The present book attempts a critical study of the philosophy of Sarvajnatmamuni, an eminent Advaita Vedantin of post-Snakara era and makes an appraisal of his contributions to the Advaita Vedanta school of Indian philosophy. The work also highlights the salient features of Advaita Vedanta and discusses the different views regarding the key concepts of the system in a comparative way.
Dr. Sujata Purkayastha Bhattacharyya passed M.A in Sanskrit form the University of Gauhati in 1981. She obtained Ph.D. degree from the same University in 1988. She is at present a Reader in the Department of Sanskrit, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam. She is a devoted researcher in different fields of Indian philosophy. She has more than a dozen research articles published in different research Journals to her credit.
Sarvajnatmamuni is one of the mast renowned and respected teachers of Advaita Vedanta school of the Past-Sankara period. He is renowned specially far his Advaita Vedantic treatise entitled Samksepasariraka. In this work, Sarvajnatman has endeavoured to explain and interprete the fundamental principles of Advaita Vedanta advocated by Sankaracarya. He has discussed in detail almost all the salient features of this system. Sarvajnatman has two other small works entitled Pancaprakriya and Pramanalaksana to his credit. These are, however, not as famous as Samksepasariraka. Although the main objective of Sarvajnatman consists in elucidating and perfecting the already available philosophical ideas of Sankaracarya, yet it must be contended that in many a cases he has forwarded his independent views which differ to a great extent from his predecessors. And in doing so he has made significant contributions to the field of Advaita Vedanta, as can be assessed from the influence he weilded on the later thinkers of the school.
The present work is an abridged form of my Ph.D. thesis THE PHILOSOPHY OF SARVAJNATMAMUNI. Herein an attempt has been made to present Sarvajnatman's exposition and interpretation of Advaita Vedanta in a systematic, critical and comparative manner. The work is mainly interpretative and it contains nine Chapters.
The First Chapter is introductory. It deals with the life, works and date of Sarvajnatman. The second chapter deals with the Anubandhas (the four pre-requisites) of the study of Vedanta. In the subsequent five chapters the following topics are discussed: the concept of Brahman, the concept of Ajnana, the concept of Adhyasa, the concept of the Jiva and the concept of the World. The last two chapters are concerned with the means and nature of liberation.
I have no words to express my deep sense of gratitude to my teacher and erstwhile supervisor Prof. Kaliprasad Sinha, Ph.D., D .Lit, Professor in the Department of Sanskrit. Assam University, Silchar, but for whose inspiring guidance and untiring help, it would have been well nigh impossible to prepare this dissertation.
I am deeply indebted to Prof. Ashok Kumar Goswami, M.A., Ph.D., Retired Professor and Head in the Department of Sanskrit, Gauhati University, for his constant help and inspiration all through my research. He has also very kindly contributed a learned Foreword to my book for which I shall remain ever grateful to him. I am also grateful to Mrs. Beena Devi Goswami, wife of Prof, A.K. Goswami and Advocate, Guwahati High Court and their two daughters Darsana and Sampurna for their affection and help which inspired me to overcome the most critical period of my life.
I shall be failing in my duty if I do not record my thankfulness to my sister Miss Sumitra Purkayastha, Lecturer, J.B. College, Jorhat who has helped me in preparing the manuscript by putting the diacritical marks. I also remain extremely grateful to my parents Sri Ranadhir Purkayastha and Smti Chhaya Devi Purkayastha and my brother Sankar who have always encouraged me in my academic persuits.
My sincere thanks are also due to Messers Punthi Pustak for kindly accepting the work for publication.
I shall deem myself amply rewarded if the work serves to satisfy the scholars and researchers in the field.
Of the nine schools of Indian philosophy, while the Carvaka presents the crudest thought expected of an ordinary person having no solid philosophical grounding, the Vedanta represents the superb speculations of the philosophical genius. The Vedanta system of Indian philosophy with its origin in the Vedanta (the end of the Veda) i.e. the Upanisads virtually comes to be the Vedanta (i.e. the cream of the Veda). The early Vedantic thoughts of the Upanisads, conveying essentially the monistic principle gets systematised and further developed in Badarayana's Brahmasutra and the commentaries on the Sutra. Of the commentators on the Brahmasutra, otherwise called the Vedantasutra, Acarya Sankara comes to propagate the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualistic Vedanta) through numerous works including commentaries on the principal Upanisads, the Bhagavadgita and the Vedantasutra. The followers of Advaitavada have written thousands of books the quintessence of which is Brahma satyam, jaganmithya, jivo brahmaiva (Brahman is real, the world is false and there is no difference between jiva and Brahman). This Brahman is eternal, immaculate, only one and without a second. It has no part, no attribute, no action. Atman or self is one and there is no difference between the Universal self and the Individual self. Owing to the influence of nescience (Avidya) we can not comprehend the real nature of the self. It is of the nature of Sat (existence), Cit (consciousness) and Ananda (bliss). With the help of Vidya (Knowledge), the deep veil of Avidya (ignorance) can be rent asunder. To a Wiseman, freed from the influence of Avidya, the Atman appears in its true form. These revolutionary assertions of the Advaita Vedanta have come to make a great impact on life and culture of Indian people. It is not that the Advaitavada is of utility only for a true spiritualist, if conceived and pursued rightly and seriously, it can lead to immense benefits in all walks of our life, familial, social, national and even international. This great wisdom embodied in the Vedantic treatises can be a true basis of humanity and world fraternity as well.
