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Advaita Concept Of Mandana

Mandana was a senior contemporary of Adi Shankaracharya and lived towards the end of the 8th century CE. Mandana has presented a version of Advaita before Adi Shankara which some of the Advaitins like Vacaspati Mishra (later than Shankara) have thought fit to emulate; for instance, the theory that continued contemplation (prasankhyana) is a necessary discipline through which the meaning of the identity texts like “that thou art” heard from the preceptor could be realized.

It is a matter of controversy whether he was defeated in debate by Shankaracharya and became his ascetic disciple with the name of Sureshwaracharya. His works on Vedanta have come down to us:

  1. Brahma Siddhi
  2. Sphota Siddhi
  3. Vibhrama Viveka

Mandana implies that mere listening (shravana) of texts is not enough. In theory, mere language cannot result in direct intuition unless meditated by the mind in continued contemplation. Vacaspati took this over as one of his doctrines. Shankara does not insist on this continued contemplation, and Sureshwara sets his face sternly against it.

Another doctrine of Mandana is that knowledge and performance of religious rites should be combined to facilitate an early realization. This position is uncompromisingly discountenanced by Adi Shankara.

Again, Mandana is not quite sure of the fact of jivan-mukti, or liberation while one is living in the current body. He seems to think that the man of steadfast mind (sthira prajna) is not a liberated self, a jivanmukta, but only an advanced practitioner (sadhaka).

Moreover Mandana lends support to the theory of sphota, the primordial sound, is itself Brahman.

Mandana holds that the self is the seat of ignorance, nor Brahman. Here, too, Vacaspati support him, while others like Sureshwara and Prakasatman hold that Brahman is both the locus (asraya) and the content (vishaya) of ignorance. Adi Shankara does not take a rigid view in this matter.