[Advaita-l] One more evidence in Shankara Bhaṣya for 'no non-advaitic vedantic schools prior...'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Oct 6 14:38:20 EDT 2017

One more evidence in Shankara Bhaṣya for 'no non-advaitic vedantic schools
prior to Shankara'

In this article a few passages from the Bhāṣya have been given from which
one can conclude that prior to or at the time of Shankara there were no
non-advaitic Vedantic schools:


Apart from the references already cited therein, we have another passage,
in the Kenopaniṣat 1.5 bhāṣya, which also goes to strengthen the above

कथं न्वात्मा ब्रह्म । आत्मा हि नामाधिकृतः कर्मण्युपासने च संसारी कर्मोपासनं
वा साधनमनुष्ठाय ब्रह्मादिदेवान्स्वर्गं वा प्राप्तुमिच्छति ।

How indeed can the Ātman be Brahman? For, Ātman is one who is eligible to
engage in action or upāsana (meditation), he is a samsārin, who intends, by
resorting to action or upāsana, to attain to the gods such as Brahmā or
reach the worlds such as heaven.
 तत्तस्मादन्य उपास्यो विष्णुरीश्वर इन्द्रः प्राणो वा ब्रह्म भवितुमर्हति, न
त्वात्मा ; लोकप्रत्ययविरोधात् ।
Hence the upāsya, the entity meditated upon or the object of meditation,
such as Viṣṇu, Īśwara, Indra, or Prāṇa could be Brahman, but the Ātman can
never be Brahman as it is contrary to what is held in the world.

So far Shankara implies that as long as the jīva is engaged in action or
meditation, not knowing his true nature of being Brahman, there will
continue the samsāritva, underscored by ignorance-born difference (between
the actor and fruit, meditator and meditated). Shankara says, such a
situation is no different from:

यथान्ये तार्किकाईश्वरादन्य आत्मेत्याचक्षते, तथा कर्मिणोऽमुं यजामुं
यजेत्यन्या एव देवता उपासते ।

Just as the others, tārkika-s, who hold the Ātman (jīva) to be different
from Īśvara, and also those given to action hold themselves to be different
from the deity they seek to propitiate by performing the various karma-s
enjoined in the Veda.

The implication is: For Shankara, even though the domain of the
devatā-upāsanā-upāsaka, etc. pertain to the Veda, so long as the jīva is
ignorant of his true nature, he will continue to be a samsārin. However,
the 'others' that are the tārkika-s (those schools which base their
doctrine chiefly on tarka) have the firm doctrine that the jīva is
different from Iśvara. It is not the case with them that the jīva-Īśvara
bheda is due to ignorance and one should strive to dispel it through
knowledge. So is the case with the pūrva-mīmāmsaka-s who consider the one
engaging in rituals to be different from the deity that is propitiated
through the ritual. Thus, in the Aupaniṣadic doctrine, the jīva-Īśvara
bheda is due to avidyā; the truth being that the jīva is verily Brahman. It
is only the 'others' who are not Aupaniṣada-s who hold the jīva-Brahma
bheda to be the very basis for their doctrine.  Thus, in this discourse
Shankara clearly distinguishes the Aupaniṣada-s from 'others' on the basis
of the difference or non-difference between the jīva and Īśvara. For
Shankara, if they are Aupaniṣada-s, as exemplified by this very mantra for
which he is commenting, the Kena 1.5, there is no jiva-Brahma bheda. And
conversely, if some school is subscribing to the real difference between
the jiva and Brahman, they are not Aupaniṣadas; they are tārkika-s, etc.

Shankara has maintained this stand steadily across the prasthānatraya
bhāṣya. Cases from the Bṛhadāraṇyaka, the Taittiriya and the Māṇḍūkya
bhāṣya-s have been cited already in the article referred to in the
foregoing. The Kenopaniṣad bhāṣya reference is what is highlighted in this
post, though it was alluded to in the passing in an earlier article.
Shankara has, at the beginning of the Taittiriya Bhāṣya paid homage to the
pūrvāchārya-s who have expounded the Upaniṣads on the traditional method of
drawing from the disciplines of vyākaraṇa, tarka and pūrva-mīmāmsā:

यैरिमे गुरुभिः पूर्वं पदवाक्यप्रमाणतः ।
व्याख्याताः सर्ववेदान्तास्तान्नित्यं प्रणतोऽस्म्यहम् ॥ २ ॥

Apart from this, in several places Shankara has referred to earlier
Vedāntins as as 'sampradāyavit' while citing, for instance, the
'adhyāropa-apavāda' nyāya in the Gitā Bhāṣya, or Gauḍapādāchārya's kārikā-s
in the Brahmasūtra bhāṣya. Those Vedantins whom he takes up for refutation
are, as he has declared, Aupaniṣada-s  who hold the jīva-Brahman identity
though they have differences on other doctrinal issues. For Shankara,
dvaitin-s are of non-vedantic schools.

Om Tat Sat

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