RAMANUJA’S Vedãrthasaiigraha marks a new era in Vedãnta philosophy. It is the debut of a thinker who, with all the force of his remarkable talents, set out to restate the theology of the Absolute in the terms of religion and worship. It was, according to tradition, in front of the sacred image of rLailapati in the temple of Tirumalai that Rãmãnuja delivered this lecture on the interpretation of the Upanisads. We may suppose that it was first public appearance as a mature theologian. No doubt many years of erudite disputations with the followers of Sankara and Bhaskara, of Yãdaprakãa and Prabhãkara, and also with the Vaisnavas of his own milieu, preceded this function. But now his doctrine was complete, his truth definitive: in this short but extremely rich lecture he was able to choose his principal adversaries and to outline a both philosophically and theologically sound refutation of their views. That he offered it to one of the multiple forms of the one God is characteristic of this deeply religious thinker.
This Vedãrthasarngraha is virtually unknown to Western scholarship; and even in India, where its usefulness as a compendious introduction to Viistadvaita has long been recognized in the pãhaãlãs, it has not inspired to the study which it certainly deserves. I know of one old English translation, exceedingly, even excessively literal, published by the South-Indian scholar VASUDEVACHARIAR in the issues of the Brahmavãdin. This translation, still more his Tamil rendering, is all but inaccessible in the West.
The present work offers a critical edition of the Sanskrit text, a liberally annotated translation into English, and an Introduction. As the work was undertaken in connexion with my post on the Staff of the Sanskrit Dictionary Department of the Deccan College at Poona, I have made it my object to study the text primarily from the philological point of view: to which I was the more inclined by the consideration that without a sound philological basis the philosophical study of Indian thought and its comparison with other patterns of thought will never achieve finality. Therefore I have made the notes to the English translation as exhaustive in dealing with terms and references as was possible to me; not exhaustive enough by far: many studies like those which HACKER devotes to advaita will have to be made in all systems before the entire context of concepts in Indian thought is rightly intelligible. I have made full use of SUDARSANASURI’S excellent commentary: Western scholars disregard these erudite studies by privileged colleagues with great disadvantage to their comprehension of the scholastic background of the studied authors.
In the Introduction I have sought to avoid all duplication and to centre the attention on relevant topics which so far have been dealt with insufficiently or not at all. Special regard has been given to Rãmãnuja’s place in the history of Vedanta thought. The importance of Uddãlaka’s Sadvidyä f or Vedanta as a whole and the variety of its interpretations led naturally to a more detailed description of Uddãlaka’s teaching as a convenient starting-point. Ramãnuja’s ancient predecessors have been studied anew and their fragments collected in an appendix. The relative date of the Vedarthasaipgraha has then been established and R.inãnuja’s sources, in the widest sense, have been investigated: in that conriexion special interest has been shown to the place of Pancarãtra and the doctrine of Yãmuna. A chapter of observations on Rãmãnuja’s hermeneutics concludes the introduotion. Several Indexes wiU, I hope, enhance the usefulness of the book.
This study has been made possible by my stay in Poona. The Minister of Education of the Netherlands, who granted me a travelling subsidy, the Curators of the State University of Utrecht, who arranged generously for a long study-leave, and the Council of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, who appointed me a Sub-Editor of the Sanskrit Dictionary, are the first to whom my gratitude is to be acknowledged. In the course of my daily routine in the Dictionary Department I have been able to benefit greatly by intimate contacts with Indian friends, colleagues and scholars; the readiness with which they have accepted me in their midst and shown me their friendship will for ever remain unforgettable to me. Professor V. A. RAMaswami Sastri, whose liberal friendship I consider a privilege, has followed the work of this study with the greatest interest and sympathy; his helpfulness in matters pertaining to Karmamjmãja has been invaluable; I owe more to his advice and encouragement, and to our innumerable neighbourly verandah discussions, than I am able to express.
It is to Dr. S. M. KATRE, Editor-in-Chief of the Sanskrit Dictionary, who invited me to Poona, that my warmest thanks are due. I do not know a better way of expressing my gratitude to him, reputed scholar, understanding friend and most charming host, than by dedicating this volume to the Staff of the Poona Sanskrit Dictionary, his creation.
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