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

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 18 10:25:16 CDT 2010

It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort we seem to want to
waste on hypothetical questions for which the answers have almost no data to
support them. Yet, even when hard facts are placed in front of us, we refuse
to accept them and we refuse to make the right conclusions. Is this a uniquely
Indian malaise? I certainly don't see this sort of speculation being indulged in
by people of any other nationality that I have come across.

When Sankara "must" have lived, what he "must" have said and when, whom
he "must" have taken as disciples - all these sorts of issues seem to hold a lot
more interest to us. We fail to pay attention to what he *did* write in his
commentaries and whom he *did* teach, even though these can all be easily
deduced from the texts that are available to us.

So, in response to "did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?", the only possible
answer is a counter-question, "if he did, how would we know?" Did any of his
disciples who wrote texts tell us whether they were born brahmin or not? It is
a reasonable assumption that they were, but would we know if they were not?
Do we have any hard data that will allow us to make a conclusion one way or
the other? The answer is a resounding NO. We can ask as many questions as
we like, but the situation is that anything that passes as an answer is ultimately
no better than wishful thinking.
> Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:37:40 +0100
> From: rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Subject: [Advaita-l] Did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?
> In his Gita commentary, Sankaracharya says that previous commentators have
> commented on every sentence and word but the meaning is not clear to lay
> people. And that he is writing this to make it clear and that this message
> would spread. Did he teach advaita to non-brahmins and accept them as
> disciples? In Manisha Panchakam, he accepts as guru a low born jnani but
> dont know if scholars accept that this incident took place at all.
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