On Vyāsa and the authorship of the Saṅkarṣakāṇḍa

(apologies in advance for the lack of diacritics, I am home, ill, with no access to a unicode keyboard)

The Sankarsakanda (henceforth SK, about which see here) is an enigmatic text thought to complete the Mimamsa Sastra, after the Purva Mimamsa Sutra (henceforth PMS) and before the Uttara Mimamsa Sutra (or Vedanta Sutra, henceforth UMS).

As for its origin, several witnesses speak of the SK as having been authored by Jaimini (e.g., the first commentator of the SK, Devasvamin; the Vrttikara’s quote mentioned by Ramanuja, the Prapancahrdaya, Madhusūdana Sarasvatī and Śambhubhaṭṭa), whereas the Sarvasiddhantasamgraha attributes it to Vyasa, together with the UMS (see Kanazawa, p. 41). The Sarvamatasangraha might depend on the Sarvasiddhantasangraha when it also attributes both the SK and the UMS to Vyasa, but it adds a new nuance, that is, it states that they both deal with brahman, saguna and nirguna respectively. Vedanta Desika refers to the SK’s author as Kasakrtsna, the name of an ancient Mimamsaka of whom no other work has been preserved.
In a learned and insightful study of 2012, Ashok Aklujkar has supported this attribution, on the basis of the fact that:

1. The name “Sankarsa” does not need to refer to the author and anyway all evidences mentioning such a Sankarsa mention him as the commentator of the SK, not as its author.

2. The attestations (e.g. in the Vrttikara’s quote preserved in the SriBhAsya and in the Sesvara Mimamsa) regarding the SK as jaiminiya only mean “connected with Jaimini’s PMS” and not “authored by Jaimini”.

3. Kasakrtsna is a suitable candidate, being an ancient Mimamsaka, and there is no other way to explain the attribution of the SK to him, given that he was neither well-known nor influential (in other words, attributing the SK to him does not resemble the attribution of the Yogabhasya to Vyasa and similar cases).

A few elements may be added to Aklujar’s learned reconstruction (which, by Aklujkar’s own assumption, limits itself to the extant SK and does not take into account the SK-devatakanda).

1. Venkatanatha clearly needed the SK–devatakanda in his attempt to show the unity of the Mimamsa sastra and its theistic core.

2. In this connection, the attribution of the SK to Vyasa, with the underlying assumption that the same brahman was dealt with under two different perspectives might have suited him best.

3. However, his illustrious predecessor, the Vrttikara, had attributed it to Jaimini.

Hence, the forceful interpretation of the Vrttikara’s quote and, possibly, the resort to an “intermediate” position among the various ones Venkatanatha may have been exposed to at his time.

What do you think? Who was the author of the SK? And is there just one SK?

On the SK, see this post, this post and this one

About elisa freschi

My long-term program is to make "Indian Philosophy" part of "Philosophy". You can follow me also on my personal blog: elisafreschi.com, on Academia, on Amazon, etc.

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