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....

25. Ānandapūrṇa-vidyāsāgara



V. Subrahmania Sastri
Nyāya Śiromaṇi

Śrī Bādarāyaṇa set forth the Vedānta-darśana in his aphorisms by stringing together the flowers of the Upamshadic texts. And, this darśana is the most noteworthy among the darśanas. Śrī Śaṅkara enriched it by his commentary on it. Preceptors of Advaita wrote many commentaries on it; and these commentaries were supplemented by other commentaries.

In the Advaita literature there are many works which prove the validity of the import of the Upaniṣads by refuting, on the basis of reasoning, the objections raised against Advaita by other opposing schools. And these works are termed Vādaprasthāna .

In the Vādapraathāna the most prominent one is the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya by Śrī-Harsha. He proves on the basis of reasoning that the phenomenal universe is indeterminable either as real or as unreal. All the categories and their definitions admitted in the Nyāya system are proved to be riddled with inconsistencies. He says that if one repeats, like a parrot, his arguments against the Nyāya system then that itself is enough to make the realists dumb. Whether one who repeats his arguments knows the import of them or not—it does not matter much.

This work is so complex that it is exceedingly difficult to understand it. Not only this: the view-points that are set forth in the work are confusingly interposed. It requires profound scholarship to deal with the work.

Ānandapūrṇa wrote the commentary Vidyāsāgarī on this work. And this commentary is superb. It solves all the intricate points deliberately introduced in the work. Further, it refers to the viewpoints of the Nyāya, the Prābhākara, the Bhāṭṭa and the Sugata schools and critically examines them. Thus what was once so complicated and so full of perplexities and hence so hard to follow, that work has been made much easier to understand by Ānandapūrṇa.

Varadarāja, the commentator on Udayana’s Kusumāñjalī speaks of Udayana thus:

audayane pathi gahane
videśikaḥ pratipadam skhalati lokaḥ.

This passage means that one who is a foreigner to the Nyāya system falters at every step in the impenetrable path of Udayana’s philosophy. Ānandapūrṇa reveals his profound scholarship by explaining the import of the complex statements of Udayana and the much more complicated points of Śrī-Harsha, and by making clear the arguments used to refute the definitions of the categories of the schools opposed to Advaita.

Certain view-points of the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system which are not explicitly referred to and criticized in the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya are referred to and criticized by Ānandapūrṇa. The Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya refers to the intrinsic validity of knowledge and further states that that validity can be removed only when there arises some counteracting factor— dhiyām svataḥ prāmāṇyasya bādhakaikāpodyatvāt (p. 145). While commenting on this passage, Ānandapūrṇa refers to the inferential argument of Udayana that establishes the validity of knowledge to be extrinsic. And that inferential argument is:

“Validity of knowledge depends upon a cause which is different from the cause that gives rise to knowledge; because it is a unique kind of effect, like absence of validity.”

yadapyudayano jagāda—“pramā jñānahetvatirikta hetvadīnā, kāryatve sati tad viśeṣatvāt, apramāvat” (p. 147).

Ānandapūrṇa proves that this inferential argument is not valid. This inferential argument is again referred to and criticized on a different ground while commenting on the passage of the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya which refutes extrinsic validity to knowledge and which runs as follows:

prāmāṇyaparatastvavyudasti prastāve.” (p. 445)

Again, in the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya it is said that a cause has a śakti to create an object and the characteristic that determines the existence of such a śakti is the effect that is going to be produced.

“kāraṇa-śakteścha viśeṣakam asadeva kāryam.” (p. 76).

While commenting on this passage, Ānandapūrṇa refers to the passage of the Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayana. The Naiyāyikas do not admit śakti to be a separate category. Udayana holds that if a cause should produce an effect then what is necessary is only the absence of any factor that would prevent the origination of the effect and not the existence of śakti. And Ānandapūṛna refutes the view of Udayana in detail. The Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya text deals with the nature of the witness-self (sākṣī). This provides an occasion for Ānandapūṛna to refer to and criticise the objection of Aparārka raised in his commentary Nyāyamuktāval ī on Nyāya-sāra of Bhāsarvajñā.

All the above references have been given to show that Ānandapūṛna refers to and refutes the view-points of the schools opposed to Advaita although they are not referred to in the text on which he comments.

Apart from his superb commentary on the amazingly logical treatise of the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya, Ānandapūrṇa wrote a commentary on Sureśvara’s Vārtika on the Bṛhadāraṇyako’paniṣadbhāṣya of Śrī Śaṅkara. The Bṛhadāraṇyako’paniṣad is replete with reasonings, vast in extent and great in sense. Śrī Śaṅkara wrote his bhāṣya on it, and Sureśvara wrote his Vārtika which consists of more than eleven thousand verses. Sureśvara was mainly concerned with refuting the concept of difference, the views of Bhartṛprapañcha, and the theory of jñāna-karma-samuchchaya, and also with establishing the indeterminable nature of the universe and oneness of the self. And on this Vārtika, Ānandapūṛna wrote his commentary which is known as Nyāya-kalpalatikā. In this work he explains the Pūrvamīmāṃsāsūtras in the order in which the followers of the Prābhākara school have arranged them into adhi-karaṇas; and this shows his profound knowledge of the Pūrva-mīmāṃsā school.

