Suresvara's Vartika on Ajatasatru Brahmana

Suresvara's Vartika on Ajatasatru Brahmana

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Item Code: NAB435
Author: Shoun Hino & K.P. Jog
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8120814568
Pages: 295
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.7" X 5.7"
Weight 510 gm
About the Book:

This volume presents an analysis of the central concept of the Upanisads, viz, the Brahman. This analysis consists in the discussions of an individual's experiences in the three states of waking, dream and sleep and thereby throws light on the nature of the inner sentience in him called the Atman (i.e. the Brahman). These discussions reveal that this sentience ever abides in the individual both in relation to the world outside him and in his complete seclusion from it, in his sleep, and is wholly unaffected by the apparent diversity around. Thus, it is, in every probability, the first attempt to define what is the Brahman.

About the Author:

Dr. K.P. Jog is a retired Professor of Vedic Sanskrit and General Editor of Sanskrit Dictionary Project of Deccan College Research Institute, Pune.

Dr. Shoun Hino is Associate Professor of Gifu Pharmaceutical University (Japan). He did his M.A. at Nagoya University (Japan) & Ph.D. studies at Poona University.


The Brhadaranyaka is the biggest and most important one among principal Upanisads and contains numerous discussions of teachers, pupils, questioners and others. It is marked by philosophical speculations not opposed to but in conformity with a vigorous performance of rituals. The Brhadranyaka reveals to us the towering personality of the great Upanisadic thinker Yajnavalkya who affirmed neil neil, i.e. indescribability of the Brahman, the ultimate Truth. It is on this basis that Sankara built up his theory of Non-dualistic Vedanta.

Consequently, the Bhasya of Sankara on this Upanisad has assumed a very great significance in Vedäntic literature. Next to his Bhãsya on the Bralunasülra— nay almost on a par with it—his Bhasya on this Upanisad is a vivid picture of the (almost aggressively) vigorous philosophical acumen of the great phi— Josopher. And this is more pronouncingly felt in his references to and the refutations of the arguments of the followers of other systems of Indian philosophy, for they were unavoidable for him while he clarified (in his way- —on the non-dualistic way) the thought of the Upanisad from which he was distant at least by a period of about 1000 years and since there had intervened between hen and the Upanisad a number of thinkers of various systems. Yet, since he had set himself to the task of commenting on the Upanisad, he inevitably became somewhat brief, leaving quite a lot of disputations unclear (for his contemporaries).

This gave his pupil Sureivara a scope for clarifying his Guru’s thought in its fullness and lie wrote the Brhadaranyakopanisadbhasyavartika. The last member of the compound—name, vartika, refers to Suresvara’s discussion of ukta, anukta and durukta portions in Sañkara’s writing. Suresvara has underlined every small detail in the varied arguments in the Bhaya on the Upanisad and clarified the same with characteristic skill. It is noticed that Suresvara is familiar with minute details of different philosophical systems Nyaya and Mimamsa in particular and therefore he has in a way shaped the Tika of Anandagiri the most read commentator of Sankara’s works thus throwing abundant light on the vigorous philosophical activity of the times which preceded his teacher Sankara and himself.

A special mention has to be made here of Suresvara’s detailed discussions of the views of Bhartrprapanca a predecessor or a senior contemporary of Sankara. It may understandable scheme of Bhartrprapanca’s philosophy on the basis of these. Anther significant contribution of Suresvara deserves special notice. His discussions about the interpretation of Vedantic passage and various means of understanding knowledge manavyavahara or Nyaya in relation to the Vedantic logic indeed deserve in depth studies for purpose of clarifying the method of Non Dualistic Vedanta.


In the Ajatasatri Brahmana viz BU 2.1. there has occurred the discussion on the definition of the Brahman and the remaining parts of BU 2, i.e. Brahmana 2-6 of it, proceeded to elucidate the nature of the manifest forms of the same; incidentally, though, the final part of that portion (SU 2.6) supplied information on the line of teachers relating to the last two chapters of the Satapoath Brahmana and the first two chapters of RU. These two chapters of BU, viz. 1 and 2, have, in keeping with the ancient tradition, enunciated in clear terms what is being dealt with in the work (uddita) and then taken up defining the Brahman (laksana) of the uddista (BU 2.1), the parfksä examination’ of the same only naturally following it. This examination has naturally taken the form of jalpa and vada (see for these terms under SUB 4.1.1 and 2) in chapters 3 and 4 of RU and is presented in the disputes between sage Yajbavalkya and several seers and the sage’s final instruction to king Janaka. It is worth noting, nevertheless, that chapter 3 and chapter 4.1 and 2 of BU appear to present one connected idea which is further elucidated in RU 4.3-6. Yet RU 4.3 and 4.4 are extremely significant, elaborate and fairly long presentations of two important aspects of the said examination and have demanded special treatment in BUBV and, consequently, in our scheme, i.e. in two separate volumes, soon to follow.

