On the history of Kanchi Sankara Matha

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Sun Jan 9 08:30:00 UTC 2005

Dear Colleagues,

Adding to the inscription mentioning Purushottama Bharati, I have come across
other Tamil inscriptions of the Vijayanagar period with four more holy men
(one -sAgara, one
-tIrttha, and two -giri) who would be thought of today as belonging to the
dazanAmI orders.

Of  these holy men, perhaps the most interesting one is
zrImatparamahamsaparivrAjakAcAryarAn2a zrIvedendrasAgarazrIpAdaGkaL who was in the vedamaTham in
the aruLALapperumAL temple also known as Varadarajapperumal temple in Kanchi. He
was given a village as a grant by the Vijayanagara king Harihara II in
ca.1378 AD.

Earlier, in the year 1367, we find one zrIrAmatIrtthazrIpAtaGkaL had acquired
a house near the Varadarajapperumal temple from a merchant in Kanchi.

In Kalahasti in ca.1401 AD, we encounter one teacher amarendragirizrIpAdamkaL
and his disciple pUrNagirizrIpAdamkaL who had been granted a village earlier
and out of the produce from this village pUrNagirizrIpAdamkaL endows some
worship ritual.

What is interesting about these inscriptions is that these inscriptions were
issued when Vidyaranya and/or Harihara II were influential. Compared to the
previous centuries, there seems to be a sudden spurt in the number of holy men
who come to light with dazanAmI names.

It is traditionally believed that the dazanAmI order is affiliated with the
advaita maThas. But the inscription mentioning zrIvedendrasAgara is in the
Varadarajapperumal temple, a very important one for zrivaiSNavas belonging to the
visiSTAdvaita philosophy. If the advaita affiliation of dazanAmIs was known in
1378, would they have been allowed to have a maTha in the temple with strong
zrIvaiSNava influence? On the other hand, if there was no perceived Sankaran
influence on the maTha, there would have been no objection to the maTha's
presence. (Of course, the names of the maTha and the holy man happen to be neutral
ones which might not have bothered the zrIvaiSNavas in the temple.) This
causes one to question the traditional history of the dazanAmI holy men. Does
anyone know of definitely datable references to any holy men as belonging to the
dazanAmI tradition established by Adi Sankara before the advent of the
Vijayanagara kingdom? I would appreciate the references.

As for Kanchi maTha history, even though we have two holy men with -indra- in
the names in the inscriptions, the names of the teacher-disciple pair shows
that -indra- is not really a required part of the name in 1401 weakening the
position of '-indra sarasvati' vis-a-vis -sarasvati. Does anyone know if
Harihara II (whose minister, Madhava-Vidyaranya, is claimed by the Kanchi maTha to be
a student of the 51st Kanchi maTha pontiff according to
http://www.kamakoti.org/peeth/origin.html#appendix2) gave any grant to the Kanchi maTha in Kamakoti
Peetham as he did to the vedamaTham in the Varadarajapperumal temple?
Certainly Varadarajapperumal temple seems to be important for a better understanding
of the Kanchi Sankara maTha.

Thanks in advance.

S. Palaniappan

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