Preceptors of Advaita
SRI SANKARA AND SANKARITE INSTITUTIONS
Great credit is due to Sankara and his school for having fought strenuously against the upholders of self-existence of the material world and brought the whole universe under the sway of God to whom it owes not only its organization but also its very being. Sankara understood that the independent existence of another being would imply limitations of God.1
Or let us, more truthfully, say that in honouring the memory and work of Sri Sankaracharya we are just honouring ourselves.2
Devotional offerings to Sri Sankara and receiving blessings from His Living Representatives in His various Pithas during auspicious occasions such as Sankara Jayanti, Vyasapuja, Vijayadasami, etc., would go a great way in spiritually elevating us. Some of the institutions directly established by him thrive even to-day under Acharyas glowing with spiritual luster, while some are vacant and some have ceased to exist. However to remember all the holy places where Sri Bhagavatpada started institutions is a spiritual asset for the devotees. Besides the institutions about which we can get some evidence of their being established directly by the great Acharya, many institutions have sprung up from the original roots and thrive with vigour in serving Hinduism.
Traditional evidence recorded by eminent personages may give us a glimpse of such institutions so that we may not only contribute our humble mite towards the upkeep and renovation of such institutions but also benefit ourselves spiritually.
Sachchidananda Bharati Swami, Head of the Sringeri Matha (1770-1814), says that Sri Sankara established five mutts at Beneras, four for his disciples and one for Himself. The author has himself written a commentary on this work.
bhujairiva srihariresha sishyaih
sahatmana pancha mathanamisham
prakalpya tasthau katichiddinani.
(Sarga 3: Verse 23).
In the commentary it is said:
atmana saha amisham
sishyanam pancha mathan prakalpya.
2. The following extract from the Annual Report of the Archaeological
Department of Mysore for the year 1928 written by the Director of Archaeological researches in Mysore and published under the auspices of the University of Mysore contains reference to the Guruvamsa-maha-kavya at p. 15.
Guruvamsa-Maha-Kavya: History of Teachers of Sringeri Math: Author, Lakshmana Sastri, son of Visvesvara Sastri, under the orders of Sri Sachchidananda Bharati, disciple of Sri Narasimha Bharati. The author is contemporary of Soma Sekhara II (1714-1739) of Keladi when Sachchidananda Bharati (1705-1741) adorned the pontifical seat at Sringeri. . . . . . . . . . . . It may be reasonably presumed that he faithfully copied all traditional information about the successive teachers of Sringeri. . . . . . . . . . The author says that He set up Five Maths and mentions the names of Sringeri, Kanchi, Badari, Kasi and Jagannath.
From this extract, it may be presumed that the text of Guruvamsa-kavya and its commentary to which the Director had access mentions clearly the names of the Mathas which the Acharya probably planned while staying at Beneres.
3. The Cochin State Manual gives the information that some Mathas
tracing their origin to the direct disciples of Sri Sankaracharya such as Suresvara and Padmapada with nambudiri Sannyasins as their heads are found in Trichur in Kerala. Outside Trichur there is a Nambudiri Sannyasi Madam called Tirukkekkat Madam which is also said to have been situated originally at Trichur. One of them is called Naduvile (Central) Madam. One of these has been converted as Brahmasva Madam, i.e., Vedic Centre for Nambudiri Brahmins. Professor K. Rama Pisharoti, M.A., in an article on The Age of Sankara in the Light of Kerala Legends published in The Hindu, dated July 4, 1932, states that these Mathas might not have been established at the time of Sri Sankara, that it was likely that even before Sri Sankara’s time, these places were traditional centers of Vedic learning and that Sri Sankara converted them as his Mathas. But he confirms the tradition that the direct disciples of Sri Sankara were the first presidents of these Mathas. This opinion that Sri Sankara converted such institutions of saintly scholars which existed before his time as monasteries to foster his Advaita philosophy finds an echo in a work called Kanchi-mahatmyam4, which states that Devi Kamakshi, the presiding deity of Kamakoti Pitha was worshipped by the Yatis:
bhumau kanchyam yatisvarah
[Kanchimahatmyam, Chapter 31.]
