Sacred Texts  Hinduism  Index  Previous  Next 

Dakshinamurti Stotra, translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri, [1920], at


p. v

This volume comprises the following works literally translated into English with explanatory comments:

i. S’rî S’ankarâchârya's Dakshinamurti-Stotra, an ode to the Divine Self, with Sri Suresvaracharya's exposition named Mânasollâsa’ "Brilliant play of thought."

ii. S’rî Suresvaracharya's Pranava-Vartika treating of the contemplation of the Supreme Atman by means of the Pranava.

iii. Dakshinamurti-Upanishad.

S’ankaracharya's immortal Hymn and the two works of Suresvarâchârya herein comprised epitomise the whole Vedânta Doctrine as expounded by the two authors in their commentaries on the Upanishads, and form a good introduction to a study of the subject. As a terse expression of the fundamental truths of the Vedânta, the well-known Hymn of S’ankaracharya forms a suitable text upon which the student may meditate and thereby construct the whole doctrine for himself. The reader will also be struck with the catholicity of the teaching, which is not addressed to any particular class of people nor contains any reference to distinctions of caste and religious order. While concisely stating the process by which the oneness of Self and the unreality of all else is established. Mânasollâsa is more original and telling than any of the later manuals which state the doctrine as derived from the expositions of the two eminent leaders of the Advaita-Vedanta school of thought.

Very little need be said regarding the high position which S’ankaracharya holds among the teachers of

p. vi

the Vedic Religion. Of Suresvaracharya, however, his immediate disciple and literary collaborator, ordinary students of Vedanta know less than they ought to, simply because his writings have long remained inaccessible to all but the very select few who entered the fourth order of sannyasa and were intellectually qualified to study the highly erudite exposition of philosophy and metaphysics. Suffice it to say that, according to all received accounts, the great aim of S’ankaracharya's missionary peregrinations was to secure the eminent mimamsaka's allegiance to his own system of Vedanta. The nature of the work to which this disciple is said to have been detailed by the Teacher, and the masterly fashion in which he has done it,—the work, namely, of elucidating systematising, supplementing and even improving upon the great Master's teachings,—more than justifies the honourable position which tradition has unanimously accorded to him. He is known as the Vartika-kara, author of elucidative commentary on the teachings of S’ankaracharya who is known as the Bhäshyakāra, author of original commentaries. "Vartika" is defined as follows:

Uktànuktaduruktarthavyaktakari tu vartikam.

"A vartika is that which clearly explains what has been said, what has been left unsaid, and what has been ill said." Five works of the kind are attributed to Suresvaracharya, all of them having been recently published in India:

(1) Manasollasa (Mysore).*

(2) Pranava-vartika ( ” ).*

(3) Naishkarmya-siddhi, a manual of Advaita doctrine (Bombay Sanskrit Series).

p. vii

(4) An exposition of Sankaracharya's commentary on the Taittiriya-Upanishad (Poona, A’nandasrama Series).

(5) An exposition of Sankaracharya's commentry on the Brihadaranyaka-Upanishad (Poona, A’nandasrama Series).

Suresvaracharya's exposition of the Vedanta Doctrine is often very original and is throughout marked with such thoroughness, precision, and clearness that it forms a very valuable supplement to the teachings of the Upanishads; and its authority on all knotty points is acknowledged with due reverence and submission by all the Advaitic writers of later days.

As an effective aid to a right understanding of the truths taught in the Vedanta, Sankaracharya's Hymn as well as Sruti inculcates highest devotion to the Divine Being as the Guru of Gurus, and an equal devotion to one's own immediate Guru who should be regarded as an incarnation of that Guru of Gurus. The Dakshinamurti-Upanishad shows in what form Siva, the Guru of Gurus, should be imaged and devoutly worshipped in the heart by the neophyte who is about to engage in a contemplation of the truths taught in the hymn. The style of the Upanishad is in perfect keeping with the character of the Minor Upanishads described in my introduction to "the Minor Upanishads, Vol. I."

As Sures’varàcharya's Manasollasa refers to various philosophical systems of his day, I have thought it necessary to add an introduction to it treating briefly of the origin, methods, and fundamental tenets of the several systems referred to, so that the reader may have a comprehensive view of the whole range of Indian

p. viii

philosophy, at whose summit, towering high above all, stands Vedanta, the pinnacle of Aryan thought.

A. Mahadeva Sastri

24th May 1899.

Next: Preface to the Second Edition