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The Satadhusani is a work by the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan consisting of 100 refutations of Adi Shankaracharya's philosophy of Advaita. One chapter of the work is devoted to refuting the Advaita view that those who have attained Brahmajnana do not have to follow the rules of Varnashrama Dharma. One of the Advaita arguments Vedanta Desikan responds to is the argument that various figures in the past who attained Brahmajnana did not follow the rules of Varnashrama Dharma. Here are two examples that the Advaitin opponent cites:

We accept the abandonment of all Ashramas, because it has been done by Gaudapada, Hari, and the like.

Now it’s unclear who Hari is, but the translator thinks it may be Bhartrihari, an early Vedantic philosopher who believed in a philosophy called Sphotavada. But I’m interested in the other figure mentioned Gaudapada. For those who don’t know, Gaudapada was an Advaita philosopher who was Adi Shankaracharya’s guru’s guru.

So my question is, given that it says he abandoned all Ashramas, exactly what kind of lifestyle did Gaudapada have? Was he a Sanyasi of some variety? Did he carry a Sanyasi staff? Was he an Avadhuta or naked ascetic? Or what? Do any works of Advaitins shed light on this?

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  • wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/preceptors-of-advaita/d/… This books just says Sanyasins but doesn't delve into much details.
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 10, 2019 at 16:14
  • @TheDestroyer Yeah, I’d like to know whether he carried an Ekadanda, whether he was an Avadhuta, etc. Feb 10, 2019 at 16:16
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    It is impossible to tell much about even Shankara, leave alone Gaudapada.
    – user16581
    Feb 14, 2019 at 11:15
  • Gaudapada, A Study in Early Advaita by T.M.P.Mahadevan provides much possible details on Gaudapada.
    – Pandya
    Feb 16, 2019 at 14:46
  • One of the many insults by Vedānta Deśika. He just wants to speak ill of Advaitins, going to the extent that they don't follow varṇāśrama dharma, and that too without any basis (saying it for Gauḍapāda is nothing but ācāryanindā). And he would be surprised to know that (now) the only available commentary on Parāśara smṛti, is by an Advaitin Mādhavācārya (Vidyāraṇya). The only person who commented on all Upaniṣads of Muktikā canon (including Saṁnyāsa Upaniṣads) is also an Advaitin. The same Advaitins, who are called pracchana Bauddhas, are the ones who uphold dharmaśāstras & śruti dedicatedly.
    – Bingming
    Feb 26 at 7:33

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