Among the three Prashtanams of Vedantadarsana, the Sutra Prashtanam deserves a special treatment. Although chronologically it occupies a second place among the three, it should be given a pride of place along with the Upanishads for its sheer literary excellence. In this Prasthana, Vedanta is explained logically. For this reason it is also called Nyayaprasthana. Here Nyaya means logic which constitutes Adhikarana consisting of five items.
विषयो विशयश्चैव पूर्वपक्षस्तथोत्तरम्
संगतिश्चेति पंचांगं शास्त्रेSधिकरणं स्मृतम् ||
According to the Mimamsakas, a complete Adhikarana consists of five items. Vishaya (The subject matter to be explained), Visaya ( the doubt arising about that matter), Purvapaksha (The immediate argument concerning it ), Uttaram ( the final answer ) and Sangathi (pertinence or relevance)
Badarayana [the self-same Vyasa] composed Brahma Sutras to explain the philosophy of the Upanishads in the light of the above Adhikarana logic. The Adhikarana way of introducing a particular topic is very interesting. The innumerable Upanishads were developed in different Vedic schools at different times and places. Naturally, the problems faced and solutions offered were also different and the thread of their unity is unmistakable. It was felt necessary to systematize different teachings so as to bring about the harmony underlying them. The Badarayana Sutras (composed by Badarayana) ascertain the philosophy of the Upanishads through Nyaya. The Badarayana Sutras are variously known as Bhikshu Sutras because they catered to the Bhikshus or monks and Brahma sutras because they established the identity of Jiva with Brahman. The sutra is defined as follows :
अस्तोभमनवद्यं च सूत्रं सूत्रविदो विदु:||
A Sutra is a concise technical sentence yet completely intelligible and universally acceptable. The Badarayana sutras consist of 555 items and their further break-up is: 4 Adhayas, each Adhaya being further divided into 4 padas.
Adhyaya I Pada II Pada III Pada IV Pada Total
I Adhyaya 31 + 32 + 43 + 28 = 134
II Adhyaya 37 + 45 + 53 + 22 = 157
III Adhyaya 27 + 41 + 66 + 52 = 186
IV Adhyaya 19 + 21 + 16 + 22 = 78
The sutras, by their very nature, are obscure and cannot be understood without the help of a learned teacher. They have been expounded by a succession of Acharyas beginning with Badarayana. The first Acharya to be credited with the earliest commentary on the Brahma Sutras is Upavarshacharya. He was known as Jnanakarmasamucchayavadin as he advocates the equal importance of Karma as well as Jnana in attaining salvation. Unfortunately, his work is not available for posterity although his ideas, rather luckily, percolated through references made by Sankara in his Sutrabhashaya.
Sankara (A.D. 788-820) wrote a commentary on the Brahma Sutras considered to be the oldest available commentary on the subject. His commentary is glorified in the expression Prasannagambhira, which means both clear as well as deep.
This commentary of Sankara is known as Sarirakamimamsabhashya. The Sarira, being impure is known as Sariraka and the Jiva, which dwells in this body, is known, therefore, as Saariraka. A discussion whether this Saariraka is the same as Brahman or not is known as Sarirakamimamsabhashya.
Padmapada (A.D 800), a disciple of Sankara, wrote a commentary, Panchapadika. It is the oldest Tika on the Bhashya of Sankara covering the Chatussutri portion only. The reason for non-availability of its full version, as depicted by Madhava, goes like this. Sureswaracharya took Sankara's permission to write a Vartika on the Brahmasutrabhashya but other pupils of Sankara objected to this idea as, in their view, Sureswara was originally a Mimamsist and hence not competent to write the Vartika. Disheartened at this, Sureswara wrote a treatise called Naishkarmyasiddhi. Padmapada wrote a Tika but this was got burnt in his uncle's house. Sankara who had once seen it, recited it from memory and Padmapada noted it down [H.I.P.-I p.p. 418-19]. The commentary written by Prakasatmayati on this Panchapadika is known as Panchapadikavivaranam. As the name shows, it is a commentary on Panchapadika. The work is divided into nine sections named Varnakas. The first varnaka deals with the concept of Adhyasa; the second, the necessity or otherwise of commencing the Brahmajignasa or Brahmavidya; the third, deals with the meaning of the words comprising the first sutra, i.e., 'Athato brahmajignasa' ; the fourth varnaka describes the object of the sastra; the fifth comments on the second sutra, i.e., ' Janmadyasya yatah' ; the 6th and 7th varnakas respectively contain the two interpretations of the third sutra, i.e., ' Sastrayonitvat' ; the two interpretations are "Sastram yonih yasya sah sastra yonih tasmat sastrayonitvat" and "Sastrasya yonih sastrayonih, tasmat sastrayonitvat". The 8th varnaka proves the authoritativeness of Brahman while the last one describes the theory of Mimamsakas such as Bhatta and Prabhakara and concludes with the sutra
' Tattu samanvayat'.
