Daud R. Ali daudali at
Sat Jul 8 22:26:31 UTC 1995

I have a question for members on Indology.  I am wondering why such 
inordinate attention is payed to Sankara's Advaita Vedanta.  I realize
that Sankara's advaita may hold an intrinsic philosophical interest for
indologists-- a quite justifiable reason-- especially given the European
Romantic obsession with monism, and its subsequent elevation
by scholars like S. Radhakrishnan.  But it seems as if this interest
often presupposes an unfounded historical precedence for Advaita

My understanding of medieval history would put Sankara in a very minor 
role until the late medieval period -- say the beginning of patronage of 
the Sringeri monastery by Vijayanagar kings.  Almost everywhere in India, 
the most important ideologies were those of dualist  (dvaita) or qualified
non-dualist (visistadvaita) orders.  Pancaratra and Vaikhanasa Vaisnavism, 
Saiva Siddhanta, Soma Siddhatna and other orders seem to have occupied the
most pre-eminant positions in medieval India.  The widespread 
temple-building activities, grounded in the Agamas, as well as the bhakti 
of early medieval India seems rooted in these essentially theist 
traditions, which were grounded in one or other form (weak or strong) of 
dualist  or quasi-dualist ontology.

I of course may be wrong, and would like to hear some 
responses from those who undoubtedly know the texts of Advaita better than I on 
this issue.

daud ali

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