In the course of the systematic search for rare and valuable manuscripts by the staff of the Library, a rare manuscript of the Brahamasiddhi was discovered as early as 1920, when Professor S. Kuppuswami Sastri was the Curator. The first instalment of the text was sent to the press as early as 1922. The publication was delayed so long by various circumstances. It is therefore a matter of some satisfaction that the work has at last been published as scholars all over the world have been enquiring after it ceaselessly for some time now.
In his learned introduction Mahamahopadyaya S. Kuppuswami Sastri discusses at great length the scope and characteristic features of Siddhi Literature (Sec. I). Mandana and his relation to other philosophical writers and texts (Sec 2.). Mandana's place in and the contribution to the history of Indian philosophy (Sec. 3) and the commentaries on the Brahamasiddhi (Sec. 4).
Our chief aim in writing this Foreword is to focus attention on some of the important issues raised in the learned introduction.
The Siddhi literature forms indeed a noteworthy feature in the history of the development of Advaita philosophy. But the name Siddhi as a title to a class of works seems to go back even to early Buddhistic times. Besides Vasubandhu's Vijnaptimatrata-siddhi we are also aware of Dharmakirti's Bahyartha-siddhi and Santanantara-siddhi. Indeed the special name is carried on in Buddhistic works, later than Mandana, as in the Tattva-siddhi by Santaraksita and Jnana-siddhi by Indrabhuti. We have therefore to look in Buddhistic literature rather than in later Advaita manuals, not only for the earliest Siddhi works but also for its subsequent development, if indeed we desire to justify the title Siddhi Literature.
Regarding the relationship of Mandana and Suresvara Professor S. Kuppuswami Sastri has some very arresting remarks to offer. Tradition has always been consistent and unanimous on the identity of Mandanamisra and Suresvaracarya. When it was discovered that Suresvara went by an ealier name Visvarupacarya, it was accepted without question, with the suggestion that the grahasthasrama name of Suresvara should have been Visvarupacarya also.
The first challenge to this identity came from Prof. Hiriyanna of Mysore, who as early as 1923, drew attention to certain doctrinal divergences between Mandana and Suesvara as also to the Srngeri tradition referred to in the Guruvamsakavya wherein Mandana and Suresvara are referred to as separate individuals.
Professor S.Kuppuswami Sastri accepts Hiriyanna's position and reinforces it by an elaborate examination of the problem in section 2 of his Introduction.
It seems to us that the problem of identity cannot be so easily disposed of and admits of fuller investigation. The doctrinal differences, whatever they are, cannot unfailingly point to difference in personalities. All are agreed that Mandanamisra is at the end of a long line of pre-Sankara Advaita writers who represented the orthodox schools of Advaita of the day. Sankara gave a new orientation to the same by freeing it from the shackles of its so-called friends the Mimamsakas and developing it in its purer and nobler aspect to subserve the dictum 'bliss is obtainable through knowledge alone.' If it is conceded that the views of Mandana, represent his views as an Advaitin of the pre-Sankara school which is largely an Advaita-cum-Mimamsa type the views of Mandana in the works in which the author is referred to as Suresvara should necessarily be slightly different as he has had the benefit of a thorough conversion at the hands of his guru Sankaracarya. After all, the doctrinal differences between Mandana and Suresvara are not so formidable and incompatible as not to be explained by the natural process of evolution of pre-Sankarite, Sankarite and post-Sankarite ideals. Tradition has been unanimous that the Mimamsaka Mandana was converted by argument and reason to take to the order of sannyasin when he assumed the name of Suresvara. Such doctrinal differences as are characteristic of Sankara, form the special feature of the Naiskarmyasiddhi and no more.
Besides, Brahmasiddhi and Sambandhavartika an uncontested work of Suresvara, present certain common features which are compatible only if the authors of both are identical. A statement of parallel passages from the Brahma-Siddhi and the Sambandhavartika is attached to this Foreword.
Again in the earliest development of post-Sankara Advaita, both its supporters and opponents depend on Mandanamisra's exposition of Advaita as a standard exposition of Advaita. This is possible only on the assumption that the doctrinal differences between the Brahmasiddhi and the Sambandhavartika are not such as to consider these as opposed to each other but are only such as to supplement each other. In section 3 of his Introduction, when he attempts a tentative and comparative chronology of the writers of the 7th and 8th centuries, it is significant that Professor Kuppuswami Sastri assigns Mandana to 615 to 695 A.D. whereas he assigns Visvarupacarya (Suresvaracarya) to 620 to 700 A.D., thus making the latter and younger contemporary of the former by a mere five years. If both these lived so near to each other, it is impossible to imagine that the latter would incorporate in extense large extracts from the former, without any kind of acknowledgment, particularly when we are asked to believe that the two were opposed to each other doctrinally.
We have shown how the doctrinal differences such as they are between Mandana and Suresvara are neither unnatural in the circumstances of the case nor wholly and fundamentally oppose to each other.
Indeed , Vyasacala narrates in detail in canto VII of his his Sankaravijaya the several stages in the conversion of Suresvara. On being converted into a sannyasin and after being instructed in the truths of the Advaita, Sankara called on him to write a Varttika on his Sutra-Bhasya, whereon the assembled pupils of both objected to Suresvara being commissioned to do such as task as he was not really converted, as he was an incurable karmatha and did not believe in sannyasa, and as he had driven away many sannyasins and would only find it an opportunity to reinterpret the Sutra-Bhasya to favour his own Mimamsaka ideals. We are told that Sankara was very much pained at this outburst of the assembled pupils and commissioned Visvarupa wrote the Naiskarmyasiddhi which gladdened the heart of his guru. When he saw that his guru was really pleased, Visvarupa said that he did not write his work for fame or profit or for flattery, but merely because he convinced of the truths imparted to him by his guru and added that there was nothing incompatible in any one changing his doctrines when one felt convinced, even as human nature is not always consistent and it changes from boyhood to youth and youth to old age; even so one changes doctrinally when he changes from a grahastha and becomes a sannyasin. Visvarupa appeals to Sankara to believe in his true conversion and adds that though he had already written many works in various fields, his only desire thereafter was to serve at his guru's feet. Delighted at this frank confession Sankara ordered Visvarupa to write a Varttika on the Yajussakha as it was his sakha and one on the Kanvasakha also as it was Visvarupa's sakha. It would thus be clear that the conversion of Visvarupa was real and that therefore the doctrinal differences between the Brahmasiddhi and the Naiskarmyasiddhi are not a bar to identity of authorship.
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