Vedanta is based mainly on the mystic thoughts of the Upanishads, made intellectually comprehensive and impeccable by Sankara and Sureswara. Though Advaita had been taught from the dawn of human civilization, it was only Sankara who made it the foundation and structure of neo-Hinduism as the post-Buddhist Hinduism is called by Western writers. The complexity of Vedic Karma had been the main cause of Buddhist success, rather than its supposed new message. Buddha taught the Upanisadic message in the local dialect as the understood it, just as much as Nanaka, Kabira did in the later centuries. Being a difficult topic, the later followers, cut off from the personal touch of the Great master and not having he traditional lore available to them, mis-construed the message in a natural way. Just as snow-ball gathers both momentum and mass as it moves along a slope, so also a mistake, for ignorance is the basic stuff of everything psychological as well as material. Sankara saw through this, and hence in reviving the message of the Upanisads he followed the middle path of presenting a logical approach in the language of the day viz. classical Sanskrit, but presenting it as a commentary on the original so that any misconstruction in future is avoided. History is a living proof that the message has survived a dozen centuries or more in its pristine purity. Sankara and Sureswara also gave us a new orientation to the Karma which was the foundation of Vedic Karma, but without the complex ritual attached to it. They made Karma intellectually comprehensible and morally impeccable. Thus a superficial reader sees an antagonism between Vedic Karma and Jnana in the writings of Sankara and Sureswara, specially the latter who has exhausted the incompatibility of the two in his present Vartika, but a serious reader perceives the goal to which Sureswara is driving the aspirant. He establishes Karma as the foundation for Jnana, and shows its utter inefficacy if it does not serve this purpose. To Sureswara it is the psychosis of the identity of Brahman with the soul and the world that is the summum bonum of life and the intent as well as the content of the Veda.
Sureswara was the fittest person to bring out this unanimity, for he was master of both the Mimamsas. As the disciple of Kumarila Bhatta, the rejuvenator of the Purva Mimamsa or the science of the Karma portion of the Vedas, he had extensively commented on it in his life as a householder, and was considered a great authority of Mimamsa in his own right. He is still one of the greatest authority quoted in that branch. On entering the monkhood he had the opportunity of lapping the thoughts flowing from the lips of the great rejuvenator of Uttara Mimamsa or the science of the Knowledge portion of the Vedas, the great Sankara himself. His is regarded as the last word in that branch. Thus he has the right to interpret the connection between the two seemingly conflicting branches of the Vedic lore. Undoubtedly what he says is in the same line as Manu, Yajnavalkya, Vyasa and of course Bhagawan Sri Krsna. But he says it in such a logical way that the later writers seem to echo his thoughts without making any major contribution in its content. One must remember that it is Advaita which has brought in its fold such great mimamsakas as Vacaspati, Partha Sarathi, Madhava and Appaya. This is mainly due to the presentation of its philosophy by Sureswara, following the footsteps of Sankara.
Tradition maintains that Mandana had to be converted to Advaita through Sastrartha or dialogue, since he was an addict to rituals. But once converted he was equally true to Advaita, never wavering in his extensive writings even a millimeter from his master in the tenets of philosophy. This shows that the Sastrartha was not of the type as indulged in later times as mere intellectual gymnastics, but it was to discover the truth. Even so some people doubted his honesty, and put obstacles in his commenting on the Brahmasutrabhasya. But his Brhadaranyakavartika which is half the size of Valmiki’s Ramayana, extending as it does to 12,000 verses, without any narration, but solid spiritual theology, has been the most authoritative interpretation of the Great Master Sankara, and there is no doubt that it has not left untouched any branch of Vedic philosophy. Though printed in the last century, it has been long out of print. Thus the present edition needs no apology. Fortunately another annotation has been published in the mean time and it has been utilized wherever it shed new light, but since Ananda Giri is far more comprehensive and enlightening, apart from being exhaustive and voluminous, it was not thought necessary to include Vidyasagari in toto. Panditaraj S. Subrahmanya Shastri has given copious notes wherever Giri was elusive, apart from throwing new light on various topics. We are sure this edition will be a must for every student of Advaita philosophy. It has been a privilege for Mahesh Research Institute of Vedanta to publish the present edition’s 1st. volume containing the Sambandha Vartika and the Vartika on the 1st. and 2nd. chapters of Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, The 2nd. volume containing the rest will follow soon. It contains the text of Upanisad and Vartika, giving reference to the exact Bhasya passages referred by Vartika, an innovation not found in the earlier edition, to facilitate the cross references, the authoritative comments of Ananda Giri, and notes from Nyayakalpalatika or Vidyasagari along with those of the editor. The Vartika is often referred as Brhad Vartika for not only in size but in the scope it is really magnum, not leaving anything out which is of value to a spiritual seeker.
