[Advaita-l] Question about Avaccheda vada

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Mar 24 02:43:06 EDT 2018

On Tue, 13 Feb 2018, Aditya Kumar wrote:

> A: One small instance is that some Advaitins have written commentary on 
> a post 10th century Vaishnava work - Srimad Bhagvatam.

If Advaitins commented on it then it is by definition not a "Vaishnava" 
work is it?  Unless you are using some idiosyncratic definition of 

On Thu, 15 Mar 2018, Aditya Kumar via Advaita-l wrote:

I am not considering Bhagavatam because it is a recent sectarian work.

Ridiculously arbitrary.  There are 18 mahapuranas which are written by 
Veda Vyasa and the Bhagavata is always numbered amongst them.

Not only have Advaitins commented on the Bhagavata purana, the most 
revered and authoritative commentator Shridharacharya was Jagadguru 
Shankaracharya of Puri!

The Gaudiya philosopher Jiva Goswami in the introduction to his Bhagavata 
Sandarbha commentary gives the names of various previous commentaries and 
philosophical works that he consulted before writing his own.  Foremost 
is the aformentioned Shridharacharya who is his principle source.  He 
has to follow him because Chaitanya himself claimed that Shridhara is 
the greatest of commentators but is forced to admit that Shridharas 
comments are replete with Advaitic interpretations. He tries to wave the 
dilemna away by claiming that Shridhara was "secretly" a Vaishnava who 
only pretended to be an Advaitin to convert the "mayavadis" from their 
erroneous doctrines.

Also consulted were tikas by Chitsukhacharya and one Swami Punyaranya. 
Both are advaitins.  Chitsukhacharya in particular is well known as the 
author of Tattvadipa or Chitsukhi a very popular prakarana on Advaita 
Vedanta. Unfortunately neither of these tikas are now available.

Vopadeva or Bopadeva was a 13th century Marathi Smarta Pandit of great 
renown.  He is primarily known for his alternative to Paninis' vyakarana 
called Mugdabodha but three of his other works are based mainly on the 
Bhagavata and were very influential on the Bengali and other North 
Indian Vaishnavas.  They are: Paramahamsapriya, Muktaphala, and 

Hemadri Acharya is also a Smarta.  We Shuklayajurvedis frequently resort 
to his opinions on dharmashastra.  He was the minister of the last great 
Raja of Devagiri (Daulatabad, Maharashtra) Ramachandra of the Yadava 
vamsha. Therefore we can very accurately date him to 1279-1309.  Hemadri 
was the patron of Vopadeva and wrote tikas on his works or some say they 
wrote them jointly.  Jiva also mentions Hemadri's Chaturvarga Chintamani 
which as far as I know is primarily on dharmashastra though perhaps it 
covers bhakti amongst its many topics.

So if Vaishnavas themselves think its possible for the Bhagavata to have 
an Advaitic interpretation you need not have any qualms about it.

However, having said all that it must be admitted that you are not the 
first to have considered the Bhagavata to be a sectarian work.  There was 
a heated controversy amongst the Pandits of Kashi in the late 17th century 
on this topic.  The problem is that while "Bhagavata" is definitely the 
name of a Mahapurana, there are two works that conform to that 
description.  This (Krshna)Bhagavata and the Devi Bhagavata.  Some vidwans 
mainly Smartas claimed that in fact the Devi Bhagavata is the real 
Bhagavata and this Krshna Bhagavata was actually written by Vopadeva. 
Others mainly Vaishnavas hotly denied it.  However it should be noted 
that the Vopadeva authorship theory was always a minority one and the 
defenders of the Krshna Bhagavata also included Advaitins.  (For instance 
Swami Ramashrama who in purvashrama was Bhanuji Dikshita the nephew of the 
vaiyakarana Bhattoji Dikshita.)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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