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Shri Gaudapadacharya Statue.jpg
Adi Guru Shri Gauḍapādāchārya
Titles/honours founder of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math
Philosophy Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy

Gaudapāda (c.6th century CE[1]) (also referred as Shri Gaudapādacharya) was the author or compiler[2] of the Māṇḍukya Kārikā, a quintessential text which used madhyamika philosophical terms to delineate Advaita Vedanta philosophy.


There is some dispute about the date of Shankara, but the most probable date is in the 8th century CE, as per the evidence cited by scholars such as Bhandarkar, K. B. Pathak and Deussen.[citation needed]

Gaudapada is said to have been the teacher of Govinda, who was the teacher of Shankara. Shankara himself affirms this and quotes and refers to Gaudapada as the teacher's teacher who knows the tradition of the Vedānta (sampradāya-vit). Therefore, Gaudapada must have lived and taught during the 7th century CE.[3]

Mandukya Karika


Gaudapada wrote or compiled[2] the Māṇḍukya Kārikā, also known as the Gauḍapāda Kārikā and as the Āgama Śāstra.[note 1] The Māṇḍukya Kārikā is a commentary in verse form on the Mandukya Upanishad, one of the shortest but most profound Upanishads, or mystical Vedas, consisting of just 13 prose sentences. In Shankara's time it was considered to be a Śruti, but not particularly important.[4] In later periods it acquired a higher status, and eventually it was regarded as expressing the essence of the Upanisad philosophy.[4]

The Māṇḍukya Kārikā is the earliest extant systematic treatise on Advaita Vedānta,[5] though it is not the oldest work to present Advaita views,[6] nor the only pre-Sankara work with the same type of teachings.[6]


Gaudapada took over the Buddhist doctrines that ultimate reality is pure consciousness (vijñapti-mātra)[1][note 2] and "that the nature of the world is the four-cornered negation".[1][note 3] The 'four-cornered negation' is an English gloss of the Sanskrit, Chatushkoti. Gaudapada "wove [both doctrines] into a philosophy of the Mandukaya Upanisad, which was further developed by Shankara".[10][note 4]


Gaudapada's karika on the Mandukya Upanisad is an example of the rational epistemics of reality. His rational arguments prove the irrationality of experience. The experience of varied consciousness-states, for instance, proves that none of them can be considered to be real.[12] Gaudapada's portrayal of maya as real yet non-dual in his example of the firebrand attempts to provide a cosmological answer without totally avoiding the empirical dimension. Gaudapada's Analogy of Jars and Space clears away many misunderstandings regarding the concept of the individual and the cosmic Brahman.[citation needed]

Gaudapada's argument from dream for the unreality of all phenomenal appearances and towards monism is in chapter 2 of his Karika is an example of his epistemological method:

Verse 1. The wise declare the falsity of all objects in a dream because of the location of the objects inside (the body) and by reason of (the space) being small.
Verse 2. Besides, one does not see places by going there, for the time is not long enough. Moreover every dreamer, does not continue in that place (of dream).
Verse 4. As the dream-objects are unreal in a dream, so also, because of that very reason, the objects in the waking state are unreal....
Verse 5. Inasmuch as the diverse things are (found to be) similar on the strength of the familiar ground of inference, the wise say that the dream and the waking states are one.[13]


The Gaudapadiya Karika is divided into four chapters.

  1. The first chapter - Agama, or Agama Prakarana - explains the text of the Mandukya Upanishad and Gaudapada shows that Advaita is supported by the shruti and reason;
  2. The second chapter — Vaitathya Prakarana — is concerned primarily with rationally proving the unreality of the phenomenal world characterized by its duality and opposition, on the cessation of which non-duality is attained. Lest by a similar process of arguments reality itself should be negated;
  3. The third chapter — Adavaita Prakarana — establishes non-duality;
  4. The fourth chapter — Alatasanti Prakarana — quite distinct from the other chapters with its Mahayana Buddhist style of dialectic explains the relativity of our phenomenal experience and establishes the Atman or soul as the only reality underlying the phenomenal existence. He shows the deepest respect for the Buddha whom he salutes repeatedly, and quotes freely from Vaasubandhu and Nagarjuna.[citation needed]

Chapter One: Traditional Doctrine (Agama)

The Self manifests itself in three forms : as vishva in jagrat or the waking state, as taijasa in svapna or the dream state and as praajna in sushupti or deep sleep. As, vishva it has consciousness of the outside world and enjoys gross objects. As taijasa it has consciousness of the mental states and enjoys internal or dream objects. As prajna it is without distinctions, resides in heart and enjoys bliss. A person who understands these three forms of self is not affected even if he enjoys them. There is a fourth state of Self, called turiya. Turiya is without duality, all pervading, unchanging and is a remover of sorrow. Both prajna and turiya are non-dual, but turiya knows no sleep or ignorance and being self luminous consciousness is all seeing. "Sleep" visits individual (jiva) because of Maya and when jiva awakens it experiences turiya.[14]