According to the ancient tradition Vartika is a commentary that repeats all that is said in the text in its own words, adds all that is left out by the text on any topic and points out the difficulties and inconsistancies etc. of the text an resolves them harmoniously with the text, giving an alternative interpretation if necessary. The present work justifies the definition completely. The purport of Bhasya is explained scrupulously and brilliantly. In etc. he adds to the information given by Bhasya, and also gives several alternative interpretations. There are innumerable instances of this even in the first volume. Sambandha Vartika can be sighted in toto for this.
Sureswara regarded Sankara as God Himself, and venerated his Guru with the highest reverence, hence the question of finding fault with the Bhasya was as distant from his mind as could possibly be. Hence Ananda Giri reads in place of Sureswara says that he had nothing but faith in his master as his guide in writing this work. But in spite of all this he has intellectual honesty and courage of conviction to disregard his personal devotion in search of Truth. But such topics, where he differs, are of minor importance as far as the spiritual structure is concerned, and are generally extension of the master’s thought, or trials towards a more rational interpretation of the same concept. Certainly Sureswara was a liberal and catholic interpreter of Sankara, as compared to some others of the later times. One must remember that the traditional biographers of Sankara have recorded that Vartika was ordered to be written by him, heard in toto and approved by him. So the question of heterodoxy or heresy is out of question. Sankara if anything approved of the alternative innovations of his great disciple. The greatness lies in discovering the greatness of others as much as inducting it in them. It was for nothing that Sankara tried so hard to convert Mandana into Sureswara. Vedanta certainly would have been poorer if he had not entered the order.
Mandana was born in Mahismati on the banks Narmada. Even to this day a temple dedicated to Siva called Mandaneswara Mahadeva exists there. After his conversion as Sureswara he was appointed as the organizer of the Southern movement of Advaita with Srngagiri as its headquarters. He was also in that capacity associated intimately with the planning of Kancipuram as the city of Sri Vidya. Kamaksi, Visnu and Ekamreswara are the three legs of the city which is Hinduism in a nutshell. Hence both Srngeri and Kanchi are in a direct spiritual lineage to the great Master. Being senior in age to Sankara he might have been born in the middle of the Seventh century. Apart from Vartikamrta as Brhadaranyaka Vartika is often referred to, he wrote Taittiriyavartika, Daksinamurtivartika and Pancikarana Vartika, He also wrote one independent treatise Naiskarmya Siddhi which is one of the best introductions to Vedanta. As Mandana he wrote mimamsa works and a commentary on the Yajnavalkya Smrti. But Vartikamrta is undoubtedly his magnumopus, and richly deserves the name of nectar for it gives the aspirant the immortality here and now.
Ananda Giri must have stayed in Puri for a long time for in many of his invocations he mentions Sri Jagannatha. Here also he mention.
Vidyasagara was a native of Gokarnamatha which is Sivaksetra on the West Coast. He belongs to 14th century and was associated with king Kamadeva.
