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....

23. Anubhūtisvarūpa



L. Vasudeva Sarma


Anubhūtisvarūpa has been well-known in the history of grammar, if not in that of Advaita. His Sārasvata grammar has long been in print. The identity and the several works of Anubhūtisvarūpa in the field of Advaita have been discussed by Dr V. Raghavan in his paper on Anubhūtisvarūpa published in the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.[1] Anubhūtisvarūpa wrote mainly commentaries. All the three Prakaraṇas of Ānandabodha received his attention and we have manuscripts of his glosses on the Nyāya-makaranda (the saṅgraha) , the Nyā yadīpāvalī (Chandrikā) and the Pramāṇamālā (Nibandha). Among other standard authors whose works Anubhūtisvarūpa has commented upon are Śaṅkara, Vimuktātman, and Śrī-Harsha. On Śaṅkara’s Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya, Anubhūtisvarūpa wrote the commentary called Prakaṭārtha-vivaraṇa, and on his bhāṣya on the Māṇḍūkya-kārikās of Gauḍapāda a brief ṭippaṇa was written by Anubhūtisvarūpa; and three manuscripts of this work are known to exist. On the Iṣṭa-siddhi of Vimuktātman, he wrote an extensive commentary called Iṣṭa-siddhi-vivaraṇa which is available in manuscript in the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras. His commentary on Śrī-Harsha’s Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya also is not printed and it is available in a single manuscript in the Big Bhandar at Jessalamere. In the Gītā-prasthāna, Anubhūtisvarūpa made his contribution in the form of a brief gloss on Śaṅkara's Gitiā-bhāṣya which is still in manuscript.[2]

Anubhūtisvarūpa for all that he wrote became a forgotten author in the history of Advaita. But it should not be supposed that there was no trace left at all of him in the writings of the later Advaitins. His commentaries on Vimuktātman, Śrī-Harsha and Ānandabodha, no doubt fell into oblivion; but his commentary on the bhāṣya of Śrī Śaṅkara on the Brahma-sūtra, namely, the Prakaṭārtha-vivaraṇa was remembered in the Advaitic tradition. Even in this case his real identity was lost and he was remembered only as Prakaṭārtha-kāra or the author of the Prakatārtha.

To begin with, Anubhūtisvarūpa is very critical about Vāchaspatimiśra.[3] Amalānanda-Vyāsāśrama wrote in the later part of the 13th century his Kalpataru on the Bhāmatī of Vāchaspati-miśra; and without mentioning the name of Anubhūtisvarūpa he defended Vāchaspati against his criticism. The reference in Amalānanda’s work could easily be identified as one to Anubhūtisvarūpa. An express identification of the reply in Amalānanda as directed against the Prakaṭārtha-kāra is to be had in the Ratnaprabhā of Govindānanda

Appayya Dīkṣita, the most noteworthy and versatile writer among the later Advaitins makes more than one reference to Prakatārtha-kāra in his Siddhānta-leśa-saṅgraha.

The above references have been pointed out to show that some of the criticisms and specific views of our author had not been completely forgotten.


Date of Anubhūtisvarūpa

Śrī-Harsha on whose Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya, Anubhūtisvarūpa has commented flourished in the middle of the 12th Century A.D. Amalānanda, the commentator on Vāchaspati’s Bhāmatī, replies, without mentioning the name, to Anubhūtisvarūpa’s criticisms of Vāchaspati. At the end of his Kalpataru, Amalānanda mentions that he wrote under the Yādava King of Devagiri, Kṛṣṇa, (1248-1259 A.D.) and his brother Mahādeva. So we may take Anubhūtisvarūpa as having flourished between the middle of the 12th Century and the first half of the 13th Century.

Anubhūtisvarūpa’s important contribution to Advaita lies in his view regarding avidyā. In Advaita, the supreme lord, the individual soul, and the phenomenal world are but the appearances of the transcendent Reality, Brahman. The principle that accounts for this seeming diversification of Brahman is avidyā or māyā.

