By Swami Harshananda
Appayya Diksita (A. D. 1520-1592)
One of the few most versatile writers on Advaita philosophy, Appayya Diksita was born in a village near Kāñcīpuram (Tamil Nadu), probably in A. D. 1520. A scion of a family of great scholars, he was tutored by his father Raṅgarāja Adhvarin and by Yajñeśvara Makhīndra.
Bhatṭoji Dīkṣita was the author of the well-known textbook of Sanskrit grammar and Siddhānta Kaumudi was his pupil. Nīlakaṇṭha, the famous commentator of Mahābhārata was his grandson.
Being an orthodox brāhmaṇa deeply devoted to the Vedic culture, he is said to have performed the Jyotiṣṭoma and the Vājapeya sacrifices for the good of mankind. King Narasimha Bhṅpāla of Tanjore attended the latter and honored him. Appayya Dīkṣita toured the south extensively and propagated both Śaivism and Advaita Vedānta.
Traditional anecdotes attribute many miraculous powers to him which he had to exhibit, to counter the evil designs of Tātācārya, a contemporary Vaiṣṇavite scholar. Governor Cinna Bomma Nāyaka of Vellur (16th cent. A.D.) was a devoted disciple of his. He is reputed to have shed his mortal coil in the famous Cidambaram temple in a mysterious way.
Appayya Dīkṣita was a prolific writer and composer. In all, he composed 104 works. The subject included Śaivism, Advaita Vedānta, grammar, tantra and hymnology. Out of these, the three works on the Brahmasutras and a treatise on the various aspects of Advaita are well-known. They are as follows :
- Nyāyaraksāmani - It is an independent commentary on the first pāda or quarter of the Brahmasutras from the standpoint of Advaita.
- Parimalā - It is a simple but detailed gloss on the Kalpataru of Amalānanda, which itself is a gloss on Vācaspati Miśra’s famous work Bhāmatl. Bhāmatī is a subcommentary on Śaṅkara’s Bhāṣya on the Brahmasutras. These have created a new school of Advaita, known as the ‘Bhāmatī-prasthāna.’ 0The three commentaries are :
- Sivārkamanidipikā - A commentary on the Śrikantha-bhāsya of Brahmasutras, written from the standpoint of Sivaviśiṣṭādvaita.
- Siddhāntaleśasañgraha - An original treatise dealing elaborately with the various aspects of Advaita doctrines developed by the post-Saṅkara writers. This work has attracted the attention of a number of scholars who have written commentaries.
- Kuvalayānanda - A work on rhetoric is studied as a standard text-book even today.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore