on zankara's date - 2

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Mon Mar 20 20:58:24 UTC 2000

In a message dated 3/19/2000 3:08:46 AM Central Standard Time,
vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM writes:

> 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.

But there was no Tamil caGkam in Madurai in the 16th century. Its revival
(under Panditturai Tevar?) is about 4 centuries later. As far as I know, no
Tamil tradition mentions a Madurai debate with a visiting zaGkarAcArya. That
leads us to two possibilities.

1. The tradition refers indeed to Adi zaGkara. In that case, the fact that it
was not mentioned by other texts may be due to the authors not being
conversant with all the details.

2. This was part of a post-zaGkara trend to incorporate some Tamil zaiva
devotional traditions into zaGkara hagiography. In such a scenario, zaGkara
going to Madurai and debating Tamil scholars may be modeled after campantar
debating the Jains in Madurai or the musicians' and poets' contests described
in the tiruviLaiyATal purANam.

We have two other stories about zaGkara modeled after the stories of Tamil
zaiva saints.

The story of ziva appearing as an outcaste accompanied by the four vedas as
dogs seems to be based on the story of cOmAci mARa nAyan2Ar as described in
the Sanskrit works mucukundasahasranAmam and  zivabhaktavilAsa. For a
discussion of the nAyan2Ar's story, see "The Tyagaraja Cult in Tamilnadu" by
Rajeshwari Ghose, 1996, pp.173-174.

Another story is that of zaGkara, in response to a challenge from maNDan2a
mizra's wife, leaving his body and entering the body of a king and having sex
with the queen. This seems to be modeled after the story of tirumUlar in
periyapurANam, albeit with some very crucial differences. Seeing the distress
of some cows when the cowherd, mUlan2, died, the yogi who will be later
called tirumUlar left his body and entered the cowherd's body. But, when the
cowherd's wife came to touch him, he refused to be touched by her and said to
her that he was not in any way related to her.

Of course, we also have zaGkara being associated with dakSiNAmUrti.

The question I have is: Was this in order to win over to advaita those Smarta
brahmins leaning towards devotional  zaivism?

S. Palaniappan

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