[Advaita-l] gauDapAda and Sankara

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Mon Jul 17 06:50:23 CDT 2006


A person named Nandakumar Chandran used be a member of this forum, but
he does not seem to be active now. Anyway, I found these writings by
him while browsing the net:

It is also to be noted that Shankara's brand of Advaita is quite
distinct from Gaudapaada's. Gaudapaada follows the "objective"
approach of the Buddhists and clearly endorses the Maadhyamika
chatushkoti when he declares : "only those who rise above the concepts
of Self, no-Self, both or neither are omniscient".

In contrast we see Shankara rooting Advaita on the concept of the Self
and following the subjective approach. His "path" naturally becomes
the logical and psycho/physical aatma vichaara which is subjective in
nature as against the intellectual chitta vritti nirodha of Gaudapaada
which is objective in its approach.

In the same thread, Nanda also mentions what he means by "subjective"
and "objective"
the Buddha is distinct from other philosophical streams due to his
teaching of anatta. Most schools taught the reality of the Self -
knowing the self is salvation - so the path is subjective. In contrast
the Buddha ignored the self and taught the control/discipline of the
non-self - his path thus is objective.

But it is to be noted that nowhere do we find the Buddha denying the
atman - anatta only meant the all that's not the self - the non-self.

In my mind there are two fundamental reasons for the teaching of anatta:

a. When reality is beyond the mind and is not be attained by any
action, why does it need to figure in spiritual practice at all?
Understanding and disciplining the non-self - the mind/body/senses -
is what is required. Including reality in a spiritual scheme only
results in endless speculation on it which is actually counter
productive to spiritual progress.

b. Also in the ultimate sense, one needs to let go of the will which
is the root of the "I" sense for reality to manifest.

It is in these two contexts that the Buddha taught anatta.

The entire thread is available at
and makes for very interesting reading.

I believe Vidyasankar, Ramakrishnan et al might have read this thread earlier.

However, what I would like to know is:

In what sense is gauDapAda's teaching "objective"?
In what sense is citta vRtti nirodha "objective"?

What exactly, if at all, is the difference between gauDapAda's brand
of advaita and Sankara's?

The rationale for the Buddha's teaching of anatta (as advanced by
Nandakumar above) really appealed to me. Is there is any reference to
such an understanding in the classical advaita-vedAnta literature?

To be frank, after reading just a basic amount of bauddha literature,
it appears to me that the only Astika schools that can match up to
them are the non-dual ones like advaita-vedAnta and pratyabhijna. The
purely bhakti oriented schools with their creator gods and "eternal
service" seem so silly in comparison.


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