Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 12 23:31:10 UTC 2000

nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>I guess Vidhya must be possesing some special kind of vision - for
>he's able to read the "young age" of the KAnchi matham everywhere.

Nothing special about it. Just access to and a careful investigation of
primary sources, along the application of reason to well-attested

>Shringeri as a place is a non-entity in the historical and spiritual sense.

It is precisely this non-entity that is associated with very big entities in
Advaita tradition, and is mentioned at the head of all old Dasanami lists,
which don't mention a Kanchi Matha at all. Unless there has been a massive
and successful conspiracy by everyone north of Tamil Nadu to deny the Kanchi
Matha its due recognition, I don't see why the Dasanami records say what
they do say. Of course, the simpler way to look at it all is that the Kanchi
Matha was born after the said records were written.

For many of my fellow Tamilians, I am sorry to say, it seems as if nothing
of any value could have ever existed south of the Narmada and north of the
Tamil speaking regions. This is as bad as the outlook of some north Indians,
for whom nothing exists south of the Gangetic plains.

The rest of Nanda's post is based on Kanchi Matha publications and reveals
precisely the kind of polemic that the followers of the Kanchi Matha are
good at, while simultaneously disclaiming it, and accusing the Sringeri
Matha of all the polemic. This has been going on since the 1850's, so it is
nothing very new.

When one points out that the Kanchi Matha was originally based at
Kumbhakonam, and that this Matha transformed into a Kanchi Matha only
between 1842 and 1868, that becomes polemical.

When one points out that it was the British East India Company that
appointed the Kumbhakonam Sankaracharya as the sole trustee of the Kanchi
Kamakshi temple in the mid-19th century, that becomes polemical.

When one points out that the hereditary Sthanikas of the Kanchi Kamakshi
temple challenged the acquisition of the temple by the Kumbhakonam
Sankaracharya, in the 1840's and again in the 1920's, that becomes polemical
(See Mattison Mines and Vijayalakshmi Gourishankar, Leadership and
Individuality in South Asia: The Case of the South Indian Big Man, Journal
of Asian Studies 49, no. 4 (November 1990): 761–86, for details of these

When one points out that given this Kumbhakonam origin, all the claims about
"Nagareshu Kanchi" and "Kanchi is the only mokshapurI in the south" say
nothing about the current Kanchi Matha, that again becomes polemical.

But when Kanchi Matha publications make all sorts of statements about
Sringeri (non-entity) and other Mathas (almost defunct), we are supposed to
believe that that is not polemical. Perhaps Nanda does not realize that
Kaladi, Sankara's place of birth, is also a "non-entity" in his scheme of
things. And perhaps he does not realize that the very claim that the Kanchi
Matha has a bigger reputation than the Sringeri Matha is itself polemical to
the core.

>Anyway as Advaitins, whose main doctrine is the unity of all things, why
>are people even getting into this "genuine and authentic" game? I doubt
>if the KAnchi AchAryas are into any of this.

Obviously, you mean to imply that it is only the Sringeri Acharyas who are
into this, but the record shows otherwise. I am sorry to say this, but the
Kanchi Acharyas have always been into it. You just have to read a few
articles from the commemoration volume on Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati
at, to see the level of involvement the Kanchi Acharyas
have traditionally brought to this game. See especially,, and In the latter page, the criticism is
disguised as if it were praise, but this is what Tamilians refer to as
"vAzhaippazhattil Uci". One has to be exceedingly naive, not to see it for
what it is.

I suppose I should not dignify all this with a response, but I only wish to
bring some primary sources to the attention of list members, in the hope
that they will be useful to one who takes up Prof. Fort's earlier suggestion
of investigating the Sankara Matha traditions. I will provide this list in a
later email, which will be absolutely the last from me on this topic. I
refuse to respond to any further questions, which seem to be nothing more
than catcalls.

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