You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : May 1996

Re: Vidyaranya

skaushik_at_MIT.EDU
Date: Wed May 01 1996 - 17:13:31 PDT

Vidyasankar writes:

*** This is not what the Sringeri traditions and more reliable historical 
*** records say.

What specifically do the Muttam records show? Do they have dates? I am
aware, though not that well, that Muttam records (I am not sure if it
is the Kanchi Kamakoti peetam where this applies) have a probelm of
omissions and duplications (due to names that repeat commonly). What
reliability is there in these dates?

*** Even if the author mAdhava is the same as vidyAraNya, the verse does not 
*** identify which king it was that he praised, nor when he composed this 
*** Sankara-vijayam. The reference to praising kings is too general and not
*** conclusive. 

It is certainly understandable that the author chooses not to mention the
kings name, becausee it was irrelevant (of what use would that specific
information be to anyone).


Re: Gotras

What *incontrovertible* proof is there that Madhava's brother, Sayana,
was not a "dutta"? Perhaps he was indeed Vidyaranya's brother, but his gotra
was different, owing to being a given away. After all, so little is
known about the poorvashrama life of the muttadhipatis. Since the
gotram of Vidyaranya has not been established, it seems impossible to
conclude one way or the other based purely on teh grounds of gotra.

But let me ask the following question. Suppose that Vidyaranya was on
the dharma-simhasana. Why would it be impossible for him to have
agreed to assist/advising the king inthe capacity of a minister? After
all, sages of the Vedic times, were men of the state (e.g. Vasistha).
Would this not solve all the problems? 

To add support to this "theory," I quote from the late Kanchi Kamoti
Peetadhpathi, Sri Swami Chandrasherendra Saraswati, (in the book
"Acharyas Call: His Holiness Jagadgurus's Madras Discourses 1957-1960,
Part I compiled by V. Ramakrishna Iyer, p. 31") 

"Coming to later times, we find the jurisdictional Vijayanagar Empire
extended  to Kanyakumari. The one person who helped to found and build
up this great empire was Vidyaranya, a **sanyasi**. He is the author
of Vedad Bhasya, commentaries on the Vedas and several philosophic
works....  The Vijayanagar empire was also built on the foundations of
our religious principles. Generals like Gopanna did yeoman service in
the protection and construction of numerous temples. When danger
threatened the temple of Ranganatha at Sri Rangam, Gopanna gave
protection to it. Sr Vedanta Desika has composed a verse expressing
gratitude to Gopanna for this service.... In this way, Sri Vidyaranya
helped up to biuld this empire on the solid strrenght of our sastras."

Not only is this from whom I consider a HIGHLY reliable source, it
also establishes that the Vidyaranya of Vijayanagara Empire and
Vedanta Desika were contempories.

*** Of course. If it is the vairAgya of vedAnta deSika that is sought to be
*** emphasized, what you say is true. However, when referring to
*** vidyAraNya, who is considered a jIvanmukta and a jagadguru by the
*** advaitins, it is perhaps advisable to be more careful in the choice of
*** words than to call him a court official or a minister of the
*** vijayangar kingdom.  

I do see why the dates are of concern to those who are followers of
Sringeri Peetam. One could raises qurestions about the character of
the muttadhipatis who were formerly men of the world. However, I see
no such problem or need for concern, as perhaps you do.

I say all this, not out of vitandavada, but only to  point out that,
from my "naive" reading, there is no overwhelming reason to discount
the hypothesis that Vidyaranya, the muttadipathi of Sringeri Mutt, was the
same Vidyaranya who was the chief minister associated with the
Vijayanagar empire. 

You dismiss the introductory verses as irrelevant. I do not do so that
lightly. I don't see what other explanation one can construe with that, other
than that he was involved in the kingdon.

Frankly, the writing of a senior acharya, whose words are
relatively faithfully preserved are in, some senses stronger than any
information such as gotra because the latter is not so important and
can be easily forgotten or mistaken.

One here is faced with a dilemma. On one hand, we have Sri
Vaishnanva hagiography indicating the link between Vedanta Desika and
Vidyaranya. I have read this in more than one location, so I a believe
that it is a relatively prevalent legend. There is a perfectly feasible
corraboration of this. However, you are suggesting that the Sri
Vaishanavas (at least Vadagalais) discard key elements of their
acharyas life.

Agreeable, not all legends are true. I cannot establish that all thje
legends of Ramanuja and Vedanta Desika are true, beyond a reasonable
doubt. It is finally a matter of faith as to what we believe and to
what strength we believe them. But I believe that you must, with equal
fairness, consider the same for legends associated with Sankara
Muttams.

sk