Bhagavatpadabhyudaya by Lakshmana Suri (study)
by Lathika M. P. | 2018 | 67,386 words
This page relates ‘Question of Identity’ of the study on the Bhagavatpadabhyudaya by Lakshmana Suri: a renowned Sanskrit Scholar from the 19th century. The Bhagavatpada-abhyudaya is a Mahakavya (epic poem) narrating the life of Shankara-Acharya, a prominent teacher of Advaita Vedanta philosophy. This essay investigates the socio-spiritual conditions of 8th century AD in ancient India as reflected in Lakshmanasuri’s work.
The Question of Identity
In Bhagavatpādābhyudaya Lakṣmaṇa Sūrin gives a clear picture about the importance of Advaita in many instances. Among them some important incidents are as follows:
Enquiring a teacher Śrī Śaṅkara reached the banks of river Narmada. He met a Yogi residing in the nearby cave. The Yogi was none other than Sri Govinda Bhagavatpāda awaiting his disciples as per the instructions of Vyāsa. Govinda Bhagavatpāda asked Śaṅkara, who he was. In reply Śrī Śaṅkara sang ten verses called ‘Daśaśloki’.
The work goes as follows: He asserts his own identity as Śiva the absolute one, the Advaita principle, by negating everything empirical.
na bhūmirna toyaṃ na tejo na vāyurna khaṃ nendriyaṃ vā na teṣāṃ samūhaḥ |
anekāntikatvātsuṣuptyekasiddha-stadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 1 ||
na varṇā na varṇāśramācāradharmā na me dhāraṇādhyānayogādayo'pi |
anātmāśrayohaṃmamādhyāsahānā-ttadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 2 ||
na mātā pitā vā na devā na lokā na vedā na yajñā na tīrthai bruvanti |
suṣuptau nirastātiśūnyātmakatvāttadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 3 ||
na sāṃkhyaṃ na śaivaṃ na tatpāñcarātraṃ na jainaṃ na mīmāṃsakādermataṃ vā |
viśiṣṭānubhūtya viśuddhātmakatvā-ttadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 4 ||
na cordhva na cādho na cāntarna bāhyaṃ na madhyaṃ na tiryaṅ na pūrvā'parā dik |
viyaṅdyāpakatvādakhaṇḍaikarūpaṃ tadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 5 ||
na śuklaṃ na kṛṣṇaṃ na raktaṃ na pītaṃ na kubjaṃ na pīnaṃ na hrasvaṃ na dīrgham |
arūpaṃ tathā jyotirākārakatvā-ttadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 6 ||
na śāstā na śāstraṃ na śiṣyo kevalo'ham na ca tvaṃ na cāhaṃ na cāyaṃ prapañcaḥ |
svarūpāvabodho vikalpāsahiṣṇu-stadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kovalo'ham || 7 ||
na jāgranna me svapnako vā suṣuptirna viśvo ma vā taijasaḥ prājñako vā |
avidyātmakatvāttrayāṇāṃ turīyaṃ sadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 8 ||
api vyāpakatvāddhi tatvaprayogā-tsvataḥ siddhabhāvādananyāśrayatvāt |
jagattucchametatsamastaṃ tadanyattadeko'vaśiṣṭaḥ śivaḥ kevalo'ham || 9 ||
na caikaṃ tadanyāddvitīyaṃ kutaḥ syānna vā kevalatvaṃ na cākevalatvam |
na śūnyaṃ na cāśūnyamaddhaitakatvātkathaṃ sarvavedāntasiddhaṃ bravīmi || 10 || 
1. I am not the earth, nor I am water, nor light, nor the wind, not even the sky, nor the senses, nor a combination of all these, but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
2. I am not Varṇa, nor Varṇaśrama Dharma, nor Dhāraṇa, nor Dhyāna, nor Yoga, but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
3. I am not father, nor mother, nor Gods, nor people, nor Veda, nor sacrifice, nor sleep, but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
4. I am not Saṃkhya, nor Śaiva, nor Vaisṇava, nor Mīmāṃsaka, nor Visista, nor Suddhi but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
5. I am not upper, nor down, nor in, nor out, nor middle but I am spreading all over the sky but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
6. I am not white, nor dark, nor red, nor yellow, nor small, nor big nor shapeless but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
7. I am not quarreller, nor king, nor student, nor teacher, nor world, nor effortseeker but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
8. I am not Jāgrat, nor Svapna, nor Suṣupti, nor the whole world, nor Tejasa, nor Prajña, but merely I am beyond Jāgrat-svapna-suṣupti but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
9. I spread all over the world, I am merely a philosophical factor, I am the God of world but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
10. I am not one, nor two, nor absolute principle, nor emptiness, mere I am the Advaita principle but merely Śiva, the residual factor.
In Bhagavatpādābhyudaya Lakṣmaṇa Sūrin quotes Śaṅkara’s detailed answer to the question ‘who are you’. Śaṅkara answered ‘revered sir, I am neither the earth nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor sky, nor any of other properties. I am not the senses and the mind even. I am Śiva, the divisionless essence of consciousness’. Hearing these words Govindapāda replied ‘Dear boy through the supersensuous insight which the experience of Samadhi has given me, I see that you are the great God Śiva come on earth in human form’. Then in observance of the customary rules for establishing the relation between the teacher and the disciple, the sage extended his feet through the mouth of the cave that would be a disciple worshipped with all devotion and ceremony. One may have an inborn knowledge of the truth, it is the scriptural dictum that one should be instructed duly by a teacher. Then Śaṅkara performed the worship of the teacher and through the devoted service of him, became the object of his loving affection. Highly pleased with Śaṅkara service he imparted to him the knowledge of Brahman through the four Mahāvākyas or great Vedic sentences ‘Prajñānam Brahma’ (Brahma is pure consciousness), ‘Aham Brahmāsmi’ (I am Brahman), ‘Tat-tvam-Asi’ (Thou art That), ‘Ayamātma Brahma’ (this Ātman in Brahman)’. He was then taught the Vedanta Sūtras of Vyāsa, and through them, the innermost essence of the Vedanta philosophy. Vyāsa was the son of Parāśara, and Śuka, of Vyāsa. Śuka had his disciples Gaudapāda, and Gaudapāda had his disciple Govindapāda, from whom Śaṅkara received the knowledge of Brahman. Govindapāda was considered an incarnation of Ādi Śeṣa.
Footnotes and references:
H.R Bhagavat, Minor Works of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, Chowkhamba Vidyabhavan, Varanasi: 2007, pp.64-65.