The Vedanta-Sutras and their commentaries (including Srimad Bhagavatam): Volume 1

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The Vedanta-Sutras and their commentaries (including Srimad Bhagavatam): Volume 1
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What is Brahman and how the world came into being? What is life? How is Brahman the origin of everything and what is its connection with the world and the living entities? The Vedanta sutras written by Srila Vyasadeva answer all these questions, but since the aphorisms are vague and sometimes incomprehensible, they need a commentary to be understood. The merit of this book is to present and compare the different interpretations of the most essential commentators - Adi Sankaracarya, Sripada Ramanujacarya, Sripada Nimbarkacarya, Srila Madhvacarya, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhúsana - to delineate the views of Sri Badarayana Rsi. The import of the Bhagavata Purana is also considered since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu considered the Srimad Bhagavatam the best commentary on the Vedanta sutras.

About The Author

Prakasatma dasa (Jean-Christophe Perrin) obtained a PhD in Religious Studies from Sorbonne University (France) and an M.A. in Philosophy from UQAM (Canada). He taught philosophy and comparative religion in Montreal for fifteen years (1986-2001). He currently works as a Christian priest in Charenton, a suburb of Paris. He is also a spiritualist in the Bhakti-Vedanta Tradition of India. Actively engaged in interreligious dialogue, he wrote several books on the subject, as well as on the history of ideas in the West.

Preface

There are more than fifty commentaries on the Brahma-sutras and the present work is not a new thesis on these well-known aphorisms, but rather a summary of the most important ones. Traditionally, the bhasyas of Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhya, and Nimbärka represent the principal philosophical trends of Vedanta, respectfully called: Advaita, Visistädvaita, Dvaita, and Dvaitadvaita. Apart from these, the commentaries of Bhaskara, Srikantha, and Vallabha have also their importance.

George Thibaut is the first Western scholar who attempted to make a comparative study on the commentaries of Sankara and Ramanuja on the Brahma-sutras and his conclusion was that Ramanuja's interpretation is closer to the real intention of the author of the Sütras. VS. Ghate, while comparing the bhasyas of Sankara, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Madhiva, and Vallabha, concludes that Nimbarka's interpretation is sounder than the other ones. In a similar exposition of the Brahma-sûtras, B.N.K. Sharma defends Madhva's bhasya, and H. Nakamura, in A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy, is inclined to think that Bhaskara's commentary is the most natural. On the other hand, S.M. Srinivasa Chari, after comparing the commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva, takes the side of Ramanuja.

The present work takes into account all these notable evaluations and it also presents the explanatory verses of the Bhagavata Purana, a book considered to be the quintessence of all sruti and smrti texts by Srila Vyasadeva himself, and conceived by Caitanya Mahaprabhu as a natural commentary on the Brahma- sutras. In fact, all these commentaries are like different aspects of a Purna Vedanta. They can be compared to many fragrant flowers stringed into a beautiful garland to be offered to the Deity. That "variety is the spice of life" is a sure way to understand the variegated meanings of Vedanta and this has been intended all along by Acarya Vedavyasa, the Sütrakara. In respect to the different Vedantic traditions is therefore the first objective of the present study.

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