Images of Samkara: Understanding the Other
Jacqueline Suthren Hirst
This chapter argues that a strategy of defining by negation, complementarity and mutual purification of terms, which Samkara uses in his own scriptural commentaries, can fruitfully be applied to the different methods which have been used for studying Samkara and his work. Taken individually, philosophical, traditional textual, socio-political and experiential approaches to Samkara's work tend to present radically different images of Samkara which say more about the interests of the particular exponent than about Samkara as an Advaitin teacher. Rather than favouring one approach over the others, a series of ‘portraits’ of exponents of Samkara is presented, each emblematic of one of the four approaches.