Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Age of Sri Adi Sankaracharya

Fixing the time of Sri Sankara:
Of the numerous compositions with the title 'Sankara Vijaya’ and describing the exploits of Sri Sankara, the Brihat Sankara Vijaya of Chitsukhacharya is the most famous and authoritative.` The author Chitsukhacharya was associated with Sankara from the age of 5, in his studies at school and when he (Sankara) became a Sanyasi (or monk! in his 10th Year, followed his example. receiving the initiation at his hands and always kept him company thereafter throughout his wenderings and exploits all over the country, survived Sri Sankara for several years and composed his great work 'The Brihat-Sankara—Vijaya’ to immortalise the achivements of his friend and preceptor. The date of the birth of Sri Sankara is specified in this authoritative treatise, This date tallies with the date assigned to the birth of Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the lists of the Acharyas of the various religious establishments known as Sankara Pithas established by Sri Adi Sankara at Dwarka, Kanchi, Puri etc, These lists of the heads of the religious establishments are complete and continuous from the time of the founder Sri Adi Sankara to the present day. These lists are therefore traditional documents of unquestioned authenticity and authority. The date of the birth of Sri Sankara according to these authorities is given by the verse.

"తిష్యే ప్రయాత్య నలసేవధి బాణనేత్రే |
యే నందనే దినమణా వుదగధ్వభాజి |
రాధే దితే రుడువినిర్గతమంగలగ్నే |
స్యాహూతవాన్ శివగురుః సచ శంకరేతి ||

tishyae prayaatya nalasaevadhi baaNanaetrae |
yae naMdanae dinamaNaa vudagadhvabhaaji |
raadhae ditae ruDuvinirgatamangalagnae |
syaahootavaan Sivaguru@h sacha SaMkaraeti ||

तिष्ये प्रयात्य नलसेवधि बाणनेत्रे |
ये नंदने दिनमणा वुदगढ़वभाजी |
राधे दिते रुडुविनिर्गतमन्गलग्ने |
स्याहूतवान सिवगुरुहू सच श्रंकरेति ||
Meaning:···-· Anala=3. Sevadhi = 9, Bana = 5, Netra= 2, which comes to 2593rd year of Kali (or 509 B. C.)

On Sunday, Vaisakha Sukla Panchami in the constellation and Lagna of Dhanus in the year Nandana, a son was born to Sivaguru and he was named ‘Sankara’ by his father in 2593 Kali (which corresponds to 3102-2593=509B.C)
Referring to the extraordinary meeting of Sankara with Kumarila Bhatta (the great expounder of the Karma Kanda of the Vedas) on his funeral pyre, the Jina Vijaya declares: -- "There-upon when 15 years had elapsed from his birth, (in 2608 Kali or 494 B.C,,) Sankara met Bhattacharya (`Kumarila Bhatta) for the first and last time."

Referring to the date of Sankaracharya's Niryana, the Jina Vijaya states:

ఋషి ర్బాణ స్తధా భూమి ర్మర్త్యాక్షౌ వామమేళనాత్|
ఏకత్వేన లభేతాంకం తామ్రాక్షా తత్ర వత్సరః|
RShi rbaaNa stadhaa bhuumi rmartyaakshau vaamamaeLanaat|
eakatveana labheataankam taamraakshaa tatra vatsara@h|

रशी रबान स्ताधा भूमि र्मार्त्याक्षाऊ वामामेलानात |
एअकत्वेअन लभेअतान्कम तामराक्षा तत्र वत्सरः |

"When we calculate the figures Rishi = 7. Bana = 5, Bhumi = 1 and Martyakshau = 2, in the reverse order and reckon the total number of years in the Yudhishtira Saka(of the Jains), we arrive at the year Tamraksha (Raktakshi) as the year of Sankara’s death."
Hence Sankara's Niryana works out to 2157+468 = 2625 Kali or 3102-2625=477 B.C.; (or 2634 B.C. - 2157 =) 477B.C.
(Note I: The Jains and Buddhists use a Yudhishtira era which commences 468 years after Kali i. e. in (3102 B.C.-468=) 2634 B. C.)
The Jinavijaya is a composition by a Jaina. It contains among other things a brief account of the life of Kumarila Bhatta whom the Jains (who condemn the Vedic rituals) held as their bitterest opponent. Therein we find a reference to the meeting of Sankara with Kumarila just before the death of the latter.
There could be no partiality in the writer in favour of his opponents.
Chronology of the Peetadhipaties of Kanchi KamaKoti Peetha, commencing from Adi Sankara (509 B. C)
The Sankaracharya matha established in Kanchipura by Sri Sankara himself, (transferred to Kumbhakonam in the Tanjore District, in the end of the eighteenth century) and presided over from time to time by men of vast learning, great piety and mighty intellect, has continued to be a centre of Hindu culture and religion in these parts. Some of the
occupants of the Kamakoti pitha, are among the most distinguished teachers of Vedanta philosophy and authors of well-known treatises on Advaita-Vedanta. _
The Chronology of the Kamakoti Pitha is of the utmost importance as it gives accurate dates for a number of events in the history of India. Therefore, all information that is dated, and dated accurately, is of immense importance to it. There can be no doubt of the accuracy of the chronology as a whole. The Punya—sloka—manjari gives only the cyclic year, the (lunar) month, Paksha and tithi, sometimes
even the time of the day, decease of the gurus. But here and there. the Kali or Saka year is given, and with the help of these, we can get a complete chronology.

The chronological table of Kamakoti clearly gives the following dates among many:
1. Establishment of Peetha 482 B.C.
2. Sri Sankaracharya, First Acharya, occupied peetha for 6 years, demise: Raktakshi year, Vaisakha month, Sukla-Paksha, 11th day, 476 B.C.

Nepalaraja Vamsavali:
In the Suryavamsi dynasty of Nepal the 18th king was Vrishadeva Varma. He reigned from 2554 Kali to 2615 Kali or 547 B.C., to 486 BC. (Vide “Chronology of Nepal History Reconstructed by this Author.)
It is stated in the Nepalaraja Vamsavli that; "Adi Sankaracharya came from the South and destroyed the Buddha faith." Kali 2614 or 487 B.C. (Vide The Ind. Ant. Vol. XIII p. 411 ff)
Temple of Sankaracharya in Kashmir:
"Gopaditya the 70th king in the list of Kashmir kings (417-357 B.C.) founded Agraharas and built the temples of Jyestheswara and Sankaracharya" (A short history of Kashmir By P. Gwasha Lal, B.A., Ed. 1932; p. 27).
“Sankaraoharya"-—"This shrine is situated in the city of Srinagar. Sankaracharya is an ancient temple crowning the Takht-i-Sulaiman hill and standing 1000 ft. above the valley. The temple and the hill on which it stands take their name from Sankaracharya, the great South Indian Teacher of Monism who came to Kashmir from Travancore. This temple was built by king Gopaditya who reigned in Kashmir from 368 to 308 B.C. It was repaired later by the liberal minded Muslim king Zainul Abdin." (Vide The Hindu dated 17——7·—1949 p. 15, 2nd column and Kali Saka Vijnanam by K. Venkatachalam part III, p. 66). The real time of Gopaditya is 417-357 B.C. `Therefore it is evident that Sri Adi Sankaracharya lived before Gopaditya’s time i. e. Between 509-477 B.C. (This is elaborately discussed in Nepala-Raja·Vamsavali by it author K. Venkatachalam)
Esoteric Buddhism: Mr. A. P. Sinnett in his "Esoteric Buddhism" (VIII Ed· 1903, Ist Ed. being printed in 1883-—pp. 182, 183) assigns the year 503 B.C. or thereabouts for Sankaracharya. This tallies with the date 509 B.C., given in Brihat Sankara Vijaya and Jina Vijaya.