Brhadaranyakopanisadbhas yavartika is the most exhaustive and authoritative work of Vedanta. There is a popular saying the treatment of the knowledge of the Supreme Reality is exhausted in the Vartika. It contains 12,000verses, which is two-thirds of the Bhagavata Purana. Granted that Acharya Sureswara is quite repetitious in his treatment, one can never deny the voluminous treatment of Vedanta in this work.
The introductory part of is itself a work which can be treated independently. It demolishes the views of Karmakandis or Mimamsakas exhaustively. Prabhakara's views are dealt with in an elaborate way which indicates that he was an important opponent during the time of Sureswara, if we accept the traditional view that Prabhakara was disciple of Kumarila, and thus a contemporary of Sureswara. He starts with a clear declaration that only those who have renounced all actions are fit for the knowledge of the truth expounded in the Upanisads. Even though a person may grasp the verbal meaning of the Upanisad, it will be impossible to realise its meaning unless one gives up all activities, for all action implies a desire to attain something either for one's own enjoyment or enjoyment of those whom one considers one's own. Thus the mind will be diverted to non-self. Only when the mind is concentrated on self the psychosis takes place. The Upanisad makes it clear by describing the renunciation of Yajnavalkya after asserting that wealth is useless for attaining the psychosis. The ignorance of Self can be destroyed by nothing else but Self-Knowledge. The possibility of rituals, physical or mental, to attain liberation is dealt with in great detail and refuted by Sureswara. He asserts that even the most intelligent cannot avoid prohibited and desire-oriented activities throughout their lives, for even the ancients with greater alertness than us are reported to have committed mistakes in their lives. Thus avoidance of certain actions cannot lead to liberation. Knowledge is the only means to liberation:. Once knowledge is attained, one realises oneself as non-doer, and thus no action is possible after the dawn of knowledge. Sense of being an actor and enjoyer is like a disease which is naturally avoided by a sophist.
The Vartika presents an ancient view that some people attain a state where the objects of the world cease to exist, which in its turn leads to cessation of all activities and the efficacy of injunctions of the scriptures. Acharya Sureswara sarcastically calls the proponents of this view as great masters of logic. Their view is bereft of experiential interpretation of the Vedas. But their logic is also apparent. Absence of objects and the means of knowing them cannot lead to any knowledge and the Vedas lay down knowledge as the means of liberation. Moreover in deep sleep the objective World and means of its knowledge cease to exist and yet the ignorance continues and so does the bondage. The Acharya goes on to point out that the past world is already non-existent, the future cannot be destroyed for it has yet to come into existence and thus is non-existent, and the present one being a result will also automatically be destroyed and thus become non-existent. Thus even without Vedic injunction the world is destroyed and annihilated, hence its destruction cannot be the purport of the Vedic teaching. Thus he demolishes this view in toto and proves beyond doubt that it is the- experience of Real Brahman that destroys' the ignorance, which is the cause of the' universal manifestation. Once the cause is destroyed, the effect is bound to be destro- yed in due course. Thus Vedanta is against ignorance rather than the objective and, subjective universe.
The Vartika does not accept the views of the smrtis that only after going through the householder's and anchorite's state one can enter the monk-state. Sruti and Smrti lay down the view that a Brahmana is born with three debts, viz, those pertaining to the parents, teachers and gods. It is only after the paying off of these- debts that one is entitled to renounce actions. If without paying of these debts one renounces, one is bound to go to hell. Advaita teachers hold that the debt accrues only if one enters the life of a householder, not otherwise, since one is not fit at the time of birth to be indebted. Moreover, the Veda has laid down in clear terms that one can renounce, directly also after studentship. Thus the view of Smrti, being contrary to logic and Sruti, must be considered unauthoritative.