4. The Chengleput Gazetteer, published by Charles Stuart Crole Esq.,
I.E.S., in the year 1879, says that Sri Sankarachariar paid particular attention to Kanchipura, where He worked many miracles and founded a Mutt or a monastery5.
Note––(a) This Matha has all along been maintained mainly by payments of certain portion of the produce from the cultivable lands in the country. This payment which went under the name of “Merai” in some Taluqs round about Kanchi was recognized by the High Court which says: “We think the evidence justifies the inference that this payment of the disputed merai had a lawful origin and was not merely voluntary”6.
(b) The Collector of Tanjore recommends that the allowance of Rs. 6743–5–0 due to Sri Sankarachariar’s Matha at Kumbakonam which is now paid in the shape of an assignment of land revenue be disbursed hereafter direct from the Sub-Treasury at that station. . . . . . . . In any case the Government considers that the method of payment by beriz deduction is much to be preferred and accordingly directs that the land revenue assignment be resumed and that the allowance of Rs.6743–5–0 be paid in future by beriz deduction7.
5. There is an inscription dated Vikrama Samvat 1941, Salivahana Saka 1806 (1884 A.D.) in the Brahmendra Mutt, Sivalaya Ghat, Benares, which refers to Jagadguru Sankarasya paramparyakramagata-sishya sanmarganishnata Chandrasekharanama. . . . .indramatabhidham indicating thereby that a parampara of Sri Sankaracharya with Indrapatta existed in the last century at Benares.
tasya sishyo visvanatha
yatindro yoginam varah
kasyam sivalaye ghatte
svakiye nivasan sviyam
anyam matham udaradhih
6. In Benares itself there is a Matha known as the Sumeru Matha
otherwise called Paduka matha, under the royal patronage of His Highness the Maharaja of Benares. It is now presided over by a Bengali dandi-sannyasin. In an appeal issued on behalf of this Matha for funds for repairs, the following statement appears under the signatures of the persons in the list given below: “During his stay at the holy city of Kasi (Benares), Paramahamsa parivrajakacharya Jagadguru the Adi Sankaracharya Maharaj established the Sumeru Matha”. . . . . . .
List of the Signatories in the Appeal issued on behalf of the Sumeru Matha :-
1. Srimat Svami Ramesvarananda Tirth Dandi, ‘Omkar Math’, Benares.
2. Srimat Dattatreyananda Sarasvati, Guru Dattatreya Math, Benares.
3. Srimat Sivanath Puriji, Mahant Maharaj, Sri Sri Annapurna Mandir, Benares.
4. Srimat Mahabir Prasad Maharajji, Proprietor, Sri Sri Bisvesvar Mandir, Benares.
5. Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Pramathanatha Tarkabhushan.
6. Mahamahopadhyaya Srijut Pandit Ananda-Charan Tarka Chudamani.
7. Mahamahopadhyaya Srijut Pandit Vama Charan, Nyaya-charya.
8. Mahamahopadhyaya Srijut Pandit Padmanath, Vidyavinode, M.A.
9. Sjt. Pandit Shyama Kanta Tarka Panchanana (Kashi Naresh Sabha Pandit).
10. Sjt. Pandit Gopi Chandra Sankhya Thirtha, Professor, Brahmana Sabha, Benares.
11. Aghoranath Vidyabhushan, Late Professor, Metropolitan Institution.
12. Vedacharya Pandit Upendra Mohan Chowdhury, Kavibhushan Vedasastri Vidyavinode, B.A., Secretary, Mahakali Duhitri Siksha Parishat, Pracharak, Ranchi Brahmacharya Vidyalaya.
13. Raja Sjt. Jagat Kishore Acharya Chowdhury, Muktagacha.
14. Kumar Sjt. Hemendra Kumar Roy, Dighapatia.
15. Rai Sjt. Lalit Behary Sen, Rai Bahadur, Private Secretary to H.H. the Maharaja of Benares.
16. Captain S.K. Chowdry, B.A., M.B., Late I.M.S., Chief Medical Officer, Benares State.
17. Sjt. Bhim Chandra Chatterjee, B.A., B.L., B.Sc., A.M.I.E.E., Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Benares Hindu University.
