Avibhaga-Bhedabheda in the Vijnanamrtabhasyam of Vijnanabhiksu

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Avibhaga-Bhedabheda in the Vijnanamrtabhasyam of Vijnanabhiksu
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The Brahamsutra is one of the three foundational texts along with the Upanisads and the Bhagavadgita, It has been commented by various scholars from different view-points and mainly from abheda or advaita and bheda or dvaita tradition. The third such commentary and lesser known is the bhedabheda tradition. Vijnanabhiksu, basically a Sankhya philosopher, in the 16 century commented the Brahmasutras from the avibhagabhedäbheda tradition known as Vijnanamṛtabhasyam which has remained unknown to most of the people without any translations. In this work he advocates a relationship of inseparable difference and non-difference existing between every being seen and unseen. At times, they may appear of different class or form, but the essential divine transcendence and immanence makes it of one class and nature. This 'essence' called Brahmätmata is meaningful even for the atheists and agnosts as a deontological principle for a harmonious and accommodative culture. It is this kind of Trinitarian perichoretic relationship which is the crux of the relationship between Brahman, jagat and arman like sea and wave, fire and its spark, father and son, sugar or salt in water, river in sea, and so on. In this book, the author has carefully extracted the philosophy of avibhagabhedabheda with several insights as propounded by Vijñänabhiksu and has concretely applied to the present scenario of the country. Therefore, unique to its kind, this philosophical thought could be a healing remedy to unite the country dissected by divisive forces.

 

About the Author

Raju Felix Crasta is a Kerala-born (1976-) Catholic Studies from the Madras University, Licentiate and Doctorate in Philosophy from Jnanadeepa Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Pune. He obtained a doctorate for This thesis, Avibhaga-Bhedabheda (Indivisible Difference and Non-Difference) in the Vijñänämṛtabhagyam Of Vijñänabhiksu: A Thread that Unites Divergent Aspects of Reality. He teaches Dariana and other related issues of Indian philose hy in various Catholic institutes of India. He has presented several research papers in various national seminars and published papers in scholarly journals, books and magazines.

 

Foreword

Right from the Master's Programme in Philosophy till his doctoral milestone, Raju Felix Crasta has undertaken an arduous and fascinating Indological journey. He has shown tremendous and admirable amount of required patience, passion and perseverance. Indeed, Crasta has extracted nectar, having churned the difficult and complex field of Indology In general and Avibhaga-Bhedabheda of Vijñānabhiksu in particular. In spite of experiencing scarcity of resources like the translations and critical studies, Crasta has come oust with a critical, creative and relevant doctoral thesis. Now that the fruit of his research is seeing the light of the day in the form of publication, I feel immensely joyful as a guide of the thesis. I heartily congratulate the author and wish him all the best for the future intellectual ventures.

The thesis titled "Avibhaga-Bhedabheda (Indivisible Difference and Non-Difference) in the Vijñänämṛtabhāṣyam Of Vijñānabhiksu: A Thread that Unites Divergent Aspects of Reality," is a timely and significant contribution to the world beset with conflicts due to lack of integration between difference and non-difference. Raju's thesis proposes creative ways of harmonizing these two extremes harmoniously without compromising the importance of both the aspects of reality.

I see a bright and promising future for Raju Felix Crasta. Since there is no translation of the text, I hope he would undertake it with the critical edition of the text. I wish the author all the best for the important task of Indological publications. May he become an instrument of creating unity amidst diversity.

 

Preface

The Vedanta is the end of the Vedas. It can be understood in three levels: the Advaita, the Dvaita and the Dvaitadvaita, in other words Abheda, Bheda and Bhedabheda respectively. Though traces of these three categories are foreshadowed in the Vedic literature, they are developed into a full-streamed philosophy later during the years each with distinct scholars and later by their followers. The first two philosophical positions are much known by people than the third category. Each category has its own philosophical positions and at times differences within its followers.

The category under study in this book is the third Vedantic position, the Bhedabheda. Within this School of thought, there are several thinkers with distinct philosophies of converging and diverging opinions. The position under study here is the lesser known philosophy, the Avibhaga Bhedäbheda proposed by Vijñānabhiksu, a 16th Century thinker. This is a unique and novel concept under the Bhedäbheda tradition with a wide range of applications.

This work is an updated version of my doctoral dissertation submitted to the faculty of Philosophy, Jnana-Deepa (Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Pune), defended on January 22, 2019, for the Degree of Doctor in Philosophy (Ph.D).

A Sanskrit verse states, "na hiksulehanenaiva jñātā ikṣuraso bhavet na ceksudandam nişpidya labdho nekṣurasobhavet," "By merely licking the outer surface of sugarcane, one cannot taste and enjoy its sweetness; without squeezing it, one cannot savour the sugarcane" (Vyasatirtha's Slokatätparyacandrika, 29). The journey so far has not been less than a sagaramanthana, 'churning of the ocean' of Indian scriptures, with several ups and downs, squeezing and wheezing at times to get a drop of delicious nectar. It was not possible to attain this just admiring from outside. As I bring down the curtain to this work, I stand indebted to all those who stood beside me in my journey. I thank the Almighty God for the showers of blessings and grace. It was He who instilled in me the courage to stand alone, dig deeper, see the unseen, and discover the hidden wisdom. I prostrate unto His feet and offer this work in gratefulness and love.

Guru stands next to God. It is he who shows the path. My guru, Dr Henry D'Almeida, SJ, a moving encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophy inspired me to dive into this ocean knowing my strength and weakness. He encouraged me and gave me every possible help. His erudite and meticulous corrections, critical acumen, inspiring insights, valuable suggestions, discussions, and importantly his journey along my side made the most satisfying thing in my life. My heartfelt gratitude goes to him.

I am thankful to Jnana-Deepa (JD) for whetting my philosophical thirst, right from the beginning of my philosophical journey and quenching it. I thank the President Dr Selvarathinam, SJ, the Dean of the faculty of Philosophy Dr Kuruvilla Pandikattu, SJ, the Chairman of the Doctoral Committee Dr S. Francis and other members of the committee, the Registrar Dr Jose Thayil, SJ, the Librarian Fr. Biju Vadakkumchery, SJ and his collaborators, the Treasurer of the institution, the Post-graduate Block Moderator, and all the officials and staff of JD for their unflinching support.

I extend my sincere thanks to the Most Rev. Felix Toppo, SJ, the former Bishop of Jamshedpur and the present Archbishop of Ranchi, and the Chancellor of St. Albert's College for placing his trust and sending me for higher studies. I am grateful to the erstwhile and present Apostolic Administrators of Jamshedpur Diocese: Rev. Fr. Augustin Topno and Rev. Bishop Theodore Bilung SVD respectively, and their collaborators for the encouragement. I thank the Rector, Staff, and colleagues of St. Albert's college Ranchi for their encouragement and support.

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