Monday, 8 December 2014
VEDANTA AND THE VEDANTA-SUTRAS
VEDANTA AND THE VEDANTA-SUTRAS
After the above-mentioned sutras, we now come to the Vedanta-sutras. When it comes to Vedanta, many commentaries on it revolve around the Brahman. The Brahman generally means the all-pervading, self-existent power. The word brahman is based on the root word brah, which means vastness, power or expansion. It also denotes the Supreme Being, as well as the atman, the living being, who, when freed from the body, becomes situated on the level of Brahman, or the spiritual nature. The concept of the Brahman was, for the most part, first elaborated in the Upanishads. Therein we begin to find descriptions from which our understanding of it grows. It is described as invisible, ungraspable, eternal, without qualities, and the imperishable source of all things. (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.6-7)
It is explained that Shankara’s advaita doctrine was based on the famous passage in the Chandogya Upanishad (6.10.3), tat tvam asi, meaning “That thou art.” He taught that “thou and that” were not to be regarded as object and subject, but as identical, without difference (a-bheda), like the real self (atman). Thus, anything that was variable, like the body, mind, intellect, and ego are objects of knowledge and not the atman.
These concepts were more fully explained on the basis of the Vedanta-sutras. The Vedanta-sutras are a systemization of sutras or codes for understanding Vedic knowledge. As you know, they are short codes that are later to be explained by the spiritual master, guru or spiritual authority. By themselves, without further explanations, it is not easy to fathom their depths. So it is these commentaries that contain the additional information about such things as the Brahman.
Vedanta means the conclusion of the Veda or end of all knowledge. Vedanta is also known as Uttara Mimamsa, or later examination, and is a companion to the Purva Mimamsa, or preliminary examination. The Purva Mimamsa deals with the early portions of the Vedas and the Uttara Mimamsa deals with the latter portions. The Vedic tradition, unlike other religions and philosophies, is rooted in such remote antiquity that its origin cannot be fully traced. The Vedic literature explains that it exists in the form of eternal spiritual vibrations and is present both within and outside the universal creation.
Vedanta has been the most influential of the seven main systems of Eastern philosophy. Though the name Vedanta is often taken to indicate the impersonalist, nondual or Mayavada school of thought, it is essentially dualistic theism, but various commentaries have interpreted it to mean different things. It was the Sariraka-Bhasya commentary by Shankara that established the Vedanta as a nondualistic philosophy, meaning that the ultimate reality is but one. In this regard, the Brahman and the Atman (individual souls) are identical, and the Brahman is the Absolute Reality from which everything manifests and back into which everything merges. This interpretation has gained much respect and influence, but is not the only or ultimate viewpoint of Vedic literature, as will be explained.
The Vedanta-sutras are like short, condensed bits of information used as reminders for the spiritual master in his discussions on Vedic philosophy with a student or disciple. Each line, therefore, is meant to be elaborated upon by the spiritual master for the understanding of the student.
Vedanta means “the end of knowledge,” or the final conclusion of the Vedic philosophy. The Vedanta-sutras are also called the Brahma-sutra, Sariraka, Vyasa-sutra, Vedanta-darshana, Uttara-mimamsa, as well as Badarayana-sutra. Vyasa and Badarayana are two names for the same person who is considered to be the author and compiler of the major portions of Vedic literature.
The Vedanta-sutras are divided into four chapters with four divisions each. In each division the theme within is stated, reasons for it are given, examples are supplied to uphold the presented facts, the theme is then explained further for clearer understanding, and finally authorized quotations from the Vedas are supplied to support it. In this way, the information is given in a format meant to show the authenticity and reliability of the Vedic viewpoint.
The first two chapters discuss how the material world manifested from the Supreme and the relationship between the living entity and the Supreme. The third chapter explains how one engages in the prescribed duties to perform and how to act according to the loving relationship we have with the Lord. The fourth chapter describes the result of such devotional service (or bhakti), which is ultimately to attain liberation or return to the spiritual world.
The first verse of the Vedanta-sutras states: “athato brahma-jijnasa”, which means, “Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth.” Why is it time? Because we are presently in the human form of life and should utilize it properly since only in the human form do we have the intelligence and facility to be able to understand spiritual reality. In animal forms, the living entities cannot understand such things because they do not have the brainpower. So we should not waste this human form of life by pursuing only the animalistic propensities, such as eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Therefore, the Vedanta-sutras begin by stating that now is the time for us to understand the Absolute Truth.
