[Advaita-l] Sri appayya diixita

Ravisankar Mayavaram abhayambika at gmail.com
Thu Feb 10 17:54:34 CST 2005

Quoted from: http://www.escribe.com/culture/advaitin/m24973.html
Posted by: Prof. V. Krishnamurthy 
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Namaste all.

I recently came across a 150-pagebook titled "Sri Appayya Dikshita" 
by Dr N. Ramesan, published in 1972 by Srimad Appayya Dikshitendra 
Granthavaliu Prakashana Samithi, Hyderabad. Here are some extracts 
that I think may give the readers a glimpse of the personality of 
Appayya Dikshitar: 

>From the sapta rishis downward, there have been great (i.e., 
spiritually great) householders in the Indian tradition. One such 
was Shri Appayya Dikshidar (1520 – 1593 A.D.) As the true advaitin 
that he was, he saw no differences in the different manifestations 
of the Supreme Absolute. Stemming the tide of Vaishnavite attacks on 
Saivism during the one century prior to his times, one of his 
missions in life turned out to be a reconciliation of creeds, cults 
and philosophy. He did not think that rival interpretations of the 
vedas and puranas were entirely in the wrong. He says: ` na sUtrANAm 
arthAntaram-api bhavad-varyam-ucitaM'  (Who can prevent different 
interpretations when the sUtras themselves are capable of different 
meanings?). Such was his tolerance in religious beliefs and his 
ardent desire for the reconciliation of philosophic thoughts. He 
wrote the `Chatur-mata-sara' to illustrate the philosophical 
thoughts of the four prominent schools of interpretation of 
Brahmasutras. The `Naya-manjari' deals with advaita, the `Naya-mani-
mala' with Srikanta mata, the `Naya-mayukha-malika' with Ramanuja's 
philosophy and the `Naya-muktavali' with Madhva's philosophy. His 
remarkable catholicity of outlook, his thoroughness in  writing, his 
impartiality, his unerring sense of values and his passionate search 
for truth are all so evident in these writings that the Vaishnavas 
have adopted the `Naya-Mayukha-Malika' as their manual for their 
careful and reverent study and the Madhvas the `Naya-Muktavali'.

He was well read in every branch of Samskrit learning and wrote as 
many as 104 works, large and and small. Only 60 of these works are 
extant now. These include works on Vedanta,  Siva-advaita, Mimamsa, 
Vyakarana, Kavya vyakhyana, Alankara and Devotional poetry.  By 
conviction he was an advaitin and  true worship of Lord Siva was the 
religion of his heart. Though  the followers of the Siva-advaita 
school claim him as belonging to their school,  it is not so easy to 
determine whether he was more inclined to Sivadavaita or advaita.  
Sivadvaita is very much akin to vishishhtadvaita of Ramanuja, except 
for the role of Vishnu being taken by Shiva.

Among the Vedantic works of Appayya Dikshitar, the `Siddhanta-lesha-
sangraha' is most famous. In this elaborate and original treatise, 
he brings together in one place, all different dialectical thinking 
belonging to the advaitic school. Traditional students of Vedanta 
begin their study of Bhashyas only after studying this Siddhanta 
Lesha sangraha. All the different views of different subschools of 
advaita, like those of `eka-jiva-vada', `nana-jiva-vada', `bimba-
pratibimba vada'  `sakshitva-vada' etc. are all discussed and the 
contrary views properly explained in this work with Appayya 
Dikshidar's masterly touch. And in his characteristic eclectic 
style, he answers the question "How can there be contradictory views 
among the advaita acharyas themselves on the same point?" He says: 
All the acharyas agree in affirming the unity of the soul and the 
unreality of the phenomenal world. For the world of fiction 
different explanations are given according to the ingenuity of each 
acharya. What if different explanations are given  for a mere 
fiction? !

Another famous Vedantic work of Appayya Dikshitar is the commentary 
known as the `Parimala'. It is an extremely readable commentary on 
the very difficult commentary called Kalpataru by an advaitic 
teacher named Amalananda. That Kalpataru is itself a commentary on 
Bhamati by Sri Vacaspati Misra which in turn is the famous  
commentary on the Sutra-Bhashya of Sri Sankara. 

