• Religion

    When Shankarāchārya Composed Erotica

    Shankarāchārya’s life is full of amazing incidents, but there is one incident that I find particularly interesting. It is the story of how Shankarāchārya debated the husband-wife couple— Maṇḍana Miśra and Ubhaya Bhārati—on the primacy of Mimānsa vs. Vedanta. Aside from the significant philosophical shift that Shankarāchārya’s victory in this debate resulted in, the debate is also a watershed moment because Shankarāchārya had to debate Ubhaya Bhārati while being an sannyasi (who are forbidden from talking to women), and the topic of this debate included human sexuality (of which Shankarāchārya had no direct experience as he had entered sannyasa at the age 12). How Shankarāchārya navigated this treacherous battle, and came…

  • Overview,  Philosophy

    Advaita – The Partial Truth

    Many people who look at Vedic philosophy in current times, understand it as Advaita, which is an interpretation of Vedanta, that claims that the ultimately reality is a singular, unified existence called Brahman, from which the world is produced as māyā or illusion. The Brahman is equated with consciousness, although how consciousness comes under illusion has been a contentious issue since the time of Śaṅkarācārya who first propounded Advaita but did not provide a clear explanation of the fall into illusion. Subsequent interpretations of Vedanta have tried to address these problems, but they are generally ignored by Advaita philosophers. This post discusses the problems in Advaita, how they have been…