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Old commentators of Brahmasutras - A note

VAgarwalV_at_cs.com
Date: Sat Mar 03 2001 - 21:15:28 PST

Here are some old passages on various Brahmasutra bhashyas or works on
Vedanta ( I am omitting the bibliographic information of the books I 
have
referred but there is a selected biblio at the end):

1. Prapanchahridaya:
In an anonymous work called Prapanchahridaya, the following 
description is
given about the commentators of the Mimamsa Sastra and its various 
portions:
"The Mimamsa Sastra is contained in a text of 20 chapters. Of these, 
the
first 16 chapters constitute the Purva Mimamsa.. Of this Mimamsa 
Sastra, the
Purvakanda deals on issues of Dharma, and is compiled by Jaimini. The 
last 4
chapters constitute the Uttara Kanda or the Uttara Mimamsa and are 
compiled
by Vyasa for dealing with the nature of Brahman. On this Mimamsa 
Sastra of
20 chapters, Bodhayana wrote a Bhasya that bore the name `Krtakoti.' 
Fearing
that the great length of this commentary would cast it into oblivion,
Upavarsa somewhat abridged it. `Even this commentary might be 
considered too
voluminous for study by people of dull wit'- fearing thus, Devasvamin
considerably abridged Upavarsa's already abridged commentary 
considerably.
Bhavadasa also wrote a commentary on Jaimini's Sastra. Of the 2 kandas
comprising the Dharma Mimamsa Sastra, Sabara wrote a very brief 
commentary
on the Tantra Kanda (Chaps 1-12), ignoring the second kanda- Samkarsa 
Kanda.
And likewise, Sankarsana (textual variant- Samkarsa) wrote a brief
commentary on the Devata Kanda. On the Brahma Kanda (Brahma Sutras),
Bhagvatpada (Samkara), Brahmadatta and Bhaskara etc. too wrote 
commentaries
with different interpretations of the Sutras."

Significantly, the list does not mention other ancient Vedantins like
Dramida, Tanka etc. who definitely wrote on the Brahmasutras. Also, 
while
the list of commentators of Purva Mimamsa is chronological, this is 
not the
case with the list of commentators of Brahma Sutras. For instance, we 
know
that Brahmadatta preceded Samkara and Bhaskara succeeded him. So, we 
may
assume that the author of Prapancahrydaya places Samkara at the head 
of this
list out of regard for him or that the work Bhagavan indeed qualifies
Brahmadatta as well as Bhaskara. In the latter case, the omission of 
Samkara
would indeed be puzzling.

The list is silent about other ancient Mimamsakas like Bhartmitra and
Bhartrhari. The word `api' while describing the Bhasya of Bhavadasa
indicates that his commentary was an independent work, often at 
variance
with the traditional mode of interpretation of Purva Mimamsa sutras, 
but we
cannot be sure of this.

2. Atmasiddhi of Yamunacarya:
" Even though Bhagavan Badrayana has composed sutras that have 
precisely the
same purpose (as my present work) and these sutras were explained by 
the
Bhasyakrt (Dramida Bhasyakrt in some manuscripts), whose language is 
both
concise and profound, and then they were expounded in great detail by 
the
Bhagavan Srivatsanka Misra himself whose language is a deep ocean of 
nyaya (
gambhira nyaya sagar)".
The text continues- " Nevertheless, many persons have had their 
judgment
corrupted by giving their credence to various writings of uneven 
quality
that have correct and incorrect ideas interwoven through them like 
warp and
woof, books such as those composed by Acarya Tanka, Bhartrprapanca,
Bhartrmitra, Bhartrhari, Brahmadatta, Samkara, Srivatsanka, Bhaskara 
etc.
Since persons who have been confused in this way do not understand 
things as
they really are and have many erroneous conceptions, the undertaking 
of this
work or discussion with the aim of establishing a (clear, 
comprehensive and
definitive) understanding (pratipatti) of the (atman and paramatman) 
is
proper."

In this text, the Bhasyakrt is often identified with Dramidacarya. 
The way
in which the Bhasyakrt is cited suggests that he is a prestigious 
authority
of both Yamunacarya as well as his opponents.


The list appears to be chronological. The omission of Kapardi and 
Guhadeva
is also noteworthy.

3. Vedarthasamgraha of Sri Ramanuja
Bhagavan Ramanujacarya, in his Vedarthasamgraha, mentions six 
teachers of
Vedanta before him, who were the expounders of Visishtadvaita 
philosophy.
Their names are given as
1. Bhagavadbodhayana
2. Tanka
3. Dramida
4. Guhadeva
5. Kapardi
6. Bharuchi
At the beginning of his commentary on Brahmasutras ( called the 
Sribhasya),
he states- "The extensive gloss on the Brahmasutras by Bhagavan 
Bodhayana
has been abridged by former teachers. In accordance with his views, 
these
commentary is composed."

Ramanuja also quotes the views of Vakykara (also called Tanka or
Brahmanandin), Dramida and Bodhayana in Sribhasya and 
Vedarthasamgraha with
attribution.

