R. Balasubramanian (Ph. D and D. Litt., Madras University), was Professor and Head, Sri Aurobindo School of Eastern and Western Thought and Chairman, Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi. A specialist in Advaita, Phenomenology and Existentialism, he has a number of books and articles to his credit and has lectured in several universities in and outside India. He taught in Besant Theosophical College, Vivekananda College, and Annamalai University before joining the faculty of Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Study in Philosophy, University of Madras, of which he was the Director for a number of years. He spent a year at Stanford University as a Fulbright and Smith-Mundt scholar for his post doctoral studies. Some of his publications include Personalistic Existentialism of Berdyaev (1970), The Taittiriyopanisad-bhasya-vartika of Suresvara (1976), Some Problems in the Epistemology and Metaphysics of Ramanuja (1976), A Study of the Brahmasiddhi of Mandanmisra (1983), the Naiskarmyasiddhi of Suresvara (1988) and the Sivajnana-sangrahabhasya of Sivagrayogin (Sanskrit, co-editor) (1922).
S. Revathy M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D. Siromani (Vedanta), Madras University is presently Professor, Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras. She was Awarded Ph. D degree of the University of Madras for her book, Three Little Known Advaitins (Anubhutisvarupacarya, Advaita-Vidyacarya, Kavitarkika Cakravati, Nrsimhabhattopadhyaya). A specialist in Advaita and Navya Nyaya, she has a number of research articles, three books and a monograph to her credit. She has critically edited the Upadesa-Sahasri with Ramatirtha’s Commentary and Srimadbhagavadgita with the commentary, Padayojana by Ramcandrendra Sarasvati. She received ‘Ramakrishna Sanskrit Award’ for contribution to Sanskrit teaching and research in India from Sarasvati Visvas, Canada in the year 2002. She is also the recipient of ‘Academic Achievement Award’, 2012 from the University of Madras.
The Vedanta-sara, a popular introduction to the essentials of Advaita, was written by Sadananda who is supposed to have lived in the early part of the sixteenth century. This work is available along with English translation. Scholars like M. Hiriyanna point out that this work has been printed along with translation in more than one European language. There are three published commentaries on it. It covers the entire range of the concepts and doctrines which occur in Advaita. It explains four basic topics, which must be mastered by an student of Advaita. The topics dealt with in it are—(1) the preliminary discipline for the study of the Vedanta system, (2) the teachings of the Vedanta, (3) the discipline necessary for its realization, and (4) the nature of liberation and condition of jivan-mukti.
The present text, Vedanta Sangraha, was written by Ramaraya Kavi who lived during 1875 to 1914. It is necessary to point out even at the outset that Ramaraya Kavi belongs to the groups of illustrious commentators on the basic texts and commentaries on Advaita Vedanta. Though he lived only for thirty-nine years, his writings, available to us, are very impressive. Mainly for the sake of clarity and for attaining the knowledge of Brahman, he wrote several works which have been published subsequently by his followers and admirers. Some of his advait awork such as Advaitamrta, Sariraka-catussutri-vicara, Vedanta-tattvamrta, are helpful to the beginners of Advaita. His Sri Sankarasankara-bhasya-vimarsah is a critical review and criticism of Ramanuja’s Sri-bhasya, 1.1.1. This work, like others, is analytical presenting the standpoint of the opponent and then exposing its untenability.
Ramaraya Kavi’s Vedanta Sanghraha, which contains fifteen chapters, explains the basic concepts and doctrines of Advaita beginning with advidya and adhyasa in Chapter One and ending with advaita-siddhi in Chapter Fifteen. The sentences in this work are simple, but forceful. The presentation is analytical, classifying the categories and explaining them one after another with examples, wherever necessary. It will not, therefore, be taxing to the reader.
The text in Sanskrit is followed by free English translation, and then elaborate notes which will be useful to the beginner as well as scholar. The fonts used for translation and notes are different; they are also differentiated by three sets of stars at the beginning of the notes. Professor S. Revathy, the joint author of this book, carefully checked the text with the help of Professor V.K.S.N. Raghavan. As usual, Professor Raghavan has been helpful in the preparation of the draft in the initial as well as final stages. We express our grateful thanks to him.
