[Advaita-l] On the history of Bharathavarsha

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sat Jan 16 14:55:47 CST 2010

Dear Sri Anbu Sivam,


Actually, most of us try to keep away from some of these inconclusive debates about
history! It is undeniable that our purANa-s have not been given the credence that they
deserve as a record of what happened in our own country from ancient times onwards.
It is also true that historians can and do differ from one another on how to interpret
known facts and what weight to give to surmise and conjecture where facts are not
available. It may be that the dates currently accepted for the Maurya dynasty and the
Gupta dynasty kings are still open to question and revision. More than a politican like
Subramanian Swamy or a demagogue like P N Oak, I would recommend reading the
publications of K D Sethna, for his dispassionate and highly detailed examination of the
various sources of historical data.

However, none of this is good enough reason to insist that Adi Sankara's date has to
be in the BCE period. When a native source gives a date in the SAlivAhana SAka era or
in the vikrama SAka era or as number of years passed since the kali yuga began, these
dates are extremely easy and clear to interpret. Even before there was any discussion
of Sankara's dates by Western scholars, a Kerala based poet, nIlakaNTha wrote two
kAvya-s on his life, SankaramandArasaurabha and SankarAbhyudaya, which give 788
AD as the date of his birth. Throughout Kerala, the accepted tradition is that the Kollam
era was begun in relation to Adi Sankara's lifetime. There are INDIAN sources, dating
from times when there were no political compulsions behind giving any date whatsoever
for Sankaracharya's life, which give us dates that translate to 788 AD as per the current
common reckoning. 

To Sri Sunil Bhattacharjya - any acceptance of a conclusion can only come after
direct examination of evidence, whether the topic is philosophy or mathematics or
science or history. Proper historians do not give credence to the supposed copper-
plate inscription of a king sudhanvA because the said inscription has never been made
available for examination. Questions abound - What script was it written in? Who
deciphered it? Was the claimed age authenticated via scientific means of dating? If
so, who did that study? Were copper-plate inscriptions used to record donations of
land and money in 5th century BCE? How many other, independent copper-plate
records have been found from a similar period? In other regions of India, the preferred
materials to keep records were different at different times. Finally, where is this
sudhanvA record today? Who has it and will he/she make it available for investigation?
There is no convincing answer to a single one of these questions. If this issue were a
hypothetical litigation in a court and you were the judge who had to sift through the
opposing claims of two parties and decide who was right, what would you do? How
would you handle the fact that lawyers for one side keep saying that they have some
evidence that vindicates their claim, but are forever unable or unwilling to bring that
evidence forth and present it in open court?



Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft’s powerful SPAM protection.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list