The Vedanta-sutras, however, being written only in codes, can be somewhat vague and requires a commentary to elaborate and explain the aphorisms. Practically speaking, some of the codes are fairly unclear for anyone who is not experienced in Vedic philosophy. And since Vedanta comprises the purport of the Upanishads which contain knowledge of both the personal and impersonal aspects of the Absolute, which commentary on the Vedanta-sutras you read can make a big difference. Some commentaries sway toward the impersonal understanding of the Absolute, while other commentaries sway toward the personal realizations. Obviously, to reach a mature understanding in this regard, we need to comprehend both of these viewpoints. In fact, it is stated that unless one understands all the features of the Absolute Truth, namely, the impersonal Brahman, the localized Paramatma or Supersoul, and ultimately the Supreme Personality of God, Bhagavan or Krishna, one’s knowledge is imperfect.
After studying the previous portions of the Vedic literature, only when we arrive at this Brahma-sutras or Vedanta-sutras of Srila Vyasadeva do we find an emphasis on doing bhakti-yoga, or devotional activities, for realizing God. This means that God is ultimately the Supreme Person from whom there is the imminent loving exchange that can be attained by lovingly surrendering to Him. That devotion and emotional absorption in God is the process for becoming free from the illusory attraction and attachments to the material world. This paves the way for genuine liberation from worldly existence.
There have been many commentaries written on the Vedanta-sutras. The most influential were by such famous acharyas as Shankara, Bhaskara, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Vallabha, Madhva, and Baladeva. So let us review a few of these to get a better view of the development of the advaita and dvaita philosophies.
Let me point out here that the Vedic process has a unique system of checks and balances found nowhere else. This involves what you could call the three “S” system, namely sadhu (saintly devotees), shastra (Vedic texts) and spiritual master or acharya. If you ever want to know if you are taking the right path and are not being mislead, you use this system. This means that any truth that you are given must be verified by these three sources of guru, shastra and sadhus. Even if a guru tells you something that cannot be verified in the shastra or by other sadhus, then it should be questioned or taken with caution. Sadhu, shastra and spiritual master must all verify the points in order to be considered authentic and truth. So now we are going to read about what some of the most prominent acharyas or spiritual authorities have said about what the ultimate reality is and how to understand it.
One of the most influential was Shankara (509-477 BC, though others have said 788-820 AD). He was a follower of Shiva, born of a South Indian brahmana family in the town of Kaladi, on the banks of the Periyar River. His father’s name was Shivaguru, and he lost his father at a young age. When he was only eight years old he finished his studies of all the scriptures and took sannyasa from Govinda who stayed on the banks of the Narmada and was a disciple of Gaudapada, the author of Mandukya-karika, a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad. Not long after that he left for Varanasi, and then for Badarikashrama in the Himalayas. There he stayed until his twelth year. While there he wrote his commentary on the Brahma-sutra, as well as on ten Upanishads and Bhagavad-gita. He continued to travel and preach and made many disciples. He left this world at the early age of thirty-three.
He established four main maths, or schools of study. These were at Dwaraka in the west, Jagannatha Puri in the east, Badrinatha in the north, and Shringeri in the south. These have records of their original establishment and list all of the successive acharyas who followed from the time of Shankaracharya. One of these lists, such as the one displayed at the Kamakoti Shankara Math in Kanchipuram, date back to 477 BC, thus dating earlier than the time of Christ.
Shankaracharya’s two major works are the Vivida-cudamani and Sariraka-basya. When Shankara appeared, Buddhism and anti-Vedic thought had spread throughout India because it had been patronized by Emperor Asoka in the third century B.C., and the followers of Buddhism had given up the Vedas. The Buddhist philosophy establishes that the material creation is the only manifestation of the Absolute Truth, which itself is temporary and brought on by egoistic desires. It is asserted that these desires must be eliminated for one to enter back into the void. The void itself is said to be all that is real and eternal, and the source from which everything manifests. Shankara’s purpose, therefore, was to reform and purify religious life by re-establishing the authority of the Vedic scriptures. His interpretation of the Vedas is known as advaita or nondualistic because he taught that the individual jiva or soul is identical with God, and that there is ultimately no variety, no individuality or personality in spiritual existence. The individuality of both the Supreme Being and the jiva, according to him, is false.
In order for Shankara to teach like this, he had to ignore the many statements in the Vedic literature which assert that the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Person and the jivas are His subordinate parts. Therefore, by word jugglery, he developed a twofold theory that Brahman consists of the pure impersonal Brahman, and that any incarnation of God within this universe is simply a manifestation of that Brahman. This was a complete rejection of the personalistic teachings found in some of the Vedic literature, such as Bhagavad-gita, and in this way he differed with all orthodox Vedic schools at the time. Like Buddha, he also refused to answer questions about the origin of the cosmos and said that maya, the illusory energy, was inexplicable.
This Mayavada philosophy teaches that the material world is false and the impersonal Brahman, or great white light or spiritual force, is the ultimate truth. One merges back into the Brahman, where there exists no activities or spiritual characteristics, after giving up the ego or bodily consciousness. Therefore, we find that impersonalists generally do not study the Vedas beyond the Vedanta-sutras because as we progress through the Vedic literature up to the Puranas, it becomes more specific about the personal characteristics of the Absolute Truth and the individual nature of the jiva souls, which contradicts the impersonal viewpoint.
We must point out that some spiritual authorities say that Shankaracharya was an incarnation of Lord Shiva who had been ordered by the Supreme Lord to cheat the atheists. The Shiva Purana quotes the Supreme Lord as ordering Shiva: “In Kali-yuga mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings from the Vedas [Vedic literature] to bewilder them”:
dvaparadau yuge bhutva
svagamaih kalpitais tvam ca
janan mad-vimukhan kuru 1
The Padma Purana also says that Lord Shiva would descend as a brahmana sannyasi and teach Mayavada philosophy in the verse:
mayavada ashat shastram prachchanna
boudhyam uchyate moya ebe godidam
devi kalou brahmana murtina
To do this, Shankara gave up the direct method of Vedic knowledge and presented an indirect meaning which actually covered the real goal of Vedanta. This is confirmed in the Padma Purana where Lord Shiva addresses his wife, Parvati:
shrinu devi pravaksyami
patityam jnaninam api
atra ca pratipadyate
naiskarmyam tatra cocyate
“My dear wife, hear my explanations of how I have spread ignorance through Mayavada philosophy. Simply by hearing it even an advanced scholar will fall down. In this philosophy which is certainly very inauspicious for people in general, I have misrepresented the real meaning of the Vedas and recommended that one give up all activities in order to achieve freedom from karma. In this Mayavada philosophy I have described the jivatma and Paramatma to be one and the same.”
The Padma Purana, in the quote that follows, describes how Lord Shiva tells his wife, Parvati, that he would appear in Kali-yuga to teach the impersonalistic philosophy, which is impious and merely a covered form of Buddhism. Yet, as explained next, there was a purpose for it.
pracchannam bauddham ucyate
mayaiva kalpitam devi
kalau brahmana rupini
brahmanas caparam rupam
nirgunam vaksyate maya
sarvasvam jagato’py asya
mohanartham kalau yuge
vedante tu maha-shastre
mayaiva vaksyate devi
“The Mayavada philosophy is impious. It is covered Buddhism. My dear Parvati, in the form of a brahmana in Kali-yuga I teach this imagined Mayavada philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists I mislead them by describing the Supreme Lord to be without any personal form or qualities.” 3
Herein, Lord Shiva himself points out that to believe God has no form is not accurate and is equal to atheism. Even though this Mayavada philosophy was not good for pious people to hear because it would sway them toward an impersonalistic viewpoint, we should note that Shankara’s philosophy was just right for the time and circumstance. The Buddhists, who had spread throughout India and neglected the Vedas, believed in neither a soul nor a God and that, ultimately, the essence of everything is the nothingness or void wherein lies nirvana, freedom from all suffering. So considering how the Buddhists had followed a philosophy of what would generally be considered atheism for hundreds of years and would never have accepted a viewpoint which advocated a supreme personal God, Shankara’s was the only philosophy they would have considered. It was like a compromise between atheism and theism, but Shankara used portions of Vedic knowledge as the basis of his arguments. In this way, as Shankara traveled throughout India his arguments prevailed. Thus, Buddhism bowed and Vedic culture was brought back to prominence. Therefore, his purpose was accomplished, so much so that his Sariraka-bhasya is considered the definitive rendition of Vedanta even to the present day.
