Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Thu Jun 1 22:09:48 UTC 2000

Based on the discussions so far, the case for the present Sringeri Sankara
maTha to have been founded by Sankara seems to rest on the following

1. Transmission of authentic Sankarite texts implies transmission through
2. Texts, whose authorship is traditionally attributed to Sankaracharya but
are believed to have been authored by later persons, in reality belong to
titular Sankaracaryas.
3. Presence of followers of advaita tradition implies the presence of advaita
maTha establishment.
4. Ascetics have to belong to lineages beginning with Sankara.
5. Lineages have to be unbroken from Sankara.
6. Lineages will settle down at some spots over a period of a few centuries.

The first five assumptions are not necessarily valid. The sixth is irrelevant
because it has not been shown convincingly that the lineages have existed
continuously from the time of Sankara. If one cannot show that the lineages
have continued to exist for a few centuries (prior to 1346 AD), the question
whether they will settle down is irrelevant.

Let us take the take the first assumption.  The inscriptional evidence points
to possible transmission of advaitic texts through householders. One
manuscript lists a householder as the author of Saundaryalahari.

According to Srivaishnavite tradition, naJjIyar, before he became a
Srivaishnava, was an adavaitin householder (whose name, coincidentally, was
mAdhava) who was defeated in a scholarly debate by parAzarabhaTTar. Based on
the vaishnavite tradition of guruparamparaprabhavam of 13th century, the
congregation of mAdhava in Karnataka was the one to be compared with the
congregation led by the Srivaishnavite guru parAzarabhaTTar at Srirangam. The
fact that parAzarabhaTTar goes from Srirangam to Karnataka  for a debate with
mAdhava shows that it was mAdhava who was the preeminent advaitin to
challenge and defeat at that time. (*The text does not mention any ascetic
advaita establishment  in Karnataka of 13th century.*) This also supports the
possibility that the advaita texts could have been transmitted through
householders without any dependence on the ascetics. This serves to sever the
linkage between the ascetics and the availability of genuine Sankara texts.
(to be continued)

S. Palaniappan

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