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

Re: Vidyaranya

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani)
Date: Wed May 01 1996 - 17:37:00 PDT

Sumanth, it seems you are arguing for the sake of
arguing in this post. Vidyasankar has presented rather
substantial evidence that Vidyaranya the mathadhipati
of Sringeri Matha could not have been a mere court 
official of the Vijayanagara empire.  Adumbrations
about Vasishta and others aside, the practice of
sannyasis during this time period was to live by
themselves or in a matham, certainly not to actively
involve themselves in the day to day administration of a
kingdom.

At any rate, Vidyasankar is surmising that Madhava
(the author of the Sankara Vijayam) is different from
Vidyaranya the sannyasi.  That is all. This Vidyaranya Swami
may certainly have requested Swami Desikan to seek
assistance from the Vijayanagara kingdom; we all 
accept this possibility, and that it is a very telling
story. The question was really as to the status of 
Vidyaranya vis-a-vis the Vijayangara kingdom.

* 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.

It is virtually impossible to prove a negative.
This is a rather strange theory, anyhow.

* 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") 

With no disrespect to Kanchi Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati
intended, I would put a great deal more faith in the Sringeri
Matha historical tradition based upon their own historical
records than the oral tradition of a rival mutt. Sri Chandrasekharendra
Saraswati Swami is himself reflecting his understanding of
the historical record, and is speaking in a comparatively informal
context.

Finally, it is the norm of both traditional and western scholars
to use gotra to establish the identity of people. This is why
Desikar's acharya is referred to as ``Atreya Ramanuja'', to
distinguish him from Ramanuja the author of the Sri Bhashya,
who (I believe) was vAdhUla gotra.

* ... it
* also establishes that the Vidyaranya of Vijayanagara Empire and
* Vedanta Desika were contempories.

This has been fully accepted by everyone involved in this
discussion.

Whether or not one believes in this story, Desikar's detachment
from the world stands in no need of corroboration. His 
verses describing his feeling of vairAgya speak for 
themselves.

Mani

P.S. It should be obvious that the mere acceptance of a story 
by a section of people does not make it absolutely true. It is
sometimes the case that these stories are concocted to fan
sectarian fires.  For example, some Vadagalai Sri Vaishnavas
are of the opinion that the identification of Ramanuja with
Adi Sesha has been propagated by Thengalai Sri Vaishnavas
to further the theory that Manavala Mamuni is the reincarnation
of Ramanuja.  Manavala Mamuni is invariably shown with the
hood of adisesha above his image, and the equation of him
with adisesha occurs quite early in the hagiographical literature
after his death.

At any rate, the point is that the greatness of these 
souls first lies in the work they performed in service
of the Lord. Only for these reasons have they been elevated
by their devout followers as amsas of the Divine, not
the other way around.