DISCUSSION / KANAI BANERJEE*
Adi Sankara: A Critique of E.M.S. Namboodiripad 's Views
In the context of growing Hindu revivalist activities causing 'enormous harm to our national unity* ideological struggle against it has indeed assumed great importance and urgency. The sponsors of this revivalist movement are using the names of 'Vedic and Upanishadic Rishis and their successors including Sankara' (the most natural thing for them to do) to buttress their disruptive activities. It is therefore imperative that evaluation of the teachings of these 'Rishis and their successors' and exposure of the reactionary aspects of their views in the light of the latest achievements of human thought be undertaken as an indispensable part of our ideological struggle. E.M.S. Namboodiripad's article 'Adi Sankara and His Philosophy, A Marxist View (Social Scientist, 188-89) might have been a welcome initial step in this direction had it not suffered from an ambivalence of the author's attitude to Sankara. Indeed the more one will read the article, the more he will be in doubt as to the real purpose of it: whether to create an urge for vigorous combat against the reactionary philosophy of Sankara or to persuade the reader not to adopt what he calls a nihilist attitude to it.
The article of course contains a series of statements which express opposition to Sankara's philosophy in most unequivocal terms. The author says, 'Marxism-Leninism being dialectical materialism it is of course opposed to the philosophy of Sankara which is the acme of India's idealist philosophy'. Discussing in some detail, with extensive quotations from Debiprasad Chattopadhyay's writings, the social roots, the reactionary character and disastrous social consequences of Sankara's philosophy, the author emphatically states that 'It is unimaginable ... for any thinking person to consider Sankara'^ philosophy to be relevant to the present day world, present day India' and asserts. That philosophy like other schools of idealist philosophy should in fact be vigorously combated. . .' He adds, 'for India in particular, the struggle against the Hindu revivalist, against the revival of Vedic and Upanishadic spirit is an essential prerequi-
* Secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, Nos. 6-7, June-July 1990