[Advaita-l] Adi Sankara Vs Vyasa Debate in Sankara Dig Vijaya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed May 23 10:42:53 CDT 2012

> Some people are arguing like this - Why was there a big argument with
> Vyasa by Sankara? Because Sankara's view of Brahma Sutra and Vyasa's
> view were not coinciding. But he was not willing to become Sishya of
> Vyasa and learn. Instead of doing that he argued with Vyasa. This is
> showing Sankara Advaita is not agreeing with Brahma Sutra. Even the
> author of Sankara Dig Vijaya Madhava Vidyaranya is accepting this
> point. 

To Sri Venkatesh - the story in the mAdhavIya Sankaravijaya text is that
vyAsa desired to test Sankara himself and therefore challenged Sankara
to debate with him. Sankara did not go out seeking a debate and vyAsa
did not ask Sankara to become his disciple. Nor did Sankara request
vyAsa to take him as a disciple, as the question simply did not arise.
vyAsa raised a number of pUrvapaksha arguments and tested Sankara's
mettle in addressing every one of them successfully. That is all that the
story conveys.
Beyond this, I think you should tell mAdhva friends and acquaintances that
these legends should not be understood as literal historical events. That 
madhvAcArya personally met and became a disciple of vyAsa is an article
of faith. This is just like the Christians who have to have faith that Jesus
was resurrected in the flesh. These things are fine for the belief systems
of the respective followers, but just as non-Christians have reason not to
believe that Jesus was resurrected in the flesh, non-mAdhva Hindus have
no reason to believe the mAdhva legend either.
As far as advaitins are concerned, our respect and regard for Sankara is
not dependent upon believing that he was capable of parakAyapraveSa
or that he debated with vyAsa. We base our regard for the AcArya on the
texts that he himself wrote and the living paramparA that he established.
If your mAdhva acquaintances wish to portray madhvAcArya as superior
by virtue of his being humble enough to learn from vyAsa, you can tell
them that Sankara was superior, because vyAsa himself considered that
Sankara was an equal who could be challenged to a vAda.
> praNAms
> Hare Krishna
> This is another story quite unique to only mAdhaveeya & chidvilAseeya SV 
> :-)) vyAsAchaleeya & anandagiri's biographies donot mention this vAda & 
> prativAda between shankara & vedavyAsa. chidvilAseeya shankara vijaya 
> goes to some more extent and says Acharya's shishyA-s (padmapAda etc.) 
> tried to man handle vyAsa (was then an old man) for repeatedly objecting 

Bhaskar, what is your source for the above statements? There is one edition
of vyAsAcalIya from Chennai. I don't remember whether this story is in that
text or not, but note that there is really a lot of common material between
the mAdhavIya and vyAsAcalIya Sankaravijaya texts.
If by Anandagiri's text, you mean the one that is known as the prAcIna
Sankaravijaya, please note that this text is not available any more. As such,
it is impossible to say whether this episode is or is not mentioned in that
If by Anandagiri's text, you mean the one that mentions its author's name
as anantAnandagiri, then this episode is very much present in that text. In
fact, in the anantAnandagiri Sankaravijaya, it is said that Sankara himself
instructed padmapAda to manhandle the old man who came to debate with
him and that padmapAda dragged the old man out by his feet. 
You have been on this list long enough to have read a number of my posts
in the past that have taken great pains to distinguish between the unavailable
text of Anandagiri and the Sankaravijaya of anantAnandagiri.

Indeed, the debate with vyAsa is just one of the many instances in the text
of anantAnandagiri, where Sankara and his disciples are said to manhandle
those who debate with him. The vast majority of the traditional advaita
maThas do not accept this text at all. Only one or two think it is a valid text.
Rather than glorifying Sankara, it depicts his life often in a negative fashion,
much like the infamous maNimanjarI and other texts penned by mAdhva
cidvilAsIya is a minor text and is not very old, so if it gives a story like what
you describe, rest assured that its author is merely restating the story as
given in the anantAnandagiri text. 

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