Preceptors of Advaita

by T. M. P. Mahadevan | 1968 | 179,170 words | ISBN-13: 9788185208510

The Advaita tradition traces its inspiration to God Himself — as Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa or as Sadā-Śiva. The supreme Lord revealed the wisdom of Advaita to Brahma, the Creator, who in turn imparted it to Vasiṣṭha....

In the history of Advaita after Śrī Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda, it is a unique and rare event that is being commemorated by the publication of this Volume — the Diamond Jubilee of the ascension to the Śrī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha by His Holiness Jagadguru Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī, Śrī Śaṅkarāchārya of Kāñchī. For sixty years the Āchārya has adorned the Holy Seat founded by Śrī Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda, making its lustre spread far and wide and bringing solace to innumerable seekers all the world over. The present Volume is a collective offering made to the Jagadguru by His devotees, as a humble token of their ineffable gratitude, veneration, and love, on the auspicious occasion of the Diamond Jubilee.

Advaita, which is the Plenary Experience, is not a system among the systems of philosophy or a cult among the cults of religion. It has been taught by great preceptors from time immemorial as the culmination and goal of all philosophical schools and religious persuasions. The Advaita tradition traces its inspiration to God Himself — as Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa or as Sadā-Śiva. The supreme Lord revealed the wisdom of Advaita to Brahma, the Creator, who in turn imparted it to Vasiṣṭha. This wisdom was handed down at first as vaṃśa-paramparā, i.e. as from father to son, in succession. With Śuka and Gauḍapāda commenced the śiṣya-paramparā, i.e. the line of succession from preceptor to disciple. Śaṅkara, an avatāra of Śiva, was the greatest consolidator of Advaita : his penetrating and lucid commentaries on the three p rasthānas, viz. the Upaniṣads, the Bhagavadrgītā , and the Brahma-sūtra, have been acclaimed as masterpieces of Vedāntic literature. The teachers of Advaita who came after him have expounded the Upaniṣadic teaching in numerous works.

In the present Volume, there are articles contributed by various scholars on the Preceptors of Advaita belonging to the three periods into which the history of Advaita falls:

  1. that of pre-Śaṅkara teachers, beginning with Vasiṣṭha.
  2. that of Śaṅkara and his immediate disciples, and
  3. that of post-Śaṅkara exponents of Advaita.

The first fifty-six articles cover sixty Preceptors of Advaita: it will be seen that not only philosophers but also poets, literary writers, and exponents in some of the regional languages have been included here. Articles 57, 58, and 59 are devoted to Śaṅkarite Institutions, Kāmākṣī and Kāmakoṭi. and the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, respectively. The sixtieth article presents a brief life-sketch of His Holiness Jagadguru Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī, the Sage of Kāñchī, the Diamond Jubilee of whose Pīṭhārohaṇa this Volume commemorates.

In the last article, the sixty-first, are given English translations of two of His Holiness’s discourses —

  1. On Advaita, and
  2. On the Significance of Śaṅkara Jayanti.

We are grateful to all those who have, with great joy and profound devotion, helped to make the publication of this Volume possible: to the scholars who have contributed articles; to Dr. N. Veezhinathan who translated into English such of those articles which were originally written in Samskrit or Tamil, and who attended to the many details of publication; to Dr. T. P. Ramachandran who assisted in reading the proofs; to Śrī T. Sadasivam, Editor, “Kalki”, for help and advice in regard to the illustrations and the cover-design; to Śrī Sridhar of “Ānanda Vikatan” for supplying photographs of His Holiness; to the G. S. Press for the excellent printing; to the Government of Andhra Pradesh for a generous grant-in-aid.

May this reverential offering to His Holiness serve, in however small a measure, the cause of Advaita — which is the cause of universal Spiritual Peace — so dear to His heart!

December 31, 1967

T. M. P. Mahadevan.

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