By Swami Harshananda
Sañkṣepa-śāriraka literally means ‘condensed version of Brahmasutras’.
Śaṅkara lived in A. D. 788-820. Though he laid a firm foundation of Advaita Vedanta, his works do not deal with all the aspects of advaita in detail. This task was ably fulfilled by the post-Saṅkara advaitins. Among them, Sarvajñātmamuni also was the one. He is said to be a disciple of Sureśvara. Nityabodhācārya seems to be his another name. Sañksepa-śāriraka is his magnum opus. Two other treatises, Pañcaprakriyā and Pramāṇa-lakṣana are also attributed to him.
Classification of Sañkṣepa-śāriraka
According to another version, he was the disciple of Śankara and adorned the Kāmakoṭipīṭha, a monastery of advaita tradition. It is said to have been established by Śaṅkara as its second pontiff. The Sañksepaśārīraka closely follows the commentary of Śaṅkara on the Brahmasutras. It is in four chapters, written in verses of different meters as follows:
|First Chapter||563 verses|
|Second Chapter||248 verses|
|Third Chapter||365 verses|
|Fourth Chapter||63 verses|
Contents of Sañkṣepa-śāriraka
- The first chapter describes Brahman as the pure and ultimate cause of everything through ajñāna. It rests on the pure self, operates on it as its viṣaya or object, covering its essential nature and creating illusory appearances. It is in the suṣupti or the deep-sleep state that pure bliss, untainted by sorrow, is experienced.
- The second chapter further elucidates the doctrines dealt with in the first and a refutation of other schools like Sāṅkhya and Nyāya.
- The third chapter deals with the sādhanas, or means of destroying ajñāna and prepare oneself for the knowledge of Brahman.
- The last chapter describes the nature of emancipation.
Commentaries on Sañkṣepa-śāriraka
There are eight commentaries on this work of which the Tattvabodhini of Narsimhāśrama and the Sarasañgraha of Madhusudana Sarasvati are more well-known.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore