Kanchi Shankara Mutt

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 23 03:47:43 UTC 2000

Dear Sri BGS/Ganapathi (?),

As an inscription dated 1821 is found in Kumbhakonam, it stands to reason
that there must have been a matha there for a few decades before that date.
I don't think that people and institutions suddenly come into being, on the
date of the first available written record. Since you obviously seem to have
the Tanjavur Sarasvati Mahal publications with you, could you please share
with us the following information?

>“..H.H.Sankarachary was paid annually large sums of money for the conduct
>of worship of Chandramouleeswar and of the Vyasa Pooja in the solar

The given name of this ascetic? "Sankaracharya" is too generic a term for
this place and time. And the place associated with this Sankaracharya -
Kumbhakonam or Tiruvidaimarudur or Kanchipuram? Do the manuscripts refer to
the head of a Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, or just of a Matham in Kumbhakonam?
Polakam Rama Sastri's book on the lineage constantly refers to it as a
"Sarada Matha" - is such a term found in these manuscripts?

>02.Doc. Nos.1-312,4-30,5-6,9-37 etc., mention about the kanakabhishekams
>performed by the tanjore King to the Shankaracharyas of Kanchi  between

Names again, of the Sankaracharya(s) and of the king(s)? As you may be
aware, there were at least two branches of the Tanjavur Maratha family,
until 1798. In 1799, after Serfoji ascended to the throne, the British took
over in all but name. Also, places - Kumbhakonam or Tiruvidaimarudur or

>03.Doc.No.4-74 to 85
>During the reign of  Prathapa Simha (1739-1763AD) the head of Kanchi
>Peetam, while he was camping at Udayar Palayam, was induced to go to
>Thanjavur.The Pontiff, who wanted to reside at some place on the banks of
>the Kaveri, preferred to reside at Kumbhakonam.Thereupon the Rajah

There are two questions of dates -

1. Pratapasimha ousted the legitimate king, Shahuji, only in 1749. A date of
1739 is too early for him, as Shahuji's mother was regent from 1737 to 1740,
and Shahuji ruled 1740 - 1749. Is the above material a primary quotation
from the mss, or is it the author's/editor's reconstruction of history? If
the latter, he has made a mistake. If the former, there is room for doubt.

2. Is a reason given for a move from Udayarpalayam to Tanjavur? And are
there more specific details of who it was who first came to Udayarpalayam
and then moved to Tanjavur, when, from where and why? The standard account
of the Kanchi Matha says that the major wars fought by the British, the
Nawab of Arcot, the Nizam of Hyderabad and Haider/Tipu of Mysore forced a
move to Udayarpalayam and from there to Kumbhakonam. However, these wars did
not start till around 1767, and Pratapasimha was no longer around at this

Kumbhakonam is the site of the widely known Veda Pathasala named after
Govinda Dikshita, the minister of the earlier Nayaka rulers of Tanjavur. As
you may also be aware, in the 19th century, all the Sankaracharyas at
Kumbhakonam were selected only from among his descendants. Like many other
similar institutions in that period, the Kumbhakonam matha was primarily
associated with a specific family and had a following primarily from a
particular Brahmana sub-caste. Such a situation continues with most of the
minor Advaita mathas today, and with almost all the Dvaita mathas.

It is well attested that the Kumbhakonam matha moved to Kanchipuram between
1842 and 1868. The question that causes the biggest controversy is whether
the said matha came to Kumbhakonam from Kanchipuram in the first place, and
if so, when. That still needs to be addressed.

Best wishes,

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list