Some Advaitins draw a distinction between māyā and avidyā. Bhāratītīrtha in the Pañchadaśī distinguishes avidyā, the impure-sattva-predominant prakṛti from māyā, the pure-sattva-predominant prākṛti. The former is the adjunct of the Lord. In the Vivaraṇa-prameya-saṅgraha, however, Bhāratītīrtha follows the Vivaraṇa tradition of not making any difference between māyā and nescience (avidyā).[4] Anubhūtisvarūpa closely follows the Vivaraṇa school and he does not make any distinction between māyā and avidyā. He holds that the beginningless, indeterminable primal cause of beings which is present in the pure consciousness is māyā. The limited innumerable parts of māyā are endowed with the concealing and revealing powers and are called ajñāna.[5] Thus Anubhūtisvarūpa by referring to ajñāna or avidyā as the parts of māyā considers them to be identical

As regards the locus and content of māyā or avidyā, Anubhūtisvarūpa’s view is not very clear. He closely follows the Vivaraṇa school. This school maintains that Brahman, the pure consciousness is the locus and content of māyā or avidyā. Anubhūtisvarūpa says that māyā is present in or associated with pure consciousness as such. From this we may take that according to Anubhūtisvarūpa Brahman itself is the locus and content of māyā or avidyā.

As regards the nature of the supreme lord and the individual soul there is difference of opinion between the two main post-Śaṅkara Advaita schools — the Vivaraṇa and the Bhāmatī. According to the former view, the individual soul is the reflection of consciousness in avidyā, and consciousness that serves as the original is the Supreme Lord. This view is known as pratibiṃba-vāda. According to the Bhāmatī view, consciousness delimited by māyā is the individual soul and the consciousness which is not delimited by māyā is the Supreme Lord. Anubhūtisvarūpa follows the pratibiṃba-vāda. He, however, makes some improvement on it.

He holds that pure consciousness when reflected in ajñāna or avidyā which is a part of māyā is the individual soul. And the consciousness that transcends māyā is the śuddhachaitanya.[6] The parts of māyā which are termed ajñāna are innumerable. And, since the consciousness reflected in ajñāna is the individual soul and since there is a plurality of ajñāna, there are many individual souls.

Anubhūtisvarūpa maintains the distinction of released and bound souls thus:

In the case of an individual soul who has attained to the knowledge of Brahman, his ajñāna which is the part of māyā is annihilated and thereby he is released. The universe which is the transformation of māyā continues to exist; but the released soul is not attached to it, just as a blind man cannot see the colour although it exists. Māyā would be annihilated only when all its parts are annihilated, that is when all the individual souk attain to the knowledge of Brahman.[7]

Appayya Dīkṣita in his Siddkāntaleśa-saṅgraha in the very first topic expounds the view that the injunction as regards the study of Vedānta, reflection, and meditation contained in the Upaniṣadic text that ‘Ātman is to be seen, heard, reflected on and meditated upon’ is an apūrva-vidhi; and, this is the view of Anubhūtisvarūpa.[8]

It may be added here that the author of the Vivaraṇa maintains that there is niyama-vidhi, while Vāchaspatimiśra holds that there is no injunction at all.

Anubhūtisvarūpa flourished in an age when post-Śaṅkara Advaita had to contend against the Bhedābheda-vāda of Bhāskara and the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika. Anubhūtisvarūpa attacked bitterly Bhāskara who opposed the philosophy of Śaṅkara. The Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika realists hold several categories all of which are not acceptable to the Advaitins. And, they form the target of attack for Anubhūtisvarūpa. By refuting the two schools mentioned above, Anubhūtisvarūpa rendered a solid service to the cause of Advaita.

Footnotes and references:


Silver Jubilee Volume, pp. 352-68.


See New Catalogus Catalogurum, Vol. 1, p. 159.


See Gleanings from Prakatārtha by Prof. M. Hiriyanna, JORM, Vol. 15.


Prakaṭārtha-vivaraṇa, Madras University Sanskrit Series No. 9, Vol. I.


Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan, The Philosophy of Advaita, p. 229.


Ibid, p. 4.




Ibid, p. 989.

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