It is clear from the above evidence that Sri Adi Shankaracharya was born in 509 B.C., and passed away in 477 B.C.

Note: The above extract is from The Chronology of Kashmir History Reconstructed by Pandit
Kota Venkata Chelam published in 1955.


  1. Excellent article. Nobody, I think have taken the source to discuss the date of Adisankara. With regards Ananthanarayanan VM

  2. Very good article..But why is that Srigeri Matt declares that Jagadguru was born around 780 AD??

    Also, is it not the fact that Kanchi was not the original mutts established by Adi Sankara..then how can we take its Chronology as authentic compared to Srigeri!!


    1. The Sringeri date needs to be looked into further. While there is good evidence in the above, I want to look into if Chanakya mentions Jagadguru Sankaracharya anywhere.

      On Kanchi. Jagadguru called Kanchi the Dakshina Kasi and was there a long time. The four Muths have their place, and so does Kanchi. It is not inferior or superior. One only needs to know that the Jagadguru himself did a lot of good work from there.

    2. Please read the post about Mauryan Empire if you want to know about the time of Chanakya.
      Can you give evidence to state that Sankaracharya was at Kanchi for a long time and did lot of good work from there?

  3. Mr. Sudesh
    Due to some reasons Srigeri Sankara Mutt lost its actual sucessors list/not able to preserve properly as shringeri is located in a remote area which lies on the banks of Tunga river. Although they declare the date of 780 AD earlier they changed their views to 1st century BC of Vikrama era.

    But due to some confusion of identification of the guru of Adi Sankaracharya the above differenc arised. (Govinda Bhagavatapada is Guru of Adi Sankaracharya and Father Sri Harsha Vikramaditya - The storey is that he married four girls (Brahmin, Kshytria, Vysha and Shudra)and got four sons. Sri Harsha Vikramaditya is son of Kshytria wife whom lived three/four centuries before Vikramaditya the great fo 1st century BC.

    Note: The dates of Puri and Dwaraka Sankar Mutt list is coinciding with that of Kanchi Mutt.

    1. shringeri had records saying that shankara birth date was 44bc.even at kalady temple wall carved 44bc date. but around1960 onwards shringeri started to claim that shankara was born 788AD.ONE PROF PATHAK WHO CLAIMED 788 AD ON THE BASIS OF ONE COPPERPLATE AND PUBLISHED SCHOLARLY THESIS WHICH WAS WELL ACCEPTED BY WESTERN SCHOLARS AND EVEN RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENT COMMISSIONER ONE MR. SADASHIVA RAO FINALISED AT DELHI INDIAN GOVT IN 1964 OR SO.PLS NOTE AMONG SHANKARITE PEETHAMS SHRINGERI PEETHAM IS ONLY PEETHAM WHICH ACCEPTED 788 AD . EVEN GAUDAPADACHARYA MUTT WHICH IS SAID TO BE THE PARAMAGURU PEETHAM OF SHANKARA. IT IS A SARASWATH PEETHAM HAVING MAIN MAHA MUTT AT GOA THE LINEAGE STANDS AT 77th pontiff at present shrimad shivananda saraswathi swamiji. kanchi mutt is said to be in a way dwandwa peetham.kanchi mutt knows very well about it. further govinda bhagavatpada is 2nd yathi in lineage and next to him is vivaranananda saraswathi the 3rd yathi so on now 77th pontiff. pls note shankara was not the patta shishya of govinda bhagavatpada but only sanyasa deeksha shishya. gaudapadacharya mutt is a saraswath peetham and for saraswaths community only. pls note shankara was not a saraswath but nambudri brahmin.gaudapada did thapasya at omkareshwar hill called vaiduryamani parvath . reference is there in guptha period about this vaiduryamani parvath. the samadhi of govindapada on which omkar linga was installed by harsha vikramaditya hence omkareswar is most sacred centre to all saraswaths being our guru samadhi. further gaudapadacharya mutt also claims shankar date as 509 bc and adds 120 years to gaudapadacharya date of birth. when i met swamiji at anandavana at s v road kandivili mumbai he did not know about vaidurya mani parvath but claims shankara date as 788 ad as dharmakirhi was refered by shankara. scholars who have been claiming that river saraswathi as a myth now after research of kalyanaraman chennai they all admit that existence of river saraswathi as a hardcore truth. so till final word is given shankara date can not admitted 788 ad .because scholars evidences cannot give final word as the case happened in river saraswathi. jai gurudev