Though Brahman is bereft of causality yet due to ignorance appears to be the cause of the universe, similarly it becomes the actor and enjoyer in its incarnation as the soul. When all the gross and subtle world is absorbed and only its impressions- remain, Brahman is termed as the inner controller or unmanifest. This is not the state of realisation since the impressions are still present. These impressions will manifest the universe eventually. These impressions are thus called "death" in Vedas. God, soul and universe are illusory appearances in the inner-self which is non-illusory, being the substratum of them all. This is the state that results from the realisation that one's real being is bereft of impressions.
Realisation can be attained only by a competent person. Dispassion towards all objects including the state of Brahma and desire to realise the Supreme Brahman bereft of all adjuncts constitutes competency for the knowledge that leads to liberation. Acharya Suresvara is clear in stating that the control of the senses and mind, concentration, faith, etc., are the only prerequisites to attain, illumination. But since these can-not be attained unless the mind is pure, the obligatory duties become necessary, for they are the necessary causes to purify the mind. Since the body mind and senses need identification with the Arman to get activated, ignorance about the true nature of the Atman is a necessary cause of action. Knowledge of Atman is thus antagonistic to action. Even begging etc. are propelled by hunger etc., and not by a sense of actorship Even the rules of begging etc., which lay down that one should take food only from those who belong to the four castes, viz., Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya and Sudra, and that also only once a day, are not to be followed as Vedic injunctions, but only naturally. Here a fundamental proposition is enunciated that sin is the result of ignorance and indiscrimination, while right ethical action is natural. Hence once ignorance is destroyed, unethical wrong actions cease to exist naturally and not due to injunction propelling one to action. The Acharya points out that even for an aspirant these rules are not injunctions for propelling to act but merely prohibit other actions (parisamkhya).
Ignorance though located in Atman during illusion is really not located there. It is definitely not located in the mind, for mind is the product of ignorance. One may reasonably doubt the possibility of ignorance in the self-luminous Atman; but the great dialectician, as the Acharya certainly is, counter-questions whether the questioner knows the self-illuminous Atman or not? If he knows, then ignorance and its effect has ceased to exist and hence Atman is not the location of ignorance. If the questioner is ignorant of the Atman, then since it is not shining the question of opposition, does not arise for the experience that "I am ignorant of my true self" is self-validated." Just as knowledge cancels out the knower, apparatus of knowledge as well as objects of knowledge, ignorance also cancels the non-duality and bliss of the Atman. Both cancellations are only metaphysical for they have no physical reality. The Acharya illustrates it by the example of the crow and owl. The crow sees during the day but its sight is not effective in the night, whereas the owl sees at night but not during day. So also the consciousness of the wise is of the nature of non-dual bliss, and that of the ignorant of the nature of duality, etc. It is only the ignorant for whom the location of ignorance in the Atman is postulated.
As a great traditional synthesiser, Sureswara postulates that all the different philosphers including Buddha and Charvaka have only one goal, viz., to make men realise their true self. They may differ in what they enunciate, but they are all in harmony with respect to what they prohibit. Since object-oriented-activity is natural for the fulfilment of one's desires, the philosophers merely translate them. Prohibitions are not natural and, hence, they are the main teachings of the scriptures. As for the Vedas there can be no doubt at all that they are there only to enlighten about the real nature of self which is non-different from Brahman. Since the totality of the name-form complex is cancelled out in Brahman, so the aspirant should slowly negate all names and forms. The steps of this negation are prescribed in different philosophies.
