Exegesis of mahAvakya-s - prelude

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Wed Jun 28 21:38:58 CDT 2000

UpSa: upadeshasAhasrI
NaiSi: naishhkarmya-siddhi, NaiSi 2.1-s would refer to the sambadhokti
to verse 2.1
Ma:  mAnasollAsa


During a recent phone conversation with Vidyasankar, the topic
of interpretation of the mahAvAkya-s via the anvaya-vyatireka
and other methods came up. Specifically, the issue was whether
sha.nkara has used bhAga tyAga laxaNA in the prasthAnatrayI
bhAshhya-s or the upadeshasAhasrI. I had a vague recollection
that he has used it in the UpSa, and promised to dig up the
verse. I had originally planned to send a private e-mail.
Since it might be of some interest to at least a few list
members, I have tried to make a coherent article on this topic

The most lucid explanations of the problems in the exegesis of
mahAvAkya-s is found in the third chapter of the Ma and the
second and third chapters of the NaiSi, both composed by
sureshvarAchArya. A brief introduction to the topic is
presented, closely following these two works. But I also
assume a basic knowledge of sha.nkaras works. This is not an
exhaustive treatment on the exegesis of the mahAvAkyas by any
means. But, I hope that it'll at least give enough references
for serious students of the advaita tattva. Hopefully it will
also bring out a discussion of similar/varying treatment of
the same subject from the prasthAnatrayI bhAshhyas and other
prakaraNa grantha-s of sha.nkarAchArya, from the vArttikas of
sureshvarAchArya, works of vidyAraNya mahAmuni like
pa.ncadashI, etc. This is a topic which has not been discussed
much on our list, and is definitely worthy of discussion. I
would certainly be very enthusiastic in participating in such
a discussion and hope to sharpen my learning from other list

I'll be posting a mail continuing this once in 2-4 days so that I'm
not inundating the list with too much material.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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