The Panchapadika and its commentary Vivarana put together is the source of Vivaranaprasthana.
Vachaspatimisra [A.D.842], considered to be a colossus among the Indian Philosophers, wrote his own commentary on the Brahmasutras and it is the earliest known as well as exhaustive commentary. This work is named Bhamati and it paved the way for another Prasthana, Bhamati prasthana. Though, in isolation, the two prasthanas contradict each other, there is no dispute on the fundamental oneness, that is Advaita, propounded by both.
Both the prasthanas contain a chain of works pertaining to commentarial tradition. This chain of works constitute constructive and critical discussions not only of the theories of Advaita but also the related matters. The main differences between Bhamati and Vivarana schools are shown in the following table.
BHAMATI SCHOOL : The keynote of this school may be summerized as follows.
1) Karmas are useful in generating a desire to know Brahman.
2) The realization of Brahman comes through the instrument of mind.
3) The realization of Atman becomes possible through the triple mode of hearing, reflection and meditation. However, there is no Vedic injunction in this regard.
4) This system gives topmost priority to the third activity, namely, meditation.
5) Jiva is consciousness which is limited by Ajnana and Iswara is consciousness that transcends the limiting adjunct..
6) The locus and content of Ajnana are different.
7) The primal nescience is manifold.
8) It is Brahman that is conditioned by Vritti, that is, that which contains the direct knowledge of Brahman.
9) The first factor in the four fold aid is the discrimination between real and
10) The injunctive text "one's own recension of the Veda must be studied" has for its fruit the knowledge of the meaning of the Veda.
11) The world creation is explained by adopting the theory of triplication.
12) The omniscience of Brahman is derived from the essential nature of Brahman.
13) Mind is a sense organ.
14) Avidya is located in Jiva.
VIVARANA SCHOOL : The following are the main tenets of Vivarana School.
1) Karmas by themselves generate knowledge of the self.
2) The knowledge of the Brahman itself comes from the major texts of the Upanishads.
3) Here, there is a distinct injunction and clear instruction for the realization of the Atman.
4) In this system of thought , the first activity, namely, hearing gets the topmost priority.
5) Jiva is the reflection of Brahman in Avidya.
6) The locus and the content of Avidya are the same.
7) The primal nescience is one only.
8) The content of the direct knowledge of Brahman is pure Brahman.
9) The first factor in the fourfold aid is the discrimination between eternal and non-eternal.
10) The injunctive text, "one's own recension of Veda must be studied, has for its fruit the learning of the Veda by rote."
11) Here the world creation is explained on the basis of quintuplicate theory.
12) The omniscience of Brahman is based on the modes of Avidya.
13) Mind is not a sense organ.
14) Avidya is located in pure consciousness.
Most of the Acharyas who came after these two established Prasthanas wrote commentaries as well as their own independent works following either of the two schools and often contradicting each other. There are some authors who followed the two Prasthanas faithfully, and some who followed either of them but not contradicting the other, while still others followed either school manifestly contradicting the other.
The literature on the Panchapadika is vast. Besides , the Vivarana of Prakasatman , Panchapadika has the following commentaries.
1. Prabodha parisodhini Atmasarvajna.
2. Panchapadika vyakhya Anandapurna vidyasagar
3. Vaktavya Prakasika Uttamajna Yati
4. Vedantaratna kosh Nrisimhatma Yati
5. Panchapadika vivarana Prakasatma Yati
6. Panchapadika vyakhya Darmarajadhvarindra.
7. Tatparyadyothini Vijnanatman.
8. Many other commentaries by unknown authors.
The commentary of Panchapadika, i.e., Vivarana was pursued by many scholars. Their names and works are given below.
1. Tattvadipanam Akhandanandayati.
2. Vivaranadarpanam Amalananda.
3. Bhavadyotanika Chitsukha.
4. Tikaratna Anandapurna.
5. Rijuvivarana Vishnubhattopadhyaya.
6. Vivaranaprameyasangraha Vidyaranya.
7. Bhavaprakasika Nrisimhasrama yati.
8. Vivaranopanyasa Ramanandasaraswathi.
9. Vivaranojjivini Yajneswaradikshita.
10. Bhavaprakasika Parivrajaka.
11. Vyakhya Ramatirtha.
12. Vyakhya Krishna.
At this juncture, it is thought proper to present a bird's - eye view of the contribution to Advaita Vedanta by Andhra scholars, one by one.
CHITSUKA [A.D.1120-1220 ]
Chitsukha was one of the greatest post - Sankara Advaitins among Andhras. He composed voluminous works on Advaita Vedanta. He was a disciple of Gaudeswaracharya [ who was also known as Jnanottama] and a Guru of Sukhaprakasa who, in turn, was a teacher of Amalananda.
A couple of inscriptions mentioning the name of Chitsukha were found at Simhachalam, Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. Besides this, Chitsukha praised Lord Nrisimha of Simhachalam in the beginning of Tattvapradipika. One of the above inscriptions was dated saka, corresponding to A.D. 1220. Chitsukha referred, in his works, to Srivallabha, who flourished before A.D. 1200. It may be mentioned, in passing, that Chitsukha commented on the works of Sriharsha who lived in the middle of A.D. 1200. Therefore, it can be presumed that Chitsukha lived after A.D. 1200.
Chitsukha wrote a commentary on the Panchapadikavivarana and his commentary, named Bhavadyotanika, is believed to be the earliest work on this
subject. His commentary is also known as Tatparyadipika. This book is now available in Madras Government Oriental Manuscripts Library [ R 4305 ]
AKHANDANANDA [A.D. 1250-1350 ]
Akhandananda Yati's commentary on the Panchpadikavivarana is called Tattvadipanam. Another name, Akhandananda Muni, appears in this context. But M.M. Ananta Krishna Sastry thinks that both are identical.
VIDYARANYA [A.D. 1296-1386 ]
Among the works written on the lines of Panchapadikavivarana, Vidyaranya's Vivaranaprameyasangraha deserves scrutiny. Vidyaranya was considered to be an authority on the Advaita Vedanta, next only to Appayyadikshita and almost as scholarly as Chitsukha in producing a number of works on the Vedanta. Though his work Vivaranaprameyasangraha happens to be just a commentary, it enjoys the reputation of an independent work in its own right.
SARVAJNAVISHNUBHATTOPADHYAYA [A.D. 1200-1380 ]
Sarvajnavishnubhattopadhyaya's commentary is known as Rijuvivaranam. He was the son of Janardana who was also known as Anandagiri . It may be pertinent to give here an idea of his geneology. He was the father of Chennubhatta , son of Anandagiri [ also known as Janardana ] and grandson of Trinetra, all of whom were famous commentators on Advaita.
YAJNESWARADIKSHITA [A.D. 1600-1700]
Yajneswaradikshita of Cherukuri family composed a work Panchapadikavivaranojjivini, an authoritative commentary on the Vivarana. He was the son of Kondubhattopadhyaya and the grandson of Yajneswara and the youngest brother of Tirumala Dikshita. He was under the tutelege of Yajneswara and
Krishnananda. Yajneswaradikshita was a great scholar not only in Vedanta but in Purvamimamsa also, as is evident from his commentary, Prabhamandala, on Sastradipika. His commentary on Panchapadika vivarana is considered to be a most distinguished work.
Vachaspatimisra wrote a commentary, Bhamati, on the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara. Just as Panchapadika is the source book of Vivaranaprasthana, Bhamati is the source book of Bhamatiprasthana.
But unlike Panchapadika and its commentary Vivarana which cover only the chatussutri portion of the Bhashya on the Brahmasutra, Bhamati elucidates Sankara's entire Brahmasutrabhashya. This is a scholarly treatise and considered to be one of the most important works on Advaita Vedanta.
Like Panchapadikavivarana, the Bhamati is replete with commentaries and sub-commentaries. Here is a list of some of them.
1. The Rijuprakasika by Akhandanandayati
2. The Bhavadipika by Achyutakrishnananda Tirtha.
3. The Bhamati Tilaka by Allalasuri
4. The Bhamativilasa by unknown author
5. Vedantakalpataru by Amalananda.
The Vedantakalpataru was further commented upon by the following authors.
1) Vedantakalpataru Manjari by Vydyanatha.
2) Vedantakalpataru Parimala by Appayyadikshita
3) Abhoga by Lakshminrisimha
The Parimala, the commentary on Kalpataru, has further been elaborated in the form of a glossary.