4. Yatindramatadipika of Srinivasadasa:
Srinivasadasa (17th Cent. C.E.), in the introduction of his
Yatindramatadipika (, gives a list of teachers as the predecessors of
Ramanuja in propounding the Visishtadvaita Vedanta:
1. Bhagavan Bodhayana
2. Guhadeva
3. Bharuchi
4. Brahmanandin (Tanka)
5. Dramida
6. Sri Parankusa ( Nammalvara Sathakopa)
7. Nathamuni
8. Yamunamuni
9. Ramanuja
Significantly, the name of Kapardi, which occurs in the 
Vedarthsamgraha, is
missing in this list.

In the epilogue of the same work, Srinivasadasa mentions a list of 
works (in
chronological order) which he had referred to compose the
Yatindramatadipika. The list is headed by `Dramidabhasya', followed 
by works
of Nathamuni and so on. Surprisingly, no work of Guhadeva, Bharuchi 
or Tanka
is mentioned in the list.


5. Sesha, the commentator on the Madhava Vijaya of Narayana Bhatta, 
states
that Madhavacharya refuted 21 Bhasyas on the Sariraka Sutras that were
written by teachers before him. These are enumerated as-
1. Bharativijaya
2. Samvidaananda
3. Brahmaghosha
4. Shataananda
5. Vaagbhatta
6. Vijaya
7. Rudra Bhatta
8. Vamana
9. Yadava Prakasa
10. Ramanuja
11. Bhartrprapanca
12. Dravida
13. Brahmadatta
14. Bhaskara
15. Pisacha
16. Vrttikara
17. Vijaya Bhatta
18. Visnukranta
19. Vaadindra
20. Madhavadesaka
21. Samkaracarya
The list is clearly non-chronological. For example, the Vrttikaara, 
the
oldest commentator on the Brahmasutras, is placed in the middle. 
Moreover,
all these writers did not flourish before Samkaracarya (for instance 
# 9,
10, 14, 15).

Gathering exact details about the views and personal information on 
these
ancient teachers is a difficult task. I am in the process of creating
webpages on each of them and the one on Brahmadatta should be up by 
next
week. For Sundara Pandya and Bharuchi, see the relevant webpages via 
my
homepage at

http://www.voi.org/vishal_agarwal/homepage.html

(Note that the link of Brahmadatta is not yet active)

Some useful references:


Mimamsaka, Yuddhishthhira; 1977; Mimamsa-sabarabhashyam, Vol. I; 
Ramalal
Kapoor Trust, Bahalgarh, Distt. Sonepat, Haryana (In Hindi or 
Sanskrit- see
the introd.)

Kane, P. V.; 1928; Vedanta Commentators before 
Sankaracarya; "Proceedings
and Transactions, Fifth Indian Oriental Conference"; Vol. 2, pg. 937-
953

Pandey, Sangam Lal; 1983; Pre Samkara Advaita Philosophy; Darshan 
Peeth,
Allahabad, India. First published in 1974. Reprinted in 1983

Thangaswami, R; 1980; Advaita-Vedanta Literature, A Bibliographical 
Survey;
University of Madras; Madras (In Sanskrit)

Udayvira Shastri; 1970; Vedanta Darsana ka Itihasa; Virajananda 
Vaidika
Sodha Samsthana; Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh)--in Hindi

J. A. B. van Buitenen; Ramanuja's Vedarthasamgraha; Deccan College
Postgraduate and Research Institute; Poona; 1956 (See appendix and 
introd.)

S. Kuppuswami Sastri; Bodhayana and Dramidacarya, Two old Vedantins
presupposed by Ramanuja; "Proceedings and Transactions of 3rd 
Oriendtal
Conference"; Vo. 53, pg. 468-472; 1924

D. H. H. Ingalls; "The Study of Sankaracarya"; "Bhandarkar Oriental 
Research
Institute"; vol. 33, part 1-4, pg.1-14, 1952; Poona, India

Mysore Hiriyanna; "Fragments of Bhartrprapanca"; Proceedings of All 
India
Oriental Conference; Vol. 3, pg. 439-450, 1924

Mysore Hiriyanna; "Bhartrprapanca-An old Vedantin"; Indian Antiquary; 
vol.
53, pgs. 77-86; 1924

A. Sankaran; "The Vrttikaragrantha"; Journal of Oriental Research; 
Vol. 1,
pg. 283-286; 1927

Mysore Hiriyanna; Brahmadatta: An old Vedantin; Journal of Oriental
Research; Vol. 2, pg. 1-9, 1928

Mysore Hiriyanna; "Fragments from Brahmanandin"; "Commemorative Essays
Presented to Prof. Kashinath Bapuji Pathak" Class B. No. 7; Bhandarkar
Institute Press, Poona, India

V. A. Ramaswami Sastri; "Old Vrttikaras on the Purvamimamsasutras"; 
Indian
Historical Quaterly; Vol. 10, pg. 431-452, 1934

Hajime Nakamure; A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy; Motilal 
Banarsidass;
Delhi, India

Regards

Vishal

Homepage- http://www.voi.org/vishal_agarwal/homepage.html



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