Times group publishes distorted history of Hindu Mutt

The Times of India reported yesterday (5th September) that the group on Friday ( 4 th September) brought out a coffee table book –  “The Holy Sankara Mutt,” putting together the proud lineage of the Kanchi Mutt and its 70 Acharyas, starting from Adi Sankaracharya’s setting up of the Mutt in 482 BC till the present Sankaracharyas Jayendra Saraswati and Vijayendra Saraswati. Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati released the book at a function in the Kanchi Mutt which was attended by Vijayendra Saraswati. The Times Group assistant vice-president Ninan Thariyan received the first copy.

It is also reported that the book provides a good mix of interesting text and photographs that help readers navigate through the 2,500 years of history of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.

Further the prestigious news paper Times of India spent a full page advertisement with a title of “Guru Parampara – unbrokenlineage of 2500 years”. However, the group has failed to focus on the most important and vital task of any documentation of history – Corroboration and validation of the facts with historians and archaeologists. What a disappointment!.

The fact is that the Government of India officially accepted the period of Adi Sankara as 788 to 820 AD and celebrated 1200 thanniversary of Sankara’s birth in 1988.The 2500 years old Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham could not have pre existed 1221 year old Adi Sankara who was supposed to have found the Mutt!

Therefore the claims of holiness of Kanchi mutt is a blatant lie on two accounts one regarding the date of birth of Adi Sankara and another regarding the period of establishment of the Kanchi mutt. Endorsement of this fraudulent history by the Times group of publication is surprising. Such a reputed media need not propagate a fabricated history by vested interests. The book is likely to lower the image and credibility of the much admired organization , the Times group.

This hard copy print is an attempt to propagate the lies recorded in the web site of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham maintaining that Adi Sankara was born in 509BC and the peetham was established in the year 482 BC.

Every religion has its share of brokers between man and god. However it is the duty of true followers to strike a balance when the brokers try to play god. Hindu religion has its share of brokers who often have attempted to take advantage of peoples faith to gain some mileage. The attempts of these fringe elements who propogate false history with vested interests only causes damage to the true antiquity of the Hindu religion.  However, if you analyze the approach of such fringe elements – their focus is not to promote Hinduism, but to confine it by creating power centers that manipulate the philosophies and religious principles for the benefit of some individuals and people who are closely associated with them.

Let us dive into the truth and see how the claims of these fringe elements fail.

Truth No 1. Adi sankara was born in 8′th century AD

1.Adi Sankara was born in Kaladi Kerala in 788 AD.

2.He propounded the philosophy of Advaita .

3.He travelled in all directions of India to propagate his philosophy and established four mutts at Sringeri ( south ), Puri( East) , Dwaraka( west) and Badrinath ( North) only. He ascended the famous Sarvagna-pitha in Kashmir, and finally passed away near Kedarnath. (There is no evidence to show Kanchi mutt was established by Adi Sankara.)

This is the accepted history of Adi Sankara confirming to the records available at Srinkeri mutt Karnataka.

This history is authentic since Sankara himself quotes the Buddhist logician Dharmakirti, who finds mention in Huen Tsang (7th Century AD). Also, his near-contemporary Kumarila Bhatta is usually dated 8th century AD

Truth No.2. Kanchi Mutt is of recent origin and was not established by Adi Sankara

Thiru. S. Vidyasankar has exposed the history of Kanchi mutt in the web site advaita-vedanta.org and in the interest of propagating the truth, we reproduce some excerpts as below.

1. On August 22, 1987, Sri Jayendra Saraswati disappeared from the Kanchi math and the speculation about the whereabouts of Jayendra Saraswati mounted. The Sankaracharya of Dwaraka, Swaroopananda Saraswati, camping at Pune for the Chaturmasya Vrata, while demanding a high level probe into the mystery, asserted: “Sri Jayendra Saraswati could not be regarded as a Sankaracharya at all, because the Kanchi math was not one of the four peethas constituted by Adi Sankaracharya. It was only a shakha (branch) of the Sringeri peetham.”

2. Several years earlier, Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer, who headed the central commission on Hindu religious and charitable endowments, had announced that `there was no such thing as the Kanchi Kamakoti peetham.

3. It was only in the 20th century works, all compiled after Chandrasekharendra Saraswati ( C.S) the Paramacharya ascended the peetha, that the history of the Kanchipuram math was rewritten. Accordingly, it was proposed that Adi Sankaracharya had spent the last days of his life in Kanchipuram where he attained samadhi, and not in the Himalayas as was generally believed. A mandapam named after the father of the school of advaita philosophy, seen in the Kamakshi temple premises, was cited as his samadhi. (Researchers pointed out that the said mandapam had been constructed very recently. It was originally called `Sankaracharya samadhi’, but when it was pointed out there could not be a samadhi inside a Devi temple, the mandapam was renamed `Sankaracharya sannidhi’ – sanctum, not a tomb.)

4.The twentieth century chronicle written by C.S explained that before his demise, Adi Sankara established a fifth mutt at Kanchi which he intended to be a controlling centre of all the other maths. Sri Sureswaracharya, Sankara’s prime disciple was placed in charge of it. Interestingly, the Sringeri mutt also claims Sureswaracharya as their first pontiff.

