists in brahman like the tree, fruit
etc in the one seed. I don't think this contradicts sha.nkara in any way,
though I haven't seen him use this particular analogy. Perhaps it is in this
sense the author is talking about "work" also.

Further, it says
    nira.nsho nirvikAro.asau shrutyA yuktyA cha gamyate ||
    ghaTAkAsho vikAro vA nA.nsho vA viyato vA | (3.20-3.21)

(By shruti and reason we are given to understand he is partless and changeless
just as the AkAsha in the jar is neither a part nor a modification of the
infinite AkAsha)

Given that He is partless and changeless, I am not sure what "activity is in
brahman" means. May be after I see the verses you are talking about I may get
some idea. Of course, this exact AkAsha-jar analogy occurs in the kArikA also.

>  Again, this point of Brahman being nishhkriya in advaita vis a vis
>  Brahman being with activity in Kashmir Shaivism distinguishes the
>  maanasollaasa from GauDapaada kaarikas, where we do not find activity
>  attributed to Brahman.

Some comments on the authenticity of the mAnasollAsa and the daxiNAmUrti hymn:

It is quite clear that there is influence of the shivAgama-s in this work. Eg,
the author talks about the 36 tattvas enumerated by the Agama-s. Prof. Karl
Protter (Vol II of his Encylopaedia) concludes, some what rashly IMO, that
because of accepting the 36 tattva-s, the author must have been a Kashmir
shaivite and the author of the hymn was probably abhinavagupta and the vArtika
was written by one of his disciples. Now of course, there is no tradition in
the Kashmir Shaivite school that one of their teachers composed this hymn.
OTOH, the Sringeri traditions right in vidyAraNya's times attribute the hymn
and the vArtika to their school. Further, the hymn is considered so important
that it is recited at the end of the prastAnatrayI recital everyday. The 36
tattva-s are also enumerated in the other standard shivAgama-s and there is no
reason why the author could not have adopted it from them. The earliest shaiva
Agama-s are known to be earlier that 2nd century AD.  Traditions even during
vidyAraNya's time said that sha.nkara made a study of the sUta sa.nhita before
writing his bhAshhya-s, which talks about various shaiva Agama-s. Curiously
enough the sUta sa.nhitA says the Agama-s are inferior to vedAnta! The sUta
sa.nhitA is dated around 6th century AD. Also AFAIK the worship of shiva as
daxiNAmUrti is not common in the Kashmir school (some one correct me if I'm
wrong) whereas in the advaita circles this is very popular.

There are also some curious analogies and statements peculiar to both the
naishkarmya siddhi and the vArtika. One of them is that the author apologizes in
both for repeating what he has said previously, but states it is necessary and
good for the sAdhaka-s. The analogy of the monk without a stick observing the
burden of the monk with a stick is used in both books. I have not found this
singularly curious analogy elsewhere.

Also, the third stanza of the hymn explicitly mentions "tattvamasi" as being
taught by the Lord in silence. sha.nkara is very fond of tattvamasi and has a
whole chapter on it in the upadeshasAhasrI. The author of the mAnasollAsa also
goes into detail examining the mahAvAkya. The Kashmir school, in general,
finds no use for mahAvAkya-s or even upanishhad-s for that matter. Their main
text is the shiva sUtras, which they claim was revealed to one of their
teachers. The author of the vArtika however quotes profusely from
upanishhad-s. It would be highly dubious to speculate a Kashmir Shaivite author
who quotes upanishhad-s but not the shiva sUtra-s in his work.

Moreover, AFAIK, the Kashmir school holds that the world is real. I don't know
what arguments they give for this. But, clearly mAnasollAsa contradicts this
even in the very first chapter. Further, avidyA being indeterminate (real or
unreal) is not accepted by the Kashmir Shaivite school, whereas I remember the
mAnasollAsa upholding this. I'll write more on this after I read up a bit about
Kashmir Shaivism.

One of my current projects is on the authorship of the vArtika. The evidence I
have seen does not point to any Kashmir shaivite author, but only to some one
in the Sringeri tradition, with no doubt the influence of the shaiva Agama-s,
and perhaps Kashmir shaivism also. It very possibly isn't sureshvarAchArya,
but one of the latter AchArya-s, possibly jnAnottama, who is called jnAnottama
shivAchArya in the Sringeri tradition (or one of his disciples). I am only
hazarding a guess here. My research in this is not complete and the above is a
sketch some of my findings till now. I will post an article on this (definitely
not in the near) future :-).


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