By Swami Harshananda
Istasiddhi literally means ‘attaining what is desired’.
Aspects of Vedanta Philosophy
Vedanta in general and Advaita Vedanta in particular has two aspects:
- Statement of its theories
- Dialectical demolition of other schools
Works on Siddhi
There are four famous works in Siddhi category. They are:
- Brahmasiddhi of Maṇḍana Miśra (8th cent. A. D.)
- Naiskarmyasiddhi of Sureśvara (8th century A. D.)
- Advaitasiddhi of Madhusudana Sarasvatī (A. D. 1525-1632)
- Istasiddhi of Vimuktātman (circa A. D. 900)
Among the latter group of works, the Istasiddhi has earned an important place for itself. It is considered as an extremely important polemical work of Advaita Vedānta. It had been accepted as an authority not only by the later writers of Advaita but also of other schools. Major portion of the work is devoted to the analysis of the various theories of error called ‘khyāti’ and their defects. It defends the anirvacanīyakhyāti of the Advaita Vedānta. It establishes the inexplicable character of the world of māyā.
It puts forward its own theory as the fifth mode, pañcamaprakāra, in the regards of the removal of avidyā or nescience. Since avidyā is anirvacanīya or indescribable, its removal also is anirvacanīya. Even in jīvanmukti (liberation while alive), Vimuktātman feels that there is a trace of ignorance (avidyāleśa) because the continuance of vyavahāra is impossible without a certain degree of attachment towards the body and consciousness of the external world as a separate entity. The entire work is in the form of kārikās or verses and explanations in prose. Jñānottama (10th century A. D.) has written a commentary called Vivarana on it.
Advaitins attribute two other views of Vimuktātman as:
- The quantity of knowledge and nescience is equal
- The ātman binds and releases itself
- Vyavahāra means day-to-day activities.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore