The greatness of Shankara-bhaasya – Shankara Jayanti 2014 Anugraha Bhaashanam by Jagadguru Bharati Tirtha (Part 2 – Final)

acharyal2

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

This is the second and final part of a translation of a Anugraha Bhaashanam in Kannada by Sringeri Jagadguru Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji given on the occasion of Shankara Jayanti 2014 . The first part is here (the YouTube video has been removed due to copyright claims).

This bhaashanam deals mostly with the Shankara Bhaashya (Shankaracharya’s commentary) on the Brahmasutras of Bhagavan Veda Vyaasa. In particular, in this part, an objection raised by the Saankhya philosopher is taken up. This objection as well as its resolution is mentioned in the Brahmasutras. In the commentary (bhaashya), Shankaracharya raises another question (via the mouth of the Saankhya), and proceeds to establish the Advaita Siddhaanta through answering this objection in His own inimitable style.

Started composing the first part on Jagadguru’s Vardhanti in 2017, and the second part on His Vardhanti 2018. Some words in brackets are added by me for context and understanding.

Sadgurosharanam,

Prasad.

________

[continuing from Part 1]

We however can see the logical and argumentative precision of Shankaracharya’s bhaashya in several places in the bhaashya. For instance, in the ānumānikādhikaraṇam of the Brahmasutra bhaashya, the Sāṁkhya philosopher (who is opposed to Vedanta and wants to establish his own Sāṁkhya  darshana) raises an objection (against Vedanta) in the following Sutra –

Brahmasutra 4.1.1

“आनुमानिकमप्येकेषामिति चेन्न शरीररूपकविन्यस्तगृहीतेर्दर्शयति च ॥ 4.1.1 ॥” 
ānumānikamapyekeṣāmiti cenna śarīrarūpakavinyastagṛhīterdarśayati ca ॥ BS 4.1.1

Part of the response to this objection is given in this Sutra itself, while the continuation of this response goes upto Sutra 4.1.6 to be discussed later.

This objection and the response in this Sutra is now discussed.

[The Sāṁkhyavaadin believes in the process of creation involving Prakriti (undifferentiated matter separate from Purusha, the Consciousness principle), Mahat (mind), Ahamkaara (individuated  ego) ]. The Sāṁkhyavaadin says – 

Sāṁkhyavaadin’s Objection: In the Kathopanishad, through the verse

महतः परमव्यक्तमव्यक्तात्पुरुषः परः । 
पुरुषान्न परं किञ्चित्सा काष्ठा सा परा गतिः ॥ 1.3.11 ॥
mahataḥ paramavyaktamavyaktātpuruṣaḥ paraḥ
puruṣānna paraṃ kiñcitsā kāṣṭhā sā parā gatiḥ

Sāṁkhya darshana alone has been established (and not your Vedanta), since it speaks of precisely these three aspects of Sāṁkhya , i.e., Prakriti, Mahat and Ahamkaara. Hence the Sāṁkhya darshana is based on Upanishads only, and not Vedanta like you say”. 

This is the Sāṁkhya’s objection. He bases his objection upon the words “mahat“, “avyakta“, which come in the above verse. He says that this word “avyakta” is exactly the same as  Sāṁkhya Siddhaanta’s  pradhāna (प्रधान) (which is the same as prakruti). The Sutra (4.1.1) given above refutes the claim of the Sāṁkhyavādin by pointing out that this mantra from the Kathopanishad has nothing to do with the Sāṁkhya’s pradhāna, but it is in fact connected with the rathakalpanā mantras [mantras which take up the metaphor of a chariot to describe the physical, mental identifications and the antaryaami Atma] which come prior to the Kathopanishad mantra given above (1.3.11) –

Kathopanishad mantras:

आत्मानं रथिनं विद्धि शरीरं रथमेव तु । बुद्धिं तु सारथिं विद्धि मनः प्रग्रहमेव च ॥’ (क. उ. 1 । 3 । 3)
ātmānaṃ rathinaṃ viddhi śarīraṃ rathameva tu । buddhiṃ tu sārathiṃ viddhi manaḥ pragrahameva ca

इन्द्रियाणि हयानाहुर्विषयांस्तेषु गोचरान् । आत्मेन्द्रियमनोयुक्तं भोक्तेत्याहुर्मनीषिणः’ (क. उ. 1। 3 । 4)
indriyāṇi hayānāhurviṣayāṃsteṣu gocarān । ātmendriyamanoyuktaṃ bhoktetyāhurmanīṣiṇaḥ

The sequence of mantras starting from Kathopanishad 1.3.3 onwards are talking about several aspects of the physical and mental bodies, describing the physical body as the chariot (ratha), the individual intellect as the charioteer, the mind as the reins, and so on. In that sequence, the kaarana sharira (body) was left out. That is being described now using the word avyakta. It is not the Sāṁkhya’s pradhāna. This is what the Sutra 4.1.1 and Sutra 4.1.2 (given below, where the kaarana sharira is called sūkṣma)  are actually talking about.

Brahmasutra 4.1.2:

सूक्ष्मं तु तदर्हत्वात् ॥ 4.1.2 ॥

sūkṣmaṃ tu tadarhatvāt

Having offered the defense against the Sāṁkhya’s objection, the Brahma Sutras turn to offence against his position, stating that the objective of the Kathopanishad discussion has absolutely nothing to do with Sāṁkhya  at all, but in fact has to do with three specific questions raised by Nachiketas (the Kathopanishad is in the form of a record of a conversation between Nachiketas the shishya and Yama the Guru). In the Sutra 4.1.6, this is mentioned –

Brahmasutra 4.1.6:

त्रयाणामेव चैवमुपन्यासः प्रश्नश्च ॥ ६ ॥
trayāṇāmeva caivamupanyāsaḥ praśnaśca ॥ 4.1.6 ॥
(Meaning: Only three questions are raised and answered [in the Kathopanishad portions])

What are these three questions? Nachiketas requests Yama to answer his doubts regarding

(1) agnividyā (knowledge of a meditation using agni), in the line –

Kathopanishad 1.1.13

‘स त्वमग्निं स्वर्ग्यमध्येषि मृत्यो प्रब्रूहि तं श्रद्दधानाय मह्यम्’ (क. उ. १ । १ । १३)
‘sa tvamagniṃ svargyamadhyeṣi mṛtyo prabrūhi taṃ śraddadhānāya mahyam’ (ka. u. 1 । 1 । 13)

(2) the jīvā (the individual) –

Kathopanishad 1.1.20

‘येयं प्रेते विचिकित्सा मनुष्येऽस्तीत्येके नायमस्तीति चैके । एतद्विद्यामनुशिष्टस्त्वयाहं वराणामेष वरस्तृतीयः’ (क. उ. १ । १ । २०)
‘yeyaṃ prete vicikitsā manuṣye’stītyeke nāyamastīti caike । etadvidyāmanuśiṣṭastvayāhaṃ varāṇāmeṣa varastṛtīyaḥ’ (ka. u. 1 । 1 । 20)

and finally (3) īśvara (the Lord) –

Kathopanishad 1.2.14

‘अन्यत्र धर्मादन्यत्राधर्मादन्यत्रास्मात्कृताकृतात् । अन्यत्र भूताच्च भव्याच्च यत्तत्पश्यसि तद्वद’ (क. उ. १ । २ । १४)
‘anyatra dharmādanyatrādharmādanyatrāsmātkṛtākṛtāt । anyatra bhūtācca bhavyācca yattatpaśyasi tadvada’ (ka. u. 1 । 2 । 14)

These three are the subject matters of discussion in the Kathopanishad; there is no discussion regarding the Sāṁkhya  pradhāna at all. 

Now these are the positions presented by the Sūtrakāra Vyāsacārya in the Sutra 4.1.6. Having discussed the Sāṁkhya’s objection and the Sūtrakāra’s response, Bhagavatpaada raises a question from the Sāṁkhya’s point of view in the following way [Imagine as though the Sāṁkhya is asking thus ] –

Sāṁkhyavaadin’s Objection (as raised by Shankaracharya):

” In your Advaita Siddhānta, aren’t the jīvā (individual self) and īśvara (universal self or the Lord) one and the same? Then the last two questions (K. U. 1.1.20 and K.U. 1.2.14) which are raised by Nachiketas regarding these two must be counted only once. In that case, it may very well be said that the third (unrecorded in the Kathopanishad, but to be inferred) question raised by  Nachiketas is regarding the Sāṁkhya  pradhāna and this is what is answered by Yama in his line (mahataḥ paramavyaktam.. – K.U 3.1.1). “

To this Bhagavatpaada Shankaracharya has replied in the most wonderful manner. He says –

Bhagavatpaada Shankaracharya’s response:
“Indeed in our Siddhānta, jīvā and īśvara are one and the same in reality. There is no need to have any doubt about this at all. Actually, this is established even by those last two questions that Nachiketas raises regarding jīvā (K. U. 1.1.20) and īśvara (K. U. 1.2.14). After Nachiketas raises the first question regarding the nature of jīvā (in K. U. 1.1.20), Yama objects initially to answering this question, saying that this is a very difficult thing to understand even for Devas and the like. Yama also offers several worldly pleasures to Nachiketas to avoid asking this particular question regarding the nature of the jīvā, and change it to another question. However Nachiketas rejects all these objections of Yama, saying that the pleasures offered by Yama are only transient and thus useless (and even detrimental to oneself), and moreover if a subject is difficult to understand for even the Devas, then it is indicative of its utmost importance. Yama, pleased by Nachiketas’ steadfastness, praises him for not getting swayed by worldly desires (K. U. 1.2.4) and also the greatness of the subject matter of his question, i.e., the knowledge of the true nature of the  jīvā  (K.U 1.2.12) – 

Kathopanishad 1.2.4

‘विद्याभीप्सिनं नचिकेतसं मन्ये न त्वा कामा बहवोऽलोलुपन्त’ (क. उ. १ । २ । ४)
‘vidyābhīpsinaṃ naciketasaṃ manye na tvā kāmā bahavo’lolupanta’ (ka. u. 1 । 2 । 4)

Kathopanishad 1.2.12

‘तं दुर्दर्शं गूढमनुप्रविष्टं गुहाहितं गह्वरेष्ठं पुराणम् । अध्यात्मयोगाधिगमेन देवं मत्वा धीरो हर्षशोकौ जहाति’ (क. उ. १ । २ । १२)
‘taṃ durdarśaṃ gūḍhamanupraviṣṭaṃ guhāhitaṃ gahvareṣṭhaṃ purāṇam । adhyātmayogādhigamena devaṃ matvā dhīro harṣaśokau jahāti’ (ka. u. 1 । 2 । 12)

[See https://vairaagya.wordpress.com/tag/nachiketas/ for a set of posts regarding these questions of Nachiketas and Yamadharma’s response].

Having heard all this from Yama, Nachiketas raises his question regarding īśvara in K. U. 1.2.14 

Kathopanishad 1.2.14

‘अन्यत्र धर्मादन्यत्राधर्मादन्यत्रास्मात्कृताकृतात् । अन्यत्र भूताच्च भव्याच्च यत्तत्पश्यसि तद्वद’ (क. उ. १ । २ । १४)
‘anyatra dharmādanyatrādharmādanyatrāsmātkṛtākṛtāt । anyatra bhūtācca bhavyācca yattatpaśyasi tadvada’ (ka. u. 1 । 2 । 14)

Now our reasoning for saying that īśvara and jīvā are one is as follows. Having listened to all this praise regarding his steadfastness and his question regarding the jīvā, it will be completely inappropriate to ask for Nachiketas to ask a question regarding a different subject matter. If he does so, all the praise given by Yama [who is the revered Guru in this occasion] will be completely laid waste. Thus it must be that the question raised by Nachiketas in 1.2.14 regarding īśvara , is actually regarding the same subject matter as that of the previous question in K.U. 1.1.20 regarding the true nature of the jīvā . 

Hence the Upanishad wants to point out indirectly using these last two questions that they cannot be regarding different subject matters, hence the nature of jīvā and īśvara must be one and the same.

Finally, the doubt regarding why the Sūtrakāra considers these are three questions regarding three different subject matters (as in the Sutra  4.1.6). This is only in a transactional/worldly sense, i.e., in the vyāvahārika sense, that the Sūtrakāra considers  jīvā and īśvara as two different subject matters. In the pāramārthika (absolute sense), there is no difference at all between the two, even in the Sūtrakāra’s mind. 

Thereby the objection of the Sāṁkhya is answered”. 

In this manner, we get to understand the extremely precise nature of the intellect of Shankaracharya. We have to pay careful attention to such things in our study of the Sutra bhaashya. This precision is also the reason why the Sutra Bhaashya of Shankaracharya is considered to be the greatest work in Advaita Siddhaanta. Seeing the arguments presented in the Bhaashya, it is quite patent that the brilliance of Shankaracharya’s intellect must be immeasurable. Bhagavatpaada himself refers to this in another argument (regarding the omniscience of Ishwara) –

 (Bhasya to Sutra 1.1.4)
यद्यद्विस्तरार्थं
 शास्त्रं यस्मात्पुरुषविशेषात्सम्भवति, यथा व्याकरणादि पाणिन्यादेः ज्ञेयैकदेशार्थमपि, स ततोऽप्यधिकतरविज्ञान इति प्रसिद्धं लोके । (Bhasya to Sutra 1.1.4)

yadyadvistarārthaṃ śāstraṃ yasmātpuruṣaviśeṣātsambhavati, yathā vyākaraṇādi pāṇinyādeḥ jñeyaikadeśārthamapi, sa tato’pyadhikataravijñāna iti prasiddhaṃ loke ।

What this means is that the greatness of the intellect of any creator can be understood from a wonderful creation of theirs, as such a creation is only a manifestation of a fraction of their knowledge. For instance, Pānini’s great work on grammar, the Ashtaadhyaayi, contains the entire gamut of Sanskrit grammar. In that case, Pānini’s knowledge must be much more than what is visible from his work.

In the same way, we have the Brahmasutra Bhaashya of Shankaracharya. Inspite of studying this many number of times, it is impossible for one to understand the bhaashya in a complete fashion as it is very much intricate, containing brilliantly woven arguments. In such a scenario, what to say of the brilliance, the wisdom of its author, Sri Bhagavatpaada?

This one evidence, the Sutra bhaashya, is alone sufficient for us to believe that Shankaracharya must be an avataara of Parameshwara Himself. A regular individual cannot compose such a wonderful work, even if he has a hundred years at his disposal. It must indeed be that this Sutra bhaashya appeared from the mind of Ishwara Himself, just as the Vedas themselves manifested from the mind of Ishwara. For this reason, Shri Madhusudana Saraswati, the great Advaitin, has mentioned –

मीमांसया कपटतो भुजगाम्बयेव
स्वाधीनतामुपनिषद् विनतेवनीता
येनोद्धृता अमृतफलेन गरुत्मतेव
तस्मै नमो भगवते अद्भुत शंकराय
mīmāṁsayā kapaṭato bhujagāmbayeva
svādhīnatāmupaniṣad vinatevanītā
yenoddhṛtā amṛtaphalena garutmateva
tasmai namo bhagavate adbhuta śaṁkarāya

The story of Kadru Vinata is well known from the Mahabharata [they were sisters and also wives of the sage Kashyapa. Garuda was the son of Vinata]. Vinata was cheated by Kadru, in a contest, and Garuda had come to her rescue. In the same way, the Mimaamsakas (karma kaandins, those attached to ritualistic, action-based portions of the Vedas alone) had usurped the Upanishads, by claiming that the Upanishads don’t have any purport of their own, and that they existed only with the purpose of glorifying the Karma-kaanda portions of the Veda. Just as Garuda had come to the rescue of Vinata, his mother, freeing her from the grasp of Kadru, in the same way Bhagavatpaada Shankaracharya had come to the rescue of the Upanishads, in establishing their self-importance, by showing that the Upanishads have the purport of revealing the identity between the Atman and the Brahman, i.e., between jīvā and īśvara. Such a great mahaan is our Bhagavatpaada, to him we offer our prostrations. This is the meaning of the verse by Madhusudana Saraswati.

It is therefore our divine fortune that we are able to worship Shankaracharya on the day of his Jayanthi. This is the result of our punya karmas done over several janmas. Through the observance of His jayanthi, we are attempting to submit in a little way our gratitude towards Him. Our Parameshti Guru [Sri Sacchidaananda Shivaabhinava Nrsimha Bharati Mahaswamiji] had thought of this more than a hundred and fifty years ago, and constituted the practice of observing Shankara Jayanthi then itself. This is now being followed by all those who follow the Sanaatana Dharma. We have to become worthy of His grace by performing our service to Him as much as possible.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s