K.S. Jayanthi did the typesetting work. She has to go through the text several times before finalizing the final draft after several revisions. We thank her for her cooperation from the beginning. My purpose at present, which may even be characterized as my mission is to focus on publications of the writings of Ramaraya Kavi. I get full support for support for fulfilling my purpose from my children and also from Professor. S. Panneerselvam, Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Madras, and Sri T.V. Sukumar. I take this opportunity to express my thanks to all of them.
We thank Swami Advayananda for undertaking the publication of this work under the auspices of Chinmaya International Foundation Shodha Sansthan, and blessing us with his benediction. We express our grateful thanks to Dr. Dilip Kumar Rana and Dr V. Sheeba Sudheer (Director and Deputy Director of CIFSS) who carefully studied the draft and offered suggestions.
Finally, a word of thanks to Smt. Poongodai for facilitating our office work.
Advaita is as ancient as the Veda. While the glimpses of its teachings are seen in the hymns (Mantras) of the Veda, it is only in the Upanisads, which constitute the concluding portion of the Veda, that we have a full-fledged account of its teachings. Advaita has, therefore, no founder in the sense in which we speak of founders of other schools, e.g. Gautama as the founder of the Nyaya school, Kapila as the founder of the Sankhya school, and so on. Since we frequently speak of "Advaita of Sankara", one gets the impression that Sankara is the founder or originator of Advaita. This, however, is not true, though it is undeniable that Sankara as the author of the commentaries (bhasya-kara) on the Upanisads, the Bhagavad-gita, and the Brahma-sutra not only elucidated, but also gave a final form to the basic doctrines of Advaita. So far as we know from the available literature on Advaita, Gaudapada who was Sankara's teacher's teacher (paramaguru) and the author of the Mandukya-karika was the first systematic expounder of Advaita. That there were teachers of Advaita even before Gaudapada is borne out from references contained in Badarayana's Brahma-sutra. Badarayana, for example, refers to the views of Kasakrtsna" and Badari,' which lend support to the teachings of Advaita.
The Brahma-sutra, also called the Vedanta-sutra, which attempts to bring out in an aphoristic manner the teachings of the Upanisads, is the basic work of all the schools of Vedanta including Advaita. In addition to the Upanisads and the Brahma-sutra, the Bhagavad-gita is an important source book for Advaita. The central teaching of the Upanisads, the Brahma-sutra. and the Bhagavad-gita which constitute the triple sources of authority (prasthana-traya) is one and the same: all of them, that is to say, affirm (1) the non-duality of Brahman, (2) the non-difference between the jiva and Brahman, and (3) the non- reality (or falsity) of the empirical world. Of the triple sources of authority mentioned above, while the Upanisads and the Bhagavad-gita represent the standpoints of sruti and smrti respectively, the Brahma-sutra represents the standpoint of reason (tarka). It means that the basic doctrines of Advaita, which are based on sruti, are supported by smrti and tarka.
Sankara's exposition of the basic doctrines of Advaita has been explained by a number of teachers of Advaita either by way of sub-commentaries and glosses on his Bhdsyas on the prasthanatraya or through independent treatises on Advaita. Mention may be made of the two "ways" (prasthanaj-s-very often referred to as the two "schools"-in which Sankara's commentary on the Brahma- sutra has been interpreted by his followers. The three important works of the Bhamati-prasthana are: (1) the Bhdmati of Vacaspati, which is a brilliant commentary on Sankara' s Brahma-sutra-bhiisya, (2) the Kalpataru of Amalananda, which is a further commentary on the Bhamati, and (3) the Parimala of Appayya Diksita which is again a commentary on the Kalpataru. In the same way, the three important works of the Vivarana-prasthana are: (1) the Pancapadika of Padmapada, which is, as available, a part of the commentary on Sankara's Brahma-sutra-bhdsya, (2) the Pancapadika-vivarana of Prakasatman, and (3) the Vivarana-prameya-sangraha of Vidyaranya. Though these two post-Sankara schools differ in the interpretation of certain aspects of Advaita, they agree on the essentials of Advaita. It may be stated here that the differences between these two schools are only exegetical and not doctrinal; and these differences which have arisen in the course of the elucidation of the point of view, clarification of an issue, answering objections and so on, are within the framework of Advaita. Both the prasthanas take their stand on, and draw inspiration from, the writings of Sankara; and through different modes of interpretation of the views of Sankara, they help us to gain an insight into Sankara and Advaita. Every perspective, every mode of interpretation, which is relative and significant from one's point of view, is intended, as Suresvara has stated, to help us realize the inward Self." One must bear this in mind in dealing with the differences between the two prasthanas, These differences, which are not irreconcilable within the framework of Advaita, do not make Advaita a house divided against itself.
