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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