[Advaita-l] A Question on Sundara Pandya

Antharyami sathvatha at gmail.com
Tue Mar 16 18:58:58 CDT 2010

Hari OM~

Sri Subramaniam ji,


 Saundarayapandya was a significant pre-Sankaran Advaitin and since we find
references to his work in Tantravartika – he is known to be pre Kumarila
Bhatta Vedantin. Brahma Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal once told me that Kumarila
refers to 5 verses in the Tantra vartika while within the Advaita tradition
Sankara quotes three in I.i.4, which Vacaspati Misra writes as ‘the verses
from a knower of Brahman’. Pancapadika calls the author with the same
reverence. Atmasvarupananda in his Prabhodaparisodini calls there verses as
authored by Saundarapandya by name. Amalananda most influential 13th century
Advaitin in Kalpataru parimala mentions Saundarapandya by name.

 From the references cited we get the impression that Saundarapandya was a
prolific promulgator of Advaita doctrine. He makes explicit mention of the
term ‘mithya’ and advocates the illusoriness of the conventional world. He
seems to accept six means of valid pramanas as contended by the Bhatta-s and
the Advaitin-s.

 From the fact that he has been respectfully quoted both in Mimamsa and
Vedanta, MM. Kuppusami Sastri articulates that Saundarapandya should have
written a vartika on the vrtti-s of Upavarsa which were on the Mimamsa and
the Brahma Sutra-s. Prof Kuppusami Sastri further goes to argue that with
the suffix ‘pandya’ Saundara may be originally from southern part of India
and also argues that he may be identified with one ‘Kun Pandya’ – who was a
learned King of Pandya region and was converted from Jainism to Saivism by
the Jnanasambhanda and was then inclined to Advaita Vedanta [Prof Kuppusami
Sastri discusses the issue in detail in ‘Problem of Identity’ JOR Madras Vol
II. 1997].  Respected Pandit Gopinath Kaviraja categorically insists that he
was a Saivite. However, Prof S.S.Suryanarayana Sastri rejects such a
contention taking into account the stylometry of Sankara. In my personal
opinion I would turn down the argument that Saundarapandya was a Saiva for
Sankara never includes no tinge of Saiva material in constructing the
doctrine of Advaita at any rate.

 Regarding the dates, supposing the possibility that he wrote a commentary
on Upavarsa vrtti-s, and being evident that Kumarila Bhatta cites him
Saundarapandya may well be placed between the upper limit of 300 CE and a
lower limit of 500 CE – comfortable by 350 - 400 CE (?)

 With Narayana Smrti,

Graduate Student,
Centre for the Study of Religion,
Jackman Humanities Building,
170 St. George Street, floor 3,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8.

607-3400 Keele St.
Toronto, ON
M3J 1L7
Phone - 416-543-4585

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list