[Advaita-l] Early History of Vedanta

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Apr 7 01:38:32 CDT 2015

On Sun, 29 Mar 2015, Srivathsa Rao via Advaita-l wrote:

While your zeal for promoting Advaita Vedanta is commendable, you are 
woefully misinformed about many things.  You should correct this for 
yourself before you venture out to do battle with others.

> Before 1200 years there came shankaracharya  who removed 72 sects in
> ancient sathana dharma and brought them under a single platform of advaita
> vedanta,that is why ancient sanathana dharma is still present in india
> otherwise we would have been muslim by now.

I don't understand the obsession so many Hindus have with "unity."  There 
is no correlation between the times sanatana dharma has been unified or 
fragmented and the times it has been weak or powerful.

On Mon, 30 Mar 2015, Srivathsa Rao via Advaita-l wrote:

> For proof for my messege is shankara vijaya. The some sects among 72 
> sects are ganapatha,soura,shaktha,samkhya,vaisheshika,12 shaiva 
> sects,vaishnava,yoga ,purva mimansa,bhaskara matha,nyaya etc.....

No; considerably less than 72 are mentioned there.  Madhava (the 
purvashrama name of Swami Vidyaranya) is the author of both the 
shankaradigvijaya and the sarvadarshanasamgraha.

On Mon, 30 Mar 2015, Srivathsa Rao via Advaita-l wrote:

> you can see 72 sects clearly in sarva dharshana sangraha of vidhyaranya.

Have you actually seen it?  Only 15 darshans (or perhaps 16 if you 
count Advaita Vedanta) are described there.  Even allowing for some 
subdivisions amongst them, it is considerably less than 72.

And think about it.  If Shankaracharya had already destroyed all those 
sects then why would they still be around in the time of Swami Vidyaranya?

On Mon, 30 Mar 2015, Srivathsa Rao via Advaita-l wrote:

> So,we have learn vidhya  from a lineage of guru parampara,not from so
> intellectual brilliant ,there was no bhudhism before bhudha or jaininsm
> before mahaveera ,maadhva before madhva and vishistadvaita before
> ramanuja....

I don't know if Shakyamuni ever thought he had any predecessors.  (Later 
Buddhists did which is why it is necessary to label him Shakyamuni as 
opposed to other Buddhas.)

For Jains you are definitely wrong. Mahavira was the last of their 24 
tirthankaras.  Of the previous ones, Parshvanath and probably Neminath 
were historical figures.

Not counting e.g Bodhayana etc. only identified historical figures, the 
Alvars, Nathamuni and Yamuna were all prior to Ramanuja.  Now it should be 
noted that it all these are historically posterior to Shankaracharya 
non-vedic. it was not until Yamuna that the Shrivaishnavas firmly 
established their Vedic bona fides.

There were no Dvaitins before Anand Tirth.

On Tue, 31 Mar 2015, Srivathsa Rao via Advaita-l wrote:

> 1)There was a time ,when vedanta means advaita -vedanta only....no other 
> vedanta was there 2)In north india,there is no maadhva and 
> vishistadvaita,,,,,they are local sidhnata,where as advaita is full of 
> country..

While the main strongholds of both these sampradayas are in the South, 
they both have followers as far North as Nepal. The Ramanandis who are the 
biggest Vaishnava sampradaya in North India are Vishishtadvaitins as is 
the influential Swaminarayan sampradaya of Gujarat.  Many of the Gaudiya 
Vaishnavas, followers of Chaitanya claim to follow Dwaita Vedanta though 
yet others say they have their own unique brand of Vedanta called 

On Thu, 2 Apr 2015, Venkatesh Murthy via Advaita-l wrote:

> the Sri Bhashyakaara Raamaanuja has said he is following the very big 
> book Brahma Sutra Vrutti written by Bodhayana. That Bodhayana Vrutti was 
> condensed by other Acharyas and Raamaanuja is following that and writing 
> his Sri Bhashya on the Brahma Sutras.
> Bodhayana Vrutti was not available to Raamaanuja. It was lost but some 
> other condensed books were available. But Bodhayana was not Advaiti. He 
> was closer to Raamaanuja. He did not accept Maayaa theory. He accepted 
> Parinama Vada saying Brahman is transformed to world.

There is some evidence that there were some ancient Vedantins who deviated 
from the mainstream.

Lets' go back to the beginnings of Mimamsa itself.  In both the Purva 
Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini and the Uttara Mimamsa or Brahma Sutras of 
Badarayana, the views of various acharyas are given.  In some cases they 
are accepted and in some cases rejected.  But if they are named (as 
opposed to just "some say" or "it is said") that is a sign that they are 
considered "insiders" and worth of atleast some respect.  Some teachers 
views are mentioned in both Purva Mimamsa and Brahma Sutras including both 
Jaimini and Badarayana themselves.[1]

So it must have occurred to people (Bhartraprapancha is one that we 
know of) now and again that karma and jnana can be combined.  But there is 
no evidence any of those people were part of a continuous parampara.  An 
example of this is Mandana Mishra.  He primararily wrote on Purva Mimamsa 
topics but also has one work on Vedanta that survives to this day call 
Brahmasiddhi.  This Brahmasiddhi mainly follows an Advaita line but 
differs in some ways from Shankaracharyas views.  Mandana Mishra does not 
claim his ideas come from any predecessor.  Neither is there any evidence 
that he passed his view on to a new generation.[2]  In fact traditionally 
we believe Shankaracharya defeated Mandana Mishra in debate whereupon he 
took up sannyasa as Sureshvaracharya.

So the existence of the occasional heterodox thinker doesn't invalidate 
Shankaracharyas claim that the followers of the Upanishads believe in the 
oneness of jiva and Brahman.

[1] Aside: it is interesting to note that in PM Jaimini always treats 
Badarayana's views as siddhanta but in Vedanta, Badarayana sometimes 
rejects Jaimini.  This is evidence that the Pauranika tradition that 
Jaimini was the shishya of Badarayana aka Veda Vyasa is an accurate one.

[2] Some historians claim that Vachaspati Mishra reintroduced some of 
Mandana Mishras views into Advaita Vedanta via his Bhamati commentary on 
the Brahmasutrabhashya.  VM did comment on the Brahmasiddhi and some of 
MM's Mimamsa works so he was definitely aware of him.  But the Bhamati's 
interpretations can just as easily be explained in light of the bhashya 

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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