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SRI SHANKARACHARYA
AND HIS CONNECTION WITH KANCHIPURAM

Adi Shankaracharya

 

CHAPTER 5

Kanci Sankaracaryas Last Resort

Bhagavatpada Sankara repaired to Kanci, the southern Moksapuri, towards the end of his earthly career.  A number of work’s speak of this fact.

(1) Anandagiri’s biography of Sankara (all versions printed manuscripts, including the Madras University Edition), has:-

Sloka
                                                                                                                                              (Prakarana 74)

(Therefore, the World Preceptor (Sankara), desiring to leave for his own abode, sitting once in the Moksapuri of Kanci, having absorbed the gross physical frame into the subtle one, turning into the shape of a thumb, attained eternal bliss and remains as the all pervading ‘Cit’ to this day).

(2) The concluding verse of Rajacudamani Diksita’s Sankarabhyudaya’, refers to Sankara’s worshipping Kamesvari(Kamaksi) every day attaining supreme bliss:-    

Sloka

(3) The ancient and voluminous work, ‘Sivarahasya’, gives a brief sketch of the Acarya’s life in the 16th chapter of the ninth section.  This work has been published as NO.32 in the Jayachamarajendra Granthamala Series, in Canarese script, with translation in Kannada language.  Besides, manuscript copies of the work are available in many of the manuscript libraries of India, such as the Oriental Manuscripts Library at Baroda, the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras, the Adyar Library, Madras, the Sarasvati Mahal Library at Thanjavur etc. The pertinent lines found below purport to state that Sankara came to the earth in haste after obtaining the five sphatika Lingas- Yoga.  Bhoga, Vara, Mukti and Moksa; vanquished Buddhist, Jain and other scholars and attained Siddhi (eternal bliss) at his own asrama at Kanci.

Sloka 

4) Markandeya Samhita, an ancient puranic treaties consists of 100 Khandas, each having subsections, called parispandas.  Sub – sections 7 and  8 of the 72nd Khanda of this work narrate briefly the history of Sankara.  This is evident from the colophon at the end of the 7th parispanda of the 72nd Khanda, as noticed in the Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit Manuscripts, volume VI of the Oriental Research Institute, University of Mysore, 1981 – page 191 (Appendix – I -332, Serial No.18179, Ms.No.P.3387/1 – title: ‘Sankaracaritam’). The colophon reads:-

Sloka

A verse in the seventh parispanda of the 72nd khanda of this work relates that the Mahatma, Sankara, attained the cisvarupa, i.e. attained eternal bliss, at Kanci after having consecrated Kamaksi and ordaining Suresvara for the worship of the ‘Srividya raja – Pitha.’

                The verse indicating Sankara’s leaving off his mortal coils at Kanci reads as follows:- 

Sloka 

‘Patanjali Vijayam’, by Ramabhadra Diksita (Kavyamala series No.51, Nirnaya Sagar Press, Bombay), has the following verse:-

Sloka 

These above verse indicates that Sankara, after having produced the Bhasyas and conquered the directions(digvijaya), stayed permanently at Kanci.

(6) A Report on Search for Sanskrit Manuscripts in South India, by Dr. Hultzch, a German scholar, (published by the Government Press, Madras, in 1908 – No.2146 – Part III), contains a list of pontifical preceptors of the BHarati ascetic order of the Tungabhadra region.  Some verses are found in this list about Adi Sankaracarya.  The verse quoted below related that, after travelling widely, Sankara reached Kanci of his own accord, consecrated Kamaksi and attained final beautitude at Kanci itself.  The verse reads thus:-

Sloka 

(7) The Guruparampara Namamala of the Sankarite Institution  at the confluence of the rivers, Tunga and Bhadra (Kudali), also speaks of the Great Acarya’s reaching Kanci after long and wide travels, of his own desire, the consecration of Devi Kamaksi and his Siddhi there, in the verse found below:

Sloka 

Coming to modern times, there is quite a large number of works, in different languages, by erudite scholars mentioning Kanci as the last resort of Sankara.

(8) The Bengali Visvakosa (Hindi Edition), an encyclopaedia, gives the following information under the word ‘Kanci’:-

Sloka 

The above Hindi passage notes Kanci as the place where Sankara attained Siddhi.

(9) Pandit Mahamahopadhyaya Gopinath Kaviraj (Padma Vibhushan) in his ‘Bharatiya Samskriti aur Sadhana’, (in Hindi), has stated that the temple of Kamaksi at Kanci is famous and in that temple there is the stone icon of Sankara and that spot is the place where he attained siddhi.  The passage reads:-

Sloka 
 Dr.S.K.  Belvalkar says “…According to one set of traditions Kanci in South India is given as the place where the Acarya (Sankaracarya) breathed his last.  According to other sources, he died at Badarikasrama (Kedaranath) disappearing in a cave in the Himalayas.  The weight of probablility belongs to the first view.”  (Page 240, Gopal Basu Mallik Lectures, by Dr.S.K.Belvalkar, Poona, 1929).
Pandit N. Bhashyacharya (of Madras) in his ‘Age of Sankaracarya(Adyar Library, Madras – 1980 A.D. – page 22), says”Lastly towards the end of his life he came to the south but had to leave his body and this world at Conjeevaram at the early age of thirty two.”
It needs mention that, in the Srimukha Birudavali (the string of honorific epithets) of Sankaracarya Mutt and Kanci existing without change from very ancient times – the following epithet is found:-
Sloka 
It is to be noted that, in the commentary on verse 103, Canto XVI of the ‘Sankaadigvijaya’, ascribed to Madhava, it is stated:
Sloka 
Thereafter, the whole of Chapter 16 of the 9th amsa of ‘Sivarahasya’ is quoted in full.  The 46th verse i.e., the last stanza of the 16th chapter, ends with the words Slokain the commentary.

                Some forty years ago, an image of Adya Sankara was installed at Kedarnath by the Head of the Dvaraka Matha.  Prominent among those who were instrumental in the erection of this memorial at Kedarnath was late Dr. Sampurnanand, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.  His views regarding the place where Sankara attained eternal bliss were made clear in a letter by him to Dr.T.N.Ramachandran(late Joint Director of Archaeology, Government of India). The letter was dated 6th July 1958.  Among the contents of the letters, the following is worth perusing:-

                “Recently, I had occasion to discuss the matter with the Shankaracharya of Dvaraka Pitha also.  In the first place, the word ‘samadhi’, (at Kedarnath), is a misnomer in this connection.  There is nothing to prove that Shri Shankaracharya died at this spot.”

                About a year after the above mentioned letter of Dr.  Sampurnanand, a prominent Sadhu of Kerala, Sri Sahajananda of Guruvayur, in his letter (published in the ‘Hindu’ dated 16th June 1959) has stated “On enquiry at Joshi Matha, they say it (the memorial at Kedarnath) is only a sankalpa samadhi and the actual Samadhi is not at that spot.”

Book Index Page Sankara CHAPTER 6 Sankaracarya Sculptures in Kanci

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