A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 1

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1922 | 212,082 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of vedanta literature: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the third part in the series called the “the shankara school of vedanta”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 3 - Vedānta Literature

It is difficult to ascertain the time when the Brahma-sūtras were written, but since they contain a refutation of almost all the other Indian systems, even of the Śūnyavāda Buddhism (of course according to Śaṅkara’s interpretation), they cannot have been written very early. I think it may not be far from the truth in supposing that they were written some time in the second century B.C. About the period 780 A.D. Gauḍapāda revived the monistic teaching of the Upaniṣads by his commentary on the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad in verse called Māndūkyakārikā. His disciple Govinda was the teacher of Śaṅkara (788 — 820 A.D.). Śaṅkara’s commentary on the Brahma-sūtras is the root from which sprang forth a host of commentaries and studies on Vedāntism of great originality, vigour, and philosophic insight.

Thus Anandagiri, a disciple of Śaṅkara, wrote a commentary called Nyāyanirnaya , and Govindānanda wrote another commentary named Ratnaprabhā. Vācaspati Miśra, who flourished about 841 A.D., wrote another commentary on it called the Bhāmatī. Amalānanda (1247—1260 A.D.) wrote his Kalpataru on it, and Apyayadīkṣita (15 50 A.D.) son of Rañgarājādhvarīndra of Kāñcī wrote his Kalpataruparimala on the Kalpataru. Another disciple of Śaṅkara, Padmapāda, also called Sanandana, wrote a commentary on it known as Pañcapādikā.

From the manner in which the book is begun one would expect that it was to be a running commentary on the whole of Śaṅkara’s bhāṣya, but it ends abruptly at the end of the fourth sūtra. Mādhava (1350), in his Sañkaravijaya , recites an interesting story about it. He says that Sureśvara received Śafikara’s permission to write a vārttika on the bhāṣya. But other pupils objected to Śaṅkara that since Sureśvara was formerly a great Mimāmsist(Maṇḍana Miśra was called Sureśvara after his conversion to Vedāntism) he was not competent to write a good vārttika on the bhāṣya. Sureśvara, disappointed, wrote a treatise called Naiṣkarmyasiddhi. Padmapāda wrote a tīkā but this was burnt in his uncle’s house.

Śaṅkara, who had once seen it, recited it from memory and Padmapāda wrote it down. Prakāśātman (1200) wrote a commentary on Padmapāda’s Pañcapādikā known as Pañcapādikāvivarana. Akhaṇḍānanda wrote his Tattvadīpana, and the famous Nrsimhāśrama Muni (1500) wrote his Vivaranabhāvaprakāśikā on it. Amalānanda and Vidyāsāgara also wrote commentaries on Pañcapādikā , named Pañcapādikādarpana and Pañcapādikātīkā respectively, but the Pañcapādikāvivarana had by far the greatest reputation.

Vidyāraṇya who is generally identified by some with Mādhava (1350) wrote his famous work Vivaranaprameyasaṃgraha,[1] elaborating the ideas of Pañcapādikāvivaraṇa; Vidyāraṇya wrote also another excellent work named Jīvanmuktiviveka on the Vedānta doctrine of emancipation. Sureśvara’s (800 A.D.) excellent work Naiṣkarmyasiddhi is probably the earliest independent treatise on Śaṅkara’s philosophy as expressed in his bhāṣya. It has been commented upon by Jñānottama Miśra. Vidyāraṇya also wrote another work of great merit known as Pañcadaśī, which is a very popular and illuminating treatise in verse on Vedānta.

Another important work written in verse on the main teachings of Śaṅkara’s bhāṣya is Samkṣepaśārīraka, written by Sarvajñātma Muni (900 A.D.). This has also been commented upon by Rāmatīrtha. Śrīharṣa (1190 A.D.) wrote his Khandanakhandakhādya , the most celebrated work on the Vedānta dialectic. Citsukha, who probably flourished shortly after Śrīharṣa, wrote a commentary on it, and also wrote an independent work on Vedānta dialectic known as Tattvadīpikā which has also a commentary called Nayanaprasādinī written by Pratyagrūpa. Śaṅkara Miśra and Raghunātha also wrote commentaries on Khandanakhandakhādya.

A work on Vedānta epistemology and the principal topics of Vedānta of great originality and merit known as Vedāntaparibhāṣā was written by Dharmarājādhvarīndra (about 1550 A.D.). His son Rāmakrṣnādhvarin wrote his Sikhāmani on it and Amaradāsa his Maniprabhā. The Vedāntaparibhāṣā with these two commentaries forms an excellent exposition of some of the fundamental principles of Vedānta.

Another work of supreme importance (though probably the last great work on Vedānta) is the Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī who followed Dharma-rājādhvarīndra. This has three commentaries known as Gaudabrahmānandī, Viṭṭhaleśopadhyāyī and Siddhivyākhyā. Sadānanda Vyāsa wrote also a summary of it known as Advaitasiddhisiddhāntasāra.

Sadānanda wrote also an excellent elementary work named Vedāntasāra which has also two commentaries Subodhinī and Vidvanmanorañjinī. The Advaitabrahmasiddhi of Sadānanda Yati though much inferior to Advaitasiddhi is important, as it touches on many points of Vedānta interest which are not dealt with in other Vedānta works.

The Nyāyamakaranda of Ananda-bodha Bhattārakācāryya treats of the doctrines of illusion very well, as also some other important points of Vedānta interest. Vedāntasiddhāntanmktāvalī of Prakāśānanda discusses many of the subtle points regarding the nature of ajñāna and its relations to cit, the doctrine of dṛṣṭisrṣṭivāda, etc., with great clearness. Siddhāntaleśa by Apyayadīkṣita is very important as a summary of the divergent views of different writers on many points of interest.

Vedāntatattvadīpikā and Siddhāntatattva are also good as well as deep in their general summary of the Vedānta system. Bhedadhikkāra of Nrsimhāśrama Muni also is to be regarded as an important work on the Vedānta dialectic.

The above is only a list of some of the most important Vedānta works on which the present chapter has been based.

Footnotes and references:


See Narasimhācārya’s article in the Indian Antiquary , 1916.

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