Though given in our volume 4 as an Appendix, the translation of BURV 3.1 is presented here in revised form in order that the reader can have one (conveniently) complete picture of Suresvara’s contribution.

As before, we have derived great help from Anandagiri’s Sastraprakasika (SP) and AnandapUrna’s Nyayakalpalatika (NKL). We express our special thanks to Prof. K. Macida (ILCAA), Prof. 3. Takashima (ILCAA) and Mr. N, Okaguchi. Prof. Macida offered us his own Devanagri printing software called Catur. Prof. Takashima Provided us with various programmes which made it possible to shape a book from the manuscript. And Mr. Okaguchi designed Devanagri Font.


The first Brahmana of the second chapter of BU in quite significant in the whole of the Upanisadic literature because it presents possibly for the first time a clear definition of the central concept of the Brahman. It reveals the nature of the Brahman as the source of the worlds as well as the one that is present in the human beings even in their state of sleep. Thus it fully reveals how the philosophy of the Upanisads is basically anthropo-centric. This is evident from the narrative of a dialogue between Gargya Balaki who thought that he had known the Brahman and kind Ajatasatru who really knew the Brahman and imparted the knowledge of its Gargya revealing the truth in the assertion of the Kenopanisad 2.2ab.

He who thinks that he has not known it knows it whereas he who thinks that he has known it does not know it.

Again this Brahmana of BU assumes as I have stated just above a greater significance when it is compared to the first chapter of the Upanisad that is to say the first chapter of BU like many an earlier Upanisad say for example Kena Katha, Mundaka and so on states the concept of the Brahman in the form of some affirmation and as against this there is now in the second chapter of BU an attempt to analyze the same concept in some details. In fact it marks the beginnings of this analysis in subsequent portions of BU in growing greater details (yet let me state Brahmans 2 and 3 of this chapter as pointed out in our book (Vol. 7) Suresvara’s Vartika on Sisu and murtamrta Brahmana relate more to the textual details that go to amplify by adding explanatory details what is said in the first Brahmana (which is here under consideration).

At this point it is worthwhile to note what Sankaracharya has stated abou the purpose of the first three chapters of BU and then about that of this Brahmana of the second chapter in the sequel of the same. I shall quote Sankaracarya at convenient (and useful) length and also subjoin an English rendering of it.

One should worship (the Brahman) holding it to be (one’s) inner self (BU 1.4.7) in knowing (lit. searching) that all would become known that is the real nature of the Atman (i.e. the Brahman) and the Atman is to be sought as dearer than all (the things of one’s enjoyment). In the sruti statement knew only itself as I am Brahman (BU 1.4.10) points to that the nature of the Atman alone is the subject matter to be known. And what is the object of the awareness of the differences is the subject matter of ignorance in such forms as he is different (from me) and I am different (From him).,

In all the Upanisads the subject matters of knowledge and ignorance are clearly distinguished by such as should be looked upon only in one manner and gets death after death who sees as diverse of these two (subject matter) the subject matter of Ignorance is the whole of it explained till the end of the third chapter by dividing it into such particular different things as the means etc. further (it should be noted that ) the whole of the subject matter of Ignorance is clarified as having two types (i) The Prana the vital force within is its support like a pillar etc of a house the illuminator (and) immortal and (ii) that which is outside (of an individual) is of the nature of an effect non illuminator having the properties of being subjected to birth and death and (what can be compared to ) grass kusa grass and earth in relation to a house it can be expressed by the word satya and its is mortal. From that is there the conclusion that prana the vital force which is concealed is which can be expressed by the word immortal.


Srimukham by Sri Jagadguru Shankaracharya vii
Foreword by Prof. Hajime Nakamura ix
Preface xi
Abbreviations xv
Introduction xvii
Translation and annotation 1
Select glossary 227
Bibliography 229
Half Verse Index 231
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