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Exclusion of Sudras from Brahmajijnasa

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Item Code: NAW598
Author: Jaison Vadakkan
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publications, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9788194011149
Pages: 401
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 420 gm
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Book Description


Sankaradarsana is an evergreen philosophy and theology which is discussed widely. It is a living tradition having great followers. This work titled, Exclusion of Sudras from Brahmajijnasa, is primarily a critique on Sankara and it looks into the problem of sudra-exclusion by analysing Apasudradhikaranam of Brahmasiara Sankara Bhasya. With the insights received, it tries to make an advaitic response to the problem of exclusion which has become a threat to the well-being and integrity of the society.

This work is my doctoral dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Philosophy, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Pune), defended on July 28,2017 for the Degree of Doctor in Philosophy (Ph D). With a joyful heart I thank God, the Almighty who has been my light in the task of this research. It was He who enabled and availed me with all the necessary help in various ways, especially by providing me with persons who were generous to support me.

I consider it to be providential and great blessing to have Dr. John Peter Vallabadoss OFM Cap. as my guide. I express my sincere gratitude and profound appreciation for his scholarly guidance, honest critique and insightful suggestions. It was his availability with a joyful spirit and encouragement with a brotherly concern that kept my enthusiasm untiring.

I am thankful to Dr. Selva Rethinam, SJ, the president of Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV) Pune, and Dr. Kuruvilla Pandikattu, SJ, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, for their encouragement. I am grateful to Dr. Nishant A. Irudayadason, who always extended his wholehearted support at every stage of this work in his capacity as the Chair Person for the Doctoral Committee of the Faculty of Philosophy.

At this moment, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Rev. Dr. Raphie Paliakkara OFM Cap., the former Provincial Minister of St. Thomas Capuchin Province, Kerala, to which I belong. It was he, in consultation with his councilors, who suggested me to have this research and made all the necessary arrangements. I am greatful to Rev. Fr. Pauly Madassery, the present Provincial Minister, who with all his blessings supported and encouraged me to get this work published.

I thankfully remember Dr. Stephan Chundanthadathil, SJ, Dr. Henry D' Almeida, SJ, Dr. Sebastian Pynadath, SJ, Dr. Kancha Ilaiah, Dr. Jose Thachil, Dr. Johnson Puthenpurackal OFM Cap., Dr. George Pattery, SJ, Dr. Anto Cheramthuruthy, Dr. P.T. Mathew, SJ, Dr. Yesudas Karunanidhi, Fr. Antony Thekkinieth OFM Cap. and Dr. Jijo Kurian OFM Cap. for spending their precious time for me with discussions at various stages of this project, and for their help in finding out the needed resources.

With heartfelt gratitude I remember Fr. Vincent Crasta, SJ, the registrar of JDV and the moderator of JDV PG Block, Fr. Alex, SJ, the administrator of JDV and Dr. Francis Ezhakunnel, the former moderator of PG Block, for their encouragement and support for my stay and study in IDV. I take this opportunity to gratefully acknowledge the scholarship provided by Missio, which supported me financially.

I gratefully remember the generous service rendered to me by Dr. Thomas Reddy, SJ and Dr. Biju Joseph, SJ, the librarians of JDV, and other library-staff.


Brahmajijnasa, the quest for Brahman, which is the desire and search for self-realisation, is very fundamental to Advaitic tradition. In satiating this quest Vedas are considered as the excellent recourse by the entire Vedic tradition. On the basis of varna and asrama, Vedas and the religious tradition related to it disqualify and exclude some groups of people, such as sudras, women of all varnas, non-sannyasa asramis, and those who do not belong to any asrama such as widower, from this quest. This idea of exclusion is fostered by the subsequent texts of the tradition such as Manusmrti. It is carried over to the succeeding age of the Vedic tradition reaching up to the time of Vedanta. Sankara, the great Vedantic philosopher and theologian, also seems not an exception to this.

Apasudrudhikaranam of his Brahmasutra Bhasya argues for the exclusion of sudras. This dissertation attempts for a critical account of the problem of exclusion in Sankara.

Sankara: The Vedantic Thinker There were various attempts to understand the Upanisadic truth with the help of Bhagavadgita and Brahmasutra in addition to Upanisads. These attempts were in the form of interpretations given to these texts. Various philosophical or theological developments based on such interpretations are generally known as Vedantic systems. Sankara interpreted the Upanisadic wisdom from the standpoint of strict non-dualism (a-dvaita). Ontologically Brahman is the essence and reality-giving cause of everything. This does not deny the plurality and differences experienced in the phenomenal world but uphold the transcendence of ultimate reality, Brahman. The enlightenment consists in the intuitive experience of this non-dual reality which comprises the realisation of the identity between Atman and Brahman. In order to have this realisation the aspirant has to take up jnanamarga, the sravana (listening), manana (reflection) and nididhyasana (contemplation) of scriptures. Using reason as a tool, the aspirant takes up the means for realising the ultimate reality, Brahman which is trans-rational and extra-textual.

Critiquing Sankara

A sound critique on Sankara invites our attention to some of the important points. Understanding the mind of Sankara is comparatively difficult. One of the reasons is, his textual works-except Upadesasahasri-are commentaries on the texts of Vedic tradition such as Upanisads, Bhagavadgita and Brahmasutra, and therefore, the reader may not find his own ideas systematically developed. Secondly, the vocabulary he uses are sometimes confusing, because he borrows terms from other known philosophical systems of his time, such as Samkhya and Mimamsa. Thirdly, many literary works are attributed to him. Some of them present Sankara inadequately and improperly. Due to all these, it is possible that the Advaita tradition after Sankara misrepresent him. A critique has to take this fact into account.

The study of Sankara has to be critical than sympathetic. The traditional reverence for Sankara, and the deified position he occupied in the Advaita lineage, shall not compromise or constrain the kinds of questions that might be addressed to him. The critique has to take note of the inconsistencies and weak points of Sankaravedantic system, not merely to find fault with it, but rather, to look for its potential to become more reasonable and meaningful so that it might adequately serve the integrity of the humanity and the world at large.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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