18. Sjt. Kishore Mohan Sikdar, Zamindar, Retired Sub-Judge.
19. Sjt. Mahendra Lall Banerjee, Zamindar, Chittagong.
20. Sjt. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Superintendent, Sri Bharat Dharma Mahamandal, Benares.
21. Sjt. Kripa nath Banerjee, Superintendent, Sri Sri Annapurna Mandir, Benares.
22. Sjt. Satish Chandra Dey, B.A., LL.B.
23. Sjt. Jagadish Chandra Roy, Associated Press of India.
24. Sjt. Dwijendra Nath Dhar, F.R.C.S (London).
7. Light of the East (Vol. 11, No. 11, July 1894), when saying that Sri Sankara established several Mutts while touring over India, states that He founded a Mutt at Gangotri on the slopes of the Himalayas besides the Joshi Mutt.
8. The late Ganganath Jha, Ex-Vice-Chancellor, University of Allahabad, says: The establishment of seats of worship at places like Kanchi, Sringeri, etc., where His successors carry on the worship of the deities even today in all its fullness is a further proof of the view held by the Acharya that due performance of rites is an integral feature of His teachings8.
9. The late Sri S. S. Suryanarayan Sastri says in his book Sri Sankaracharya that Sri Sankara established several mutts, the most notable of which are perhaps those of the Sarada Pitha and the Kamakoti Pitha and finally departed from this world at the early age of thirty-two9.
10. The late Dr. Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer in his brochure, World Religions – A Study in Synthesis, says that Sankara established mutts or centers of religious learning and practices in the North, South, East and West of India and that Srinagar, Dwaraka, Puri, Sringeri and Kanchi were his far-flung spiritual capitals.
11. A History of South India published by the Oxford University Press, Madras, 1955, states that Sri Sankara founded a number of Mathas in different parts of India, the best known those at Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badrinath, Puri and Kanchi.
12. The Bulletin of the Institute of Traditional Cultures (UNESCO) 1957, published by the University of Madras, referring to the Sringeri Mutt, says “One of the five mathas established by Sankaracharya of the 8th Century A.D.”
13. Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan, Professor of Philosophy, University of Madras says: He (Sri Sankara) set up at cardinal points of the country monastic institutions which would safeguard the spiritual interests of the race. Of these institutions five are the most important. Except the one at Badari in the Himalayas, the other four were in the peninsular part of India, at Puri, Dwaraka, Sringeri and Kanchi10.
14. Sri Jagadguru Anka of Prabhath, Mangalore, 1958, says that the Acharya established mutts at Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badrikasrama, Puri, Kanchi, etc.(p.4).
15. The Thirthanka of the Magazine Kalyan for the year 1957, published by the Gita Press, Gorakhpur, mentions at page 547 under the heading – Jagadguru Sankaracharya ka pitha aur upapitha and sub-heading – Sri Sankaracharya-dvara-sthapita-pancha-pradhan-pitha that Jyotir-pitha, Govardana-pitha, Sarada-pitha, Sringeri-pitha and Kamakoti-pitha are the five important pithas established by Sri Sankaracharya. Besides these it mentions fifteen more mathas:
(1) Kudali Matha
Kudali is at the confluence of the river Tunga and the river Bhadra in the district of Shimoga in Mysore state.
Note: That this Matha was an independent Matha and that is was entitled to use Addapallaki and other paraphernalia was held in Appeal No. 22 of 1847 on the file of the Court of Huzur Adalat, Mysore. This order was confirmed by the Commissioner, Mysore, in his order dated 1st June 1849.
The judgement also quoted that the Paravana of the Phalguna Bahula, 6 of the year Krodhana, is to the effect that the Kudali Svami should always be on tour and that the Sringeri Svami should ever remain at Sringeri worshipping the deity11.
Mr. B. Suryanarayana Rao, B.A., M.R.A.S., in his “Historyof Sivaganga Mutt, 1914, states that after the defeat of Mandanamisra, Sarasavani who was coming with Sankaracharya was inclined to stay at Kudali which is at the confluence of the rivers the Tunga and the Bhadra and that he installed her there (p. 30). Sariraka-mimamsa-bhashya printed in and published by the Venkatesvara Press, Bombay, in the year 1931 in its Bhumika written by Mahavidvan Venkatachala Sarma, son of Pandita Dharmadhikari Sri Venkatasubramanya Sastri and grandson of Pandita Dharmadhikari Kasi Sesha Nagesvara Sastriar of Mysore has the following observations in Sankrit regarding this Kudali Mutt11a.
