[Advaita-l] Questions on Isavasya

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Wed Jul 26 00:28:30 CDT 2006

Namaste all,
        I have some questions on the IshAvAsya bhAShya of
shaN^karAchArya which came up in discussions with a dvaita friend of
mine. Please feel free to address any or as many of the issues. Thanks
a lot.

-- In the shaN^kara bhAShya, there is a switch from the first to the
second verse with respect to the person to whom the words are
addressed (The first verse is addressed to a GYAni and the second
verse to an aGYAni who is steeped in karma). In fact, there is an
objection (in the form of an opponent in the bhAShya) with regard to
this switch, and shaN^kara justifies it with the claim that since
karma is referred to in the second verse, it could only have been
addressed to an aGYAni and not to a GYAni.

Thus, it seems like shaN^kara derives his theory from some particular
parts of the upaniShats, and interprets the rest of the upaniShats in
the light of that theory. What are these particular parts of the
upaniShats that shaN^kara focuses on? Are these the mahAvAkyas?

Another criticism is this -- If the above hypothesis was true that
shaN^kara gave more weight to particular parts of the upaniShats, then
isn't that the wrong approach? Should not all the statements of the
upaniShats be given equal weight? Especially when the later
commentators like madhva have tried to incorporate all the statements
into one framework (in this particular context, I mean without making
this hard distinction of GYAna and karma).

-- Are there any vArttikas on the IshAvAsya bhAShya btw?

-- The bhAShya does not have a mangalAcharaNa shlOka. Was this normal?
Do all the other bhAShyas of shaN^kara have mangalAcharaNas? Could it
be possible that the bhAShya was not originally written by shaN^kara
(Is there any section of advaitins who believe this)? Also, in the
bhAShya, at many places, shaN^kara claims that some of the particles
are meaningless (for example, the particle svid in the first verse)?
Could this be said of the vEdas where redundancy is considered to be
an egregious error (This was one reason why the quality of the work
apparently seems to be inferior to that of shaN^kara's other works)?

-- shaN^kara (in verses 9-12) uses the word avidya to mean karma and
vidya to mean upAsanas. Isn't this a non-standard use of the word
vidya? Is there an etymological justification (or some other
justification) for employing the word vidya in this sense?

-- In the third verse, shaN^kara interprets all worlds like the
dEvalOka to be andham.h tamas.h, because people are bound to suffer
ultimately in these lOkas. But later in the bhAShya (verses 9-12)
where the word "amR^itamashnutE" is used in the upaniShat.h, shaN^kara
still interprets it to mean the result of upAsanas. How could the two
contradictory words, namely andham.h tamas.h and amR^itam.h, be
employed to refer to the same result?

-- Another question is with regard to the word IshA in the first verse
(which is in the tR^itIya vibhakti). It seems there is a verse in both
in the bhAgavata purANa and the brahmAnDa purANa (quoted by madhva)
where the same verse occurs except the beginning is "AtmavAsyamidam
sarvaM", AtmA being used instead of IshA. Now AtmA is in the ShaShThI
vibhakti, so should not IshAvAsyamidam be split as Ishasya

-- shaN^kara interprets the word jagatyAM to be pR^ithivyAM. By this,
does he mean only the earth, or should it be taken to mean the entire
jaDa prakR^iti?

-- The word "tEna" in the second line of the first verse could be
taken to be in the masculine or the neuter gender. shaN^kara takes it
to be in neuter gender to mean "by that (understanding)".  "That"
refers to the first line in the verse. But if it's so close, the usual
word employed is "EtEna". So, does this not suggest that the word
"tEna" should be interpreted to be in masculine gender?

-- bhuJNjithA usually means enjoy. Does it also mean protect (as given
in the translation by svAmi gaMbhIrAnandaji)? Can someone give the
root word and the derivation?

Hari Om.


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