[Advaita-l] Was Suresvara a ritualist?

subhanu saxena subhanu at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 16 04:47:56 CDT 2011

DVN Sarma

in his purvasrama is disciple of 
Kumarila and hence we cannot


thing beyond the purvamimamsa view point from him as far as the

of the

veda is


And Vidyasankar

one has only to read the naishkarmyasiddhi (much more manageable than thevoluminous vArttika on the bRhadAraNyakopanishad bhAshya) to see how farfrom the actual situation this is. 


I too cannot
let the comment of Sri Sarma pass as it betrays a deep fundamental
misunderstanding of Suresvara’s position. I often look to quote the Vartika
texts to hopefully show people that they are not as inaccessible as many fear,
as Suresvara’s works are criminally neglected these days. This is probably why
we see such unfounded views on what he stood for as I am sure many have not
even read his original works for themselves.This is in spite of the fact that there is a
clarity and precision of thought with Suresvara that cuts through many of the
modern debates we have on the teachings of Sankara’s tradition. 

Now with
regards to Sri Sarma’s charge that Suresvara remained a ritualist, out of the
numerous places where we see Suresvara’s views as opposite to this, I have
quoted below BUBV 1.4.4-6:

vaidikam sādhanam jneyam jnānakarmātmakam purā ।

mahānartha-phalāyaiva na mokṣāyeti nischchitah ॥ [BUBV 1.4..4]

All that is stated earlier comprising that which is to be known regarding ritual
activity and its means, certainly culminates in great calamity and not in

vaidikam sādhanam sarvam avidyotthatva-kāraṇāt ।

teevrānarthaphalāyeti brahmavidyādhikārataḥ ।

vivakshito ‘rtho yatnena tadvairāgya-vidhitsayā
। [BUBV 1.4.5]

Since all such means relating to ritual,
being rooted in ignorance end in acute calamity, this is therefore the topic of
the brahmavidya, to state the nature of the problem and inculcate aversion to

(note the similarity with Shankara’s adhyāsa


yato’viraktaḥ samsārān nātmajnāya kalpate ।

tadetadātmatattvam hi padaneeyam iteeraṇāt ॥
[BUBV 1.4.6]

since one who is not
averse to samsara is not eligible for the knowledge of the atman,

there is 
the Sruti “The true nature of Atman is to be attained” (BU 1.4.7)

I have underlined the first line as it is
a key point to remember in Shankara’s tradition.

For those  who would like a systematic yet short overview
of Suresvara’s position and works, I would recommend Chapter 7 of the Method of
Vedanta transl by AJ Alston, or the original Sanskrit version of course for
those who can read Sanskrit







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