By Swami Harshananda
Aṇubhāṣya literally means ‘the tiny commentary’.
The Upaniṣads contain the highest of philosophical thoughts. Since they are not the works of a single author and do not appear to propound a single system of philosophical thought, Bādarāyaṇa-Vyāsa, through the Brahmasutras stream-lined and systematized their thoughts. However, this work is not easy to understand without the support of a commentary due to his use of aphorisms.
Several ācāryas have wrote expositions on it to show how it expounds the system of philosophy that they adhere to. Saṅkara, Rāmānuja and Madhva are considered to be the chief of those ācāryas.
Madhvācārya (A. D. 1238-1317) the chief exponent of the Dvaita Vedānta (dualistic Vedānta) is reputed to have written four works on the Brahmasutras:
The Anubhāsya, as the very name indicates, is a very small (aṇu = tiny) metrical work comprising 32 ślokas (verses) in the simple anuṣṭubh metre, divided into four chapters of 8 ślokas each. This is said to have been composed by Madhva for the convenience of his disciples who were in the habit of reading the entire bhāṣya on the Brahmasutras before taking their food.
- The first chapter expounds the greatness of Lord Viṣṇu, who is the source of all beings and things.
- The second chapter brings out the untenability of interpretations of the Upaniṣaḍic passages by other schools like the Sāṅkhya.
- The third chapter extols jñāna (knowledge of God) and advises the aspirants to eschew evil deeds and perform only good deeds. An important doctrine that is set forth here is that there is gradation even in mukti (liberation).
- The last chapter describes ways of attaining mukti.
Anubhasya is also known as Sarva- śāstrārtha-sañgraha and has several commentaries by Jayatirtha, Ananta Bhaṭṭa, Rāghavendra Tirtha and others.
Vallabhācārya (A. D. 1481-1533) another of the well-known ācāryas of the pluralistic schools, has written a commentary on the Brahmasutras called Anubhasya which, again, has a few sub-commentaries.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore