[Advaita-l] The Four Disciples of Shankaracharya

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sat Sep 24 21:43:40 CDT 2016

The Four Disciples of Shankaracharya

Traditional followers of Shankaracharya hold that his disciples are four in
number: Sureshwaracharya, Padmapadacharya, Toṭakācharya and
Hastāmalakacharya.  Of these the first two are more popular to the
scholarly world because of their works (Vārtika and Panchapādikā) that are
part of the prasthānatraya bhāṣyas studied by Advaitins and others. The
other two disciples are mostly known through traditional accounts. In the
Mādhavīya Shankara Vijaya, however, we have the authentic reference to
these two disciples too.

The popular works of Totakacharya are the Śrutisāra samuddharaṇam, an
Advaitic work and the Toṭakāṣṭakam, a hymn to the Guru Shankaracharya.
Hastamalaka's works are also there, one of which is famous for its bhāṣya
composed by none other than the Guru Shankaracharya himself.

That the noted disciples of Shankaracharya are four and the latter two too
are included in the four is known from the work 'Yatidharmasangrahaḥ' by
Sri Viśveśvara Saraswati none other than the Guru of Sri Madhusudana
Saraswati and is assigned the 15th CE.

This work is followed as authority by the Sringeri Maṭha in all its
yati-related events.  One such important event is the annual Chāturmāsya
sankalpa. The other is the historical 'śiṣya svīkāra' event when a new
successor designate is given the sannyāsa order by the reigning Head of the


[When one raises the volume in the above video the verses from the
Yatidharma sangraha related to sannyasa sveekāra by the renunciate can be


//In the course of this Puja, worship is offered to three groups of
Acharyas, each group consisting of five Acharyas. These three groups are
mentioned below separately. The “Yati Dharma Sangraha” of Visweshwara
Saraswati, otherwise known as “Visweshwara Samhita” gives in detail the
procedure to be adopted for the Puja.

[The above author is none other than the Guru of Sri Madhusudana Saraswati
and is assigned the 15th CE]

भाष्यकारस्य पद्मपादविश्वरूपतोटकहस्तामलकाचार्याः ।
Shankaracharya Panchakam

Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada is placed in the middle and His four shishyas,
namely, Padmapadacharya, Sureswaracharya, Totakacharya and
Hastamalakacharya are placed in the four directions.//

In the above line from that work 'Yatidharma sangraha', we see the four
names of the disciples.  The name 'Viśvarūpa' refers to Sureśvarācharya and
is found so in the Shankara Vijaya too.

It is interesting to see that the author of the above work [15 CE] has
authoritatively given the names of the four disciples.

भव शंकर देशिक मे शरणम्


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