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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The writer of the Brahma sutras


[Footnote

2: _Indian Antiquary_, 1915.]

[Footnote 3: See Vacaspati Mis'ra's _Bhamati_ on S'a@nkara's bhasya on _Brahma-sutra_, II. ii.]

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I do not know of any evidence that would come in conflict with this supposition. The fact that we do not know of any Hindu writer who held such monistic views as Gau@dapada or S'a@nkara, and who interpreted the _Brahma-sutras_ in accordance with those monistic ideas, when combined with the fact that the dualists had been writing commentaries on the _Brahma-sutras_, goes to show that the _Brahma-sutras_ were originally regarded as an authoritative work of the dualists. This also explains the fact that the _Bhagavadgita_, the canonical work of the Ekanti Vai@s@navas, should refer to it. I do not know of any Hindu writer previous to Gau@dapada who attempted to give an exposition of the monistic doctrine (apart from the Upani@sads), either by writing a commentary as did S'a@nkara, or by writing an independent work as did Gau@dapada. I am inclined to think therefore that as the pure monism of the Upani@sads was not worked out in a coherent manner for the formation of a monistic system, it was dealt with by people who had sympathies with some form of dualism which was already developing in the later days of the Upani@sads, as evidenced by the dualistic tendencies of such Upani@sads as the S'vetas'vatara, and the like. The epic S'a@mkhya was also the result

of this dualistic development.

It seems that Badaraya@na, the writer of the _Brahma-sutras_, was probably more a theist, than an absolutist like his commentator S'a@nkara. Gau@dapada seems to be the most important man, after the Upani@sad sages, who revived the monistic tendencies of the Upani@sads in a bold and clear form and tried to formulate them in a systematic manner. It seems very significant that no other karikas on the Upani@sads were interpreted, except the _Man@dukyakarika_ by Gau@dapada, who did not himself make any reference to any other writer of the monistic school, not even Badaraya@na. S'a@nkara himself makes the confession that the absolutist (_advaita_) creed was recovered from the Vedas by Gau@dapada. Thus at the conclusion of his commentary on Gau@dapada's karika, he says that "he adores by falling at the feet of that great guru (teacher) the adored of his adored, who on finding all the people sinking in the ocean made dreadful by the crocodiles of rebirth, out of kindness for all people, by churning the great ocean of the Veda by his great churning rod of wisdom recovered what lay deep in the heart of the Veda, and is hardly attainable even by the immortal

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gods [Footnote ref l]." It seems particularly significant that S'a@nkara should credit Gau@dapada and not Badaraya@na with recovering the Upani@sad creed. Gau@dapada was the teacher of Govinda, the teacher of S'a@nkara; but he was probably living when S'a@nkara was a student, for S'a@nkara says that he was directly influenced by his great wisdom, and also speaks of the learning, self-control and modesty of the other pupils of Gau@dapada [Footnote ref 2]. There is some dispute about the date of S'a@nkara, but accepting the date proposed by Bha@n@darkar, Pa@thak and Deussen, we may consider it to be 788 A.D. [Footnote ref 3], and suppose that in order to be able to teach S'a@nkara, Gau@dapada must have been living till at least 800 A.D.

Gau@dapada thus flourished after all the great Buddhist teachers As'vagho@sa, Nagarjuna, Asa@nga and Vasubandhu; and I believe that there is sufficient evidence in his karikas for thinking that he was possibly himself a Buddhist, and considered that the teachings of the Upani@sads tallied with those of Buddha. Thus at the beginning of the fourth chapter of his karikas he says that he adores that great man (_dvipadam varam_) who by knowledge as wide as the sky realized (_sambuddha_) that all appearances (_dharma_) were like the vacuous sky (_gaganopamam_ [Footnote ref 4]. He then goes on to say that he adores him who has dictated (_des'ita_) that the touch of untouch (_aspars'ayoga_--probably referring to Nirva@na) was the good that produced happiness to all beings, and that he was neither in disagreement with this doctrine nor found any contradiction in it (_avivada@h aviruddhas'ca_). Some disputants hold that coming into being is of existents, whereas others quarrelling with them hold that being (_jata_) is of non-existents (_abhutasya_); there are others who quarrel with them and say that neither the existents nor non-existents are liable to being and there is one non-coming-into-being (_advayamajatim_). He agrees with those who hold that there is no coming into being [Footnote ref 5]. In IV. 19 of his karika he again says that the Buddhas have shown that there was no coming into being in any way (_sarvatha Buddhairajati@h paridipita@h_).


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