From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sarvadarśanasañgraha literally means ‘an abridged version of all the philosophical systems’.

Origin of Bhāṣyas[edit]

Various systems of philosophy have their own basic scriptures, mostly in the form of sutras or aphorisms. Since they were too laconic to understand clearly, later followers of those schools brought up in that tradition, wrote bhāṣyas or commentaries on the same. These were further followed further by sub-commentaries to elucidate the subtler and finer points of the doctrines and also the arguments for and against them.

List of Bhāṣyas[edit]

For an earnest student who wanted to know only the essentials of these systems there were no brief compendiums or summaries available in one place. This prompted several scholars of the later period to produce such treatises. The following is a list of such compendiums available now:

  1. Prasthānabheda by Madhusudana Sarasvatī in A. D. 1490-1580.
  2. Saddarśananirnaya by Merutuṅga in 14th century A. D.
  3. Saddarśanasamuccaya by Rājaśekharasuri in 13th century A. D.
  4. Saddarśanasamuccaya by Haribhadrasṅri in 750 A. D.
  5. Sarvadarśanakaumudī by Mādhava Sarasvatī in 14th century A. D.
  6. Sarvasiddhāntapraveśaka by a Jaina muni in 12th century A. D.
  7. Sarvasiddhāntasañgraha by a Śaṅkarācārya of a Sāṅkarite monastery.
  8. Sarvamatasañgraha edited by Gaṇapatistri. The author is unknown.
  9. Sarvamatasañgrahavilāsa by Rāmasubrahmaṇyācārya.
  10. Vivekavilāsa by Jinadattasuri in 1200 A. D.

Significance of Sarvadarśanasañgraha[edit]

The Sarvadarśanasañgraha of Mādhava is not only the best of such compendiums but also unique in many ways. It's peculiarities are as follows:

  • It deals with each of the systems as its protagonist himself would have done in it's sixteen chapters.
  • The language is elegant prose, interspersed with appropriate quotations.
  • The systems treated here are:
  1. Cārvāka
  2. Bauddha
  3. Ārhata or Jaina
  4. Rāmānuja or Viśiṣṭādvaita
  5. Purṇaprajña or Dvaita
  6. Nakulīśa Pāśupata, a form of Saivism
  7. Śaiva
  8. Pratyabhijñā or Kāśmīr Saivism
  9. Raseśvara or glorifying mercury
  10. Aulukya or Vaiśeṣika
  11. Akṣapāda or Nyāya
  12. Jaimini for Purvamīmānsā
  13. Pāṇini for philosophy of śabda or sound
  14. Sāṅkhya
  15. Pātañjala for Yoga
  16. Saṅkara for Advaita

Whether the author Mādhava is the same as the sage Vidyāraṇya or the son of Sāyaṇa,[1] is a point of debate for the scholars. But no clinching evidence has been offered on behalf of either.


  1. Sāyaṇa lived in A. D. 1315-1387.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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