[Advaita-l] Did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Wed Oct 13 14:00:24 CDT 2010

Thanks for the responses. My comments and questions

*Venkatesh* : Why people say Adi Sankara bowed to Candala? This is  politics
and lies in a bad way.
*Response*: I dont know if we can blame people for what Sankara Dig Vijayam
says if it says that Sankara bowed to a candala. In any case, he would not
have differentiated between a learned and humble brahmana such as you and a
dog eater noting that the difference is only in the conditioning by the
modes of nature! Please read the venerable acharya's commentary to Bhagavad
Gita verse vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva sva-pake
ca panditah sama-darsinah.

*Venkatesh*: If we take Adi Sankara meeting Candala when Sankara Digvijaya
says it we must also take the Candala as Siva in disguise. Here the text
clearly says he prayed to Siva.
*Response*: The text is not a glorification of Lord Siva but teaches that
even if a candala is self-realized, he is to be revered as a guru. Of
course, one can question the authenticity of the text. Sankaracharya, if he
did compose Manisha Panchakam, says "If one is convinced firmly, that he is
that very Soul which manifests itself in all the conditions of sleep,
wakefulness and dream, in all the objects from the great Brahma (the
creator) to the tiny ant and which is also the vibrant, but invisible,
witnesser of all, then as per my clear conclusion, he is the great
teacher/preceptor, be he a dvija or a candala". So as per the author of this
verse, not only dvijas (brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaishyas) but even a
candala can be revered as a guru, if he is a jnani.
*Ramakrishna:* It is simply impossible to imagine SankarAchArya teaching Him
the brahma-sUtra-bhaashhya before sannyaasa.
*Response:* Why is sannyasa ashrama a precondition to learn brahma sutra?
Most vedic rishis were grahasthas. Veda Vyas, author of brahma sutras,
himself was born to a fisher woman and parashara muni. Like his son Vidura,
Krishna Dwaipanya Vyasa was also a Sudra considering his mother's lineage.
He even fathered children of his step brother's (mother's second husband's
son) widows Amibka and Ambalika. His sons Dhrtarashtra and Pandu were
accepted as Kshatriyas though Krishna Dvaipanya Vyasa was not.Krishna
Dvaipanya also married Varitka, the daughter of sage Jabali giving birth to
Sukadev Gosvami. When instructing Sukadev, a jnani from brith, he was still
a grahastha.

Sankara accepts Janaka (a kshatriya) and Vidura (a sudra) as a jnani and
therefore wont see the impossibility of self-realization for non-brahmins
and non-dvijas. So the question is did Adi Sankara, in practice, teach
advaitam to non-brahmins?

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list