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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha (Sanskrit: सर्वदर्शनसंग्रह; transl. A Compendium of all the Philosophical Systems) is a philosophical text by the 14th-century Indian scholar Mādhavāchārya. In the book, Mādhavāchārya reviews the sixteen philosophical systems current in India at the time, and gives what appeared to him to be their most important tenets, and the principal arguments by which their followers endeavoured to maintain them.[1] Mādhavāchārya is usually identified with Vidyaranya, the Jagadguru of the Śringeri Śarada Pītham from ca. 1374-1380[2][3][4] until 1386.[4][5] However, this has been contested by various scholars.[6]

In the course of his sketches Madhava frequently explains at length obscure details in the different systems.[1] The systems are arranged from the Advaita-point of view. According to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha "sketches sixteen systems of thought so as to exhibit a gradually ascending series, culminating in the Advaita Vedanta (or non-dualism)."


The Text is usually attributed to Mādhavāchārya. Mādhavāchārya is usually identified with Vidyāranya, the Jagadguru of the Śringeri Śarada Pītham from ca. 1374-1380[2][3][4] until 1386.[4][5] According to tradition, Vidyaranya helped establish the Vijayanagara Empire sometime in 1336, and served as a mentor and guide to three generations of kings who ruled over the Vijayanagara Empire. Vidyaranya is thought to have been named Madhava before taking ordination as a sannyasin.[7] However, Vidyaranya's authorship of the text has been contested by various scholars.[6]

Some accounts identify Madhavacharya or Vidyaranya with Madhava, the brother of Sāyaṇa, a Mimamsa scholar from the Vijayanagara Empire.[4] In his attempt to clarify the identification of Madhava with Vidyaranya, Narasimhachar (1916, 1917) named this Madhava [B], distinguishing him from Madhava [A], a device also followed by Rama Rao (1930; 1931; 1934), and Kulke (1985).[8] Mid 14th century, Madhava [B] served as a minister in the Vijayanagara Empire, and wrote several works, including, according to Rama Rao, the Jivanmuktiviveka, a work usually attributed to Vidyaranya, due to his identification with Madhava [B].[9] According to the Sringeri account, the brothers Madhava and Sayana came to Vidyaranya to receive his blessings, and completed his unfinished Veda bhashyas.[4]

While usually attributed to Madhava [B], and thereby to Vidyaranya, Madhava [B] was probably not the author of the Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha.[6] According to Clark, the author may have been Channibhatta (Chinna or Chennu):[6]

...a most insightful analysis by Thakur (1961) indicates that the author of the SDS was Channibhatta (Chinna or Chennu), son of Sahajasarvajña Vishnu Bhattopadhyaya, who was also a preceptor to Sāyaṇa and Mādhava [B]. Channibhatta was a younger contemporary of Sāyaṇa and Madhava, author of a sub-commentary on the Pañchapadikavivarana, and worked in the Vijayanagara court under the patronage of Harihara Maharaja. The SDS shares many passages and quotations from Channibhatta’s other works. Thakur suggests that the plan of the work may have originated with Madhava, and been written by Channibhatta, with the help of Sāyaṇa and Madhava.[6]


The sixteen systems of philosophy expounded by Madhava in the text are:[10]

  1. Chārvāka
  2. Buddhism
  3. Arhata or Jainism
  4. Ramanuja System or Sri Vaishnavism
  5. Purna-Prajña Darsana or Tatva-vaada or Dvaita Vedanta
  6. Nakulisa-Paśupata
  7. Shaivism
  8. Pratyabhijña (Kashmir Shaivism) or Recognitive System
  9. Raseśvara or Mercurial System
  10. Vaisheshika or Aulukya
  11. Akshapada or Nyaya
  12. Jaimini
  13. Pāṇiniya
  14. Samkhya
  15. Patanjala or Yoga
  16. Vedanta or Adi Shankara

The Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha itself doesn't contain the 16th chapter (Advaita Vedanta, or the system of Adi Shankara), the absence of which is explained by a paragraph at the end of the 15th chapter, (the Patanjali-Darsana). It says: “The system of Shankara, which comes next in succession, and which is the crest-gem of all systems, has been explained by us elsewhere, it is, therefore, left untouched here”.[11]

Madhvacharya tries to refute, chapter by chapter, the other systems of thought prominent in his day. Other than Buddhist and Jaina philosophies, Vidyaranya draws quotes directly from the works of their founders or leading exponents and it also has to be added that in this work, with remarkable mental detachment, he places himself in the position of an adherent of sixteen distinct philosophical systems.

Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha is one of the few available sources of information about lokayata, the materialist system of philosophy in ancient India. In the very first chapter, "The Chārvāka System", he critiques the arguments of lokayatikas. While doing so he quotes extensively from Cārvāka works. It is possible that some of these arguments put forward as the lokayata point of view may be a mere caricature of lokayata philosophy. Yet in the absence of any original work of lokayatikas, it is one of the very few sources of information available today on materialist philosophy in ancient India.


  1. ^ a b Cowell, E. B. (1882). "Preface". Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha by Madhava Acharya. London: Trübner & Co. pp. vi–vii. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b Goodding 2013, p. 89.
  3. ^ a b Jackson 2016, p. 18.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dalal 2010, p. entry "Madhavacharya".
  5. ^ a b Slaje 1998, p. 115.
  6. ^ a b c d e Clark 2006, p. 209, note 114.
  7. ^ Dalal 2010, p. entry "Vidyaranya".
  8. ^ Clark 2006, p. 208.
  9. ^ Clark 2006, p. 209, note 112.
  10. ^ Cowell & Gough 1882, p. 22.
  11. ^ Cowell & Gough 1882, p. 273.


  • Clark, Matthew (2006), The Daśanāmī-saṃnyāsīs. The Integration Of Ascetic Lineages Into An Order, BRILL
  • Cowell, E.B.; Gough, A. E. (1882). Sarva-Darsana Sangraha of Madhava Acharya: Review of Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy. New Delhi: Indian Books Centre/Sri Satguru Publications. ISBN 81-703-0875-5.
  • Dalal, Roshen (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  • Goodding, Robert A. (2013), "A Theologian in a South Indian Kingdom: The Historical Context of the Jivanmuktiviveka of Vidyaranya", in Lindquist, Steven E. (ed.), Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle, Anthem Press
  • Jackson, William J. (2016), Vijayanagara Voices: Exploring South Indian History and Hindu Literature, Routledge
  • Slaje, Walter (April 1998), "On Changing Others' Ideas: The Case of Vidraranya and the Yogavasishta", Indo-Iranian Journal, 41 (2): 103–124, doi:10.1163/000000098124992448, S2CID 162189856
This page was last edited on 19 August 2023, at 11:48
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