If everything is negated then even the injunctions for the meditation on Atman will have to be negated. The Acharya affirms it to be so, for he clearly points out that knowledge and meditation are not the same. He asserts that injunction can be accepted as authoritative only if something, apart from the wisdom arising out of the sentence, is to be acted upon. Since the affirmation of self as non-active, bereft of all adjuncts, etc., cancels out any possibility of action, it will be contradictory to hold that meditation is ordained by these passages. The Acharya raises an interesting objection that without injunction one will not even hear the sentences that will bring wisdom. He answers that one hears undesirable or untrue words without any injunction. Moreover if an injunction is necessary for hearing, to hear that injunction will be necessary leading to infite regression. Since the Atman is ever present so repetition through memory is also unnecessary. The idea is that "1" once recognised as the- "Brahman" will always shine forth thus. A jar is always full of space, even when curd etc., are filled in it. A jar is either full of curd or empty, but it is never empty of space. Similarly the mind and its modification are always full of consciousness, whether they are in contact with objects or not. Hence repetition of the knowledge- through memory which is called meditation is of no purpose. Control of mental modifications or samadhi is also not ordained for the realisation of the Self as the knowledge of Brahman automatically restrains them. Moreover, meditation or restraint of the mind is not necessary to attain salvation, for the Veda clearly enunciates that knowledge- is the only came of liberation. Brahman is not an object of knowledge. Perception or other means of knowledge except the sruti is of no purpose in attaining knowledge. It is prior to all other means of knowledge, being the raison d'etre of them all. Thus even where injunctions are clear, they become ineffective, for it is impossible to do' anything with the Self. Just as when the Veda lays down that ironballs should be cooked, we have to change the meaning of the term "cooked" because of the impossibility of cooking iron balls. Similarly, we have to change the meaning of injunctions when they seem to be about Atman.
Inference, on the other hand, has more utility in the realisation of Brahman- Atman identity, as compared to ritualistic portions including prohibitions and injuctions. Since this identity is a verifiable fact always existing, inference can be used to corroborate the scriptural declarations about it. Inference or logic certainly is not an independent source of realisation. It can only prove the possibility of a proposition, but can never decisively establish a fact, unless the concomittant is established by reference to experience. Experience prior to scriptural knowledge is only sensuous It is the scripture that established a super- sensuous, transcendental knowledge. So inference can only verify it by showing its possibility. Inference definitely establishes that non-duality is not impossible. But logic cannot establish this identity decisively on its own. Experience of identity is also a confirmation of its truth. Thus experiential basis is not absent. But that experience directly or indirectly has its origin in the Veda. Thus the Veda, inference, reliable evidence and experience are all means of realisation. As a matter of fact, self-knowledge is the only immediate and indubitable knowledge. Pure perception bereft of any element of thought is non-existent in the sensuous world.
Thus perception's immediacy is only relative. It depends on the mediacy of the senses. The detected illusions prove the mental mediacy and they cannot be ignored. Intuition or is the only experience which is not split into experiencer, experiencing and its object, and thus is both immediate and certain. The Veda gives this true knowledge and hence is the only means of true knowledge. Reflection on this verbal knowledge is necessary to grasp its true significance by removing doubts and misconceptions. It also helps in reconciling apparent contradictions with other means of knowledge. Proving the unreality of phenomena as perceived by common people is a necessary step for reconciliation. Advaita needs to contradict the reality of the phenomenal universe, but its apparent (workable) reality does not concern Advaita. Thus there are different views about the appearance, leading to different schools. The Acharya demolishes in great detail Bhartrprapancha's view of difference cum non-difference which recognises the reality of the universe. It seems that during the times when the Acharya was active, this interpretation was accepted by a majority of Vedanta scholars, for the refers to them as "great intellectuals", "big men". "learned scholars", etc., with' sercasm. At present certain Vaisnava sects are in harmony with this view. Actually the soul's transmigration is like the movement in dream. But until this realisation dawns, the authority of ritualistic and ethical portion of Veda holds sway on the aspirant. By accepting this view both the portions of Veda retain their authoritativeness. The Acharya points out that just as burning by fire is directly perceived, the annihilation of the miseries of the world is directly perceived to cease to exist as the result of the wisdom attained by the Vedanta knowledge. Actually epistemological contradiction is impossible for if both experiences pertain to the same object then they will merely reassert; and if objects are different then they supplement each other like the eye and the ear as one sees the colour and the other hears the sound. The Veda has only one object or at the most two, one being the goal and another its means. Brahman-knowledge is the goal and rituals, ethics and meditation are the means. As long as desire is there, one will act to fulfil it, and once desire does not exist, one cannot be forced to act. No authority can bring cessation of action in those whose mind is full of desires, for even prohibited, action is indulged in by these people. The Veda only informs us the means of desired objects or the undesired ones. It can neither induce one to act nor to cease from it.
