Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 8 17:15:31 UTC 2000

Swaminathan Madhuresan <smadhuresan at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

>The Sankaraite tradition  received good amount of patronage
>from South Indian royalty (Cholas, Pandyas, Hoysalas, etc.,).
>I think this royal grants played a key role in the preservation
>of Sankaran heritage. In those times (ie., prior to 14th century),
>no Sankara maThas are attested.

Can you give evidence to substantiate this? Is there epigraphical and
textual evidence for "good amount" of support from pre-Vijayanagara
dynasties in the south? If so, it is news to me. So far, the evidence has
been sparse - one Pandyan inscription for bhikshA to ekadaNDin monks and one
for teaching a text written by one cidAnanda piTArar. The said text is no
longer available, by the way, indicating a lack of continuity in the
particular Brahmana community which received this grant. There is far
greater evidence for royal patronage of Jainas, Saivas and Srivaishnavas
than for the Sankaran heritage.

If concrete evidence for the presence of Mathas is sparse, evidence for
other kinds of royal patronage is equally sparse. You want to preferentially
come to two different kinds of conclusions on two closely related points,
based on similar kinds of evidence. How valid is that?

>The founding of the Vijayanagar empire by Kannada chieftains
>as the successor of the Hoysala dynasty seems to have
>provided new opportunity, and initiated heavy competetion between
>Maadhvic and Advaitic groups in the Kannada countryside (Udipi, Sringeri)
>to seek royal support and recognition. Madhava Vidyaranya probably used
>the old royal patronage of Sankaran traditions to influence the new
>chiefs at Vijayanagar, and founded the first Sankaran maTha.

Oh, so it was the religious institution that sought royal patronage and
recognition, instead of it being the other way round, where the religious
institution recognized and legitimated the new royalty (as per Kulke)?

If you look closely at 14th century history, you will find that it took at
least three decades of war with various local rulers, Hindu and Muslim,
before an empire was consolidated. Harihara II was the first ruler who
called himself a mahArAjAdhirAja. Harihara I and Bukka I were only more
humble rAya-s. The Tamil speaking south was brought into the empire only by
the year 1365, as attested by the madhurAvijayam, glorifying Kumara Kampana.
If Kampana's victory over the Muslim Sultan of Madurai was significant,
equally significant was the subduing of the Hindu Sambuvarayas of
Tondaimandalam. The Kerala region was never fully brought under the control
of Vijayanagara. Was it guaranteed in 1346 that the Sangama dynasty would
succeed in constructing a vast empire covering most of the south? Why was
the opportunity in the early 14th century any different from previous
opportunities involving the Chalukyas (eastern and western), Rashtrakutas,
Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras?

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