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....

34. Sadānanda Kāśmīraka



Lalitha Ramamurti

Sadānanda Kāśmīraka is the author of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi, one of the standard works on Advaita Vedānta of post-Śaṅkara school. This work is published in the Bibliotheca Indica series by the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The author has written another work called Svarūpaprakāśa and he refers to this work in the Advaita-brahma-siddhi.[1] Prof. M. Hiriyanna, in his edition of the Vedāntasāra of Sadānanda, says that that author is different from Sadānanda, the author of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi. Very little is known about the author. Madhusūdanasarasvatī does not refer to Sadānanda Kāśmīraka by name. But there are passages in the works of Madhusūdanasarasvatī which are identical with those found in the Advaita-brahma-siddhi. But we cannot say whether Madhusūdanasarasvatī quotes these passages from the Advaita-brahma-siddhi or Sadānanda quotes from the works of Madhusūdanasarasvatī.

The arrangement of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi materially differs from that of Advaitasiddhi of Madhusūdanasarasvatī The latter is written with the sole view of answering the objections raised against Advaita by the dualistic school of thought. The former, on the other hand, gives a succinct account with all fairness to the hostile schools, and then proceeds to refute them. For a student of Advaita who has not independently studied the other schools of thought through original texts, the present work is very useful. It consists of four chapters. In the first chapter the author criticizes the Nyāya-vaiśēshika views of āraṃbhavāda, atoms, samavāya, etc., and also the Sāṃkhya views of Pradhāna and satkāryavāda. The second chapter is devoted to a critical review of the four schools of Buddhism and also of the Jaina and the Materialistic schools. In the third chapter, our author mainly discusses and refutes the nature of difference and also the concept of difference-cum-identity. He also deals with the indeterminable character of the universe and proves that the objects of the universe though not real can be adapted to the practical needs of life. The nature of the removal of āvidyā is also incidentally discussed. In the fourth chapter he critically examines the theory that jñāna associated with karma is the means to liberation and sets forth in detail all the important concepts of Advaita.

According to Advaita there are two categories, dṛk and dṛśya. The other categories accepted by different schools of thought can be brought under these two. Of these, dṛk is Ātman which is Absolute. Although immutable, it appears to be threefold owing to its unaccountable association with māyā or avidyā as Īśvara, jīva and sākṣī. As regards the nature of Īśvara and jīva, three theories are put forth by the Advaitins and they are — pratibiṃbavāda, avacchedavāda and ābhāsavāda. Of these pratibiṃbavāda is propounded by Padmapāda and is elaborately dealt with by Prakāśātman in his Vivaraṇa. The avacchedavāda is advocated by Vāchaspatimiśra and the ābhāsavāda by Sureśvara in his Bṛhadāraṇyaka-vārtika.[2] According to pratibiṃbavāda, the consciousness, that is, Brahman associated with, but transcending avidyā, is Īśvara and the pure consciousness that is reflected in the intellect in its gross and subtle states is jīva. The intellects are many and consequently the individual souls also are many. According to this view Īśvara is a complex of avidyā and consciousness. Jīva is a blend of consciousness and intellect in its gross and subtle states associated with avidyā. The conscious element is real by being identical with the original The insentient element of avidyā or intellect is indeterminable either as real or as unreal.[3] According to the avacchedavāda, consciousness unconditioned by avidyā is Īśvara and the consciousness conditioned by avidyā is jīva. And in this view, jīva is the locus of avidyā.[4] According to the ābhāsavāda the consciousness reflected in avidyā is Īśvara and the consciousness reflected in the intellect is jīva. But while according to the pratibiṃbavāda the conscious part in the reflection is real, according to this view, the conscious part in the reflection is neither sentient nor insentient, neither real nor unreal. However, the reflections, namely, the jīva and Īśvara are identified with the pure consciousness and are respectively viewed as the agent or enjoyer and the creator of the universe.[5] And according to the other views the consciousness that underlies both the jīva and Īśvara is sākṣī. And in all these three views, the individual souls are many owing to the plurality of intellect.

Apart from these three views, there is another view known as dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda. This is identical with the ekajīvavāda According to this view, the consciousness when reflected in avidyā is jīva and since avidyā is one, the jīva also is one. And the other individual souls and the insentient universe are like objects in a dream state; they have only apparent reality. The one and the only individual soul attains liberation after getting the intuitive knowledge of Brahman from the preceptor who is also fancied by him as an omniscient being. This view is said to be the principal view of the Vedānta.[6] Our author deals with all these four views and he seems to favour the dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda.

He observes:

“brahmaiva anādi-māyāvaśāt
jīvabhāvamāpannassan muchyate”.

According to Advaita the infinite Brahman when associated with avidyā undergoes transmigration and when freed from avidyā attains liberation. And avidyā could be removed only by the intuitive knowledge of Brahman. Here arises the question of some importance—whether meditation is the real cause of the intuitive knowledge or whether it is merely an aid to the mahāvākyas leading to that result. The prevalent view in Advaita is that the mahāvākyas directly lead to the knowledge of Brahman. And our author holds this view. The objection to this view is that the innate nature of a sentence is to give rise to only mediate knowledge. Hence the Upaniṣadic texts also, in view of their being sentences, give rise to only mediate knowledge of Brahman and not to the intuitive knowledge of Brahman. This objection is not valid because whether a sentence gives rise to mediate knowledge or immediate knowledge lies in the nature of the object concerned. If the object is mediate, then the sentence gives rise to only a mediate knowledge of the object. But here Brahman is always immediate and hence the mahāvākyas could give rise to the immediate knowledge of Brahman. And this intuitive knowledge annihilates avidyā, and Brahman which is self-luminous manifests itself. And Brahman free from avidyā is liberation. This intuitive knowledge brings about the annihilation of all deeds except the fructified ones. Till the latter are destroyed by experiencing their results, the realised soul continues to exist in the body. This is known as jīvanmukti. When in the end a jīvanmukta is dissociated with his physical accompaniments, he becomes Brahman itself and this is known as videhamukti.

The greatest contribution of Sadānanda Kāśmīraka lies in this that he had had access to all important Advaitic works of his predecessors and he had presented the Advaitic doctrines in a lucid way for the benefit of posterity. The style of the Advaita-brahma-siddhi is more lucid and less pedantic than that of the Advaita-siddhi. In simplicity of exposition and fairness to the other systems, it deserves to be placed with the Vivaraṇaprameyasaṃgraha of Vidyāraṇya and the Tattvapradīpikā of Chitsukhāchārya.

Footnotes and references:


Vide p. 247.


Advaita-brahma-siddhi, pp. 247ff.


Ibid , pp. 243ff.


Ibid., p. 250.


Ibid., p. 248.


Ibid., p. 260.


Ibid., p. 259.

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