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172. Vācaspati Miśra


Subject Philosophy

Place Southern Asia » India

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631229674.2001.00177.x


Vācaspati Miśra (900–980 ce ) is held to have been a Maithili Brahmin and to have lived somewhere near the Nepal frontier, perhaps in present Darbhanga district. We know nothing of his life, except that his wife is said to have been named “Bhāmatī” and that Vācaspati is supposed to have named one of his works after her. The first Indian “polymath,” Vācaspati in his commentaries covers major works of the most important Hindu schools of thought of his day. He also wrote independent works on Pūrvamīmā sā and Advaita Vedānta. Vācaspati is celebrated as the founding father of one of the main post-Śa kara “schools” of Advaita Vedānta, the Bhāmatī school, so named after his commentary on Śa kara's Brahmasūtrabhā ya (see śa kara ). Śa kara'S “non-dualism” ( advaita ) postulates a single real principle, Brahman, identified with the Self ( paramĀtman ) in passages in the Upani ads, the age-old texts to which Vedānta philosophies look for their authority. For Advaita Vedānta, this single Brahman appears to be many through being apparently veiled by an unreal entity called “ignorance” ( avidyā, ajñāna, māyā ). As a result, there appear to be many individual selves ( jīvātman ) occupying a world of manifold objects, though in fact this is an illusion. Liberation from this veil of ignorance, resulting in an end to all appearance of plurality and differences among things, is attained only ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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