[Advaita-l] Conference on that Date of Adi Sankaracharya inOctober, 2002

Michael Shepherd michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk
Thu Dec 24 15:15:50 CST 2009

I suggest that it is time to face a few home truths. An oral tradition needs
a  method of investigation far, far more stringent than that of historians
who deal in mere dates -- a method more stringent than FBI or CIA...  which
when exercised will take us further to the heart of the teachings that we
seek to understand, than any yet.. and beyond any worldly jostlings for
status between maths... and by the way, we have no certainty that Adi
Shankara actually did 'found' four maths.. all is oral say-so. And claiming
that a math has the written record of its heads since the foundation -- what
style of writing is that written in, at the start in 500 BC ?

We have to ask questions such as 'What difference to our interpretation of
the shastra does it make if so-and-so lived before such-and-such ?' (If
none, forget the enquiry.) Suppose Shankara lived before Buddha -- what
significance for our understanding of both teachers would that make ? Sada
has pointed out, too, that willy-nilly, we all live all the time in
Advaita -- whose truths must then go back even further than the Upanishads
which Adi Shankara commented, or the BrahmaSutras, to the RgVeda itself, to
the creation of mind...

Some scholars such as Professor Sharma have done their best to align the
teachings with known dates, such as Shankara quoting a Chinese Buddhist 7th
century writer, or being a contemporary of a known 8th century Chinese...
but even this does not add to the statement of one Shankaracharya, that
Shankara was merely reviving an ancient tradition of Advaita...

So the discussion of birthdates and the mayaika 'authority of time' should
give way to far more stringent, strenuously applied and ultimately
illuminating questions of truth itself as expressed by the great acharyas.
It has been the curse of Western scholarship to chase after 'Who said this
first ?' as if Truth itself would appreciate the answer.. If Shankara's
teaching or Buddha's teaching somehow affects the meaning of the other's
teaching -- then that might be worth knowing.

Anyone who says 'This puts the matter beyond controversy...' of an oral
tradition, is up to no good...especially since controversy was the
life-blood of the Shankaran renaissance...


-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
[mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org]On Behalf Of Gerald
Sent: 24 December 2009 18:36
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Conference on that Date of Adi Sankaracharya
inOctober, 2002

> Check this out:
> http://www.hvk.org/articles/0103/314.html

I don't get it.  This says:

> Putting an end to controversy, sankaracharyas across the country today
> unanimously accepted April 3, 509 BC as Adi Sankaras exact date of
> birth.

and then it says:

> Sankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Dwarka Jyotirmath, Badrinath
> Govardhanpeeth and Puri unanimously accepted the date and said there was
> no need for debate on the subject.

What about Sringeri?  What kind of unanimity is that?

I still don't know the title or venue of the original 2002 conference
that gave rise to this thread - looked through the advaita-l archives but
couldn't find it.  Is that conference the same as the one mentioned in
this (Jan, 2003) article?

Gerald Penn

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