In Praise of SSS

Of great men and their opponents.

Only great men (magn+animus), above all others, can be the butt of bitter attacks – be it personal or to their output or works – as was the case with Hujwiri, 6th Buddhist Patriarch, Jesus of Nazareth and, in other realms, Shakespeare in England, Cervantes and Lope de Vega in Spain – and so many others. Such was also the case with, to me the best Advaitist writer of the 20th Cent., Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati. The attacks or resistance to accept their views is often motivated by envy. As it has been well-documented, there was initial resistance to accept or agree with the notion of mulavidya in the early work of Swamiji (SSS from now on) as he unfolded it.

The first to accept his account or elucidation was Ananthamurthy Sastry: ‘I realized that I should pay attention to the basic texts more than [to] the commentaries, and now I come to the realization that the opinion of Sharma (SSS) is the opinion of the Bhasyakara and is in keeping with the Shastra and Anubhava… But the other scholars stopped coming for the discussions on Mulavidya from then on’.

‘Inspired by a verse of the Bhavagad Gita, Swamiji commenced writing on ‘how the tradition of Shankara is based on this adhyaropa and apavada, how the other prakriyas are found embedded in this, and how to consider it as a common methodology. Is there any authenticity in the commentary of Shankara for all this, how people who took to logic and argumentation deviated from this path? Such people have been in the position of having a jewel box but having lost the key’. – ‘Contribution of Saccidanandendra Saraswathi to 20th Century Advaita’, S. Ranganath, p.27.

The above very brief account is reminiscent of an earlier attack on Shankara by Sri Aurobindo, who wrote among other things, ‘three times God laughed at Shankara, first when he returned to burn the corpse of his mother, again, when he commented on Isha Upanishad, and the third time when he stormed about India preaching inaction’. – (According to Sri Aurobindo the contents of the Isha Upanishad brings home the ‘uncompromising reconciliation of uncompromising extremes’. – cf. Prasthanathraya, Vol ll, V. Panoli, p. 31.)