Talk:Adi Shankara

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Shankara and Buddhism[edit]

Quick comments on some recent edits:

  • The additional content and sources are good but belong in the Philosophy and practice section (in particular the Similarities with Madhyamaka Buddhism section that already existed and could be expanded and retitled if necessary), and not in the Historical and cultural impact section. Also the primary focus should be explaining the similarities and differences between Shankara and Buddhist philosophy, rather than speculating on Shankara's motives (the latter can be mentioned briefly with attribution).
  • There is no benefit in including extended quotes from the sources, instead of summarizing their main point. See WP:QUOTEFARM
  • The added gloss, " is suggested that Shankara was attempting to conceal his plagiarism" is hilariously anachronistic and unsupported by the cited sources;
  • Not sure, why a well-written summary citing Mudgal was deleted as superfluous, especially since that is the proper way to write encyclopedic content and the source was both on-point and more recent than the newly added sources.
  • (minor) When citing books, one should always cite the publisher and (if available) ISBN.

To Soham321: can you try reworking the material you added to take the above concerns into account, or comment if you disagree with any of the points I made? I will abstain from editing the article right at the moment to avoid edit-conflicts, but can help later in the day. Abecedare (talk) 04:19, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback. My reply: All the books from which i have cited are available for viewing through google books (the caveat being that whether you can view the contents of the book or not depends on the country in which you are located). So these are the references: Dasgupta, Shcherbatsky, Encylopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Volume 8 . I don't have the ISBN numbers right now, but i am sure this can be looked up.
I thought extended quotes from reputed scholars was necessary instead of summarizing or paraphrasing because the content, with the plagiarism accusation, was highly controversial. My statement "it is suggested that Shankara was attempting to conceal his plagiarism" is evident if one reads the Shcherbatsky quote carefully. Let me repeat the quote so as to help us be on the same page:
"Shankara accuses them of disregarding all logic and refuses to enter in a controversy with them. The position of Shankara is interesting because, at heart, he is in full agreement with the Madhyamikas, at least in the main lines, since both maintain the reality of the One-without-a-second, and the mirage of the manifold. But Shankara, as an ardent hater of Budhism, could never confess that. He therefore treats the Madhyamika with great contempt [...] on the charge that the Madhyamika denies the possibility of cognizing the Absolute by logical methods (pramana). Vachaspati Mishra in the Bhamati rightly interprets this point as referring to the opinion of the Madhyamikas that logic is incapable to solve the question about what existence or non-existence really are. This opinion Shankara himself, as is well known, shares. He does not accept the authority of logic as a means of cognizing the Absolute, but he deems it a privilge of the Vedantin to fare without logic, since he has Revelation to fall back upon. From all his opponents, he requires strict logical methods... Sriharsa, in his Khandan-Khada-khadya [...] openly confesses that there is but little difference between Buddhism and Vedanta, a circumstance which Shankara carefully conceals. Shankara, in combating Buddhist idealism, resorts to arguments of which he himself does not believe a word since they are arguments which the most genuine realist would use.}} I can also cite other authorities for the plagiarism statement but i do not have access to the source material right now."
Regarding Mudgal, he or she is an unknown writer of Indian philosophy compared to S.N. Dasgupta and Shcherbatsky who are legendary figures when it comes to studying Indian philosophy. Mudgal is not adding to anything that Dasgupta and Shcherbatsky have not already said. There is therefore no use to cite her or him. I still think that the Plagiarism heading is a better heading since this is a serious accusation. Shankara is the only major philosopher of India who has faced this accusation not just from medieval scholars but also from modern scholars. Soham321 (talk) 04:43, 2 July 2015 (UTC) The fact that it was Shankara borrowing, and not the other way around, is also pointed out by Dasgupta in the quote i gave. Incidentally, Dasgupta also comments at greater detail about the fact that Advaita Vedanta is practically the same as Mahayana Buddhism elsewhere in his book: Dasgupta. Shankara is believed to have been either the direct disciple of Gaudapada or else the disciple of a direct disciple of Gaudapada. Although Shankara conceals his intellectual debt to the Buddhists, he does not do the same for Gaudapada--on several occasions he acknowledges and refers to Gaudapada's writings. But if Gaudapada is found to be articulating views that are not different from views of the Mahayana Buddhists, as Dasgupta points out, then....? Soham321 (talk) 04:57, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Some additional material for this section. This is from Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya's book 'What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy' (pages 42-43):