“anyasmai pustakasannyasasramam daduh tatah keshuchiddivaseshu vyatiteshu uktah svami (yatram gatah svami) desayatratah pratinivritya kudalimagatya enam vrittantam (mahajanaih sringeri-mathiya vithadhipatye sthapitasyanyasya sannyasino vrittantam) srutva rajyasthane (hujuras) lekhanasya nivedanat pakshadvayamapi teshamahvapanadvara vicharitam. tena cha asmabhih tatratyairmahajanaih hathena dattah pustakasannyasah satyah ityavagatam. tathapi upadesasannyasadhikamanena deyam, pustakasannyasibhistu grame (sringeri grame) eva sthitva sri sarada matripujam kurvadbhih mathe niyamanishthaya sthatavyam sankaracharyaparamparagataih svamibhih desasancharadikam kurvadbhih kudalyam (lagyam) sthatavyam” iti.
Idam prachina lekha-pustaka-rajasasana-patrika-lekhadyanuro-dhena sasisekhar-damodara-sankesvariya-vidyasalayah adhyapakena likhite “sri samsthanasankesvar math karavir va sankesvar cha itihas” iti namna prasiddhe mudritapustake sphashtam. (p. 34).
It may be stated here that the Sivaganga and Avani Mutts have been paying annually some amounts to the Kudali Mutt. This is evident from the letters from Sivaganga Mutt dated Khara, Kartika Suddha 15, Salivahana Saka 1633, 1711 A.D. and the letter bearing Vyaya, Saka, 1635, 1713 A.D. and from the letter from Avani Mutt dated Vyaya, Magha Suddha 15, Salivahana Era, 1635, 1714 A.D. and Jaya, Salivahana Saka 1636, 1715 A.D.
(2) Sivaganga Matha.
(3) Avani Matha (Kolar District, Mysore)
(a) The present occupant of the Avani Matha in his letter dated 18-9-1961 from his camp at Thathahalli to Gurubhaktamani A. Ramaswami Ayyar, Mallesvaram, gives the following details about the origin of this Avani Matha.
About 500 to 600 years ago, one of the direct successors of Sri Adi Sankaracharya, probably the tenth in the line of the Sringeri Matha established at Sringeri, as was the custom, went on tour and pilgrimage of northern parts of the country and visited Kasi and other places. Due to lack of proper communication it took a long time to return to the head-quarters. By the time he returned, the authorities at Sringeri thinking that the acharya might not return at all gave pustaka-sannyasa to a Brahmin and installed him on the gadi. The former one came to know of this as he neared Sringeri; and, he sent word about his return. But the authorities there did not receive him because of the fear of dethroning the one they themselves had established in his place. Though the former acharya had every right to claim for the recognition of the position he was still occupying, he did not do so, as he thought that it would not be in keeping with his position as a sannyasin to fight for the mundane position. He, therefore, settled down at Kudali12. After some time he went on tour to Ramesvaram and other kshetras in southern parts. This time he did not want that the incident which took place when he had been to Kasi and other kshetras should recur. Moreover, it was not possible for one to get back to head-quarters early due to vastness of the country and lack of adequate means of communication. Hence he appointed one of his disciples at Kudali ordering him to tour the parts surrounding it and he went on tour to Ramesvaram and other kshetras of the south. Visiting Ramesvaram and other kshetras he came to Kolar (then Kolaharapuri) via Kanchi, Kalahasti, Tirupati and other places. Finding the place at Antarganga on the Satasringaparvata at Kolar a congenial place for performing meditative worship, he established a matha there. Thus an institution came into being there. After a couple of centuries, due to political reasons at the time of Mohammedan rule, this Matha moved to Avanti kshetra, now called Avani from the time of Britishers’ rule at Mysore, where the sage Valmiki had his asrama and where Sitadevi gave birth to Lava and Kusa. Since then the institution continues to have its head-quarters at Avani. And, as the Matha has its head-quarters at Avani or Avanti for the last few centuries, the Matha also came to be called Avani Matha although it was originally established at Sringeri by Adi Sankaracharya.
(b) The acharya of this Matha in the 18th century was on tour in the Southern districts of Madras State. While travelling in the Trichy district, the Matha collected agrasambhavana, etc., from the residents of the villages on the banks of the Akhanda Kaveri. When it was brought to the notice of the Matha that this was not proper, the Matha returned the agrasambhavana thus collected to the Kamakoti pitha. The Matha wrote a letter to the Kamakoti pitha stating that it was going on pilgrimage to Ramesvaram and it would be passing through Ramnad, Sivaganga and other places. The letter further stated that the Matha would not collect agrasambhavana in these places and after visiting Ramesvaram, Tirunelveli and Anantasayanam, it would return to its place.
(4) Virupaksha Matha (Hospet Taluk, Bellary District)
(5) Pushpagiri Matha (Cuddapah Taluk, Cuddapah District)
One Kokkondrum Venkataratnam Pantulu in his work Sankaramathatattvaprakasikarthasangraha written in favour of the Sringeri Matha quotes from a work called Pushpagiri-mathamnaya-stotra the following verses which mention the circumstances and give the dates for the establishment of the Virupaksha and the Pushpagiri Matha13.
tatahparam gajadrindu rupake sakavatsare
vidyaranyaguruh kanchinagaryam sa babhau mahan
pampakshetre vasanmauni bhaktarakshanatatparah
mukam vachalamakarot mudham panditamuttamam
daridram dhaninam sreshtham vandhyam putravatim tatha
yasyanghridhyanamatrena dvijassyuh vedaparagah
tam vandeham sada bhaktya vidyaranyaguruttamam
tasya sishyau mahaprajnau chandrasekhara bharati
nrisimhabharati chaiva dvavimau lokapujitau
tungasringagirau pithe chandrasekharabharatim
vinivesya tatassarvam vidyaranyaguruh svayam
punyakshetre virupakshe mathamekam manoharam
prakalpya tatra sachchishyam narasimhendrabharatim
nivasayamasa tatah subhakritvatsarottame
vaisakha krishnapakshasya tritiyayam vidhordine
visrijya kanchinagaram sahaisvaryam savahanam
vidyaranyaguruh svami kailasalayam avisat
tadarabhyabhavat pithadvayam vandhyam budhaih sada
virupakshamahapithe nrisimhendraguroh param
nrisimha bharatindrascha tataschidghanabharati
tatahparam sankarendro vidyaranyasarasvati
nrisimhabharati chatha punassankarabharati
sachchhishyassachchidanandah sri vidyaranyabharati
tato vidyasankarakhyah sachchidanandabharati
tatah sadanandaguruh srimachchhankarabharati
tasya sishyo bhavat vidyanrisimhendra sarasvati
sishyaprarthanaya lokam paryatan karunakarah
devatayatano’petam punyakshetram budhaih stutam
taponishthagarishthanam idam yogyasthalam bhuvi
ityalochya nrisimhendro navabahugunenduna
prakasite sakapatau kalpayitvottamam matham
sarvajitvatsare prapte vaisakhe sitapakshake
saptamyam bhargave vare subhalagne surarchite
pithe sripushpasailakhye pravishtobhunmahatapah
virupakshasya pithasya sankarendrasarasvatim
samastajagatam pujyam sishyamevamakarayat
tatpushpagiri pithesa nrisimhendra sarasvateh.
(6) Sankesvara Karavira Matha –- one at Poona, the other at Sankesvara, the third at Kolhapur and the fourth at Satara.
(7) Ramachandrapura Matha (Ramachandrapura, Hosanagara Taluk, Mysore State).
(8) Hariharapura Matha (near Sringeri).
(9) Bandigadi Matha
(10) Yadaniru Matha (Kasargode Taluk, South Canara District).
(11) Kodandarama Matha (Hebbairu Village, Tumkur Taluk, Mysore State).
(12) Svarnavalli Matha (Sirsi Taluk, North Canara District).
(13) Nelamavu Matha (North Canara).
(14) Yoga Narasimhasvami Matha (Hole-Narasipur, Mysore State).
(15) Balakuduru Matha (Udipi Taluk, South Canara District).
16. Besides the pithas and mathas mentioned above, the bhumika written by Mahavidvan Venkatachala Sarma referred to already give the names of many mathas describing them as Sri Sankaracharyadividya-dharma-pithadhipa-paramparagatamathah:
1. Sumeru Matha, 2. Paramatma Matha, 3. Sumeru Matha at Kasi, 4. Havyaka Matha, 5. Koppala Matha 6. Sri Sailam Matha, 7. Ramesvaram Matha, 8. Ghanagiri Matha 9. Honnahalli Matha, 10. Kaivalyapura Matha, 11. Mulabagalu Matha, 12. Sirali Matha, 13. Gridhrapura Matha, 14. Nrisimhavadi Matha 15. Molavana Matha, 16. Paitana Matha, 17. Kasi Matha, 18. Tirtharajapura Matha 19. Gangotri Matha and 20. Tirthahalli Matha. Among these there is a matha called Ramesvara Matha. This may, perhaps, explain the fact that Sri Sankara established mathas at the four corners, char-dhams, of India, Ramesvaram being situated at the southern corner of India, just as Dvaraka, Badrinatha and Jagannatha in the western, northern and eastern regions of the country.
Sarasvati or Sarada Devi who was following Sankaracharya after her husband’s defeat stopped on the banks of the Tungabhadra on the north-western part of the South India. In consequence of her stopping there, a Sankarite Institution might have come into being there (not the southern cardinal point) for the up-keep of Her Puja.
It may be stated here that almost all the Amnayas, including the Amnaya found in the Unpublished Upanishads published in Adyar, the Jagadguru Anka of Prabhat, Mangalore, 1958 and the Yati-sandhya published by the Dvaraka Pitha, mention Ramesvaram as the kshetra of the southern region. Almost all these Amnaya versions mention Adivaraha (Kanchi) as the devata of the southern region. While enumerating the one hundred and eight vaishnava-divya-desas, Adivaraha is found to be situated in the Kanchi Kamakshi temple14. The three places, one on the banks of the Tungabhadra and the other two at Kanchi and Ramesvaram, are specially sacred as being respectively the stopping place of Sarada Devi, the abode of Adivarah inside the Kamakshi temple and the kshetra of the southern region.
According to the Amnaya text of the Dvaraka Matha, Sri Visvarupacharya (Suresvaracharya) was anointed in Dvaraka and Sri Prithvidharacharya in Sringeri. According to the same Amnaya, the matha at Dvaraka is designated as Sarada matha or Sarada Pitha. According to the Amnaya text of the Sringeri Matha, Sri Suresvaracharya was anointed in the Sringeri Matha and this Matha is designated as Sarada Pitha.
Kanchi is the spiritual centre of the earth; and, this is clear from the following sloka in the Kanchi Mahatmyam:
nananda kamala muhuh
* * *
nabhisthanam bhuvah param
The Sthala-purana Kamakshi-vilasa states that Kanchi is the girdle of the earth (I, 56). And the work Sankarabhyudaya states: atha kshiteradbhutakanchimaikshata. Historically, even at the time of Sri Sankaracharya, Vedic Culture (Hinduism) extended from Central Asia to Indonesia; and, Kanchi would thus have been the centre of the Hindu world.
In the various Amnayas, Urdhvamnaya mentions Sukadeva as one of the Brahma-nishthas or Brahmacharis of that Amnaya and Kasi or Kasika as the Sampradaya. There is one Matha called Sukadeva Matha in Kasi or Varanasi. It is not clear whether this Matha has any connection with that Amnaya.
