Who Advocated The Advaita Philosophy?

 

According to Advaita Vedanta, there is only one supreme truth or reality.

This is called Brahman of Atman.

The rest are all workings of maya and avidya.

Vedanta philosophy is based on Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads collectively called the Prasthana-trayi.

It is important to note that all Vedanta is not Advaita and also the entire Advaita Vedanta is not Shankaracharya’s philosophy.

Advaita Vedanta before Shankaracharya

Mantras of Rigveda and Atharvaveda assert that the multiple Gods of the Vedas are just different names of the same supreme entity.

Aitareya Brahmana identifies this entity as Brihaspati and calls him Virat.

The term Sacchidananda finds mention in the Aitareya Aranyaka.

Samkhyayana Aranyaka talks about Atman and Brahman.

In the Upanishads, acharyas such as Yajnavalkya and Uddalaka Aruni have propounded the principles of Advaita Vedanta.

Chandogya Upanishad calls this supreme truth Tajjalan and says that the universe arises from it, sustains in it, and goes back to it.

Taittiriya Upanishad also mentions the same concept and also the knower, the known, and the knowledge merge into the single absolute Brahman which transcends all these three.

Brahman is the Sarvabhutantaratma, the self of all.

According to Katha Upanishad, attaining a state where you stop seeing duality is liberation.

Badarayana is the author of Brahma Sutra often identified with Veda Vyasa.

Asmarathya, Audulomi, and Kasakritsna are acharyas whom Badarayana himself has referred to.

Vrittis are brief commentaries.

Their authors are called Vrittikaras.

Upavarsha who wrote Sarirakamimasavritti has been referred to in Sankracharya’s works.

Brahmanandi and Dravidacharya are two more teachers referred to by Sankaracharya.

Sundara Pandya has written a varttika on Upavarsha’s vritti.

Gaudapada

Gaudapada was Shankaracharya’s paramaguru or guru’s guru.

Gaudapada’s disciple Govinda Bhagavadpada was Shankaracharya’s teacher.

There are four books attributed to Gaudapada called the Gaudapada Karikas.

In addition to this, he has also authored:

  • Uttara Gita Bhashya
  • Commentary on Nrisimha Tapaniya Upanishad
  • Commentary on Durga Saptashati
  • Srividyaratna sutra
  • Subhagodaya

The first 29 karikas of Gaudapada making the first book are commentaries on the passages from Mandukya Upanishad pertaining to Omkara.

Sankaracharya

Sankara Bhagavadpada is the most prominent name in Advaita Vedanta.

He suggests three levels of reality.

  • Paramarthika - one which transcends the past, present, and future.
  • Vyavaharika - of the world with names and forms.
  • Pratibhasika - like it dreams.

He identifies Jivatman with Brahman who is the substratum of the universe.

Shankaracharya’s major works pertaining to Advaita Vedanta include:

  • Brahmasutra Bhashya
  • Commentaries on 10 main Upanishads
  • Bhagavad Gita Bhashya
  • Upadesha Sahasri

Advaita Vedanta after Shankaracharya

Shankracharya’s four disciples have been responsible for the propagation of Advaita Vedanta after him.

Mandana Misra, once Sankaracharya’s opponent, became his disciple and assumed the name Sureswara.

His major works are Brahmasiddhi and Bhamati.

He also wrote sub commentaries of the bhashyas of Shankaracharya on Brihadaranyaka and Taittiriya Upanishads.

He is also the author of Naishkarmya Siddhi.

Padmapada wrote a commentary on the Brahmasutra Bhashya of Sankara called Panchapadika.

Totaka is known for Srutisara Samuddharana and his poem on his guru called Totakashtakam.

Hastamalaka explained the concept of self in Hastamalaka Stotra as an answer to his guru’s question - Who are you?

The schools of Advaita Vedanta after Shankaracharya can be divided into four:

  • Vivarana of Padmapada and Prakasatman.
  • Abhasavada of Sureswara.
  • Bhamati of Vachaspati.
  • Ekajivavada of Prakasananda.

 

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