"The great prestige of Advaita Vedanta in later history is associated with the activities of Shankara, who is either a disciple or a direct disciple of Gaudapada. Born in a village in Kerela, he extensively travels in India and founds four monastic establishments in four corners of the country, the heads of which still bear the title Shankaracharya ...In founding these monastaries, Shankara follows the organizational principles of the famous Budhist monastaries...the establishment of these monastaries is surely an evidence of his exceptional organizational abilities, inclusive of his ability of mobilising huge financial support for the purpose. Such organizational activities apart, his literary output is is undoubtedly volumnious, just as the literary quality of his writings is extremely high. For sheer charm of lucid Sanskrit prose, none in Indian philosophy perhaps ever equals Shankara. And yet Shankara does not live a very long life. Born in AD 788, he dies at the age of thirty two. Judged by sheer personal gifts, therefore, this young philosopher has indeed a very imposing stature in the cultural history of the country. What is really not so indisputable about him is his actual philosophical ability. Though he reinterprets Upanishadic idealism in a really advanced form, there is nothing practically worthwile in this reinterpretation that is not borrowed from the Mahayana Budhists. This fact of large scale borrowing is sought to be concealed by Shankara himself with the demonstration of a great deal of contempt for these Budhists, often accusing them of preaching precisely the same views which he himself wants to preach with great gusto. He contemptuously remarks that it is no use discussing philosophy with the representatives of the Sunya vada, for they do not believe in any source of valid knowledge and how can he discuss philosophy with those who have no respect for logic! At the same time, the denial of the validity of any source of valid knowledge and of logic in general is one of the fundamental points of Shankara himself. He even opens his philosophical magnum opus with the declaration that all the pramanas or sources of valid knowledge are quite useless from the standpoint of the philosophical wisdom he himself represents. Again, he indignantly remarks that the Vijnana Vadins are as shameless as those that want to prove the barrenness of their own mothers, in as much as they subsist on food while denying the reality of food itself. From his own philosophical standpoint, however, the food that the philosophers eat -- like everything else in the material world--is nothing but a phantom conjured up by the mortal illusion. It has no more reality for him than for the Vijanana Vadins. All this cannot but be reminiscent of "the advice of the charlatan in Turgenev: denounce most of all those vices which you yourself possess." The usual defense of Shankara by his modern admirers is that he admits the truth or logic as well as of the material things from the standpoint of practical life: but this very distinction between "two truths" is an innovation of the Mahayana Budhists, from whom Shankara borrows it only with some terminological alteration.It needs to be added, however, that a few centuries after Shankara the strong sectarian animosity against the Mahayana Budhist gradually fades out among the followers of the Advaita Vedanta, when Sriharsa (circa 12th century A.D.), for example, revives and reinforces the negative dialectics of Nagarjuna for a better defense of Advaita philosophy, "acknowledging that there is but an insignificant divergence between his views and those of the Sunya vadis."
Soham321 (talk) 05:16, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Soham, neither the sources nor any of the editors here are disagreeing that Shankara's philosophy was greatly influenced by and similar to Mahayana Buddhism. What we are objecting to is the use of the word "plagiarism" that you introduced, which does not make any sense when applied to classical philosophical ideas and is not used by any of the sources you quote. In fact, I would love to see a source that uses the word when speaking of Adi Shankara and Nagarjuna. As for extended quotes: again see WP:QUOTEFARM. The content you added to the article and quoted above can be easily paraphrased and summarized; I'll take a stab at it later today (unless you or JJ beat me to it). And, finally, Dasgupta and Shcherbatsky are indeed well-respected scholars, but their writing is almost a century old and I am pretty sure that their are more modern sources available, such as the one JJ points to below. Abecedare (talk) 05:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I am truly amazed that you are unable to see the plagiarism accusation. I would have imagined Chattopadhyaya at least makes the point very clear. I am glad i am giving the full quotes of these scholars instead of giving summaries or paraphrasing, so that at least other editors can see what you claim you are unable to see. Soham321 (talk) 05:31, 2 July 2015 (UTC) Dasgupta died in 1952, Stcherbatsky in 1942, Chattopadhyay in 1993, but the point remains that this is not rocket science where the source material or data is changing. The data is remaining the same. Any difference between these scholars and a modern scholar of today can be due to whether one is adopting a neutral point of view or whether one is adopting a hindu apologist point of view.Soham321 (talk) 05:43, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Very dated source (~100 years old). Recent scholarship has discarded all this. See Natalia Isaeva's book cited in this article. Data and sources are changing, as new texts in Indian philosophies are translated and cross examined. A majority of Indian Sanskrit/Pali literature remains untranslated/unexamined (see Karl Potter's Encyclopedias and Bibliographies on Indian philosophies). Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 13:10, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Unreliable sources[edit]

