[Advaita-l] Did Madhusudana Saraswati belong to South India?

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 29 14:45:07 CST 2012

Long ago I read that Madhusoodana Saraswati (MS) was from Orissa / Kalinga and was a devotee of Jagannath Puri (the Lord of the Nilachala). MS could have been influenced by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (CM), who in turn was given the Shodashakshari Krishna mantra by Keshva kashmiri Bhattacharya (KKB), when the KKB visited Navadvip. Of course iitially CM had his arguments with KKB and the latter, in line with the teaching of the Mohamudgaram of Adi Sankara, impressed on the young young CM on the futility of overemphasis on Vyakarana. 

MS probably did not find it easy to understand Adi Sankara's Gita-bhashya in the beginning and as himself said he prepared (extensive) notes on it (for personal use) to understand the Gita-bhashya. That is how we are fortunate to have the Gita-bhashya on MS today.


Sunil KB

 From: Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> 
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 9:52 AM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Did Madhusudana Saraswati belong to South India?
The top three arguments in favour of Madhusudana Saraswati's Bengal origin

   - Hagiography
   - There is a Bengali family which claims lineage
   - His views on bhakti rasa are similar to that of gaudiya vaishnavas

My counter to the above are as follows:

   - Hagiography is not supported by any literary evidence (e.g. his
   interacting with gaudiya vaishnavas)
   - Family tree is only a later day construction after his popularity
   - His views of bhakti rasa are not unique to Gaudiya Vaishnavas because
   they are known to the writers of Alankara Sastras but most importantly to
   Sridhara Swami and ealier works such as Jnaneshwari, Muktiphala, Ashtapadhi
   and notably Harivamsa, which was known to Sankara himself.

I think he is from South India because

   - He spends a lot of effort to attack Sri Vaishnavam and Madhwa schools
   - He does not recognize any influence by Gaudiya Vaishnavas or even
   show knowledge of the existence of this school
   - And he is very intelligent :)

BTW, he refers to a devotee who weeps profusely out of ecstacy of Krishna
Bhakti as an ideal vaishnava. Many scholars from Bengal like Dr. Sanjukta
Gupta Gombrich relate that to Sri Krishna Chaitanya. I would search for a
contemporary and an earlier devotee. However, the investigation will be
settled only if I find positive evidence that he belongs to South India. Is
there any Sankara Mutt that claims he belongs to their mutt? There is some
indication in an article on 'Madhusudana Sarasvati' by V. Rajagopalan in
the Preceptors of Advaita edited by T. M. P. Mahadevan, pp. 254-61
(available with Samata), that Madhusudana Saraswati and his disciples like
Gaudabrahmananda etc. could have belonged to Gauda Sarasvat Brahmin
community that might have migrated from Gauda to Kerala on the pretext that
Madhusudana Saraswati was so much fascinated with Balakrishnan of
Guduvayur. However, it is not substantiated with any arguments.

Any thoughts please?
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