Vedantakalpalatika is a remarkable theoretical work on Advaitavedanta by Madhusudana Saraswati. The present book contains nine chapters divided into three parts. Part I, has two chapters. The first chapter introduces the author, has date, life and works. The second chapters give a brief description of the nature, content, relevance and editions of Vedanatakalpalatika.
Part II of the book is devoted to textual examination and is divided into five chapters. In the third chapter, the different views on moksa are enumerated. The fourth chapters show how the author has established the Upanishadic view on moksa after refuting the rival theories. The theory of jnana and ajnana is discussed in details in the fifth chapter. The sixth chapter explains Brahman which is beyond the reach of all Sabdavrittis. The realization of Brahman constitutes the central topic of discussion in the seventh chapter.
Part III constitutes two chapters. All observations made on the basis of the textual study viz., general, metaphysical, epistemological, logical and ethical form the eighth chapter. The ninth chapter gives the whole study in nutshell.
Dr. V. Sisupala Panicker is presently in the Department of Sanskrit University College, Trivandrum Kerala.
Vedantakalpalatika is a remarkable theoretical treatise on Advaitavedanta, written by Madhusudana Sarasvati, the great philosopher of the sixteenth century India. Sri. V. Sisupala Panicker, a scholar of vast erudition, has made an indepth study of the work shedding light on its sub – lities hither to gone unnoticed and bringing out its deeper philosophical significance. Students and scholars alike are sure to feel idebted to Sri. Panicker for his having undertaken this challenging and thorough study and executing it with all possible care and perfection. The findings of the study bear witness that Sri. Panicker has examined the work init s depth and complexity and has in a unique and masterly manner brought out the quintessence of the work and that too in a lucid and simple style.
An enthusiastic and unfailing researcher, Sri. Panicker has judiciously applied the various aspect of research methology in the making of the thesis. Chapters are divided properly and conveniently so as to provide a comprehensive view of the text under study. Resume have been given tat the end of the each chapter. Sri. Panicker’s attempt is exemplary and extremely laudable especially in the context when research thieses are often written without caring the least to conform to the essential principles of research methodology.
Vedantakalpalatika of Madhusudana Sasasvati together with the present study – a masterly exposition and interpretation will surely inspire and interest those who are and will be in the field of knowledge, to a greater and higher level.
Sri. Satguru Publications, Delhi well deserves thanks and appreciation from all for having taken pains to publish this work in this attractive form.
Advaita Vedanta the most developed and highly esteemed system of Indian Philosophy, carries great significance, particularly, in the contemporary philosophical situation of the world. The call for unity and oneness of the entire mankind, irrespective of the barriers of nation, language, caste and creed in its message to the modern world. The Vedantic wisdom, contained in the light of the present day science and technology. Vedanta enables one to use his inner resources for the well – being of the world.
Madhusudana Sarasvati is one of the prominent philosophers in Advaita Vadanta, in the later centuries. Advaitasiddhi, his master – piece, is widely known and appreciated by the learned. But his first original work, Vedantakalpalatika, dealing mainly with the concept of liberation, is a less known work, even in philosophic circles. The present thesis is a modest attempt for a close study of Vedantakalpalatika with a view to bring out its philosophical significance.
The thesis consisting of nine chapters, is divided into three parts, excluding introduction. Part I, dealing with general information has two chapters. The first chapter introduces the author, his date, life and works. The second chapter gives a brief description of the nature, content, relevance and auditions of Vedantakalpalatika.
Part II is devoted for a textual examination. Though the original works is written in a single Stabaka, my attempt is to divide in into five chapter, based on the major topics of discussion. In the third chapter, the different views on moksa are enumerated. The fourth chapter, the different views on moksa are enumerated. The fourth chapter shows how the author has established the Upanisadic view on moksa after refuted the rival theories. The theory of jnana and ajnana is discussed in detail in the fifth chapter. The sixth chapter explains Brahman which is beyond the reach of all Sabdavrttis. The realization of Brahman constitutes the central topic of discussion in the seventh chapter.
Part III constituting of two chapters, is devoted for observations and conclusion. All observations made on the basis of the textual study viz., general, metaphysical, epistemological, logical and ethical form the eighth chapter. The thesis concludes in the ninth chapter in which the whole study is given in a nutshell.
‘Resume’ has been given at the end of each chapter.
I have made use of more than one edition of Vedantakalpalatika in the writing of the thesis. However, the text edited with English translation by R.D. Karmarkar, was of greater help to me in my studies. The page numbers of Vedantakalpalatika given in the thesis correspond to those of the above edition. In this study I have tried to bring out the practical relevance of Vedanta and Vedantakalpalatika.
I have carried out my research under the guidance of Dr. K. Maheswaran Nair, Reader, Department of Sanskrit, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. I have been greatly benefited from his unassuming scholarship and unfailing academic pursuit. I express my sincere thanks to him for his valuable suggestions and practical guidance. I express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr. N.P. Unni, Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Kerala, for his timely help in many respects. I am also thankful to Dr. K. Vijayan, Director and Professor, Oriental Research Institute and Manuscripts Library, University of Kerala who had been a source of inspiration to me in my research activities. My thanks are also due to Prof. B. Velayudhan, Professor of English, University College, Thiruvananthapuram for his valuable suggestions in the final shaping of the thesis. I also thank other members of the staff, Department of Sanskrit, University of Kerala for the services I have received from them.
The twentieth century has witnessed revolutionary changes
in the concepts and ideas pertaining to every branch of learning.
No faculty of knowledge can stand isolated from another. The
different peoples of the world are getting closer today than ever
before owing to the fast growth and development of the systems
of communication. All-pervasive schools of thought have as-
sumed a new significance in the present context.
The convergence of Science and Philosophy is becoming real
in an ever increasing dimension. The intimate relation between
these two is more and more emphasised year after year. While
special science probe into the properties of things and the natural
laws that govern the material world, nature and Society,
philosophy is concerned with the universe in its totality. Their
possible convergence is therefore, in many ways, beneficial to the
seekers of truth.
Philosophy ought to solve the intellectual problems of the
day and it ought to be relevant to everyday human situation. It
enlarges the ideas of awareness to become more alive, more
discerning, more critical and more intelligent. Philosophy accepts
the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet
open to the methods of science - problems like god and evil, beau ty
and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death. Every science
begins as a philosophy and ends as an art; it springs up as
hypothesis and flows into achievement. Philosophy aims at the
hypothetical interpretation of the unknown or the inexactly
known. It is the front trench in the seige of truth. Science without
philosophy and perspective cannot save humanity from havoc
The universality of the tradition of philosophy is being
realised by more and more nations recently. The so called
parochial approach in philosophy are loosing ground. The com-
plexity of the modem Society demands broadening of the base for
the understanding of the truths by which men ought to live. The
imperativeness of philosophy is ever-increasing, and it has now
really become a confluence where the East and the West merge
During the recent centuries Western scholars have been con-
stantly concentrating on studies pertaining to the different sys-
tems of Indian philosophy. The great Indian heritage of ideas has
ever been the key to the better understanding of mankind. India's
contribution to the 3000 year old history of the world philosophy
is in no way insignificant.
A study of Indian Philosophy should reveal the rich and
varied philosophical heritage of India. Since the Vedic period a
large number of philosophical views have sprung up from the
various systems of thought. Indian philosophy represents an
abundance of contradictory viewpoints which served as the chief
motive force in its development.
The initial sprouts of Indian philosophy can be traced in the
Vedas the first literary documents of human thought. The later
portions of the Vedic literature are fully philosophical in charac-
ter. These ideas contained in the Uparusads were developed into
various systems of philosophy. Ideas marked for profundity and
impressiveness were expounded in the important classics of
Philosophy in India is termed as darsana. In his Arthasastra,
though Kautalya refers to only three darsanas viz., Samkhya,
Yoga and Lokayata, Madhava in his Sarvadarsanasamgraha
enumerates sixteen systems of philosophy. But only nine of them
have got universal approval. They are Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya,
Vaisesika, Purvamimamsa, Uttaramimamsa, Carvaka.Jaina and
Bauddha. The first six form the orthodox systems or astika
darsanas while the last three constitute the heterodox systems or
nastika darsanas. Later due to differences in doctrinal interpreta-
tions, many schools and sub-schools came up within each sys-
Uttararmmamsa or Vedanta is one of the most popular or-
thodox systems of philosophy. It still carries a contemporary
Significance since it has helped man in his attempt to solve the
riddle of existence. Vedanta as a system of living thought and mode
of conduct must strive to go beyond its existing frontiers by
enlarging and re-orienting itself.
Of the three major branches of Vedanta viz., Advaita, Dvaita
and Vtststadvaita, Advaita Vedanta formulated by Sankara is the
most prominent one. Modem thinkers like Swamy Vivekananda
also attach great importance to this philosophy. Nobody can set
aside Advaita as a dead weight of the past since it possesses a
living Significance. Advaita Vedanta as formulated in the
Uparusads, Brahmasutras and Bhagavadgita and as ac-
complished on the commentary on them by Sankara is one of the
most valuable products of the human genius of its search for
The term Upanisad suggests Brahmavidya, destroying
avidya, leads one to Brahman, having destroyed all bonds of
worldly life. The Uparusads reveal a period of chaotic thought,
half practical and half religious. However, Upanisads are instinct
with a spirit of enquiry of mental adventure, of a thirst for finding
out the truth about things.
