10 Pages

A Death-Blow to Śarikara's Non-Dualism? A Dualist Refutation

Many of us, and I am no exception, have been led to assume, almost unconsciously, that Sankara is India's greatest philosopher and that the nondualist philosophy he consolidated, Advaita Vedanta, is the supreme spiritual philosophy ofIndia, if not of the ~hole world. Dualist (Dvaita) opponents like Madhva, on the other hand, have usually been appreciated very little, if at all. Several of my colleagues think of Madhva as a reactionary, if brilliant, theist whose philosophy best serves as a foil to Sarikara's. Madhva, it almost seems, is studied not for his own philosophical virtues but as a means the better to appreciate Sankara's. I believe that we must weigh more carefully the dualist position, particularly its trenchant critique of non-dualism. We may discover in the process that Sarikara, whatever else he was - brilliant stylist, mystic par excellence, deft polemicist - was not the originator or consolidator of anything like an internally consistent metaphysics.