Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Srini Pichumani srini_pichumani at MENTORG.COM
Tue Jun 13 23:39:25 UTC 2000

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> >Many books and wedding invitations of 20th century seek the blessing of the
> >Kanchi Sankaracarya. Even an academic publication, "MM. Professor
> >Kuppuswami
> >Sastri Birth-Centenary Commemoration Volume- Part II" of the Kuppuswami
> >Sastri Research Institute edited by S. S. Janaki (1985) praises Sankara,
> >the
> >Kanchi maTha's Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, Jayendra Sarasvati, and
> >Vijayendra Sarasvati. Is this simply a modern behavior? Is there any
> >evidence
> >in the Tamil tradition showing that such praising of the leader of a maTha
> >one is affiliated with existed in the 13th century?
> What is currently happening in the Tamil south is quite unprecedented in its
> scope. Apparently, the blessings of the Kanchi Acharyas are absolutely
> necessary for the sun to shine and the wind to blow, to wake up in the
> morning and to go to sleep at night. All very nice no doubt, for
> guru-bhakti, but this is traditionally only expected of close disciples, not
> out of every living being. It is perhaps a uniquely Tamil sentimentality. I
> wouldn't know, although I'm Tamil myself, as I grew up elsewhere.

Vidyasankar,  I am quite disappointed by your comments.   I suppose being weaned
on the Kanchi-Sringeri polemic,  and plain frustration at the greater popularity
of the Kanchi math or more particularly the late Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati
amongst TN folks,   makes you lash out like this in response to Palaniappan's

For,  as you well know,  it is customary among various groups of Brahmins
hailing from TN,  resident in TN or elsewhere (!),  to seek the blessings of the
Kanchi or the Sringeri acharyas in their marriage invitations.  Seeking the
blessings of the acharyas of either or both these maths,  in person,  before and
after the wedding is just a regular affair without any other connotations.
Kanchi just happens to be easier to access,  and has additional advantages for
procurement of silk sarees and dhotis,  and hence probably gets more visitors
than does Sringeri.

How long this has been going on historically is anybody's guess.  One would have
to look at early invitations on paper or palm-leaf for evidence of this,  but I
suppose the practice of printed marriage invitations accelerated this trend.  We
would also have to see how the official announcement,  typically read aloud
during the engagement ritual,  was structured in earlier times.

As for as books,  most of them seeking the blessings of the Kanchi acharyas,  be
it those of Raghavan (his kaavya of Muthuswami Dikshitar),   Nagaswami (Siva
Bhakti),  Padma Subramaniam,  N.Raghunatha Iyer,  and various others have to do
with the interaction of these scholars directly with the late Chandrasekharendra
Sarasvati.  I fail to see why the scholarly interactions that various people
have had with him,  and the respect they have thus developed which makes them
seek their blessings in such ventures,  should make one green with envy.

I am sure that there are several books written within TN and outside,  by Tamils
and non-Tamils,  that similarly seek the blessings of the Sringeri acharyas
too.   Prof.K.Satchidananda Murti's book Vedic Hermeneutics,  to name one
scholarly work,  if I remember right,  refers to the Sringeri acharyas.

> ity alam, or as we say in Tamil - podum, podum,
> Vidyasankar

Leaving aside the posts of other detractors and distractors (sic),
Palaniappan's posts seem to marshal various pieces of evidence that seriously
question the historicity of the Sringeri matha.  Maybe that irks you,  and maybe
you want to do a Bh.K style "nOr muiraa" on Palaniappan,  but however sound or
unsound the arguments and counter-arguments have been,  they have been very
informative and could very well provide a lot of source material for a future
Ph.D thesis.

As an aside,  in these debates,  I would not rush to frame charges of Tamil and
non-Tamil motives all too easily... since it can easily lead to a counter-charge
of an anti-Tamil motive.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list