Madhava, Vidyaranya, Sringeri, and Kulke

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 21 07:20:22 UTC 2000

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <Palaniappa at AOL.COM> wrote:

>I agree with this solution with some minor modifications. Can't disciple
>lineages exist without hermitages?  How about wandering ascetics? According
>to Norman Brown, four manuscripts of saundaryalaharI manuscripts add the
>epithet "paramahaMsaparivrAjaka" to zaGkarAcArya. (Is the use of this
>restricted to bhASyakAra in other texts?)

Certainly, disciple lineages can begin to exist without hermitages, but
whether any such lineage continues for seven centuries without setting down
roots at some spot or the other is a big question. parmahaMsaparivrAjaka is
a common designation of the Advaitin monks, and even those who are
associated with specific institutions are called this, because the ideal is
that they should be parivrAjakas.

>Also consider this. The cOzamAtEvi inscription of 1065 AD (mentioned by N.
>Ganesan sometime ago) shows that the brahmin sabhA of the locality met in
>temple and donated land for those lecturing on "piratIpikam" (pradIpika)
>authored by one citAn2nta piTArar as a vArttika on sArIrakabhASya. ...
>temples was already there in the 11th century. A 13th century Pandyan
>inscription allowing for bhikSAbhoga for ekadaNDin ascetics (from lands
>belonging to a caturvedimangalam named after a Hoysala king!) may show a
>continuation of such an association.

Yes, but notice that in neither of these records is a specific saMnyAsin
named. One is about provisions for teaching a text written by someone who
was probably a householder (you are right about piTArar, it is probably
equivalent to bhaTTa or bhaTTAraka). The other record is simply about
bhikshA, which ascetics certainly take.

Theoretically speaking, the saMnyAsin is not an agent at all, and is beyond
the ritual sphere of varNASrama dharma. Therefore, he cannot accept dakshiNA
and dAna for himself. Accepting bhikshA is meant only for sustaining life
for as long as the body lives.

>Given that advaitin ascetics had a history of receiving donations, the fact
>that the widow of the Hoysala king Ballala III donated land to
>during the Vijayotsava at Sringeri in 1346 becomes significant. Kulke says
>that epigraphic evidence points to tremendous increase in land donations to
>Sringeri after 1346. If the maTha had existed prior to 1346, there should
>have been some grants issued to it by the Hoysala king Ballala III or his
>predecessors as was done by his queen. The reason for the absence of such
>epigraphic evidence is probably due to the absence of an institution at
>Sringeri to receive such endowments.

That there was a significant increase in donations through the 14th century
is undoubted. But there are some Vijayanagara records confirming previous
donations. As far as I know, these have not been shown to be forgeries.
Kulke mistrusts the content of the records however, and thinks that the land
and revenue mentioned in these records were simply made up. I don't see why
this evidence should be completely set aside as untrustworthy.

The second issue is Kulke's idea that a "previous non-existence" has been
recast in the tradition as a "temporary absence." The only evidence for this
is a record from around 1380, when Bharatitirtha passed away, and the king
sent messengers to bring Vidyaranya back to Sringeri. This implies that
Vidyaranya had been away somewhere else, so this is the temporary absence
that Kulke reads as a previous non-existence. However, if Bharatitirtha had
been on the spot, how does that indicate a previous non-existence of the
Matha as such, immediately prior to the date of this record?

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