@Soham321: This book, What Is Living and What Is Dead in Indian Philosophy, is not a reliable source. A reliable source has editorial oversight or is peer reviewed. Lets avoid unreliable sources, avoid fringe content, and include content that is widely accepted by scholars. If you believe your source is reliable, explain why you believe so. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 11:03, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

On what basis is this book an unreliable source? It is true that the writer was a leftist. However, many people of his generation were leftists and even today many top Indian historians are leftists. These include people like D.N. Jha, D.D. Kosambi, and Romila Thapar who have done collaborative work with American scholars like Michael Witzel, D.H.H. Ingalls and others who were not leftists. This is the google page for Chattopadhyay's book: And this is his wikipedia biography: Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya. A review of this book may be found here: And this is just to prove that Chattopadhyaya is not a fringe author:
It is not a self published book as can be ascertained from the google books link. There is no evidence of any peer review having taken place for the books of Radhakrishnan, S.N. Dasgupta, Scherbatsky, etc. who are legendary figures in Indian philosophy. We will have to go for Dispute Resolution if you insist on excluding this book from the main article since it is definitely a reliable source and the author is a genuine scholar. Soham321 (talk) 11:25, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soham321: People's Publishing House is an outlet for SPS. Your burden to prove that they have editorial oversight/peer review. Ignore Wikipedia pages on people, not RS. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 11:37, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I have no idea what is SPS. The point is that the author is a genuine scholar as is evident from his wikipedia page. In fact Chattopadhyaya was a student of both Radhakrishnan and S.N. Dasgupta, the two legendary figures of Indian philosophy. This requirement of providing evidence of peer review has not been met for people like Mudgal, Dasgupta, Scherbatsky and others in the main article. You are seeking to cherry pick sources in accordance with your own bias which is not permissible. Soham321 (talk) 11:44, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soham321: See WP:SPS. Comments on People's Publishing House: 1. It is an unreliable quality outfit. Suggestion: if you want to keep this source in this wiki article, find a book review in a peer review journal for What Is Living and What Is Dead in Indian Philosophy. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 11:52, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
This is the wikipedia page of LeftWord Books. As you can see, the Managing Director of this publishing group is the general secretary of a leftist political party in India. But consider the eminence of the people who are involved in this publishing group who are mentioned in the wiki article--people of the eminence of N._Ram for example. Are you going to say that anything published by this publishing group is not to be considered a reliable source? Is this not cherry picking of sources which wikipedia specifically prohibits? Just to show you how silly your argument is, N Ram is also the Chairman of the Board of The Hindu newspaper which is a widely respected paper in India. N. Ram is also a self declared Leftist. His political proclivities does not mean we declare The Hindu to be an unreliable source. Soham321 (talk) 12:03, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
People's Publishing House has also published the work of this gentleman: D.D. Kosambi Soham321 (talk) 12:06, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Soham321: This talk page is not a forum, and I will ignore your discursive forum-style lectures. You can either provide a book review for that WP:SPS or take this to dispute resolution. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:29, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

I did give a link to a review of this book by Dale Riepe in an earlier edit. Soham321 (talk) 12:45, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I meant favorable book review. Alternatively you can provide a recent secondary source quoting or referring to the content that you are trying to add to this article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:56, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
You realize the conditions you are attempting to impose were not fulfilled for Mudgal, Dasgupta, Scherbatsky and several other sources quoted in the main article. This cherry picking based on scholars you like and those your dislike needs to stop now. Soham321 (talk) 13:14, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I have asked @JJ to reconsider Stcherbatsky, and look at Isaeva's summary on Stcherbatsky. I haven't reviewed the others yet. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 13:23, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Please read WP:Verifiability again. You are wasting your time and mine. Soham321 (talk) 13:28, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
WP:Verifiability Policy: "In Wikipedia, verifiability means that anyone using the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source." The SPS and some 100 year old texts are not reliable. The burden to provide reliable source – recent, majority or minority accepted scholarship – for any content you add, is yours. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 14:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
The book was not self-published. The same publishers have published D.D. Kosambi and Romilla Thapar. The book was published in 1976 which makes it more recent than other books cited in this article and other Indian philosophy articles on wikipedia. Additionally there is no restriction on citing older sources. You are cherry picking sources in accordance with your bias and this is not permissible. If we we continue to remain in disagreement, we will just have to go for dispute resolution. Soham321 (talk) 18:42, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Soham321: The issue is not only that it is SPS, it is WP:Primary, and you are adding Chattopadhyay's opinion along a polemics-style content you have been trying to add today to this article. Various editors have objected. Your edits have been disruptive and you have been revert warring with multiple editors. You want to add, "Though he reinterprets Upanishadic idealism in a really advanced form, there is nothing practically worthwile in this reinterpretation that is not borrowed from the Mahayana Budhists. This fact of large scale borrowing is sought to be concealed by Shankara himself with the demonstration of a great deal of contempt for these Budhists, often accusing them of preaching precisely the same views which he himself wants to preach with great gusto." (your spelling)

