Later Advaitins

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By Ramesh Krishnamurthy

This page lists key personalities in the tradition of Advaita-Vedānta after Adi Shankaracharya and his disciples, upto the 18th century. For personalities from the 19th century onwards, please see Modern Advaitins.

Nityabodhaghana

Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha from 834-848 CE, direct disciple of Sureśvarācārya.

Jñānaghana

Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha from 848-910 CE, author of the Tattvaśuddhi.

Vācaspati Miśra

Vācaspati Miśra, c. 10th century CE, was a gṛhastha scholar from the Mithilā region in modern Bihar state (bordering Nepal). He was knowledgeable in several disciplines connected to the Dharma and is traditionally hailed as a sarva-tantra-svatantra.

The uniqueness of Vācaspati Miśra was his ability to write on almost every darśana with the perspective of an insider. This is perhaps unparalleled in the history of the Dharma.

Perhaps his most well-known work is the Bhāmatī, an exposition of Adi Shankaracharya's Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya. Tradition holds that he was so engrossed in his scholarly endeavours that he paid no attention to his household responsibilities. Throughout this period his wife, Bhāmatī, served him dutifully without making any demands on his time. In recognition of her silent contribution, he named his magnum opus after her. The Bhāmatī has been an influential text with many sub-commentaries having appeared over the centuries. Together with its sub-commentaries, the Bhāmatī forms a distinct intellectual current within Advaita-Vedanta, known as the Bhāmatī school.

His well known works are:

Bhāmatī: A commentary on Adi Shankaracharya's Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya (Advaita-Vedanta)
Tattvakaumudi: A commentary on the Sāṃkhya-kārikā-s of Īśvara Kṛṣṇa
Tattvavaiśāradi: A commentary of the Yogasūtra-s (of Patañjali) and the Yogasūtra Bhāṣya of Vyāsa.
Nyāyasūcīnibandha: A treatise on Nyāya.
Nyāyavārttika-tātparya-tīkā: An explanatory treatise on the Nyāyavārttika of Uddyotakara.
Nyāyakaṇikā: A commentary on Maṇḍana Miśra's Vidhiviveka (Mīmāṃsā)
Tattvabindu: A treatise on grammar and language.

Prakāṣātman

Prakāṣātman, c.10th century CE, is well-known as the author of a Vivaraṇa to Padmapāda's Pancapādikā. The Pancapādikā-Vivaraṇa spawned a distinct intellectual current within Advaita-Vedanta, known as the Vivaraṇa school. Prakāṣātman's other works include the Śabdanirṇaya and the Nyāyamuktāvalī (a commentary on the Brahmasūtra-s).

Sarvajñātman

Sarvajñātman, c. 10th century CE, is well-known as the author of the Saṃkṣepa-Śārīraka (a concise exposition of Adi Shankaracharya's Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya). His other works include the Pancaprakriyā and the Pramāṇa-lakṣaṇa.

Jñānottama

Jñānottama was the head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha from 910-954 CE. He wrote the Vidyāśrī, a sub-commentary on Adi Shankaracharya's Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya, and the Candrikā, a commentary on the Naiṣkarmyasiddhi of Sureśvarācārya.

Siṃhagiri

Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha during the 11th century CE. The agrahāra adjoining the Śṛṅgerī Pītha is named after him.

Śrīharṣa

Śrīharṣa, c. 12th century CE, wrote the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya, considered to be one of the most difficult works in Advaita-Vedanta. The difficulty arises partly due to the extensive use of destructive dialectical methods to demolish dualistic views, and partly due to complicated Sanskrit language constructions. His other well-known work is the Naiśāda-carita, based on the story of Nala and Damayantī.

Citsukha

Citsukha, c. 12th century CE, was a disciple of Jñānottama. He was a master of destructive dialectic in the mould of Śrīharṣa, as exhibited in his magnum opus, the Tattvapradīpikā (popularly known as the Citsukhī). He also wrote commentaries on the Khaṇḍana-khaṇḍa-khādya, the Brahmasiddhi and the Naiṣkarmyasiddhi.

Ānandabodha

Ānandabodha, c. 12th century CE was the author of four dialectical works on Advaita-Vedanta written in the Navya-nyāya style viz., the Nyāyamakaranda, the Pramāṇamālā, the Nyāyadipāvalī and the Nyāyadīpikā.

Ānandānubhava

Author of the Padārthatattvanirṇaya, c. 12th century CE.

Anubhūtisvarūpācārya

Anubhūtisvarūpācārya, c.12th/13th century CE authored the Prakaṭārtha-vivaraṇa on Adi Shankaracharya's Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya, as well as a Māṇḍūkya-kārikā-bhāṣya.

Ānandagiri

Head of the Dvārakā Pīṭha during the 13th century CE, author of several ṭīkā-s and ṭippaṇa-s on the Upaniṣad-bhāṣya-s of Adi Shankaracharya. He is commonly known as the "ṭīkākāra" in the Advaita tradition.

Amalānanda

Amalānanda, c. 13th century CE, authored works on both the Bhāmatī and Vivaraṇa schools viz., the Kalpataru and the Pancapādikā-darpaṇa respectively. He was a grand-disciple of Citsukha.

Śaṃkarānanda

Śaṃkarānanda, c. 13th/14th century CE, authored several Upaniṣad-dīpikā-s (among them the Māṇḍūkya and the Kauṣītakī), as well as the Ātmapurāṇa and the Bhagavadgītā-tātparya-bodhinī.

Vidyāśaṃkara Tīrtha

More popularly known as Vidyātīrtha, he was the head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha for much of the 13th century CE, and was a great master of mantra-sāstra and yoga-sāstra. He entered into lambika-yoga samādhi in the early 14th century and was succeeded by his disciple Bhāratī Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha. The Vidyāśaṃkara temple at Śṛṅgerī was built over his samādhi-sthala. To this day, the seal of the Śṛṅgerī Pītha bears his name.

Bhāratī Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha

Younger brother of the famous Vidyāraṇya, he was the head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha for the greater part of the 14th century CE. He was the co-author (with Vidyāraṇya) of several texts on Vedānta. The Vidyāśaṃkara temple was consecrated during his reign, on the occasion of which 120 Brāhmaṇa-s were given lands to settle down in the vicinity of the maṭha. This was the beginning of the present town of Śṛṅgerī.

Vidyāraṇya

See main article: Vidyaranya

Head of the Śṛṅgerī Pīṭha from 1380-1386 CE, he is one of the greatest names in the history of Vedānta. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Vijayanagara empire and a master of mantra-sāstra and yoga-sāstra. He authored several classics including the Pañcadaśī, the Jīvanmuktiviveka and the Dṛk-dṛśya-viveka. Many of these works were co-authored with his predecessor and younger brother Bhāratī Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha.

Sadānanda Yogīndra Sarasvatī

Author of the Vedānta-Sāra, one of the most popular primers on the tradition, c.15th century CE. He also authored the Vedāntasiddhānta-sārasaṃgraha, Gītā-bhāvaprakāśa and the Brahmasūtra-tātparyaprakāśa.

Madhusūdana Sarasvatī

Another great name in the history of Vedānta, Madhusūdana Sarasvatī (c. 16th century CE) was born to the name Kamalanayana in a Kānyakubja-Brāhmaṇa family that had settled down in what is now Bangladesh. He studied Nyāya at Navadvīpa but then moved to Varanasi to study Advaita-Vedānta. Having taken saṃnyāsa, he authored several works including:

Advaita-siddhi: A polemical work addressing the arguments of the Madhva school as expounded in the Nyāyamṛta of Vyāsatīrtha
Gūḍhārtha-dīpikā: A celebrated commentary on the Bhagavad-Gītā.
Siddhānta-bindu: A celebrated commentary on the Daśaślokī of Adi Shankaracharya.
Vedāntakalpalatikā: An independent prakarana-grantha on Advaita-Vedānta containing a comparison of the views on mokṣa held by different darśana-s

Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī

Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, c. 16th century CE, authored the Vedāntasiddhānta-muktāvalī, a treatise known for its exposition of dṛṣṭi-śṛṣṭi-vāda (creation simultaneous with cognition) as an empirical theory of causality within Advaita-Vedanta.

Appayya Dīkṣita

A great Advaitin and Shiva-bhakta from the Tamil region, Appayya Dīkṣita (16th century CE) authored several works on Vedānta, Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya, including:

Siddhāntaleśasaṃgraha: An independent prakarana-grantha on Advaita-Vedānta.
Parimala: A sub-commentary on Amalānanda's Kalpataru.
Madhva-tantra-mukha-mardanam (with its commentary the Vidhvaṃśana): A polemical text addressing the Madhva school.
Śivārkamaṇidīpikā: A commentary on the Brahmasūtra Bhāṣya of Śrīkaṇṭha Śivācārya.
Śivādvaitanirṇaya and Śivatattvaviveka: Texts reconciling the Śivādvaita-Vedānta philosophy of Śrīkaṇṭha Śivācārya with Advaita-Vedānta.

Nṛsiṃhāśrama

Nṛsiṃhāśrama, (c. 16th century CE) was a prolific author from the Tamil region whose works include:

Bhedadhikkāra: "Condemnation of difference", a polemical work addressing the Madhva school
Tattvabodhini: Commentary on Sarvajñātman's Saṃkṣepa-Śārīraka.
Vedāntaratnakoṣa: Commentary on Padmapāda's Pancapādikā
Bhāvaprakāṣikā: Commentary on Prakāṣātman's Vivaraṇa
Advaitadīpikā and Tattvaviveka: Independent prakarana-grantha-s on Advaita-Vedānta.

Dharmarāja Adhvarīndra

A gṛhastha scholar from southern India, Dharmarāja Adhvarīndra (c. 16th century CE) authored the Vedānta Paribhāṣā, a widely used epistemological work on Advaita-Vedanta generally identified with the Vivaraṇa school.

Sadāśivendra Sarasvatī

Popularly known as Sadāśiva-Brahmendra, he lived during the 18th century CE in the Tamil region. A disciple of the great Paramaśivendra Sarasvatī of Kanchipuram, he was fond of philosophical debate and could easily defeat any of his opponents. Realizing that this fondness for debate could take him away from his goal of mukti, his guru advised him to refrain from argumentation. From then onwards, he maintained silence most of the time, revelling in the bliss of a jīvanmukta.

His most well known work is the Ātmavidyāvilāsa ("Bliss of Self-knowledge"), an ecstatic outpouring of a jīvanmukta. He also authored several other Sanskrit texts on Advaita-Vedanta, and composed several songs that remain popular in Carnatic classical music.

Rāmacandrendra Sarasvatī

Popularly known as Upaniṣad-Brahmayogin (18th century CE), he authored commentaries on all the 108 Upaniṣad-s listed in the Muktikopaniṣad, save those that had already been commented upon by Adi Shankaracharya.