ANDHRAS VIS-A-VIS BHAMATI SCHOOL
Alladasuri, the son of Trivikramacharya and Nagamamba, was a native of Kotikala village. He wrote a commentary Bhamati tilaka. In the very beginning of the work he saluted his guru Vyasasrami for having taught him the Bhamati and other related subjects which made the subject easy and accessible. Here, Amalananda and Vyasasrama are thought to be identical. This work is incomplete but available in Madras Government Oriental Manuscript Library. RN (4190).
AKHANDANANDA SARASWATHI [A.D.1600-1700]
Akhandanandasaraswati of Nalagantu family of Andhradesa was the son of Kalahastiswarayajvan and Yajnamba. He wrote an excellent commentary on the Bhamati and its name is Rijuprakasika. The commentary is lucid as his intention in writing the commentary was to make Bhamati understood even by a beginner of the Advaita Vedanta..
There are many scholars who wrote sub-commentaries on the Bhamati. Kalpataru is one and its author was Amalananda. Kondubhatta Lakshminrisimha of Mahidhara family, son of Kondubhatta and a disciple of Narayanendrasaraswati,wrote commentaries on the Brahamasutras and the Bhashya of Sankara.
While the works on the commentaries of Sutra Bhashya of Sankara give rise to the two Prasthanams - Bhamati and Vivarana - there were scholars who produced discourses on Badarayanasutras and Sankarabhashya. In doing so,
some of them followed the doctrine of Bhamati while others followed that of Vivarana.
Anandagiri wrote a commentary on the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara and his commentary is known as Sarirakanyayanirnaya.
Chitsukha authored a work Bhashyabhavaprakasika, a commentary on the Brahmasutrabhashya. Though it is very scholarly, it is available up to a limited extent, i.e., Chatussutri portion only.
Narayanatirtha of Tallavajjhala family, was the author of many great works. His Sarirakamimamsabhashyavartika written in prose gives a comprehensive gist of the Bhashya. Though Vartika by its very nature substantiates the merits, condemns the demerits and fills the original with undealt as well as necessary matters, Narayanatirtha did not try to find fault in the Bhashya. This work is published in Asutosh Sanskrit series.
GOVINDANANDA [A.D.1570-1650] :
Govinanda was one of the greatest commentators of the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara. He was a versatile scholar in Alankara, Nyaya and Vedanta. He was originally known as Varanasi Dharmasudhi. The family acquired the name of Varanasi since his ancestors had lived at Varanasi for a long time. According to the introduction to Sahityaratnakara, Dharmasudhi became an ascetic in the later part of his life and took the name Ramananda or Govindananda. According to the genealogical information given by the author, his parents were Parvatanadhasuri and Yellamamba. His father also was a great scholar who attained the title 'Vadikesari' by defeating Janardanapandita in a literary contest. He also
defeated a Vaishnava pundit and bore the title 'Mayavadibhayamkara'. Dharmasudhi was a resident of Pedapullivarru, which is situated on the bank of the river Krishna. Their descendants live there even today and treat Dharmasudhi as their mulapurusha. Scholars have no unanimous opinion regarding his date.
Govindananda wrote Brahmamruthavarshini relating to
Advaita Vedanta. This is a commentary on the Brahma-sutras of Badarayana. It was edited by Annavaram Venkataraghava Sarma and was published by Saraswathinilayam Press in 1900 A.D. For the first time, Telugu characteristics were employed. Later it was published by Anandasrama press, Pune, in Devanagari script. Accroding to Vemuri Narsimha Sarma this work was written by the author before entering sanyasasrama.
Ratnaprabha was a glorious commentary on the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara. It is lucid in style and substance.Govindananda himself said that this book was intended for those who are not patient enough to traverse all the commentaries of Surtabhashya of Sankara. The title, Ratnaprabha, is quite appropriate as the Sankarabhashya is a gem and the commentary illuminates the Bhashya in a remarkable way.
VRITTI TYPE WORKS ON THE BRAHMA-SUTRAS
While the commentaries on Brahmasutrasbhashya of Sankara gave rise to the two Prasthanas - Bhamati and Vivarana - there were scholars who produced discourses on the Badarayana sutras and Sankara's Bhashya. In doing so, some of them followed the doctrine of Bhamati while others followed that of Vivarana.
Annambhatta was a renowned scholar in Nyaya, Mimamsa, Vyakarana and Vedanta. He belonged to a clan and class - Mamillapalli - whose mulapurusha was Raghavasomayajin. It may be of interest to note that Annambhatta was an
unpromising student who, on being chided by his father, left for Kasi, where he studied all the Sastras - Nyaya, Vyakarana, Mimamsa and Vedanta. For this reason he won the title Bhatta चतुश्शास्त्रपारंगतो भट्ट:. A Bhatta is one who is well-versed in the four sastras. Annambhatta was a native of Garikapadu in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. Annambhatta's scholarship evoked appreciation all round. Thus, for instance, one Sadasivaraya of a principality gifted him an Agrahara- [Garikapadu].