This is polemics. Criticism of Adi Shankara is already mentioned in this article, in a balanced way. Your addition does not add anything new, nor balance, nor does it specify what is it that is "borrowed from Mahayana Buddhists" or how does Shankara "reinterpret Upanishadic idealism" or anything that informs or provide constructive specifics/details. Your content is "X says Shankara is a bad person / plagiarist / concealer / demon" style - that is WP:Soap, not encyclopedic content. Such opinion about Shankara is not widely accepted by scholars. Take it to DRN, if you wish. I will join you there. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 19:42, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Chattopadhyay's book is not a primary source; it is a secondary source. Chattopadhyaya is a highly respected scholar--endorsed by the great Joseph Needham-- and he is adding clarity to the accusation directed against Shankara from medieval and modern scholars of Indian philosophy that Shankara engaged in surreptiously borrowing ideas from the Mahayana Buddhists and then seeking to conceal this. He is not the only person who makes this accusation; Schertbatsky is also making this accusation. And so is Dasgupta. The concern here is not Chattopadhyaya's quote since we can easily modify it, paraphrase it, summarize it. It is your unwillingness to let Chattopadhyaya be cited as a reference for this content. For this, we will have to go to dispute resolution because you are not permitted to cherry pick sources in accordance with your personal bias and prejudice which you are attempting to do. You also seem to have no idea about what is appropriate and what is not for an Encyclopedia; i have given an extract from the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics which makes far more serious accusations against Shankara (where he is accused of being a demon, etc.). Basically your bias and prejudice is coming in the way of your editing on wikipedia. No doubt that is why you were seeking to target the publisher of Chattopadhyay's book earlier. Now that i have pointed out that the same publishers have published books by scholars of the eminence of D.D. Kosambi and Romila Thapar you seem to have nothing more to say about the publishers. Soham321 (talk) 20:01, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soham321: Go ahead. DRN it is. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 20:10, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
All in good time, i am in no hurry. Soham321 (talk) 20:20, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
OK, here is a recent paper published in a respected journal which uses Chattopadhyaya's book as a reference:āṃkhya Soham321 (talk) 21:38, 2 July 2015 (UTC)Here is an Op-Ed published in the Times of India which pronounces Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya to be "a renowned historian of philosophy": Soham321 (talk) 21:45, 2 July 2015 (UTC) Another reference to a peer reviewed academic source which considers Chattopadhyaya to be an authority on Indian philosophy: Soham321 (talk) 22:23, 2 July 2015 (UTC) Another reference: Notice the name of the publisher of Chattopadhyaya's book which is regarded as an authoritative work by this peer reviewed philosophy academic resource. It is the same publisher which Sarah Welch was claiming is an untrustworthy publisher based on which Chattopadhyaya's book should not be considered a reliable source. Soham321 (talk) 22:30, 2 July 2015 (UTC) And Chattopadhyaya's book which is being considered an authoritative text by this peer reviewed philosophy academic resource was published in 1959. Soham321 (talk) 22:36, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soham321: None criticizes Adi Shankara. None discusses Shankara. None mentions the polemic quote you are trying to insert into this article. They discuss Cārvāka, not Shankara. Ferenc Ruzca's article, one of your links, says, "Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad: Lokāyata. A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism: A highly unorthodox approach utilizing anthropological and even archeological sources to understand the origins of philosophical thought." That is respectfully inclusive, but not a favorable review for Chattopadhyaya, even for Carvakas. Your response is discursive, but it does not address any of the many concerns I explained above. Your proposed content along the lines of "X says Shankara is a bad person / plagiarist / concealer / demon" is WP:Soap, from an unreliable source on Adi Shankara, and of no encyclopedic value to this article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 01:52, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Sorry, no cigar. You were claiming earlier that Chattopadhyaya should not be considered an authority on Indian philosophy, and your claim has been shown to be hollow. That is all that i tried and succeeded in accomplishing. Soham321 (talk) 02:24, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya as a source for this article[edit]

Chattopadhyaya is a potential though dated source for this article. Given concerns expressed in scholarly reviews of his publications, lets cross check and supplement his Marxist-interpretations and POV with recent scholarly sources on Shankara. For more reasons why Chattopadhyaya publications are best used with care and in conjunction with more recent scholarship, see the related parallel discussion and comments of various wikipedia editors here and here. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 18:36, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Accusation of being a Demon[edit]

Incidentially, the great contempt of the Dvaita Vedantists for Advaita and Adi Shankara is not that well known. Encylopaedia of Religion and Ethics (ERE) volume 8 pages 232-233 contains some useful information in this regard. (the views in the encylopaedia are primarily based on two dvaita texts--"madhvavijaya"(mv), and "manimanjari"(mm)-- both of which were written by Narayana, a son of Trivikrama, who was a direct disciple of Madhava. Relevant extracts from the ERE are given below:

"In the Vana-Parvana(mm iii.11,661f.)it is related that Bhima attacked certain Yaksas or Raksasas, belonging to the country beyond the Himalaya, and killed their leader,Manimat.Manimat had earlier offerred a filthy insult to the Indian sage Agastya (the apostle of Southern India)....The narrative of the events in the Kaliyuga, or present age of the world, commences in the 5th sarga of mm. at first, the knowledge of the Vedas, as taught by Krsna and Bhima(mm v.1), reigns supereme. Then the Asuras conspired to spread false doctrines. The demon Sakuni...points out that other heresies...had all failed (9-15). Therefore Manimat, who alone had enough skill, must become incarnate as a brahman ascetic, and must destroy the Vedanta under cover of explaining it (15ff.). Manimat is dispatched with instructions to abolish the Vedas and Puranas, to ridicule the theory that Visnu has gunas, or qualities, and to establish the identity of the soul with Brahman. [note that, according to Dvaita, Brahman is endowed with all the auspicious attributes ("saguna"), while according to Advaita, Brahmana is devoid of any attributes ("nirguna")]

Here (29), the story digresses to tell how at that time the whole Earth was under the sway of Budhism, and to describe the efforts of Sabara and Kumarila to refute it by the aid of the Purva Mimansa.... the 6th Sarga continues this, narrating the success of Kumarila... at this stage of affairs, Manimat is born as a widow's bastard (mm v1.3, mv i.46). He is hence named Samkara (the Madhva books uniformly change the great Samkara's[represented in the encyclopaedia with a dot over the s] name to Samkara [no dot over the s])The object is plain. Samkara [with dot over the s] means "auspicious", but Samkara [with no dot] "misbegotten" or "rubbish". He is brought up in great poverty, and (as a slap at the monism subsequently taught by him), it is related that in his boyhood he could count only one thing at a time, never being able to see a second(mm, v1.10).He is taken to Saurastra, where...he quickly masters the sacred books. He then goes from teacher to teacher, but is turned off by them for his heretical views. He invents his doctrine, described as "sunya-marga" and "nirgunatva" and is hailed by the demons as their savior (24).On their advice he joins the Budhists and teaches Budhism under cover of Vedantism. He makes the Vedas without meaning, and equates Brahman with nothingness ("sunyatva") (46).He becomes a Sakta, and messenger of Bhairavi, who confers upon him a magic spell (51). The 7th sarga describes further disgraceful events in Samkara's life. He seduces the wife of his brahman host (1ff.). He makes converts by magic arts. He falls sick and dies. His last words are instructions to his disciples to uproot the learned Satyaprajna, the last of the great teachers of the Vedic doctrine. In the 8th sarga we have the doings of Samkara's followers. They persecute their opponents, burning down monasteries, destroying cattle-pens, and by magic arts killing women and children (2). They forcibly convert one of their chief opponents, Prajnatirtha, and compel him and his disciples to adopt the "maya" system (5). These, however, still secretly adhere to the true religion.......The book[mm] ends with a brief account of Madhva's work, specially mentioning that he composed a commentary on the "Vedanta-sutra" utterly destroying that made by the thief Manimat-Samkara."

I would suggest that a brief reference to this story can be included in the main article just to highlight the contempt of Dvaita Vedantists for Adi Shankara. I seek consensus. Soham321 (talk) 12:20, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Ehm... Those are Vishnuists, I guess? I figured something about it. What about Shankara's time? Were to so outspoken then too, or is this an issue from later times? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 12:32, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Manimanjari and Madhvavijaya were written by the son of a direct disciple of Madhvacharya; and we know Madhvacharya (also known as Madhva) was around in the 13th century AD. But the allegation of being a "disguised budhist" is repeated by quite a few people including Ramanuja, who was around in the 11th century AD. Ramanuja's commentary on the Vedanta Sutra (also known as Brahma Sutra) contains one of the longest critiques of a single philosopher (in this case, Adi Shankara) to be seen in the work by any Indian philosopher. Soham321 (talk) 12:44, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate source of information (particularly 100+ year old heresay mythology such as in Encylopaedia of Religion and Ethics first published in 1908). See WP:WWIN. Adding such summaries or quotes will weaken the article. A lot of new research on Adi Shankara has been published in recent years, and we now know that there are authentic and unauthentic publications of/about him. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:41, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
But this is not cancer research. In this case the data is the same because the manuscripts remain the same--the key difference between someone writing on Shankara in early 20th century and now is whether the writer is adopting a neutral perspective or a pro-Advaita perspective.Soham321 (talk) 12:46, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
As I wrote above, data and sources are changing. New texts in Indian philosophies are being translated and cross examined. A majority of Indian literature from Vedic and medieval era remains untranslated/unexamined (see Karl Potter's Encyclopedias and Bibliographies on Indian philosophies). Within the last 40 years, scholars have declared or generally accepted that several of the texts on Adi Shankara are unauthentic/unreliable (again, see Natalia Isaeva's book). Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 13:16, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
These are minor things. Shankara's commentaries on the Brahma Sutra (also known as Vedanta Sutra) remains his magnum opus, and his commentaries on the Upanishads and the Gita continue to be regarded as authoritative. These are the books in which Shankara has expounded his philosophy. These are the books where Shankara regards his reader to be an intellectual/scholar. The disputed works are minor works aimed for popular consumption usually comprising bhakti poetry. Their philosophical significance is nill. Soham321 (talk) 13:32, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I see the above para not adding any value to the main article other than imbalancing the article and proving superiority of one over the other and giving way to fringe theories ! Shrikanthv (talk) 13:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
I removed the od tag which was making it appear that Shrikanthv had replied to my edit which begins with "These are minor things"; in fact he had not done so. By "above para" he was referring to the extract from the Encyclopedia that i had given. Soham321 (talk) 19:08, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
It may seem strange but the books Manimanjari and Madhvavijaya, both of which were written by Narayana Panditacharya, are considered authoritative texts in Dvaita Vedanta. Soham321 (talk) 13:38, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
The polemics between Shankaraists and Dvaitists may be interesting an sch, but maybe it belongs at the Advaita Vedanta page. And I think that Ms Sarah Welch is right: a lot of recent research is available. Personally I've got the impression that a lot of simplistic views on Shankara and Advaita Vedanta are circulating, both pro and con. Shankara's vedanta may, in some respects be even closer to Mahayana Buddhism than Shankaraists are willing, or comfortable, to admit. And in some respects it may be completely different. And in yet another aspect, this may be quite irrelevant; what's much more interesting is the practice of Advaita vedanta, the studying and repetition of texts to make them 'come alive'. See The Hidden Lives of Brahman, as noted before. It's much more interesting to find out how Advaita Vedanta "works," instead of engaging in polemics. And yes, of course Shankara's Advaita Vedanta is strongly influenced by Mahayana Buddhism, especially Madhyamaka. So what? This dooes not mean that Shankara is a Mahayanist; on the contrary. It means that the Madhyamakas came up with a powerfull insight, which was also useful for other "schools" of thought. Maybe it's universal, or just plain human: everything changes, nothing remains the same; then what do we actually "know"? Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:00, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
If the polemics between Dvaita and Advaita would have been confined to the philosophical level (Dvaitins calling Advaitins disguised budhists for instance) i would have agreed with you. But the fact that the Dvaitins are making a personal attack on Adi Shankara himself makes it relevant for mentioning in Shankara's talk page. In Udupi, Karnataka, which is the stronghold of the priestly community of Dvaitins, the books Manimanjari and Madhvavijaya are required (compulsory) reading for those training to be priests. I'll try to find online references for this information. Soham321 (talk) 18:48, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
There's a lot we westerners don't know about Advaita Vedanta. My favorite "spiritual" bokstore in Utrecht has a great collection of books published by Motilall Banarsidass, but also a few meters of "Advaita Vedanta" - that is, neo-Advaita, Andrew Cohen and the like. The bookstore-owners don't like it, but it sells. Au Bot du Monde, another "spiritual" bookstore, in Amtserdam, has "banned" neo-Advaita to a separate shelve (shelf?). But neither stores has any serious publication on Adi Shankara or Advaita Vedanta. Truly a pity. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:08, 2 July 2015 (UTC)────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