In Advaita, as in the case of some other schools, we speak of three kinds of works providing materials, as well as authoritative interpretation of these materials, for the school. They are the Sutra-work, the Bharya-work, and the Vartika-work. Reference has already been made to Badarayana's Brahma-sutra and Sankara's Bhdsyas. Just as Kumarila Bhatta is the author of the Vdrtikas in the Purva-rnrmassa school, even so Suresvara, Sankara's direct disciple, is the author of the Yartikas in Advaita. Among his Vartikas which elucidate Sankara's position, the one on the Taittiriyopanisad-bhdsya and the other on the Brhadiiranyakopanisad-bhdsya are very important. The status which Suresvara as the Vartikakara enjoys in the Advaita tradition is unique. The fact that influential teachers of Advaita like Madhusudana Sarasvati place Suresvara along with Vyasa and Sankara brings out the greatness of Suresvara.'
Independent Expository Works
What is known as the siddhi-literature in Advaita contains important treatises, which not only set forth the essentials of Advaita, but also add new facets to it in the course of dialectics with other schools. Four works in this group, which have attracted the attention of scholars on account of their authoritative character as well as their polemics with other schools, are the Brahma-siddhi of Mandana, the Naiskarmya-siddhi of Suresvara, the Ista-siddhi of Vimuktatrnan, and the Advaita-siddhi of Madhusudana Sarasvati. Appayya Diksita's Siddhanta-lesa-sangraha, which refers to the divergent interpretations of the different aspects of Advaita, is important as well as popular. While Dharmaraja's Yedanta-paribhasa sets forth in a technical way the basic tenets of Advaita, Sadananda's Vedanta-sara states briefly the essentials of Advaita. Independent works which seek to expound the teachings of Advaita are numerous. Only a few, which are important and well-known, are mentioned here.
Life and Some Important Writings of Ramaraya Kavi
Ramaraya Kavi (1875-1914) belongs to the group of illustrious commentators on the basic texts and commentaries on Advaita Vedanta. Though he lived only for thirty-nine years, his writings, which are available to us, are very impressive. Since his writings are lucid and profound, closely following the writings of Adi Sankara, he has been revered as "Abhinava Sankara". It may be noted that his writings are helpful not only to the beginners, but also to scholars deeply immersed in the classical texts of Advaita Vedanta.
Ramaraya Kavi was born on December 27, 1875, and passed away on October 27, 1914. Though he lived only for thirty-nine years, his writings, available to us, are very impressive. He was born in a small village in Narasaraopet Taluk in Guntur District. His parents were Mohan Rao and Hanumamba. He was a Niyogi Brahmin of the Sri Vaisnava tradition, and belonged to Bharadvaja-gotra, His life was an epitome of the cultural tradition and spiritual heritage inherited from his parents and forefathers.
It is necessary to mention in this connection the turning point in the life history of Ramaraya Kavi. On one occasion he happened to see a copy of Vidyaranya's Pancadasi with Narasirhha Sastri, a former student of his. He borrowed it from him, enjoyed reading it, and then returned it within two days. In order to share his appreciation of the masterly exposition of the teachings of Advaita in the Paiicadasi, he asked Narasirhha Sastri to give the meaning of a verse (1.50) in the text. As Narasimha Sasm was not able to bring out the dialectics contained in the text, Ramaraya Kavi explained the full significance of the verse. Later, Sastri had the good fortune to study the entire text with Ramaraya Kavi.
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