Posted by: adbhutam | March 24, 2010


श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः

While Shankaracharya does not need any introduction, for the sake of many, Sri Jayatirtha needs a brief introduction.  Sri Madhvacharya’s seminal commentaries have been elucidated by Sri Jayatirtha, popularly known in the Madhva tradition as ‘TeekAchArya’.

In the sequel is taken up a short study of a commentarial passage each of Shankara and Jayatirtha for a comparative purpose.

Shankara BhAShya passage:

In the Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6 is the ‘sadvidyA’ where occurs the dialogue between UddAlaka, the father-Teacher and Shvetaketu, the son-disciple. The Upanishad, at the outset, presents three examples, of the clay-clay products, gold-gold ornaments and iron-iron implements, to enable understanding the primary teaching: ‘knowing the all through knowing the one’ or एकविज्ञानेन सर्वविज्ञानम्.  The ultimate purpose of this knowledge, vij~jaanam, is liberation from the ignorance, aj~jaana-born samsara.  The Shruti passage relevant for our purpose is:

यथा सोम्यैकेन मृत्पिण्डेन सर्वं मृन्मयं विज्ञातं स्यात्, वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् (6.1.4)

// O good looking one, as by knowing a lump of clay, all things made of clay become known:  All transformation has speech as its basis, and it is name only.  Clay as such is the reality. (Here it is to be noted that Shankara has commented: एकेन मृत्पिण्डेन घटशरावादिकारणभूतेन विज्ञातेन सर्वमन्यद्विकारजातं मृन्मयं विज्ञातं स्यात् –  This crucial passage of Shankara is overlooked by his critics.  Here Shankara says: the lump of clay is itself an effect; it is made of the material clay.  So, first one has to know that the lump itself is having the clay as its material cause.  This clay-lump is the cause of the pot, saucer, etc. Once this knowledge is there, one can extend it to anything made of clay and determine that ‘all products of clay are only clay substantially.’  So is the case with the gold-nugget.  The nugget itself is to be known as an effect of gold.  The Upanishad uses the word ‘pinda’, ‘maNi’ etc. to enable us to appreciate these materials as the cause of objects that are made with them.  For, it is impossible for anyone to observe ‘clay’ or ‘gold’ without any form, it their natural form. Again, we are left with no choice in using the word ‘form. These have to be encountered only in some ‘form’.  And a ‘lump’  or ‘maNi’ is one such form.  With this starting point the Upanishad proceeds with the analogy.  Shankara’s comment shown above has all this explanation embedded in it. ) If anyone misses this point, the examples become incomprehensible.  Not being able to appreciate this, the non-advaitins have missed the whole purport of the Upanishad and ended up giving inappropriate and inconsistent meanings to the analogies.//

The Shankara Bhashya portion, relevant for the present purpose, of this passage is:

वागालम्बनमात्रं नामैव केवलं, न विकारो नाम वस्त्वस्ति परमार्थतो, मृत्तिकेत्येव तु मृत्तिकैव सत्यं वस्त्वस्ति ।

// It is only a name dependent merely on speech. (Apart from that) there is no substance called transformation.  In reality clay as such (is the thing that) truly exists.//

Jayatirtha’s TeekA passage

Here is a passage from Sri Jayatirtha’s gloss TattvaprakAshikA to the Brahmasutra Bhashya of Madhva:

Sutra: 1.1.2: JanmAdyasya yataH  :  In his commentary to this very second sutra, Madhva quotes a Rg.Mantra:  ‘chaturbhiH saakam navatim cha naamabhiH chakram na vRttam..(Rg.samhitA 1.155.6).’  Jayatirtha comments on this quote :

//chaturbhiriti: – sa bRhacchareero mUlarUpI chaturbhiH vAsudevAdinAmabhiH nAmamAtraiH svarUpabhedashUnyaiH ..//

The meaning of Jaytirtha’s passage is:  ‘He, the One that originates, is of a huge form, with four names of ‘VAsudeva’, etc. which are mere names and are devoid of essential difference.

