Attempt has been made to make these selections comprehensive in scope. Passages have been drawn from all the important commentaries of Sankara comprising those on the Upanisads, the Bhagavadgita and Brahamasutras. Care has been taken to include passages relating to important metaphysical, epistemological and ethico-religious issues. The passages have been so arranged as to impart progressive understanding of the subtleties of the concepts and problems under discussion.
I take this opportunity to express my indebtedness to Dr. N. S. Hirematha who, apart from making the translations, looked after the printing of the book. Sri A. P. Mishra, Junior Research Fellow at the Centre was also associated with the preparation of the text in early stages; he also rendered active assistance in the preparation of the index. I thank him for this on behalf of the Centre and myself. My thanks are also due to Shri R. K. Berry, Manager, B. H. U. Press, and his staff who have been responsible for neat and speedy printing of this Source Book.
Among the Vedantic schools Sankara's Advaita is generally considered to be the most important; next to it, Ramanuja's philosophy of Visistadvaita occupies a pre-eminent position. These Vedanta's owe their importance to the philosophical schemes, elaborated respectively by Sankara and Ramanuja that came to be attached to them. Both these claim to derive from the Srutis or scriptures. Modern scholars, however are of opinion that, while Sankara's system is nearer to the Upanisads, that of Ramanuja seems to conform better to the teachings of the Bhagavadgita and the Brahmsutras. But inasmuch as the Brahmsutras of Badarayana claim to systematize the teachings of the Upanisads, their greater affinity with Ramanuja's system may imply that Sankara has succeeded better in interpreting the Upanisads than Badarayana himself.
As a matter of fact, the Upanisads, particularly the oldest among them, viz. the Brihadaranyaka and the chandogya, seems to lean heavily towards the Advaita. The statements termed the Mahavakyas by the Advaitins (viz."That thou art'; 'I am Brahman'; 'All this is Brahman and there is no plurality here' 'This Atman is Brahman') explicitly support the doctrine of the identity of Atman and Brahman; they also clearly disavow plurality. Similarly, the famous statement in the Chandogya that the effect is non-different from the cause and that the former differs from the latter in name and form only
(Vacarambhanam Vikaro namadheyam mrittiketyeva satyam) lends powerful support to the Mayavada of Sankara. Apart from this, the Brahman has been described both as cosmic and as acosmic in the Upanisads.
Philosophically, the special importance of Sankara's Vedanta lies in the fact that system constitutes itself in a well-knit, consistent doctrine on the basis of few fundamental concepts only. The Nyaya-Vaisesika recognize a plurality of real entities; the inter–relations of these pose philosophical problems. The Sankhya-Yoga postulate a plurality of purusas along with prakriti as ultimate realities. The dualism of these leads to philosophical difficulties. Judged by the principle of parsimony, the Advaita-Vedanta claims a high place as a philosophical system. In this connection another important factor deserves our notice: the different concepts of the Advaitic system, being mutually well-connected, lend support to one another. Thus the Advaita of Sankara is a thoroughly consistent and a well-oraganized system. These points call for some clarification.
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