5 According to the Kanchi chronicles of C.S, the math in Kanchipuram had to be shifted in the 18th century AD, in the face of opposition from local kings and hence the shift to Kumbhakonam.

6. Historians, however, hold that the Kumbhakonam math established in 1821 AD by the famous monarch of Tanjore, Serfoji and was a branch of the Sringeri math. Later, when a war broke out between the kings of Tanjore and Mysore, the Kumbhakonam math proclaimed independence from Sringeri and established itself as the Kamakoti peetham.”

7. The seal of kumbakonam math is in Kannada language, and refers to it as a “Sarada math.” Since Sarada is worshipped only at Sringeri, and the Goddess at Kanchipuram is Kamakshi, not Sarada, it is seen at once that the Kumbhakonam math did not originally come from Kanchipuram.

8.The Kumbhakonam math shifted to Kanchipuram in accordance with its new story ( woven by C.S). In 1839 AD, the head of the Kumbhakonam math applied for permission to the English Collector to perform the kumbhabhishekam of the Kamakshi temple in Kanchipuram. In 1842 AD, he was appointed sole trustee of the Kamakshi temple by the English East India Company Government. This is well documented because the original priests of the Kamakshi temple, who were thereby deprived of their rights, complained to whomever they could possibly complain to. Numerous petitions, counter petitions, letters, and other such documents are available from this period that allow us to piece together this account. Thus the Kanchi mutt as an institution dates from 1842 AD. The headquarters continued to be at Kumbakonam but the sannyasi head would periodically visit Kanchipuram to assert his rights over the Kamakshi temple.This mutt originally had a limited following in the Tanjore and Kanchipuram areas, but soon embarked on a massive propaganda campaign that ensured it prominence.

The following references are quoted by Thiru S. Vidyasankar .
a) The Illustrated Weekly of India, “The Weekly Cover Story” – K. P.
Sunil, September 13, 1987. 2 a. The Truth about the Kumbhakonam Math, – Sri R. Krishnaswamy Aiyar and Sri K. R. Venkatraman, Sri Ramakrishna Press, Madurai, 1977.
b) Kanchi Kamakoti Math – a MythSri Varanasi Raj Gopal SarmaGanga Tunga Prakashan, Varanasi, 1987.

Truth No 3. Adi Sankara took over Kamatchi amman Temple at Kanchipuram from Jains in 8th century only

It is in the recorded history that during the Pallava period in 6th to 8th century AD, there were religious debates, rivalry, fight, killing and snatching of temples among the followers of Buddhist, Jain, Saiva and Vaishnava school of thoughts in Tamil Nadu especially near Kanchipuram.

The research scholar Ananthanayinar in his book( 1932) titled ” Thirukkural aaraaychchiyum jaina samayasithaantha vilakkamum”,  has stated that Adi Sankara took over Dharmadevi temple from Jains and renamed it as Kamatchi Amman temple. He has said that he visited the temple finding Jain sculptures and symbols left in the garden. He enquired the priests at Kamatchi Amman temple to find the truth that the original diety in the name of Dhabokaamaatchi was hidden behind the existing Kamatchi idol.

Another research scholar Mylai Seeni Venkatasamy in his book ” Bouthamum Thamizhum” has stated that Kamatchi Amman temple once belonged to Budhdhists and there was a deity called Annapoorani.

Considering the fact that Buddhist missionary Manimekalai was at work in Kancheepuram serving food to poor and treating the sick ( thus she could have a a fit name Dharma devi or Anna poorani) as recorded in the Literary work “Mani mekalai” and the circumstances prevailing at Kanchi in 7′th and 8′th centuries, the Kamatchi Amman Temple at Kanchipuram could have been originally a Buddhist temple taken over by Jains and later by Adi Sankara in 8’th century AD only. Therefore the claim that Adi Sankara was born 2500 years before could not be true.

If the age of KamatchiAmman Temple is verified by Archeological department, the truth can be dug out.

The history of taking over of Kamatchi Amman temple by Adi Sankara should have inspired Chandrasekarendra Saraswati to migrate from Kumbakonam to reclaim this temple during British rule. And after establishing in Kanchipuram, Paramacharya should have decided to take a self declared leadership role for all the Sankara Mutts and designed and fabricated the fictious story of uninterrupted Guru Parampara for 2500 years.

The Kanchi kamakoti Peethamin its advertisement in Times of India claims “Even in this age of industrialization and globalization, the link with the Guru has remained intact, guiding people through their lives, leaving them anchored in their values, cultures and traditions. One of the longest established line of Gurus is that established by Adi Sankara”

The intellects in Times group of publication should revisit the history with the help of Historians, Archeologists and verify the claims of conservative religious personlaities before publishing a book. At the best the Times group should keep a distance from such ambitious claims on history and desist from reprinting this book. Else this prestigious group shall become a propaganda machinery of religous gurus who are already tainted by absconding, allegations of sex scandels and criminal offence of murder.

Thus we find that some fringe elements who want to confine Hindu religion are continuously at work to rewrite the history to suit their interest. The book now published by Times group of publication is actually meant to authenticate their lies as a prelude to pressurize the Government of India to celebrate Adi Sankara’s birth centenary celebrations at his birthplace, Kaladi in Kerala, in 2010 as already demanded by the seers of Kanchi mutt.

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