Madhusudan Saraswati

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Madhusudan Saraswati (1525-1632) Sanskrit scholar and philosopher, was born at Unshia village, under the division of Kotalipara in what is now gopalganj district. His father, Pramod Purandar Acharya, was also a sanskrit scholar.

Madhusudan's real name was Kamalaj Nayan. However, early in life he renounced the material world and adopted ascetic life under Guru Bisheswar Saraswati. It was at this time that he was named Madhusudan. He received his initial education from his father. Later he went to Navadvip, where he studied under the famous philosophers Hariram Tarkavagish and mathuranath tarkavagish.

Madhusudan also went to Benares, where he learnt vedanta from different scholars. At Benares, he got acquainted with Tulsi Das, composer of the Hindi Ramacharitamanas. He became inspired by Tulsi Das's scholastic discussions on the scriptures and composed a poem on him. When Emperor akbar (1542-1605) came to know about his scholarly qualities, he honoured him with a title. He also reformed the ascetic community formed by sankaracharya.

A total of twenty-one books have been ascribed to Madhusudan. Of them, nineteen books are undoubtedly his own, but the authorship of the remaining two is doubtful. Twelve of his books are on philosophy, the rest are poems, plays and miscellaneous themes. The philosophical treatises include commentaries. His most famous book on philosophy is Advaitasiddhi in which he supports the monistic Vedanta of Sankaracharya regarding Brahma. Advaitasidhi became so famous at that time that many books were written on his greatness as a philosopher. His other famous books include Bhagavatgitagudharthadipika, Bhaktirasayan, Sidhantavindu, and Mahimnastotra.

Towards the end of his life, when he returned to Navadvip from Benares, he was given a reception for his monotheistic philosophy. He died in Mayapuri while meditating. [Dulal Bhowmik]