[Advaita-l] Some notes on studying sha.nkaras works

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian balasr at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 18 21:22:44 CDT 2004

Thanks to Vidyasankar for his response on the question
on the bhagavadgiitaa-bhaashhyam.

I would like to point out some important points to
note when studying sha.nkaras works - *especially* for

1. Please read the upadeshasaahasrii first. Without
this, it's impossible to understand sha.nkara. There
is absolutely no point in reading this or that
bhaashhyam. As a commentator, one is constrained by
the text and "the bhagavadgiitaa-bhasshyam is
especially difficult as sha.nkara anticipates what he
is going to say in future chapters" (as pointed out
very aptly by A. J. Alston). In my opinion the
naishhkarmya siddhi is also a must. 

2. Please do not read one bhaashhyam or worse still, a
few passages from one bhasshyam, and come to some
conclusion. The upadeshasaahasrii (I repeat) and a few
upansihhad bhasshyams like the b.rhadaaraNyaka and the
maaNDuukya and the kaarika-bhaashhyams are a must.

3. Please understand that vishhNu in your tradition is
quite different from what it means in the advaita
tradition. I have pointed out how a direct disciple
sureshvaraachaarya, uses hari in very different senses
than what, say a vishishhTaadvaitin writer would. It
would be utterly insane for anyone to imagine that he
understands sha.nkara better than sureshvara. 


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