NO NON-ADVAITIC VEDANTA PRIOR TO SHANKARA
In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.1.20 bhashyam Shankaracharya makes a very far
// sarvopaniShatsu hi vijnAnAtmanaH paramAtmaikatva-pratyayo vidhIyata
ityavipratipattiH sarveShAmupaniShadvAdinAm. //
[That `All the Upanishads teach the idea of unity/identity of the Supreme Atman
and the individual Atman’ is an undisputed understanding of all the adherents of
From this we come to know that during / prior to Shankaracharya’s time there
were no vedAntic bhedavAdins, dualists, of any shade basing their systems on
A question might arise on the plural Shankara has used in the
`sarveShAmupaniShadvAdinAm’ [`All the adherents of the Upanishads’]. Who are
these several adherents of the VedAnta? To this we reply: In the bhAShyam on
various Upanishads/brahma sutra/Bh.GitA Shankara has dealt with several vAdins
such as BhartRuprapancha, Ashmarathya, aUDulomi etc. who are ultimately
advaitins but on certain aspects they differ with the mainstream Advaita
Vedanta as taught by GaudapAda –Shankara/Veda vyasa. They could be those who
hold the view: (1) bheda in bandha is satyam and abheda in mokSha is satyam too
(BSB 2.1.14). (2) Even after attaining the Advaitic sAkShAtkAra (realization)
the jnAni/jIva is required by the shruti to perform his ordained duties till the
fall of the body. These types have been alluded to and refuted by Shankara in
In the Taittiriya Upanishad 2.8.1 bhAshyam Shankara makes another very
significant statement that echoes the one made in the Br.up.BhAShyam shown
bahupratipakShatvAt, ekatvavAdI tvam, vedArthapartatvAt; bahavo hi nAnAtvavAdino
vedabAhyAH tvatpratipakShAH, ato mamAshankA – na nirNeShyasi iti.
tadeva me svastyayanam – yanmAm ekayoginam anekayogibahupratipakshamAttha. ato
jeShyAmi sarvAn, Arabhey cha chintAm.
[//Objection: Because there are many opponents. You are a monist,
since you follow the Vedic ideas, while the dualists are many who are
outside the Vedic pale and who are opposed to you. Therefore I
apprehend that you will not be able to determine.
Reply: This itself is a blessing for Me that you brand Me as sworn to
monism and faced by many who are wedded to plurality. Therefore I
shall conquer all! And so I begin the discussion.//]
One might object: the adjective `vedabAhyAH’ (`outside the pale of the Veda’)
could be a mention of the dualistic vedantins.
The answer to this objection is: No. Such is not the case. Shankara is clearly
alluding to only the dualistic non-vedantins who have opposed/refuted
Vedanta darshana of Veda vyAsa as Advaita alone. (See also the Br.Up.bhAShya
cited above where Shankara uses the term ‘upaniSahdvAdinaH’ as advaitins.)
In the book `vyAsatAtparya-nirNayaH’ Vidwan ayyaNNa dIkShita has shown that the
non-vedantic darshanas such as the sAnkhya, yoga, nyAya have alluded to and
refuted Advaita alone as the Vedanta Darshana of Veda VyAsa.
From the above we can conclude that before the period of Shankara there was no
non-Advaitic Vedanta darshana. The `opponents’ referred by Shankara above are
dualists who are clearly outside the Vedantins. They are the sAnkhyas,
vaisheshikas, naiyayikas, yogins, pAncharAtras, etc. If there had been any
vedantins that held non-advaitic views they would have been identified for
refutation by the Brahma sutras and by Shankara. But we do not find any mention
of such schools in the Br.sutras and bhashyam for the sutra and the various
In the Mandukya karika of GauDapAda (3.17) Bhashya Shankaracharya lists
kapila, kaNAda, buddha, Arhata (jaina),’aadi’, etc. as ‘dvaitinaH’. [To this
list we can add the pAtanjala-s, the pAncharAtra-s and the pAshupata-s too.
perhaps the word ‘Adi’ in the above sentence is to include these..]
svasiddhAnta-vyavasthAsu dvaitino nishchitA dRDham
parasparam virudhyante tairayam na virudhyate 3.17
[17. The dualists, firmly clinging to their conclusions, contradict one another.
The non-dualists find no conflict with them.]
[dvaitinaH – the dualists – who follow the views of kapila, kaNAda, Buddha….are
firmly rooted in the methodologies leading to their own conclusions………they
become hateful of anyone who opposes their school. As one is not in conflict
with one’s own hands and feet, so also, just because of non-difference from
all, ayam, this, this Vedic view of ours consisting of seeing the same Self in
everyone.. is not opposed to them. ]
The above conclusion: `the Vedanta darshana of Veda vyAsa is Advaitic alone and
not any other.’ is what is established by considering various statements of
Shankara in the bhAShyas.
· The Vedanta darshana of Veda vyasa is advaita alone.
· Just as the Vedanta darshana of Veda vyAsa refutes the non-vedantic
schools such as sAnkhyas, naiyAyikas, pAncharAtras, bauddhas etc. the major
non-vedantic schools such as the sAnkhya have refuted Vedanta. And this
refutation is by taking the vedAnta dharshana to be Advaita.
· Shankara Himself says in the Br.Up. bhashya that all those hold the
Upanishads as the supreme authority are unanimously agreeing on the ekatvam,
unitary nature of the Self, not accommodating duality / plurality of the Self.
· The Taittiriya bhashya confirms this when Shankara considers all those
schools outside the ken of the Upanishads as dualists being outside the pale of
the Veda and Advaita alone as the Veda/Upanishad darshana, being the adherents
of the Upanishadic non-duality.
· For Shankara, if it is Vedanta, it is none but Advaita.
· And if it is bhedavAda (having difference as their fundamental thesis),
such a school is not of the Vedanta.
· Thus we may conclude: There was no non-advaitic vedanta vAda prior to
Shankara and even Gaudapada.
Om Tat Sat