[Advaita-l] Bhakti, Bhagavata Purana & Sankara

bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Thu Jun 26 23:02:48 CDT 2003

No he didn't.  There is a tradition that Bhagavan Lakshmi-Nrsimha were his
ishtadevatas.  He did however establish sphatika-linga and Shrichakra in
his Mathas and various other places.  And he did also start the practice
of panchayata puja in which all the major Vedic Gods are worshipped.

>  praNAm prabhuji, Hare Krishna
>  I've asked the same question in another list (advaitin) whether there is
any mention about panchAyatana pUja in shankara's prasthAna trayi bhAshya.
Here is the reply from Sri Stig Lundgren prabhuji:

> Is there any reference in shankara's prasthAna trayi bhAshya regarding 6
mathas formed by sri shankara

No. There are no such indications anywhere in the genuine works of
Shankara. Further, there are no indications in the works by Shankara´s
direct disciple Sureshvara, nor in the Panchapadika attributed to
Shankara´s disciple Padmapada.

According to Paul Hacker (a famous scholar in the field of Advaita
Vedanta), the oldest existing sources about the mathas are as recent as the
14th century. In one of his papers ("On Sankara and Advaitism") he writes:
"I went through a large number of publications of South Indian inscriptions
with a view to finding out references to cloisters (matha) of Advaitists. I
found, so far as I can recollect, no mention of cloisters before the
fourteenth century."

In other words:  If Hacker is correct, then there are no sources mentioning
the mathas until about 500 years after the lifetime of Adi Shankara!
However, from this it does not necessarily follow that Shankara never
founded any mathas in Sringeri, Dwaraka etc. Of course they could have been
founded in Shankara´s lifetime anyway, even though there are no existing
sources or evidences from that time available today.

> & Where in his works, he advised his followers  to do ShivapanchAyatana

I have never found any such advices or injuctions in his works.
Panchayatana puja is performed among traditional smarthas, particularly in
South India. In Tamil Nadu within the Iyer community there is a widespread
custom to include also Lord Subramanian in the puja, hence the so-called
Shanmatha puja. Panchayatana puja includes the following gods: Ganesha,
Shiva, Shakti, Visnu and Surya. In the Shanmatha puja Subramanian is added
to these five gods. Shivapanchayatana puja means that Shiva is placed in
the middle of the five gods (generally represented by five specific stones,
placed upon a metal plate).

Whether this custom was actually invented by Adi Shankara himself remains
an open question. But it is a part of the smartha tradition, and perhaps
Panchayatana puja was performed by the smarthas also before the advent of

Warm regards
Stig Lundgren


Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

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