Although he criticizes the view-points of both the Nyāya-vaiśeṣika and the Pūrva-mīmāṃsā, yet his antipathy is more deep-rooted towards the Pūrvamīmāṃsā school than towards the Nyāyavaiśeṣika. And the chief reason for this is that the Pūrva-mīmāṃsā school, unlike the Nyāya-vaiśeṣika school, does not admit the existence of God.

avidyārabānām tārkihāṇām īśvarakāraṇinām aviveko bahutaraḥ mīmāṃsakānām tu nirīśvarāṇām bahutamo’vivekaḥ (Nyāya-kalpa-latikā).

He is always averse to any digression from the subject on hand. That is why he does not explain each and every word of the Vārtika which, by itself, is elegant in style. He interprets only the important words and he gives the construction of the sentences only wherever necessary. He prefaces a succeeding Vārtika by the sense of an earlier Vārtika. He does not thrust upon the original verses the several theories of Advaita if they are not relevant. He does not cite the passages that set forth the views of the schools criticized. In the Vārtika the philosophy of Bhartṛprapañcha comes in for a good deal of criticism. But very rarely he cites the passages of Bhartṛprapañcha. He is rather indifferent in identifying the authors of the schools who are referred to either directly or indirectly in the Vārtika. For example, in his commentary on the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya he says that the aphorism “yugapat jñānānutpattiḥ manaso liṅgam” is that of Kaṇāda. In fact this is the aphorism of Gautama (1.1.16). Kaṇāda’s aphorism runs as follows:

ātmendṛyārthasannikarshe jñānasya bhāvo’ bhāvaścha manaso liṅgam” (3.2.1).

But, as the intended sense is the same and both the systems are more or less similar, he takes the one for the other.

While commenting on the Bṛhaḍāraṇyaka text

“tameva dhīro vijñāya prajñām kurvīta brāhmaṇaḥ,

Sureśvara refers to the view of Maṇḍana.

anye tu paṇḍitam manyāḥ sampradāyānusārataḥ
vijñāyeti vachaḥ śrautam idam vyāchakṣate’nyathā

While commenting on this verse, Ānandapūrṇa says that the view of Vāchaspatimiśra is referred to here. Sureśvara who flourished before Vāchaspati could not refer to him. But since Vāchaspati is considered to be a close follower of Maṇḍana , Ānandapūrṇa might have identified the two. This is as it should be, because while commenting on the Vārtika.

nanvatrāpi kṛtaivāsau lyabantenābhidīyate
prajñātaḥ karaṇam tasyāḥ bhūyaḥ kasmānna vidhīyate

he says that the view referred to herein is that of Maṇḍana,

While commenting on the Bṛhadāraṇyako’paniṣad text “brahmaiva san brahmāpyeti” (4.4.6) Śrī Śaṅkara says that those who hold that in mokṣa there is the manifestation of a unique kind of knowledge and bliss must explain the sense of the word ‘manifestation.’

yepi āchakṣate mokṣe vijñānāntaram ānandāntaram
cha abhivyajyate iti taiḥ vaktavyaḥ abhivyaktiśabdārthah

Here the Vārtika is:

yetu vyāchakṣate mokṣe nityānandaikagochara
jñānābhivyaktirityevam svasiddhāntasarnāśrayāt

Ānandapūrṇa says that the view-point of Bhāsarvajña is stated here. It is wrong. The view of Bhāsarvajña who came after Śaṅkara and Sureśvara cannot be referred to by both. All this shows that Ānandapūrṇa is more concerned with the view-points than with their authors.

Ānandapūrṇa while refuting the Pūrva-mīmāṃsā school observes that if it is said that the Upaniṣads are not valid on the ground that they are contrary to the Śābardbhāṣya, then it can very well be said that the ritualistic section of the veda is not valid because it is contrary to the import of the Śānkarabhāṣya. Thus he shows his greatest respect towards Śaṅkara.

Ānandapūrṇa wrote ten works; and they are:

  1. Khaṇḍanāṭīkā (vidyāsāgarī)
  2. Bṛhadāraṇyakavārtikavyākhyā (Nyāya-kalpa-latikā)
  3. Nyāyachandrikā
  4. Brahmasiddhir-vyākhyā (Bhāvaśuddhiḥ)
  5. Samanvaya-sūtra-vṛttiḥ
  6. Pañchapādikā-vyākhyā
  7. Mahāvidyāviḍambanavyākhyā
  8. Nyāyasāravyākhyā
  9. Kāśikā-vyākhyā (Prakṛyāmañjarī)
  10. Mokṣadharmavyākhyā.

By writing commentaries on the works on important schools of Advaita he provided much material for manana, arguing within oneself about the validity of the import of the Upaniṣads. Thus he rendered a valuable service to the cause of Advaita, particularly to those who long for liberation.

His Vidyāguru was an ascetic by name Śvetagiri. In the beginning of the Nyāya-kalpa-latikā and the Vidyāsāgarī he salutes him.

  1. Śrīmate gurave śvetagiraye sthānnamaskṛyā (Nyāyakalpalatikā)
  2. vande munīndrān yatibrindavandyān śrīmadgurūn śvētagirin vaṛṣṭhān (Vidyāsāgarī).

At the end of the Nyāyakalpalatikā also he salutes him.

śrīmad śvetagirim vande śiṣyadhīpadmabhāskaram.”

At one place he refers to himself as Abhayānanda-pūjyapādaśiṣya. From this we may take that Abhayānanda was his Dīkṣāguru. Both at the beginning and at the end of the Nyāyakalpalatikā, he offers his salutations to Gokarṇeśvara; and from this it is known that he lived in Gokarṇakṣetra.

In the Prakṛyamañjarī he says that he wrote the work when the king Kāmadeva was ruling over Gokarṇa. This king flourished in 1350 AD. And we may take that Ānandapūrṇa flourished in 1350 A.D.

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