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Vijñānabhikṣu (also spelled Vijnanabhikshu) was a Hindu philosopher from Bihar, variously dated to the 15th or 16th century, known for his commentary on various schools of Hindu philosophy, particularly the Yoga text of Patanjali. His scholarship stated that there is a unity between Vedānta, Yoga, and Samkhya philosophies, and he is considered a significant influence on Neo-Vedanta movement of the modern era.
He wrote commentaries in the 15th century on three different schools of Indian philosophy, Vedānta, Sāṃkhya, and Yoga, and integrated them into a nondualism platform that belongs to both the Bhedabheda and Advaita (nondualism) sub-schools of Vedanta. According to Andrew Nicholson, this became the basis of Neo-Vedanta. His integration is known as Avibhaga Advaita ("indistinguishable non-dualism"). His sub-commentary on the Yoga Sutras, the Yogavarttika, has been an influential work.
According to Andrew Fort, Vijnanabhiksu's commentary is Yogic Advaita, since his commentary is suffused with Advaita-influenced Samkhya-Yoga. Vijnanabhiksu discusses, adds Fort, a spiritually liberated person as a yogic jivanmukta.
... certain thinkers began to treat as a single whole the diverse philosophical teachings of the Upanishads, epics, Puranas, and the schools known retrospectively as the "six systems" (saddarsana) of mainstream Hindu philosophy.
The tendency of "a blurring of philosophical distinctions" has also been noted by Burley. Lorenzen locates the origins of a distinct Hindu identity in the interaction between Muslims and Hindus, and a process of "mutual self-definition with a contrasting Muslim other", which started well before 1800. Both the Indian and the European thinkers who developed the term "Hinduism" in the 19th century were influenced by these philosophers.
Little good work has been written in English on Vijñānabhikṣu, and most of the texts in his large corpus have yet to be edited and published in Sanskrit, let alone translated into English.
Some major texts attributed to Vijnanabhiksu include:
- Vijnanamritabhashya ("The Nectar of Knowledge Commentary", commentary on Badarayana's Brahma Sutras)
- Ishvaragitabhashya ("Commentary on the Ishvara Gita")
- Sankhyasara ("Quintessence of the Sankhya")
- Sankhyasutrabhashya ("Commentary on the Sankhya Sutras" of Kapila)
- Yogasarasamgraha ("Compendium on the Quintessence of Yoga")
- Yogabhashyavarttika ("Explanation of the Commentary on the Yoga Sutras" of Vyasa)
- Ganganatha Jha, Yogasarasamgraha of Vijnanabhiksu, New Delhi: Parimal Publications, 1995.
- José Pereira, Hindu Theology: A Reader, Garden City: Doubleday, 1976. Includes translated excerpts from Vijnanamritabhashya and Sankhyasutrabhashya.
- T. S. Rukmani, Yogavarttika of Vijnanabhiksu, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1981.
- Nandalal Sinha, The Samkhya Philosophy, New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, 1979. Contains a complete translation of Vijnanabhikshu's Sankhyasutrabhashya.
- Shiv Kumar, Samkhyasara of Vijnanabhiksu, Delhi: Eastern Book Linkers, 1988.
- Unifying Hinduism (book)
- T. S. Rukmani (1978), VIJÑĀNABHIKṢU ON BHAVA-PRATYAYA AND UPĀYA-PRATYAYA YOGĪS IN YOGA-SUTRAS, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 5, No. 4 (August 1978), pages 311-317
- Andrew O. Fort (2006), Vijñānabhikṣu on Two Forms of "Samādhi", International Journal of Hindu Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Dec., 2006), pages 271-294
- Jeaneane D. Fowler (2002). Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism. Sussex Academic Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-898723-93-6.
- T. S. Rukmani (1988), VIJÑĀNABHIKṢU'S DOUBLE REFLECTION THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE YOGA SYSTEM, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 16, No. 4 (DECEMBER 1988), pages 367-375
- Nicholson 2007
- Edwin Francis Bryant; Patañjali (2009). The Yoga sūtras of Patañjali: a new edition, translation, and commentary with insights from the traditional commentators. North Point Press. pp. 190, 239. ISBN 978-0-86547-736-0.
- Nicholson 2010.
- Borelli, John (1978). "Vijnanabhiksu and the Re-Assertion of Difference-in-Identity Vedanta". Philosophy East and West. 28 (4): 425–437. doi:10.2307/1398647. JSTOR 1398647.
- Andrew O. Fort (1998). Jivanmukti in Transformation: Embodied Liberation in Advaita and Neo-Vedanta. State University of New York Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-7914-3904-3.
- Nicholson 2010, p. 2.
- Burley 2007, p. 34.
- Lorenzen 2006, p. 24-33.
- Lorenzen 2006, p. 27.
- Lorenzen 2006, p. 26-27.
- Sato, Hiroyuki (1989). "Vijñanabhiksu's Theory of Mutual Projection". Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies. Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies. 37 (2): 945–943. doi:10.4259/ibk.37.945.
- Burley, Mikel (2007), Classical Samkhya and Yoga: An Indian Metaphysics of Experience, Taylor & Francis
- Lorenzen, David N. (2006), Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion in History, Yoda Press, ISBN 9788190227261
- Nicholson, Andrew (2007), "Reconciling Dualism and Non-Dualism: Three Arguments in Vijñānabhikṣu's Bhedābheda Vedānta", Journal of Indian Philosophy, 35 (3): 2007, pp 371–403, doi:10.1007/s10781-007-9016-6, S2CID 170439037
- Nicholson, Andrew J. (2010), Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History, Columbia University Press
- Daniel P. Sheridan, "Vijnanabhikshu", in Great Thinkers of the Eastern World, Ian McGready, ed., New York: Harper Collins, 1995, pp. 248–251.
- A General Idea of Vijñāna Bhikṣu’s Philosophy, Surendranath Dasgupta, 1940
- Chapter one of Vijnanabhiksu's Ishvaragitabhashya (Sanskrit only; PDF Format).