Further, this bhumika gives under the heading–Mathiya-srimukha-birudavali, the Srimukhams and Birudas of some of the mathas; and, they are as follows:
17. Sri Nurani S. Anantakrishna Sastri, in the Bhakti-kusumanjali printed at Sri Vani Vilas Press, Srirangam and published on the occasion of the Nakshatra Mahotsava of Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati of Sringeri observes:
‘sahasrani sahasraso ye rudra adhibhumyam’ iti satarudriyavakyam sankarabhagavatpadapratishthapita-tattatpradhana-upapi-thadhyakshan dharmacharyaneva gocharayati
atmano digvijayayatraprasangena tatra tatra bahuni pithani bhagavatpadaih pratishthapitani sampratamapi paramparakramena kechana kechana tapasvipravara adhitishthantyeva. tatra cha bhagavatah sadasivasya panchananata bhagavato guruvaryasya santevasinah sri dakshinamurteh sakshat bhagavatpadasya va santevasinah sthulasarirani prachya-dakshina-paschatya-udichya-urdhvamnayarupani va pradhanani panchapithani idam tu na vivadaspadam––yadukta-anyatama-pithadhishthanamatrena dharmacharyah sarve’pi sivavataratam svakrityairabhivyanjayanti
18. “It is necessary now to add a few words about the commentary, Chandrika, which is printed here. . . . . The second sloka alludes to the author of the Chandrika as the glory of Sarvajnasrama by which term we have probably to understand the Sarvajna-Pitha or the pontifical seat of the Advaita Matha in Conjivaram.”
[Professor M. Hiriyanna in his Introduction to the Naishkarmyasiddhi (Bombay Sanskrit and Prakrit Series No. XXXVIII, 1925), p. 33].
19. The report of the Hindu Religious Endowments Commission, 1962, page 15 says:
“Sankaracharya and Establishment of Mutts.”
It was Adi Sankaracharya (8th century A.D.) who first began to
establish Hindu Mutts as we know them today. He propounded the theory of absolute Monism, i.e., the Advaita non-dualistic School of Philosophy, combated the doctrines of Buddhism and Jainism and re-established the religion of the Vedas and the Upanishads. According to tradition, he inaugurated several mutts or seats of learning in four corners of India, namely, Sringeri (Sharada Peeth, in Mysore) and the Kamakoti Peetha in Kanchi in the South, Badarinath in the Himalayan region in the North, Jagannath or modern Puri in the East and Dwaraka in the Western Gujarat.
(Signed) C. P. Ramaswami Ayyar, (Chairman),
P. Kameswara Rau,
C.P.R. for Venkatasami Naidu, Authorised by
“ “ K. C. Sen, the concerned members to sign for them.
20. Justice P. Satyanarayana Rao in his judgement in C.M.P. 2591 of 1951, reported in 1952 I.M.L.J., 557, says “Tradition has it that after conquering the rival faiths, He established the Advaita System of Philosophy and founded four mutts or seats of learning in the four corners of this vast sub-continent––Sringeri (Sarada Peeta) in Mysore in the South, with which it is familiar knowledge, the name of that great Vidyaranyaswami is associated; Badarinath in the Himalayas in the North, Jagannath or modern Puri in the East and Dwaraka in the Bombay Presidency in the West. In each of these mutts as their heads, he installed His principal disciples and He himself assumed the headship of the Sarvagna Peeta or the central seat of knowledge at Kanchi, the modern Kanchipuram. This central Peetam was first removed to Tanjore and then to Kumbakonam from where it continues to function even today.
21. Sir Subrahmania Ayyar, Acting Chief Justice and Justice V. Bhashyam Ayyangar in their judgment (1903) reported in I.L.R. 27, Madras, 435; say “Not less than seven mutts being among the most celebrated owe their origin to the great Advaita Philosopher, Sri Sankarachariar.”
(Probably the reference is to the First Edition of Ghosh’s Hindu Law).
22. Mahamahopadhyaya Sivanatha Sarma writes as follows:
bhagavacchankaravishaye pancha dasa va pithavirachana astu; evam dharmasya samskriteh sahityasya cha sarvatha uddhara eva na hrasah; atah sobhanam karyamidam prasamsaniyam.
Mahamahopadhyaya Sivanatha Sarma
23. anuman se yah malum hota hai ki bharat ke pradhan pradhan sthanom mem in das sishyom ke nam par acharyapithsthapit kiye gaye. unmem jis pith ke achary ka acharan sastra-sammat prachalit haim ve abtak sri sankarachary ke nam se sammanit kiye jate haim.
das nam se prasiddh sishyom ke aspad se hi in panch pithom ke acharya bhi prasiddh hote haim. isse yah utsah ke sath kaha ja sakta hai ki ye panch pith bhi arambh se hi das nami prasishyom ke nam se hi prasiddh huye haim.