The Sutras of Badarayana (2nd c. B.C.) represent an attempt
to harmonise the Uparusadic doctrines and evolve a consistent
philosophy out of them. The vagueness in Upanisadic phraseol-
ogy has provided room for later commentators to formulate their
theories in these cryptic Sutras. Advaita of Sankara, Dvaita of
Madhva, Viststadvaita of Ramanuja and many other minor
thoughts are based on these Sutras,
It is to be noted that the Bhagavatgita also served as a basic
text in the formulation of various schools of Vedantic thought. The
Gita furnished the one Scriptural source which could be used
without violence to the accepted Brahmin methodology to draw
inspiration and to arrive at justifications for social actions which
were disagreeable in some way to a section of the ruling class
upon whose mercy the Brahmins depended.
During 8th century A.D. Gaudapada wrote a commentary in
verse on the Mandukyopanisad called Mandukyakarika. In it he
tries to establish the Advaitic doctrine of identity of jiva and the
Brahman. A consistent and logical philosophy of Advaita Vedanta
is clearly interwoven in these karikas. However, Advaita Vedanta
found its Zenith in the work of Sankara (788-820 A.D.)
Sankara wrote commentaries on the ten principal Upanisads,
Brahmasutras, Bhagavadgtta and logically established Advaita.
Many independent works were also written by him in order to
highlight the basic propositions of Advaita Vedanta. Sankara
substantiated that Brahman alone is the supreme reality and
everything else including the cosmos itself, is false and is super-
imposed on it by avidya. Liberation is the realization of Brahman
and is to be attained by the means of knowledge.
For about three centuries Sankara's theory stood unques-
tioned. But the first theistic reaction against Advaita came from
Ramanuja during 12th and 13th centuries. Ramanuja also ad-
mitted the falsity of the world. The sole reality according to him
includes all the diversities of the material world. Brahman is the
substance and the world is its attribute. Hence his system came
to be called Visistadvaita. He upheld bhakti as the only means of
Madhva (13th c.) also directed a strong theistic protest
against the absolutistic theory of Sankara. According to Madhva,
both Brahman and the material world are real. Hence his line of
thinking came to be called Dualism or Dvaita Vedanta. Madhva
established the reality of the world with the help of the above
mentioned triple texts. He discarded Advaita as Buddhism in
disguise. He also considered bhakti as the sole means of libera-
tion, which can be attained through the grace of Kesava. Thus he
offered an uncompromising resistance against Advaita of
Following Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva several other
philosophers such as Srikantha, Nimbarka, Vallabha, Bhaskara,
Yadava, Baladeva also introduced their own particular schools
of thought within the Vedanta system. Each such school
strengthened its philosophical standpoint by opposing other
schools of the Vedanta and other systems of philosophy. How-
ever, these schools did not come into prominence for want of
popular support. In short, it is clear that diversity and contradic-
tions have always constituted the dynamic force behind the
development of Indian Philosophy as well as Vedanta. At the
same time, the concept of synthesis also played a prominent role
in the later developments of Indian Philosophy.
In the 16th century, the influence of the bhakti movement
became very decisive among the scholars and laymen alike. The
absolutistic philosophy of Sarikara did not satisfy the theistic
thirst of the people. Some sort of philosophic compromise was the
need of the hour to uphold Absolute Monism. Madhusudana
Sarasvati comes to the scene in this historical juncture. With his
subtle reasoning and logtcal arguments he resisted the theistic
attack on Advaita of Sankara effectively. But to keep up the
absolutistic theory intact without deviating from the main track,
Madhusudana boldly introduced the element of bhakti within the
monistic thinking. It is not at all a surrender to the theistic schools,
but a bold attempt to uphold the individuality of Advaita-
Vedanta. The concept of bhakti introduced by Madhusudana is
also different from the one propagated by Ramanuja, Madhva and
Caitanya. It has its roots in the theoretical Advaita. Here lies the
relevance of the study of Madhusudana's Philosophy, not been
much explored. Vedantakalpalatika. which incorporates in itself
all the cardinal doctrines of Advaita- Vedanta, especially the con-
cept of liberation, is an initial work of Madhusudana Sarasvati.
The Neo-logic method of presentation employed in the delineation
of the topic of discussion attaches a remarkable significance to the
work. Vedantakalpalatika, being a manual of Advaita-Vedanta,
has paved the way for his theoretical warfare with Dvaitins and
other opponents. A close study of Vedantakalpalatika becomes
relevant in this context.
Besides, Madhusudana's contribution to Advaita-Vedanta
deserves to be critically examined and evaluated. During the
scholastic period, the polemical debates between monistic and
theistic schools of philosophy continued for several centuries. But
no new ideas and ideals were come out as a result of these
theoretical wrangles. Here rests the importance of Madhusudana
who had cut a new path within Advaita, the path of jnana-bhakti
synthesis. Thus a close study of Vedantakalpalatika becomes
quite relevant in the present context.
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