On the history of Kanchi Sankara Matha

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Wed Jan 5 07:05:46 UTC 2005

Dear colleagues,

There have been past discussions in this list regarding the history of
Sankara matha at Kanchi. Specifically, the issue has been whether the present matha
ever existed in Kanchi before its move from Kumbakonam. The Kanchi matha's
claim is that it moved to Kumbakonam from Kanchi and then moved back to Kanchi.
The Sringeri matha's claim is that the matha at Kumbakonam was a branch of the
Sringeri matha.

I am presenting below details from an important inscription dated 1492 AD
(no. 110 of 1927-28) which sheds valuable light on this issue. According to this
inscription, a person called Sri Purushottama Bharati Sri Padamkal (zrI
puruSOtama bhArati zrI pAdamkaL) of Kumbakonam Ishtaka Matha (iSTakA maTha) made a
donation to the deity Sarasvati at a Sarasvati temple.

The inscription is at least two centuries older than the Maratha period
inscriptions usually discussed regarding this issue. The honorific 'Sri Padamkal'
indicates he must have been a respected religious personage. The name Sri
Purushottama Bharati coincidentally is the same as that of the head of the Sringeri
matha from 1479-1517 according to the matha web site

The Kanchi matha claims that its heads had the title "Indra Sarasvati". Given
the title Bharati in this inscription, it is obvious that this matha was
affiliated with Sringeri. The donation to the deity Sarasvati might be only a
coincidence or might indicate a special affiliation to Sarasvati which might
presage the future adoption of the title Sarasvati at the Kumbakonam matha.

This inscription seems to support the claim of Sringeri matha with respect to
the original affiliation of a dasanami matha at Kumbakonam.

By the way, the name 'iSTakA maTha' is interesting too. Does anyone know of a
ny other matha being called 'iSTakA matha'?

Thanks in advance.

S. Palaniappan

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