24. According to Sadasivarath, the premier authority on Silpa sastra in Puri-Jagannatha there is a mantapa called Mukti-mantapa in the Puri-Jagannatha temple in which learned Brahmins of the sixteen sasanas (inam villages) around Puri Pargana (Pahnga) alone can be the members. The Sankaracharya of Bali Govardhana Matha will be the President of the Mukti-mantapa-Sabha and the Swami of the Sankarananda Matha will be the Vice-President. There is a temple chronicle (Mandala-panji) in Jagannatha. According to Sriman Rath, in leaf No. 7 of bundle No. 3 in the Dwarakanath Pattjatri Mahapatra’s private library, reference is made in it to the honours ordered by Raja Ramachandra Dev to the Sankaracharya Mathas. It has been already noted in this article that among the Sankaracharya Mathas in Trichur (Kerala), one Matha was transformed into a Brahmasva Madam or Vedic College for Nambudiri Brahmacharins. In the same manner in Puri besides the Govardhana Matha, there are four Mathas, namely, Sankarananda Matha, Sivatirtha Matha, Gopalatirtha Matha and Mahiprakasa Matha. Of these, the first three are presided over by Sannyasins and the Mahiprakasa Matha is a Brahmachari Matha. According to a palm-leaf record in Chamu Chitavu, the Maharaja Bir Kishore Dev of Puri has issued orders as regards the honours to be observed as a matter of right in the Jagannatha temple on the occasion of the visit of the Sankaracharya of the Badarikasrama allowing the Pandits of the Govardhana Matha, Sankarananda Matha, Sivatirtha Matha, Gopalatirtha Matha and the Brahmacharis of the Mahiprakasa Matha to approach the Ratna-simhasana of the Jagannatha-Purushottama-Mahaprabhu.
The following are the two verses from an address presented by the Pandits of the Sabha to the Acharya of Kanchi Pitha on 5-5-1936:
esha nilachalastha jagati suvidita brahmapitha pratishtha
sanmanacchasaniyaih vividhabudhavaraih rajamanatmanitya
dharmadesena desantaramupacharachara priccha vyavastha
kanchikamadakamakotisumahapithe tatha rajatam
* * * * * * *
srikshetrasthitamuktimantapasabha dhatte svabhaktyarchanam.
25. Madan Mohan Malaviya, Founder, Benaras Hindu University, in the address presented at the University on the Magha-sukla-saptami, Vikrama Samvat 1991, (1935 A.D.), says:
yadvacham la itaistrilokajanatamohandhakarakshayah
padabjasmaranena yasya kalushadhvamsat prasadah sthirah
tasyadvaitagiram gurorbhagavatah srisankarasyonnatam
From the above, it would be clear that there were several mathas or seats of learning for the propagation of Advaita. We shall conclude this article by citing the estimate of Sankara by Dr. Paul Deussen and Charles Johnston.
“The conclusion is that the Jiva being neither a part or a different thing, nor a variation of Brahman, must be the Paramatman fully and totally himself, a conclusion made equally by the Vedantin Sankara, by the Platonic Plotinus and the Kantian Schopenhauer. But Sankara in his conclusions goes perhaps further than any of them.”
Dr. Paul Deussen.
“What shall we say, then, of the Master Sankara? Is he not the guardian of the sacred waters, who by his commentaries, has hemmed about, against all impurities of Time’s jealousy, first the mountain tarns of the Upanishads, then the serene forest-lake of the Bhagavad Gita and last the deep reservoir of the Sutras, adding from the generous riches of his wisdom, lively fountains and lake-lets of his own, the Crest-jewel, the Awakening and Discernment.”
––Charles Johnston (England).
The Lord at Kanchi is generally called Tiru Ekambam Udayar and the
Lord at Tanjore Periya Udayar (Great Lord). The Acharya is called Sikku Udayar or Chikka Udayar – the Canarese equivalent of Siriya Udayar.
11a. The Kudali Mutt has jurisdiction in the North Western portion of Mysore and
the Southern portion of Maharashtra.
Preceptors of Advaita - Other Parts:
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