Mrs (Dr.) Sujata Purkayastha Bhattacharyya's present work titled Sarvajnatmamuni’s Contribution to Advaita Vedanta is a critique on the Vedantic works of Sarvajnatman, a follower of Sankara's school of Advaita Vedanta. This Advaita scholar of approximately 1Oth/11th Century, AD is credited to have authored three books, namely Samksepasariraka, Pancaprakriya and Pramanalaksana. The Samksepasariraka is the most important and celebrated work of Sarvajnatman, written as a Vartika on Sankara's commentary on the Brahmasutra, entitled Sarirakabhasya Of the other two books of Sarvajnatman, Pancaprakriya is chiefly an exposition of the Vedantic Mahavakyas and the Pramanalaksana deals with the Pramanas after the Bhattamimamsakas.
Dr. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya's work, mainly based on the Samksepasariraka touches the Pancaprakriya only in between. Sarvajnatman's Samksepasariraka is a work of four chapters composed in verses numbering 1239. The philosopher author behaves like a poet as he presents the work in varied metres. Sarvajnatman introduces his Samksepasariraka as a Prakarana. A prakarana is a work that deals with some particular aspects of a system in a somewhat novel way. As the title suggests, the Samksepasriraka is expected to be a gist of Sankara's Sarirakabhasya, but virtually Sarvajnatman's work deals with the Vedantic issues elaborately. While following Sankara faithfully in respect of the fundamentals of the Advaita Vedanta, the later Vedantist makes his own points in minor issues like locus of Avidya and necessity of Brahmavicara.
SARVAJNATMAMUNI'S CONTRIBUTION TO ADVAITA VEDANTA authored by Mrs. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya is in nine chapters, the first being introductory and the rest broadly dealing with the Anubandhas, the concept of Brahman, the concept of Ajnana, the concept of Adhyasa, the concept of the Jiva, the concept of the world, the path to Liberation and the Liberation respectively. Mrs. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya also summarises her findings and views as well under the heading Conclusion. In view of hitherto non-existence of a comprehensive work on Sarvajnatmamuni's treatment of Advaita Vedanta, Mrs. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya's book is a welcome venture without doubt.
Sarvajnatman definitely can claim an admission of his contribution to Advaita Vedanta not only as an expounder of the fundamentals of Vedanta as propounded by Acarya Sankara, but also as a stout defender of the school of thoughts against the adverse critics including the Mimamsakas. This follower of Sankara is credited to have clarified a number of concepts and problems not adequately explained by the Master. In post Sankara era, there developed three sub-schools in the line of Advaita Vedanta: Vivarana school established by Prakasatmayati, Bhamati school established by Vacaspati Misra and the Vartika school established by Suresvara. Traditionally Sarvajnatman is said to belong to the Vartika school. Mrs. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya has observed in her work that he does not follow any particular sub-school in his treatment of the concepts of Advaita Vedanta. He is, however, found to be nearer to the schools of the Vivarana and the vartika than to the Bhamati of the post Sankara sub schools. On various issues, Mrs. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya shows the affinity and the difference as well between Sarvajnatmamuni and other Advaita Vedantists. To illustrate the point, Sarvajnatman does not differ much from his colleagues in the school in presenting the four Anubandhas of Vedantasastra. Yet his treatment of the subject shows a stamp of original thinking. According to Sankara, only a Sannyasin or a follower of the fourth station of life is eligible for Brahma-vicara. Against this view Sarvajnatman holds that the followers of all the four Asramas are eligible for Brahma-vicara. Again the Advaita Vedantins other than the author of Samksepasariraka propound that sat, cit, ananda and ananta form the essential definition of Brahman. Sarvajnatman adds here that Brahman is further nitya, suddha, mukta, suksma, vibhu, advitiya etc. Thus the Vedantic views of Sarvajnatman in affinity and in contrast as well with Sankara and other theorists of the school of Advaita Vedanta seem to be reflected in the present work of Mrs. Purkayastha Bhattacharyya. The work is a pleasant addition to our studies of the Advaita Vedanta and, will be, I trust, well received by the advanced readers of the system.
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