Upanishadbrahmendra


The four Padas of each chapter are equated with the further sub-divisions resulting from the admixture of the phases in the second principle of classification, Virat-virat, Virat-sutra and so on. The colophon of I. i of his index of the Adhikaranas run: akarasthulamsakaramatrarudhadya – padasyadhikaranasamkhya––11, iti vairaje prathamah padah.

In the further colophons, we come across equations of other Padas of the Sutras with Nada, Bindu, Kala, Kalatita, Santi, Santyatita, Unmani, Puri (Vaikhari?), Madhyama, Pasyanti and Para. Upanishadbrahmendra’s work on the Brahma-sutra should not be judged by the above concordance alone; at the end of this short work, he says that he wrote a commentary on the Sutra, following Sankara’s Bhashya of course, in 3500 granthas. The manuscript of this remains to be identified and studied; it may be in the form of a commentary on the Sangraha of the Sutra mentioned above; it is at its end that the author mentions the commentary. brahmasutra-brahmatara-siddhanta-vivritih krita, bhashyasangrahasiddhantavyakhyanagranthasangrahah, panchasato’parilasat trisahasramitirbhavet.

The independent Vedantic Prakaranas of the author may now be noticed. Over a dozen of these are known and as in the case of other works, here too the texts bear the author’s own commentaries. The Tattvampadarthaikyasataka in one hundred Anushtubhs, published in the Adyar Library Bulletin, with an Introduction by the present writer, brings out the full implication of the great Mahavakya, tat tvam asi, working out, step by step, the manifestation of the Brahman as the Saguna Brahman, the individual souls and the universe through Maya, the three Gunas, etc. The work may be studied on the background of the older texts, Panchikarana, Vakyavritti, etc.

The other Prakaranas, with his own commentaries, are Karmakarmaviveka with Nauka, Tripattattvaviveka, Paramaksharaviveka, Paramadvaitasiddhantaparibhasha, Paramadvaitasudarsanaviveka, Bhedatamomartandasataka, Lingabhangamuktisataka, Sattasamanyaviveka and Vivriti, Svarupadarsanasiddhanjana, Kaivalyashtaka and Siddhantaslokatraya. From what has been said already in connection with his concordance of the Brahma-sutra and its Adhikaranas, it would be clear that our author had a fancy for correlations and equations of the different phases of Brahman, of spiritual pursuit and indeed of the texts of Vedanta with the phases of Pranava. On the path of Sadhana, he was a worshipper of Pranava and Nada, which as we shall see below, led him to music. Tara (Pranava) and its four aspects figure out all over his commentaries and Prakaranas.

A certain number of works of his is especially devoted to this approach: Antahpranavavivriti, Bahyapranavavivarana, Brahmasarashodasabhumika, Brahmapranavarthaprakasashodasabhumika, Brahmapranavadipika, Viratpranavavivriti, exposition of Pranava and its phases as signifying srishti, sthiti and samhara and a series of devotional formulae related to the phases of Pranava which will be mentioned in a further section. The tradition of combining Bhakti towards forms of Saguna Brahman, with Advaita has had a long history.

Many Advaitic writers have not only composed appealing Stotras but also written treatises on the doctrine of devotion and the efficacy of reciting and adoring the Lord’s Name (Naman). Upanishadbrahmendra’s other works, to be dealt with now, belong to this field of Bhakti, Namasiddhanta and music compositions on his Ishtadevata. Bhaktisvarupaviveka is on the general doctrine of Bhakti. The Bhagavatasamgrahastuti summarises the stories of the twelve Skandhas of the Srimad Bhagavatapurana in the form of a Stotras, comparable to the Narayaniya. Another devotional work of his is the Sivamanasapuja. Upanishadbrahmendra’s Ishtadevata was Rama. In Rama-Bhakti literature, he takes a conspicuous place. He wrote a commentary on the Adhyatmaramayana, a treatise on Rama’s worship called Ramarchanachidvidyachandrika, a Ramarchana embodying the meaning of the Upanishadic Mahavakyas and a hymn Ramachandradayashtaka.

On the Lord’s Name as Saviour (Taraka) and its recital, he wrote the Namarthaviveka or Upeyanamaviveka (text and commentary) in which, besides dealing with all the doctrines of this school, Upanishadbrahmendra enunciated the idea that the name Rama is composed of the vital syllables of both the Narayana ashtakshari mantra (RA) and the Siva Panchakshari mantra (MA). The present writer has recently edited this work, with a critical Introduction, in the Adyar Library Bulletin. A sequel of this is the practice of Bhajana, singing songs in praise of the Lord and also formulae describing the Lord in a string of epithets and expressing devotion to the Lord, Namavalis and Divyanamasamkirtanas. What Upanishadbrahmendra did in this line could be classified into three groups.

