||shrI gaNeshAya namaH ||
|| shrIviTThalaM namAmi ||
The advaita-siddhi is regarded as one of the most important
polemical works of advaita. It is MadhusUdana sarasvatI's
brilliant and successful defense of advaita in response to
the objections of the MAdhvas, the dualists. Shankara states that his
doctrine of brahmajnAna (brahmajnAnamapi vastutantrameva - brahma-sUtra-
bhAshhya 1.1.2) is a "vastu-tantra", a doctrine based on facts, as
opposed to a "purushha-tantra", a doctrine based on the knowledge of an
an individual. One can raise objections against individual opinions
but facts cannot be objected to; they can possibly be misunderstood.
One can possibly express ignorance of facts but not argue against
them. So one may ask: how is it possible for the mAdhvas to raise
objections against advaita that is based on facts? It is not
possible. What the MAdhvas, the dvaitins, have done is to express
misunderstandings, not objections.
It is, therefore, proper to answer the so-called objections of the
mAdhvas by clearing their misunderstandings of advaita. But it must
also be mentioned that, in some cases at least, it appears that the
misunderstandings are not genuine misunderstandings but
misunderstandings introduced on purpose to A) misrepresent advaita
first and then, B) to try to refute the resulting misrepresentation.
Nevertheless, advaitins should remove all misunderstandings, whether
they be genuine or otherwise, and no advaitin has done this better
than MadhusUdana SarasvatI, the great logician from Bengal.
I endeavor here to present some glimpses of the advaita-siddhi's
great treasures, treasures that are to be cherished for all time.
In a forum like this one, it is hard, if not impossible, to do
justice to such a monumental work as the advaita-siddhi. So I
will endeavor to present only a few discussions with translation,
consulting the explanations of Balabhadra BhaTTAchArya in his
advaita-siddhi-vyAkhyA, of BrahmAnanda in his GauDa-brahmAnandI
(laghuchandrikA) commentary on the advaita-siddhi, and of ViTThala
upAdhyAya in his commentary on the laghu-chandrikA. All these
works, namely the advaita-siddhi, siddhi-vyAkhyA, GauDa-brahmAnandI,
and also the viTThaleshopAdhyAyI commentary on the GauDa-brahmA-
nandI, all in the original Sanskrit, have been edited by Pandit
Anantakrishna Sastri and published by Parimal Publications, Delhi,
A few words about the authors. MadhusUdana sarasvatI is a towering giant
among advaitins. An oft quoted verse regarding him is:
madhusUdanasarasvatyAH pAraM vetti sarasvatI |
pAraM vetti sarasvatyAH madhusUdanasarasvatI ||
(Only) the Goddess of Learning, sarasvatI knows the limits of
(knowledge of) MadhusUdana sarasvatI. And MadhusUdana sarasvatI
knows the limits of (knowledge of) Goddess sarasvatI!
He is said to have had three illustrious gurus. He learned mImAMsA
from mAdhava sarasvatI, vedAnta from rAmatIrtha, and took sannyAsa dIxA
from vishveshvara sarasvatI. Apart from the advaita-siddhi which is
MadhusUdana's "crest-jewel", he is said to have written numerous
other works, including a lucid commentary on the gItA called
gUDhArtha-dIpikA, and a work called "advaita-ratna-laxana", a refutation
of the work "bheda-ratna" by the logician shankara mishra.
MadhusUdana demonstrates his ability as a master logician in the advaita-
siddhi, which he wrote as a response to the nyAyAmR^ita of the mAdhva
exponent, vyAsatIrtha. MadhusUdana was so accomplished in navya-nyAya
(logic) techniques that the following verse is quoted about him when he
visited navadvIpa, the center for learning in nyAya-shAstra.
navadvIpe samAyAte madhusUdanavAkpatau |
chakampe tarkavAgIshaH kAtaro .abhUd.h gadAdharaH ||
When MadhusUdana, the master of speech, came to navadvIpa, MathurAnAtha
tarkavAgIsha (who was the foremost navya naiyAyika during those times)
trembled (with fear) and GadAdhara (another logician of great repute)
Balabhadra BhaTTAchArya, the author of siddhi-vyAkhyA, is said to have a
been a favorite student of MadhusUdana. BrahmAnanda, the author of
gauDabrahmAnandI (laghu-chandrikA), wrote the work as a response to
the nyAyAmR^ita-taraN^giNI of the dvaitin (dualist) rAmAchArya.
BrahmAnanda was the student of nArAyaNa tIrtha, a student of MadhusUdana.
Finally, ViTThalesha upAdhyAya, a brAhmaNa of the Konkan region, has
also placed the followers of advaita under his debt for writing a lucid
commentary on the gaUDa-brahmAnandI.
|| shrIvishhNave namaH ||
Verse 1 of the advaita-siddhi
satya-GYAna-sukhAtmakaH shruti-shikhottha-akhaNDadhIgocharaH |
mokshhaM prApta iva svayaM vijayate vishhNur-vikalporjjhitaH ||1 ||
Translation based on siddhivyAkhyA of Balabhadra bhaTTAchArya
and GauDa-brahmAnandI (laghu-chandrikA) of BrahmAnanda
VishhNu shines supreme, He who is the substratum (basis) of
the world of duality beginning with the notion of cognizer (mAtR^i),
of duality that is false and fabricated by mAyA, He whose nature is
Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss, He who is realized by the
undifferentiated (undivided) direct experience arising from the
mahAvAkyas of vedAnta, He who by shaking off the false bonds (of
mAyA) has attained, as it were, mokshha wholly consisting of
supreme bliss, and He who becomes free from all variety,
manifoldness (vikalpa). (1)
BrahmAnanda clearly identifies VishhNu with jIva, the individual
soul, the pervader. vishhNuH vyApakaM jIvasvarUpam.h |
This individual soul (jIva) attains as it were, mokshha or liberation
and shines as VishhNu, the supreme Brahman.
What is mokshha and what is bandha (bondage)? The vArtikakAra
has said: "avidyAstamayo moxaH sA cha bandha udAhR^itaH"
Mokshha is the complete dissolution of avidyA, and bondage is that
BrahmAnanda interprets "mithyAbandhavidhUnanena - vikalpojjhita"
as brahmAtmaikya-aGYAnarUpabandhasya tAdR^ishhAstamayena
dR^ishyashUnyaH. Bondage is the ignorance of the identity of
Brahman and Atman (individual self). Once such ignorance is
fully removed, there is nothing "seen" (as only the seer dR^ik
Balabhadra interprets shrutishikhottha-akhaNDadhIgocharaH as
vedAnta-janya-akhaNDasAxAtkAravishhaya, that thing which is
the content of the indivisible (undifferentiated) direct experience
arising from the (mahAvAkyas) of vedAnta.
viTThaleshopAdhyAya explains the whole process described in the
first verse of the advaita-siddhi as follows:
vishhNuH (jIvaH) vastutaH satyaGYAnasukhAtmako .pi san.h,
mukto .api san.h aGYAnena baddhatvena bhrAnta ityarthaH |
tatashcha vastuto baddhasya tattvena bhrAntasya mumuxAsaMbhavAt.h
sa mumuxu san.h gurumanusR^itaH tataH tadupadishhTa-shruti-shikho-
ttha-akhaNDadhIgocharo .abhUt.h | nishhkAmakarmopAsanAnushhThAn-
ena shraddhaikAgrachittaH san.h AtmAnaM satyaGYAnasukharUpabrahm-
atvena sAxAtkR^itavAn.h | tatashcha mithyAbandhavidhUnanena
vikalpojjhitaH mithyAbandhApagamAt.h tatprayuktavikalpena duHkhena
rahitaH san.h paramAnandaikatAnAtmakamoxaM prApta iva |
avAstavasaMbandhabhramasyaiva satvAt.h moxarUpasya tatsaMbandha-
abhAvAchcha iva ityuktam.h | IdR^ishaH san.h vijayate svaprakAsha-
rUpotkarshhavAn.h ityarthaH |
VishhNu (as the jIva), even being actually of the nature of Reality,
Consciousness, and Bliss, is the substratum of the false world of
duality beginning with the notion of cognizer that is fabricated
by mAyA. Even though He (the jIva) is liberated, due to being bound
by ignorance, He is under delusion. (If) He is actually bound
and (really) deluded by reality, from that (it follows that)
desire for liberation is impossible. (But this is not so.) Being
desirous of liberation He follows a (worthy) Guru. From the vedAntic
teachings of that (Guru), He has comprehended the undivided Brahman.
By performing actions without desire for fruits thereof and by
performing upAsana (worship and meditation), being of one-pointed
mind and dedicated, He has directly realized the Self as the
Brahman which is essentially Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss.
Thereupon, by the removal of the false bonds (of mAyA), and being
freed from the associated sorrow, (He) has attained mokshha or
liberation which is wholly bliss. Because of the presence of the
illusion of being related (to duality in the state of bondage),
which is not real, and because of the absence of that relation
in mokshha, the (word) "iva", as it were, is stated. Being so
(liberated and in His real state), He (VishhNu) shines supreme
by His own brilliance.