[Advaita-l] Shuka and Gaudapada

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 28 09:45:25 CST 2012

> The brahmins did not have the Gupta surname. The Gupta surname is for the kshatriyas only.

No, technically, the gupta surname is for the vaiSya-varNa. The kshatriya-varNa uses varmA.

It is a different matter altogether that two major ruling dynasties in Indian history used the
name gupta. All this indicates is that these families were commoners who became kings.
At a time when varNa distinctions were more fluid, especially with respect to ruling over the
land, a vaiSya family or even a brAhmaNa family could end up becoming a political dynasty.
Even changes of surname as a result of this were not unknown. For example, in the south,
the kadamba dynasty was started by a brAhmaNa called mayUraSarmA, who then became
mayUravarmA in later records.
>I reemember reading some years ago that Chandrasarma (the purvashrama name of Govindapada) is said to have had four wives and one of the wife was a princess from the Maurya dynasty. By a quirk of fate his first son Bhartrihari, from his brahmin wife became the ruler of Ujjain as Vikramarka, the son of his kshatriya wife was young. Bhartrihari had some family disappointment and he took to sanyasha. By that time Vikramarka grew up. When Govindapada took his samadhi, Vikramarka came to the place near Narmada, where Govindapada tok his samadhi. It seems the people of Ujjain vouch for this till today.
As I mentioned, poetic license should not be mistaken for historical fact. To begin with, in
the original saMskRta text of rAmabhadra dIkshita's patanjali carita, there is nobody called
candraSarmA; there is only a candragupta. And yes, there is a princess, but no mention of
the maurya dynasty in the poem. 
Secondly, the patanjali carita makes not only vikrama and bhartRhari to be the sons of this
candragupta, but it also adds vararuci and bhaTTi to the list. One does not have to get into
the messy discussions of histories and dates of maurya and gupta dynasties at all. It should
be clear to all that there is no way bhartRhari, vikramAditya, vararuci and bhaTTi could all
have been living at the same time, let alone being sons of the same father from different
As for the people of ujjain vouchiing for all this, the "it seems" is nothing more than the
assertion of some writers who make the fallacy of interpreting the patanjali carita as if it
were an account of history. It is one thing to have a local legend that says vikramAditya
came to the banks of the narmadA to pay respects to govindapAda. It is quite another to
say that govindapAda was also the pUrvASrama father of vikramAditya, bhartRhari,
vararuci and bhaTTi! I have never seen the historicity of the second legend being vouched
for by anybody. The patanjali carita is a charming kAvya and has good literary value, but
there is no need to invest it with historical significance.
ps. In case anyone is wondering about bhaTTi, this is the name of the author of the famous
bhaTTikAvya, a fascinating poem based on the rAmAyaNa, which also illustrates the complex
rules of Paninian grammar in poetic form. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhattikavya.
For legends regarding vararuci, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vararuchi. 		 	   		  

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