South India geography

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 24 15:43:07 EDT 1998


Many thanks to all who answered my query on the South Indian place
names. The references were from a 17th century kAvya called
SankarAbhyudya, by one rAjacUDAmaNi dIkshita. The two places I'm still
unsure of are mahAsurAlaya in Kerala and koTTalampAkkam in TN. The
Sanskritized names occur in numerous verses, so I won't quote them all.
One verse which I thought was particularly interesting refers to the
Tamil literary tradition of Madurai (V. 34) -

atha tatra sanghapalakAdhirohiNo draviDa prabandha paradevatAtmanaH |
kalaSIkumArakRta sUtravartmanA kavayan vyajeshTa katicit kavISvarAn ||

Here, SankarAcArya is said to have debated with some Tamil poets. The
word sanghapalaka is a reference to the Tamil cankam, kalaSIkumAra is
agastya, and the sUtra attributed to him is the Tamil grammar. Rather
than viewing this as purely legendary, I think the verse talks of a very
real interaction between Sanskritic and Tamil traditions in 17th century
Tamil Nadu. The "SankarAcArya" of this verse is not the author of the
Advaita commentaries, but almost certainly a later personality, who bore
the name SankarAcArya as a title. In this connection, note the draviDa
SiSu reference in the saundaryalaharI, attributed to SankarAcArya by the
16th century commentator, lakshmIdhara. This reference is supposedly to
the Saiva saint, jnAnasambandar. Thus, the contemporary practice of
calling a number of religious figures as SankarAcAryas may have a
history of at least three or four centuries.

Vidyasankar

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