The shortest of all the Upanishads is known as the Mandukya Upanishad. It's only twelve verses long, and it isn't mentioned much in Hindu scripture, but it grew into prominence after Gaudapada, the early Advaita Acharya who was Adi Shankaracharya's guru's guru, composed a famous Karika or commentary on it.

Now Madhvacharya, exponent of the Dvaita school, believed that at least the first chapter of what is considered as Gaudapada's Karika wasn't composed by Gaudapada at all. Instead, he thought that it was composed by Brahma, who was commenting on the Mandukya Upanishad as it was originally being recited by Varuna the ocean god; here is what Madhvacharya says in his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad:

In the form of a Manduka (a frog), Varuna eulogized the four-fold Sriman Narayana, meditating on Sriman Narayana, encompassed by Aum, Varuna, praised immutable Sri Hari, thus has it been said in Padma Purana.... Thus did Varuna himself, in the form of Manduka (frog) realize himself. Thus has it been mentioned in Harivamsha.... The man~ which were „seen’ by Brahma are the premises, O Lord of the Waters (Varuna). „A~Oto Slaaok:‟ thus is spoken piece by piece. Thus has it been said in Garuda Purana.

So my question is, what is the basis of Madhvacharya's claim that the seer of the Mandukya Upanishad is Varuna the ocean god in the form of a frog (Manduka), and that the commentator is Brahma? He cites quotes from the Padma Purana, Harivamsa, and Garuda Purana, but does anyone know where exactly they are in those texts? The quotes are written out in Devanagari script in pages 1 and 2 here if that helps.

By the way, on a side note I'm a Sri Vaishnava, and it seems that at least some Sri Vaishnava Acharyas have similar beliefs about the beginning of Gaudapada's Karika.

  • I was not aware that Madhvacharya had written a commentary on the Karika and am somewhat surprised as it is one of the most purely advaitic texts around - and was meant to be. I am looking in Gambhirananda's translation of the Mandukya and Karika (and it has the Devanagari script and word for word translations). There are no references to Varuna. There is no commentary referring to Varuna. Looking at the Madhavacharya's commentary that you gave the link to, the only reference to Varuna is in Madhava's Bhashya, nothing in the Mandukya or by Gaudapada in the Karika. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 12:06
  • @SwamiVishwananda Well, Madhvacharya isn't claiming that Varuna and Brahma are mentioned in the Mandukya Upanishad or the Karika. He's claiming that the story about Varuna and Brahma is mentioned in the Padma Purana, Harivamsa, and the Garuda Purana. So I'd like to find out where these quotes are in those Puranas. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 14:31
  • @SwamiVishwananda By the way, Madhvacharya and his followers aren't the only ones who believe that the first chapter of the Karika is divine in origin. The early Sri Vaishnava commentators on the Mandukya Upanishad believed the same thing. And Ramanujacharya, although he never wrote any Upanishad commentaries himself, apparently quoted from the first chapter of the Karika in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 14:37
  • @SwamiVishwananda By the way, I just posted another question about Gaudapada: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/7104/36 Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 15:49
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    @KeshavSrinivasan why don't you put a bounty on this excellent question?
    – user26635
    Commented Jan 8, 2022 at 17:45


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