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Re: Bodhayana Mahrishi

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Thu Nov 23 1995 - 00:28:43 PST

Not much is known for certain about Bodhayana, other
than his authorship of the Vritti (commentary) on the
Brahma-sutras, the guidebook to understanding Vedanta.  
This Vritti is of cardinal importance to the history
of Sri Vaishnava philosophy. 

In preparing his own commentary on the Brahma-sutras,
Sri Ramanujacharya wished to study Bodhayana's Vritti, 
which at that time was available only in fragments in 
Tamil Nadu.  The Vritti had the reputation of being
the most authoritative explanation of the Brahma-sutras,
setting forth a philosophy of Theism much as Ramanuja
understood the Upanishads.  Sri Ramanuja was forced to
travel to Kashmir to procure a damaged copy of this Vritti 
for reference.  He writes in the beginning of the 
Sri Bhashya that his commentary is entirely based on 
Bhagavan Bodhayana's explanations.

Tradition holds that Bodhayana was a direct disciple
of Vyasa.  We do not know for certain, but whatever 
the case, he was certainly a great teacher of Vedanta.  
Sankaracharya respectfully refers to a Vritti-kaara 
(ostensibly Bodhayana) in his own commentary on the 
Sutras, pointedly refuting the Vritti-kaara's opinions 
in several key places.  Clearly, Sankara presented 
a different philosophy from that of the venerable sage.

I do not know if this Bodhayana is the same as the
one who produced the Bodhayana-sutra. The latter does
not play any role in the philosophical discussions
surrounding Bodhayana the Vritti-kaara, and is not
mentioned in the traditional biographies.