This book sets Gaudapada in Historical context and develops a commentary that makes that meaning and significance of the Alatasanti text clear. In the Alatasanti Gaudapada uses Vedantic Philosophy. It places him at the watershed between Mahayana Buddhism and Vedanta.
Among the important issues discussed are Gaudapada’s radical doctrine of non production that is the view that despite appearances nothing is ever actually brought into existence his notion of the illusory nature of sensory experience his conviction that reality is not two his theory of knowledge and the touchless yaga he hoped would dispel our illusions about ourselves and our world. His logic and the content of his arguments are examined critically.
This is a very useful and valuable work. The topic is a central one in Indian philosophy yet not many books and none in recent times have ventured to explore it. The author does a persuasive job especially given the controversial nature of the topic. The book’s chief merit is its clear and readable style. The format clearly elucidates the Ajativada of Gaudapada through critical and historical introduction summaries translations and commentary. This is a work which will not only draw general readers who are interested in Indian philosophy but also serious scholars who are concerned about textual interpretations. The translation of the text is very well done both in terms of readability and authenticity Deen K. Chatterjee University of Utah.
Douglas A. Fox is David and Lucille Packard Professor of Religion at the Colorado College.
Gaudapada is at once an enigma and a figure of extraordinary importance in the history of Indian philosophy. Scholars and devotees have argued vigorously sometimes even rancorously about whether he was a real person a school of thought or even simply a philosophical treatise. Further they debate whether if he existed he was a Buddhist or a Vedantin. The importance of Gaudapada in Hindu thought however lies beyond these questions. He or it was said to be the mentor seriously question whether the formidable accomplishment of the great Sankara would have been possible without Gaudapada.
Gaudapada offers us a glimpse into a dramatic moment in Hindu philosophy the beginning of the recovering from Buddhism of Intellectual leadership for those who acknowledge the Vedas and especially the Upanishads as authoritative. This alone would make his work valuable for the intellectual historian but he also offers us one of India’s most concrete and accessible systems of non dualism. Moreover it is one in which both the enduring strength and the alleged weakness of this position can be seen with rare clarity. This makes him an invaluable introduction to Advatic thought for even the novice.
Despite all this Gaudapada has so far had a disappointing share of the attention of western scholars.
One possible reason for his neglect is that is has not left us a large body of writing. Several extant works are traditionally ascribed to him but only three seem to merit serious consideration a bhasya on Isvarakrsna’s samkhya karikas a commentary on the Uttaragita and a Karika on the Mandukya Upanisad. The last of these is generally the most valued of the set and it must be doubted whether the other could be by the same hand as it.
The present work examines the Mandukyakraika but focuses on the fourth section after summarizing the earlier ones. The reason for this faces is that the final part has the appearance of a separate and independent work is a systematic essay on Gaudapada’s version of non dualism and is the work above all in which he resorts to Buddhist terms to expound what seems to be pre-Sankarana advaita. It is worth the attention of western schools are because it is a watershed in Hindu philosophy is engagingly controversial and is fascinating as the expression of a powerful mind.
To assist our study a fresh translation of the Alatasanti offered and this is surrounded by an historical introduction and a commentary. The introduction addresses critical issues such as Gaudapada’s relation to Buddhism his pramanas and his defense of the distinctive of ajati. It attempts to place Gaudapada in context and to offer an overview of his ideas so that the text itself may be followed easily. The commentary draws on Hindu and Western critical materials to explicate the meaning of the text in some detail.
|Part One:||Historical and Critical Introduction||1|
|Gaudapada and Buddhism||21|
|Gaudapada of conviction||41|
|Madukya Upanisad and Gaudapada’s Karikas||45|
|Summaries of Prakaranas I, II and III
Principal Ideas in the fourth Prakarana:
|Arguments for Ajati (Non- Production)||71|
|Part Two||The Text Gaudapada’s Quenching the firebrand||77|