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....

26. Rāmādvayāchārya





Rāmādvayāchārya belongs to that galaxy of medieval authors who wrote independent dialectical works called prakaraṇas connected with the Vedānta, Sāstra. Vedānta-kaumudī, published by the Madras University (1955) and an unpublished commentary on it by himself are the only works available in his name. A prakaraṇa may be smaller or bigger than the Śāstra to which it is connected, but it elaborates a few topics dealt with there. Vedānta-kaumudī fully answers to this definition.


His Date

Appaya Dīkṣita of the 16th Century quotes from Vedānta-kaumudī thrice, once by the name of the author and twice by mentioning his work. Brahmānanda (17th century) the author of Laghuchandrikā discussed his anumāna in the establishment of mithyātva (illusoriness) of the universe. Moreover Dr. Dasgupta who was the first to notice the importance of Vedānta-kaumudī refers to two manuscripts of the commentary of the work, one in Asiatic Society of Bengal and the other in the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. In both these manuscripts the copying date given is 1515 A.D. We can therefore take it that the upper limit of the date of Vedāwtarkaumud ī and its commentary (which are by the same author) is 1500 A.D. His reference to Janārdana who later became Ānandagiri and his reference to later authors show that he probably lived about 1515 A.D.

Rāmādvaya in his discussions mostly follows the Siddhāntas of the Vivaraṇa school, but whenever he finds any difficulty he adopts the views of Vāchaspati. Following the Siddhānta of the Vivaraṇa school he adopts :

  1. niyamavidhi in respect of injunctions regarding śravaṇa;
  2. rise of Brahman-realization directly from the Vedāntas;
  3. jīvas as reflections of Brahman.

Following Vāchaspati he accepts nescience as many and its location in jīvas.


Contents of Vedānta-Kaumudī

The work is divided into four chapters. Brahman-inquiry, the subject-matter of the first Brahma-sūtra} is elaborated in the first chapter. Following the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya of Śrī-Harsha, the author establishes the eligibility of the Advaitin who views the world as unreal, for taking part in philosophical discussions. He says that what is required in the discussions is only the acceptance of categories as they are and not their absolute reality. Explaining the self-validity of the pramāṇas he t hinks that though the absence of defects is useful it does not conduce to validity being extrinsic. After an elaborate discussion he supports Vāchaspatiś view that mind is the means of Brahman-knowledge; but finally he approves the position taken by the author of the Vivaraṇa that Vedāntas directly give rise to the intu i tive knowledge. Taking up the Advaitin’s stand in respect of illusion, the author condemns all other khyātis and supports anirvachanīyakhyāti. Māyā as a positive entity is established by perception, inference, and scripture. Among the qualities necessary for eligibility for Brahman-inquiry the author lays stress on vairāgya (freedom from desires). This he says is to be attained not only by performing the obligatory rites prescribed in the Vedas but also by voluntary charity of food and clothing beyond one’s means. Interpreting the agelong saying that by death in Vārāṇasī one gets final release, he says that death there leads to final release through different phases and not directly. After an extensive discussion, the author establishes that sannyāsa āśrama is essential for Brahman-knowledge and is so taught in the scriptures. But once taken, there is no going back. Taking up the subject-matter of the Brahma-śūtra the author states that the identity of jīva with Brahman is the subject and the whole inanimate world with the multiplicity of the jīvas is unreal. The unreality of the universe is established on the ground that it is inexplicable either as different or as non-different from Brahman, its cause. In chapter II the author takes up the second Brahma-sutra for discussion. He declares that the fact that Brahman is the cause of creation, sustentation, and dissolution of the world is to be established only by scripture and not by inference as held by the Naiyāyikas.

The author condemns the inferences of the Naiyāyikas estabhshing Īśvara as the cause as fallacious. Elaborating causality, the author rejects the views

  1. that karma is the cause,
  2. that time is the cause,
  3. that nature is the cause,
  4. that prāṇa (vital air) is the cause,
  5. and that pradhāna is the cause.

Incidentally he criticises the views of the Buddhists, the Jainas and the Pāśupatas in respect of causation.

After thus explaining the taṭasthalakṣaṇa he takes up the svarūpalakṣaṇa and establishes on the basis of scripture and reasoning that Brahman is of the nature of reality, intelligence, and bliss. He also establishes the Vedāntic theory that the mahā-vākyas give rise to an impartite sense (akhaṇḍārtha).

In the third chapter, the author discusses the proofs for the existence of Brahman. He holds that Vedāntas alone are the proofs. Incidentally he takes up other pramāṇas and discusses their definitions and scope. He rejects the anumānas given by Udayana in his Kusumāñjalī as fallacious. As regards verbal knowledge resulting from Vedic and non-Vedic texts the author favours abhihitānvayavāda of Kumārila in preference to anvitābhidhānavāda of Prabhākara. Taking up the subject of authorship of the Vedas the author declares that the Vedas are not of human origin; even God cannot interfere in their subject-matter or sequence. They are beginningless. Though they perish in the deluge, there is God who remembers the Vedas of the previous creation and teaches them to Brahmā at the time of the first creation after the deluge.

In chapter IV the author takes up the fourth Sūtra for discussion. In reply to the contention of the Mīmāṃsakas that Vedic injunctions which tend to human activity (towards good) or abstention (from bad) alone are valid, and the Upaniṣads which reveal the ever-existent Brahman are not valid, the Sūtrakāra says that the Upaniṣads which are not connected with any karma and which do not set forth any activity are also valid since they also reveal Brahman whose knowledge gives the final puruṣārtha. The author incidentally defines the sixteen categories enumerated by Gautama. As regards the nature of Īśvara he accepts the Vivaraṇa theory that he is the pratibiṃba (reflection) of Brahman in māyā; he is all-pervasive.

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