[Advaita-l] Debate between Dwarka & Sumeru Shankaracharyas

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 2 12:20:39 CST 2013

May I request list members not to add to the speculation on this topic? The Indian media is not known for
fact checking when it comes to traditional issues and they carry anything and everything that is given to them
by a savvy press secretary from one or the other institution. Do not believe everything you read in the papers
and do not rush to sit in judgement over the maThAdhipati-s of the traditional AmnAya maTha-s. You have no
idea what their operational constraints are. They are being constantly assaulted externally by the forces of
contemporary social, political and economic change in India, as well as internally, by various other forces that
come in the garb of tradition. 
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
1. The media in India has no idea who is a Sankaracharya and who is not. Over the years, I have seen news
reports describing the Pejawar Math Swamiji of the Dvaita tradition as a "Sankaracharya" of the Madhva sect
and the Tridandi Chinna Ramanuja Jeeyar as a "Sankaracharya" of the Sri sampradAya. So much for the level
of knowledge about Indian traditions among Indian journalists. There was a fairly well-learned householder
priest in Trinidad and Tobago, whose followers call him a "Sankaracharya" and have now set up an organization
called Swaha International in that country. (I cite this just to show how meaningless the title "Sankaracharya"
has become nowadays, not to cast aspersions on the well-meaning Hindus of Trinidad.)

Journalists and other generally ill-informed people, who don't know left from right, can't be expected to get their
traditions right, but if you are a member of this list, please educate yourself about the Sankaracharya tradition
and history. Ample resources are available in the archives of this list itself. Keep an open mind and evaluate
critically what you read (including what I have said on the history of the Sankaracharyas in recent times).
2. There is no mention of any maThas in any of the philosophical texts in the advaita tradition. What is claimed 
as a list of institutons in the brahmasUtra bhAshya TIkA is certainly not part of any TIkA. It is perhaps only a
reference to something that is said in a preface or foreword written by somebody in a printed publication,
within the last 100 years or so. It is patently false to claim that seven principal seats are recognized, either
specifically in a TIkA or generally within the advaita tradition. Trust me, there is no such thing.

3. The news item's claim that heads of seven peeThas do not recognize swAmI svarUpAnanda is also clearly
a piece of propaganda put forth by interests inimical to this swAmI. Please be aware of the wheels within
wheels operating in Indian politics and religion today. By traditional lineage, svAmI svarUpAnanda is indeed
the recognized head of both dvArakA and jyotirmaTh seats. There are others who want to be recognized as
the head of jyotirmaTh and there are yet others who want to align these issues with the Congress and the
BJP today. If you want to read the history of this, please visit http://indology.info/papers/sundaresan, written
by yours truly, more than 10 years ago. Additionally, svAmI svarUpAnanda and some of his sannyAsin disciples
have been at the forefront of the movement that has been trying to get the gangA and other rivers cleaned
up and to check the massive influx of untreated industrial and municipal waste waters. As a result, there are
a number of two-bit politicians and a few big name politicians among those who support him and also among
those who oppose him. A kumbha mela offers prime opportunity for spin doctoring. Nothing is as simple as it
seems. Look for the story behind the story being reported, before you make conclusions.
4. This is not the first time that there has been a controversy of this kind at a kumbha mela. In 2010, there was
a similar contentious issue between svAmI svarUpAnanda of dvArakA+jyotirmaTh and this svAmI narendrAnanda
of Sumeru Math. 
Please see http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-03-05/india/28144398_1_land-allotment-immolation-shankaracharyas.
5. If you are interested in kumbha mela news in general, keep your ears tuned to some noise made by one
svAmI adhokshajAnanda tIrtha, another self-styled Sankaracharya, who lays claim to the purI govardhana
pITha and denies that svAmI niScalAnanda sarasvatI is the head of the purI maTha. You can typically see this
adhokshajAnanda name in association with separatist Hurriyat leaders from Kashmir and some minor members
of the Indian Muslim ulema, as well as some minor Congress politicians.
6. Asking for the Sringeri Sankaracharya to intervene in these matters is quite unnecessary and counter-
productive. If that is the wish of some list members, raising it in public here on this forum certainly does not
help matters. If you have the ability and interest to do something about it, please contact the various people
involved directly. It is not as if they are going to respect the Sringeri AcArya's advice. As it is, people like this
svAmI narendrAnanda of Sumeru math and svAmI adhokshajAnanda will discount anything that the Sringeri
AcArya has to say, because it is not in their interest to do so. Under the circumstances, Sringeri AcArya is not
going to proactively intervene in these matters. I am not an official spokesperson for Sringeri, but I am attuned
sufficiently to how these things work from a traditional perspective, so I will not say more about this here. I
hope people can see how intricately these north Indian institutions and people are tied in to today's national
politics and I hope people can appreciate how and why the Sringeri AcArya stays above political entanglements.
Finally, remember that not anyone and everyone who wears an ochre robe and has a sannyAsin name can be
taken to be representative of the tradition. This is at the crux of the issues being raised by svAmI svarUpAnanda
with the kumbha mela administration. When you hear some news about these things and then want to make
general conclusions about all the institutions operating today, please take care not to throw out the baby with the
bathwater. At the very least, do not make blanket sarcastic statements about the AmnAya institutions and what
they are doing today. If they had not survived through the centuries, we would not have a living advaita tradition.
As it is, the uttarAmnAya institution, jyotirmaTh, had lost continuity of its lineage a couple of centuries ago and
was revived only in the year 1941. Unfortunately, since 1953, its succession has again been ridden by controversy
and all these issues that crop up periodically at kumbha melas etc are continuations of this fundamental issue. 

> Date: Mon, 31 Dec 2012 23:24:23 +0530
> From: abhishek046 at gmail.com
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Subject: [Advaita-l] Debate between Dwarka & Sumeru Shankaracharyas
> http://m.timesofindia.com/city/allahabad/Sangam-city-to-witness-battle-between-shankaracharyas/articleshow/17760205.cms
> Sadly, it has come to the point wherein the 2 Shankaracharyas are
> going to debate & the loser is supposed to give up his life by
> entering the Ganges! :-(
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