Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Religion (Indian Philosophy)
Careful study of the commentaries of both Sankara and Rāmānuja concerning the relationship between Self-knowledge and dharma confirmed the usual doctrinal differences between them which have been the focal point of scholarship on Vedānta but as well it also uncovered areas of structural convergence co-existing with the former. Accordingly this investigation proceeded on two levels: the first level was concerned with those difference in their ontologies; the second level was concerned with the "meaning-structures" common to both. Previous scholarship on Vedānta has not made reference to these areas of structural convergence. The objective of this work has been to verify how these areas of structural convergence throw light on their respective explicit positions.
The following are the major findings of this work: Whereas generally Sankara and Rāmānuja have been understood in terms of their doctrinal differences, with special attention to Rāmānuja's explicit refutation both of Sankara's māyā-vāda and his doctrine of Brahman as Nirguna, I have sought out and argued for a common ground between them. Sankara is usually understood as arguing for a radical discontinuity between Self-knowledge and dharma. I have demonstrated his implicit concession to their community is sāndhana and his use of two key categories to explain this apparent continuity: (i) Self-knowledge in its "secondary sense" as vrtti-jnana and (ii) dharma in its "primary sense" and jnana-yoga. Rāmānuja is usually understood as arguing for a continuity between Self-knowledge and dharma. I have shown his implicit emphasis on their discontinuity which is especially evident when dealing with the question of prapatti where a discontinuity is set up between dharma, understood as man's own isolated efforts and Self-knowledge, understood as Self-surrender, which is surrender to the Lord as the "eternally established means".
Two distinct but inseparable strands were discovered in both Sankara and Rāmānuja. They were respectively designated as the "explicit Sankara", the "implicit Sankara" , and the "explicit Rāmānuja" and "implicit Rāmānuja". Two major areas of structural convergence were discovered between these strands: between the "implicit Rāmānuja" and the "explicit Sankara"; and between the "explicit Rāmānuja" and the "implicit Sankara", The structural convergence between the "implicit Rāmānuja" and the "explicit Sankara" threw light on their explicit areas of agreement on the nature of dharma which they share as Vedānta. The structural convergence between the "explicit Rāmānuja" and the "implicit Sankara" threw light on their explicit areas of agreement, which they share as Vedānta, on the nature of Self-knowledge.
Areas of tension between their doctrines and methods were uncovered. The most striking example of such a tension is illustrated by Rāmānuja's explicit rejection both of Sankara's two levels of truth and of his māyā-vāda, in the context of Rāmānuja's use of methodological equivalents.
McMurtry, Shirley Anne, "Doctrines and methods used by Sankara and Ramanuja to elucidate the relation between self-knowledge and Dharma in their commentaries on Bhagavad-Gita" (1977). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 3315.