While all of the compositions in this category are on Rama, one set comprises longer poetic pieces to be rendered in elaborate music and following the model of the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva and the Krishnalilatarangini of Narayanatirtha, viz., the Ramashtapadi and the Ramataranga with Ramatarangaslokas and Ramatarangachandrodaya6. Another comprises a number of Ramagitas giving expression to his ideas on the phases of Brahman-sutra, Bija, Turya, etc. The third set is represented by the Namavalis which are found under the names Narayanataranamavali, Pranavanamavali, Vyavaharikapranavanamavali and so on. The largest corpus of our author’s compositions in this group is the Divyanamasamkirtana consisting of vocatives addressed to Rama both as Supreme Brahman and as Saguna Brahman.

A complete Index of this mass of Upanishadbrahmendra’s Divyanamasamkirtanas, with mention of the Ragas used, is given by the present writer in his paper on our author in the Journal of the Music Academy, Madras, already referred to. In these, as also in his Upeyanamaviveka, he says that devotion to Rama must be done in Advaitabhavana, with the contemplation of one’s self being identical with the Supreme Being: svananyadhiya tannamasmritih syat; ramo’ham ahameva rama iti bhavayet. At his Agastyesvara Asrama, he had put up a flag, as it were, inviting everybody to step in, participate in the great Satra of devotional singing of the songs and Namavalis composed by him, which was going on incessantly there and appease their spiritual hunger. Of this Muktisatra established by him, he says in the beginning of Ramataranga:

Kanchyamagastyesagrihagneyasimhasanopari, pratishthitam muktisatram dhvajasthapanapurvakam, madiyasiddhasamkalpam jnatva ye bhusuradayah, nirankusaste kurvantu mattarangadikirtanam, ahanyahani satrannabhuktitastriptireshyati, sakrinmatsatrabhuktya tu samtriptirjayate sada.

With all this activity, Upanishadbrahmendra proved quite an inspiration in his time of the votaries of the twin paths of devotion and music. In fact tradition current in the world of Karnatic music says that during his visit to and stay in Kanchi, the great composer Muttusvami Dikshita (A.D. 1776-1835), who wrote his songs in Sanskrit, was asked by Upanishadbrahmendra to set the tunes to the latter’s Ramashtapadi. The manuscripts of the songs of Tyagaraja (A.D. 1767-1847), the other great Karnatic composer and other literary materials that belonged to him, which are preserved now in the Saurashtra Sabha, Madurai, contain the Srimukha or call sent by Upanishadbrahmendra to Tyagaraja, asking the latter to visit Kanchi. The influence of Upanishadbrahmendra and his ideas and even expression on Tyagaraja, who also adored Rama with music, is clear and this has been already pointed out by the present writer in his Introductory thesis in the Spiritual Heritage of Tyagaraja and his critical Introduction to the Upeyanamaviveka.

There are some more songs of Upanishadbrahmendra which show that he went on pilgrimage to the Cola-mandala and sang on the deities at Chidambaram, Tiruvayyaru (Tyagaraja’s place) and Srivanchyam. Upanishadbrahmendra was thus ceaselessly active. He is one of the most prolific writers in the recent history of Advaita and Bhakti. An authentic exponent of Sankara’s Advaita, he yet introduced several minor ideas and correlations; and this he worked out on the basis of what were already found in the earlier authentic literature, but they became a special characteristic of his writings. With his piety and spiritual exercises, he combined a practical outlook which explains not only the collection of manuscripts in his Matha, but also the care taken by him to mention at the end of each work of his its extent in terms of the number of granthas. Many of his works still remain to be studied and a connected account of his ideas will form a useful piece of research.

HH Pujyashri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswati Shankaracharya Swamiji performs Viswaroopa Yatra on Tue- 25th Sep. Yatra commences at around 4.30 pm from Shrimatam. The Viswaroopa Yatra was performed on the Bhadrapada Poornima (25 Sep this year), signifying the conclusion of the Chaturmasya Vratam – that begins with the Vyasa Pooja on the Ashada Poornima day. Yatra danam is performed at Shrimatam after which, Pujyashri Acharya proceeds on the Vishvaroopa Yatra in a procession of devotees, dundubhi , and mangala vadyam. After crossing the perimeter of the Kanchipuram Town(this year, towards the Western perimeter at the Kasi Viswanatha Swamy temple on the banks of Sarvateertham Tank), Lord Krishna is invoked with the Shloka Vasudeva sutam Devam, Kamsa Chanoora Mardanam I, Devaki Paramanandam Krishnam Vande jagadgurum II and Sri Krishna Pooja is performed. After this, the XI Chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita is chanted, as per customs. Important verses are repeated by the assembled gathering. The puja concludes with deepa Aradhana for Lord Krishna. Devotees can participate in the Yatra, and bring the XI Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita along with them and join in the chanting.



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1 reply

  1. Upanishad Brahman Mutt and his Adhistanam are in Kanchipuram. There are almost no pujas there and it is in poor condition. See photos in this blog
    https://www.columbuslost.com/temples/Upanishad-Brahmendra-Mutt-and-Maha-Samadhi-Temple-in-Kanchipuram/info

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