There is a reference to the Encyclopedia extract given above in Dasgupta's book: Incidentally, the reason for Madhva's intense hostility for Advaita (which made him coin the word Manimat for Shankara and declare that Manimat had been a demon) was that Madhva had faced persecution from contemporary Advaita Vedantists. The Advaitins had stolen his library of books, and Madhav was only able to retrieve them after appealing to the local king for help. Additionally, the Advaitins (according to Dvaitins) subjected Madhva to assorted harassment which is why he counter-attacked by declaring Shankara (held in high regard by all Advaitins) to be a demon. Soham321 (talk) 19:19, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

@Joshua Jonathan: This Dasgupta's book came out about 100 years ago. I am puzzled why @Soham321 considers opinions in such dated sources as reliable. Same discussion in the Unreliable sources and other sections above. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 19:52, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Any source which is giving information that is not in agreement with Sarah Welch's personal bias seems to become an unreliable source on one ground or another (in the case of Chattopadhyaya it was because the publisher was untrustworthy--this was before i pointed out that the same publisher had published books by Romila Thapar and D.D. Kosambi). Soham321 (talk) 20:06, 2 July 2015 (UTC) Here is a recent paper published in a respected journal which uses Dasgupta's book as a reference:āṃkhya Soham321 (talk) 21:40, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soham321: Any source that is ~100 year old, or even ~50 on Adi Shankara needs to be reconsidered, no matter whether it praises or criticizes or discusses the ideas previously thought to be of Adi Shankara. The latest link from Marwaha does not discuss "Adi Shankara is a demon" accusation, anywhere. Actually, it does not discuss Shankara at all. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 01:24, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
Take a look at this peer reviewed academic resource on Indian philosophy: link Notice that this resource considers as an authority a book published in 1959 by the same publisher about whom you were complaining about earlier. The latest link is just to show that this paper written recently is accepting Dasgupta as an authoritative source. Soham321 (talk) 01:48, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soham321: Your latest link mentions Shankara twice. It reads, "Śaṅkarācārya’s Jaya-Maṅgalā — this Gauḍapāda and Śaṅkarācārya are generally thought to be different from the famous Advaitins of the same name". I do not see a discussion on "Adi Shankara is a demon" accusation, anywhere. Focus on the content, the date of publication, peer-review / editorial oversight of publisher, and reliability of the source. Not the fame of the author for that source. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 02:06, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The latest link link Link to a peer reviewed resource of Indian philosophy was a response to your constant refrain about not not using older resources. As you mentioned earlier, even 50 year old resources are not acceptable to you. And Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, as you said earlier was not acceptable to you as an authoritative source. But the peer reviewed resource at the link i gave has one reference to a 1959 book by Chattopadhyaya and another to a 1951 book by another writer. Soham321 (talk) 02:18, 3 July 2015 (UTC) And here is a link to the same peer reviewed resource which considers S.N. Dasgupta's History of Indian Philosophy, first published in 1922, as an authoritative work: Soham321 (talk) 02:22, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Let's get back to the story; I like it. But what does it tell us about those times? Advaita Vedanta only rose to prominence at the start of the Muslim era, the same time when this story apparently was written. So, what does it tell us about those times? That's interesting! Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:14, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
one important conclusion to be made about the relationship between Advaita Vedanta and early Muslim invaders in India is this. The argument goes that the widespread popularity of Advaita Vedanta for various reasons (why the Advaita Vedanta rose to prominence in India is also an important question to answer--we can have another discussion on this point) resulted in weakening the indian psyche. Advaita preaches that the world is ultimately unreal, and individuality is unkillable. When these kind of ideas start taking root in the popular imagination, it can lead to a weakening of the fighting spirit. One becomes passive. After all, why fight when the world is unreal and when nothing exists other than the all pervading Brahman(God) which is defined as pure consciousness without any attributes by Adi Shankara and other Advaitins. This point made by Shankara--about the world being ultimately unreal-- is something that has been very harshly criticized by many Indian philosophers almost from the beginning. By the way, there is one interesting corollary to Shankara's statement that the world(and everything in it) is ultimately unreal. The clear implication of this statement is that the Vedas are also ultimately unreal (since Brahman is the only reality). But he is making this statement on the basis of his interpretation of the Veda which makes it a chicken and egg kind of situation. Soham321 (talk) 04:37, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
Does Shankara state that the world is unreal, as in non-existing? This may be polemical misrepresentation of Shankara. For what I know, Shankara regards the world to be real and existing, but not ultimately real, that is, unchanging etc. It's really interesting where does presentations and interpretations of Shankara do come from. By the way, those criticisms remind me very much of criticisms directed against Buddhism. See also Zen at War. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:55, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
By the way, I can't imagine Shankara stating that the Vedas are unreal; on the contrary. The Vedas are the revelation of Brahman; they are Brahman. Interesting note: the concept/insight/understanding of sunyata also influenced Vaishnavism; see Śūnyatā#In_other_Hindu_sects. Read Susan Kahn; she really made me understand sunyata, after studying Buddhism for 25 years! Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:01, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Shankara does say that the world is ultimately unreal. Please do some reading/research on the following topics: theory of two truths, three levels of reality, definition of maya in Advaita, and definition of Brahman in Advaita. Soham321 (talk) 05:21, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

