[Advaita-l] RE: Sankaracharya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 12 13:14:40 CDT 2004

Hmm, here we go again ...

This topic has been discussed, ad nauseum in my opinion, in many different 
fora, including this list, at many different times. I thought we'd gone past 
it for the most part, but it still continues to rear its head. I was trying 
to keep out of it this time, but feel the need to clarify a few points.

>I will tell you what different traditions hold here. Sringeri mutt holds 
>view that the Madhaviya Sankara Vijayam was written by Swami Vidyaranya.

This is not just the Sringeri tradition. It is the tradition of a large 
number of Advaita institutions all over the country. When the Anandasrama 
Press in Pune published a printed edition in the year 1891, it obtained 
manuscripts from a variety of sources.

>Even Kanchi Paramacharya has described the beauty of Madaviya Sankara
>Vijayam in his lectures, which were later translated and printed in the 
>"Adi Sankara: His Life and Times". His Holiness did not get into the moot
>subject of whether the book was written by Swami Vidyaranya or not.

No, he does not. But if you ask us to defer to the authority of one local 
tradition in the case of the Gururatnamalika attributed to Sadasiva 
Brahmendra, why not defer to the authority of more widespread tradition in 
the case of Madhaviya? Conversely, if the authorship of Madhaviya can be a 
question of debate, please note that the authorship of the Gururatnamalika 
(and its commentary, Sushama) are also matters of debate.

Indeed, the legends and narratives given in the Gururatnamalika and Sushama 
have been critically analyzed by many different people. It is stretching the 
limits of one's credulity to accept that there are details down to the 
tithi, stretching back to 2500 years, for all supposed heads of one Matha, 
when it is impossible to get such details for anybody else, anywhere in 
India. It may surprise many readers to know that even T. M. P. Mahadevan, a 
great devotee of the late Kanchi Acharya, describes the Gururatnamalika and 
Sushama as unreliable (in his book on Gaudapada, published by U. of Madras 
in 1965 or thereabouts).

Moreover, please note that Sadasiva Brahmendra's time is somewhere in the 
period 1700-1725, which is about 300 years ago, not 400. This historical 
conclusion is beyond all possible doubt, as it has been confirmed from 
numerous sources. I have shown elsewhere that this discrepancy of a century 
is devastating. Again, search the archives of this list. Just as one 
example, Sadasiva Brahmendra's guru was Paramasivendra Sarasvati, author of 
daharavidyA prakASikA. His guru was Abhinava Narayanendra Sarasvati, author 
of pancIkaraNa-vArttika-AbharaNa, whose guru, in turn, was one Jnanendra 
Sarasvati. All of this information comes from their own philosophical works. 
The Kanchi-Kumbhakonam list simply does not have the latter two names and 
gives a completely different name for the guru of Paramasivendra Sarasvati. 
So, who should one believe? Paramasivendra Sarasvati and Abhinava 
Narayanendra Sarasvati themselves or some other work of questionable origin 
that has been attributed to Sadasiva Brahmendra? And if even the date of 
Sadasiva Brahmendra, who lived in the relatively near past, has been thus 
muddled, how can we attach any weight to all the tithis and nakshatras 
mentioned for a period going back to two millennia and more?

>As an aside while talking about tradition, several western authors 
>Janathan Bader, date the book to a much later period, and hence do not
>attribute to Swami Vidyaranya.

The said Western authors all follow the lead of one W. R. Antarkar of 
Bombay, who has written a few papers on the subject of Sankaravijaya texts. 
This is a typical case of repeated citation of one man's opinion gaining the 
status of a reasoned conclusion, as if it had been proven beyond all doubt. 
I do not want to get into an extended discussion on this here. Suffice it to 
say that I have dealt with this in the past, which a search of the list 
archives will surely reveal. I have also written an extensive paper on it 
myself, published in The International Journal of Hindu Studies, vol. 4, no. 
2, (2000) where I have pointed out numerous flaws in Antarkar's methodology 
and conclusions. I have shown here that while we have only tradition to 
attribute Madhaviya to Vidyaranya, Antarkar has not disproved the tradition 
at all, for his argument is riddled with internal contradictions and 
inconsistencies. I am running out of reprints to hand out, so interested 
readers may request reprints from the publisher's and editor's addresses 
given on the following website:


>Siva Rahasyam, primarily accepted as the source by Kanchi mutt, describes 
>least three incarnations of Lord Siva in the Kali yuga. The first avatara 
>Sri. Adi Sankara, the second one Swami Vidyaranya, and the third being Sri.
>Appayya Dikshita.

Then this text cannot be too old, can it, contrary to its designation as an 
itihAsa? Appaya Dikshita lived about 500 years ago ...

>It is also worthy to note that Madhaviya Sankara Vijayam DOES NOT mention 
>any specific mutt except the Sringeri mutt. It says that Sankara 
>mutts in Sringeri and other places. So the tradition of the four mutts is
>not from Madhaviya Sankara Vijayam, but could be attributed to other texts.

Yes, the tradition of four Mathas is not from the Madhaviya, which is why 
the tradition gains strength. Simply casting doubt on the authorship of the 
Madhaviya, which is what Antarkar does, in which he is followed by those who 
refer to his opinion, does nothing to make the strong tradition of four 
Mathas go away. Please also note that the Madhaviya does not even use the 
word Matha. It only says "Rishyasringasrama and other places".

> >In the same manner, the Kanchi Math derives its lineage from the
> >Sringeri Math. Where is the problem with understanding or accepting
> >this?
>The primary problem in accepting this is mainly from the dates given for 
>start of Kumbakonam mutt. It is easy to see that a lineage existed in

Nobody, to my knowledge, has given a concrete date for this. The earliest 
inscription is dated to the year 1821. I am told there is some exchange of 
correspondence available sometime around 1780 and after, but nothing much 
before then.

By the way, the traditional authority for deriving the Kumbhakonam lineage 
from the Sringeri one is the fact that all the heads at Kumbhakonam and 
later at Kanchipuram have been Sarasvati-s. It is well to claim that Indra 
Sarasvati is special, but it is patently not so. The tradition is called the 
daSanAmI sampradAya, i.e. the ten-named tradition. Sarasvati is one of the 
ten names and it is assinged to the Sringeri lineage in all possible 
sources; there is no separate eleventh name. Just as the word Ananda has 
become very popular in Sannyasi names nowadays (e.g. Vivekananda, Sivananda, 
Chinmayananda, Yogananda, Brahmananda ...), the word Indra had become 
popular in south India, a few centuries ago. No one claims that Ananda 
Sarasvati is a separate tradition and no one can legitimately claim that 
Indra Sarasvati is a separate tradition.

There are Indra Sarasvati monks who have no connection to the Kanchi Matha's 
lineage. One such example is the Holenarsipur Swami, Saccidanandendra 
Sarasvati. I did not mention this a few weeks ago, when another discussion 
came up about this, because I did not want to bring it up myself.

I do not want to continue this topic much farther either, so having said 
this, I will once again point to the list archives, which are searchable, at 

Best regards,

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