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Vivarana – Commentary Of Panchapadika

Vivarana is a commentary on Panchapadika that is itself a commentary on Adi Shankara’s Brahmasutrabhashya. Prakashatman (10th century CE) commented on the first four Sutras in his Panchapadika-vivarana, which is also called Vivarana. It formed the basis of a number of commentaries characterized by polemical vigor and philosophical profundity. Advaitic thought after Shankara has followed two traditions – Vivarana Prasthana and Bhamati Prasthana. Vivarana is the basis for the former. Bhamati-prasthana is based on the views of Vacaspati Mishra (9th century CE) as set forth in his work Bhamati, a gloss on Shankara’s commentary on Brahmasutra.

According to Vivarana tradition – The Self and the ego are distinct from each other. Consciousness is self-revealing, and this self-revelation is not due to any other cause. When this conscious appears in connection with other objects, it is called experience; and when it is by itself, it is atman.

Negation is not separate entity, but is a peculiar mode of the manifestation of the positive. Ignorance is not mere absence of knowledge. It is positive in nature and is beginningless.

In the case of illusion, there is a production of an indescribable object.

Some of the tents of the Vivarana School where it differs from Bhamati tradition, are –

Performance of obligatory acts are for the sake of knowledge itself, not merely for promoting a desire for knowledge.

Among the four means to realization, discrimination between the eternal and the ephemeral is the only direct means to emancipation. Renunciation, discipline, and desire for liberation, the other three means, depend on discrimination.

Vedantic texts, particularly the great sayings (Mahavakyas), are the means of realization.

Sravana (hearing of Vedantic texts) is the result of manana (deliberation on textual texts) and nididhyasana (concentration and meditation).

The hearing of Vedanta is ordained, though in a specific manner, as has been indicated above.

The relationship between jiva and Brahman is one of pratibimba (reflection). Absolute consciousness in association with maya (primordial ignorance) is Ishwara, and when the latter is reflected through the medium of ajnana (individual ignorance), it becomes the jiva (self). This is known as the reflection theory (Pratibimbavada), as distinct from the limitation theory (Avacchedavada) of the Bhamati tradition.

Brahman is the substratum of avidya (ignorance), which again superimposes itself of Brahman.

Primordial ignorance (mulavidya), which is positive in nature and without beginning, assumes different modes with respect to different jivas.

Brahman is the object of akandakara-vritti (undifferentiated mode of consciousness), the penultimate mental state before final absorption into Brahman.

Chitsukha (13th century CE) and Narasimha Rama (16th century CE) have commented upon Panca-padika-vivarana, in the works, Tatparya Deepika and Bhava Prakasika, respectively. Vidyaranya (14th century CE) has written an independent work, Vivarana-prameya-samgraha, following the above trend of thought.

Source Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume XI page 426 – 27 – published IHRF