Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
|Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal|
Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, also called the Sri Kanchi Matham or the Sri Kanchi Monastery, is a Hindu institution, located in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. It is located near a temple dedicated to Goddess Sri Kamakshi (Durga, Kamakoti, Maha Tripurasundari) of the Shaktism tradition, along with a shrine for the Advaita Vedanta teacher Adi Shankara.
The matha-tradition attributes its founding to Adi Shankara, but this and the reliability of the matha's succession list has been questioned. The Kanchi Math was originally established as the Kumbakonam Mutt in 1821 as a branch of the Sringeri Mutt, and later became involved with the Kamakshi temple in Kanchipuram. According to the Sri Kanchi math tradition, the matha shifted south to the temple city of Kumbakonam in mid-18th-century, when there was warfare in the region, and returned to Kanchipuram in the 19th century.
The matha is a living tradition, that continues to pursue spiritual scholarship in contemporary times. The head of the matha is referred to as a "Sankaracharya". Since February 2018, the institution has been led by Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal.
The founding of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam is traditionally attributed by its adherents to Adi Shankara, but this and the reliability of the matha's succession list has been questioned. Sringeri matha rejects the claims of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, and does not count it among the mathas established by Shankara. According to Clark, the story of the four cardinal mathas founded by Shankara dates from the 16th century, questioning the founding stories off all those mathas.
The Kanchi Math was originally established as the Kumbakonam Mutt in 1821 by the Maratha king of Tanjore, Serfoji II Bhonsle, as a branch of the Sringeri Mutt. It became an apostate schismatic institution in 1839 when the Kumbakonam Mutt applied for permission to the English Collector of Arcot to perform the "kumbhabhishekham" of the Kamakshi temple in Kanchipuram. In 1842, the East India Company headquartered at Fort William, Calcutta appointed the head of the mutt as the sole trustee of the Kamakshi temple, despite the protests of the traditional priests of the Kamakshi temple, which are well documented and preserved.
According to the Kanchi matha's tradition, their monastery was founded in Kali 2593 (509 BCE) by Adi Shankara. According to the Sri Kanchi matha documents, the matha relocated completely to Kumbakonam in mid-18th century to escape wars and persecution. According to Jonathan Bader and other scholars, the monastic tradition gives "fear of Muslim atrocities" from Nawab of Arcot, Mysore's Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan as the reason, but the details remain unclear. The matha returned to Kanchi in the 19th century.
The successive heads of the Kanchi and all other major Hindu Advaita tradition monasteries have been called Shankaracharya leading to confusion, discrepancies and scholarly disputes. The chronology stated in Kanchi matha texts recognizes five major Shankaras: Adi, Kripa, Ujjvala, Muka and Abhinava. According to the Kanchi matha tradition, it is "Abhinava Shankara" that western scholarship recognizes as the Advaita scholar Adi Shankara. Scholars such as William Cenkner, Christopher Fuller and David Smith dispute this traditional belief, though they accept that the Kanchi Shankaracharyas are his direct "spiritual descendants".
The 70th Shankaracharya, Vijayendra Saraswati is the current Shankaracharya, before which, the matha was headed by Jayendra Saraswathi, the 69th Shankaracharya. Vijayendra had been appointed originally as a replacement successor of the then seer Chandrasekharendra saraswathi instead of Jayendra Saraswati as the former had fled the math breaking the Chaturmasya sanyasa vow in 1987. He was later inducted into the math breaking the sanyasa canon. Therefore math had three Acharyas at the same time for a while.
Sankararaman murder case
In 2004, Jagadguru Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Mahaswamigal and his junior Vijayendra Saraswati were arrested in connection with the Sankararaman murder case on Diwali day. The court said that the complainant failed to support the prosecution and he was given bail. The trial went on till 2013 when he was acquitted by the court.
During the investigations, Tamil writer Anuradha Ramanan said she was subjected to sexual harassment by the Mahaswamigal when she met him back in 1992. Out of fear for the consequences, she did not lodge a complaint. She reported that she was subjected to attempted murder when a truck hit her car in which she was traveling and another murder attempt was made on her life when she was admitted to the hospital.
