on zankara's date - 2

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 10 02:13:03 EST 2000


"N. Ganesan" <naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>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.


1. Forget the Cambodian inscription, and the Sankaravijaya silence about a
Khmer student. All the hagiographies are late texts, and can be safely set
aside for purposes of chronology. They do carry other kinds of useful
historical information regarding the development of the Advaita Vedanta
tradition, but not for deciding Sankara's date.
2. Forget the Pallava friezes too, as being inconclusive.
3. If Vacaspati's date is not 841 CE, it can only be 976 CE. All that this
indicates is that Sankara lived some time before 976 CE. If we didn't have
other evidence to prove otherwise, Sankara's date could well be 300 CE, or
800 CE, or any other date before 976 CE. As things stand, there is
sufficient evidence to consider as improbable, any  date before 700 CE. Any
reconsideration of Vacaspati's date can extend the range one assigns for
Sankara's date, but it cannot absolutely deny any of the earlier accepted
dates. There are good discussions of the relevant evidence in Nakamura's
book on early Vedanta, in Mayeda's translation of the Upadesasahasri and in
Potter's Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies (v. 3).

Vidyasankar
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