About the Book
The Pancadasi of Sri Vidyaranya is a classic of great celebrity. It occupies a popuar and prominent place in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, due ot it’s clear concepts, dialectical method, lucid and humorous style.
The authorship of Pancadasi; the concept of Creation; Isvara and Jiva; Brahman as existence; Consciousness and Infinity; Individual Self; Maya and Avidya; Knowledge; Liberation; Vidyaranya and Pancadasi; various commentators and commentaries of Pancadasi and the contribution of Vidyaranya to Advaita Vedanta form the body of the present work. Vidyaranya’s deep philosophical insight leaves the mark on the reader through the description of Maya and Avidya, witness Consciousness, Abhasa-Vada. The topics like Samvadi Brahman, threefold Prarabdha, twofold duality created by Isvara and Jiva, three types of Bliss, the seven stages in the way of knowledge are certain stamps of originality of Vidyaranya.
In the traditional history of Advaita Vedanta, it is a known fact that Mandana Misra was the original name of Suresvaracarya before his entering into the order of Sannyasa. Let us recall that Mandana Misra was the disciple of Kumarila Bhatt, the Mimansaka. Accordingly the, traditional scholars opined that all the writings of Mandana Misra were the writings of Suresvara. Among the modern indologists, it was J. A. Jacob who, first of all, declared the identity between Mandana Misra and SureSvaracarya in his introduction to the Naiskarmya siddhi of SureSvara. Jacob’s opinion was based on the legendary evidence given by Vidyadranya in the Sankara-digvijaya. The recent researches, however, do not support this theory of identity. Mahamahopadhyaya Prof. Kuppu Swami Shastri was the first scholar who challenged the identity between Mandana Misra and SureSvara, in his learned introduction to – the Brahma Siddhi of Mandana Misra, an editor of great merit with commentary of Sankhapani, Madras, 1937. As a matter of fact the ideas, arguments and doctrines of Mandana Misra, as available in the Brahma-Siddhi are not in accordance with those available in the works of Suresvaracarya. It is true that both these authors are the followers of Advaitavada, but there is lot of difference in the concept of Advaita in the works of these. Mandana Misra propounded Bhavadvaitavada in the Siddhi-khanda of Brahma-siddhi while Suresvaracarya refuted Bhavadvaita-vada ‘in the Brhadéranyaka-Bhasya- Vartika ‘nabhavarhstho’ ‘nyatrapi nisedhah kimutdasraye’ Not only that much contrary views have been expressed by both of them on ‘prapancdbhava’ and ‘avidyadhvarhsa’, Madhu- sudana Saraswati has clearly pointed out in the Advaita-siddh and the Veddnta-kalpa-latika, the difference of opinion of Mandana Miéra and Suresvara on the above mentioned concepts. There are several other arguments and textual internal evidences which prove that Mandana Misra and Suresvara were two different persons.
We all know that Suresvaracarya was a very devoted disciple-follower of Sahkaracarya and he strongly supported the doctrines of SankarAcarya in all his writings. On the other hand Mandana Misra has frequently expressed difference of opinion against the views of SankarAcarya. In the history of Advaita Vedanta, we find two main streams arising from the interpretation of Sankaracdrya’s writings. Vacaspati Misra, the author of the famous Bhamati-commentary was greatly influenced by the distinctive teachings of Mandana Misra and frequently supported Mandana Misra’s point of views on a number of important Vedantic issues in the Bhamati. As a result, a new school of thought developed in the history of Advaita-Vedanta. This school followed the interpretation of Bhamati and is known as ‘Bhamati-Prasthana’. The second school of thought is known as’ ‘Vivarana-Prasthana’. It was Prakdsatma-yati, the author of the Paficapadika-viva- rana, a commentery on ‘Pancapddika’ of Padmapadacarya, who was greatly influenced by the works of Padmapadacarya and Suresvaradcarya and who gave rise to the second stream of thought, known as ‘Vivarana-Prasthana’. The name Padmapadika was given to the commentary probably because this commentary of the Saririka-Bhasya was divided into five chapters, namely (1) Padaccheda (2) Padarthokti.(3) Vigraha (4) Vakya-yojana. (5) Aksepa-samadhana. By and by the Pancapadika-vivarana became the basic text of Vivarna- prasthana and the following five valuable commentaries were written in the Pancapadika-vivarana.
(1) The Rju-vivarana of Visnu-Bhattopadhyaya.
(2) The Vivarana-tatparya-dipikad of Citsukhacarya.
(3) The Vivarana-bhava-prakasika of Nrsimhasramacarya.
(4) The Tattva-dipana of Akhanddnanda.
(5) The Vivarana-prameya-Sangraha of Vidyaranya.
Vidyaranya, the author of the Pancadasi, obviously belonged to the Vivarana-Prasthana stream of Advaita Vedanta. This is evident from his well known work—‘The Vivarana-Prameya- Samgraha’ which is the most valuable work for understanding the Prameya-paksa of the Vivarana-Prasthadna. Vidyaranya was a prolific writer. He has several valuable works to his credit. Although scholars have questioned the authorship of Vidyaranya regarding some of his works, but there is unanimity of opinion on Vidyaranya’s authorship of the Pancadasi and the Vivarana-Prameya-Samgraha. Vidyaranya was the name assigned to Madhavacarya after he had entered into the order of Sannyasa. He was the disciple of Sankarananda. In the medieval Sanskrit literature of Advaita-Vedanta Vidyaranya occupied a very significant place. He was the pontiff of Srngeri Matha and was the founder of the Vijayanagara kingdom. He remained as a minister and councillor of the three distinguished kings of Vijayanagaram. That is why he was known as ‘Karnataka-Sithhasana: sthapanacarya’. Vidyarahya attached utmost importance to the Verbal Testimony and based his interpretation of the basic concepts of Advaita Vedanta on the support of the evidence of Sruti and Smrti.