I do not see that Shankara was too far off from Buddhisim, but the main similarties with both of them was the concept of world being a "MAYA" and difference was that Shakaracharya believed the concept of a "witness" or the Atman a stable personality behind human, while the buddhists rejected this concept as well terming the mere concept initself was a "MAYA" but we have to know that both hated each other! , regarding terming an 100 year old source reliable or the new "western" interpretatin of the sanskrit scripts as "reliable" really makes no sense, we have to know the subject in itself is a philo and a man sees it according to which " floor " he is standing on and offcourse allways try to connect and make sense from his point in time so I do not see on validating something to be right or wrong Shrikanthv (talk) 05:40, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

" main currents of modern Indian thought"[edit]

I have removed the following text from the lead:

... from whose doctrines the main currents of modern Indian thought are derived.[1][2][3]


It's a very bold claim, to state that the "main currents of modern Indian thought" are derived from Shankara's "doctrines". First, what is "modern Indian thought"? Some monolithic entity without differentiation? And second, are the "main currents" of this modern thought derived from one person?

  • Sharma and Deepak Chopra were added as sources to the lead at 29 march 2012, to support the statement "Adi Shankara[...] (788 CE - 820 CE) [...] was an Indian sage from Kalady in present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta." That's a quite different statement.
  • This edit changed
"is a widely studied and influential Hindu philosopher and theologian from India who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta."
"was a Hindu philosopher and theologian from India, most renowned exponent of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, from whose doctrines the main currents of modern Indian thought are derived."
with the following edit-summary: "small correction"

It's clear that the last part of this line is not a "small correction." Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:09, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

@JJ: I recall struggling with that sentence. Glad you changed it. His role in Hinduism is significant and deserves a place in the lead. I added a sentence with sources. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 04:16, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
So, there are even sources for that statement... Nevertheless, it's a dubious statement; thanks for the precious way you solved it. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:00, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Why similarities and differences with Buddhist lens?[edit]

Surprised Shankara is viewed with Buddhist lens? It should be the other way around... Shankara's understanding of vedanta stems from Brahma Samhita and other works and not on buddhist principles... When Shankara understood Brahma sutras, etc to espouse Vedanta, and did not learn Buddhism from Buddhist gurus to form the same... If anything, the similarity / differences should be attributed to Buddhism from a hinduism lens. Being that the case, it is very likey the similarity / differences between Buddhism and Advaita could be very well due to Buddhist principles borrowed heavily from Hindu text (How unlikely this could be given Gautama was a Hindu prince) Logic would say this... It is not appropriate to look Shankara in Buddhist lens... Buddhism, Jainism and other Indic religions should actually be looked at Hinduism lens which is the only way to look at it... May be the Buddhist / Jain / Other establishment would try to disown / disclaim Hindu canons / texts and may say they have nothing to do with Hindu like beliefs, but, any such claim (due to similarly in Buddhism / Jainism etc with Hinduism that can be clearly rooted to "source" texts like Vedas/Vedangas/Upanishads) should be totally unacceptable. The only thing that can be accepted from these religion is their right to disown or accept Hindu texts as cannon... The concepts proposed (Nirvana vs Moksha) could be easily verified in Hindu texts, even if they are interpreted and presented in different words (mere technicality and semantics), but a textual verification of concepts can be established. Then Adishankara's views can be ratified clearly by looking at Hindu text and any similarity between Advaita and Mahayana would clearly link Mahayana borrowing that concept from Hindu source text and not otherwise, could be established. Why so much talk and ambiguity? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Because what we today call "Hinduism," a synthesis of various Indian traditions, originated after Jainism and Buddhism. Shankara gave an Upanishadic/Vedantic base for key concepts which were borrowed from Buddhism. There's a widespread scholarly concensus on that. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:00, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

