Epigraphical evidence and reference to Sri Adi Sankara
The news of the recent discovery of a Chola inscription, dated in the reign of Vira Rajendra (1065 A.D.) in the Kailasanatha temple of Cholamahadevi village near Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu would be received with great interest by Indologists all over the world.
The temple is in a dilapidated condition and no worship is offered in the temple now. The well preserved record is in Tamil language and script, with a few Sanskrit words written in Grantha characters in between . I give below my reading and disuss the historic importance of the record. This inscription records the gift of land to scholars of the villages expounding a commentary named Pradeepaka alias Vaartika written by Chidaananda Bhattaara. This commetary was on Brahmastura Sankara Bhashya mentioned in the record as Bahagavadpaadiyam alias Saariraka Bhashyam. This is what makes the record of historic interest.
The study of Vedanta was known in ancient times as Saareraka Meemaamsaa. Sankara himself calls his commentary on the Brahma Sutras Saareeraka Meemaamsa Sastra. It is this Bhashya that is mentioned in the inscription as Saareerka Bhashya. Further the inscription shows that Sankara Bhashya on Brahma Sutras was known as Bhagavad-Paadeeyam in Chola times.
There are differing views among modern scholars on the date of Sankara and his woks. This is the earliest dated and indisputable reord so far known referring to Sankara and his works. That Sankara lived before 1000 A.D. is now indisputable. Over one hundred commentaries on Sankara Bhasya are known from manuscripts and citations, but Chidananda bhattaraka’s Pradeepaka mentioned in this inscription is not found in any manuscript or text. Obviously this commentary which had attracted so much attention in Chola times has not survived.
Further, the village Cholamahadevi was a new settlement created by the great Chola emperor Rajaraja around 1000 A.D. A study of inscriptions elsewhere as at Ennayiram. Thirumukkudal, Tribhuvani, Anur and othr placs shows that the study of Vedanta was greatly patronished in the reign of Rajaraja, Rajendra and their Chola successors. That Sankara’s commentary was very popular in Tamil Nadu is further confirmed by this record.
Not much is known about the date and life of Chidananda, the commentator mentioned in this inscription, except that he wrote the commentary before 1,065 A.D., the date of this record.
According to the traditional accounts of the Kanchi Sanakara Math, one of the peetadhipatis was Chidsukhanandendra Sarawati, who was also called Chidaananda. He is said to have hailed from a village on the banks of the river Palar in Tamil Nadu and is said to have attained salvation at Kanchi. It is difficult to say whether this Acharya was the same as the Chidanandda mentioned in the Cholamahadevi inscription.
Categories: Deivathin Kural