Chapter Two: Unreality (Vaitathya)

The reasoning in this chapter is in consonance with reasoning in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.[15] The states of waking and dream are both identical since their objects are alike unreal because any object nonexistent in the beginning and end is nonexistent in middle too. Besides, a dreamer believes those objects which are external to him as real and those that are internal to him as unreal, though both are unreal. Likewise, in waking state both external and internal objects are equally unreal. External objects which appear to be fixed in time and internal objects which appear to be fleeting are both created by the Self through its own Maya.[15]

Chapter Three: Nonduality (Advaita)

In this chapter, the author tries to show how non-duality can give rise to apparent duality. To this end he gives the analogy of space and jars. Self is like space and the jivas are like space in jars. Just as space is enclosed in a jar, so is the Self manifested as Jivas. When the jar is destroyed the space in the jar merges into space so likewise, are jivas merged into the Self. Spaces in jars may differ in form, function and name, but still there's no difference in space. Likewise though the jivas may differ in form, function and name, still there's no difference in the Self. Just as the space in the jar is neither the transformation nor a modification nor a part of the space, the jiva too is neither the transformation nor a modification nor a part of the Self. Creation from existence (sat) or from non-existence (asat) are both unreasonable positions since, no creation takes place at all, because immortal Self can never become mortal.[17]

Jnana or awareness without conceptual constructions is declared to be Brahman. This awareness is unborn, without sleep or dream, without name and form and is omniscient. When there are no thoughts about objects, awareness rests in itself and attains equanimity. This is called contactless concentration or asparsha yoga and even the yogis are afraid of it.[18]

Chapter Four: The Peace of The Firebrand (Alatasanti)

Gaudapada refutes Sankhya's theory of causality i.e. cause itself is born as effect. He rebuts this by arguing that Sankhya cannot consistently maintain that effect is born and different from cause and nevertheless unborn and eternal. Besides, there is no example to substantiate this theory. Therefore, Gaudapada proposes the theory of Ajativada or non-origination. Ajativada holds that awareness never touches objects or appearances of objects because both objects and appearances are unreal. Moreover, Ajativada is proved by the reasoning that one who believes in origination cannot maintain that the world (Samsara) is beginningless and has an end and that liberation has a beginning and no end, because something that is by nature unborn cannot be born and something which is born must have an end. The consciousness therefore, is only reality but appears as objects like a burning stick swung about appears to be continuous. Our attachment to unreality makes the duality exist from an empirical point of view though, from a highest standpoint objects are nonexistent and unborn Self exists free from fear and sorrow.[19]

Other works by Gaudapadacharya

  • Durga Saptashati Tika — Classification of the various chapters of the saptashati
  • Uttara Gita Bhashya
  • Subhagodaya Stuti

Advaita guru-paramparā

Gaudapada is one of the key persons in the Advaita Guru Paramparā. He is traditionally said to have been the grand-guru of the great teacher Adi Shankara,[3] one of the most important figures in Vedic philosophy.

In the Indian religious and philosophical traditions, all knowledge is traced back to the Gods and to the Rishi who "saw" the Vedas. The Advaita guru-paramparā (Lineage of Gurus in Non-dualism) begins with the mythological time of the Daiva-paramparā, followed by the vedic seers of the Ṛṣi-paramparā, and the Mānava-paramparā of historical times and personalities.[web 2][note 5]

Shri Gaudapadacharya Math

Shri Gaudapadacharya Math[note 6], also known as Kavaḷē maṭha कवळे मठ, is the oldest matha of the South Indian Saraswat Brahmins.[21][22] It is located in Kavale, Ponda, Goa.

It was founded by Gaudapada around 740 AD.[23] There is also a belief that Gauḍapāda himself established the Shri Gaudapadacharya matha when he lived in Gomantak (Goa). Thus, the matha came to be known as Shri Saunstan Gaudapadacharya matha.

Unlike other mathas, Shri Gaudapadacharya matha is not a polemical center established to influence the faith of all Hindus, its jurisdiction is limited to only Dakshinatya Saraswat Brahmins.

