[Advaita-l] Atmajnaanopadeshavidhi

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Apr 9 00:31:21 CDT 2016

On Tue, 5 Apr 2016, akhanda via Advaita-l wrote:

> Does anyone know if the Atmajnaanopadeshavidhi has been written by Shri 
> Shankaraachaarya__?_

Many writings have been attributed to Shankaracharya through the years. 
An ambitious author might get a generous boost to the circulation of his 
work by attaching it to the name of the most prestigious figure in astika 
culture.  Or seeing as the mathadhipatis are also known as Shankaracharya,
something written by one of these later Shankaracharyas might have gotten 
confused over time with Adi Shankaracharya.

Historians (Deussen, Hacker, Mayeda, and Belvalkar are some of the chief 
scholars on this subject) try and resolve these issues by comparative 
methods.  Starting from the premise that the author of the 
brahmasutrabhashya is the "genuine" article, the various stotras and 
prakaranas are examined on stylistic and doctrinal grounds.  If for 
example some work taught the supremacy of karma over jnana or was 
dedicated to some non-vedic Deity, that would be signs that it is not 
genuine.  So, for instance, most historians reject all the shrividya works 
(saundarya lahari, prapancha sara etc.) on the grounds that an Advaitin 
would not write "tantrik" works.  This shows the drawbacks of this 
approach.  From an Indian cultural point of view there is no reason why 
one couldn't be both.  And it is not always applied systematically.  For 
instance there is a vivarana on yoga sutras.  Why would an Advaitin write 
on a rival darshana?  But some historians do think it is genuine.  In any 
case each scholar has their list of which works they consider genuine. 
And thats another problem.  All these lists are contradictory. 
upadeshasahasri is the only prakarana which is unanimously accepted by all 
authorities as being an authentic work of Adi Shankaracharya.

So personally I don't bother with all that.  To me "authentic" means what 
the parampara has believed to be authentic.  For instance Swami Anandagiri 
has written authoritative tikas on the prasthana trayi bhashyas.  If he 
has written a tika on some minor work (and he has written many,) that to 
me is a good sign it is genuine.  Same if has been quoted or commented on 
by the other stalwarts such a Swamis Vidyaranya, Madhusudan Saraswati, 
Svayamprakasha etc.  Also early in the 20th century, the Vani Vilas press 
of Shrirangam put out a series of the complete works of Shankaracharya 
edited by a board of pandits under the guidance of Shringeri.  If a work 
is not included in that collection, it is a good sign in my opinion that 
it is fake.  However it must be said that they did miss a few such as 
Kaupinya panchaka or the aforementioned yogasutravivarana.  Overall its a 
pretty good guide in my opinion.

Back to your original question, what about atmajnanopadeshavidhi?  Well it 
seems that the historians do not regard it as genuine though no 
particularly good reason is given.  And it is not included in the Vani 
Vilas collection as Ryan mentioned.  On the positive side, I am told there 
is an Anandagiri tika on it (though I haven't seen it.) If this is true, I 
would be inclined to consider it genuine.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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