Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)

Ashish Chandra ramkisno at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed May 10 14:54:36 CDT 2000

>From: "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at>
>The Gaudiya crticisms essentally boil down to two propositions:
>1.  The Advaita philosophy was started by Shankaracharya.
>2.  It is mainly directed against Buddhism even though it is only a
>     rearrangement of Buddhist teachings.
>Do these arguments hold water?
>In the first matter it should be noted that Shankaracharya himself does
>not claim any originality for his teachings.  In fact he notes that
>without a parampara one is as good as blind.
>Two pre-Shankaran works on Advaita Vedanta survive today.  The Karikas on
>the Mandukyopanishad are by Gaudapadacharya who was Shankaracharyas'
>paramaguru.  Mandana Mishra wrote the Brahmasiddhi.  He was a contemporary
>of Shankaracharya and tradition says when he was defeated in debate by
>Shankaracharya, he became the Acharyas' shishya under the name
>There are other names we know of through quotes by later authors but whose
>works do not survive.  Upavarsha wrote vrittis on the Purva Mimamsa,
>Brahma sutras, Bhagavadgita, and several Upanishads.  Shankaracharya
>indicates his reverence for Upavarsha by refering to him as Bhagavan.
>Sundara Pandya (whose name indicates he was probably a South Indian king)
>wrote a vartika on the Brahmasutravrtti.  Brahmanandin wrote commentary
>called vakya on the Chandogyopanishad.  A certain Dravidacharya wrote a
>bhashya on this.
>These authors are quoted by later Advaitins but most importantly for their
>authenticity they are quoted by opponents of Advaita too.

A discussion/argument on the antiquity of the Advaita tradition had taken
place on alt.hindu. Vidyasankar Sundaresan had posted an excellent
refutation of some of the objections non-Advaita Vedanta traditions have.

It can be found here:

Another post dealt with some of the objections of the opponent is here:

>The second proposition is more plausible but still falls short.  It is
>true that Shankaracharya devotes a lot of energy to refuting Buddhist
>tenets (whih are *very* different from Vedantic teachings) but
>"astika" philosophies like Samkhya also come under fire.  The
>very existence of Advaita Vedanta can be considered a refutation of some
>aspects of Purva Mimamsa.  In one place in the Brahmasutrabhashya the
>Pancharatra school (which was the forerunner of Shrivaishnavism) is
>criticized.  There is literary, and archeological evidence for the
>existence of the theistic sects (though not necessarily in the exact form
>they have today.)  In fact the reason Shankaracharya started the practice
>of Panchayatana puja was because the many different sects of Vaishnavas,
>Shaivas, Shaktas, Ganapatya, and Sauras were too busy bickering with each
>other to unite against the nastikas.
>Shankaracharya did much to weaken the hold of Buddhism (as did Purva
>Mimamsakas like Kumarila Bhatta, Prabhakara Mishra, and Naiyayikas like
>Udayanacharya) but it did not disappear from India until several centuries

Srimad GaudapadAcharya is often pointed to as propounder of a prachanna
bauddha (Buddhism in disguise) philosophy. Vidya posted another of his
brilliant write-ups to show what the he (GaudapadAcharya) has said in his
kArikas. Just to make this interesting, here is an extract from Vidya's

"...GaudapAda's use of ajAtivAda assumes the eternal nature
of Brahman. Again GaudapAda's purpose here is to maintain the eternality of
Brahman, something the Buddhist does not consider at all. The Buddhist uses
ajAtivAda for momentariness, GaudapAda uses ajAtivAda to show that there has
to exist one eternal. Finally the four-fold negation of the Buddhist is
examined. KArikAs 82 - 86 explain that the Lord (the exact word he uses is
bhagavAn) is untouched by and above the four-fold negation. however, it
cannot be said that mAyA is also untouched by this four-fold negation.
Finally, at the end of it all comes the master coup - idam buddhena na
bhAshitam - this was not said by the Buddha."

The post can be found here:

I don't wish to judge bhedAbheda philosophy since I only know the principle
of it, but by going through the posts by some of the followers of
bhedAbheda, I can safely say that not one of them could refute what Vidya
said, and some of them even resorted to the age-old adage of
when-cornered-heap-abuses. Needless to say, its indeed refreshing to see
someone like Bhaskar trying to actually "discuss" his beliefs than
outrightly defend his position.


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