Aurobindo about Advaita

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Tue Jun 15 02:27:58 UTC 1999

Edwin Bryant <ebryant at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:

> I wonder about this, but have yet to research this point which
> me. It would seem to me that more traditional pundits would be
> aware of the variety of Vedantic traditions -- particularly those of
> Ramanuja and Madhva -- and less likely to represent Sankara as
> monolithically representative and authoritative in Vedantic thought.

I agree that sha.nkara's system has been studied disproportionately
more than the other systems. However, I think the early British had an
important reason for studying sha.nkara more than others. The systems
of Ramanuja and Madhva are more or less restricted to Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka respectively (with some small strongholds elsewhere). The
smArtas who owe allegiance to sha.nkara are spread all over the
country. They are definitely greater in number and percentage. Even in
the 11th century and 12th century Jain works, advaita is one of the
systems which is attacked the most. So there is good evidence the
infulence of the advaita school was considerable. We shouldn't forget
the close ties of the Hindu kings of the 13th century  to the advaita
teacher Vidyaranya and his teacher Vidyasankara.

Your points about Hindu nationalists using advaita since the opther
schools were more exclusivist is true to a large extent also.
Vivekananda typifies this trend. So does Radhakrishnan, though his
personal philosophy does not seem to have been advaita.


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