Several times, however, Shankara revealed his true beliefs, that he was actually a devotee of Lord Krishna. For example, in the first verse of his Vivida-cudamani he explains that it is Krishna Himself who is the source of the supreme bliss and the Divine Master to whom he offers obeisance. Furthermore, in his birthplace of Kaladi there is a temple near the samadhi tomb of his mother that has a Deity of Lord Krishna that was installed by Shankara himself. So why would he give his mother the facility to worship Krishna if he was also not in favor of such a view? Also, in his Gita-bhasya, the first verse explains that Narayana (another incarnation of Lord Krishna), or Bhagavan, is transcendental to the material creation. In The Bhagavad-gita with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracarya, (p.6) Dinkar Vishnu Gokhale establishes that Shankara writes in his Meditations on the Bhagavad-gita: “Salutations to thee, O Vyasa [the incarnation of Krishna who compiled the essential Vedic literature]. Thou art of mighty intellect, and thine eyes are as large as a full-blown lotus. It was thou who brightened this lamp of wisdom, filling it with the oil of the Mahabharata.”4 Shankara also readily points out that it is Bhagavan Krishna “whose glories are sung by the verses of the Vedas, of whom the singers of the Sama sing, and of whose glories the Upanishads proclaim in full choir.”5
This would seem to indicate that Shankara was encouraging everyone to read Bhagavad-gita and Mahabharata as written by Srila Vyasadeva to understand the conclusion of spiritual knowledge. This would also give evidence that Shankara’s own personal beliefs were different from the philosophy that he taught. There is no evidence that makes this more clear than texts eight and nine of his Meditations on the Bhagavad-gita as follows:
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the transcendental, blissful husband of the Goddess of Fortune, whose mercy turns the dumb into eloquent speakers and enables the lame to cross mountains. Let all obeisances be unto the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, whom Brahma, Varuna, Indra, Rudra, the Maruts, and all divine beings praise with the divine hymns of the Vedas and their supplementary parts, such as the Upanishads, whom the followers of the Sama-veda glorify with song, whom great mystics see with their minds absorbed in perfect meditation and of whom all the hosts of demigods and demons know not the limitations. To Him, the Supreme Lord, let there be all obeisances.
Near the end of his life, Shankara wrote his Bhaja Govindam prayers. Verses 1 and 34, which are the conclusive verses in these prayers, are often overlooked by his followers. Yet they were written especially for those who might miss the actual purport of the Vedas. He wrote in verse one, “Worship Govinda [another name of Krishna], worship Govinda, worship Govinda, you intellectual fools. At the end of your life all your grammatical arguments will not help you.” And again in verse 34 he writes: “Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool. Other than chanting the Lord’s names, there is no other way to cross the material ocean [of birth and death].”
In the final book that Shankaracharya wrote, the Prabodh Sudhakar, he established his true philosophy. He pointed out that God has two eternal forms, which are both personal and impersonal, that latter of which is difficult to realize. The supreme form is the beautiful and divine Lord Krishna, who appeared on this earth in the Yadu dynasty. Without devotion to Lord Krishna, one’s heart cannot be fully purified. Thus, as he says, it is one’s own ill fortune if one is not attracted to the form and pastimes of Lord Krishna.
In this way, even Shankaracharya emphasized that it is Krishna who is the Supreme form of God, and that the supreme form of God-realization is through the process of worshiping Him and chanting Krishna’s holy names, which is the sure way of liberation from material existence.
Ramanuja (A.D. 1017-1137) did not accept Shankara’s Mayavada interpretation of the Vedanta-sutras and sought to expose Shankara’s contradictory arguments which were actually in defiance of the real Vedic conclusions. He felt there was little difference between Shakara's philosophy and the Buddhists. Ramanuja wrote over forty books, but the three major commentaries for which Ramanuja is most known is his Vedanta-sangraha, which is on the Vedas; the Sri-bhasya on the Vedanta-sutras; and Bhagavad-gita-bhasya, which is on Bhagavad-gita. His prominent theme is his opposition to impersonal monism, especially of Shankara, and the support of Vaishnavism, worship of the one God Vishnu or Bhagavan Sri Krishna.
Ramanuja’s interpretation of Vedanta, as related in his Sri Bhasya commentary, establishes that God is one and the soul is a part of God, but that it remains individual in nature even after liberation from the body, rather than merging into the Absolute. This is called vishishthadvaita. He also explains that the process for liberation includes surrendering to the personal form of God.
