Badarayanavyasa's 'Brahmasutra' is universally recognized as the manual of Vedanta philosophy i.e. the quintessence of vedas. In this book Dr. Raghavendra Katti presents an objective study of Brahmasutras in the third and fourth Adhyayas, referring to the three popular principal commentaries. This is an associate of his earlier work, "Brahman, The supreme Being, in Brahmasutras", which is a study of Sutras in the first and second Adhyayas. The first two Adhyayas reveal the textual information about the nature and attributes of the Creator of this world, and His creation of sentient and insentient world. The third Adhyaya, known as Sadhanadhyaya, prescribes ways and means like meditation for attaining the direct perception of the Lord, and the resultant Release i.e. Moksha from this miserable wordly life. The fourth Adhyaya describes how a successful seeker achieves a state of eternal bliss.
Badarayanavyasa presents here the concept of meditation practised By the Indian sages knowing Vedas, from the prehistoric antiquity. It is quite different from that prescribed by the later sages like Mahavira, Buddha, Patanjali and others. Further, the state of Kaivalya, Apavarga or Nirvana aimed at by the followers of these later saints, promises a cessation of all suffering and liberation from the bondage to repeated rebirths. But, the concept of Moksha aimed at by the Vedic seers is quite different. In addition cessation of all misery and liberation from continuous rebirths, it promises state of positive experience of enjoyment of unadulterated superhuman eternal happiness, commensurate with each one's own desert.
Whether one agrees with the Author's conclusions or not, is a matter individual judgement and freedom of thought. But the book certainly provides enough food for thought. And inquisitiveness is the hallmark of students and scholars of any subject.
I really appreciate the Author's scholarly efforts and hope that this work will be of use to the research students, scholars and all others, interested Indian Philosophy.
It is a great pleasure to go through the book 'Meditation in Brahmasutras' written by Dr. Raghavendra Katti. Meditation is quite a popular topic now-a-days. In India Meditation is practised not only by the followers of Vedic traditions, but also by others like Jains, Buddhists, Shaktas, Pashupatas etc. The concepts of Meditation dealt with in this book are quite different from those advocated by the followers of other traditions, in the matter of "What to meditate upon" and "What to achieve through meditation," and so on. The meditation described here is that practised by the Indian sages knowing Vedas, much before Patanjali, Buddha and Mahavira. The book deals with meditation and much more. For, meditation is the final step in the spiritual pursuit. It is preceded by other steps like Vairagya, Bhakti, Shravana, Manana etc. In fact the author presents here an impartial and objective study of Brahmasutras in Adhyayas III and IV, referring to the three principal commentaries, namely those of Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya.
These Brahmasutras composed by Badarayana Vyasa constitute the central text of Vedanta Philosophy. Badarayana Vyasa is credited with the task of collecting, collating and editing the Vedas, the oldest literature in the world. When different doctrines like Sankhya, Vaisheshika etc. developed within the Vedic tradition and the common people stood confused, Badarayana Vyasa had to give his authoritative judgements on what exactly is the quintessence of Vedic teachings, in his masterpiece known as Brahmasutra or Vedantasutra. It is universally recognized as the manual of Vedanta.
In spite of such a systematic presentation of Vedanta thought, a number of divergent schools have developed within Vedanta Philosophy and the common man's confusion continues. Three of them are important. They are (i) Shankaracharya's Advaita, (ii) Ramanujacharya's Vishishtadvaita and (iii) Madhvacharya’s Dvaita. Historically, Shankaracharya's commentary is the earliest one and his doctrine has been propagated by great scholars Vivekananda and S. Radhakrishnan. So a majority of intelligentsia in India and abroad believes that Vedanta me Advaita Philosophy. Recently, scholars like V.S. Ghate, B.N.K Sharma, have tried to remove this misconception. But still, Advaita has a dominant position in the World.
The Brahmasutras are arranged in four chapters or Adhyayas In the first Adhyaya the author presents the nature and attributes of Brahman, Who creates and controls this world. In the seer he shows the flaws in the contemporary doctrines, both orthodox and heretical, and refutes them. In addition, he removes the apparent conflicts in Vedic statements themselves, and establishes Vedic concepts of origination of matter and souls in the world Dr. Raghavendra Katti has written and published in 2013, a book 'Brahman, The Supreme Being, in Brahmasutras,' in which he presented an objective study of Sutras in these two Adhyayas referring to the three principal commentaries mentioned above He has shown therein that Madhvacharya's interpretations of Sutras are more convincing. I had an occasion to glance through the book and to record my appreciation of that book.