The four names referred to could be: वासुदेवः, संकर्षणः, अनिरुद्धः and प्रद्युम्नः.  We get these names from the commentary of Shankara to the Brahma sutra उत्पत्त्यसंभवात् (2.2.42) where the ‘bhAgavata’ school is taken up for refutation.  The relevant portion is:

तत्र भागवता मन्यन्ते – भगवानेवैको वासुदेवो निरञ्जनज्ञानस्वरूपः परमार्थतत्त्वं, स चतुर्धा आत्मानं प्रविभज्य प्रतिष्ठितो वासुदेवव्यूहरूपेण, संकर्षणव्यूहरूपेण, प्रद्युम्नव्यूहरूपेण, अनिरुद्धव्यूहरूपेण च । वासुदेवो नाम परमात्मा उच्यते । संकर्षणो नाम जीवः । प्रद्युम्नो नाम मनः । अनिरुद्धो नामाहंकारः ।

The entire adhikaraNa in this section deals with this school and Bhagavatpada has shown several defects in the tenets of this school and ultimately how this school is not in complete accordance with the Vedic teaching.

Be that as it may, what is noteworthy here is Sri Jayatirtha’s comment on this Rg Vedic mantra.  He says (1) the four entities ‘Vaasudeva’, etc. are mere names, नाममात्रैः… and (2) the four entities have no essential differences from each other, स्वरूपभेदशून्यैः.

We can understand these two features with the analogy provided by the Chandogya Upanishad:  The various clay-products namely pot, jar, saucer, etc. are essentially non different from their material cause clay and also essentially non-different from each other, all of them being essentially clay alone.  Also, consequently, they are not any real entities; they are mere names, वाचारम्भणं विकारो नामधेयं मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् (6.1.4).  Accordingly, as per Jayatirtha, the four vyUha-s ‘vAsudeva’, etc. are non-different from the परवासुदेवः, the Supreme Cause, VAsudeva (Brahman); they are mere names; नाममात्राः. Also, the four entities are devoid of any essential differences; स्वरूपभेदशून्याः, just like the clay products are devoid of any essential differences.  Even as the clay pot, the jar and the saucer are essentially clay alone, so too the four entities ‘VAsudeva’, ‘SankaRShaNa’, etc. are essentially their real svarUpam: Para-vAsudevaH.

Having presented the two passages, one of Sri Shankara and the other of Sri Jayatirtha, we find these common features between them:

  • The ‘वाचारम्भणश्रुति’ does not have the word ‘मात्रम्’ in it.
  • The Rg.Vedic passage does not have the word ‘मात्रम्’ in it.
  • Shankara finds it fit to use the word ‘maatram’, which means mere to effectively bring out the purport of the Shruti passage.
  • Jayatirtha finds it fit to use the word ‘maatram’, which means mere to effectively bring out the purport of the Shruti passage.
  • The Chandogya passage has the Advaitic purport that is brought out by Shankara.
  • The Rg Vedic passage has the Advaitic purport that is brought out by Jayatirtha.
  • The ShAnkaran commentary, on the strength of the Shruti words मृत्तिकेत्येव सत्यम् implies that the clay-products are devoid of any essential differences.
  • Jayatirtha’s comment brings out explicitly, by the words स्वरूपभेदशून्यैः that the entities ‘Vaasudeva, etc.’ are devoid of any essential differences.
  • In the ShAnkaran passage the two essential features are: 1.The clay-products are mere names. And, 2. They are devoid of svarUpa bhEda.
  • In the scheme of Jayatirtha, too, the two essential features are: 1. ‘vAsudeva’, etc. are mere names. And 2. They are devoid of svarUpa bheda.

