Question regarding Gaudapada Karika

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 28 20:17:57 CDT 2000

>(`Gaudapada: A Study in Early Advaita') is also of interest, as also are
>early writings by A. Venkatasubbiah and Y. Subrahmanya Sarma, and the
>books by Vidhushekhara Bhattacharya and R.D. Karmarkar.  A recent book by
>Thomas Wood also should be mentioned.  A more comprehensive bibliography
>in this matter may be had from
>if so desired.

As Shrisha Rao's list of references in the above URL shows, there have been
two different traditions about this issue. The following comments pertain
only to part 3 in that series of posts on the dvaita list -
<>. If need be, Shrisha, you
can forward this to the dvaita list. Readers on the Advaita list may refer
to the above URL for full details.

With reference to Vishnusahasranama Bhashya,

....... omityetadaxaram.h' (mA. u. 1) iti upakramya, praNavo hyaparaM brahma
praNavashcha paraM smR^itaH ........ oN^kAro vidito yena sa munirnetaro
janaH  ||' (A. pra. 26-29) iti | OM tad.h brahma  |  OM tadvAyuH  |  OM
tadAtmA  |  OM tatsatyam.h  |' ityAdibhyaH shrutibhyaH  |

The word shrutibhyaH goes with ityAdibhyaH, which pertains only to the
quotation that follows the previous iti, i.e. to the portion beginning with
OM tad.h brahma. It is at best ambiguous, whether the author of the Bhashya
considers the previously quoted portion to be shruti too.

With reference to Brahmasutra Bhashya 2. 1. 33, Sankaracharya uses the term
"AptakAmashruteH". Bhamati and Kalpataru don't particularly explain this,
but Appayya Dikshita's Parimala sees this as a reference to the GK verse
that concludes AptakAmasya kA spRhA.

Again, we should not hold that this means that Sankaracharya himself
referred to GK as Sruti. My experience with the sub-commentaries has taught
me that one should distinguish between the author of the original text says
and what the author of the commentary says. For example, some things that
are generally labelled as the "bhAmatI position" are found only in the
Kalpataru, not in Bhamati itself. It may not always be valid to read the
commentator's views back into the text/author that he is commenting upon.

Although Parimala refers to GK in this context, an alternative
interpretation is possible. The shruti that Sankara has in mind could be the
bRhadAraNyaka, which also has a reference to AptakAma, AtmakAma, akAma.
Therefore, the term "AptakAmashruti" may well be a reference to
bRhadAraNyaka. And that is also probably why the earlier commentators didn't
particularly try to explain this reference. Note the frequency of
Sankaracharya's explicit references to this upanishad, second only to
chAndogya, in the Brahmasutra Bhashya. Thus, as far as what Sankara himself
thought about the shruti status or otherwise of the Agama-prakaraNa is
concerned, there is no evidence to say that he did view it as shruti.

Best wishes,

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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