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Anandagiri or Anandajnana – 13th Century Advaita Scholar

Anandagiri, also known as Anandajnana, was an Advaita scholar of the 13th – 14th century CE. He was noted for this doctrinal exposition and dialectical skill. He was a prolific and authentic commentator on Advaita. Though he is generally accepted as belonging to the state of Gujarat, some scholars consider him as belonging to the Chera country in South India. Anandagiri was initially called Janardana.

He became the disciple of Anubhutisvarupananda. As a saint under the name Anandagiri, he was appointed as the spiritual head of the Shankaracharya Matha at Dvaraka.

Anandagiri’s commentaries on Bhashyas of Shankara on Upanishads include those on Ishavasya, Kena, Katha, Mundaka, Taittirya, Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka. His work Nyayanirnaya is a full-fledged commentary on Adi Shankara’s Brahmasutra Bhashya. Similarly, Anandagiri’s Gitabhashyavivecana is a commentary on the Acharya’s Gita Bhashya. His commentary is considered very erudite.

Anandagiri has also commented on Sureshvara’s Vartikas on Brihadaranyaka and Taittiriya Upanishad and on Panchikarnaa Varttika. He commented on three of Shankara’s original works – Atmajnanopadesha Vidhi, Upadeshasahasri and Vakyavritti.

He has also commented on the Padarthatattvanirnaya and Nyayaratnadipavali, the Anandanubhavas, the anonymous Sarupa-vivaranam and Panchaprakriya of Sarvajnatman.

Anandagiri’s original works include Tarkasangraha and Tattvaloka. Both these books were written while he was a householder. His original works also include Shankaravijaya, a biography of Shankaracharya. In his Tarkasamgraha, Anandagiri refutes the Vaiseshika philosophy.

In order to prove that there is no reality apart from Brahman, Anandagiri takes up each and every object admitted by Vaiseshika for critical examination. He refutes all definitions of Vaiseshika system intended to justify the reality of the categories of experience, and shows that the world and all world-experiences are merely appearances and are indescribable either as real or unreal. Since all appearances must have something for their cause and since that which is not a real thing cannot have a real thing as its material cause, and since they are all indescribable in their nature, their cause must also be of the nature, the nescience of the substratum.

He points out that nescience, which is the material cause of the universe, is associated with Brahman, the pure consciousness. And, owing to its association with Brahman, Brahman appears as the sarva (all) and it becomes sarvajna (the all or the knower of all) without its association with nescience. Thus there is one Brahman and there is one beginningless nescience in connection with it which is the cause of all the infinitely diverse appearances through which the former appears impure and undergoes transmigration, as it were, and again appears liberated, as it were, through the direct experience of the real nature of the self. In fact, there is neither bondage nor emancipation.