[Advaita-l] Re: Madhusudana Saraswati

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jan 19 22:16:41 CST 2006

On Thu, 19 Jan 2006, Krunal Makwana wrote:

> || Namo  Narayan ||
> Dear Jaldharji and members,
> There has been alot of talk on Madhusudana Saraswati, I assume he was an 
> advaitin revivalist to defend advaita against other philosophises e.g. 
> Ramanuja, Vallabh, Madhva, Chaitanya and etc

This doesn't even begin to describe the accomplishments of one of the 
greatest saints and thinkers India has ever produced.

The description below is based on the introduction to my copy of 

MS's purvashrama name was Kamalanayana Bhattacharya.  He was said to have 
been born in Vikrama Samvata 1562 (1506 AD) in a family of learned 
Brahmanas in the Faridpur district of Bengal.  They had immigrated there 
from Kanyakubja three centuries previously.

After completing his basic studies with his father, he travelled to 
Navadvipa in Bengal (one of the major places of learning of that time) and 
studied navyanyaya with Mathuranatha Tarkavagisha who was the most 
influential Naiyayika of those days.  He also tried to meet Chaitanya but 
he had already left Navadvipa at that time.  Because of these influences, 
he became a partisan of Vaishnavism.  He resolved to go to Kashi to learn 
Advaita Vedanta in order to defeat it.  There he studied under Swami Rama 
Tirtha and under his guidance came to see the superiority of Advaitavada. 
He took sannyasa from a Swami Vishveshvara Sarasvati and also learned 
Mimamsa from a Swami Madhava Sarasvati.  In his works he calls these three 
sannyasis his gurus.

Most of the rest of his career was spent in Kashi.  He wrote the following 

1. vedantakalpalatika - an original work on Advaita Vedanta.
2. siddhantabindu -a huge commentary on the dashashloki stuti of Shankaracharya
3. bhaktirasayana - explains bhakti from the Advaita point of view
4. gitanibandha - an essay on the Gita?  Not sure about this one.
5. gudarthadipika - a commentary on the Bhagavadgita
6. advaitasiddhi - refutes the attack on Advaita Vedanta by the Dvaitin
7. advaitaratnarakshana - refutes Naiyayika Shankara Mishras' attack on
                           the Advaitic work Khandanakhandakhadya of Shriharsha
8. shivamahimnastotra tika - acommentary on Shivamahimna stotra
9, prasthanabheda - describes the 18 branches of shastras.
10 samkshepasharirakavyakhya - a commentary on samkshepashariraka of
    Sarvajnatma muni, a famous abridgement of Shankaracharyas brahmasutrabhashya
11 anandamandakini - a stotra? Not sure about this one.
12 harililaviveka = Not sure about this one.
13 bhagavataprathamashlokatika - a commentary on the 1st shloka of
                                  the Bhagavata Purana
14 Shandilyabhaktisutravyakhya - a commentary on the Shandilya Bhakti sutras.
15 rasapanchadhyayitika - a commentary on the rasalila chapters of
                           Bhagavata Purana
16 krshnakutuhala nataka - An allegorical play dealing with Radha-Krishna.
17 atmabodhatika - commentary on the Atmabodha of Shankaracharya.

As you can see as well as being a great jnani, he was a great Bhakta. 
Krishna Bhagavan remained his favorite but like Shankaracharya, he 
advocated the worship of all Vedic deities.

He was active in social affairs.  He was highly esteemed by the Mughal 
emperor Akhbar and his minister Todarmal and was considered one of the 
sages of the royal court.  He asked them to intercede and prevent Muslim 
fanatics from interfering with Hindu pilgrims to Kashi and other holy 
places.  He is also said to have set up the order of Naga Bawas or armed 
Dashanami sadhus to protect dharma from its enemies. When Sant Tulsidas 
was encountering criticism for translating the Ramayana to the "vulgar" 
language of Hindi (Ramacharitamanasa) Swami Madhusudana came to his 
defence and gave his approval.

He died in Haridwara at the age of 107.

> I have also ordered :
> Totakacarya : Srutisarasamuddharanam, how authentic is this?

It is accepted as the work of Totakacharya the shishya of Shankaracharya 
and the first acharya of Dwarka matha.  In addition he wrote a stotra 
praising Shankaracharya called totakashtaka.

> Sureshwacarya has written vartika(s), but there seems to be numerous 
> vartika's if i'm correct. What is a varitika and how many of them are there 
> (which he has written or any other of the 3 direct disciple of BP),

He has written two; on Brahadaranyakopanishadbhashya and 
taittireyopanishadbhashya respectively.  He also wrote an advaita work 
called Naishkarmyasiddhi and a commentary on Dakshinamurti stotra of 
Shankaracharya called Manasollasa.

Padmapadacharya wrote a commentary called Panchapadika on the first 5 
sections of brahmasutrabhashya. (only the first 4 survive.)

Hastamalakacharya wrote a Vedantic stotra called Hastamalakiyam.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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