Siddhantabindu of the great Madhusudana Sarasvati is a brilliant compendium of Vedanta, very helpful in sravana and manana (hearing and reasoning) of pure Brahman. Lord Krishna indicates in Chapter 12 of Bhagavad Gita two paths leading to the realization of Brahman for the final emanicipation of the jivas. One is the path of bhakti and the other the path of enquiry, reasoning and meditation of pure Brahman. Lord Krishna indicates that the former path is easier than the latter. This is because the bhakta gives himself up to the Lord (atmanivedanam) and the Lord helps him in all his activities including his daily food. He at last bestows upon him the light of realization of pure Brahman by which the adept destroys the darkness of ajnana. ‘The path of knowledge is more difficult’ says the Lord. This is because the Akshara, pure Brahman is unmanifest and beyond the scope of words and mind The path of bhakti too is difficult but less difficult than the order. Since purity of mind obtained by performing the karmas prescribed in the Sastras according to one’s own varna and asrama is a necessary pre requisite for bhakti yoga.
Swami Madhusudana Sarasvati says that after purifying the mind one should take up the path of bhakti if mind is of a melting nature (dravobhavyogya) by hearing the divine qualities of God. But if his mind is not so, (shradrunt) he should take up the path of sravana, manana and dhyana.
Swami Madhusudana Sarasvati, though an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna according to his dictum. “I do not know a reality other than Lord Krishna’, was one of the greatest of debators in support of advaita in his time and a jivanmukta at the same time.
Many great works were written by Madhusudan sarasvati, the chief among them in support of advaita being Advaita Siddhi, Advaitaratnarakshana and Siddhanta bindu. Advaita siddhi though a rejoinder to Nyayamrita of Vyasa-thirtha elucidates all the knotty points of advaita. Advaitaratnarakshana is an independent work mean to criticise the Bhedaratna of Sankaramisra. Siddhanta Bindu is a commentary on Sri Sankaracharya’s Dasasloki. It is a treatise upon the express sense and implied sense of the words (Tat), that, and (tvam) ‘thou’ contained in the Mahavakyas like ‘thou that art’ and the impartite sense of the Mahavakyas.
In explaining this all the other views upon the nature of jiva and easvara are criticized and Advaitic viewpoint established.
The author says at the end of the work that he took up writing this work upon the repeated requests of his pupil Balabhadra. But though brief and easy it is a mine of information like the divine chintamani, as is the one by Gangeshopadhaya on Nyaya.
Commentaries on Siddhantabindu:
Three commentaries are available on Siddhantabindu.
(1) Nyayaratnavali of Swami Brahmananda sarasvati
(2) Laghuvyakhya of Swami Narayan thirtha and
(3) Sri Purushottama’s Tika.
Of these three the first was published with the text at Kumbakonam as early as 1894 by Mahamahopadhyaya Harihara Sastri.
Commentaries 1 and 2 were published with text in the Chowkhamba Series at Varanasi in 1929.
Purushottama’s tika was published by the Baroda Oriental Mss. Library, Of these three commentaries Nyayaratnavali of Shri Brahmanda saraswati is the most masterly and critical work. To explain the empirical duality without affecting the purity of the second-less-Brahman is a great problem. Madhva and Ramanuja took advantage of this and showered objections upon advaita. Madhusudana and Brahmananda saraswati successfully answered all their objections in the verbal terminology of Nyaya and saved the advaita system. Advaitins took great pain in defending the Advaitic truth embedded in the Upanishads as elucidated by Shri Sankara, Suresvara, Padmapada.
Vachaspati and others; who did not care to condemn the dvaitic interpretations since. They thought that these systems too would be helpful to us through the worship of the qualified Brahman.
Shri Madhusudana Saraswati could have written an independent thesis upon advaita containing the matter he has dealt with in his commentary, without any reference to Dasasloki of Shri Sankara but the great author thought that by basing his work on the work of Sri Sankaracharya his work would be purified and elevated like the Bhamati of Acharya Vachaspati.’
Towards the end of Siddhanta bindu he says. ‘I am not praising Shri Vyasa who did not string well the philosophical tenets even with the help of numerous sutras, literally, threads, but Shri Sankara and Sureshwara who strung them without a thread.
We learn that Shri Madhusudana Sarasvati was born in a village called Kodalipada near Faridpur now in Bangladesh, in the line of Shri Ramachandra Bhattacharya. His father was Purandara Misra. As a Brahmacharin called Kamalanayana he learned Tarakasastra in Navadvip under Shri Harirama Tarakavagisa. Afterwards he went to Varanasi, took up Sanyasa under Shri Vishveshvara Sarasvati and studied Vedanta under the feet of Madhava Sarasvati. While at Kashi he taught Vedanta to many students, one of whom was Sesha govinda the father of Sesha Krishna the famous author of the Champus-Kamsavadha and Parijata harana. His time is early 16th century.
(1) Advaita Siddhi
(2) Vedanta Kalpalatika
(3) Advaita ratna rakshanan
(4) Com. on Shri Bhagavatam
(5) Tika on Bhagvadgita
(6) Tika on Samkshepa Sariraka
(8) Tika on Mahimnastotra of Pushpadanta
(9) Tika on Harilila of Vopadeva (10) Bhaktirasayanam.
According to Pt. Anantakrishnasastri Brahmanandasarasvati was a contemporary of Gadadhara, Khandadeva, Nagoji Bhatta and Jagannatha the founders of new systems in their own sastra-Gadadhara in Nyaya Nagoji Bhatta in Vyakarana, Khandadeva in Mimamsa and Jagannatha in Sahitya. All belonged to the first part of the 17th Century. Describing the genius of Madhusudana Saraswati, Brahmananda says.
His Asrama guru was Narayan Tirtha and his vidya guru was Paramananda Sarasvati. His associate in his Advaitic studies and writings seems to be a brahmacharin called Sivarama. Whom he extols as the author of Chandrika. He seems to have lived in Varanasi.
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