on zankara's date - 2

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 19 09:08:12 UTC 2000

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <Palaniappa at AOL.COM> wrote:

Re: zankarAbhyudaya of rajacUDAmaNi dIkshita (early 17th c),

>It will be good if he can expand on this. Is the kAvya about Adi zaGkara or
>later zaGkarAcArya? What are the reasons for postulating a later
>zaGkarAcArya? My reason is that if this Sanskrit tradition is about

To the first question - neither and both. The text includes most of the
basic legends that are known about Adi Sankara from many other sources too,
but there are also some anecdotes that are quite unique to this text. I
think that is because this poet adds on to the general hagiography, material
from the lives of titular Sankaracharyas who lived close to his own time.

There are two basic reasons for this. In the first chapter, the poet salutes
his own guru, gIrvANendra sarasvatI, as a titular Sankaracarya (paryAya
zankarAcAryam pAre vAcAm avasthitaM, prapancasAra-pramukha-prabandha-kRti
vedhasam). There is a well known commentary by gIrvANendra on the
prapancasAra, a mantra-zAstra text attributed to Sankara, and frequently
cited by most zAkta tAntric authors. The poet also tells us that his guru
appeared to him in a dream and commanded him to write this text.

In the seventh chapter, the poet tells us that during his travels, the
teacher visited Satyamangalam, the village of his own father, Manikheta
Yajvan (nirIkshamANas sa pathi..... nivAsayogyam maNikheTa yajvanaH). We are
also told that the AcArya ate at the home of Bhavasvami, another near
ancestor of the poet (pavitrayann atra sa bhaikshacaryayA svayam bhavasvAmi
sudhIniketanam). It is quite probable that Advaita monks from the poet's own
guru's immediate lineage would have visited his ancestor's home and his
father's village. It seems to me that what we have here is a very close
association between the dIkshita's family and a late 16th century lineage of
titular Sankaracharyas, so much so that the deeds of these latter gurus get
attributed to Adi Sankara in the poem. This is probably aided by the general
notion that this or that contemporary Sankaracharya is a reincarnation of
Adi Sankara. Indeed, we must expect that something like this has always been
at work, in order to account for the diverse legends and texts attributed to
Sankara, the bhAshyakAra.

I see further confirmation for this interpretation in the fact that the last
four chapters of this text include a great number of hymns that the poet
attributes to Sankara, but which are not popularly known at all. It is
highly likely that these hymns were composed by gIrvANendra sarasvatI and/or
others in that lineage, and handed down in a select circle, including
rAjacUDAmaNi dIkshita's family. If one takes just these hymns out of the
larger poem, they all seem to have distinct compositional and thematic
peculiarities. The detailed accounts of pilgrimage tours in the Tamil
country could also be related to members of this lineage, rather than being
really attributable to Adi Sankara.

>zaGkara, it will agree with the possibility of zaGkara meeting
>who was a poet-saint who earlier was the minister of the Pandyan king in

I rather think rAjacUDAmaNi dIkshita is talking about a much later
personality, perhaps gIrvANendra sarasvatI, when he talks of the
draviDa-prabandha and sanghapalaka in Madurai. Has to do with the way the
kAvya is structured. Note that the poet was from a family that had migrated
into Tamil country towards the end of the Vijayanagara period. Probably from
Karnataka, as Satyamangalam is on the
TN-Karnataka border. An interaction of his hymn-composing guru with a Tamil
literary tradition would have stood out prominently in the poet's mind.
Madurai does not otherwise have any significant traditional connection with
Adi Sankara's life. The city is not even mentioned in the more well-known
hagiographic texts. I've discussed all this in greater detail in my paper on
the Sankara hagiographies, which is scheduled to appear in the International
Journal of Hindu Studies, when it resumes publication.

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