The location of ignorance is an important point of divergence between Bhamati and Vivarana schools. Acharya Sureswara points out clearly that the individual soul cannot be the location of ignorance. It is only the consciousness which is the location of primary ignorance. Actually he points out that the individual soul is neither a part of, nor a changed universal consciousness, but it is the universal consciousness itself in the state of ignorance. If the individual consciousness was anything apart from the universal consciousness, the question of its being the location or not, could have arisen. Just as serpent, garland, earth-crack, etc., have their reality in the rope, similarly body, vitality, mind, etc., have their reality in the Self. The limit of formlessness is the Causal state, and that of Form is the earth, viz., substance containing all the five qualities of senses. All else is in between these two. By negating these two, all is negated by the Upanishad. Even this negation is not real. This is conveyed by the repeated negation. Just as destruction means denying both the object and its absence prior to production, denial here implies denial of both the world and its negation. Hence the universal consciousness is not of a negative nature.
Even though this negation of all the objective and subjective world automatically leads to dispassion and renunciation yet, the Acharya points out that the relation of knowledge and renunciation as effect and cause cannot be known without scriptural injunction, and so the Maitreyi-Yajnavalkya discourse lays it down in clear terms. Thus we are informed that even though one has the knowledge of Brahman, without renouncing all the desires, no monk can attain liberation. Even Yaju avalkya, the greatest knower of Brahman even while a householder, attained the state of liberation only after entering monkhood. Vedic and Smarta quotations abound in laying down that only a monk can get liberation with the help of the wisdom. Even though Lord Sankara uses words like Itihasa, Purana etc., to mean passages in Veda only, Acharya Sureswara takes a broader view and propagates that even famous works like Mahabharata, Skanda-Purana etc., should be included for they all invariably prove the truth of Advaita. It is true, he asserts, that we must reject all that is contrary to Vedic statements, just as we reject the statements of Buddha, etc., yet they cannot be rejected in toto. Furthermore he asserts that Iswara alone is their manifestor. Even though Vyasa, Valmiki, etc, are known to be the authors of these works, actually it is Iswara in these forms who is the real author. The idea is made clear that the effect of the cause cannot be considered as an independent cause. It is the universal consciousness which is declared as the real cause of everything through its power of ignorance. Vyasa etc., are the effects of this real cause. He illustrates it by the seed being the cause of the tree through the intermediaries of the seedling, root, branch and so on. Since it all starts with the seed and ends in the seed, we have to accept that the intermediary effects are caused by the seed only. Even so the Veda is the self-evident means of knowledge, whereas itihasa, etc., are dependent for their validity on the Veda because they are created for the purpose of understanding the extension of Vedic meanings, and thus are dependent on it. Itihasa etc., tell things which are known through other means of knowledge whereas the Veda tells us that which is unknown through any other means of knowledge. One may argue that the meaning of Vedic words can be known only through perception, etc., thus making Veda also dependent on other means of knowledge, but actually even though word-meaning is known by other means, the sentence-meaning is not known by any other means. Denoting an unknown thing is the criteria of the means of valid knowledge. This is present in vedic sentences. Since tactile sensation informs us what no other sense can inform, it has to be considered a valid means in the field of knowledge of softness, hardness etc. Similarly in the field of Supreme Reality and means of its attainment, the Veda has to be considered as the valid means. The Acharya makes it clear that the mind is the common ground for all et6erience and vitality, the common ground for all action. Mind again cannot exist apart from vitality. In a sleeping persons, breathing etc., are evident but not mental or perceptual activity. But we never find mental activity without the life-force being present. Thus the mind is non-different from the life-force.