The aim of the seekers is to get liberated from the miserable worldly life and to achieve eternal bliss i.e. Moksha. So, having known the nature and attributes of the Lord, and His creation matter and souls, the seeker is bound to ask himself what should do next. In other words, he wants to know the mean getting Moksha. Badarayana Vyasa has dealt with this topic in third Adhyaya known as Sadhanadhyaya. He holds that one can attain to moksha only by means of the Lord’s grace and His direct perception i.e. Aparokshajnyana. For achieving both he prescribes the steps like Vairagya, Bhakti, Shravana, Manana, Dhyana etc. In the fourth Adhyaya, the author mentions the fruits of these Hence it is known as Phaladhyaya. He describes these fruits in four steps viz. (i) Karmakshya i.e. destruction of accumulated sins,(ii) Utkranti i.e. departure of the soul through Brahmarandhra, (iii) Marga i.e. journey to Brahmaloka through Devayanamarga and (iv) Bhoga i.e. enjoyment of bliss in Moksha. Thus, in these two Adhyayas the author has presented the practical side of vedic religion. However, people show less interest in this portion than that shown in the theoretical discussions appearing in the first first two Adhyayas.
In this book, Dr. Raghavendra Katti has objectively analysed All the Sutras in these two Adhyayas, referring to the same three principaI commentaries. While making comparative study of these great commentaries, the author seems to be aware of the fact that competent to hold somebody's interpretation as incorrect or to opine that somebody's interpretation is correct. He has only expressed whether he is convinced by a particular interpretation or not, and has given his reasons thereof. He is within his rights thereof. He is within his rights to say so. Here, the commentators agree on the purport of some Sutras and differ on many. Wherever they differ, the author has concluded the interpretations of Shankaracharya and Ramanujacharya as unconvincing because they are found to be stating some isolated topics having little relevance to the theme two Adhyayas. For example, one Sutra decides that the rinsing of the mouth with water is enjoined by the Shruti, only after a meal, but not both before and after a meal. Another Sutra confirms that offering five oblations to the five Pranas can be omitted on fasting days. On the other hand, Dr. Katti finds Madhvacharya's interpretations quite convincing because they add up to a clear-cut system which can be pursued by the seeker. Moreover, Madhvacharya quotes corroborative extracts from wide range of Smritis and Puranas in support of his interpretation. The extracts being the statements of knowledgeable and credible persons, Madhvacharya's conclusions are found to be in keeping with contemporary thinking in the days of Badarayana Vyasa.
Dr. Raghavendra Katti has extensively quoted extracts from other standard works on the subject in support of his views. He has honestly expressed his findings irrespective of whether others agree with him or not. He has clearly brought out the import, each Sutra. The author appears to be having the knack of explaining even difficult topics to ordinary students. At places, he has explained some technical terms like 'Hetugarbhavisheshana', 'Pratiyogin 'Vedanga' etc. in the footnotes for the benefit of those who do not know them. Only those who try to study Brahmasutras will understand the value of this book. This book will surely be an important addition to the philosophical literature.
I congratulate Dr. Raghavendra Katti for his contribution and hope that his indepth study of Vedanta will result in many more such works.
My first book on Brahmasutras namely 'Brahman, The Supreme Being, in Brahmasutras', has been published in Bengaluru in March 2013. It is my thesis submitted to and accepted by the University of Pune for a Ph.D. degree in Sanskrit. In this dissertation, I have considered the problem as to how the same Brahmasutras can advocate such divergent and mutually conflicting doctrines like Vivartavada, Vishishtadvaitavada and the so called Dvaitavada, as claimed by the respective protagonists of these doctrines. A Sutra by definition is expected to make an unambiguous and exact statement. So in this book which covers the study of the first two Adhyayas of Brahmasutra, I have tried to understand what Badarayana Vyasa intends to convey through these Sutras, depending on the syntax, semantics, contextual propriety, schematic relevance etc. of the words used in the Sutras. My objective study of these Sutras with the help of a commentary by Shri Raghavendratirtha reveals that there is no support for or reference to the Vivartavada of Shankaracharya and that Badarayana Vyasa and Shankaracharya hold different views on the purport of Vedas. Similarly, Ramanujacharya's concept of Brahman having the insentient matter and sentient individual souls as His body, is nowhere indicated in the Sutras.
