vidyAraNya and sAyaNAcArya (fwd)

Ravi Mayavaram msr at REDDY20.TAMU.EDU
Sat Feb 28 13:01:13 CST 1998

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 02:14:00 -0800 (PST)
From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya at>
To: Ravi Mayavaram <msr at>
Subject: vidyAraNya and sAyaNAcArya

Hi Ravi,

Just browsed through the archives and found some discussion on the two.
For a quick response, I can suggest a few books, with a brief note. More
detailed description will have to wait for another time.

1. Munuganti Kripacharyulu, Sayana and Madhava-Vidyaranya: a study of
   their lives and letters, Rajyalakshmi Publications, Guntur, 1986.
2. KR Venkataraman, MK Venkataraman, KR Srinivasan, The Age of Vidyaranya,
   Kalpa Printers, Calcutta, 1976.
3. AK Shastry, A History of Sringeri, Prasaranga, Karnatak University,
   Dharwad, 1982.
4. Anne Libera Dallapiccola, Stephanie Aingel-Ave Lallemant (eds.),
   Vijayanagara: City and Empire - New Currents of Research, Steiner,
   Wiesbaden, 1985. There is an article by Hermann Kulke on vidyAraNya.

Also, introductions to editions of pancadaSI, jIvanmuktiviveka,
anubhUtiprakASa etc. are good sources of information, although, on a
cuationary note, many of them can contradict one another. For sAyaNa, see
editions of the vedabhAshyas, mAdhavIya dhAtuvRtti etc.

mAdhava, sAyaNa and bhoganAtha were sons of SrImatI and mAyaNa of
bhAradvAja gotra. They were pundits of exceptional calibre, who were in
the forefront of the cultural and spiritual renaissance associated with
the emergence of the Vijayanagara empire in southern India. Generally,
mAdhava is identified with vidyAraNya by modern scholars, but the
tradition is not very certain about this. Part of the reason for the
confusion is that vidyAraNya's name before he became a sannyAsin is said
to have been mAdhava. However, the brothers mAdhava and sAyaNa continued
to be described as householders and sacrificers from late 14th century
sources, whereas the traditional legend associated with the founding of
Vijayanagara is that the first kings met and got blessings from
vidyAraNya, who was already a sannyAsin by the year 1340 CE. sAyaNa and
mAdhava were probably heads of a group of scholars who wrote commentaries
and other texts on a wide variety of subjects, including language,
grammar, music, philosophy, dharmaSAstra etc. And the matha at Sringeri,
as a traditional center of advaita, supplied many of the pundits
associated with sAyaNa. AK Shastry's book on Sringeri history provides
good information from various records.

There was another mAdhava, who was the son of sAyaNa, and a third mAdhava,
of the AngIrasa gotra, who captured Goa for the Vijayangara empire. This
third mAdhava is usually named mAdhavamantrin, as he was a
minister/governor (of Goa) in the Vijayanagara empire. He was the disciple
of a pASupata Saiva guru named kASIvilAsa kriyASakti, whose name is also
found in inscriptions.

Coming to vidyAraNyasvAmin, he is traditionally said to have become the
head of the Sringeri matha, after bhAratItIrtha. Many important branches
of the Sringeri matha trace their foundation to him, like virUpAkshi (in
Hampi, the Vijayanagara capital), pushpagiri (near SrISailam), karavIr
(near Kolhapur), etc. bhAratItIrtha and vidyAraNya are said to have been
natives of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh. They were both disciples of
vidyAtIrtha (also known as vidyASankara), the then head of Sringeri matha.
bhAratItIrtha's dRk-dRSya-viveka (also called vAkyasudhA) is often
mistakenly attributed to SankarAcArya himself. pancadaSI and adhikaraNa
ratnamAlA were joint compositions of bhAratItIrtha and vidyAraNya.
In addition to vidyAtIrtha, vidyAraNya also pays homage to SankarAnanda,
who was a disciple of AnandAtman. SankarAnanda is well-known in the
tradition as the composer of commentaries on upanishads that SankarAcArya
did not comment upon, mainly from the atharvaveda. He is said to have been
a native of madhyArjunam (tiruviDaimarUdUr) in Tamil Nadu and is also
traditionally associated with the holy places of ahobilam and SrISailam in
Andhra Pradesh.


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