A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 2

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1932 | 241,887 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

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

Ānandabodha is a great name in the school of Śaṅkara Vedānta. He lived probably in the eleventh or the twelfth century[1]. He refers to Vācaspati’s Tattva-samīkṣā and criticizes, but without mentioning his name, Sarvajñātman’s view of the interpretation of the nature of self as pure bliss. He wrote at least three works on Śaṅkara Vedānta, viz. Nyāya-makaranda , Nyāya-dīpāvalī and Pramāṇa-mālā. Of these the Nyāya-makaranda was commented upon by Citsukha and his pupil Sukhaprakāśa in works called Nyāya-makaranda-ṭīkā and Nyāya-makaranda-vivecanī.

Sukhaprakāśa also wrote a commentary on the Nyāya-dīpāvalī , called Nyāya-dīpāvah-tātparya-ṭīkā. Anubhūtisvarūpa Ācārya (late thirteenth century), the teacher of Ānandajñāna, also wrote commentaries on all the three works of Ānandabodha. Ānandabodha does not pretend to have made any original contribution and says that he collected his materials from other works which existed in his time[2]. He starts his Nyāya-makaranda with the thesis that the apparent difference of different selves is false, since not only do the'Upaniṣads hold this doctrine, but it is also intelligible on grounds of reason that the apparent multiplicity of selves can be explained on an imaginary supposition of diversity (kālpanika-puruṣa-bheda), even though in reality there is but one soul. Arguing on the fact that even the illusory supposition of an imaginary diversity may explain all appearances of diversity, Ānandabodha tries to refute the argument of the Sāṃkhya-kārikā that the diversity of souls is proved by the fact that with the birth and death of some there is not birth or death of others. Having refuted the plurality of subjects in his own way, he turns to the refutation of plurality of objects.

He holds that difference (bheda) cannot be perceived by sense-perception, since difference cannot be perceived without perceiving both the object and all else from which it differs. It cannot be said that first the object is perceived and then the difference; for perception will naturally cease with awareness of its object, and there is no way in which it can operate for the comprehension of difference; neither can it be held that the comprehension of difference can in any way be regarded as simultaneous with the perception of the sensibles. Nor is it possible that, when two sensibles are perceived at two different points of time, there could be any way in which their difference could be perceived; for the two sensibles cannot be perceived at one and the same time. It cannot, again, be said that the perception of any sensible, say blue, involves with it the perception of all that is not blue, the yellow, the white, the red, etc.; for in that case the perception of any sensible would involve the perception of all other objects of the world.

The negation of the difference of an entity does not mean anything more than the actual position of it. It is not, however, right to hold that all positive entities are of the nature of differences; for this is directly against all experience. If differences are perceived as positive entities, then to comprehend their differences further differences would be required, and there would thus be a vicious infinite. Moreover, differences, being negative in their nature, cannot be regarded as capable of being perceived as positive sensibles. Whether difference is taken as a subject or a predicate in the form “the difference of the jug from the pillar,” or “the jug is different from the pillar,” in either case there is comprehension of an earlier and more primitive difference between the two objects, on the basis of which the category of difference is realized.

Ānandabodha then discusses the different theories of error held by the Nyāya, Mīmāṃsā, Buddhism, etc. and supports the anirva-canīya theory of error[3]. In this connection he records his view as to why nescience (avidyā) has to be admitted as the cause of world-appearance. He points out that the variety and multiplicity of world-appearance cannot be explained without the assumption of a cause which forms its substance. Since this world-appearance is unreal, it cannot come out of a substance that is real, nor can it come out of something absolutely non-existent and unreal, since such a thing evidently could not be the cause of anything; hence, since the cause of world-appearance cannot be either real or unreal, it must have for its cause something which is neither real nor unreal, and the neither-real-nor-unreal entity is avidyā[4].

He next proceeds to prove the doctrine that the self is of the nature of pure consciousness (ātmanah samvid-rūpatva). This he does, firstly, by stating the view that awareness in revealing itself reveals also immediately its objects, and secondly, by arguing that even though objects of awareness may be varying, there is still the unvarying consciousness which continues the same even when there is no object. If there were only the series of awarenesses arising and ceasing and if there were constant and persistent awarenesses abiding all the time, how could one note the difference between one awareness and another, between blue and yellow? Referring to avidyā, he justifies the view of its being supported on Brahman, because avidyā, being indefinable in its nature, i.e. being neither negative nor positive, there can be no objection to its being regarded as supported on Brahman. Moreover, Brahman can only be regarded as omniscient in its association with avidyā, since all relations are of the nature of avidyā and there cannot be any omniscience without a knowledge of the relations. In his Nyāya-dīpavalī he tries by inference to prove the falsity of the world-appearance on the analogy of the falsity of the illusory silver.

His method of treatment is more or less the same as the treatment in the Advaita-siddhi of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī at a much later period. There is practically nothing new in his Pramāṇa-mālā. It is a small work of about twenty-five pages, and one can recognize here the arguments of the Nyāya-makaranda in a somewhat different form and with a different emphasis. Most of Ānandabodha’s arguments were borrowed by the later writers of the Vedānta school. Vyāsatīrtha of the Madhva school of Vedānta collected most of the standard Vedānta arguments from Ānandabodha and Prakāśātman for refutation in his Nyāyāmṛta, and these were again refuted by Madhusūdana’s great work, the Advaita-siddhi, and these refuted in their turn in Rāma Tīrtha’s Nyāyāmṛta-taraṅgiṇī. The history of this controversy will be dealt with in the third volume of the present work.

Footnotes and references:


Mr Tripathi in his introduction to Ānandajñāna’s Tarka-saṃgraha gives Ānandabodha’s date as A.D. 1200.


nyāyāpadeśa-makaranda-kadamba eṣa.
p. 359.


See the first volume of the present work, ch. x, p. 485.


Nyāya-makaranda, pp. 122, 123.

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