In discussing Yajnavalkya's deliberation with Artabhaga, the Acharya points out that Yajnavalkya did not take him to a lonely place being afraid of cross-questioning from other wise ones. It was to follow the rule laid down by the scriptures that knowledge should not be imparted to people who do not possesss the power to assimilate it. Since the topic of universal movement by the wheel of karma is a topic which will harm those who cannot assimilate it, it was necessary to discuss it in a lonely place. In the next section, the Acharya discusses in great detail the impossibility of any action resulting in liberation. He also points out the impossibility of combining knowledge with action. The Veda has not prescribed any particular action for liberation. If it is to be inferred, then the question will arise whether all the rituals when fully performed lead to liberation, or only some of them? The first alternative is obviously impossible. In the second alternative, the question will arise which of them? Kamya, nitya or naimittika ? Srauta or Smarta? Gift of one cow, many cows or all the cows't If action is connected with knowledge to produce liberation, then according to the amount of action, liberation will also be in varying degrees. As the knowledge of Brahman is of one kind whether it be Vyasa, Yajnavalkya or any of us of the present Kali age, so is liberation also of one kind. In this way the Acharya has discussed the issue threadbare. He also discusses the view of Prabhakara, according to whom liberation is also a desired result and hence the result of action. He also discusses whether knowledge or action or both will be the primary cause? Will they be equally important? He shows each position to be untenable. He further points out that the cause, nature and effects of knowledge and action are contrary to each other like light and darkness. Hence it is not feasible to combine the two in any way whatsoever. Knowledge destroys ignorance at the moment of its birth including its result, that is, action and its instrument. How can such a knowledge be combined with action? If daily duties are supposed to result in liberation, ordinary people not desirous of liberation will not perform them. We are reminded of Madana Mohan Malaviya, the founder of the Banaras Hindu University, who refused to die in Banarasa for he believed in the scriptural dictum that death in Banarasa leads to salvation, and he wanted to be reborn to serve the Hindu nation, and thus wanted to avoid liberation. Moreover, the Acharya points out that if there is proof about a proposition one may accept many things to explain that proposition, but one must not accept even an iota which is not based on a proven fact. What is based in action and has its existence in ignorance cannot in any way be connected with liberation. Moreover liberation is not an effect, which by its very nature has to come into existence, whereas liberation being eternal cannot come into existence. Smrti passages that ordain action for liberation must be interpretated properly. They mean that action by purifying the mind becomes essential for knowledge.
Acharya points out that the location of memory, certainty, attachment, etc., is the knower. The idea is that all these are felt as accompaniments of the ego, who is the knower. "I remember", "I am sure", "I am passionate", etc., are all indicative of the knower who is "I". That which is memory, certainty, etc., stay as different objects in the ego. This is knowledge caused by the knower. The knower knows that he remembers or is sure. The object of knower is a species, activity, form, etc., and appears different and external from the knower. The self appears an actor when mainly associated with intellect etc., which are inert and when consciousness predominates, the self appears as enjoyer. Unitary consciousness along with its reflection in ignorance is the controller of the universe. The Acharya goes on to point out that though the Veda is the final source of knowledge about Iswara, he can also be deduced from presumption. The nature is bound by certain rules, hence a controller and layer of the rules has to be presumed. Similarly austerities, charities, sacrifices, etc., to be fruitful need a conscious bestower of their fruits. Merely the resultant is not enough to explain fruitful religious actions. One can find illustrations of conscious beings bestowing the fruit of service but nowhere can one find an illustration of the resultant being fruitful where there is a time-gap between action and the result. God can also be proved from the fact of liberation. God is that by knowing which liberation is attained. All would eternally remain in the world of suffering if God did not exist. Action as we have already seen is incapable of liberating.