While the Parimala follows the advaitic approach, Appayya Dikshidar 
has written another commentary `Sivaarka-mani-deepika' on the 
Brahmasutras. But this is written from the point of view of Siva-
visishtadvaita.. These two works – Sivaarka-mani-deepika and 
Parimala – are his magnum opus both in bulk and importance. Though 
both are commentaries on the Brahma sutra,  Parimala aligns itself 
to the advaitic interpretation while the other work expounds the 
Sivadvaita philosophy of Srikanta-acharya. Appayya Dikshidar's 
patron, King Chinna Bomma Nayak of Vellore made endowments for the 
maintenance of a college of 500 scholars who studied Sivaarka mani 
Dipika under Sri Dikshidar himself, thus equipping themselves for 
the Saivite propaganda work, which had been organised with a view to 
stemming the tide of Vaishnavite attacks and encroachments.

Dikshidar threw himself heart and soul into this mission for several 
years and often had to face grave personal danger, which he did with 
courage and faith. He preached, organised and wrote incessantly, 
enlisting the cooperation of several enlightened monarchs.  He 
undertook frequent travels and challenged his adversaries to open 
disputation, as was the custom of those days. He brought to bear on 
his widespread activities, his resourceful personality and created 
an atmosphere of tolerance and goodwill, in the place of the 
prevailing antipathies and narrow-mindedness. 

Dikshidar graphically describes dvaita as the lowest step, 
vishishtadvaita as the middle step and sivadvaita and advaita which 
are very close to each other as the highest steps. He makes it clear 
in his work that Srikantha-Bhashya on the Brahmasutra  has been 
written in very close approximation to the trend of thought of Sri 
Sankara in his own bhashya. Srikanta, according to Dikshidar, 
propagated his cult on the understanding that sagunopasana is only 
the first step to nirgunopasana, and that it was the real intention 
of Srikanta that the final truth lies only in Shuddhadvaita. 
Dikshidar's great dialectical skill is fully reflected  in the work 
called Anandalahari chandrika, where he tries to narrow down the 
differences between the apparently divergent schools of thought and 
tries to show that the advaita of Sankara is the real eternal truth 
to which all others try to approximate.  

In addition to his poetic skills and achievements on the 
philosophical propagations and Saivite missionary work, Dikshidar 
was a great Siddha-yogi. One of his yogic experiments was as great 
as it was thrilling. In the later years of his life, he was subject 
to attacks of colic pain. He was convinced that it was due to his 
Prarabdha and past karma. Whenever he wanted to meditate deeply or 
worship the Almighty, he made a bundle of his towel and put it in 
front of him. By his yogic power he transferred his melody to the 
towel and sat in meditation. His disciples watched the towel jumping 
about the place. To them he explained later that he transferred his 
ailment which was in the form of an evil spirit to the cloth and 
then took it back soon after his meditation was over!

About his mystic devotion,there is another thrilling story that is 
related to his work called Atmarpana-stuti. In this small work of 
fifty stanzas he makes the inner self melt as it were by his 
exquisite mystic poetry. We can see here the profound maturity of 
true devotion to the Supreme. It reflects the inner mental state of 
a great devotee, in whom the ego has become fully distinct. There is 
a traditional account of how this work came to be written. It 
appears once he wanted to test the maturity of his own devotion to 
the Lord. Hence he swallowed the juice of the `datura' fruit, which 
introduces intoxication, and told his disciples that they should 
write down whatever he says, during the stage when his consciousness 
was disturbed. In the stage of inebriation  generally all suppressed 
ideas would find release and come out into the open. And in his case 
it was the Atmarpana-stuti that came out! It is therefore also 
called `Unmatta-panchasati'. 

Dikshidar is said to have travelled widely in the manner of those 
days, entering into philosophical disputations and controversaries 
in many centres of learning. He had the rare good fortune of being 
revered and patronised in his own life-time by kings of Vellore, 
Tanjore, Vijayanagar and Venkatagiri. A mighty intellect and 
peerless sage, he led a life of karma, bhakti and jnana – a model 
for posterity to follow. 
PraNams to Shri Appayya Dikshitar and all advaitins
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