Maṇḍana Miśra

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(7th–8th century)

An exponent of Advaita Vedānta, and, after Bhartṛhari, one of the most important thinkers in the field of vyākaraṇa (linguistic analysis or grammar). According to the hagiographies, Maṇḍana was originally a Pūrva Mīmāṃsaka exegete and a pupil of Kumārila Bhaṭṭa, but there must be considerable doubt about this, given that one of Maṇḍana's major works, the Sphoṭasiddhi (‘The Establishment of the Essence of Meaning’), sets out to assert the sphoṭa theory as the underlying metaphysical and epistemological principle of Vedānta precisely by disproving Kumārila's arguments and denying many Mīmāṃsā assumptions. Similarly, a well-known story about Maṇḍana's ‘conversion’ to Śaṅkara's form of Advaita after being defeated by the latter in a long debate, looks like sectarian propaganda, given that, initially, Maṇḍana seems to have been the better known teacher in the Advaita tradition through influential works such as the Brahmasiddhi (‘The Establishment of Brahman’), although some claim that this was composed under Śaṅkara's influence. The conflation of Maṇḍana with Śaṅkara's pupil, Sureśvara, should also be rejected.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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