The Peetadhipathi "head monk" is Śrī Gauḍapadācārya. Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins and Smartist Goud Saraswat Brahmins are its main disciples.[24]

See also

List of Math


  1. Nakamura notes that there are contradictions in doctrine between the four chapters.[2]
  2. It is often used interchangeably with the term citta-mātra, but they have different meanings. The standard translation of both terms is "consciousness-only" or "mind-only." Several modern researchers object this translation, and the accompanying label of "absolute idealism" or "idealistic monism".[7] A better translation for vijñapti-mātra is representation-only.[8]
  3. 1. Something is. 2. It is not. 3. It both is and is not. 4. It neither is nor is not.[web 1][9]
  4. The influence of Mahayana Buddhism on other religions and philosophies was not limited to Vedanta. Kalupahana notes that the Visuddhimagga contains "some metaphysical speculations, such as those of the Sarvastivadins, the Sautrantikas, and even the Yogacarins".[11]
  5. The following Sanskrit Verse among Smarthas provides the list of the early teachers of the Vedanta in their order:[web 3][20] "नारायणं पद्मभुवं वशिष्ठं शक्तिं च तत्पुत्रं पराशरं च व्यासं शुकं गौडपादं महान्तं गोविन्दयोगीन्द्रं अथास्य शिष्यम्
    श्री शंकराचार्यं अथास्य पद्मपादं च हस्तामलकं च शिष्यम् तं तोटकं वार्त्तिककारमन्यान् अस्मद् गुरून् सन्ततमानतोऽस्मि
    अद्वैत गुरु परंपरा स्तोत्रम्"
    "nārāyanam padmabhuvam vasishtam saktim ca tat-putram parāśaram ca
    vyāsam śukam gauḍapāda mahāntam govinda yogīndram athāsya śiṣyam
    śri śankarācāryam athāsya padmapādam ca hastāmalakam ca śiṣyam
    tam trotakam vārtikakāram-anyān asmad gurūn santatamānato’smi
    The above advaita guru paramparā verse salute the prominent gurus of advaita, starting from Nārāyaṇa through Adi Sankara and his disciples, up to the Acharyas of today.
  6. Sanskrit: श्री संस्थान गौडपदाचार्य मठ, Śrī Sansthāna Gauḍapadācārya Maṭha


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Raju 1992, p. 177.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Nakamura 2004, p. 308.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Potter 1981, p. 103.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Nakamura 2004, p. 280.
  5. Sharma, C. (1997). A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0365-5, p. 239
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nakamura 2004, p. 211.
  7. Kochumuttom 1999, p. 1.
  8. Kochumuttom 1999, p. 5.
  9. Garfield 2003.
  10. Raju 1992, p. 177-178.
  11. Kalupahana 1994, p. 206.
  12. Gauḍapāda Ācārya; Śaṅkarācārya; Nikhilananda, Swami; V Subrahmanya Iyer (1990). Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad : with Gauḍapāda's Kārikā and Saṅkara's commentary. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. ISBN 81-7505-022-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Gaudapada. Karika. Advaita Ashrama. pp. 61–65. ISBN 8175050993.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Potter, p. 106.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Potter, p. 107.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Mandukya Upanishad translated by Vidyavachaspati V. Panoli.
  17. Potter, p. 109.
  18. Potter, p. 110.
  19. Potter, p. 111-113
  20. Book: Shri Gowdapadacharya & Shri Kavale Math (A Commemoration volume). P. 38.
  21. Shri Gowdapadacharya & Shri Kavale Math (A Commemoration volume). p. 10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. | Under Page: Biographical Notes About Sankara And Gaudapada
  24., Title: About Kavale matha.


Published sources

  • Bhatta, Rathnakara (2013), Shree Shankarayana (May. 2013), pp. 190–380.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Garfield, Jay L.; Priest, Graham (2003), Nagarjuna and the Limits of Thought, Philosophy East & West Volume 53, Number 1 January 2003 1–21 (PDF)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1994), A History of Buddhist Philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kochumuttom, Thomas A. (1999), A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience. A New Translation and Interpretation of the Works of Vasubandhu the Yogacarin, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy. Part Two, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Gauḍapāda Ācārya; Śaṅkarācārya; Nikhilananda, Swami; V Subrahmanya Iyer (1990). Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad : with Gauḍapāda's Kārikā and Saṅkara's commentary. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. ISBN 81-7505-022-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Potter, Karl. H. (1981), Gaudapada, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Advaita Vedānta up to Śaṃkara and his pupils, Volume 3, pp. 103-114, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0310-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Raju, P.T. (1992), The Philosophical Traditions of India, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. Anthony Peter Iannini (2001), Nāgārjuna’s Emptiness and Pyrrho’s Skepticism
  2. "The Advaita Vedânta Home Page - Advaita Parampara". 5 May 1999. Retrieved 10 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Dvivedi, Manilal N. (2003), The Mandukyopanishad: With Gaudapada's Karikas and the Bhashya of Sankara, Jain Publishing Company<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fox, Douglas (1993), Dispelling the Illusion, Albany: SUNY Press<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jones, Richard H. (2014), Gaudapada: Advaita Vedanta's First Philosopher, New York: Jackson Square Books<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Nakamura, Hajime (2004), A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy. Part Two, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • King, Richard (1995), Early Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism: The Mahayana Context of the Gaudapadiya-Karika, SUNY Press<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Isaeva, N.V. (1995), From Early Vedanta to Kashmir Shaivism: Gaudapada, Bhartrhari, and Abhinavagupta, SUNY Press<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links