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Authorship of Vivekachudamani

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Although one of the very popular books within the Advaita tradition,

Vivekachudamani was most likely not composed by Adi Shankara. There are numerous

facts that indicate this. Dr. A. J. Alston says the following in the notes to

his translation of the work:


"On grounds of style and terminology, it is thought today to have been composed

by some outstanding Advaitic author who lived some centuries after the great

Shankara of the commentaries. The last verse [of Vivekachudamani], which

attributes the work to "Shankara", can hardly have been composed by Shankara

himself, as it was not his practice elsewhere to name himself at the conclusion

of a work. Amongst the considerable number of terms used in the work that are

not found in Shankara´s commentaries, we might refer to the "powers of

concealment and projection" attributed to Ignorance (verses 110 to 117), the

latter conceived as a kind of entity wielding them, a conception found in

Shankara´s contemporary Mandana Mishra, but not found in his own commentaries.

In Shankara´s one independent work of known authenticity, the Upadesha

Sahasri, the terminology does not stray beyond that found in the commentaries.

The tone is fully as lofty as that of the Viveka-Chudamani, but cooler:

references to the "bliss" of the Absolute, which occur in nearly a fifth of the

verses of the Viveka-Chudamani, are sparse [...] The proliferation of different

metres in which the Vivieka-Chudamani is composed is uncharacteristic of

Shankara and his contemporaries, recalling rather Sarvajnatma Muni or the

logican Udayana, who belonged to a later age. The date and authorship of the

Viveka-Chudamani are in fact not known, but the style and flavour of the work

often recall the Yoga Vashistha. Verse 431 is manifestly a quotation of verse

3.9.12 of that work. The Yoga Vasishta is known from its references to kings of

Kashmir to have been composed towards the end of the tenth century." (The Crest

Jewel of Wisdom attributed to Shri Shankaracharya, commentary by Hari Prasad

Shastri, translated by A J Alston, p.297).

Natalia Isayeva apparently came to the same conclusions. In her book

Shankara and Indian Philosophy she claims that while Shankara´s authorship of

Upadesha Sahasri is firmly established, this is not the case regarding some

other works. Isayeva writes: "Far less probable is Sankara´s authorship of other

short treatises: Viveka-cudamani, Atma-bodha [...]". (p.98)


Moreover, in the introduction to his book on Vivekacudamani, Swami Dayananda

Saraswati says: "Even though the modern scholars have difficulty in accepting

the authorship of Sankara for this book, in the teaching tradition of Sankara

the book is used as a text for initial study. I don´t think we lose anything

even if the authorship is attributed to any other Sankaracarya of one of the

various Sankara-mathas." (Swami Dayananda, Vivekacudamani: Talks on 108 selected

verses, p.1.) Swami Dayananda´s doubts regarding the authorship are shared and

emphazised by his disciple, Dr Michael Comans. In The Method of Early Advaita

Vedanta, Comans says the follwing regarding his book: "I have not relied at all

on any works where there is considerable uncertainity concerning authorship,

such as the popular, but post-Sankara, Vivekacudamani." (p.xii)


The authorship of Vivekachudamani is discussed also by Swami Satchidanandendra

Saraswati in his monumental work The Method of Vedanta. Swami Satchidanandendra

clearly refutes the idea that Vivekachudamani is a work of Sankara, and he even

have made an attempt to identify the actual author. Swami Satchidanandendra

writes: "It [Vivekachudamani] follows a different poetical style from that of

the revered Commentator [sankara]. It frequently uses technical expressions not

found in the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Gita, expressions which only became

common in post-Sankara works. It quotes as authoritative works such as the Yoga

Vasistha and Suta Samhita, which are nowhere quoted by the revered Commentator

[sankara]. All this shows that it was not a work of Bhagavatpada / .../ it

follows the Gita Tatparyabodhini in style and all other points, and is a work of

Sri Sankarananda." (p.22)

Some further information: Sankarananda lived sometime in the 13th-14th

centuries and was not, by the way, a Sankaracarya of any of the four mathas.


Very best wishes

Stig Lundgren




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praNAms to all,

Hare Krishna


Sometime back Sri Vidyashankar prabhuji had expressed his opinion that the

vivekachudamani is definitely penned by Sri Adishankaracharya, since Sri

chandrashEkara bhArati (former sringeri jagadguru) has commented on the

same work. May be Sri Vidyashankar prabhuji throw us some more light on

this issue.


Hari Hari Hari Bol!!


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