Mandana Mishra was a Purva Mimamsa philosopher who became an Advaitin after losing a debate to the Advaita philosopher Adi Shankaracharya. He's often identified with Sureshwaracharya, although that's disputed. Now one of Mandana Mishra's works is the Sphota Siddhi, which seeks to defend Sphotavada. For those who don't know, Sphotavada is a theory of language advocated by Bhatrihari and other grammarians which states that humans understand language by hearing a Sphota or burst of sound which conveys an entire word or even an entire sentence at once. This is in contrast to the Varnavada theory advocated by the Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta schools, according to which humans understand language by hearing the sounds of individual letters, and then those letters are combined by the mind into words and sentences.

In any case, here is how Mandana Mishra describes the purpose of his Sphota Siddhi:

In support of [the doctrine of Sphotavada] which has been challenged by certain uncharitable critics, a few arguments are being put forward according to tradition and my understanding.

My question is, why does Mandana Mishra defend Sphotavada? Both of his gurus supported Varnavada rather than Sphotavada. His first guru, the Purva Mimamsa philosopher Kumarila Bhatta, refutes Sphotavada in this chapter of his Shloka Vartika. And his second guru, the Advaita philosopher Adi Shankaracharya, refutes Sphotavada in this section of his Brahma Sutra Bhashya.

Was Mandana Mishra just an iconoclast who decided that Sphotavada was right despite what his gurus said? Or did he have a third guru who believed in Sphotavada?

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    1. There is no "becoming advaitin". Advaita is not a sect like VA or dvaita. One can go from adherence to one of these specialised philosophies to the grander philosophy but there is no small nook of advaita that people can choose to align with. Advaita is the default and mainstream philosophy propounded by the veda 2.This is the first time I hear that MM is disputed to be Sureswaracharya. 1/2
    – user1195
    Dec 3 '17 at 10:08
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    3. You cannot draw the conclusion you drew even based on the cherry picked portions of the texts you provided. See "I do not assume the existence of the sphota. I, on the contrary, actually perceive it" . You are "Concern trolling" @keshavsrinviasan 2/2
    – user1195
    Dec 3 '17 at 10:08
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    First of all, I disagree with the distinction you make between Advaita and other Vedantic philosophies - I see Visistadvaita as the core philosophy conveyed by the Vedas and other scriptures. But we're not likely to agree on that issue. Second of all, the Kanchipuram Shankaracharya Matham is an example of people who distinguish between Mandana Mishra and Sureshwaracharya: kamakoti.org/kamakoti/articles/… Dec 3 '17 at 10:59
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    @moonstar In any case, what conclusion do I draw that is not warranted? And where in the text does the quote "I do not assume the existence of Sphota..." occur? (I'm not sure how this quote would contradict anything I've said.) And I'm certainly not concern trolling; I'm genuinely interested in the views of Mandana Mishra, as he's the only member of either the Purva Mimamsa school or the Vedanta school I've come across who believed in Sphotavada. Dec 3 '17 at 11:06
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