This is the first Sustained effort to compare and contrast 'the Pancapadika' with Sri Sankara's Bhashya and to convince the critical reader that distinct systems diametrically opposed to each other on the cardinal tenets of Vedanta. Basing himself o a close study of numerous passages culled from the Bhashya, the author has tried to persuade Pandits and Professors that the study of these as two independents systems without interblending is quite esential for correct and fruitful understanding of sankara's teaching/
After the traditional Absolutism had been placed on a firm footing by Gaudapadacarya and especially by his grand-desciple S’ankaracarya, the ancient rival schools were almost all supplanted and the system held on for some time unchallenged in the field of Indian Philosophy, Innate tendency of the human mind, ho ever, soon asserted itself, and Advaita Vedanta succumbed to the in-roads of realism in the garb of Advaita itself.
This time it was Dot a full-Hedged rival system that attacked the traditional school, but two different systems bat reconciled themselves to occupy the subordinate position of supplying critical expositions, called Tikas, of S’ankara’s Bhashya so that they might infuse their on doctrines subtly into the dominent philosophy. This artifice was so very successful that the original system soon became inextricable from the teachings of these two rival, and in some respects even mutually opposed schools, and today Vedantins are nowise disconcerted to accept both of them as forming part and parcel 0f S’ankara’s Advaita, The idea is, that there aloe no doubt some differences of opinion regarding certain doctrines relating to emperical truths, but these are due to the different means of approach employed to reveal the nature of Reality, and do not matter at all so long as both the sub-schools are in perfect agreement about the nature of the Absolute. The critical student of Advaita is the inevitably thrown into a state of perplexity as to what exactly is the system of s’ankara. Whether that great thinker actually agrees with this or that school, or ha a system of his own distinct from both, continues t be an unsolved enigma to this day.
A vast amount of Advaitic literature has grown up around the original works of these two branches called the Paucapadika and the Bhamati respectively There have appeared numerous original works, sub commentaries and manuals, each supporting the doctrines of its own tradition and controverting those of writers in the other camp. The Pancapadika in particular, has a brilliant exposition by Prakas’atma Yati called the Vivarana, which has almost cast the original work into the shade, so much so that this school no usually goes by the name of the Vivarana School, after this famous work. It is the Pancapadika in particular that I have undertaken to examine in order to see how far the teachings of this sub-commentary, are in consonance with those of the Bhashya.
I have already shown very briefly in my Introduction to the Vedanta-Prakriya-Pratyabhijna (Section VII), how both the sub-schools differ from S’ankara, but my sale aim in that work was to clarify my position that all writers on Vedanta except Gaudapada, S’ankara and Suresvara, have failed to recognize the only genuine method of Vedanta. The object of the present thesis is to show in detail how the originators of both these sub-schools professing to follow s’ankara, really owe their allegiance to different ancient schools of Vedanta quite distinct from S’ankara and at variance with it in many respects. That Vacaspati Mis’ra, the founder of the Bhamati Tradition, has actually glossated on Mandana’s Brahma-Siddhi from which he has freely borrowed and displayed many doctrines and even technical words, verbatim quotations or adaptations thereof in the Bhamati, is too patent to be denied. Detailed substantiation of this allegation, has to be reserved for another occasion. This Mis’ra’s predecessor, the author of the Pancapadika on the other hand, has doctrines foreign and even opposed to S’ankara’s, to prove which we have to rely only on textual criticism but can trace them to no particular treatise of any school so far known. From a casual allusion found in the Brahma-Siddhi, however, we can gather that this school, which takes Avidya to be the material cause of the Universe, was still flourishing independently during Mandana’s time; for he writes “तथा चोक्तम् अविद्दोपादानभेदददिमि: 'अनादिरप्रथोजना चाविद्या' इति“(‘ The supporters of the theory that Avidya is the material cause of the manifold, aver that Avidya is beginningless and serves no teleological purpose. ‘).
The Pancapadika (literally ‘consisting of five padas’) is actually a fragmentary work containing the discussion of S’ankara’s Sutra Bhashya on the first four Sutras of Badarayana. There are indeed evident indications, in the portion of the work available, that the author actually proposed to comment upon the whole of the Bhashya, but diligent search so far made, has not succeeded in unearthing anything beyond the Tika on the Catus-Sutri portion. Poetical works called Sankara- Vijayas, ascribe the work to Padmapada Acarya, the direct disciple of S’ankara, but no trustworthy evidence internal or external has been so far adduced by any scholar to ratify this tradition. Nor do we have any reliable information about any other work safely assignable to the author. In his Foreword to the English translation of the Pancapadika, Sri B. Bhatta charya, General Editor of the Gaekwad’s Oriental Series, (p. IX) writes that the second work attributed to Padmapada is the Atmabodha Vyakhyana also called the Vedanta Sara; but that work is neither widely known nor published yet. Nor can we be sure of the identity of the author of certain Tantric works attributed to Padmapada by tradition. Indeed, we have to make sure in the first place that the Pancapadika is genuinely from the pen of Padmapada, the direct disciple of s’ankara, before we hazard any further judgment respecting the author of the work.
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