An attempt is made here to reconstruct the position held by Śaṅkara (eighth century) on the question of rightful conduct. In particular, it is argued that Śaṅkara holds a definite view on the actions of a brahman-knower (brahma-vid) within the world. Assuming a hypothetical ideal type that Śaṅkara would have respected, and reading across his major works, this article attempts to unravel the apparent contradictions in his writing. It will be argued that while the likes of Arjuna (central protagonist of the Bhagavad Gītā) have their place in society, they may not necessarily qualify for knowledge of brahman, or for ultimate renunciation. Furthermore, it is proposed that Śaṅkara, concerned with the continuation of the lineage of brahman-knowers, came to see the passing on of salvific knowledge as a form of sva-dharma.


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pp. 918-935
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