Vedanta is based mainly on the mystic thoughts of the Upanishads, made intellectually comprehensive and impeccable by Sankara and Sureswara. Though Advaita had been taught from the dawn of human civilization, it was only Sankara who made it the foundation and structure of neo-Hinduism as the post-Buddhist Hinduism is called by Western writers. The complexity of Vedic Karma had been the main cause of Buddhist success, rather than its supposed new message. Buddha taught the Upanisadic message in the local dialect as the understood it, just as much as Nanaka, Kabira did in the later centuries. Being a difficult topic, the later followers, cut off from the personal touch of the Great master and not having he traditional lore available to them, mis-construed the message in a natural way. Just as snow-ball gathers both momentum and mass as it moves along a slope, so also a mistake, for ignorance is the basic stuff of everything psychological as well as material. Sankara saw through this, and hence in reviving the message of the Upanisads he followed the middle path of presenting a logical approach in the language of the day viz. classical Sanskrit, but presenting it as a commentary on the original so that any misconstruction in future is avoided. History is a living proof that the message has survived a dozen centuries or more in its pristine purity. Sankara and Sureswara also gave us a new orientation to the Karma which was the foundation of Vedic Karma, but without the complex ritual attached to it. They made Karma intellectually comprehensible and morally impeccable. Thus a superficial reader sees an antagonism between Vedic Karma and Jnana in the writings of Sankara and Sureswara, specially the latter who has exhausted the incompatibility of the two in his present Vartika, but a serious reader perceives the goal to which Sureswara is driving the aspirant. He establishes Karma as the foundation for Jnana, and shows its utter inefficacy if it does not serve this purpose. To Sureswara it is the psychosis of the identity of Brahman with the soul and the world that is the summum bonum of life and the intent as well as the content of the Veda.
Sureswara was the fittest person to bring out this unanimity, for he was master of both the Mimamsas. As the disciple of Kumarila Bhatta, the rejuvenator of the Purva Mimamsa or the science of the Karma portion of the Vedas, he had extensively commented on it in his life as a householder, and was considered a great authority of Mimamsa in his own right. He is still one of the greatest authority quoted in that branch. On entering the monkhood he had the opportunity of lapping the thoughts flowing from the lips of the great rejuvenator of Uttara Mimamsa or the science of the Knowledge portion of the Vedas, the great Sankara himself. His is regarded as the last word in that branch. Thus he has the right to interpret the connection between the two seemingly conflicting branches of the Vedic lore. Undoubtedly what he says is in the same line as Manu, Yajnavalkya, Vyasa and of course Bhagawan Sri Krsna. But he says it in such a logical way that the later writers seem to echo his thoughts without making any major contribution in its content. One must remember that it is Advaita which has brought in its fold such great mimamsakas as Vacaspati, Partha Sarathi, Madhava and Appaya. This is mainly due to the presentation of its philosophy by Sureswara, following the footsteps of Sankara.
Tradition maintains that Mandana had to be converted to Advaita through Sastrartha or dialogue, since he was an addict to rituals. But once converted he was equally true to Advaita, never wavering in his extensive writings even a millimeter from his master in the tenets of philosophy. This shows that the Sastrartha was not of the type as indulged in later times as mere intellectual gymnastics, but it was to discover the truth. Even so some people doubted his honesty, and put obstacles in his commenting on the Brahmasutrabhasya. But his Brhadaranyakavartika which is half the size of Valmiki’s Ramayana, extending as it does to 12,000 verses, without any narration, but solid spiritual theology, has been the most authoritative interpretation of the Great Master Sankara, and there is no doubt that it has not left untouched any branch of Vedic philosophy. Though printed in the last century, it has been long out of print. Thus the present edition needs no apology. Fortunately another annotation has been published in the mean time and it has been utilized wherever it shed new light, but since Ananda Giri is far more comprehensive and enlightening, apart from being exhaustive and voluminous, it was not thought necessary to include Vidyasagari in toto. Panditaraj S. Subrahmanya Shastri has given copious notes wherever Giri was elusive, apart from throwing new light on various topics. We are sure this edition will be a must for every student of Advaita philosophy. It has been a privilege for Mahesh Research Institute of Vedanta to publish the present edition’s 1st. volume containing the Sambandha Vartika and the Vartika on the 1st. and 2nd. chapters of Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, The 2nd. volume containing the rest will follow soon. It contains the text of Upanisad and Vartika, giving reference to the exact Bhasya passages referred by Vartika, an innovation not found in the earlier edition, to facilitate the cross references, the authoritative comments of Ananda Giri, and notes from Nyayakalpalatika or Vidyasagari along with those of the editor. The Vartika is often referred as Brhad Vartika for not only in size but in the scope it is really magnum, not leaving anything out which is of value to a spiritual seeker.
According to the ancient tradition Vartika is a commentary that repeats all that is said in the text in its own words, adds all that is left out by the text on any topic and points out the difficulties and inconsistancies etc. of the text an resolves them harmoniously with the text, giving an alternative interpretation if necessary. The present work justifies the definition completely. The purport of Bhasya is explained scrupulously and brilliantly. In etc. he adds to the information given by Bhasya, and also gives several alternative interpretations. There are innumerable instances of this even in the first volume. Sambandha Vartika can be sighted in toto for this.
Sureswara regarded Sankara as God Himself, and venerated his Guru with the highest reverence, hence the question of finding fault with the Bhasya was as distant from his mind as could possibly be. Hence Ananda Giri reads in place of Sureswara says that he had nothing but faith in his master as his guide in writing this work. But in spite of all this he has intellectual honesty and courage of conviction to disregard his personal devotion in search of Truth. But such topics, where he differs, are of minor importance as far as the spiritual structure is concerned, and are generally extension of the master’s thought, or trials towards a more rational interpretation of the same concept. Certainly Sureswara was a liberal and catholic interpreter of Sankara, as compared to some others of the later times. One must remember that the traditional biographers of Sankara have recorded that Vartika was ordered to be written by him, heard in toto and approved by him. So the question of heterodoxy or heresy is out of question. Sankara if anything approved of the alternative innovations of his great disciple. The greatness lies in discovering the greatness of others as much as inducting it in them. It was for nothing that Sankara tried so hard to convert Mandana into Sureswara. Vedanta certainly would have been poorer if he had not entered the order.
Mandana was born in Mahismati on the banks Narmada. Even to this day a temple dedicated to Siva called Mandaneswara Mahadeva exists there. After his conversion as Sureswara he was appointed as