Ramanuja accepted that the Supreme and the individual living entities are one in spiritual quality, but the individual souls are very small and God is unlimited, and between them is a relationship based on bhakti, or spiritual love. By logical reasoning, he taught that just as the jiva controls his own body and uses it as an instrument, God controls the whole material creation as well as the jiva souls within. The soul is eternal and after being liberated from material entanglement lives in an eternal spiritual body. The soul is the eternal servant of God, in which case the soul becomes fully happy after meeting and engaging in service to God. This, therefore, is the goal of the Vedic spiritual process.
Madhvacharya (A.D. 1239-1319) was another prominent philosopher who wrote a commentary on the Vedanta Sutra and the Gita, along with more than thirty other books. He was also a Vaishnava who worked to combat Shankara’s impersonal philosophy. Madhava accepted the renounced order of sannyasa when he was only eleven years old. He studied the Vedanta and after traveling to the Himalayas, he met Vyasadeva who still lives in the mountains and who taught him to teach the glories of Vaishnava bhakti. Thereafter, he traveled around the country and established the importance of bhakti through his talent of debating with scriptural evidence.
Madhva’s interpretation of Vedanta, as found in his Tatparya Nirnayas, also presents Vedanta philosophy as dualistic (dvaita), similar to Ramanuja’s but more developed. Madhva taught pure dualism and that there are three energies: the spiritual, marginal and inferior. The Lord is of the superior spiritual energy and controller of all other energies. The living entities are the marginal energy since they can be engrossed spiritually or materially. And the material energy is inferior due to its temporary nature. The Lord and the living entities are eternal and always distinct, but the Lord is always completely transcendental to the material world. The Lord is the ultimate cause of the creation, maintenance and annihilation of the material manifestation, thereby being completely independent while the living entities are completely dependent on the Lord. They remain bound up in material energy by the result of their own karma or activities based on their fruitive desires. But Madhva pointed out that through bhakti, devotion to God, people could eliminate their karma and reawaken their real spiritual identity and return to their natural position in the spiritual world.
Nimbarka also delivered a commentary called Vedanta Parijata Saurabh based on the dualistic idea. He was born in South India, somewhere near the Godavari River, but it is not known exactly when. The tradition is that he was initiated by Narada Muni, another eternally living sage. In his commentary he establishes that God is one with but separate from each soul. This is called the dvaitadvaitvad philosophy. This means that God and the individual souls are spiritual in quality, yet God is infinite, and the living entities are infinitesimal. Nimbarka also explained that Radha-Krishna are the ultimate form of God, and the basis of the topmost spiritual development is devotion to Radha-Krishna.
Vallabhacharya (1478-1530) also wrote a commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, called the Anu Bhashya. He also wrote on the Bhagavatam, along with a few other books, which emphasized that the Bhagavatam is the essence of all spiritual and devotional knowledge. His philosophy is called shuddhadvaita vad, or pure monism. This established that Krishna was the supreme form of God, and that the soul is not merely a part of God’s energy, but is qualitatively the same as God, but small in potency. Furthermore, Krishna gives a person everything for spiritual development when one surrenders with love to Him. This knowledge is said to have started from Lord Shiva (Rudra), and came down to Vishnuswami, then Gyanadeva, Nath Dev, and on down to Vallabhacharya. This is why it is also called the Rudra sampradaya or disciplic succession.
Vallabhacharya was born in Raipur. By the time he was eleven years old he went to Kashi to study under Madhavendra Puri and became well educated in the knowledge of the Vedic scripture. After staying for a time in Vrindavana, he traveled to the major holy places of India and spread the understanding of devotion to Lord Krishna. After he returned to Vrindavana he started the temple of Sri Nathji at Govardhan. He established a structured form of Deity worship centered around the Deity of Lord Krishna. When he was 28, he was married and had two sons, Gopinatha and Vitthalnath. Vitthal became known as Goswamiji and started six more temples, of which four are in the area of Vrindavana, two in Kamban and one in Gokul. Kashi was the home to Vallabhacharya the last years of his life. It is said that once during bathing in the river, in front of hundreds of people, a big bright light appeared near him and he ascended up into the sky and disappeared into the spiritual world.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (A.D. 1486-1534) also strongly opposed Shankara’s Mayavada philosophy and established the principle of achintya-bhedabheda-tattva. This specified that the Supreme and the individual soul are inconceivably and simultaneously one and different. This means that the Supreme and the jiva souls are the same in quality, being eternally spiritual, but always separate individually. The jivas are small and subject to being influenced by the material energy, while the Supreme is infinite and always above and beyond the material manifestation.
