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Philosophy of Advaita

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF ADVAITA VEDANTA: K. Narain; Pub. by Indological Research Centre, B34/115, Sukulpura, Durgakund, Varanasi-221010. Rs. 395.

THE AUTHOR of this volume is already well known by his scholarly works entitled An Outline of Madhva Philosophy, A Critique of Madhava Refutation of the Sankara School of Vedanta, and The Philosophy of The Vallabha School of Vedanta. It is gratifying to note that he has chosen to deal, in the work under review, with the fundamentals of Advaita Vedanta. His intimate acquaintance with the original Sanskrit texts has enabled him to express profound and subtle points of Advaita Vedanta with remarkable clarity.

Concept of Advaita

The fundamental principles of Advaita may be summed up as follows: Brahman is the only reality and it is the logical significance of the Upanishads; the indeterminable Maya/Avidya is responsible for the appearance of Brahman as Isvara, the Jiva, and the world; the Jiva is none other than Brahman; the world is non-real like the silver which appears where there is only shell; the direct knowledge of the true nature of the Jiva as Brahman is the sole means to liberation; and liberation can be attained here and now.

Post-Sankara preceptors

In 12 well-structured chapters, the author expounds in a systematic manner the philosophy of Advaita as presented by Sankara and by the post-Sankara Advaitins like Vachaspatimisra, Prakasatman, Vidyaranya, Sri Harsa, Madhusudana Sarasvati, Appayya Dikshita and others.

Avidya or maya is the pivotal principle on the basis of which the epistemological and the metaphysical inquiry in Advaita proceeds. The nature of avidya, and proofs in regard to its positive nature, the theories of error according to the realistic as well as the idealistic schools, the five definitions of mithyatva, the pramanas according to Advaita, the theories of reflection and delimitation that explain the nature of Jiva and Isvara, nature of liberation and its means, and the concept of Jivanmukti — all these have been explained in an accurate and authoritative manner.

The whole treatment is scholarly and comprehensive, unified and well-proportioned. Thoroughness in presentation and dispassionate objectivity of exposition coupled with erudition are evident in this work. The style is easy and unpedantic. It is marked by a happy combination of adequate detail, critical evaluation and fairness. It is unquestionably the fine account of the philosophy of Advaita and it is a volume every serious student of Indian philosophy should possess.

N. VEEZHINATHAN

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