My whole point is the impossibility of that comes actually from my question... Vedantic/Upanishidic/Brahmanas pre-date Buddhism and Jainism and the principles espoused by Shankara and other sages (both before and after) contained in Hindu texts... so, tt cannot be borrowed... The "scholarly" consensus have to re-looked (honestly, there is no "true" truth anywhere to be found even when things are this obvious) - of course, a lie can be said many times and it will become truth... Obviously, my point being on the principles of karma, soul, nirvana rebirth which existed in Hinduism in many texts (prior to Buddhism or Jainism). Things like caste, rituals obviously buddhism rejected... Instead of accepting the fact that Buddhism and other Indic religions shared / accepted similar views to Hinduism and differs obviously in the other aspects... But, elaborate effort is spent by other Indic religious establishment to paint Hinduism as the "borrower". Not sure, what is the harm in accepting this similarity with Hinduism, as that is only (counter argument to this would be true too, if that is the fact, but Hinduism borrowing will be anachronistic)... The only logical conclusion I can derive is that it will prove difficult for the establishment (of other Indic) to propagte the religion as people would question why this? if it is same as Hinduism isnt it? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:21, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

@ Welcome. Wikipedia summarizes reliable sources, striving for a neutral presentation of the different sides. As @Joshua Jonathan mentions, the "Shankara borrowed terminology and concepts from Buddhism" is indeed a broadly held view, and it must be included in this encyclopedic article on Shankara. There is another broadly held scholarly view that "Buddhism borrowed terminology and concepts from Vedic Hinduism", but that is off topic for this article. Similarly, the contesting views such as "Vedic Hinduism" of Michael Witzel, to Buddhism has been part of or an aspect of Hinduism, to Hinduism and Buddhism and Christianity are all ancient, or that all three are new words invented after 14th-century... all these are all interesting points of view, but not directly relevant to this article on Adi Shankara. Wikipedia is, at its best, a neutral encyclopedic summary of diverse viewpoints, and it is not a WP:Soapbox. So, please reread and reflect on what @Joshua Jonathan has to say above, and keep in mind the scope and focus of this article. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 15:33, 31 December 2015 (UTC)
My apologies if I sound harsh or rude; I've had too many arguments with POV-pushing editors before, so the kind of objections you;re making soon remind me of those discussions. And yes, of course it's also good to speak of "similarities" and "differences"; after all, Buddhis did not originate in a vacuum, but in an interpkay between various Indian traditions. Even better said: various traditions are partly off-shoots of the same developments in the shramanic movements. The more relevant info on Shankara is that he sort of "countered" the Buddhist influences, by using Vedic/Upanishadic sources. Though his concepts and themes are of course very recognisable for Buddhists. Don't forget that Buddhism existed for more than thousand years already when Shankara lived.
What may be of interest to you may be the concepts of sunyata and Buddha-nature, and the Tibetan discussions on these two strands of thought, as reflected in Rangtong-Shentong. While Skankara states that "the" Buddhists reject the concpet of Atman, Buddhism does contain strands of thought which are evry akin to Advaita Vedanta - or Advaita Vedanta is very akin to those strands of thought; who will tell? and, at least Tantric Buddhism was "copied" from Tantric Hinduism. So, there's a lot of nuance to this. Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 08:28, 1 January 2016 (UTC)

I think I am being on point only here.. 1) I am clear that Buddhism could have heavily borrowed in the first place - Which I don't know anybody can refute - Given the scriptures that talk about concepts of karma, rebirth etc. existed prior in Hinduism itself. 2) I am drawing from that to this point of discussion, that Shankara learned Hindu scriptures first and formulated Advaita and the similarities that is seen is similarity that Buddhism "borrowed" earlier and not the other way around... The resurgence of Hinduism happened during Sankara time mainly because of his clear cut alignment of his principles with Hindu sources (not Buddhist scriptures)... This is my main point on the thread and I have not deviated from that... But, as with anything Hinduism I suppose PR wise they lost... The "Scholars" have already agreed unfortunately... Anyway, I have nothing further to add here... Thanks for your discussion... Just want to keep it here for record. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

@ Scholars have not agreed, and the article tries to present the different sides. Most scholars agree that there are major Atman-Anatta related differences between Buddhism and Hinduism traditions such as those championed by Adi Shankara. It will be un-encyclopedic to suppress information of either side, and the mutual influences/differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. We just need to stick to faithfully summarizing the reliable sources to the best of our abilities. Ms Sarah Welch (talk) 12:28, 1 January 2016 (UTC)