  4. Venkatarm garu,
    Thanks for the information. It is not clear what date Sringeri Mutt adopted.
    What is the source of information in the second para.

  5. ramakrishna tumuluriMay 5, 2010 at 6:55 AM

    I have known Kota and the Translator of his books
    Sri M.Sivakmayya. Some Indian scholars and westren scholars base their arguments for denying the 509-477 BC to Sankara basing on Dharmakirti reference by Sankara and taking Chalukya ruler Vikramditya to fix up matters.
    There can be many Dharmakirti names as there are Sankaracharya names.
    The confusion can be cleared if Sanakra- Dharmakirti reference made is taken as one made by Saankaracharya Peetdhipati of Kanchi who lived to the ripe age of 80.
    If Nepalese, Kashmir chronologies are taken. When
    For Asoka you go to outside refernces why not accept here ?
    I am sure in India wehre Jayantis are celbrated on the basis of horoscopic charts,for such a great person like Bhagavatpada we allow fabricated Birth data or date as alleged by skeptics. tr
    They reject Horscopic detail of Sankara's birth, Nepalese and Kashmir history

  6. Pardon my bluntness, but it is pure garbage to say that Sringeri lost its list and made it up later. It is pure garbage to say that it was a Kanchi Peethadhipati who refers to Dharmakirti and not Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada. The Kanchi Math was not even in existence till about 200 years ago. So there!

    1. Have you seen the Guruparampara list of Kudali Mutt? On what authority you claim that Kanchi wa not in existence till about 200 years ago.
      Stop making unsubstantiated claims!!

    2. Age of Adi Sankaracharya:

      There has been lots of controversy whether Adi Sankara was born in 780 AD or 509 BC with various historical evidence being exchanged both for and against each of the dates. A striking scientific proof in favour of the BC theory was provided by the 68th pontiff Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (affectionately called as the Paramacharya) himself.

      One day a very reputed Geologist happened to visit Kanchipuram to take darshan of the Paramacharya. After enquiring about his family, the Paramacharya requested him arrange for a diver to dive and take out sand from two different locations of the River Purna. One location should be when the River Purna (presently called River Periyar) enters Kerala, before it diverts into entering Kaladi and the other location to be at Kaladi itself. Later Paramacharya asked him to use the technique of carbon dating to find out the age of the sand from these two locations. The geologist performed the exercise as instructed by the Paramacharya and provided the results which was that the sand from the first location yielded an age of being more than 100,000 years old whereas the age of the sand from the second location in Kaladi was close to about 2500 years.
      History says that as Sankara's mother was finding difficulty to go the the River Purna to take bath, so Sankara requested the River Purna to divert and follow his footsteps (Kal-adi) to flow near his anscestral house to enable his mother to take bath without any difficulty and then later join again to the main course of the river.
      The Age of the River sand at Kaladi confirmed that Adi Sankara was indeed born more than 2500 years back which is 509BC as per all the Sankaracharya mutts.

  7. To Shridhar
    sand can not be carbon dated. This account seems a hearsay. can you identify the geologist and his actual account. May be we should perform careful archeological excavations at kalady on the present river bed as well as the old course of the river bed. We may be able to get some wooden material of that time ( 509 bc + 16 = 493 bc ).

    1. Sand can be carbon dated. You may easily check this on the internet.