on zankara's date - 2

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 9 15:56:20 EST 2000

NG>> vAcaspati's nyAya works, dated in the late 10th century, will
NG>> pose a problem for accepting 700 CE as Sankara's date. It is
NG>> more likely that Sankara flourished around 900 CE, give or take
NG>> a few decades.

Dr. Stern: <<
I fail to see a strong connection between problem of vAcaspati's date,
and the question of zagkara's.

vAcasapati's late 10th century date was quoted because his supposedly
writing of bhAmatI commentary in *840 CE* is cited as proof for
Sankara's 800CE date in many academic publications. Sankara's 800 CE
or even earlier dates cannot be sustained with available evidence.
What is generally presented for 800 CE date is 1) Cambodian
inscription of the time of Indravarman. That Khmer Sankara has nothing
to do with advaita since any word connecting the inscription with the
subject of advaita is lacking there. Adi Sankara did not travel to
Khmer empire, then Sivasoma should have come to South India to study.
Sivasoma mentions all the subjects studied under the tutorship of
Sankara but except advaita-like ones! No Sankaravijaya book mentions
a Khmer  student. 2) The Pallavan frieze has nothing to do with the
advaita Sankara also and, 3) the vAcaspati's date of late 10th century
does not work favorably for 800CE or earlier dates either.

Have not seen much published on the relationship of Santarakshita
and Sankara's date. It is indeed striking that Santarakshita
and Kamalasila's work never mentions Sankara, the pre-eminent author
of 400 works in poetry and philosophy (Kunjunni Raja).
But that very book convolutedly dates Sankara himself! How firm are
Kamalasila's dates?(I read many). What is the reliability of Tibetan
texts used for dating 6-8th century works? Were there 2 umbeka-s?

I humbly request Dr. Thrasher to give a summary on Sankara's date.

Let us look at the evidence from Sankara's native country:
Dr. Palaniappan has given the inscription giving the upper limit
for Sankara on 4 Nov 1999. R.C.Majumdar in his edition of Cambodian
inscriptions is very skeptical of Sankara's connection with Khmer
country and says that no literary or inscriptional evidence exists
in India to fix Sankara's date. This has to be revised.

the earliest reference linking Kaladi and Sankara is a Tamil
inscription that belongs to the 20th regnal year of mARavarman2
cuntarapANtiyan2 I (1235-36 A.D.). The inscription (SII 5, no. 431)
is in the nellaiyappar temple in tirunelvEli in Tamilnadu. The
interesting aspect of this inscription is that it does not refer to
Sankara directly. Instead, it refers to a Pandiyan official/chieftain
who had a linga installed at the temple in the following words:

"kAlaTiccaGkaran azakiyaperumALAn2a mazavarAyar pUcittu ikkOyilil
AzrayalimgamAka ezuntaruLuvitta cokkan2Arkku.."

Here a person has been named kAlaTiccaGkaran (Sankara of Kaladi).
If we take this person to be the father of azakiyaperumAL, the
mazavarAyar, then the father should have received the name probably
towards the end of the 12th century. From the details in the
inscription, we know that the family belonged to the western
Tirunelveli region. So the name kAlaTi (Kaladi) did not refer to the
natal village of anybody in the chieftain's family. So, unless we have
a kAlaTi in tirunelvEli region, the person was indeed named after
Sankara of Kaladi.

What is particularly interesting is that kAlaTiccaGkaran was a
non-brahmin official who would otherwise be called a veLLALa or zUdra.
cEkkizAr, the veLLALa minister of the Chola king, refers to veLLALas
as zUdras in his periyapurANam of the 12th century. Moreover, cEkkizAr
was the one who called a Chola king known for his impartial justice
as "manu nIti".

Along with Palaniappan's Pandyan evidence, an earlier interesting
inscription from the Chola heart land must be considered. This
was discovered by K. Sridharan, Archaeology Officer, State dept.
of archaeology, Tiruchy about 10 years ago. The inscription is from
KailAsam uDaiyAr temple, now in ruins at the village called
CholamAdevi. Near TiruveRumbiyUr, Tiruchy town.
The inscription is dated to 1065 CE, in the reign of Viira
Rajendra Cholan. Vira Rajendran was a grandson of Rajaraja I
and the son of Rajendra Chola I who had a big navy. The inscription
is in Tamil, and starts with the distinct "meykkIrtti" (skt. pracAsti)
of Vira Rajendra. Each Chola or Pandya king had a separate
"meykkIrtti" whose length will grow with each victory.

This CholamAdevi tamil inscription of 1065 A.D. records donation of
land by the Village Council for the purpose of expounding the
commentary (vArttikam) called pradIpakam, penned by ChidAnanda
BhaTTArar on the "bhagavatpAdIyam sArIraka bhASyam". The words
after the pracAsti section:

  pANTikulAcan2i vaLanATTu piramatEyam zrI cOzhamAtEvi
  caruppEti maGkalattu peruGkuRi capaiyOm tirumAtiri
  nalcAlai AzhvAr tirumuRRattu .. kUTTam kuRaivaRak
  kUTiyiruntu paNippaNiyAl paNittu pakavatpAtIyam cArIraka
  pASyattukku citAnanta piTArar paNNina piratIpakam AkiRa
  vArttikam vakkaNippArkku viruttiyAka viTTa nilam ...

Adisankara calls his brahmasUtra bhASyam as "sArIraka mImAmsa".
In this 1065 CE inscription, it is called "bhagavatpAdIyam
sArIraka bhASyam". This is the oldest inscription that definitively
mentions Adisankara anywhere.

While trying to fix the date of Sankara who purportedly wrote
400 texts, it is hard to believe that the eminent philosopher
remained hidebound for centuries. Note that Pallavas and Imperial
Cholas were great patrons of Sanskrit learning. In the Pallava
period, the Saivaite Nayanmars and Vaishnava Alvars start
figuring in inscriptions a little after their times.
Take the case of Ramanujar, his bronzes exist from his lifetime
in the Chola times.

VAcaspati's late 10th century nyAya works and the two tamil
inscriptions in 1065 CE and 1235-6 CE from Chola and Pandyan
kings point rather to a late date, than conventionally believed.
Sankara could well have lived around 900 CE.

N. Ganesan

NG>> Also, Kunjunni Raja in ALB, v.24, 1960 has given arguments that
NG>> go against 700 CE date for Sankara. Kunjunni informs that
NG>> for Santarakshita (705-62) and Kamalasila (713-63), Sankara's
NG>> teachings were unknown.
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