Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Fri Jun 2 16:50:49 UTC 2000

When Madhva broke from advaita tradition, it is possible he was interacting
with adherents of advaita. That does not mean that they were part of a maTha.
(As Zydenbos asked, do we have any evidence that Madhva broke from a maTha?)
If that were the case, then should we not assume that when Ramanuja broke
from yAdavaprakAza, there was a maTha in Kanchi in the 11th century?

Even with the ascetics mentioned in the 13th century Pandyan inscription, it
does not mean their lineage has to be traced to Sankara. The lineages in
reality could have begun much later than Sankara but could claim to go back
to him. When teacher-disciple linkages can be established as between nandi
and meykaNTAr of the saiva tradition, why not between Sankara and

The presence of lineages does not imply their continuity. In fact, without
real continuity, creating a myth of continuity is easier when the members of
the 'lineage' are wandering ascetics. It is simply difficult to check the
veracity of their stories. It is when they set up a permanent establishment
and try to create an origin myth, it leads to questions like the ones we are
grappling with.

As for the seal of Vidyasankara, Rigopoulos says that one side of the seal
contains the impression of a boar, while the reverse shows the impression of
Sri Vidyasankara. Unless the seal mentions the Sringeri maTha affiliation for
this Vidyasankara, one cannot assume that the case for Sringeri maTha
existing in the 13th century is proven. Does the Sringeri maTha use the boar
sign as its emblem?

Finally, let us consider three Tamil texts of the 13th century. They are the
saiva text, tiruviLaiyATal purANam by nampi, the advaita text, paramArtta
tarican2am by paTTan2Ar, and the vaishnava text, ARAyirappaTi
guruparamparAprabhAvam by pin2pazakiya perumAL jIyar. The vaishnava text
which deals with the lineage of teachers does not mention any Sankara maTha.
In the prefatory section, the advaita text praises kOvindamAmun2ivan2
(Govindabhagavatpada) in one verse followed by Sankarabhagavatpada in the
next verse. It does not praise any head of an advaita maTha. Compare this
omission against what we find in recent times. (to be continued)

S. Palaniappan

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