Chronological list of Shankaracharyas
- Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada (482 BCE–477 BCE)
- Suresvaracharya (477 BCE–407 BCE)
- Sarvajnatman (407 BCE–367 BCE)
- Sathyabodhendra Saraswati (367 BCE–268 BCE)
- Jnanandendra Saraswati (268 BCE–205 BCE)
- Suddhanandendra Saraswati (205 BCE–124 BCE)
- Aanandaghanendra Saraswati (124 BCE–55 BCE)
- Kaivalyanandayogendra Saraswati (55 BCE–28 CE)
- Krpa Sankarendra Saraswati (28 CE–69 CE)
- Sureswara Saraswati (69 CE–127 CE)
- Sivananda Chidghanendra Saraswati (127 CE–172 CE)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (172–235)
- Satchidghanendra Saraswati (235–272)
- Vidyaghanendra Saraswati (272–317)
- Gangadharendra Saraswati (317–329)
- Ujjvala Sankarendra Saraswati (329–367)
- Sadasivendra Saraswati (367–375)
- Shankarananda Saraswati (375–385)
- Martanda Vidyaghanendra Saraswati (385–398)
- Muka Sankarendra Saraswati (398–437)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati II (437–447)
- Bodhendra Saraswati (447–481)
- Satchisukhendra Saraswati (481–512)
- Chitsukhendra Saraswati (512–527)
- Satchidanandaghanendra Saraswati (527–548)
- Prajnaghanendra Saraswati (548–565)
- Chidvilasendra Saraswati (565–577)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati I (577–601)
- Purnabhodhendra Saraswati (601–618)
- Bhodhendra Saraswati II (618–655)
- Brahmanandaghanendra Saraswati (655–668)
- Chidanandaghanendra Saraswati (668–672)
- Satchidananda Saraswati (672–692)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati III (692–710)
- Chitsukhendra Saraswati (710–737)
- Chitsukhanandendra Saraswati (737–758)
- Vidyaghanendra Saraswati III (758–788)
- Abhinava Sankarendra Saraswati (788–840)
- Satchidvilaasendra Saraswati (840–873)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati II (873–915)
- Gangadharendra Saraswati II (915–950)
- Brahmanandaghanendra Saraswati (950–978)
- Anandaghanendra Saraswati (978–1014)
- Purnabhodhendra Saraswati II (1014–1040)
- Paramasivendra Saraswati I (1040–1061)
- Sandranandabhodhendra Saraswati (1061–1098)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati IV (1098–1166)
- Advaitanandabodhendra Saraswati (1166–1200)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati III (1200–1247)
- Chandrachudendra Saraswati I (1247–1297)
- Vidyateerthendra Saraswati (1297–1385)
- Sankaranandendra Saraswati (1385–1417)
- Purnananda Sadasivendra Saraswati (1417–1498)
- Vyasachala Mahadevendra Saraswati (1498–1507)
- Chandrachudhendra Saraswati II (1507–1524)
- Sarvajna Sadasiva Bhodhendra Saraswati (1524–1539)
- Paramasivendra Saraswati II (1539–1586)
- Atma Bodhendra Saraswati (1586–1638)
- Bodhendra Saraswathi (1638–1692)
- Advaitatma Prakasendra Saraswati (1692–1704)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati IV (1704–1746)
- ChandrasekharendraSaraswati V (1746–1783)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati V (1783–1813)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati VI (1813–1851)
- Sudarsana Mahadevendra Saraswati (1851–1891)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati VII (1891 – 7 February 1907)
- Mahadevendra Saraswathi V (7 February 1907 – 13 February 1907)
- Chandrashekarendra Saraswati (13 February 1907 – 8 January 1994)
- Jayendra Saraswathi (3 January 1994 – 28 February 2018)
- Shankara Vijayendra Saraswati (28 February 2018 – Present)
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