Naiṣkarmyasiddhi

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Naiskarmyasiddhi, NaiSkarmyasiddhi, Naishkarmyasiddhi


Famous Advaita Vedānta Philosophies

Scholars of Advaita Vedānta generally recognize four well-known treatises of advaita philosophy as belonging to a special group known as the Siddhi group. They are:

  1. Brahmasiddhi of Maṇḍana Miśra[1]
  2. Istasiddhi of Vimuktātman[2]
  3. Advaitasiddhi of Madhusudana Sarasvatī[3]
  4. Naiṣkarmyasiddhi of Sureśvarācārya[4]

Of these, the Naiṣkarmyasiddhi of Sureśvara has earned for itself an enviable place in Advaita literature not only because Sureśvara was a direct disciple of Śaṅkara but also because of its high quality. Though traditional biographies of Śaṅkara consider Sureśvara as the same as Maṇḍana Miśra after being converted by Śaṅkara, modern day scholars do not subscribe to this view.

Content of Naiṣkarmyasiddhi

The work is divided into four chapters, the total number of verses being 423. The author himself has supplied the necessary explanations and connections in simple prose wherever necessary. A brief content is as follows:

First Chapter

It has 100 Verses. The topics included in this section are:

  • Salutation to the guru
  • Avidyā or nescience, the cause of sansāra[5]
  • Karma cannot remove avidyā
  • Karma[6] is only a preliminary means
  • Jñāna[7] and karma can never go together
  • Arguments of opponents demolished

Second Chapter

It has 119 verses. It includes the following topics:

  • Ignorance of the true nature of tvam[8] is the real obstacle to realizing the identity with tat[9]
  • Greatness of mahāvākyas of Upaniṣads
  • Ātman is different from the body-mind complex
  • Scriptural authority in support of this
  • Superimposition and de-superimposition by the vision of the reality
  • Plurality is only phenomenal

Third Chapter

It has 126 verses. It explains the following topics:

  • Nescience[10] removable only by the mahāvākya tat tvam asi
  • Its three aspects
  • What the sentence really signifies
  • Reason cannot give direct experience
  • However reason helps and the mahāvākya completes the work of removing avidyā or nescience
  • Avidyā is inexplicable
  • Repetition of the mahāvākya and meditation helps in realization

Fourth Chapter

It has 78 verses. It includes:

  • Brief summary of the earlier chapters
  • Quotations from Gauḍapāda and Saṅkara in support
  • Jīvanmukti, the liberated soul and the moral law
  • Qualifications and dispositions needed in the students of this treatise
  • Conclusion

Epilogue

On the whole this work is an excellent treatise of Advaita Vedānta useful for earnest students of Vedānta and scholars also.


References

  1. He lived in A. D. 660-720.
  2. He lived in circa A. D. 1200.
  3. He lived in A. D. 1525-1632.
  4. He lived in 8th century A. D.
  5. Sansāra means bondage.
  6. Karma means rituals.
  7. Jñāna means knowledge of the ātman/Brahman.
  8. Tvam is the jīva or the individual soul.
  9. Tat is Brahman.
  10. Nescience means avidyā.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore