(c.6th century ce)
Attributed to Gauḍapāda, the Kārikā is the earliest identifiable Advaita text; it takes the form of a 215-verse commentary on the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad, hence its alternative title, the Māṇḍūkya Kārikā. Śaṅkara wrote a commentary on it, and it was clearly a major influence on the development of his own thought. The Kārikā itself propounds the non-dual (advaita) nature of ultimate reality (brahman (neut.)), and the complete identity of brahman and ātman. The world of apparent change and multiplicity is ultimately an illusion (māyā), and nothing has ever really come into existence. In its conflation of consciousness and the objects of consciousness, it seems to have been influenced by the ‘mind only’ teachings of Yogācāra Buddhism. See also ajātivāda.