“Brahman is probably a hoax, Vedanta surely is” #1


Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

These are quick notes for Brahma Sutra Bhaashya (authored by Sri Shankaracharya) classes that were taught by Swami Paramasukhananda, which I was a student of during 2011-2013. What I feel like recording I record. They are not a substitute for live classes, but done as my cogitation.

For other such short notes, check – https://vairaagya.wordpress.com/tag/brahmasutranotes/

  • Prasad.


Vedanta is a teaching-learning tradition, not a faith-based tradition. In the process of understanding Vedanta from the Guru, the shishya is expected to keep his intellect active, not quashing doubts that may arise, but to raise them with the Guru at appropriate times and get them rectified.

However, just like in a normal teacher-student relationship, the shishya may not have the capability to think while during the listening period (called shravanam) itself. Doubts may arise when one is cogitating on Vedanta after the listening period is over, maybe days or even months or years after. What is to be done when these doubts arise but the Guru is not available to the shishya?

In order to overcome this difficulty, the Acharyas have introduced the system of purvapaksha (opposing viewpoint) raised by a purvapakshi, a personification of the doubts that may arise in the present or in the minds of the shishya, within the Vedantic text themselves.

The purvapaksha is a viewpoint that is opposed to what Shastra teaches. This viewpoint is incorporated within the text by the author (in our case, Vyasacharya and Shankaracharya themselves). After introducing the objection, this objection is analyzed thoroughly and the faults in the objection are pointed out. Then the correct viewpoint of Vedanta (called siddhaanta) is pointed out once again. Whenever there is an opportunity to raise an objection, it is raised, and cleared, all within the text themselves. Commentaries on such texts can go further deeper, raising further intricate objections and giving careful clarifications to rectify them.

This process of continuously churning the Vedantic knowledge (called mananam) using the purvapaksha-siddhaanta routine ensures that there are no gaps in understanding it. It gives a tremendous confidence in the mind of the shishya that what one understood is not some fanciful doctrine, but rather truth itself. This conviction enables further meditation on the topic and finally by this process of meditation (nididhyaasana), one becomes free of all samsaara or emotional suffering, and the cycle of birth and death.

In the study of the Brahmasutra bhaashya, we come across such a purvapakshi, who raises the objection that –

“Brahman is probably a hoax, however Vedanta surely is a hoax”

Why does he say this? What is the remedy for this? We will see further.





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