Incidentally, a British scholar, George Thibaut remarks: I "The Shankar-bhashya further is the authority most generally deferred to in India as to the right understanding of the Vedanta-sutras and ever since Shankara's time the majority of the best thinkers of India have been men belonging to his school". In fact, to start with I studied Advaita Vedanta sincerely for about 15 years and I have great regard for Shankaracharya for all that he has done for protecting the sanctity of Vedas and Vedic religion in that hostile era. As a result I have more number of Advaita friends than others. During the period of eight years of my research work, the professors whom I consulted, my friends with whom I discussed the import of the Sutras and those who helped me in proofreading, were all the followers, of Shankaracharya only. Under these circumstances my work was an exercise in swimming against the current. So my conclusions came as a great disappointment to all these people.
Many of these people feel that I am biassed towards Madhvacharya because I belong to Madhva sect. Of course, eulogizing the preceptor of one's own sect is not an offence. But, since I have made an objective study, I feel hurt especially when some hold me to be partial even without seeing what I have written. For, they judge on the basis of 'who has written,' instead of 'what is written.' Some are found to be intolerant of even listening to a debate on whether Shankarabhashya gives the correct import of the Sutras. George Thibaut rightly observes: "But to the European -- or generally, modern-translator of the Vedantasutras with Shankara's commentary another question will of course suggest itself at once, viz. whether or not Shankara's explanations faithfully render the intended meaning of the author of the Sutras. To the Indain Pandit of Shankara's school this question has become an indifferent one, or to state the case more accurately, he objects to its being raised, as he looks on Shankara's authority as standing above doubt and dispute.' ' So, naturally many feel offended when someone even debates the validity of Shankarabhashya. Such annoyance is clearly discernible in a review of my book in the Journal of Oriental Research, Vols. 85-86, published by Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai. The scholar who reviewed the book says : "The author even goes to the extent of saying that Vivartavada has little relevance in the Sutras where Shankara discusses Parinamavada and wherever Shankara advocates the Kevaladvaita doctrine, it is based on Upanishads and not on Brahmasutras revealing that Badarayana and Shankara hold different views on the purport of the Vedas. To express in a nutshell, pooh-poohing Shankara's expositions with relevant Shruti support various concepts of creation, Jagatkarana, Nirguna Brahman, Saguna Brahman, role of Maya, Jiva-Brahma-aikyam, etc. in this text quoting Raghavendratirtha's commentary may not be palatable to learned scholars, leave alone Advaitins." But, the scholar has not brought forward any new point other than what I have concluded, and has not provided any justification as to why the Advaita doctrine should be accepted as being in agreement with the Sutras.
The fact that Shankaracharya's commentary on the Sutras is the earliest one, is not a sufficient proof of its correctness, and it can not prevent later commentators from throwing fresh light on the Sutras. The learned scholars may note a wise saying) which states that, "Everything is not proper and pleasant simply because it is old; and any scholarly knowledge also is not to be disliked because it is new. The wise ones accept one of the two after scrutiny; the dullards rely on another's conviction." S. Radhakrishnan also expresses similar sentiments. He says': "In the history of thought it has often happened that a philosophy has been victimized by a traditional interpretation that became estasblished at an early date, and has thereafter prevented critics and commentators from placing it in its proper perspective."
On the other hand, after the release of the book, the Publisher received some complaints as well as suggestions for corrections in the book, from some accomplished readers belonging to the Madhva sect. The Publisher wrote to me saying that 'a review of the said book reveals certain remarks, comments and opinions expressed by the author which appear to be not correctly conveying the conceptual greatness and sanctity of Sri Madhwa Bhashya". In short, my objective and academic approach and style, my individual judgements and opinions, my references to Raghavendratirtha instead of Madhvacharya, my pointing out of the difference of approach between Madhvacharya, Jayatirtha and Raghavendratirtha, my use of the words guess-work, stunning and prima facie unbelievable, ingenious, imaginative etc. with reference to Madhvacharya's interpretations, are not acceptable to the. traditional scholars. In their view, I have belittled Madhvacharya and failed to glorify the most appropriate interpretation offered by Madhvacharya. So, the Publisher thought it fit to paste disclaimer below the 'Publisher's Note'. Thus, the Advaitins think that I have belittled Shankaracharya and the Dvaitins surmise that I have belittled Madhvacharya. When both the competing teams in a match complain that the umpire is partial, the umpire may feel assured that he has done a fairly good job to the best of his ability.
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