A meditator if perfect becomes one with the God he meditates upon. He was not one with him prior to the perfection and merger. Even this merger will be attained only after death. But a knower himself is one with Brahman even prior to his knowing and ‘attains' it while living. Thus meditation and knowledge are not to be confused. Taking the clue from this, later Vedanta authorities have laid down that meditators on qualified Brahman will attain qualified Brahman, and those who meditate on quality-free Brahman will attain, after death, the Supreme Brahman. But knowledge is different from it, all the same, and according to the Acharya, ignorance cannot be destroyed without knowledge. Hence Supreme Liberation can never result from meditation even if done on quality-free Brahman, and even if it were possible.
Acharya lays down that all the three states of consciousness can be subdivided again in all the three states. Thus when a person sees a real snake it is waking in waking, but when he sees a rope-snake it is dreaming in waking. At the time of intense passion or anger the person may be considered in deep sleep in waking for he observes no discrimination of any type. The Vedic passages that refer to enjoyment etc., in deep sleep thus can be traced to the states of deep sleep's dream state. This idea has been elaborated in the Yoga Vasistha.
The Vartika is quite elaborate in discussing the veins and nerves, for it accepts them as useful to understand the nature of the individual self. Desire, actions etc., are manifest only through these. Food and its essence, passing through these, effect the subtle body and vice versa. Thus the three basic constituents of the body, viz., Vata, Pitta and Kafa regulate the mental and physical activities. Thus the body-mind complex is interwined through veins and nerves. This oneness of the body- mind complex is a major contribution of Vedanta. The Acharya goes into detail about this interlocking. Similarly he discusses in great detail the concept of difference cum non-difference in various places of Vartika, for the annotation of Bhartrprapancha followed that interpretation. He also points out that the senses have to be physical to function. They cannot possibly be a transformation of consciousness. Thus their control by the universal deities can be explained. He gives a very special meaning to Karana i. e. acting according to scriptures, and charana, i. e., acting against scriptures. The possibility of liberation by annihilating the passions is also impossible according to Vedanta. This has been discussed in detail. He gives seven different alternative meanings to after demolishing Mandana's and Bhartrprapancha's views about as the meaning 'after Knowledge'. The injunction of meditation is not possible in any of the scholastic views whether of Prabhakar, Vedanta or Lokayata. These views are discussed in detail. Thus meditation on Brahman cannot be ordained according to any school of Veda or philosophy whatsoever. Informing about the unknown facts is the only possible purpose of Veda. The ordaination of anything which induces physical or mental action cannot be the purpose of Veda. He also discusses the issue of and definitely proves that it is absolutely necessary for both wise and aspirant of knowledge.
Acharya makes Kanva patha also valid in many places along with like and in 4.4.23. Even though such variations are rare but they have consequential exegetical importance.
Acharya makes the som and chandra meaning clear by stating that Chandra is the orbit and som its presiding deity dev. Sureswara makes it clear that performer of the famous five-fire-meditations (adhikari of panchangin) need not do it as part of agnihotra. Five- fire meditation is not connected with (sanyas) monk's life, for meditation, being an action, has been renounced by him. Thus it can be practiced independently. Acharya Sureswara throws light on Shrimedh and pragyamedh which leads to attainment of wealth and progeny. Bhasya has not given much details about them. But Vartika gives the complete picture. Though these are the appendices (khil) of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, they are important in pointing out that Veda is not oblivious of the great majority of people who desire these objects.
There has been only one complete edition of the Vartika which makes it difficult to edit it. The Tirupati edition covers only the first half of the work. panditraj S. Subrahmanya, in spite of being a septagarian, has worked hard on the project and has made the present edition a valuable addition to the Vedanta literature. A number of misprints have entered due to oversight but errata to such a voluminous work was considered impractical. We are sure that the topical headings and the present arrangement of continuous verse-printing will help the reader. A daily recension (path) of Vartika will help to drive away the effect of this sinful age.
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