There are three interesting works to Annambhatta's credit, and Mitakshara, a commentary on the Brahmasutras, was easily the best. While composing this work he closely followed the Bhamati school of thought. His another work Bhedanirasa was a Prakarana type of work. His still another work, Tattvavivekadeepana, is a commentary on Tatvadeepana of Nrisimhasramayathi.
ADVAITANANDA BODHENDRA (1700 A.D.)
This man was known as Sitapathi in his family life. He was the son of Premanathadikshita and Parvathi, born in Panchanadakshetra. Achyutakrishnandasaraswathi, who wrote a commentary, Bhagadipaka, on the Ratnaprabha, praised Advaitanandatirtha as his paramaguru. The guru of Advaitananda is Ramananda who, in turn, becomes the student of Govindanandasaraswathi. He wrote a work Brahmavidyabharanam. This is a commentary on the Brahmasutras which followed in the lines of Bhamati. The following works are also ascribed to Advaitanandasaraswati.
ADVAITANANDA TIRTHA (A.D. 1841-1946)
Advaitanandatirtha, who belonged to Kurunganti family, was a well-
known scholar. He hails from a family of scholars. The village Vemuru of Tenali taluk of Guntur district is his native place. He was the son of Madhavasastry and Mahalakshmi. He wrote a commentary on Brahmasutras and his work is known as
Brahmasutratatparyadeepika. It is also known as Tirthiyabhashya. He passed away on the day of Sivaratri in his 81st year, in February 1926. It may be mentioned, in passing, that the renowned scholar Kurunganti Sitaramayya was his son.
Chitsukha wrote Bhashyabhavaprakasika, a commentary on the Sutrabashya, but the commentary is available up to Adhyasabhashya only.
We now take a very quick look at a few more of the scholars.
Upanishadbrahmendrayogi wrote a commentary on the Brahmasutrabhashya of Sankara, an exciting treatise.
Narayanatirtha's commentary on the Brahmasutrabhashya is known as Sarirakamimamsabhashyavartika.
Jayarama of Nagara family who lived in A.D. 1700 wrote Brahmasutrarthaprakasika.
Bellamkonda Ramarayakavi wrote Sarirakachatussutrivichara
Venkaradrisuri of Prayaga family wrote a work called Vidvanmukhabushanam, a commentary on the Brahmasutras.
Coming to the modern age, SubhramanyaSastry of Goda family, son of Rukmini and Krishna Sastri, was a noted scholar in Vedanta. He wrote a commentary on the Brahmasutras. His work is known as Brahmasutrabhashyapradipika. A special feature of this work is that SubrahmanyaSastry was out and out in agreement with Sankara's statement that not only Sriti but logic also is of considerable importance (as far as Advaita doctrine is concerned) in elucidating the philosophy of Advaita. In this context we have to go to the history of the conflicting approaches of post-Sankaradvaitins - Sriti and Tarka- There are many Advaitins who came after Sankara and who were not interested in the logic part of the Advaita Vedanta. In sharp contrast, SubrahmanyaSastry did give importance to this aspect of the philosophy and, for this reason, he was highly appreciated by his interviewer Ramachandrasastry.
SubrahmanyaSastry composed Brahmasutradeepika, a commentary on the Brahmasutras, having been taught the Brahmasutra literature and other works related to it by his guru VenkataSastry, for a long time, giving importance to Anumana ( logic ) on par with Sriti.
भाष्यं प्रसन्नगम्भीरमनुमारत्नगर्भितम् |
अन्त: प्रविश्य मृग्यन्ते रत्नानि कृतबुद्धिभि:||
भगवत्पादभाष्यस्य चानुमानार्थदेहिन: |
अर्धदेहप्रकाशाय यतिष्ये गुर्वनुग्रहात् ||
Here is a list of some more commentaries :
Venkatapandita - Brahmasutradeepika.
Veeraraghava Yajvan - Advaitabrahmatatvaprakasika.
Agnihotrasuri - Advaitaratnakosapurani.
Ramakrishnamacharyulu - Advaitabrahmavadam.
Chennubhatta - Paribhashatika.
Dandibhatta Veeraraghava - Advaitadeepikanukramanika.
Dharmayyadikshita - Advaitavidyatilakadarpana.
Chitsukha - Adhikaranasangathi.