Avidyā: bhāva, bīja or mithyājñāna? or, the story of the eighteenth elephant

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Swami Satchidanandendra Sarasvati (1880-1975), formerly the academic Y. Subba Rao, was the South Indian author of a trilogy of important works in Sanskrit in which he introduced critical method to the study of Advaita Vedānta works, an approach normally credited to the famous German indologist, Paul Hacker. To celebrate the centenary of the publication of his Mulāvidyānirasa (‘Refutation of the concept of root ignorance’), this commissioned article re-examines his interpretation of the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep in the works of Śaṃkara (c.700 A.D.) and other Advaitins. At one level, a niche study of an obscure work in Sanskrit which occasioned considerable opprobrium amongst his contemporaries in India, my article demonstrates the importance of Satchidanandendra’s study and his engagement with key questions of memory, personal identity and consciousness that continue to engage philosophers across the world today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMūlāvidyānirasa Centenary volume
EditorsS.R. Anantha Murthy
Place of PublicationHolenarasipura, India
PublisherAdhyātmaprakāsha Kāryālaya
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019


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