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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Vedanta and S'a@nkara 788 820 A


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style="text-align: justify;"> It is so obvious that these doctrines are borrowed from the Madhyamika doctrines, as found in the Nagarjuna's karikas and the Vijnanavada doctrines, as found in _La@nkavatara_, that it is needless to attempt to prove it, Gau@dapada assimilated all the Buddhist S'unyavada and Vijnanavada teachings, and thought that these held good of the ultimate truth preached by the Upani@sads. It is immaterial whether he was a Hindu or a Buddhist, so long as we are sure that he had the highest respect for the Buddha and for the teachings which he believed to be his. Gau@dapada took the smallest Upani@sads to comment upon, probably because he wished to give his opinions unrestricted by the textual limitations of the bigger ones. His main emphasis is on the truth that he realized to be perfect. He only incidentally suggested that the great Buddhist truth of indefinable and unspeakable vijnana or vacuity would hold good of the highest atman of the Upani@sads, and thus laid the foundation of a revival of the Upani@sad studies on Buddhist lines. How far the Upani@sads guaranteed in detail the truth of Gau@dapada's views it was left for his disciple, the great S'a@nkara, to examine and explain.

Vedanta and S'a@nkara (788-820 A.D.).

Vedanta philosophy is the philosophy which claims to be the exposition of the philosophy taught in the Upani@sads and summarized in the _Brahma-sutras_ of Badaraya@na. The

Upani@sads form the last part of the Veda literature, and its philosophy is therefore also called sometimes the Uttara-Mima@msa or the Mimamsa (decision) of the later part of the Vedas as distinguished from the Mima@msa of the previous part of the Vedas and the Brahma@nas as incorporated in the _Purvamima@msa sutras_ of Jaimini. Though these _Brahma-sutras_ were differently interpreted by different exponents, the views expressed in the earliest commentary on them now available, written by S'a@nkaracarya, have attained wonderful celebrity, both on account of the subtle and deep ideas it contains, and also on account of the association of the illustrious personality of S'a@nkara. So great is the influence of the philosophy propounded by S'a@nkara and elaborated by his illustrious followers, that whenever we speak of the Vedanta philosophy we mean the philosophy that was propounded by S'a@nkara. If other expositions are intended the names of the exponents have to be mentioned (e.g. Ramanuja-mata, Vallabha-mata, etc.), In this

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chapter we shall limit ourselves to the exposition of the Vedanta philosophy as elaborated by S'a@nkara and his followers. In S'a@nkara's work (the commentaries on the _Brahma-sutra_ and the ten Upani@sads) many ideas have been briefly incorporated which as found in S'a@nkara do not appear to be sufficiently clear, but are more intelligible as elaborated by his followers. It is therefore better to take up the Vedanta system, not as we find it in S'a@nkara, but as elaborated by his followers, all of whom openly declare that they are true to their master's philosophy.


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