INDOLOGY digest 686

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at
Wed Jun 4 20:32:51 UTC 1997

On Tue, 3 Jun 1997, Srinivasan Pichumani wrote:

> Vidya >> I was under the impression that the ottillAta nambUdiris 
> Vidya >> were supposed to be a result of a curse that SankarAcArya 
> Vidya >> is supposed to have laid on some relatives of his, barring 
> Vidya >> them from Vedic study. Is this correct? 
> It may be S'ankara-Digvijaya lore, but S'ankarAcArya doesn't 
> seem to figure at all in this issue although he may have cursed
> his relatives as above.

Yes, it is Sankaravijayam lore.

> I very much doubt if S'ankarAcArya himself had any standing 
> that accorded him such legislative power, among the highly 
> orthodox and ritualistic Nambudiris of that time... also, it
> is unclear how the medieval Nambudiris viewed him or if they 
> had any special opinion at all. In the modern era, Nambudiris 
> have tended to be more receptive of S'ankarAcArya embracing
> him as one of their own.

The ritualistic nambUdiris might have had little to do with advaita as
such, but to explain/justify their social and religious practices, they
seem to have invoked Sankara's authority. There is a text called
jAtinirNaya attributed to him, and the keraLolpatti also mentions that
Sankara laid down special norms for the nambUdiris, including practices
like cremation in one's own backyard, no practice of sati and no shaving
of the hair of widows. Both Thurston's Castes and Tribes of South India,
and Sewell's Sketch of the Dynasties of South India mention this. 


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