It would be pertinent to note that the purport of what Sri Jayatirtha has said is already available in the Brahmasutra Bhashya of Shankara for the sutras: 2.2.42, 43, 44 & 45.For instance, in the bhashyam for 2.2.44 Shankara says:

न च पञ्चरात्रसिद्धान्तिभिः वासुदेवादिष्वेकस्मिन् सर्वेषु वा ज्ञानैश्वर्यादितारतम्यकृतः कश्चिद्भेदोऽभ्युपगम्यते । वासुदेवा एव हि सर्वे व्यूहा निर्विशेषा इष्यन्ते । नचैते भगवद्व्यूहाः चतुःसंख्यायामेवावतिष्ठेरन्, ब्रह्मादिस्तम्बपर्यन्तस्य समस्तस्यैव जगतो भगवद्व्यूहत्वावगमात् ।

//But the followers of the Pañcharaatra do not acknowledge any difference founded on superiority of knowledge, power, &c. between Vâsudeva and the other Lords, but simply say that they all are forms of Vâsudeva, without any special distinctions. The forms of Vâsudeva cannot properly be limited to four, as the whole world, from Brahman down to a blade of grass, is understood to be a manifestation of the supreme Being.//

One can easily see how the above passage reflects the purport of Sri Jayatirtha’s commentary.  And also the clay-clay products example of the Chandogya Upanishad so strikingly explains the purport of Jayatirtha’s words: ‘maatraiH’ and ‘svarUpabheda-shUnyaiH’.

The translation for the entire adhikaraNa covering the above subject is available here:

For a discerning reader it would have become obvious by now that while Sri Jayatirtha is talking pure Advaita in the realm of Brahman, Shankara is demonstrating, through the Chandogya Shruti, the Advaita of Brahman, as non-different from the universe,  that is the effect, product, a vivarta, of Brahman.  The logic underlying the stand of both Jayatirtha and Shankara is the same: नाममात्रत्वम् , स्वरूपभेदशून्यत्वम्. In other words, the multiplicity is mere name alone; in substance there are no multiple effects.  And, within, between, across the ‘apparent’ effects, there is no difference in substance, svarUpa.  In Jayatirtha’s words this स्वरूपभेदशून्यत्वम् is applicable to Brahman’s, ParavAsudeva’s four manifestations.  In Shankara’s scheme this स्वरूपभेदशून्यत्वम् is applicable to the entire universe that is Brahman’s manifestation; not just the four.  Thus, the logic is the same for both Jayatirtha’s and Shankara’s assertions through the common word मात्रम् ‘mere’ that they have used.

In plain words, for Dvaitins it is Advaita only with regard to Brahman (ब्रह्मणि मात्रं अद्वैतम्); for Advaitins it is Advaita irrespective of Brahman or the world (सर्वथापि अद्वैतमेव).  To further elucidate, for Dvaitins there is a real difference between Brahman and the world; for Advaitins the world is Brahman only in the absolute terms.

The significance of Jayatirtha’s use of the word मात्रैः to bring out the Advaitic nature of Brahman could be better appreciated in the background of the Dvaita school faulting Shankara for ‘introducing’ the word मात्रम् in the commentary in order to ‘somehow’ give the वाचारम्भणश्रुति an advaitic import.




  1. very enlightening.

    • Thanks Bhatia ji, for your appreciation.

  2. Sir , Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada has indeed agreed on the Vyuha theory but has rejected Paancharaatra

  3. pls compare jayatirtha’s and shankara’s commentary for the same shloka, sutra etc. Then u’ll find how dissimilar they are.

    • The brahma sUtra referred here as per the shAnkara bhAShya is about the refutation of the pAncharAtra school. This same sUtra as per the madhva bhAShya is, if I am right, about the refutation of some other school, maybe the shAkta or the pAshupata school. Hence, there is no way one can make a comparison. Also, it is well known that the two schools, Advaita and Dvaita, differ on the Chandogya mantra discussed here. So, there is no use in comparing the two schools’ commentaries or sub-commentaries. The purpose of the post is to highlight the usage of the term ‘mAtram’ by Shankara and Jayatirtha, though in different contexts, but not differing in the purport of the usage.


  4. Superb..Please give us more of such things

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