[Advaita-l] Sureshvaracharya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 30 22:46:19 CDT 2009

I hesitated to enter into this discussion, but see that I have to! 

Re: burial place of Adi Sankara bhagavatpAda - there are actually more than two places that claim this honor, but only two have the benefit of support from established institutions. General Dasanami Sannyasi tradition everywhere in India accepts the Himalayas - Badri/Kedar/Kailasa as the location of Adi Sankara's last days, while the Kanchi Matha  uniquely claims Kanchipuram.

The Keraliya Sankaravijaya of Govindanatha says that Adi Sankara spent his last days in Trichur, back in the vicinity of the temple where his parents prayed to Lord Siva before his birth. The 17th commentary to Sringeri matha's Guruvamsakavya mentions a cave sacred to Dattatreya and further identifies this with a Dattatreya site in Mahur (Maharashtra). This reference to Mahur seems to useave been the commentator's own opinion, because the Sringeri Matha tradition is the same as the general Dasanami tradition regarding the Himalayas. However, the fact remains that there are at least two texts (older than some of the currently famous institutions, I may add), which name places that do not have institutional support.

Re: sureSvarAcArya - I have had various occasions to analyze and critique various statements made from the Kanchi Matha about traditions relating to the  Advaita Vedanta Acharyas. Readers are welcome to look into the archives for these posts. I know that searching our list archives is not straightforward, but I do not wish to enter into all that detail once again here. In brief, let me merely mention that the Kanchi statements about sureSvarAcArya are highly self-contradictory in nature. There is a text called sushamA, which is a commentary on the Kanchi Matha's Gururatnamalika. It was probably written in the 18th-19th century, and is a compilation of that institution's own traditions and the source of more than a little confusion in 20th century writings on the history of Advaita Vedanta and its teachers/authors. On close examination, its self-contradictions regarding sureSvarAcArya become readily evident. More to the point regarding the burial place of sureSvarAcArya, sushamA explicitly says that sureSvara went to Sringeri after entrusting Kanchi to sarvajnAtman. Now, many questions can be raised about this entire account, but it stands to reason that if the Kanchi Matha goes by what its own text sushamA says, it has to accept that as sureSvarAcArya went to Sringeri, his burial place has to be in Sringeri and not  in Kanchipuram. I will leave this issue at that.

Re: Kudali Matha - If you look at the list of this Matha, it is identical to the Sringeri lineage till the time of SrI narasimha bhAratI in the 16th century. Naturally, this list includes sureSvara and vidyASankara and vidyAraNya too. This is because Kudali was originally a branch institution established by one of the Sringeri Acharyas of this name. This is clear from various references from the records of the Mysore kings, the Peshwas and the Bijapur rulers. It is a different matter that one faction within this Matha seems to have a long-standing grudge against the Sringeri lineage. This has again lead to numerous self-contradictory claims regarding the relative status of Sringeri and Kudali Mathas. Suffice it to say that the name alone gives away the historical truth - Kudali matha incorporates the name of Sringeri in its own name, while Sringeri matha does not need to refer to the Kudali name! Same goes for other branch mathas such as Avani Sringeri, Pushpagiri Sringeri etc.

If you are interested in some of the post-Sankaran history specifically relating to Sringeri, I'd suggest a reading of Prof. A. K. Shastry's well-researched book "A History of Sringeri" published by Dharwad University and also Yoshitsugu Sawai's book, "The faith of ascetics and lay Smartas", published by Motilal Banarsidass (I think).

Best regards,

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