Sri Chaitanya taught that the direct meaning of the Vedic shastras is that the living entities are to engage in devotional service, bhakti, to the Supreme, Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Through this practice there can develop a level of communication between God and the individual by which God will lovingly reveal Himself to those who become qualified. In this understanding, the Vedic theistic philosophy of Vaishnavism reached its climax.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is considered and was established by Vedic scripture as the most recent incarnation of God, did not become much involved in writing. In fact, He only wrote eight verses called the Shikshastaka, but His followers compiled extensive Sanskrit literature that documented His life and fully explained His teachings. However, it is one of His followers, Baladeva Vidyabushana, who wrote a commentary on the Vedanta-sutras called Govinda-bhasya. (See Appendix Three for more information about Lord Chaitanya)
Baladeva Vidyabushana also wrote a very important commentary on the Vedanta called Sri Bhasya, and established the individual nature of the soul. Baladeva had met Pandit Sri Radha-Damodara, a disciple of Sri Rasikananda Deva, who was a great follower of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Radha-Damodar instructed Baladeva in the pastimes and teachings of Sri Chaitanya and the Vaishnava Gaudiya tradition. Later Baladeva went to Vrindavana to stay with Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur to continue his progress.
One day in the royal court in Jaipur, the Ramanuja pandits were arguing that the Gaudiya line did not have any written commentary on the Vedanta. In other words, without a written commentary, they were not viewed as authorized. So the Ramanuja Pandits said the Gaudiya Vaishnavas should simply join them since they were an authorized line with their own written commentary. The Jaipur king, who was also a follower of the Gaudiya line, sent word of this to Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur asking that if there was a commentary it should be sent at once. Sri Vishvanatha was too old and infirm to go, so he sent Baladeva to Jaipur.
Baladeva was an excellent scholar and challenged the Ramanuja pandits in the huge assembly. Even after much debate, none of them could stand before Baladeva’s conclusions. However, he said that the Gaudiya Vaishnava line or sampradaya did not write a commentary on the Vedanta-sutras because they accepted Vyasadeva’s Srimad-Bhagavatam as the final commentary on Vedanta. The Ramanuja pandits could not accept this. So Baladeva promised to show a commentary to them in a few days.
Baladeva, in a troubled state, then went to the temple to pray to Rupa Gosvami’s Deity, Lord Govinda, and related everything that had happened to the Deity, who is still one of the prominent Deities in Jaipur today. That night Baladeva had a dream in which Sri Govinda told him to write the commentary and it would be perfect. Thereafter, he meditated on the lotus feet of the Deity of Govinda and wrote the powerful commentary and called it Govinda-bhasya, signifying that it was the words of Sri Krishna Himself. He arrived at the assembly hall of the king and presented the commentary to the Ramanuja pandits, who were speechless. The Gaudiya tradition was declared victorious and that is when the pandits gave Baladeva the name of Vidyabhushana, meaning one whose decoration is knowledge. The Ramanuja pandits also accepted Baladeva as their acharya and desired to become his disciples. However, with humility he said that the Ramanuja or Shri sampradaya was also one of the four prominent spiritual successions.
Baladeva wrote a number of other books besides the Govinda-bhasya, among the most noted are Siddhanta-darpana, Vedanta-samantaka, and Prameya Ratnavali. All of these presented different levels of spiritual understanding based on the fact that the Vedic knowledge is the best to use for realizing the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna and the ultimate form of reality.
There is, of course, one more commentary on the Vedanta-sutras that we cannot neglect. Srila Vyasadeva, the original author of the Vedanta-sutras, was still not satisfied after writing it. After explaining this perplexing situation to his spiritual master, Narada Muni, he was advised to write the Srimad-Bhagavatam (also called the Bhagavata Purana). After doing so, Vyasadeva considered it his own commentary on the Vedanta-sutras and the complete explanation and conclusion of all Vedic philosophy. This is why Sri Chaitanya never cared for writing a commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, because He considered Srimad-Bhagavatam to be the topmost commentary that had already been written, which will be discussed soon. This Srimad-Bhagavatam is part of the Vedic literature called the Itihasas.