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Dravidacharya – Teacher Of Vedanta Who Lived Before Adi Shankaracharya

Dravidacharya is a highly esteemed teacher of Advaita Vedanta and he lived before Adi Shankaracharya. He wrote a commentary on Chandogya Upanishad even before Adi Shankara wrote one. Probably this refers to Dravidacharya’s exposition of the work by one Brahmanandin who had commented on Chandogya Upanishad.

That Dravidacharya was a highly esteemed teacher of Advaita is evident from the references to and quotations from his works as an authority. Adi Shankara refers to him in his commentary on Chandogya Upanishad and on Brahma Sutras. Vacaspati Mishra mentions him in his Bhamati; Sarvajnatma Muni refers to him in his Samkshepa Sariraka (I ii Br – 4).

His works are quoted with reverence both by Advaitins and Vishishtadvaitins, though Yamuna, predecessor or Ramanuja, differs from him. Twenty extracts quotes from his works are available, eight on Advaita and eleven on Vishishtadvaita. The Advaita quotations are available in Madhuvidya and Samvarga Vidya sections (third and fourth adhyayagas) of Chandogya Upanishad; the Vishishtadvaita quotations are mostly in the Antaraditya Vidya section set forth in the first chapter.

The self in ignorance, forgetting its true identity and remembering it one being told about its true nature, is likened to an abducted young prince brought up among thieves, thinking he is a thief and remembering his royal descent on being told the truth. This is a simile employed by Dravidacharya and used by Shankara in his writings, particularly on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

In the Shankarite tradition, the hermits at the commencement of Chaturmasya, (sannyasins staying at one place for four months at the beginning of rainy season) worship Dravidacharya along with Gaudapadacharya. It is believed that Gaudapadacharya was a contemporary of Dravidacharya.