Kaladi and Sankara

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Thu Nov 4 07:01:23 UTC 1999

In a message dated 11/3/99 5:39:38 PM Central Standard Time,
vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM writes:

> The earliest reference would probably be in the Sankaravijaya of Madhava,
>  traditionally identified with Vidyaranya.

In that case, 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".

All these make one wonder if the veLLALas in the 12th century knew what
Sankara and Manu thought of the zUdras? Or was it just syncretism on the part
of kALaTiccaGkaran2's parents to name their son after Sankara of Kaladi? Or
was there a compromise between advaita and zaivasiddhAnta? Or had the idea of
Sankara as an avatAra of dakSiNAmUrti become so popular as to lead to his
acceptance even by devout zaivite veLLALas who would otherwise be opposed to
advaita? Coincidentally, western tirunelvEli region is also where we find
potiyil, the original locus of the dakSiNAmUrti cult.

In any case, it is obvious that the value of Tamil inscriptions for
Indological research has been grossly underestimated till now. There is an
urgent need to publish and create a digitized data base of all the Tamil
inscriptions. Are there any Indologists to take up this cause?

S. Palaniappan

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